Wardrobe Essentials

Feel like you've been in a fashion rut lately and need to update or improve your style? Chances are you don't need a complete wardrobe overhaul but rather an update. The trick is removing useless garments that no longer serve you and learning how to style what you do wear in a new way. This guides purpose is to offer insights on building a new wardrobe with essentials, in addition to discarding the clutter that takes up space in your life. The process of letting go can be really hard at times so what's needed is the ability to take an introspective look at yourself. Ask the question; how do you want to be seen? -- in order to feel confident in your own skin. When you finally decide that you're ready to shed emotional attachments on clothes you never wear, you can help others by donating them to charitable institutions, such as the Salvation Army. With this guide you'll learn some tips on cleaning up your closet, updating your wardrobe and finding inspiration to try new styles. Also, don't be bothered about not having the funding to accomplish this since it's about getting rid of the old and using what you have -- and then adding essential pieces over time. There are numerous shopping outlets that can help you get started without breaking the bank. Style is not about having money, it's about finding your own personality and letting it show through clothing choices. The confidence you have when you feel good in what you're wearing is the key ingredient in having people notice you. Stay Beautiful! XOXO

Some Tools You Will Need For The Task:
Notebook and pen, large plastic bags, large storage boxes, digital camera or Polaroid, folders, free time, keep Box, charity box, eBay, consignment box and garbage box

Go through your closets and drawers and start picking out clothes by stacking them into piles or sections in boxes. Things that should be kept are designer goods and if they don't fit you should still keep them because they have a re-sell value and can earn you some extra cash by selling them on Ebay or a consignment shop. Anything that is new, fits well, worn often and is classic should also be kept. Items from twenty years back should be given to charity or sold. If you haven't worn something for two years or longer that should be removed from your closet as well. Trendy (fad clothes) should also be removed. Items that have some kind of theme to them should also be chucked. Items that are way too tight by three sizes or more should be taken out as well. When you get into shape and are at the weight you would like to be then purchase new clothes that fit you at the moment. Items that have stains, rips, shreds should be trashed. Now that you have accomplished what seemed like an impossible task I will provide some tips on items you should purchase for all the new space in your closets. These are the Essentials -- the must have classic pieces that never go out of style. You don't have to purchase them all at once but keep a look out for them when you are able to stock up on them. It's always great to buy an essential at the end of it's season because that's when you'll find the best bargains. For instance a must have great quality black wool coat should be purchased in May when you can get up to half off and you'll have it for the following year and because it's a classic you wont have to worry about the trend factor.

1. Keep clothes organized by category by hanging your dresses, skirts, pants together in groups. You'll find your clothes a whole lot easier when getting dressed.

2. Each drawer should be set aside for specific items. Example: lingerie drawer, a sweater drawer, etc.

3. That old stand by of color arrangement also works. Hang all the reds together, all the blues together, etc.

RULE NUMBER #1 Material:
Check the grain of the fabric to make certain that the vertical grain goes up and down the fabric and the horizontal grain should run a 90 angle degree to the line. Crumple up heavy fabrics to see if it bounces back ensuring resistance to wrinkling. Check the stitching to make sure it's uniform. You get about 8 to 12 stitches per inch. Make sure pattern lines on pockets, collars and shoulders line up at the seams. Go ahead and just feel the fabric to test it's strength.You can always feel a cheap flimsy fabric. Check the zippers and pull them up and down a few times to make sure there sturdy. Make sure buttons and button holes are sewn tight and secure. Shirts with more buttons are high quality. Try on the garment first and see how it drapes and clings to your form. Make sure your pants and skirts are fully lined.

A perfect fitting garment is the secret to looking great. Your clothes should fit your body properly -- slightly body conscious with some wiggle room -- too tight or too loose are things to avoid. The hemline of your pants should hit your foot or never fall below your heel. The hemline on your sleeves should not cover your entire hands. 

RULE NUMBER #3 Avoid trend overload
Just because hot pink is on trend one season,  don't show up to the office wearing pink head to toe. Incorporate a dash of the shade with one piece of garment. The easiest way to incorporate a trend is with accessories. Animal prints and patterns are always classic but don't wear all  the prints at once. If it's trendy on a tween that doesn't mean it's trendy on a more mature woman. Try to dress age appropriate -- while still looking modern at any age -- just remember to keep it classy. Look to professional women who exude youth but still remain demure and copy a page from their look -- think Diane Von Furstenberg! Remember a trend will come and go in one week and out the next, a classic style will always complete your look while maintaining good fashion sense. A couple of trendy pieces are okay but don't overload on them. A great shopping trick is that when you're deciding on a purchase, ask yourself if you can wear or create at least three different outfits with your buys.

Now to the essentials! Listed in no particular order other than starting with the most basic essential first. Remember these garments are investment pieces that you'll want to save up and splurge on that are timeless quality pieces on your "go to" list.

Essential #1: the classic white shirt

  very feminine and demure

I'll start with the most necessary piece in any wardrobe. A white blouse adds a great masculine edge to a woman's look because of that basic "mans dress shirt" feel to it, it's very Dietrich.

Essential #2: the pencil skirt

a simple ruched detail on a pencil skirt can make this elegant for special evening events

The pencil skirt is an essential wardrobe piece with this style being the most flattering for all body types. This skirt will take you from the office to cocktail hour in a breeze and of course black is a must have color. The hem should fall just on your knees to a couple of inches below. The best material for this skirt is in a woven cotton stretch. It's also nice to have a night time version with varying details such as lace or satin trim for special evening events.

Essential #3: classic wool coat

essential black

Splurge on a camel coat as well because it's an American classic

a fun modern style

This classic double breasted wool coat is a true essential and the better the quality the longer you will have it. I would recommend you get one in genuine wool or if you can splurge on a cashmere/cashmere blend. And while a camel color is timeless I say black is more essential but if you can have both color options in your wardrobe it would be worth it. This will also flatter every body type and make you look elegant even if your running to the store with sweats underneath! If you want to stick out from the pack get funky and add an updated version -- example photo listed above.

Essential #4:Cashmere Cardigan

The classic cardigan is an essential piece that can complete, compliment and be paired with any outfit. You can get this piece in the length of your choosing and the essential timeless colors are usually in nude and grays. A shorter cardigan is great over skirts and a longer one is well matched over slacks and even belted. Dress up or dress down a cardigan always in style.

Essential #5:leather Jacket

What can I say about this item, total must have-go from rock-n-roll to city chic in a heartbeat. Complete versatility from casual jean look to a sexy evening dress. But it should be slightly fitted to your body for a sleek look. Try to find a style with nipped waist stitching or princess seams. If you're a vegan then grab a faux leather jacket, it works just the same and know one has to know. You don't have to compromise your values. 

Essential #6:Stilettos
The sexy black pumps another quintessential must have. Wears well with any look and elongates a woman's legs. The best part that there are so many styles to fit an individual's personality but having a pair in a basic black color is a must.

Essential #7:Classic Handbag

When it comes to having an essential handbag in your wardrobe, definitely splurge on a high-end brand instead of wasting money on  thriftier bags that you have to change every season. A good quality classic bag can be used perpetually and when you feel like it's time to let it go the designer label will have excellent re-sell value so it's truly a great investment. Plus it should last you forever if you take proper care with storage.

Essential #8:Little Black Dress 

This piece is so essential we all refer to it with just initials -- LBD. The little black dress is the penultimate classic piece. With so many styles for so many body types every woman can wear this! If you have longer legs buy a shorter style. Want to cover up your arms? Then purchase a cap sleeve style that will hide your flaws. For me when I think of the LBD I think A. Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's -- which is what catapulted this style into popularity.

Essential #9:Dark Denim

A nice pair of denim jeans is another essential and versatile item. Dressed up or down you can wear denim anywhere to any event. A key factor is to purchase a dark wash with a slight flare to the hem because this style will flatter everyone. A straight leg pair will work just as nicely when it comes to a flattering fit. Splurge on a designer brand for better quality and try to keep details and trim to a minimum. Wash them inside out and  after 2 to 3 wears to make them last longer. 

Essential #10:Trench Coat


Cloak & Dagger! This must have is very Casablanca -- so timeless and filled with intriguing mystery. In today's market there are plenty of updated versions available so you don't feel like you borrowed your grandfather's trench. A unique way to personalize this item is detailing and trim. You can opt for ruffles, buckles, zippers, belted bows, etc. They also come in many colors but stick to the basic nude tomes for that classic feel. A good label trench should last you a lifetime and will enable you to wear it in all seasons. Want a sexier look? Get a style that is above knee for a modern fit but your trench should never fall passed your knee cap -- if it does you can have it altered. Also make sure the belt of the trench is proportioned to your waist. 

Expanding Your Wardrobe
Essential Accessories:

While these ten basic essential pieces listed above should be main staples in every woman's wardrobe, I would also like to add to the list a few other "important" pieces that you should try to include in your closet, which will allow you to branch out from your basics into defining your own style. Some of these important pieces include accessories. Adding an accessory to an outfit is the quickest way to refresh your look without emptying out your bank account. Sometimes a charming necklace or a sexy pair of sunglasses transforms you into into an instant style queen. In no way is this list complete but rather guidance and a starting point to help inspire you on creating a new look for yourself. I also felt obliged to add some iconic pieces that come and go into vogue regularly and should be kept as part of your wardrobe. Once you start to gain more confidence in redefining your look you will easily find how to create your own signature through use of color, accessory or style.

black sunglasses
Can you say Hello mysterious stranger! The ultimate accessory in the ultimate color. Get a bold pair with dark lens and a modern frame. They also hide your late night hangovers. Opt for a pair with less details such as studs and bling for a truly classic look.


Another basic style of shades are Top Gun, the aviators are fly girl sexy! Opt for a metal rim in silver or gold. A very iconic accessory.

over-sized man style watch
An over sized man style watch is a must have, it's very tres chic on a woman. Opt for metal hardware not leather. Most makers offer a wide variety of styles for women. Try a colored metal to add some spice. If your worried this style might be too bold for the size of your wrist you can always add an extension to the band. Most bands already have this feature included.

diamond studs
Ditch the pearls. When your in a rush just grab and go and you can't go wrong. The ultimate indulgent timeless accessory -- versatile and classy. Opt for a bigger and bold pair. When you have diamonds on you don't need anything else! If you can't splurge on the genuine thing then the fakes will do -- no one will know.

floppy hat

A timeless style for any season to compliment every woman's style and offers protection from rain or scorching summer heat. Opt for material that is well constructed and not flimsy.

pashmina shawl

A truly luxurious fabric blend of cashmere and silk. This is another classic piece that you can have fun with because of the many colors, sizes and prints to choose from. Wear it as a scarf, as a wrap or over your head and draped around your neck for drama. From lunch with the girls to a night at the opera this is a staple.

over-sized gold link necklace
Big Bold & Gold is never outdated, enough said. Another American standard staple

evening clutch

This is that item you can really have fun with because no matter what outfit you're wearing and for what occasion, a clutch never has to match! With so many styles, colors, materials and details that are available, the only problem is going to be choosing one that fits your unique personality. This is an accessory that can become a signature for you. Opt for modern streamlined styles and if you're still undecided try not to go for the bulkier pieces. A clutch is also a quick and easy way to incorporate a pop of color into your look.

riding boots

You don't have to be an equestrian to own a pair of classic riding boots. These boots pair well with leggings, denim, khaki's or riding pants for those casual weekend getaways. The perfect accessory for fall weather fashion when you want to stroll in the park while always making your look demure & very Jackie O. And if you happen to be an avid riding enthusiast all the more better. Tally Ho!

ballet flats 

A classic footwear style that you can choose to match your personality. Ballet flats always make me think of Audrey Hepburn. Have fun with colors but you can't go wrong with black.

navy blazer

Some would put this essential piece as part of the top ten but I think it's more old guard to be considered a dire essential but it's an essential piece nonetheless. You should have at least one navy blazer. Opt for a more modern fitted version without all the embellishments on it. Go for a nice stretch fabric. This piece is so versatile it will take you from the office to weekend getaways paired with your favorite jeans. 

motorcycle boots

This is a must have piece especially if you're still young at heart. Perfect with jeans or leggings. A stylish pair which you can just throw on look totally cool. A Ducati or Harley is optional.

denim jacket

The great American denim jacket. Self explanatory. Just opt for a fitted darker wash.

nude pumps

A classic neutral color which is versatile and easy to pair with. If you're going for a more modern look then opt for a style with some height and a bit of a platform.

black patent skinny belt 
This little accessory staple will always come in handy from using on slack's to belting a sweater dress. A basic black patent style is completely versatile for all your fashion looks.

cargo pants, camo's, or anything military inspired

Anything military inspired is once again on the forefront of fashion and it has been for the past decade. A sign of the times maybe? The great thing about today's clothes are that they are streamlined and updated for the modern women wardrobe. No longer does a gal have to shop around in a man's hunting store for over sized fitting camouflage wear. This look can take you from everyday street casual to very haute couture inspired military garb. Cargo pants which fall into this category are great for a comfortable casual look while being versatile and fun with it's many pockets and side zip features. You don't even have to have camo garments for this look because it's about drawing inspiration from anything military rather than looking militant from head to toe. An example can be a purse or a pair of shoes which showcase this style. This is another influential trends that passes the test of time.

leather skirt 

That's right, a leather skirt because this hot little number has slowly worked it's way into the new American essential standard wardrobe. I would opt for a style that is more feminine and modern as opposed to those outdated coarse skirts from decades past. There are plenty of styles with loads of details to choose from. If you're not an advocate of genuine leather, go faux but choose a flattering fit. 

beaded sequin top

Nothing dresses up a plain skirt or pair of slacks like a festive sequin top and it's such an important piece to have when you need to look party ready in a jiffy. Skip all the heavy accessories because this will be an accessory in itself. Get yourself a couple versions, such as, one in a long sleeve length for more added sophistication and one in a tank style for warmer weather or to use as a building piece underneath a suit jacket. These also look great when paired with a nice pair of dark denim.


A comfy yet fitted pair of leggings are also essential since they will take you from yoga to lounging with relative ease. With many styles and colors to choose from you can stock up on tons of colors without forgetting a basic black and nude pair.

black gloves

A classic staple which is another one of those pieces where a girl can have fun when choosing a pair that suits her personality. You only need to buy one very high quality pair and they will last your forever.  

black dinner-tuxedo jacket
A sophisticated black dinner jacket will be that go to piece when you need to pull a look together. It will add that polished touch to slack's or an evening skirt. Throw on a basic tee underneath and forget about it. You could even have on a sexy bustier top because the jacket will refine the look. Try a nice black velvet for lure.

white fitted trousers

A pair of white trousers should always be in your wardrobe just make sure they are fitted and in a substantial stretch material for a updated modern look. Opt for a seamless style with no pockets or trim and a larger size waistband. Live dangerously, wear them after Labor Day.

gray suit

A timeless gray pantsuit will take you from the office to dinner and it's a quick set to grab when you need to look professional at a moments notice. Opt for a seamless style with some stretch for a great modern fit. The color gray is neutral and complimentary to everyone.

the weekender bag
Even if your not that much of a world traveler a weekender bag is something you should always have stored and on hand when you need to make a quick getaway. Another item that you can have fun with by putting your own unique stamp on. Just make sure it's outrageously super sized and stylish. You shouldn't have to lug your clothes around in a tacky plastic tote or your grandmother's satchel when you have to make an emergency visit or skip town with friends on an impromptu  invite.


Espadrilles are that classic must have shoe that never goes out of style. These versatile sandals will take you from shopping at the market to a summer beach party with such ease. This style is offered at every price point imaginable with all types of imaginable detailing, from straw bows to satin ribbons to sky high platforms, just pick one that suits your personality and go! 

Shirt Dress

for evening sophistication

casual day look with a hint of safari style

simple and sexy

The classic shirt dress is completely effortless. When you don't have the time to throw together a look, it's grab and go with or without accessories. Throw on the right belt, a pair of eye popping stilettos or a fun colorful clutch and you're done. I would consider getting at least one glamorous silky piece for evening wear attire and a few casual day pieces. You have so many options; from long sleeved to short sleeved to maxi length to mini length, button trimmed, tunic style, denim, cotton and so forth. Can't decide which is right? A nice cotton safari shirt dress is your best bet for starters as it's always in style.


 day time fun

queen of the night

Rome might have fallen but it's influence will never. Gladiators are culturally iconic and never go out of vogue whether they are featured in any given season or not. These past few years they may have been dragged on the scene but hardly to it's death. Keep a few around in your closet because a pair may always come in handy. Although, you can get gladiators in any material and price point, if you opt for that one time designer splurge it will be an investment that pays off. Grab a few less inexpensive flat styles for the day and save the splurge for a sexy platform caged gold evening pair. 

exotic tunic-caftan

A flowing tunic/caftan is a universally flattering garment which any woman can wear. You'll feel glamorous and super comfortable in one of these. The style options are limitless; from a affordable cottons to ultra exotic silks and sequins. Dress this up for ultimate sophistication or dress down by pairing with jeans and leggings. This is one of those pieces you will have fun matching with your own personality

camel skirt

A camel skirt is another essential that defines classic American style. Opt for a simple slim silhouette for a flattering look.

maxi jersey skirt

A maxi length black jersey skirt adds complete drama to your look. The soft knit jersey material is ridiculously comfortable while it wears well with little maintenance or fuss. You can create versatile look with this piece dressing it up or down. Pair it with a basic tee or a gorgeous blouse. The maxi isn't just for the evening anymore, wear it while strolling around or shopping and then wear it for that night out on the town. If you're not model length, don't worry because you can pull this look off by adding height with shoes and don't be afraid of the volume of a flared maxi. Simply choose an empire line that flatters the narrowest part of the body. Keep in mind the skirt should skim off your body not cling to it. Shop around for your perfect fit. A great accessory for this skirt would be a super long chain necklace but avoid over accessorizing the look with heavy baggy tops. You can keep the volume in check by adding a nice fitted jacket as well. This is just an iconic fashion staple that you should have in your closet.

signature scent 

A really lavish perfume should be a part of your wardrobe as it is a unique way to define the essence of your own personality. Every woman should have that one signature scent that will always leave a lasting impression with lingering memories. Shop around for notes that aren't too popular with the masses because this will ensure you have a one of a kind  perfume.Consider picking one up on a foreign market when you travel and try to splurge on a rich concentrated formula as opposed to a toilette. I posted a great perfume guide (click here) awhile back if you need to refer to it. A perfume is personal and should be enjoyed close to your skin by you only first then for the people who get close to you. 

the basic tank

A basic tank should always be a staple in your wardrobe. Make sure you get a few in basic and neutral shades such as black, white, nude and gray. A tank is so versatile you'll always be reaching for it. It makes for a great layering piece under suit jackets, over long sleeve Henley's, thrown over jeans or paired with nice cotton slacks. And a beige tank is always great for wearing under sheer blouses because it provides modesty and invisibility. 

the white tee

I saved this most very Iconic American staple for last. The great white tee! Truly unisex and universal. From corporate moguls to delivery boys, this essential piece transcends all cultures and class brackets. A piece of garment that binds us all together making us all look James Dean, Marlon Brandon cool. Make sure it's bright white and nice and tight. If it's too baggy will add too much bulk to your look. In a substantial fabric with some stretch to it will insure you longer wear.

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