If you want to get more from your wardrobe, having the right accessories is just as important as having the right clothes.  The right clothes will only get you so far.  It’s the accessories that finish the job and also make it possible to get more with less.  Everyone talks about wanting a streamlined closet full of clothes but neglects to realize that the only way to do this is if they have accessories to change up what they own.

This is why I started my One Item, Five Fashionable Ways series, to show you how you can get more with less and that a balanced wardrobe is only achieved when you know how to take one item and style it different ways.  In this week’s post I am addressing basic dresses that can be so versatile and easy to change up that it’s practically a sin if you aren’t doing this.  Think about it, what else could possibly go from work to a wedding, to a party to a night out with girlfriends?  Using this navy sheath dress from Reiss I am going to show you how it’s done.  Don’t like navy?  It doesn’t really matter what color the dress is, as long as it is in a neutral shade, like black, grey, brown, etc.  In fact, if you check out this old post, I delve deeper into how your LBD doesn’t have to be back.

How to Get More Wear from Basic Dresses

Outfit #1

basic dresses

Taking this dress to work, I made it look professional using a white Elie Tahari blazer and more conservative accessories, including a pair of cognac pumps from Ivanka Trump and bag from MICHAEL Michael Kors and finished the look with a statement necklace from Stella & Dot.

Outfit #2

Basic Dresses

A dress like this can also be worn to a daytime party, like a bridal or baby shower or event where you want to look feminine and not too conservative but also don’t want to look like you are headed to a night club.  Here, the dress is brightened and cheery with a pink cardigan from Modcloth, a pair of printed pumps from Guess, a soft blue handbag and tonal pink earrings from Max & Chloe.

Outfit #3

basic dresses

For those times where you need to look professional, but don’t have to look too conservative, with a few accessory changes this can easily be accomplished.  A look like this one, using this zipper jacket from J. Crew, cognac shooties from Guess, a relaxed cognac bag from Boden and long layered necklace from Stella & Dot, can be worn to work, maybe at a convention or evening plans with co-workers, while also being fun enough for personal plans that require a little more dressing up.

Outfit #4

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If you have ever shopped for something to wear to a wedding or formal event then you know what a pain it can be.  Plus, after finding the perfect dress there is no guarantee you will ever have a need to wear it again.  Instead of putting yourself through that sort of pressure every time you need something to wear, having some accessories on hand that can change up a basic dresses is a smart solution, even if it is just as back up in the off-chance you don’t have the budget or time to hit the stores for something new.

In this outfit, the sheath dress is ready for after five using this beaded jacket from Alice + Olivia (that could also jazz up a pair of jeans), a pair of gold heels from Vince Camuto, burgundy clutch from Lauren Merkin and beaded chandelier earrings from Max & Chloe.

Outfit #5

basic dresses

This dress can easily be taken out for a fun night on the town with just a few accessories changes.  Here I combine black and navy.  The trick to doing this is to make it look purposeful.  When combined right it can look really modern and sleek.  Another helpful tip is to find one piece in the outfit that combines both colors, like I did here with these BCBG booties.  The dress gets an urban and edgy touch with a French Connection leather moto jacket and the outfit is finished with a black DVF bag, Bauble Bar earrings and navy tights.

What to look for in basic dresses

The best way to get the most out of basic dresses is to keep the word basic in mind.  The simpler the dress the more you can do with it.  You will probably find tricky necklines, embellishments and novelty treatments, like ruffles, cut-outs, pleating, and more, difficult to work with.  In addition, to get the most out of your basic dresses buy them in neutral shades that can be accessorized with a variety of different colors.