Any media outlet related to fashion is probably directing consumers toward the latest trends. My particular favorites are fashion news segments or magazine spreads touting the season's "must haves" or the "looks everyone will be wearing this fall." It's a bunch of bologna if you ask me. Everyone doesn't need a shorts jumpsuit (a summer trend) nor can everyone wear one.
I consider a "must have" as something that literally anyone can have; it's not about price and it's certainly not about who can pull it off. A "must have" is a look that can be worn this fall, this winter, next spring or whenever. They are the pieces that can be worn by themselves or could be the components of one of those fashion spreads in which seven items can be transformed into 14 different outfits. "Must haves" are the essentials, the building blocks and tools of every gal's wardrobe.
Let's start underneath a lady's clothing. Every woman should own a nude (tan, whatever) pair of panties and bra. My friend thinks this is disgusting, but flesh colored undies are the saving grace when the other options are trashy, visible undergarments or going commando. White pants or skirts/dresses are the most obvious reasons to own a pair of knickers, same with sheer white blouses for needing a bra, but lots of lightweight fabrics in light colors have the same transparent behavior.
White bras and white panties (far grosser than their tan counterpart) won't work because the white is intensified. One clearly sees the outline of the panty because it's so much brighter than the sheerness of the garment.
White on the lower half of the body isn't always the most flattering. But every girl needs at least a flattering pair of jeans and pair of trousers. The first step is to ignore every trend thrown your way when it comes to essential jeans. High waisted, flashy colors (both blue variations and Technicolor versions) and the bells and whistles of embellishments are passing breezes. Dark denim is universally flattering. From that point on, it's all about your body. Here is the breakdown of styles: Straight-leg jeans don't taper anywhere on the body. Skinny legs taper at the ankle giving (some) the silhouette of an ice cream cone. Bootcut/flared jeans close in on the knee before flaring out, making the thighs and hips look wide.
The same can be said for trousers, the essential pant for the working woman. Choose a neutral shade with a solid fit and anything with stretch, which is flattering and comfortable.
Try a pair without slant-cut pockets as they make even a size two have wide hips.
For tops, the white button down shirt is essential. Instead of choosing a boxy cut, built like a man's dress shirt, find one that fits nicely to the body with the use of darts. Those are the seams throughout the body that give the garment shape. A white button down, versus any other shade, is classic. It can be dressed up or down, equally appropriate for the office or weekend, at the movies or a nice restaurant. It also provides a foundation for layering. Throw a cami underneath and leave the button down unbuttoned, or wear it under a blazer, vest or sweater.
Sweaters are season specific, but the cardigan is forever essential. Unlike the button down in which the neutral color is important, the cardigan knows no rules. A purple cardigan can be worn just as often as a black one. Find one that can be worn to its fullest intent. If you can't button it without the buttons bulging, it's not an essential. Cardigans dress up and add flair to any outfit, be it over a dress, tank top or t-shirt. They allow you to continue wearing tank tops into the fall or give women who dislike their arms an opportunity to wear sleeveless dresses. Go crazy, own many.
But some essentials you just need one. Like the little black dress (LBD). I don't know if there's a soul out there unfamiliar with the virtues of an LBD; suffice to say, get yourself one. It flatters every skin tone, works for every occasion (wedding, funeral, dates, daytime) and can be as expensive or as fancy as you want.
There's more to having the essential tools than basic wardrobe staples. Elixirs are also key. Two important potions every gal should have in her fashion tool belt are mascara and a good stain remover. Weird pairing, I know, but go with me. Essential clothing is only reliable if it's in prime condition. Try as you may, you will find that stains happen. And if not treated and cared for properly, you no longer have an essential, but essentially need to go shopping. Keep a stain-removing device to minimize damage control.
Mascara is another handheld device that is universally flattering. No one complains of having too long, thick or full lashes. No woman's makeup regimen is the same; some can't live without foundation/powder, others eyeliner or lipstick.
Find a brand that fits what you want -- length, fullness, etc. Weigh the pros and cons of waterproof versus regular (difficult to remove versus black tears/sweat). Realize how this one short step can truly change the look of your face and realize how six months can truly change the consistency of mascara. This is one essential that can't last forever. Continue with your favorite brand; discontinue with mascara tube after four months.
Once a closet (or makeup bag and laundry room) is stocked with the appropriate must haves, there are still the necessary tools for maintenance. It's like buying a beautiful house, filling it with fun, gorgeous items like furniture, but not having a plunger. You don't think about the plunger until your toilet is overflowing and the pretty is being destroyed. That's my gross comparison for having a closet filled with fun, great clothing, but not keeping them looking fresh.
For instance, a trusty dry cleaner. For some, the dry cleaner is an enormous hassle. There are people who meticulously check the care tags while shopping and, should they see "Dry Clean Only," place the item back on the rack and keep searching. It's not as though people have to go out of their way to track one down (you'll find 97 dry cleaners in Tulsa alone), so why all the drama? My theory is that people dislike having to pay people for what they feel they should be able to do themselves.
But fine quality items sometimes do require fine quality care. Unless it smells, has a stain or is beyond wrinkled, a dry clean only item has the potential to be worn more than once between trips. But when the time comes, have a dry cleaner ready. Chose one on proximity to where you live or the route you routinely take between home and work; find one that's cheap (but good!) or that has quick turnaround.
This is the same for alterations and shoe repair. If you are good with a needle and thread, you should always have a simple sewing kit around. This is another tool for building an essential wardrobe. Buttons come off and seams snag at the most inappropriate times (like when you've spent 40 minutes choosing an outfit). If you can do it yourself, all the better. That's why you should always have the tools on hand. If you need a fix, it's good to have a reliable professional to rely on. You may be in luck and kill two birds with one stone; some dry cleaners also take care of alterations. If not, ask around. Find a good local place for alterations through a recommendation. Remember to always test out the work prior to an emergency. It's better to check their work on a pant's hem than reworking a dress meant for meeting the future in-laws.
Word of mouth is always a great way to find a good shoe repair. A shoe salesman once overhead me asking a shopping companion if they knew of a good shoe repair and he produced a business card; I've relied on the company ever since. Shoes wear out fast sometimes and many women solve the problem by tossing the shoes ... or continuing to wear a nasty ass pair. Sometimes high heels can be salvaged by simply replacing the plastic tips, ensuring the wearer is no longer walking on metal.
You may also want to base your shoe repairer based on services performed; for instance, not all shoe repairs can fix problems with leather.
With these tools and the essential building blocks of a fashion foundation, you don't have to rely on trends. Instead, you can always be assured you are in fashion.
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