Friday, January 18, 2013

Elevate 101: What to Own

If you recall from this post, my new mantra for 2013 (and beyond) is to "elevate." This means improving the overall quality of everything in my life. Perhaps it might only be a small improvement, but my intent is to incorporate this idea into all areas of my life, including my fashion and style choices.

For any of you who may want to try to "elevate" along with me, but who don't know quite where to begin, I've decided to put together my own personal "Top Ten" list of what every woman should own. This is far from everything needed in a wardrobe, but it includes the building blocks of great outfits that are versatile and timeless. Let's begin!

10 Wardrobe Must-Haves

1.) The right bra: It all starts with undergarments. We've all heard the statistics about how so many women wear the wrong size bra. Go to a specialist and get properly fitted. Find the right style for your body and your lifestyle. Buy that bra in the correct size and in black, nude and a color. Without the correct bra, your clothing will never look as good as it can. My personal favorite bra (that took years to find) is the Victoria's Secret "Body by Victoria" Demi-cup bra. I own six total- two nude (one plain, one lace), one black, one grey, one red and one bright fuchsia. I hope this bra style is around for many years because it is my favorite bra I've ever worn. I literally wear it every day. (And my boobs look great!)

2.) Nude undergarments: It doesn't stop with the bra. In addition to the right bra, it's essential to have an arsenal of nude undergarments for pretty much every occasion. This includes: a full slip, a half slip, panties, thong, shapers such as Spanx and various bras. For any slightly sheer garment and especially when wearing white, nude is the only appropriate color undergarment. Do you know how many people I've encountered over the years who still think that the right color undergarment for white clothes is white? WRONG!!! You need nude undies in as close in color to your actual skin tone as possible. Don't believe me? Put on a white shirt with a white bra, then a nude bra. Tell me which one you can see through the shirt. I'm not wrong on this one. I mentioned above that you need the right bra and that's true for everyday. However, there will be plenty of occasions where your every day bra is not appropriate. A low-cut formal gown or a strapless dress may require something different. Buy these specialty bras in nude as well. It makes them far more versatile.

3.) Pencil skirt: Now that you have all the right unders, you can begin to build upon them. Start with a pencil skirt. It's classic, universally flattering and timeless. Start with a basic black one and expand from there. Invest in a high quality one and have it tailored to fit you perfectly. (Don't forget to wear the right unders to the tailor, too. It makes a difference.) If you are not the "skirt" type (or a man), then this item can be replaced with a great pair of dress pants. Again, start with black and build from there. Find a pair that is classic, flattering and timeless.

4.) Fitted woven shirt: Choose a color and style that suits you- your body, your personality and your lifestyle.  This type of shirt can be paired with your perfect pencil skirt for a great office-ready look. It can layer over a cami with jeans for a more casual weekend look. It can layer under a blazer or sweater for the cooler months and be worn on its own in the summer. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? This piece is classic, timeless and versatile. It can (and should) be worn year round.

5.) The right jeans: I will not lie to you- the right jeans are hard to find. You will try on dozens and dozens of jeans before you find the perfect pair. You will visit countless shops and boutiques. You will find countless washes, cuts, lengths and styles before you find what works best for you. Persevere. And when you find the right ones, buy them in every color, length and wash that suits your lifestyle. Buy them short to wear with flats, buy them long to wear with heels. Buy them in a light wash for casual weekends and a dark wash for a night on the town.

6.) Cashmere sweater(s): Cashmere is better than all other wools and textiles for a couple of reasons. It is lightweight making it ideal for layering and it is remarkably warm with great insulating capabilities. Also, have you every touched cashmere? You will never wear any other kind of wool again once you've felt cashmere against your skin. Typically, cashmere sweaters come in fairly standard, classic silhouettes and styles. Buy a couple in neutral colors- a black cardigan, a beige pullover, etc.

7.) The perfect LBD: I recommend an LBD in either a brushed cotton sateen or a matte dupioni silk. Either of these fabrics will be comfortable to wear in any season because as natural fibers, they will breathe well and fit beautifully. The right LBD can be worn on a nice dinner out, to a wedding, to a company function, to a cocktail party, to basically anything vaguely formal. Have it tailored. Little nips and tucks make all the difference and can bring your look from basic to show-stopping with minimal effort on your part.

8.) Nude shoes: I love shoes and own heels in nearly every color of the rainbow. But if you're not like me and you only pull out heels for special occasions, then make sure they're a classic nude pair. Even a basic pump in a nude patent leather can easily work with your LBD, a pair of jeans, your pencil skirt or  a business suit. Versatility is best demonstrated by a timeless pair of simple nude heels. 

9.) Overcoats for all seasons: A fall trench, a spring jacket and a winter overcoat are the three most essential coats you need to own. Just like everything else in this list, classic, timeless, flattering styles are what to look for. Start with a beige trench, a blush spring jacket and a black wool overcoat. Invest in quality garments and care for them properly; they'll last decades.

10.) Neutral bags- I recommend one large and one small. The small bag should be slightly more formal and therefore can be used with your LDB for a more fancy event. Carry the small one within the large one and you'll always have a bag that works, no matter your outfit. For the large bag, invest in something leather that is timeless and well-made. The better the craftsmanship, the longer it will last. Treat the leather to protect it from the elements and from drying out and it will last a long time.

So there you have it- my top ten must-have wardrobe items for every woman. With these basic pieces, you can incorporate a handful of other pieces and always look fresh and stylish. A trendy blouse paired with your pencil skirt or favorite jeans will breathe new life into them and make them look current, even if they are very traditional and classic. I'm sure you noticed that the polyvore set at the top and the descriptions at each point all seem very basic and neutral, but that's purely for demonstrative purposes. In every one of these items, you should (and must!) incorporate your own style and point of view. If your woven shirt needs to have ruffles, then so be it! If your winter overcoat is a bright tartan, great! Let your personality shine through these items and you can't go wrong.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of this list. Do you agree? Disagree? Is there something I left out that you would have included or something on the list that you think is ridiculous? Tell me what you think! And don't forget to check back soon for my next installment of "Elevate 101!" 

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