Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Stretch Your Closet: Invest in Staples

tumblr_l7ji74Q7J81qajmwbo1_400_large{we heart it}

Thanks so much for all your fun feedback and comments on the first “How to Stretch Your Closet” series post last week.  It seems like a lot of us are trying to do that these days.  I’m posting the second installment of the series, and today, it is all about the staples!

When I first started  attempting to cook (attempting being the key word), one of the first things I read via Sandra Lee is the importance of having your pantry and fridge stocked with the essentials, the basic building blocks for recipes.  How can you cook up a last minute meal if you don’t have the staples already on hand?  The same is true for your wardrobe.  You will get more use out of your wardrobe and quicker successful outfits if you keep your closet stocked with staples.

Here is what I think every girl absolutely needs in her closet: 

  • a pair of skinny jeans
  • a black pencil skirt
  • a black blazer
  • a black dress
  • a pair of black round toe heels
  • a comfortable and chic metallic flat
  • a classic belt
  • a cream or white long flowy tank
  • a semi-structured black bag
  • a rockin pair of black boots. 

These are things that can jazz up, change, transform, and carry pieces throughout the seasons.  These ten staples will help you get more out of things you already own.  I promise.

For me, there are three main ways I determine whether something is considered a staple piece.  1) Can I wear it, in some capacity, year round?  2) Will it help me transition other closet pieces from day to night, office to weekend, and summer to fall?  And 3) Is it something that if I wore it once or twice a week, no one would notice the repeating pattern?

The last one might sound a little weird, but here’s the deal.  I can wear a black pencil skirt two or three times a week, and when I mix it with other pieces no one can tell its the same skirt.  I can throw on my black blazer with almost anything, without people asking, “Umm, didn’t you wear that earlier this week.”  The same can’t be said for a patterned pencil skirt or the mustard colored one I’ve been eyeing lately.  The staples are basics, which means quite simply, they’re translatable in almost every city, season, and situation.

If you’re in need of some of these things, here is my best shopping time.  Invest.  Not necessarily money, but invest your time and patience into finding the perfect staple pieces.  Don’t settle, because these are your staples so you need to LOVE them.  If the blazers isn’t fitted enough for you, don’t get it.  If you think the skinnies are too tight in the thigh, let them go.  If it has a weird detail on the sleeve, but you love everything else, put it back.  No matter how good the deal, if you don’t love it, you won’t wear it.  Keep a list of what staples you need and stay on the lookout.  I’ve been looking for a structured black bag for months now, but just haven’t found the right one.  Its on my list though, so I’m investing a lot of time and patience looking for just the right one.

Ok, so to prove my theory, I did a little experiment.  I thought about one of my favorite staples, the black blazer, and thought about all the places, outings, and occasions in the past few months where I’ve worn it.  I don’t have pictures for each one, but I scrounged up a few pics that I did have to show just how versatile this closet staple is…

DSCN2083Back in April, for one of my birthday dinners this past year, I wore my black blazer over a loose fitting floral top, boyfriend jeans, heels, and as usual for me, several layered necklaces.

DSCN3578Here is what I wore to a shift at the store last week.  I honestly felt like wearing sweatpants, but since that isn’t an option, I voted for a maxi dress.  And to make it look more fall (and store) appropriate, I added my trusty black blazer, and a few pieces of bling.  Voila, instant outfit!

DSCN2552 This is at my friend Natalia’s birthday dinner in May, when I paired my blazer with a pair of skinny jeans and a strapless striped top.  I usually wear dresses to birthday dinners, but I was in a hurry, so I leaned on my trusty blazer.

DSCN2762I always wear my black blazer when I travel.  The first reason is because I always pack a blazer, because it helps me transition the few things I can jam into my suitcase for various occasions, settings, climates changes I encounter on my trip.  (That was one of my criteria above remember?)  The second reason is that if I wear it on the plane, I don’t have to worry about it getting smashed in my suitcase, and the third is that is helps with the unpredictable temperature changes of an airplane.  Here, its thrown over a simple gray v-neck tshirt, boyfriend jeans, and heels.

31051_399166486364_605641364_4416052_1701032_nIts not uncommon for me to wear my black blazer with dress either.  It helps me dress it down a bit, and also helps me make dresses work in different seasons (or hide my pasty white arms when I didn’t have time to get some color on me.)  After having this blue dress for two years,  I wasn’t super crazy about it anymore, but for a dinner with some of our New York wedding friends, I paired with with my blazer, giant earrings, and giant heels, and suddenly, I liked it again!

So for me, staple pieces come with endless possibilities.  They make every piece in your closet ten times more wearable.  They are the perfect way to get the most out of what you have in your closet, while looking chic, fresh, put together.  You’ve read about my stance on staple pieces, but what about you?  Do you lean on staples to stretch your closet?  If so, which ones?  Leave a comment, I’m dying to hear your stance on staples!


Spencer's Take Singapore said...

Hey Allison! Great post! Do you mind me asking where your blazer is from? Thank you! :)

Glitterista said...

Another fabulous post--and I love the top wardrobe picture! My "staples" list would include a denim jacket which is funny bc I have two and have worn them since middle school, but they help make so many outfits seem more casual.

Kate said...

I never even thought about buying a black blazer... maybe I'm not a blazer type of girl, but it really seems to be very versatile in your wardrobe. That's something I'll need to think about! FYI if anyone else is looking for a basic black blazer there is a really cute one at VS PINK right now.

PursuitOfLLT said...

My staples include:
-Great Trench Coat
-Dark wash jeans...any style as long as you're totally comfortable.
-Layering tanks (no need to drop big $ on these either, in my opinion)
-Black cardigan
-Ballet flats that can be worn with either black/brown so I prefer metallics like you had suggested.
-Timeless watch. I have a stainless steel Burberry one that I wear almost everyday and then a fun Michael Kors gold/horn watch. Love watches and feel naked without one!
-Black dress you can dress up or down.
-Crossbody bag...I have to say this is the practically the only thing I had before it was trendy, I love them!

Great list of staples, and my black blazer gets a lot of TLC too :)

Amanda said...

So glad you posted this. I read a book about style (I think it was Tim Gunn's book) and it said to get great investments like the ones you listed. He also mentioned a pair of nude heels and a white blouse. Thanks for giving me new pieces to look for!

Whitney said...

My staples:

1. Nude, roundtoe heels
2. Diamond stud earrings
3. A chic, simple flower (can easily spruce up a blazer, dress or cardigan.
4. ...You guessed it...my beloved black blazer.

Need the deets on your blazer, though - where's it from? I have two I adore - a shockingly good quality cropped version from H&M and a slightly more businessy version from Banana.

Loving this series!

Tina said...

Absolutely love this series! Hope it never wins! But for real... couldnt agree more with the staples! and the black blazer! you rock that shit good girl! lol cant wait to hear the next part!

Alison Kinsey said...

Would also love to know where you purchased your black blazer!
Another awesome post girly! Definitely keep this series going. I like your point about investing time in finding the RIGHT staples. I think sometimes I buy random tops that could be staples, but if I spent more time looking around, I could have found a better one. A blazer is definitely something I want to invest in for fall :) thanks for the tips!

Allison said...

Hey yall, thanks for the comments! I am LOVING them and hearing about your closet staples. Lots of you have been asking about my blazer, and it is from the Limited. I got it last year, but I really love the cut of their blazers, so I'd give them two thumbs up for sure!

Jazzy E (Hivenn) said...

love your hair

DrBabyMamaDrama said...

I completely agree! I have started wearing my blazers a little more and I love how they transition so well from casual to dressed up. You can use them for anything!

My staples include:
-Great black trousers
-boot cut jeans
-classic trench
-cardigans (I have a MILLION!)

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, but have never posted a comment before! I am on a tight budget and any more tips on saving money and how you budget / plan for shopping would be fabulous.

ps - i live in the chicago area too so welcome to the windy city!!

IHeart Organizing said...

OK, seriously, I totally heart everything about these posts, SO THANK YOU so very much for sharing your amazing style knowledge!

You look incredible in everything you wear! I am just loving your blog!

Black blazer = genius! I have one but only wore it to the office for important meetings and now it has been sitting board in the closet, can't wait to get it back out and give it some new life!


Whitney said...

Following up - thought you would like this post from Young House Love about how to decide if particular clothes are worth buying.



Nikosmommy said...

Great post...I agree with pretty much all of your staples list.
Love the pics too,,,I don't what I'd do without my boyfriend blazers!

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

A black blazer is definitely a piece that can go the distance!

McKenzie said...

You are just too cute! I need to get out and go "staple shopping" for fall... Since it's your first in Chicago, you should be getting some extra WARM staples! Trust me, I've lived in Milwaukee all my life... you're gonna want it :)