This is an interesting post to follow up last week’s one on creating simple yet compelling looks. In that post, I shared tips on making basic outfits look more interesting. In one of the tips from that post, I mentioned the idea of choosing a novelty version of a basic, or what I call a novelty basic. This week’s post takes that concept a step further.

It all started with an email I got from a client I have named Mrs. Splendid. Mrs. Splendid is an absolutely lovely client who has a warm, kind and sparkly personality. Her smile is like sunshine and her demeanor immediately puts you at ease. Mrs. Splendid is a doctor who lives in San Francisco with her family. Despite not working together long, Mrs. Splendid has made tremendous strides with her wardrobe.

During our last session, Mrs. Splendid inquired about an outfit from a new favorite workwear company of mine called The Fold. I have to credit Mrs. Refined for bringing this brand to my attention. I gave Mrs. Splendid the green light to try out some pieces she was considering and I received an email last week with a photo of her wearing the look. Here is a link to the top and pants.

What I loved most about the outfit was how finished it looked. In my email back to her I replied, “such a finished look without any effort!” Given the nature of the top, Mrs. Splendid could throw it on and look done. No extra layers, no accessories required. For a woman with a busy lifestyle, having these types of looks is handy.

Novelty wardrobe pieces that effortlessly finish looks

The key to a balanced wardrobe is to have a combination of both novelty and basic pieces. We need the novelty pieces to connect the more basic ones and novelty items to add some punch. Not every look requires a novelty piece to make it look done, from last week’s post I showed how an outfit of all basics can be compelling. Yet, it’s pieces like the one Mrs. Splendid purchased that can be really helpful on the days you just want to throw on and go and still look good.

To give you some inspiration, I have put five looks together to show how you can use novelty items to create quick, fashionable looks.

Outfit #1

In this first look, I chose another top from The Fold to show that a novelty top like the one Mrs. Splendid purchased can be worn in multiple ways. I styled the top with a pair of off-white pants from Rebecca Taylor and I finished the look with slate blue pumps from M.M. LaFleur.

Outfit #2

This skirt from Tibi has more finish than your basic pencil or a-line skirt while also being incredibly versatile. I styled it with a chartreuse Theory sweater and a pair of heeled booties from Ted Baker.

Outfit #3

This ivory turtleneck from Elie Tahari has a novelty neckline but can be worn like a basic. Instead of the same-old-same-old, it adds some variety. I styled the sweater with a pair of windowpane pants from Hue and block-heeled pumps from Jeffrey Campbell.

Outfit #4

This jacket from Akris Punto has a novelty look but can be styled in lots of different ways. In this look, I layered it over a basic navy sheath from Michael Kors and added these bone pumps from Coach.

Outfit #5

In this last look, these pants have just touch of novelty that makes this basic look a bit less snoozy. I styled it with a basic top from BOSS Hugo Boss and finished the look with heeled mules from Via Spiga and earrings from Cult Gaia.

The key to adding novelty pieces that create effortlessly finished looks is to not go overboard with too many pieces. A wardrobe with too much novelty will give you less to wear, not more. Strike a balance with novelty pieces that can be worn in a basic way while also creating a connective thread with wearable basics.