I know the feeling. Every season, you notice the sudden infiltration of fashion week trend alerts on blogs you follow, Facebook posts and tweets from different tents, and a widespread excitement about fashion. You get excited about the new trends and cuts that will make their way to your closet soon enough, and you can’t wait to wear that geometric maxi with the high-low hemline.
Fast forward a year, and you’re excited about the new new trends and cuts that will make their way to your closet soon enough–your closet full of, ugh, nothing. You have absolutely nothing good to wear. I simply cannot understand why we ever thought high-low hemlines were a good idea. Right? Am I right?!
…you say to yourself. And besides, that trend made your legs look stumpy anyway. Remember those dresses that were loose at the top and then turned into a skin-tight minidress right around the positively widest part of your body? What was the point of that? Were those flattering on anyone?
The problem is this: instead of dressing in ways that are flattering to our bodies, investing in great pieces that will last (both in quality and in fashion!) for years, picking great staples around which we can build myriad chic outfits..
we so often follow the trends religiously. We buy cheap, stocking up on neon and spikes at Forever21 or H&M, knowing full well that none of this will be wearable in a year. So I have a better idea.
Let’s aim a little higher. Lately I’ve been completely obsessed with the French lifestyle–more so than normal–from the food, the thin frame (despite the beurre and baguette), the perenially chic wardrobes, and the, sigh, finesse at love. What I’ve learned of the French vogue is something I’ve held dear all along:
– invest in timeless pieces that flatter your body shape (and not Jennifer Lawrence’s or Michelle Williams’)
– search for versatile pieces that can make their way into nearly any outfit, regardless of the situation
– less is more–simplifying your wardrobe means simplifying your life (no more dressing in the guest room.. which is, yes, where my closet resides), simplifying your daily dressing routine (which of my 32 dresses shall I wear today? Oh, right, none of them look that good on my pear shape!), and really honing in on classic, flattering outfits for every single day
I was inspired by these brilliantly simple principles to put together a short list of pieces that can get you started on this new, simpler, yet more sophisticated wardrobe.
5 Pieces to Simplify and Upgrade Your Wardrobe
1. The trench coat
Is there anything that makes a rainy day more glamorous than a well-fitting trench coat? I’m summoning visions of Marlene Dietrich as we speak. Paired with a great pair of skinny jeans, the length of a trench coat adds great levels to your outfit. Looking for something a little more bold? Try a classic, permanently-chic shade, like this gorgeous tomato red. Avoid trendy shades.
2. The little black dress (LBD)
We all know the charms of a little black dress, and this go-to piece should definitely have a spot in your wardrobe. Select a dress that’s a great length for your age and legs (I simply can’t rock the super-mini on the daily anymore, you guys.. it’s just.. weird), a shape that’s great for your body, and a quality that will last you through several seasons. In the picture, notice the totally different shape of the different dresses–the dress on the right will help out ladies who wish to minimize their hips or enhance a smaller bust. The dress on the left is a classic sheath shape that can help minimize a larger bust, show off great legs (but not too much leg!), or complement a svelte shape overall. A total classic. In the middle, a chic sheath with beautiful white piped contouring.
3. The classic leather bag
No material really matures like leather, and a great leather piece is always in style. Choose a classic leather handbag to complement your personal style and usage. Do you walk constantly? Try a smaller crossbody that’s large enough to carry what you need, but not so large that you’re developing back pains. Let’s be honest–we’ll fill whatever purse we end up with!
Consultant? A larger tote might be right for you–something big enough to slip your laptop into for on-the-go meetings.
Whatever the shape or size, stick with a classic shade of leather. My personal preference is a cognac or camel–the subtle hint of color creates visual variety, without being “trendy”, but rather, classic.
4. Classic leather jacket
What would I do without my leather moto jacket? What would I wear during fall and spring, or layered during winter? Surely my life would be less chic without this super staple. Avoid a blazer-type cut with traditional lapels. It’s too, erm, Nicholas Cage in City of Angels, too 90s. Instead, opt for a more “Ramones” style–zips to one side of the chest and opens for a wide lapel, or a moto-style with its box collar and no lapel to speak of. Again, stick to classic colors–primarily neutrals–when building your simplified, chic wardrobe. There’s hardly no shade of color you could wear with everything you own–especially for multiple seasons, which is why I recommend going with a cream, taupe, caramel, cognac, or black.
5. Shift or sheath dress
Did you know that Anna Wintour, fashion’s badass equivalent of Gordon Ramsay (in preparing for Master Chef auditions, he’s pretty much my go-to comparison for terrifying and wonderful all in one), sleeps in a shift dress? Maybe not quite that extreme, but she can hardly be caught without her favorite shift, a pair of killer nude heels, and dark sunnies (so, she says, no one can tell if she’s not paying attention to their crappy spring line). A shift or sheath dress is an absolute must and can fit into any wardrobe for years to come. But what’s the difference? Both a shift and sheath dress end somewhere around the knee and have uncomplicated lines, making them perfect for everyday wear. A shift hangs more and is less fitted around the waist, whereas a sheath is more fitted in general and can emphasize er, the sexier lines of the body. I’m all for it.
Avoid trendy patterns and colors and opt for a truly flattering shade (purple and other jewel tones work well for me, being pale, cool-toned, and brunette; red would work great for a blonde!). It’s totally fine to stick with neutrals here, too–whites are crisp and clean, black kills two birds with one stone, and a grey is sexy and put-together (try with a pair of black pumps for work; switch out a pair of cognac leather cage lace-up heels and a bright red lip for dinner.. va va voom, big time). What I adore about the black sheath in the picture is the subtle hint of white piping that follows the natural curve of a woman’s body, whittling the waist with a simple trick of the eye. Contour? Gorgeous.
The red dress adds the slightest hint of peplum, which, of course, is a trend right now, but it’s not “peplummy”–rather, it emphasizes the hourglass figure. The bright red is a classic.
What staples do you keep in your wardrobe? What do you find yourself wearing again and again?
Andrew Marc is a generous sponsor of the Stylist Quo and one of our favorite designers of classic, chic pieces! Shop Andrew Marc and Marc New York at www.andrewmarc.com. For the contour black and white sheath dress, try Nordstrom.0