It’s hard to ooh and ahh over basic clothing pieces when they are hanging in the stores. They’re not exactly eye catching. I have often referred to basics as tried and true friends that are always there for you, like friends that will take your call in the middle of the night when you are going through a hard time. These friends may not have been voted popularity plus in their yearbooks, but they are steady, reliable and responsible.
Novelty clothing pieces, on the other hand, are flashy and easy to get excited about. Comparing them to friends, novelty clothing pieces are like the friends you have a good time with, that are perfect for a fun night out. These friends may get you into the drunk tank, while your reliable basic clothing pieces are like the friends that would bail you out. It’s easy to get lured in by these fun-loving, fleeting friends who are a good time, just like it is easy to get lured in by novelty pieces that are equally exciting. I’m certainly not saying that novelty wardrobe items are bad, I just think that most women struggle with the ability to see how stylish basic driven outfits can be.
In this post, I am going to show that basics don’t need to be boring. Basic pieces, on their own, can be a bit snoozy. However, you can combine basic pieces to create some dynamic and timelessly elegant outfits. The problem is that many women have a hard time seeing these basic pieces in complete looks. This is one of the most common issues I see with clients.
The key to getting more from your basics, to look and think beyond the classic colors they come in and create variety this way. You will maintain classic, basic shapes while creating more interest in your outfits seeking out classic shapes in more interesting fabrications, colors and patterns. Here are some examples using classic basic clothing pieces to create stylish looks.
The Power of Basics: How to Create Simple Stylish Looks
The pieces in this outfit are all incredibly basic, particularly the basic white button down shirt from Theory and denim jacket from J. Crew. Imagine all you could do with these two basics alone. The pink pencil skirt from Elie Tahari is in an eye catching color but the shape is tremendously basic. The same is true for the bag from MICHAEL Michael Kors and necklace from Bauble Bar. It’s the colors that make them interesting. The pumps from Shoes of Prey are also in a classic shape but it is the pattern that makes them stand out. I like to call pieces like this novelty basics.
The beauty of basics is that you can use them to create several outfits versus them being standalone pieces. You can take every one of these classic pieces to create multiple looks. When shopping for basics, look beyond the basic colors and choose classic shapes in novel patterns and color.
This is another chic outfit solely using basics. I popped the outfit using these metallic loafers from Michael Kors and patterned scarf from Nordstrom. However, despite the novelty of the color and patten, these two silhouettes are very classic. The rest of the look is comprised of incredibly basic pieces, including these jeans from Madewell, black v-neck sweater and camel coat from J. Crew, tan bag from Allsaints and layered necklace from Banana Republic.
Basics are only as good as how you wear them. Imagine basics like the parts of a cake, like flour, milk, eggs, and so on. Flour by itself isn’t all that tasty, but flour mixed with other ingredients can be delicious. The same is true with your basics.
This last look is full of basics. I used this tunic from Lafayette 148, a pair of cropped pants in black from Theory, silver clutch from Loeffler Randall, burgundy booties from Vince Camuto and long silver necklace from Banana Republic. Instead of using black booties, I chose them in burgundy to give the outfit a small punch, but even if I used the booties in black the outfit would still be interesting, again proving that basics are the building blocks to great outfits. Yet don’t discount the burgundy booties as non-basics. These are another example of how a basic bootie silhouette can be amped up by being in a novel, yet versatile, color.
It’s also important to point out that you can’t neglect tailoring when it comes to basic items. Without a lot of distracting novel details, basics need precision and good fit to look good on the body. You can create all the outfits you wish using basics, but if the pieces don’t fit well the outfit won’t look nearly as good.
The next time you go shopping, don’t pass those seemingly lackluster basics up. They’re more powerful and useful than they will immediately seem.
How about you? Do you find it easy or difficult to create stylish outfits from basics?
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I have a lot of basics in my closet, especially in my fall/winter capsule. I could almost dress in the dark and still look good because it all goes together. That saying, I do count on scarves or fun shoes (flats in spicy colors) to give my look a lift. The rest of my closet also has some not-so-basic styles and colors. I consider that my “store” to shop in when I get a little bored with the basic capsule.
I also have a dressy capsule and sometimes pull items from there to mix with the basics. Your comment about tailoring really resonated with me. I have a black velvet / gold silk reversible jacket I never wore. It felt sloppy. Finally figured out I needed to shorten the sleeves to a proper length so I wasn’t rolling them up … now it works for me and I know I’ll wear it.
You’ve been telling me this stuff for years and eventually I get it. #lightbulbmoment.
I can understand why women get so alterations resistant. It often becomes just another thing to do, which, given the fact that we’re already overloaded, can easily get pushed by the wayside. This is why my clients will either have alterations done on the spot at the store or have a seamstress I use come to them and do house calls. I am glad you can better enjoy your reversible jacket and thanks for your comment!
I had my sister do it as my birthday present. It took her two days of fiddling detail work to double blind hem the sleeves. Now I know why I never got around to it…
We’re back!! Again, your carry-on packing tips served me well. I love knowing exactly where to find something when I want it. My husband on the other hand………
I love basics! Simple, chic, sophisticated, and pairs well with cognac, luggage, tobacco, olive, mahogany, etc. Outfit #2 has such a modern twist pairing silver with Camel and the scarf confirms the choice….perfect!
I am still struggling with bringing more color into my wardrobe without overwhelming my straight, average height build. Perhaps this is why monochromatic basics feel and look so chic.
I’ll keep reading and following your wonderful suggestions…eventually a bell may ring!
Your faithful fan,
I am glad the carry-on packing tips continue to serve you so well!
I am a basics fan too. They’re just so much easier. I love all the colors you wear too. They are my favorites, plus grey. I love grey.
I know you are struggling to bring in more color but if what you are doing is working there is no reason to push it unless you feel like you need to. What I would do if I were you is focus on the small accents of color, like in shoes, scarves and jewelry. I find that really helps me get less with more and as much as I fall in love with tops in lovely colors I just don’t grab them as much.
Yeah! My bell is ringing!!
You are the greatest!! Ha, I guess I simply needed your blessing…
Still your faithful fan,