Unconventional Wardrobe Basics

Wardrobe basics are a common topic of magazine articles and blog posts. They're important because items like a little black dress and a classic suit in a good neutral are the items we build on to make our wardrobes work. However, a closet full of basics isn't very interesting.

Before starting Fashion Me Fabulous, Jael Paris took a look at my closet and banned me from buying anything black. With the exception of some undergarments, I didn't buy anything black for close to a year afterward. I spent a lot of time infusing color into what had become an all too basic wardrobe. When I did allow myself to begin shopping for black again, I started to shop for unique shapes and began looking for good, colorful accessories. This has given me a far more interesting wardrobe than the one Jael assessed several years ago.

Through this process I've built a new shopping list of wardrobe basics that keep things interesting and give me something to wear with my LBD and classic white dress shirt. Here are a few of those things:

Colorful Shoes: These make any outfit pop. I know a lot of women who have great red pumps, but it seems to stop there. I'm trying to achieve a rainbow in my footwear collection. I have purple (this is my personal neutral), green, gold and blue just to name a few. I'm on the search for a good pair of red shoes, yellow sandals and some hot pink shoes.

Interesting Tights: From bright colors to fun patterns, a pair of cute tights is essential to the way I dress most of the year. I can done a simple little gray dress and black pumps, but the tights make the outfit pop. Best of all, tights can be found cheap. I shop department store clearance when the seasons change and look for designer tights at Marshalls or T.J. Maxx for a quarter their original price.

Vintage Necklaces: Vintage costume jewelry is pretty cheap and rather easy to find. If I can't find any I like, For Love 21 can provide my with vintage looking necklaces for under $10 (when they fall apart I just put them together with other broken necklaces for a whole new look). That basic tee and those classic jeans make a cute outfit, but they're even cuter with a long vintage necklace and a pair of purple shoes.

Fun Dresses: Most articles about wardrobe basics say the LBD will take go almost everywhere a dress needs to go, and a good one really can show up at a party Saturday night, church Sunday morning and the office on Monday. However, I can never have too many dresses. Just wear one item of clothing (maybe some with tights and a jacket depending on the weather and occasion) paired with shoes and you're out the door looking fabulous. No fussing to find tops and pants to go together. No searching for a color of print to make your drab neutrals pop. Just fun prints and shapes that can be a whole outfit on their own. Of course, I like to play and pile on the the accessories sometimes too.

Keeper Trend Pieces: Some trends just fit my sense of style so I buy them up when available and continue wearing them after they "go out of style." I'm a sucker for a hippie blouse. I'm seeing them everywhere again and I want them all. The ones I stocked up on in high school are falling apart so I'm glad the trend is back. My harem pants might look dated in a couple years, but with some careful styling I'll look quirky rather than fashion victim-y. A carefully purchased trend piece can become a wardrobe staple and help establish my personal style.

What do you consider a basic in your wardrobe? What are you always shopping for even if it isn't on Tim Gunn's list of 10 items everyone woman must own?


This post was amazing and I like it. Your stuff was fantastic and your piece was lovely. Thank you.

Charles A

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