Monday, February 7, 2011

10 Wardrobe Essentials

Every fashion stylist and designer loves to talk about what he considers the 10 wardrobe essentials. And indeed, it's a question I receive from you guys quite frequently. There's something comforting, I think, about being told, "If you have these things, you'll be stylish." Obviously that's what fashion designers, magazines and ad agencies hope for!

But the truth is that packing your closet with 10 items that someone else says you need isn't going to make you stylish. It can be a start...or it can be a complete misfire. I've compiled a cross section of commonly touted "must haves" drawn from experts like Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and Isaac Mizrahi. I'll tell you which of their suggestions work for me, and which don't.

10 Wardrobe Essentials

1. Cashmere Sweater- Yes. Cashmere looks and feels amazing. I don't think you have to feel compelled to choose black for basics like this piece. A really gorgeous color that works with your skin tone can be just as versatile as black or gray. Pair it with a fancy skirt or casual jeans.

2. Little Black Dress - Yes. The easiest piece in your closet should be something that works no matter what the occasion. If you have the perfect LBD for your body shape, you can reach in and pull it on, confident that you'll look & feel great. Choose a dress in a fabric that has a little weight to it like ponte' or wool for the most versatility.

3. Trench Coat - I can take or leave this piece. A belted jacket looks great on most plus size figures, so that's a plus. And neutral khaki feels crisp and classic. I just don't wear jackets often enough to give a trench top billing in my own 10 essentials. I'd go with a fitted blazer instead.

4. White Button Down Shirt- Nope. This is the one piece that every stylist called out as a must-have, but it's the one piece I really cannot ever see myself wearing. White button downs are not my style; I'd rather swap in a white cotton crew neck tee shirt. If you do choose to add this to your wardrobe, pick one that fits really well through the bust and your waist. Look for one with darts or seams to flatter your figure.

5. Day Dress- Yes, yes yes. You all know that I'm a huge fan of the day dress. This version is made of cotton, so it's comfortable and easy to pull on and go. Add a belt, a blazer, switch up shoes and jewelry - there's the potential for so many looks based on this one piece.

6. The Perfect-fitting Bra - Absolutely! Undergarments that fit make all the difference in how the rest of your clothes fit. If you haven't had a bra fitting in a year (or ever) head to Lane Bryant or your local lingerie store for a professional fit.

7. Dark Jeans - Yep. A great-fitting pair of jeans can take you from day to night, running errands to a party, with minimum fuss. To ensure a classic, universally flattering look choose a pair that is consistently dark with no fading or whiskering.

8. Ballet Flats - Yes! I love to wear ballet flats. I find they're more comfortable and stylish with a slightly elevated heel. Choose a nice leather so they'll be as versatile as possible.

9. Stylish Bag - Yes, definitely! And again, i don't think you have to feel bound to making that stylish bag a black one. Bright colors, interesting details and pockets all go a long way toward adding style to a bag that will be by your side every day. I recommend choosing leather, or a good leather substitute, to ensure longevity and versatility.

10. Diamond Studs - Yes. Even if you're not someone who's really into jewelry, you can add instant polish to your look by slipping on a pair of diamond studs. Real or fake, expensive or not, it doesn't matter.


  1. Great list and I am happy to say I have all of these!

  2. Great list! I love that you included diamond studs - I wear mine WAY often, but have never thought to add them to a 'must haves' list.

  3. Great list! I have almost all of the items...need a trench : )

  4. Wow. Great list! I have most things. (No diamond earrings yet!) And I love, love ballet flats! (I won't tell you how many pair I have!)

  5. I'll admit, Patti, that my diamonds are not real. :) But they still look great!

  6. Love your list. I have a trench coat in bright PEACH!!!! Should wear it more this spring. I wish I could still wear earrings, because I agree a pair of studs is beautiful and classy. The white shirt, I totally agree. I find stiff white cotton shirts make me uncomfortable, I would forever be tugging on it, and my bust always make them a hard fit.


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