Last week, I wrote a post about when your life is more basic than the clothes you love. Today’s post is inspired by that one. In that post, I said that novelty pieces are only as good as the basics in your closet to support them. You can’t have a balanced wardrobe without both.

The difference between novelty wardrobe pieces and basic ones

Whenever I explain the difference between novelty wardrobe pieces and basic ones, I use the friend metaphor:

Basic Wardrobe Pieces

When it comes to basic wardrobe pieces like a trusted friend. They may not be the most exciting friend or the friend that you have a wild night with, but they are the friend who is reliable and always there for you, even to take an emergency call in the middle of the night after you broke up with someone. This friend would bail you out of jail. They’re ride or die.

Novelty Wardrobe Pieces

Your novelty wardrobe pieces are like a fun friend. This is the friend that is wild and unpredictable, is always the person with whom you have a good time, likely got voted popularity plus and is just lots of laughs. While fun, this friend is a bit unpredictable and flaky. She’s not always there when you need her, you can’t count on her to be there for a middle of the night sob session, and it’s likely that she is the one that got you into jail in the first place.

Novelty Basics

The third category would be the novelty basics, which are novelty pieces that look fun but are really reliable and act like basics, but we’ll save getting into that for another time. Although, I do have a post from a few years ago that gets into this here. Imagine these pieces as reliable friends that are also a lot of fun.

You need fun and reliable

You need both fun and reliable wardrobe pieces to make your wardrobe workable, just like you need different types of friends. And, like friends, it’s probably smarter to have more reliable friends than fun flaky friends. The same is true for your clothing. And much like how it is smart to invest in your reliable friends, it’s also smart to invest in your reliable basic wardrobe pieces whereas your fairweather friends, no so much.

Check out the outfits

Let’s take a look at five outfits I put together using very basic pieces that were spiced up with some novelty to give you more of an explanation.

Outfit #1

basic wardrobe pieces

I am using this very basic pair of grey pants from Theory. On their own, they’re not blowing the doors off anything. They’re just a good, solid pair of grey ankle length trousers. While not exciting, their basic nature makes them versatile.

With the pants, I added another basic, this drapey popover from J. Crew in Deep Redwood. The color adds some interest to make it a bit more novel. However, it’s the finishing components or the novelty that give this outfit life. I styled the look with this scarf from Nordstrom, used these blush loafer pumps from Linea Paolo and found this perfect bag from Ted Baker (seriously, it was a total whim) that works so well with the look.

Outfit #2

basic wardrobe pieces

Next, this very basic linen tunic from Eileen Fisher, a version of something you likely have in your closet. On its own, what is it, a dumb boring tunic? But used with novelty pieces, it has its place and can be very useful. Another analogy is to think of basics as the firm foundation for the novelty pieces to be grounded by.

I styled the tunic with a pair of floral pants from Banana Republic. I added a pair of navy flat sandals by Coconuts from Matisse. Next, because navy and white can be treated like a solid, I popped the outfit with a splash of pink using this bag from Longchamp and beaded necklace from Nordstrom Rack.

Outfit #3

basic wardrobe pieces

I want to point out that adding novelty does not have to mean lots of pieces or tons of layers. Sometimes a simple shoe change can make all the difference.

Using this COS dress that could be the perfect summer workhorse for both work and weekend. For the weekend, I added these comfortable yellow wedge sandals from Gentle Souls. The mix of the blue with the yellow creates interest and punches up the basic nature of the dress. I also played with color using this handbag from Coach and stud earrings from Kate Spade.

Outfit #4

basic wardrobe pieces

Another basic; the ubiquitous navy pencil skirt, like this one from Boden. A common work staple that can get really boring. To give this skirt some interest, I added this printed top from Halogen. Yet, I didn’t just stop with the print, I worked with the colors found in the print to finish the outfit. I added a pair of green pumps from Boden and a blush handbag from Sole Society. I finished the outfit with this gold twisted link necklace from Off 5th.

Outfit #5

basic wardrobe pieces

In this last look, I am styling a basic pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Another look that often needs some interest, even if it is just a fun shoe change. Basic, yes, but it does make a great foundation for fun looks.

Over this base-of-basic, I added this printed kimono cardigan and finished the look with these wedge sandals by Lucky Brand, green crossbody from Urban Originals and layered necklaces from Madewell.

Instead of getting bored by your basics use them to your advantage as building blocks to great looks.