It doesn't have to be that way. All it takes is mixing and matching neutral staples with trendy tops and accessories to create an array of individual looks. You'll be stylish for any occasion without any of the stress.
Wear with T-shirts and flats or sneakers for casual looks or dress up with crisp shirts, shimmery tops and strappy sandals. You'll get loads of mileage out of a dark wash style, and it's worth the effort to find a pair that fits just right. There are plenty of styles to choose from—skinny jeans, boot cut, low rise. Even flares are circling back. Jeans with a touch of stretch hold their shape and won't bag around the knees and rear.
2. Black blazer
You can build your entire wardrobe around this style basic. Wear over dresses or pair with skirts, jeans and pants. The sky's the limit but fit is key. Find a shape in a classic style that works for your body type—no dated square shoulder pads please! Go for lengths that hit the hip for a longer silhouette or accentuate your midsection with a model that's nipped at the waist. Find an elegant fabric like velvet or add a pin or vintage brooch to the lapel for a touch of playfulness.
3. White T-shirt
This wardrobe essential can be mixed with just about anything. Keep it easy with jeans or jazz it up with black pants, a statement necklace or scarf and pumps. Go for stretch cottons that skim the body and pay attention to necklines. Scoop and necks open up the face and depending on how low you go can add a little sass to any look.
4. Black pants
Well fitting black pants in a quality fabric can be incorporated into any wardrobe scenario. Combine with a tailored shirt and blazer for work. For evening, swap the shirt for a shiny top and high heels. Stay away from pleats that bunch around the belly; flat front pants work best for a trimmer silhouette. Lightweight wool will take you through every season.
5. Tank tops
Black and white tanks are terrific staples for any wardrobe. Wear under a striped shirt or neutral cardigan with black pants or a skirt for a daytime work look. For instant pizazz, go for color. Pair a bold tank under a black blazer with jeans. Keep ribbed tanks for the gym and invest in some silks and jersey knits for sophisticated appeal.
6. Black skirt
Proper fit is essential in a skirt. Whether you choose an Aline or a pencil skirt make sure it's right for your body type and hits just below the knee. A lightweight wool skirt can be worn from season to season in a multitude of ways. Wear with a white Tshirt, cardigan and pumps for daytime chic or a sequined top and stilettos for some nighttime fun.
7. Trench coat
This is the one piece of outerwear that goes with everything. Worn belted or loose over jeans or pants, a trench adds polish and panache. If wearing over dresses and skirts, pick a length that extends a tad beyond the hemline. Invest in one with great fit, particularly in the shoulders. Too loose and it'll look baggy. Too tight is just plain restrictive. Feel free to ditch the expected khaki color and try one in navy or a deep red to instantly liven up the neutrals.
8. Black dress
This timeless classic is an important player in every woman's closet. It should accentuate your assets, downplay your flaws and make you feel like a million bucks. Invest wisely in fit, fabric and shape. There are tons of styles to choose from—wrap dress, body skimming sheath, sleeveless, 3/4 sleeves, round neck, Vneck—the list goes on. With the right accessories this versatile mainstay can go from daywear to eveningwear in a snap.
When wearing neutrals, a scarf can give that pop of color that pulls an entire look together. Don't be afraid to go bold with florals, patterns and bright colors. Experiment with single and double loops around the neck and shoulders or leave the knot ends cascading down the back for some drama. Scarves aren't limited to cooler weather. Alight cottony scarf can be the perfect accent for a tank top and jeans. They can even double as shoulder wraps for evening.
After investing in all these staples, the next thing for you to do is make sure you keep them in good condition. These classic pieces are meant to last you for years to come, so you can wear them in several ways for different occasions. Make sure that you use a gentle yet effective detergent like Ariel and a fabric conditioner like Downy to ensure that your clothes don't lose their shape, softness and color. Even with repeated washes, your essentials are sure to look as good as new each time.
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