I think we all admire the streamlined, neutral-toned closets (or cloffices) of Pinterest. They stare out at us on every scroll and we respond by buying wooden hangers or wooden racks or wooden coat trees that may or may not end up in the corner of the same closet we meant to declutter.
Time, sentimentality, and motivation are the biggest culprits for not making it from point A to point B in a wardrobe reshuffle. Pairing down your garments and creating a space that is both functional and beautiful is a commitment and the fear of change and loss can surprisingly also extend to our clothing. A closet, after all, and the items inside, is a reflection to the world of who we are or how we want to be perceived.
Fashion makes a powerful statement. Yes, even your joggers and Birkenstocks make a statement. Personally, I've found that in order to curate that statement and own it I have to often slim back my wardrobe to the fundamentals then slowly, thoughtfully build it back up.
- But what are the fundamentals of a wardrobe?
- What handful of garments can you survive on if necessary?
- How do you determine if you already have those building blocks or how to go about finding them?
I'm glad you asked. This post and two upcoming posts over the next three Tuesdays are going to dive into wardrobe staples. I'll be sharing what I believe are the foundational garments for a wardrobe, how to style, where to find them and how to budget for them.
Today's post is going to begin with a look at four staple tops that work all year round no matter your region's climate or location.
Then we'll dive into:
- how to style the garments for summer and fall
- how to determine quality and fit
- where to purchase the garments (if you don't already own them)
- how to properly launder and store the garments for longevity
Four Wardrobe Staples
I wanted to break this up into a three part series because first and foremost I have a lot to say on the topic and second, I think it can be quite overwhelming to think of all the work it can take to find and refresh a wardrobe. So, for the first four garments of this series I kept them easy. Likely items you may already have tucked into corners or bins or drawers.
01 | A plain white tee
02 | A beautiful silk tank
03 | A classic fitting cardigan
04 | A button down
Nothing revolutionary, I'll admit, but important nonetheless. You may be wondering how a plain white tee can make any kind of statement. It may be a purchase you've put off because #boring. It may be something you already have but just can't seem to find the motivation to reach for around your flashy items.
But here's the thing. Any building block, no matter if it's a wardrobe or high rise building, is not going to be flashy. But without it, the wardrobe continues to fill with trendy one-season pieces and the building crumbles. If you're truly serious about creating a wardrobe you love, you're going to need to fall in love with the basics.
Styling Wardrobe Essentials for Summer and Fall
Once you have a handle on these four categories. Take some time to purge. Create a donate pile and a sell pile if you have lots of items in these categories.
Now, if possible, choose one garment from each of the four categories. If you don't have a garment or don't love any of them, it's time to do a bit of intentional shopping. If you can fill every category with something you love – you're well on your way to a successful foundational wardrobe.
Determining Quality and Fit
A bit of homework for you: trot on over to your closet and do a little digging. Pull out all the items that tick the four garment boxes above.
- Pull out those crumpled white tees.
- Untangle any silk (or faux silk) tanks and shells.
- Dig out all your cardigans - no matter the color!
- Retrieve your button downs.
Do you have all the items in these categories laying in front of you? Good. Now, try them all on. Yes, all of them.
Take special note of a few things:
- do your white tees have stains, tears, or discolorations?
- that silk tank - did you buy it on a whim? how does it hang on your body? how long ago did you wear it?
- your cardigans - are there picks, pills or pulls in the material? Do you like the colors? Is there one that fits you like a glove?
- do your button downs serve merely a functional purpose with dress pants and skirts or do you get excited to wear them? Are there any that have shrunk? Any missing buttons? Any colors that no longer thrill you?
Favorite Places to Purchase Wardrobe Staples
Graceful District (pictured above) organic and sustainable shop | Made in USA
Everlane Clean Silk Cami - ethically made | comes in 2 colors
Amazon (pictured above) under $50
How to Make Your Wardrobe Staples Last
My argument against investing in good quality tees and tanks was always - they'll get ruined after one season, I might as well just buy the $7 white tee from Old Navy.
And, if you want to do that - be my guest. But I've found that with a bit of intentional care and thought even my quality white tees can last for years on end. Here are a few tricks I've picked up to make your items last.
- Do yourself a favor and purchase The Laundress Stain Solution. There is nothing this cannot get out. Plus, it's plant derived and unscented. Use on stains and discolorations for a clean and new-looking garment.
- Launder items accordingly. I know how easy it is just to do a load of white and a load of darks and call it a day. However, proper laundry care is essential to keeping garments beautiful.
- Hand wash your silk tank – no need to take to the cleaners.
- Lay your cardigan flat to dry.
- Air dry your white tee and button up on a well-fitting hanger
Once items are clean and dry, shake them out and hang them on well-fitting hangers. Secure the straps of your tank so it doesn't slide off and end up on the floor. Fold and roll your cardigan (never hang it)! Button the top two buttons of your blouse and put your white tee on the hanger from the bottom up so you don't stretch out the neck.
I hope this post was helpful! We'll be back next Tuesday with the second installment of this series and more of the same ideas and thoughts!