Style Foundations - The Basics
Why basics matter
A strong wardrobe is built on a foundation of core basics. I believe the key investment in your wardrobe should be in the best quality neutral basics you can afford. These items act as the foundation to your high fashion and bolder choices and can be layered and mixed into a vast array of looks. They are the work horses of your closet and you will inevitably wear one of these items most days. So make sure you buy items that you enjoy wearing, that stand up to continual laundering and fit you very well.
Here is a list of the key basics garments I believe every woman should have in her wardrobe. With these key garments as the foundation building blocks in your closet, you will start to see a lot of variety and options available for you, and this is only the start!
ESSENTIAL WARDROBE BASICS
Little Black Dress
This blazer is the perfect go-to for all occasions and most silhouettes. Slightly longer in the body, it perfectly balances a fuller hip. Equally wear cinched with its coordinating belt to show off your shape or open in a more louche, cool way adding length to your frame. The length here will overwhelm a petite frame, look for a cropped style instead.
Full of beautiful yet subtle details, like knotted gold moving buttons, curved pockets finished with trim and a soft shawl collar. This blazer is a lifelong companion with real flair and is worth every penny.
Invest in a pair of jeans cut like trousers in a classic, clean wash without any embellishments or trendy details. There is always room to add in trendy jeans, which I often do as I'm a denim girl, but first make sure you have one fab pair for your foundation wardrobe. I love that these are cropped slightly to stop at the narrow part of your ankle which is a lengthening technique. The key here is the leg is straight NOT skinny.
I have to admit, I am a t-shirt snob. I think the cut along with quality of cotton can make or break your outfit. Perhaps because I grew up in the '90s and this was our uniform. For whatever reason, I am not willing to compromise on my t-shirt and funny enough, I have many friends who feel the same way.
I love this Rag & Bone style, slightly oversized, slightly transparent, with a loose sleeve and a deep but narrow v-neck. Long on the waist, it is perfect for me. James Perse and JCrew are also great.
Similar to the t-shirt, I love my white shirts to be slightly oversized and mens-like, even better if it is a man's shirt and best if your boyfriend's/husband's! I like mine buttoned low and always tucked in at the front to show my waist. As I have a large bust if I don't accentuate my waist, my shape is totally lost and I look a lot bigger than I am.
Key take away, if you have curves you need to show them.
I love the drape of this tank. A quality cotton or perhaps a silk/cotton blend and a great cut will make a simple tank strong enough to stand on its own as shown here.
I like to have a plain tank like this and a silk camisole with lace trim in my wardrobe. When I'm lacking inspiration, I will often grab one and pair with my favourite trousers, skirt or jeans depending on the day's activities. Put on a great pair of shoes and jewellery and you are ready to go.
Black light-weight Italian wool, straight cut and slightly cropped equals perfection. I love my trousers slightly cropped as I can wear them with flats like loafers or sneakers and heels alike. I love my clothes to work hard. By cropping my trousers I can wear them all the time. How easy did packing for a business trip just get?!
NB - if you have a straighter shape a french side pocket is super flattering, if you are curvy look for top pockets or none at all for a nice clean line.
Neutral, classic and quality are essential here. I love a round neck as there are so many styling options! I love the ribbing and the raglan sleeves here, which offer a close fit and a bit of texture. The fitted waist gives a nice shape and the cuff makes the knit slightly more formal, which you can then play up or down.
You can wear simply as shown as shown here. Be playful with your jewelry and make sure you have beautiful clean makeup to look fresh.
You can also wear with a big scarf for a layered casual look or a shirt underneath both casual and more formal.
A great knit can be worn with trousers, skirts, shorts, jeans and even over a dress. The options are endless if the colour is neutral. Choose one that is super flattering for your skin tone and that works for all seasons.
little black dress
A little black dress doesn't have to actually be little or simple. What it needs to be is multi-functional and something you LOVE to wear. This dress is great because of its versatility, length and movement. I can wear it all year long and to almost every occasion. Are you wondering how? Let me tell you.
Of course, you can wear it as a simple black dress with fantastic heels and perhaps a swipe of red lipstick and maybe a very delicate necklace. You can also tighten the belt and add some great jewellery for a more done-up look. For a more formal evening look, add a statement necklace or earring and show-stopper shoes. A bolero would be a perfect addition for a cool evening. I would also use a brooch on the waist or a Stevie Nicks style beaded wrap for a boho feel.
The beauty of this dress is the versatility. You can also wear it on the reverse with a high neck and low v-back. Apply the same concepts as above and have a whole new set of options.
For winter or the office you can put a stripy shirt underneath and remove the belt for a '90s grunge look, slip on a polo neck jumper sans belt for a minimalist look or add a top with an interesting cuff to play off the hem of the dress. You can also layer on top with a belted oversize jumper or layers of coats/trenches/wraps as the Olsen twins often do. For this last look, keep it monochromatic, preferably black, and pair it with bold oversized sunglasses and slipper shoes.
Do you see the potential?
Trench & over coats
A classic trench and a cashmere coat will be all the outerwear options you need for day-to-day for many years. So invest in ones that have unique subtle details that add interest to your outfit. I love the oversized pockets and exaggerated cuff length on this otherwise pretty classic trench. Play with the styling by scrunching up the sleeves and knotting the belt over the open coat.
I love the simple notched lapel on this clean and simple cashmere coat. Here I let the quality of the material speak and go for the most simple of shapes. I most often wear mine open to create length to my looks but if I want to close, I pair with an interesting belt.
You can also tuck a scarf into a pulled up collar and belt for a very chic and warm look or add a cluster of brooches, think Prada, for an evening look.
NB - The length on both coats is perfect. Mid-calf works with pretty much every dress, skirt and trouser length you want to wear, day and night.
I hope you have found this letter helpful and are inspired to build your wardrobe of basics! In my Wardrobe Management Service I review your basics, teach you tricks and tips for dressing with basics and find you the best pieces for your lifestyle, body type and budget. If you want to learn more about this service please get in touch.