Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ten Must-Have Autumn/Winter Clothing Items

Recently, I have received some requests to post more entries about fashion styling and not just about sales and trends. I have steered clear of this in the past primarily because I really don't think that I have any styling tricks that are unique or that I will be able to offer you advice that you really couldn't find elsewhere. Rather, everything that I know has simply been picked up from others by reading fashion magazines and blogs! That being said, I will go ahead and share with you what I know beginning with the ten wardrobe basics that I believe you need in your closet for autumn/winter. After I have spelled out the basics, I will add the ten accessories for autumn/winter and then I will show you how to style these twenty different items for work, weekend, and evening. Finally, I have also recently received a few requests to include posts geared towards older women. I recognize that the majority of my posts are geared towards women my own age. That being said, this list of twenty clothing items and accessories applies to ALL age ranges. There are two instances where I will substitute more age-appropriate alternatives. Before I get started, there are a few rules of the modern fashion world that every woman should know:

RULE 1: You CAN wear black and brown together and you CAN wear black and navy together. Black, all shades of brown, all shades of gray, all shades of white, military green, and some metallics are considered to be NEUTRAL colors. They can be worn with any other neutral color or non-neutral color.

RULE 2: You CAN mix patterns. The key is to mix patterns that have a similar color-scheme.

RULE 3: High price-tags many times DO mean better quality and better fit. Many women feel bad about splurging on apparel and will frequently substitute a cheaper imitation for the real thing. The rule of thumb to follow when deciding whether an item is really worth the money is to consider how frequently you will be wearing the item and whether it is simply a trendy piece now but will be out of style by the following year.

RULE 4: When you choose items of clothing, always be conscious of your body shape. That being said, while it is always good to consider your body type do NOT hide the parts of your body that you don't like behind baggy clothes. Embrace what you've got and work it!

With those rules out of the way, here is the list of the ten items of apparel that I believe you should have in your closet for the autumn/winter. With these items and the ten accessories that I will list in my next post, you will be able to create TONS of different outfits.

Item 1: Little Black Dress
You've heard it time and time again, but the LBD is truly a wardrobe essential. This is an item to SPLURGE on to ensure that you have the best fabric and fit for your body and lifestyle. If you are short, pick a dress that is right above the knee or mid-knee. If you are tall, pick a dress that is mid-knee or just below the knee. If you have wide hips, an a-line cut is always flattering, as is a tulip skirt. Also, if you are pear-shaped, a boxier shoulder with sleeves as opposed to a sleeveless dress will help to balance the proportions. Steer clear of jersey or other stretchy fabrics if you have problem areas because it will make the dress cling. The LBD above is from Banana Republic (one of my favorite places to buy LBDs) and retails for around $132.

Item 2: Ladylike Sweater
Business women no longer need to wear blazers to work. Rather, a nice ladylike sweater or cardigan can easily double as your work blazer. And don't be afraid to experiment with color, pattern, and embellishments. The orange embellished cardigan above is by Milly and retails for around $225.

Item 3: White Button-Down Blouse
You probably already have a white button-down blouse in your closet and, if so, kudos to you! It has been an essential item for women for years now and continues to be. If you are older and have short hair, feel free to pop that collar for an added bit of drama. (It is a bit harder for younger women to pull that look off.) Also, pick a blouse that suits your personal style. The one pictured above from American Eagle for around $25 is quite plain, but there are plenty around that have ruffles and even have tuxedo-inspired details. Be sure to choose a blouse that suits your personal style.

Item 4: Going Out Top
Every woman needs a top in her wardrobe that screams "look at me" and that makes her feel confident and sexy when she puts it on. This is your going out top. I chose a sequined tank from Wet Seal above for around $26 because it is fun and on-trend this season. This choice is admittedly geared towards a younger woman. For an older woman, your going out top should be a more conservative tunic with some embellishment. Below is a great example by Day Birger et Mikkelsen retailing around $166:

Your going out top should NOT be a splurge item. Rather, it should be an on-trend piece that you picked up simply for the season. The idea is FUN not quality. Next season you will find another going out top that makes you feel just as sexy!

Item 5: Dark-rinse Straight-Legged or Boot-Cut Jeans
Finding the perfect pair of jeans for a woman is oftentimes a futile act. But fear not, there are a few tricks that will help you when deciding on purchasing a pair of jeans. First of all, choose a pair that is a dark-rinse without fading or embellishments. Also, stick to a straight-leg, or if you are hippy, go with a boot-cut. Steer clear of the skinny jean, the bell-bottom, the low-rise, the high-waist, or any other trends that are out there right now. If you have a large bottom, it is essential that you choose a pair with pockets, but that the pockets sit flush against your bum. If you are lacking in the booty-department, choose a pair with button flap pockets on the back -- this will give the illusion that your butt is fuller. This is another SPLURGE item. Spend the money to get the jeans that truly look the best on you and if they just don't quite look perfect off of the rack get them TAILORED to fit you. I don't think this needs to be said (hopefully), but please no flood pants...your jeans and for that matter all of your pants should come right to the floor when you have heels on. The jeans pictured above are by Lucky Brand and retail for around $99.

Item 6: Trousers
Trousers are another SPLURGE item simply because getting the right fit is imperative. Generally, the same rules apply to trousers as to jeans. Don't be afraid to invest in tailoring. Make sure you choose a neutral color. Also, be wary of the fabric that you choose. If you are hippy, don't choose a fabric that clings to your problem areas. Also, a wider waistband oftentimes camouflages a myriad of sins. The pair above is from Old Navy and retails for around $33.

Item 7: Feminine Long-Sleeve Blouse
A long-sleeve blouse is a great layering piece for the fall and winter. Like the ladylike sweater, this is a piece that need not be a neutral, so don't be afraid to experiment with color and pattern. The blouse above is by Diane Von Furstenberg and retails for around $350.

Item 8: Pencil Skirt
Every woman needs a pencil skirt regardless of her body type. The key is to find the pencil skirt with the right cut, fabric, and length. Generally, the same rules apply to picking out a pencil skirt as to picking out your LBD. If you are shorter, you can get a shorter skirt. If you are taller, go longer. If you are pear-shaped be mindful of stretchy fabrics. Stick with a neutral color. The pencil skirt above is from J. Crew and retails for around $118.

Item 9: Fitted Blazer
If you have a larger chest you probably struggle with finding a great blazer. This is where tailoring is key. Remember that many retailers offer free tailoring if you purchase a blazer from them (Nordstrom, Banana Republic, etc.). While the boyfriend style blazer is in style right now, that doesn't mean that the fitted blazer has gone out of style. To the contrary, it is a classic and will forever remain a wardrobe staple. This item is particularly KEY for an older woman because a fitted blazer helps to define your waistline. This is a definite SPLURGE item. The wool-blend blazer above is by Steven Alan and retails for around $385.

Item 10: Oversized Cardigan
Last but not least, is the oversized cardigan. While I chose the striped shawl-collar cardigan above by American Eagle that retails for around $45, you really have a lot of leeway in choosing an oversized cardigan that suits your personal style. Many oversized cardigans don't have buttons, while others tie at the waist. Your oversized cardigan should look put together enough to wear to the office on casual Friday but it should be comfortable enough to wear on the weekend as a sweatshirt-alternative.

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