Own the basics and you’ll never ask, “What should I wear?”
Remember the food pyramid? Apply those principles (variety, moderation, portion control) to what you put in your closet, and you’ll have a well-balanced wardrobe.
The Basics: Build a strong foundation with a strategic selection of basics that will mix with almost everything in your closet.
Blouses: We are talking feminine necklines to give a traditional business suit a pretty and modern spin or paired with a cardigan and jeans to update a more casual look. Blouses are also a great way to add color and prints to an outfit. When everything else is neutral, let the blouse bring some personality into the picture. You will need a great white button front cotton shirt and it should be a no-iron shirt. I recommend an investment piece from Brooks Brothers that comes in 3 different styles, fitted, tailored and classic as well as regular and petite. Also invest in a few classic stripes.
Knitwear: Choose knitwear in natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and cashmere as they will wear better and hold their color longer than artificial fabrics. Cardigans, wraps and crew necks are great for layering and are a softer, more casual alternative to a blazer.
A-line Skirt: This classic shape looks great on ANY body type. It defines the waist while flaring subtly from the hips. Women with larger hips find the A shape helps to conceal them, while those with minimal hip action are thrilled to discover this shape actually accentuates them.
Pencil Skirt: Pencil skirts can flatter almost any body shape when chosen carefully. For the more androgynous figure, look for a straight and narrow cut to hug and accent the hips. If you are shapelier, look for one with a thicker waistband that falls straight from the hip. This will help to create balance in your bodyline while still showing off your curves. Versatility is key, as this skirt can go from the boardroom to dinner with a silk blouse and a few accessory changes.
Fitted Jacket: There is a reason corporate executives always wear suits to important meetings. There is something very “smart” about a fitted jacket. It can elevate even a pair of jeans and a T-shirt into a more pulled together ensemble. A structured jacket accents the waistline, while small shoulder pads can de-emphasize a larger chest and balance a larger hip.
Tailored Trousers: It is all about the fit. Not all pants are created equal! Pants are the hardest clothing item to fit, so you have to work at finding the one for your body. Options include, petite, regular, tall, mid-rise, high-rise, pleat front, plain front, narrow leg, wide leg, plain bottom, cuffed bottoms – yikes – where to begin! Begin with your tape measure! Measure your height, inseam, waist, hips, and thighs and then refer to the size charts on-line! Every major retailer has posted size charts on their website. Most designers/stores now carry specific models in trousers every season. Do your homework before you ever walk in the store. Find the shape & fit best for your proportion and then invest in your neutrals (black, navy, brown, tan) in a year-round fabric.
Suit: A pant or skirt suit is a fantastic addition to any working woman’s wardrobe as they can be worn together or broken up, creating more options. If you can find one with both pants AND a skirt, even better! Purchase the “best fabric” you can afford for longer wear, and if the fit is not precise, invest in tailoring.
Wrap Dress: A dress that wraps at the smallest part of your waistline or a faux wrap dress with a defined, banded waistline, will flatter most shapes. The dress that made Diane Von Furstenberg famous is as versatile as it is flattering. Wear it layered, best with thin fabric camisoles, for the office and alone with a great pair of heels for date night.
Little Black Dress (LBD): Almost always at the top of every “essentials” list, the Little Black Dress is most likely already in your closet. Don’t think about it just for evening soirees, as it can be a staple of your work wardrobe as well. A simple sheath made of high quality fabric can pair terrifically with a cardigan or blazer and string of pearls for the office. Remove said cover up and switch up the pearls for a bold bangle, statement necklace and rockin’ heels, and you are ready for a night on the town.
Cocktail Dress: Not to be confused with the little black dress, you should have one AMAZING dress in your closet that you can pull out for that night when you know you want to make an entrance. It is all about incredible fit, fabrics that drape and hug in all the right places, and knowing that when you have that all important event (charity gala, holiday party, wedding, high school reunion, etc) you have this stylish option waiting in your closet.
High Heels: Every woman should own at least one pair, probably black or nude. High heels can turn a day outfit into night, add height to the vertically challenged, make you stand straighter and work your calf muscles creating gorgeous gams. Let’s be honest here, high heels are sexy! For those worried about the discomfort of wearing heels, please realize, not all heels are created equally. Believe it or not, some heels can be quite comfortable and the term ‘high’ is different for everyone – it could be a 2, 3, or even a 4-inch heel.
Fashionable Flats: You cannot escape ‘flats’ these days. They are available in every color, textured and shiny, embellished and at every price-point possible. Grab a few pair to wear with your lean jeans, skirts or casual dresses, but make sure they make a style statement other than ‘I am wearing these because they are comfortable.’
Leather Jacket: Leather jackets have moved beyond the young rebels who favored them in black motorcycle styles. They now come in a variety of shapes including trenches, blazers and bomber styles. Choose the one that best fits your own shape and lifestyle. Coming in a number of different colors, they offer up a subtle luxury for all ages. And if leather is out of your price-range, go for pleather, very few spectators will ever know the difference!
Your Perfect Pair of Jeans: It shouldn’t be about the latest trend. Look for the shape that looks best on your body. A straight leg or boot-cut with a mid rise are the best styles to start with, as they will flatter most shapes. A dark wash will give you the longest, leanest leg line. (Stay away from those with bleaching, rips, or bedazzling – is that even a word?) When you do find your best fitting jean, stock up. Keep a pair longer in length to wear with heels, while hemming the other to wear with flats.
Trench Coat: It doesn’t get much more timeless than a trench. While not quite “season-less”, you will get many more months wear out of this coat, than any other in your closet. Trenches come in a variety of lengths, choose the one that works best with your shape. You can have fun with the traditional navy, beige or black by adding colorful scarves, and stylish belts giving an unexpected spin to the classic trench. And then of course accessorize it with a great looking umbrella!
Doreen Dove coaches women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. For additional inspiration visit http://www.DoreenDove.com