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Friday, May 18, 2012

Life's Essentials

"A good sermon should be like a woman's skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials." ~Ronald Knox

Wardrobe staples are generally considered to be those go-to pieces that are the foundation of a good wardrobe. They're often pieces lacking in a lot of 'personality-' neutral color, classic, understated style.  They're like that for a reason.  Being classic in style means that they won't readily go out of fashion.  Think of them as almost a backdrop for the more dramatic, ever-evolving-with-fashion  elements in your wardrobe.  You can spend more on these foundational pieces and wear the hell out of them for years.  This is why they're called 'staples.' Since you'll wear them so much you should make sure they fit perfectly and be in your very best design lines. And the best quality you can afford.

Most people will treat the 'staples' as foundational pieces to build the wardrobe around, and not as the entire wardrobe.  There will, of course, be some minimalist, purist types who will take perverse pleasure in in acquiring only the staples, and only in the very best quality they can afford.  The rest of us will drool at their smug restraint and the resulting annoying organization in their closets.  Such is life.  (For slobs like me, anyway.)

Here's my take on some commonly accepted staples.

But first, a note on why so many 'basics' are suggested in black; with black you can get away with a slightly inferior quality fabric- the quality doesn't stand out as much as it does with a 'color.' Then there's the fact that being black it won't show dirt or stains- at least not as obviously. Also, most all garments are offered in black, so it's easy to find and replace items as you need them. There's no issue with matching black garments.  Black also 'goes' with all other colors and neutrals.

The Little Black Dress (LBD)-  As you can find infinite varieties of styles out there it's nearly impossible to not find one that's flattering.  (At last count I think I have 14. I think I can stop now with the LBD's, eh?) Can be dressed down for the farmers market or up for a black tie affair, depending on the type and quality of the fabric. One of the most versatile pieces you can own, period.
Black Jacket- to go with both other suit pieces or jeans- casual or professional. Make sure it's the right length for your proportions. This would work with 'my additions,' below.
Great Jeans - not the ones you wash the car in, please. NICE ones. Consider dark blue- easier to dress up.
Great Khakis - flat front.
White Button Down Shirt- white is hard to wear- not everyone looks good in it. If you don't, pick a soft version of one of your neutrals instead.
Cardigan Sweater(s) - best to start with neutrals first, then add color as you wish. If you don't look good in a crew neck but want the classic, then just don't button it up all the way.
Trench Coat - a flattering shade of beige is considered classic- but go with another color if you prefer.
Pumps - most will pick black, but can be any neutral.
Ballet Flats- with some support, ideally- better than totally flat.
Good Bag -  leather would be nice, preferably in a color that works nicely with the pumps, and good quality.
Shell Top(s)- at least a couple in colors that work seamlessly with your 'staple' pants and skirts. Make sure the neckline is flattering.
Long Sleeve Top(s)- same as w/shells
Jewelry- most traditionally a pearl necklace and perhaps pearl studs, as well as diamond studs, all either real or fake.  Add gold hoops if you like.

My additions:

Black Skirt- in your best hem length; can be dressed up or down, casual or professional.
Black Slacks- can also be dressed up or down.
Classic Wrap Dress- great in black, or other neutral.

Hope this little sermon hit the sweet spot- not too long, not too short…

Happy Dressing!