Every Fantasy Wardrobe needs to start from a beginning. Once you’ve understood the basic financial platform that all smart fashionistas need to know before they embark on building their wardrobe (i.e. don’t go into debt for fashion), you need to start with what every fashionista needs to have in her wardrobe.
Here are the basics…
1. Tanks & T-shirts. This is a must have item. I’m not talking about the t-shirts/tanks with a rock band on it or some sort of inspirational motto of the moment…I’m talking about fitted tanks and t-shirts. Gap calls these kinds of tanks/tees their “Favorite” line. You can get them in a variety of colors (even stripes and polka dots), shapes and sizes. I recommend the Gap Favorite tees/tanks because this is the only brand that has had top notch performance year in and year out.
I still have tanks/tees from 7 years ago and they are all still in excellent form. The color hasnt’ faded…the material isn’t fading…the stitching is still in tact. This is what we call a qualitative brand. It’s worth every single penny…luckily, most of these go on sale every season for under $10 (I love when I can get them for $3 each).
I recommend Gap over Old Navy or Banana Republic because they are not qualitative enough and none of these tshirts have survived the test of time…maybe 1-2 years…3 years TOPS. Gap…they’re still going and going…like the Energizer bunny.
2. The WHITE Tank/T-shirt. Every spring/summer wardrobe, no matter if you bought it last year, you’ll have to buy it again every year. The WHITE tank/tee is one of the most important pieces in your spring/summer arsenal. Some fashionistas buy them from Hanes and get the 3 pack because they’re going to end up throwing them away at the end of the season. Why? You can’t get rid of the sweat stains, dears. There’s no way around it.
I usually buy 2 white tanks and 2 white tees at the start of every spring/summer. It’s usually enough to get me through the season.
4. Jeans. Every woman needs a good pair of jeans that makes her feel like a million bucks. You know these jeans…the ones you can probably live in. Invest in a good pair of jeans that make you feel and look amazing.
5. The sweater/cardigan. Every woman needs basic sweaters and cardigans in crewneck or v-shaped in neutral colors. In the winter/fall, brown, black, taupe and gray are essentials. In the spring/summer, I always find that a must have comes in white (see 2 on reason why you may have to buy a new white cardi every spring/summer).
6. LBD. The Little Black Dress. This little number may take years for you to find. Or if you are lucky, you’ll find one right off the bat and it will get you through the rest of your lifetime. The little black dress is that go to dress any time you have a function that requires a dress that can perform many duties from a job interview to a business meeting to drinks with friends and colleagues to a dinner date to meeting the parents to museum and theatre events. This is the do-all dress that you can basically add an accessory to give it a new look and no one would know it’s the same dress.
This dress is your godsend for just about every single event that could come up…and you have nothing to wear…and then you remember your little black dress and all is saved!
7. Black pants. There is no such thing as having too many pairs of black pants. They go with everything!
8. The Wrap. Thanks to Julia Roberts for making the pashmina stole the most important part of every woman’s wardrobe. In NYC, you can buy pashmina scarves for as little as $5 in any color you desire. These are great any time of the year to wear as a scarf or as a wrap.
9. Ballet flats. Every woman has to own a pair of ballet flats. It’s our secret weapon when our feet decide that they are no longer happy in our heels. Carrying around a pair of ballet flats in your bag is a must. It will save you when you find you have to walk 10 blocks home…in a torrential downpour.
10. Rain shoes. Speaking of torrential downpours…every woman should own a pair of rain shoes. Notice I didn’t say BOOTS. Not all women can wear rain boots because their calves are too big (I’m one of those women). In my haste to find a solution, I discovered rain ballet flats. Hunter and Sperry Top Sider have sold them in the past. Sperry also sells ankle boots.
I highly recommend buying a pair of rain shoes because if you don’t…you could end up tossing many pairs of shoes because they were ruined in the rain.
11. Black heels. Every woman should own one pair of black heels that she can basically live in. I once wore mine all over NYC until I had no choice but to toss them because I had run them ragged (and yes, I would run in these shoes when it was demanded of me). Find a pair that are basic and comfortable enough to walk in, run in, basically…LIVE IN.
12. A Black Winter Coat. Every woman should have a black winter coat. I would usually put ‘wool’ down, but not everybody can wear wool. Usually wool and cashmere are the warmest coats. I only bring out the down coat when it’s very cold out. But for fashionistas, you need a black winter coat because it’s dressier when you have to go out at night, it’s perfect for business attire, and looks great with just about everything.
13. A trench. You can have fun with this one. While most say to get either a khaki or a black trench, I threw that rule out the window years ago. While I have both, I tend to wear a navy blue one, as well as colorful ones with different patterns.
14. A Navy and Black Pantsuit. It’s always wise to have a navy and a black pantsuit. Job seekers should wear navy to interviews. For all other times, a black suit will suffice. But also buy a navy skirt to go with the navy pantsuit. Many potential employers would rather see the navy skirt suit.
15. Mettalic flats. I’m obsessed with gold glitter ballet flats…but what’s ‘in’ for the spring/summer? SILVER. This is a great alternative to black and brown shoes. They go with just about everything. You can wear them with jeans, a suit, business attire, or even a cocktail dress.
16. One formal gown. Depending on where you live, I only recommend this to people that live in the big city. Most weddings require a formal gown (especially in NYC). Even if you head to the ballet or opera, or a museum exhibit opening…you need a gown. When I lived in DC, I owned 10 different gowns, because I went to a lot of socialite outings. Most of my dresses were black, but I would have an occasional dark purple, a spring dress, and one that just screamed…HELLOOO, NURSE!
17. THE Handbag. Find yourself one big ‘ole tote that matches your wardrobe that you can put everything you can possibly think of (including those ballet flats) into that bag…and buy it. I’ve found great totes for around $20 at various retailers (like Daffy’s and Filene’s Basement) that lasted me…well…we’re going on a very long time now. Find one that is constructed very well (it doesn’t have to be leather), and is big enough (but not too heavy) to carry what you need.
Try starting from here. You’ll find that these items are all interchangeable. Try to stay away from prints when it comes to the basics. Try to build your wardrobe on solid colors that will be interchangeable with just about everything you own. Sure, you can get a pink tee or tank, pair it with your black (or taupe or white) cardi and a pair of black trousers and silver metallic flats to the office.
The purpose of the basics…it’s your foundation and the backbone of your closet. What you incorporate into your wardrobe afterwards…those basics will only complement those items.
Remember, the most important rule in building your basics…they have to be qualitative clothes…not cheapo stuff from H&M or Forever 21. Those items were not built to last.
Your basics are meant to stand the test of time where you rarely if ever need to replace them (except for those white tees/tanks).