Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to Build Your Wardrobe: The Essentials

Hello Zomblings,

I thought I'd try to tackle a question I hear a lot and I think it's one we all struggle with: How to build a wardrobe?

Have you ever felt like you have nothing to wear? Well, don't worry because everyone feels like that even if their closets are stuffed (myself included). The truth is that we are always building/rebuilding our wardrobe but sometimes one reaches a crucial point in their style development and realizes that they need to 'start over' or maybe that they never really started at all. For me this happened my senior year of high school. I realized that I was on the brink of college life and my closet was full of bizarre thrift store finds, cheap jeans and band t-shirts. I decided I need to take my wardrobe in a more mature direction and with that I bought my first pair of expensive jeans. This one pair of Seven jeans changed the way I bought clothes forever. They made me realize that this one investment piece made everything I wore looked more put together. That is why the first thing on my essential wardrobe list is one pair of really nice jeans.

Don't be afraid to dive in and buy a pair of nice jeans. If you need to justify the price just think about how much wear you are going to get out of them!

Everyone has their favorite style or jeans (skinny, bells, boot) but if you are only going to buy one really nice pair of jeans pick the style that you love. Still, you want to consider what kind of shoes you can wear with them. Ideally, you will want to be able to wear at least a few different kinds of shoes. My preference is a skinny jean (but not the toothpick kind). I like to have a little room for my calves so that there is a nice straight line from the knee. I find that I can wear this style of jeans with just about any shoe. At the moment, I'm really digging the AG Stevie brand that Anthropologie carries. Another tip is to buy a dark wash. They will fade nicely and they are more slimming and go with more things.

Next on my list is tops. It's important to have a good variety of tops as well as a balance between casual tees/tanks and blouses. It's true that blouses tend to me more dressy than tees but that doesn't mean that you can't dress down a blouse for casual wear or dress up a tee for going out! It also doesn't mean that your blouses have to be really showy or your tees have to be really simple, you can have statement pieces in either category. Just don't go overboard because the more statement pieces you have the harder it is to make an outfit. I will also say that if you are pinching pennies for this wardrobe makeover tops are a good place to do it. You can often find cute blouses and simple tees on the cheap if you know where to look and none will be the wiser (unlike with a cheap pair of jeans).

Jackets are next on my list. If you choose wisely you can get away with only having one (unless you live somewhere cold then you probably need at least one light and one heavy). There are lots of different jackets to choose from toggle, trench, jean, leather, canvas, blazer... but whatever you choose I recommend investing in a cropped jacket. This is mainly because you can wear them with both jeans and dresses. Longer jackets can look awkward with skirts and dresses depending on the length of each but a cropped jacket always looks good. This might be a good place for me to tell you that I live in California and I am not really getting into winter essentials but I don't want anyone to get hypothermia so please use common sense when it comes to matching my advice with your location! A jacket can be a costly investment, if you are only getting one it's worth it to get the one you love (within reason). One thing that helps me is to consider the quality of the material versus the cost. You don't want to pay $150 for polyester blazer-yuck! I think you can get a good jacket for anywhere between $70 and $200 but hopefully you can get one on sale.

Some people may not consider dresses to be an essential wardrobe item but I think you need at least a couple of casual dresses to have a well rounded wardrobe. It can be hard to get into the habit of wearing dress casually. A lot of us just wear them for special events because we think of them as being less comfortable than jeans and tee but once I started wearing dresses on a regular basis I found that they are sometimes the easiest outfit to wear. If you think about it, throwing on a dress is a quick way to look cute- there's no matching involved because it's just one piece! If the weather is nice, all you have to think about is which shoes go with it. It's also a good idea to have a party dress for special events (especially if your day dresses are really casual) but if you don't have the budget for it, you can usually borrow one from a friend so don't fret.

Last but definitely not least are shorts, rompers and skirts. If you aren't a fan of rompers than disregard my advice and just stick to the shorts and skirts. I happen to love rompers so I threw them in. I think they are a great addition to a basic wardrobe because they are an interest piece. You don't see people wearing them too often but when you do it's like, "Hey, that girl's a bad ass!" Rompers aside shorts and skirts are awesome summer pieces but you can still wear them in the fall with some tights underneath. Skirts are good for semi-casual events but they also can add some excitement to your look and get you out of the jeans and tee habit that we all fall into.

You may have noticed I left accessories off this list. I do think they are essential but it can be costly to acquire them all and you can usually borrow them from girlfriends when you need to. Keeping it to the minimum I would say you need a couple belts, a pair of sunglasses and a couple of purses (one casual one fancy) and whatever jewelry you can scrounge up.

Another thing not on this list is SHOES! The reason is that I think they are so essential to the perfect wardrobe that I am doing a whole separate post on the. Stay tuned!

It's true building a wardrobe costs money and it probably can't happen overnight but try to keep this list in mind when you go shopping. I like to assess what I have before I go on a spree so that I can keep my wardrobe in balance. It's kind of like making a grocery list. ;)


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