Tuesday, February 18, 2014

closet top 10

Today I'm giving you the "top 10"- the 10 things that everyone of every age and every style should have some variation of within their closet doors. Tomorrow, I'll talk about how to find your personal style to fill in the rest. :)

I will add that these 10 items are THE ITEMS I would encourage you to buy right, and buy well. Don't settle easily on fit- be picky. And if it costs a little more than you usually spend on a piece, that is okay. Spread out these purchases. But when it's all said and done, you are looking for timeless pieces that are going to be in style and age-appropriate for as long as they last. So if you go ahead and get the "good version," you only have to do it once.

"Do I need all of these items even if I'm a stay-at-home mom or other vocation that allows me to work from home?" Yes.
"Do I need all of these items if I live in a warmer, more casual climate?" Yes.
"Do I need all of these items even if I don't get dressed up often?" Yes.
Because in all of these scenarios, there will eventually BE a reason you need to dress up: church, baby baptism, funeral, wedding, etc and being inappropriately dressed to these events is unacceptable. (she says with love....) Obviously, though, the person who goes to a business for work every day will have more pairs of trousers and the mama who stays home will have more pairs of jeans, due to the nature of the job and quantity of time spent at certain locations. That's why this is a list of 10 items. You need one of each of these. More than one, only when it is necessary to you.

nude heels.
    why? because a pair of heels in the same color as your skin tone elongates your silhouette, creating the illusion of height and long legs. These heels are especially great when paired with skirts,  dresses, ankle-length pants, etc.  that show ankles and leg. Plus they go with every single outfit you could ever put on. Who doesn't want that quality in a pair of shoes??
   what to look for? a color close to your natural skin color, patent or matte, round or pointed toe, in a heel height you are comfortable with.

black blazer/black cardigan.
(a cardigan is listed for those of you in tropical climates who can't hang in a long-sleeved blazer.)
   why? To go over dresses, with jeans, or anything else you can think of. They are timeless and classic and can be as dressy or casual as you want them to be. Good for a grocery run or for work.
   what to look for? hip-length with sleeves that hit right at your wrist, arm holes that aren't too baggy, and a tailored waist. You want some good structural lines so they slim your waist visually and sit right at the top of your hips.  It creates structure for those with curves and can create curves for a boyfriend figure. If you are small-chested, thin lapels and two low buttons are just fine. For a larger bust, look for a more substantial lapel (the fold of fabric along the sides) and at least three buttons that come up to your bust line.

white button-down shirt.
   why? because they work with jeans one day and with a formal satin floor-length skirt the next. They work on every age, every style, every climate, and every outfit. Wear it with the sleeves rolled, a pair of jeans, and a statement necklace to almost any weekly-scheduled outing and you'll be put together and appropriately dressed.
   what to look for? no gaping between buttons, especially at the bust, when you move your arms back behind your body (this is a pipe dream for most of us. the most cost-effective way of dealing with this is to get some cheap beauty tape meant for such things or to use a safety pin and pin it sneakily from the inside.) Also, a fitted waist that hits at your hips, is able to be tucked in but not hanging down further than mid-buttox, and has a lapel width that flatters your build. (small frame, thin lapel. larger frame, larger lapel.) 

good pair of jeans in dark wash.
   why? a dark wash is dressier, therefore making one pair of jeans as versatile as possible. And a well-fitted pair of jeans can lift the bum, slim the leg, elongate the silhouette...are you in love yet?
   what to look for? POCKET PLACEMENT IS EVERYTHING. In an effort to keep this as brief as possible, I'll tell you to google it or shoot me a private message if you need further advice on the matter. Also, try to keep the fading to a minimum. That's generally not flattering on many legs and will put a fashion time limit on your jeans. Also, please see the note at the bottom regarding length. One more thought: bootcut is the most universally flattering cut of jeans. If you are not attempting to be trendy or don't feel confident in the choices you make yet, stick with these and you won't go wrong. Skinny jeans (and a good wide leg) can work on almost any silhouette, for almost any age, but there are lots of "rules" that go with them to successfully pull them off.

statement jewelry.
   why? these take any outfit and "crank it up a notch." It allows you to make  even a pair of jeans and a tee look stylish and fashionable.
   what to look for? I suggest having many of these, since you can get beautiful necklaces for $10 that look just as good as those that were $60+! Ebay and Etsy are great websites for these, and every store in the local mall has options. Grab them in several of your favorite colors and make sure they live up to their names- they should make a statement and be large/bold enough to grab visual attention.  My advice: only one statement is needed, between your ears and neck. Please don't wear large, colorful pieces at both places unless you're on a stage.

good "house clothes."
   why? because we all hang around the house during our "off times." snow days, sick days, weekends, evenings.... it's time to put away your lover's oversized items or old ones that don't match and get some that fit you well and are made to be flattering. Yes, flattering sweats (or yoga pants) exist. But they usually cost $30-40/piece unless you can catch a good sale. I think this is the hardest money to spend. Who wants to spend as much money on a pair of sweats as they do for a good sweater?? Let me ask you this: which will you wear more? I'm willing to bet you wear house clothes at least once a week- some of us, every evening. Can you point to anything else in your closet you wear as often? You know I'm all about cost-per-wear, homeslice.
   what to look for? These days we have sweatpants in a variety of fits, leggings in colors and prints, and yoga pants galore, which means you have many great options! Just find the style that fits your personal one, and is flattering, and pair it with a hoodie/sweatshirt that FITS. (this doesn't mean tight.) To know whether a sweatshirt is the right size for you, look at where the shoulder seam hits your natural shoulder. It should be the same place. Also, pay attention to sleeve length (it should hit right at the wrist just like your other shirts) and the arm holes should be just right. Not too small, not too large. Oversized hoodies are beloved, I know, but they just aren't flattering.

well-cut trousers.
   why? because there are situations that just call for a good pair of dress pants. Date night, church services, and life ceremonies will all take advantage of this item in your closet, even if you don't have to wear them to work in Monday through Friday.
   what to look for? Just like a pair of jeans, pocket placement in the derriere region matters! If your pants don't have back pockets, that's fine, but make sure that's flattering on YOUR body, and please be sure you have the right underwear. There should be NO visible panty-line. That is my biggest tip for any pair of dress pants: the right undies underneath! They should also just hover above the floor when you have shoes on. (read: NOT the top of your shoe, the top of the floor.)

a colored (NON-NEUTRAL) purse.
   why? because technically, one shouldn't wear a black purse with brown shoes, a brown purse with black shoes, etc., and who has time to worry about changing which purse to throw their keys into when you're running out the door?
   what to look for? A purse in a color you love! Easiest item on the list! If you have a colored coat, just make sure the two don't look like a holiday when paired together, and you're good to go.

black shift dress.
   why? because this can be appropriate for any event (holiday party, birthday celebration, dinner out, wedding, etc) when paired with the right accessories. You can even add layers like blazers or cardigans during the cold weather to make it a year-round piece.
   what to look for? I am posting a picture of the most universally-flattering style below. Look for a neckline and sleeve style that flatters your body (either buy a book that helps you figure out your body shape and the way to dress it, become besties with google, or shoot me a private message if you don't know what this means for you!) but most importantly, it's the tailoring of the dress that matters. You should see darts around the bust line in most styles, and ALL should have a tailored waist and hit an inch or two above the knee.


black pumps with a medium heel height.
   why? because your nude pumps are great for every situation that leaves leg or ankle showing, but what do you wear with jeans or dress pants? These!
   what to look for? a medium heel height is the most universally flattering. If you prefer 4" heels, you go, girlfriend!! And if you're a kitten-heel kind of gal, do what you need to do BUT know that those ballet flats and kitten heels come with a set of styling rules, or they can turn into your legs' worst enemies quickly. For the safest move, stick with a medium height (2") heel. Toe shape and heel thickness will change with the times, so stick with something that pleases you and go with it. My favorite will always be the pointed toe with a pencil-thin heel.

-don't give up on your shoes when they have had better days. They can be re-heeled, re-soled, re-tipped, etc. Cobblers are still around and easier to find than you think. I have put heels on shoes 4-5 times until the upper part of the shoe gave out. And it generally costs around the price of a pizza.

-EXPECT TO HAVE PANTS AND BLAZERS ALTERED. To say it nicely, you are a freak if you can buy these items perfectly-fitted "off the rack." In many stores (Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, Seven For All Mankind, etc) they offer free or reasonable in-store tailoring. If they don't, a good seamstress in your town can hem a pair of pants for $10-12. Many can even recreate your original hem!

-in a perfect world, if you can afford it, you will have two perfect pairs of jeans and two perfect pairs of trousers as they are listed above: one hemmed for flats and one hemmed for heels. If you are wearing the same pair of pants for both, it is safe to say they are the incorrect length for at least one of those pairs....maybe both! Eek!

-I also recommend having a classic, tan trench coat for spring/fall/rain. They are classic, timeless, and flattering. Bonus points to those with one in their closets!

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