While I have written often about specific staples women should have in their wardrobe, I find that my wardrobe needs change from season to season. Below is a list of my must-haves for 2012 – wardrobe basics that are on-trend now, but will be classics and worth their cost for years to come.
Dark straight jeans. One season jeans are flared, the next time they are skinny. Faded, charcoal, waxed, colored… it's hard to keep up. One trend that stays pretty classic is a pair of very dark, crisp straight pair of jeans. Luckily this trend is pretty budget-friendly. You can find a pair of dark rinse Levi's (always a stylish classic choice) for less than $50; keep them looking crisp by washing as little as possible – put in the freezer to kill smelly bacteria, wash when necessary on cold and the gentle cycle and hang to dry.
Striped boatneck tees. Striped tees are a fabulous alternative to solids – they add style and interest to a very generic ensemble and have been chic for many decades. Keep the look classic – even stripes, a ¾ or bracelet-length sleeve, and a versatile color like navy or black with white or ivory. This shirt from Lands End is heavyweight and more refined than a standard tee – pair with dark jeans and driving mocs for a chic weekend look, tuck into a brightly-colored skirt and wear with platform pumps for a stylish and feminine work ensemble.
Black boyfriend blazer. While a cardigan is a simple choice when you want a lightweight layer, the boyfriend blazer creates a whole different look and feel to your basic tees, jeans, and skirts. A boyfriend blazer is different from a standard blazer in that it has a bit more slouchy of a silhouette – softer fabric, rolled sleeves, looser fit, more casual fabric (cotton or knit). Pair with your striped tee and dark jeans for anything from a night out to Casual Friday – let your choice of footwear determine how festive or conservative the look.
Pashmina. A pashmina can be your winter scarf, a shawl with your cocktail dress, or a pop of color with a simple ensemble. Pashminas are great for travel, working double-duty as a headscarf for houses of worship or a travel blanket on a plane trip. Choose your favorite color for a signature look – loop around your throat with the striped tee and dark jeans for a chic European-inspired ensemble.
Ponte shift dress. Ponte de Roma is a refined heavyweight knit that is as comfortable as a sweatshirt, but can dress up with ease. A Ponte shift dress with ¾ to bracelet length sleeves can be worn now as well as in June. Wear with your pashmina and a pair of tall boots for a casual ensemble, or pair with heels and a statement necklace for a look that's great for work or even a daytime wedding.
While black, gray, or navy are a safe choice, this year is about color. An accented piece in red, orange, or green can be just as versatile, yet far more memorable than a dull shade.
Ankle booties. A pair of ankle booties can be paired with jeans, trousers, skirts and even dresses with ease. These wedge booties from DKNY would look hip with whether you pair them with leggings or a full skirt; the wedge heel will be kinder to your feet than a standard heel. A simple addition of a new silhouette of boot will update your entire wardrobe.
Leopard pumps. Leopard is an unexpected neutral that adds a pop of style to most any ensemble. For a hip look, pair with the dark jeans, striped shirt, and boyfriend blazer; or with the ponte shift dress for a bit of whimsy. Leopard can also be paired with other prints – jazz up a sweet dotted dress or tone down cloying florals with this bold animal print. These pumps from B.P. for Nordstrom have a thick heel which is not only on-trend, but is kind to your feet; such a silhouette will also look great with anything from wide-leg trousers to skinny stretch jeans.
A colorful skirt. The silhouette depends on your personal style and figure, but a skirt in a bold solid color can be the piece your wardrobe has been missing. Pair with the striped tee and a cardigan or jacket for a fun workday ensemble, wear with more casual pieces like chambray shirts to make them office-appropriate, use the skirt to brighten up your black and neutral closet workhorses.
The color is up to you, as most any color is hot this year. While red is a classic choice, consider your favorite bold shade – Kelly green, cobalt blue, candy pink, mustard yellow are all quite versatile and will go with black, denim, neutrals and other colors with ease. This pencil skirt from Halogen for Nordstrom is a great quality piece for a great price – I own two and love the fit, fabric and saturated colors!
A colorful skinny belt. Again, the color doesn't matter – whatever makes you happy. The purpose is similar to the pashmina and skirt – a piece that adds a pop of color. Wear with a simple black sweater and your colorful skirt for instant colorblocking – depending on your figure either tuck in the skirt and wear the belt just a hair below your natural waist on the skirt, or wear over the untucked sweater for an hourglass shape. Belt the boyfriend blazer for a fresh look, tuck the striped tee into the dark jeans to showcase the belt, belt the shift dress to dramatically change its silhouette.
As for fabric, I like patent leather because it really showcases a bright hue and can be paired with any fabric of shoe. This pleather skinny belt from Forever 21 comes in some of the hottest hues for the year and is less than $5.00.
Adding these few basics to your wardrobe will easily update your closet for the year, without breaking the bank or affecting your personal style. These pieces should also help transition your winter wardrobe to the coming spring!