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PostHeaderIcon Ten Closet Essentials

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We’ve all been there.  A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Why does this happen?

We all have clothes, but do we have the essential pieces that keep us covered from season to season and get through difficult situations.  Practical pieces around which we can build a functional and flattering wardrobe.

What constitues the 10 essential wardrobe pieces has been discussed by experts and fashionista from L.A. to New York to Paris.  Everyone presents a slightly different list but I don't think there's one, absolute truth because everyone’s lifestyle varies. 

Still, from everything I've seen so far, Tim Gunn, the well known figure from Project Runaway, presents a balanced, thoughtful list that should work for most professional women.

1.Little Black Dress - The concept of the LBD has been around since Chanel. I bow to this revolutionary idea, but I'm not convinced it has to be black.  Let's call it LMD - Little Magic Dress. A dress in a solid color that complements your natural coloring, fits you perfectly and you feel fabulous in. The design itself should be fairly simple so you can dress it up or down using different accessories and shoes, and wear it many different ways. A shorter dress is more versatile than a longer one but length is very important. The hem should hit at the sweet spot where your legs look the best. Also, make sure to choose fabric that has some stretch so it gives you flexibility when needed.

2.Trench coat - This depends on where you live.  You might need something warmer in the winter if you don't live in California, but this piece basically never goes out of style. As with the dress, go with simple, classic style in black, navy, or especially the hot neutrals of this season- camel and gray. Here's an example:  http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/3076497

3.Dressy Pants- Wide leg, slim leg, straight leg, or boot cut, it's completely your choice, but they should fit nicely and feel right.  I risk being boring but black is still the most versatile color for pants, and goes with everything. This season Gap offers a nice range of styles at very affordable prices, about $50 and up. 

4.Classic shirt - The white button-down shirt is always classic and can be worn by itself or under a jacket or cardigan. Here are some examples: http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=407843&PseudoCat=se-xx-xx-xx.esn_results.  It doesn't have to be white, though. Any solid color that looks great on you will do.  Make sure it fits right and emphasize your strenghts and downplay your weaknesess.  For example, if you have broad shoulders, don't wear a big collar. If you have a slim waist, go with a nicely fitted style that accentuates it.

Different companies make their clothing with different bodies in mind.  Find the company that suites your body type.  Look for firm, crisp fabrics that will give you a more polished look and will last longer.  Many stores, such as Banana Republic and Nordstrom, carry wrinkle- free shirts. 

5.Jeans - Everybody should have at least one pair of jeans, but it's all about the fit.  They should feel like your second skin and make your body look even better that it really does. To find a pair that fits is not an easy job and might take a while, but you'll know once you find it.  Ideally, you want  to have 2 pairs - one more casual and shorter to go with flats and one dressier pair to wear with high heels. You'll  never miss with dark wash jeans, darker colors  are slimming.  And pay a higher price if you find the right pair instead of buying 3 very average looking pairs of jeans.
Jeans last long er if they're made properly. Here are some examples: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/denim/matchstick/PRDOVR~18191/18191.jsp

6 Any occasion top - Look for a top that fits nicely under a jacket or cardigan but serves as a fun and flattering piece  for after- work events. I'm absolutely crazy about polka dot blouses this season.

7. Jacket - It doesn't have to be a suit jacket, but choose one that can be worn with your dressy pants or skirt in a professional environment and can also work with jeans.  It should flatter your body, bring out your best features and disguise some trouble spots.  Go for solid colors in your best neutrals. Something to consider: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/blazers/woolblazers/PRDOVR~29762/29762.jsp

8. Classic skirt - Even if you have dressy pants, you need a skirt, too. The black pencil skirt is definitely classic, but if an A-line skirt looks better on you, go for it.  is your choice, too.  Be careful about the length.  Know the magic length that makes your legs look fabulous.  At the knee length is always safe. You can go a bit shorter if you're proud of your legs, or longer, accordingly. Below the knee length is very popular this season. If you're petite, avoid long skirts, they will make you look shorter. Here's a gret classic skirt http://www.zappos.com/michael-michael-kors-ponte-pencil-skirt-2-black

9.Sweat suit alternative - I haven't met a woman who doesn't like to be comfortable, but some of them have taken casual to the extreme, baggy sweatsuits and rubber flip- flops. Think cords, khakis, cotton dresses, or skirts as a comfortable, still stylish alternative. This is a good look: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/pants/chinoutility/PRDOVR~29468/29468.jsp

10. Pumps - Tim Gunn didn't put shoes on his list,  but I don't know how  a woman can survive without a pair of comfortable yet stylish pumps. Whether peep-toe or classic, kitten heel,  stiletto or chunky heel, a  pump in a neutral color (black, brown, navy or gray) will work well with all of your other wardrobe essentials. A pair of ballet flats is a nice option for weekend or casual, but for a professional woman pumps come first.

Bonus - something trendy _ Military jacket, lacey top, shiny belt, or fur vest for a sweet indulgence. 
http://www.shopstyle.com/product/bebe-tops-2b-faux-fur-sash-vest/185605184

Life doesn't have to be complicated when it comes to your wardrobe.  It takes time to find good essential pieces, but once you have them, you'll be spending no more than 5 minutes every morning picking an outfit . And once you have the basics, it's easy (and inexpensive) to jazz your wardrobe up with a few trendy accessories. Happy shopping! --DP


As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image.  Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level ,or people who are going through  various life transitions. In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:26)

 

Comments  

 
0 #7 2010-11-02 00:21
THANK YOU for saying the little black dress can be any color! I don't look good in black and have always felt like I'm missing out.

Where can I find pumps that don't hurt my feet? I speak at events where I have to be in heels for hours sometimes.Can you suggest any brands?
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0 #6 2010-11-01 23:14
I do agree that all the above mentioned wardrobe staples are a must. I was in an utter panic myself a month ago when I was invited for a job interview and had no proper jacket to wear.
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0 #5 2010-10-30 22:59
Diana _ I need to update my Trench coat and love the Tahari 'Lola' Notched Collar Walking Coat. Should I get it in Spiceberry or Navy? xoxox Yolanda
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0 #4 2010-10-30 17:27
Love the ideas and great photo, Diana!
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0 #3 2010-10-30 04:41
Diana,
So when is your fashion book coming out? I will pre-order one, before you even start writing it. I would love it!!!
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0 #2 2010-10-30 02:06
Thanks, Diana, for "permission" to have a LBD that isn't black!
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0 #1 2010-10-29 20:05
Diana, as always your articles are very interesting and helpful! Thanks for sharing great tips.
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