Basics are a fantastic way to build a strong, versatile wardrobe. They’re durable, can take you anywhere, and keep you looking put together. But if you don’t keep an eye on your basics, they can easily start looking expected and uninspired. Here are a few pointers for building a wardrobe of basics that will still look like you put in an effort to look polished, styled, and current.
Most days I wear some combination of three basic items:
A stretch or dark denim pencil skirt, a shell or tank, and a cardigan or blazer. During the winter, I add sleek dark tights and good leather boots. During the summer I’ll switch out the top layers for breezy chambray button downs, and add sandals. This is my look, and it’s neat, clean, and altogether basic.
The key to keeping things interesting is playing with colors and special details. I pair my gray herringbone blazer with a deep emerald shell and a statement necklace, or add depth to a black cardigan with a wine-colored tank and a shimmery gold necklace. When basics are your best friends, texture and color is key to adding interest and style.
Look for special details when you shop. What mood does this color create for you? I always feel so soft and feminine in a lavender shell, charcoal cardigan and chunky silver necklace. I feel confident in deep green, and it makes my eyes sparkle. Look for details like a unique hem, interesting trim, a beautiful sheen, or unexpected embellishments. Basics with a special touch are just as easy to throw on in the morning, but they make all the difference.
Explore new color combinations. For every color in your closet, you probably know a few “safe” colors to pair with it, pairings you choose all the time. But there are also so many unexpected colors that can really work beautifully together, and give a totally different impression. Color combinations can be soothing, empowering, reassuring, exciting, sexy, confident, and sophisticated. Experimenting with color using basics is easy and low risk. You’ll never look too crazy adding a splash of color with your “safe” scarf or cardigan! Check out the photos in this post for some color pairing ideas. Another great resource for using color trends in ways that can transform your look, see this fabulous post by Sally McGraw, a gorgeous color mixing expert.
Bonus: Embrace the three piece rule. Adding a third piece to your basics always elevates an outfit from blah to thoughtful. It can be a scarf, a necklace with presence, a blazer, or even a hat. You can work these easily and they’ll work hard for you.