style staples

Style Staples

I was just having a discussion with some friends about style staples: those outfits that you wear that go anywhere, look great on your, and you just find yourself reaching for again and again. I’ve also read countless books and articles talking about what basics every woman should have in her closet.

Every time I read those lists, I just think about how unrealistic they are for my life. At one time, years ago, I decided to collect the clothes that these lists suggested: basic blazer, black shift dress or other LBD, white button down shirt, trench coat (ok, never bought that but I borrowed one), black dress slacks, black suit… First of all, I felt like I was going to a funeral with all that black! Growing up in traditional European Catholic family, black was ONLY for funerals and I can’t shake that feeling now. Definitely NO black at weddings! I really only wear it in shoes or cardigans now. The white button down and blazer reminded me way too much of the 12 years I spent in uniform at a private school. Just add a pleated skirt and I was ready to go! Suits… blah… I almost always wore separates to job interviews. I guess from time to time I wore them, but they were usually something interesting like a cream suit. Trench coat… ewww… felt like a creepy old man.

I know girls who can pull off these staples with panache. I’ve seen it time and again. But personally, I felt really plain and I a) obviously don’t like black and b) I hate wearing things without a tiny bit of detailing. A shift dress… meh. A shirtdress with a bow detail and maybe some gathering. So me! But I think so many of the staples that I have would work for a lot of girls, with the right amount of tweaking.

Some things I have to admit so that you can get a better idea of my wardrobe: I have very, very few clothes (one in, three out!), I only buy cheap shoes, I spend good money on purses, I don’t work so it’s mostly jeans and denim skirts every day, I probably live most of my life in stylish sweats, and I will always, always pick a cardigan over a fitted blazer. All the shoes featured here is almost exactly the amount of shoes I own (less than 10). I probably have other rules, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

So here are some examples of what my wardrobe looks like… Tell me what you think! Do the wardrobe essentials in magazines fit you more? Are you a pretty basic dresser? Are you totally out there when you decide what to wear in the morning? Really, how often do you wear pajamas out of the house??

Here goes… (Oh, and I’ve posted a ton of LC Lauren Conrad clothes only because I just bought a bunch, I think they’re cute and they’re really inexpensive. I’m not getting paid by either Lauren Conrad or Kohl’s! Promise!)

Standout Vintage Dress: This is so similar to a vintage Hawaiian/Gidget sundress I own. I bought it at a vintage department store for about $20 and I have worn it for at least 15 years.

Cute Jersey Vest: I personally don’t own this item yet, but I plan on getting one soon. I would consider it a current staple, that is, don’t spend a ton of money on it because it will be considered a staple for about 1-2 years, but it’s cute and goes with everything. This one is LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Skinny Jeans: I think these are also a current staple that don’t seem to be going anywhere soon. I like a dark rinse. I don’t think you have to be skinny to wear skinny jeans. Just get ones that fit really well, even when you sit down and move around. If needed, I sometimes get the waists of jeans tailored so my underwear isn’t sticking out. I always fit jeans in the thighs and tailor from there. I can’t find the picture, but I also wear mostly boot cut jeans. Flares can get too trendy, boyfriend jeans also go in and out of style, and straight leg jeans seem to only flatter guys. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Shirtdress: I can’t say enough how shirtdresses are ALWAYS in my wardrobe. I like the 50s style that’s nipped in the waist with a collar, but I also like more trendy ones like this slouchy drop waist dress. This is the kind of thing I would wear every day. Japan.Ruffle Tank: Since the weather here is pretty stable all year round, I have a million tanks and camis to layer under everything. I like this one because it’s a soft pink, the ruffle detail makes it a little different, and it’s kind of a classic style. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Yoga Pants: I used to wear regular sweats or pajama pants around the house, but the beauty of yoga pants is that they look a little neater and less like you just jumped out of bed. I love these Playboy ones, but they’re sold out! This is one item I generally buy in black. Playboy Store.

Cute Hoodie: I don’t know what I’d do in life without a hoodie. I would like to get a more basic color than the hot pink one I own, but I wear it anyway. Great for around the house, when it’s grey and rainy out, amazing for walking the dog, comfy for pajamas. Victoria’s Secret Pink.

Party Dress: I think every girl needs a pretty party dress that she feels amazing in. I like ones that are a little more covered on top and really short. I like my legs better than my chest/collarbone area, so I like to show them off. This is really dependent on your body type. A party dress that’s fitted on top with a flouncy skirt looks beautiful on pear shapes. Ruffles or smocking will flatter a small chest. Strapless will show off amazing arms and shoulders. Go with what works for you, but always have a party dress in your closet! LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Pretty Top: Every season I buy an inexpensive, pretty flirty top to wear with jeans or dress up with a skirt. This one is great for day if you feel like wearing just jeans and cute for night if you dress it up with a short skirt and heels. Any “pretty top” is fun and versatile, but this is a place where I save money because trends in tops go in and out so quickly. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Long Sleeved T: I love long sleeved tees for pajamas, working around the house, layering and allover junk shirts. When it’s a little cold outside and you’re doing laundry, painting, working on the car, this will work every time. Abercrombie.

Long Sleeved Shirt: I don’t believe that long sleeved shirts only mean button up oxfords. Boring! Again, the uniform thing… I prefer a cute, soft jersey top with some detailing. Burgundy is a pretty color for fall and winter, and I find that it’s not too bright for my taste. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Leggings: I was SO anti-leggings until about a month ago. I found them for $11.99 so I decided I would try them out. My general rule is that if you were old enough to wear a trend the first time, you’re too old the second time around. I guess I have to break that rule. I am living in these things! I wear tights all the time, so I just use them for tights when I need to be extra warm (worn with socks under boots) or when I want to wear flats. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Pretty T: This has become a really basic item for me. I love the feel of jersey and how versatile it is. I normally don’t like wearing t-shirts for anything other than sports games or housework, but I think t-shirts are getting a lot cuter and can be worn a lot more. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s (I also have a few great ones from Loft).

Denim Mini: What would I do without my denim mini? Uh… not have anything to wear. My current favorite is one from Guess that is a dark wash with some grommets and detailing on it (not distressed). I’ve started wearing it with leggings and normally wear it with tights. Heels, boots, Wellies… they all look good with a mini skirt. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Grey Turtleneck: I get a lot of use out of grey turtlenecks in the winter. I prefer jersey because I don’t like the feeling of wool or basically anything fuzzy. I love the one above because it has a more stylish cowlneck and I love how it’s styled with big necklaces and a belt. My current favorite has little puffed sleeves and gathering at the bust. Japan.

Sweater Dress: I know, I know, this looks a lot like my turtleneck and is, of course, in grey, but I think a sweater dress is really a go to in the winter. It’s so warm and looks great with almost anything. Japan.

Embellished Cardigan: I wear cardigans constantly and have them in a million styles and colors. I especially like this one because it’s got really subtle sequins on it. The fabric is warm enough to keep the chill out and light enough to wear as a jacket in the fall and spring. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Puffy Jacket: This one looks a lot like one I got as a gift for Christmas that’s Juicy Couture. I won’t wear a winter jacket without a hood and I think brown is a nice, unexpected alternative to black (though I do own a black Marmot puffy for when it’s really cold). I also own a dress coat, but I get way more use out of my puffy jacket. Hollister.

Sundress: I have one exactly like this from Guess. I think you can’t really go wrong with an embroidered dress for spring and summer. I like that there’s sleeves so it’s a little more covered for church or work. The lightweight fabric makes it ideal for warmer weather. You could also pair this with dark tights for fall. Forever 21.

Wedding Guest Dress: I bought this on clearance a few years ago, and I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve worn it to. I don’t like wearing all white (to upstage the bride) or all black (to look to morose) at weddings, so I thought it was a cute combo. The sash nips in at the waist and the floaty skirt makes it feel fun and flattering. Because of Mad Men, this silhouette is everywhere and because it’s so classic it’s not going to go out of style anytime soon. I would recommend every girl to have one dress that is perfectly appropriate for weddings and events. BCBG.

Black A-Line Skirt: This is another time I will break my black rule. I have a skirt just like this from Japan that I’ve owned for about 10 years now. It is indispensable for interviews, work, church, anytime you need a really basic separate. I also love A-Lines because they are pretty universally flattering. Boden.

Camisole: I have lacy camisoles in almost every color. I like to layer my clothing during the day to make it a little more modest, or I just wear camis under cardigans in the summer so it’s easy to take off the cardigan when it gets warmer and put it back on in restaurants or when it’s chilly at night. I probably restock my camisoles twice a year because they get so worn out. That’s why I don’t spend more than about $10 on them. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Casual Knee Length Skirt: I bought this skirt when I was in Poland because I needed something a bit warmer than a mini (it was January!). The dark wash dresses up a denim skirt and makes it really cute and a little more conservative. Zara Woman.

T-Shirt: This is another pajama/workout/cleaning/working on the house shirt. I have only 2 or 3, but I wear them out like crazy. This is such an easily replaceable part of any wardrobe and when they’re on sale, you can get them for as cheap as $5. Although I think the sale ones at Forever 21 can go for $1.50! Abercrombie.

Fancy Bag: This one is the same brand as my very very favorite purse of all time. Mine is pale pink with a Chinoiserie butterfly pattern on it, but you get the point. A clutch or other small bag in a neutral color goes with everything any time you dress up. Vintage or something unusual or a one of a kind color makes a dress bag that much more interesting. Antony & Alison.

Cocktail Ring: Cocktail rings go in and out of style, but I just think they’re always classic. I own a handful that were handed down to me from my grandma. She had giant 1950s/1960s cocktail rings and they are really on trend right now. If you keep it to just one metallic (silver or gold) you can keep wearing them well past their prime. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.
Basic Belt: I am what I would call a “base caramel” person instead of a “base black” person. All of my dress shoes, boots, belts, everyday handbags all come in different shades of camel and caramel. I guess it’s just a matter of which you like better. I wish I was stylish and had a bunch of belts to switch between outfits, but I have never been able to style a belt with anything and make it look cute. My basic belt is normally for jeans. Fossil.

Everyday Handbag: Styles for handbags go in and out, but a shoulder bag is really traditional and lasts through trends. I don’t buy many other leather items, but I think it’s so sturdy for a handbag. I am always throwing it in and out of my car, leaving it on countertops or sometimes on the floor or over a chair back. I want that thing to hold up! This is a lot like mine except mine has a flap instead of a buckle. Coach.

Gold Bangle: I almost always wear yellow gold because I think it’s really flattering to my skin tone. Silver is pretty too, but I find that it washes me out a little. Bangles are timeless to me, and ageless too. Stack a lot of them together if you’re young or especially trendy. Wear one really cute statement one if you’re more conservative. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Hoop Earrings: Once again, go with silver if that’s what you normally wear. I’ve hear rumors for years now that hoop earrings are on their way out, but again and again they come back. I prefer real gold because I’m allergic to nickel, but if you can get them for less, that’s great! I have a set of small and a set of large ones, just because I wear them all the time. Kohl’s.

Headbands: These two pictures are of the Queen Bee of all Headband Wearers: Blair Waldorf (aka Leighton Meester). Her character single-handedly brought headbands back in a big way a few years ago. I wear scarves as headbands and have for the last 10 or so years. Simple metal or embellished ones are so cute. To avoid looking too 80s, the trend is really to wear them a bit off your hairline and have some layers in front or long bangs sticking out. I don’t know who designed these, but Goody makes fantastic inexpensive ones.

Charm Necklace: Naturally for me, yellow gold. Layering necklaces is very current, but charms are timeless. Get whatever you like and whatever suits your personality. I just started collecting key charms because one of my favorite TV characters wears them (Casey on Greek!) and they are all over right now. Tiffany’s seems to have the most key pendants of anyone and in sterling, they are more affordable. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.Scarf: My go-to scarf is a lot like the one above, but it’s got a really faint pink stripe. I love a light cotton scarf to wear in fall and spring and a heavier one for winter (usually cable knit). I think that scarves can really reflect personality based on how you tie it, wrap it, or what color or style it is. But I really think this is a staple. Wear it with a cami and a cardi and some skinny jeans and we can be twinners! Forever 21.

Sunglasses: I like big sunglasses because they protect you from the sun better than smaller ones. Big Jackie O sunglasses have been popular for awhile now, but I’m starting to see more aviators and classic black Ray Bans. Go with whatever your budget will allow, but wear them! I don’t want to see any of you with crow’s feet in the future! LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

Tank Watch: A tank watch is just such a classic shape. And along with the hourglass dress Mad Men style, bracelet watches have come back in a big way. Huge faced sparkly watches are a bit dated, but I think that bracelet watches will be around for awhile. I still have one from my grandma with a cord band that is gorgeous and from the 40s. Watches is where I really will spend money because I wear them every day. Burberry.

Wristlet: This is a fairly new trend in bags and I’m so happy it’s here! Wristlets can be bought inexpensively (even at Coach) and are so useful! I like one that fits an ID, a credit card, a little cash, my phone and lipgloss. The wrist strap is great for bars or concerts when you don’t want to lose track of your essentials, but you don’t want to have to keep adjusting a shoulder bag.

Wellies: I could not survive without my Wellies. They are perfect for snow and rain, walking the dog, getting the mail and look stylish these days with tights and a skirt (or big wellie socks). They can be had so cheaply right now at places like Target and come in all different styles and colors. These ones from LL Bean are just amazingly classic and will last you forever. LL Bean.

Platform Sandals: A sandal with a wooden wedge or platform seems to come up again and again in summer styles. Buy a pair that’s comfy and that you really like, but don’t spend a lot of money on them. Styles change ever so slightly, but once the style you’re wearing is out, it seems to just disappear. LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s. Ballet Flats: Who doesn’t want to dress like Audrey Hepburn? Or Cinderella (well, before she became a princess)? Flats are great for when your feet are killing you or you want to dress up something really casual (like a tunic and leggings or jeans). Styles come and go, so, once again, don’t spend an arm and a leg on them, but leather will definitely last more than fabric. Target.Cowboy Boots: Whether you wear booties or knee high, Western boots are here to stay! These are pretty similar to ones I own. I like to tuck skinny jeans into them or wear them with mini skirts and tights. They are of course fantastic with bootcut jeans. Target.

Flip Flops: Do you know anyone who can bear separating themselves from their flip flops? Havianas are probably my favorites because they’re comfy, good quality, don’t get too destroyed and are affordable. I like the pattern above because it’s gold (my favorite) and the patterned part gets hidden by your foot most of the time. The pattern is mostly there to make them feel special, I think. Every time I travel I throw in a pair of non-shower flip flops. If your shoes don’t really pan out and get uncomfortable or you need something to slip on and off for airport security, these are the way to go. Havianas.

Mary Janes: I have this exact style but in black. I thought the grey showed up better in the photograph. I almost always look for a round toe because I think that pointy toes go in and out of fashion too often. Some girls like to wear basic black pumps, but I have almost always had a pair of Mary Janes in my closet… even when I was a toddler! Target.

Pumps: Right now, nude and patent are all over the red carpet. I feel like I can wear this color with anything I own. I really look for comfortable shoes when I pick out special occasion shoes only because I like dancing. I guess you can go with whatever dress pumps/strappy sandals you like. I just happened to buy these on sale. Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl’s.
Your Favorite Pair: How did I live before I got these gorgeous ballet flats. Love the color (goes with everything in my closet) and the ribbon detail makes them so special. I will probably wear these to death. And they were only about $30. Whatever your favorite pair, remember to take them to the cobbler from time to time to get a new heel or a new sole. You are going to wear them out, so you might as well take care of them. LC Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s.

OK! That was a really long winded answer to the question “What are your style staples?” I think I gave you a pretty good idea of what exactly is in my closet right now, though. Some things I’ve really splurged on, but most of the items I consider staples are in the $20-50 price range. Yes, even jeans. I hope you find a little inspiration for your wardrobe! Tell me what’s in yours!

3 thoughts on “style staples”

  • hm… My staples…

    I love black and grey pants. I probably have about 10-15 pairs of grey and black pants. I like my tops generally bright – cool and jewel colors (purple, magenta, kelly green, hot pink, teal, red, yellow, royal blue).

    Regarding shoes – I'm pretty much a 3-4 inch heels kind of chick, except in the winter. I broke my ankle years ago, and now I'm too chicken to wear heels when there is even a hint of moisture on the ground.

    I also love cardigans and button up shirts.

    Jewelry – I keep it simple. simple strand of pearls, or diamond studs, or white gold hoops and bracelets.

    Purses – I am a coach girl. Been a fan of coach since 15.

  • My staples are a black pencil skirt, black high heels, high heeled boots, dark washed denim jeans, and a well fitted tshirts (black, red, gray). I just so happen to look good in black so I wear it ALL the time. 🙂

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