3: 10 Essential Wardrobe Items – Updated
Monday September 15, 2014

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #3

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Each woman has a signature style that makes her feel her best and highlights her body beautifully allowing her to exude confidence wherever her schedule takes her. In this week’s podcast (#3), discover the 10 Wardrobe Essentials that will help create a signature capsule wardrobe. Listeners will discover how such essentials can indeed be unique to each woman, where to shop, why it’s important to invest and so much more. Tune in below!


Each one of us has a signature style. Whether we know what it is or not, it is a sense of what we are most comfortable with as well as what makes our body looks its best. And once we come to understand those two things, we can then create a signature style that is unique to us and makes us feel our best.

Today I’m going to share with you the 10 essential items I feel every woman should have in their wardrobe, and while they are quite basic, your preferred size, cut and color will make them unique to you. Because it is when these important details are paid attention to that our true beauty and personality shines. As well, with each item, I will share examples to give you an idea of the range of options.

Now you may be wondering are these 10 essentials different from creating our capsule wardrobe, the same or something of both? Great question. The 10 essential items provide the foundation for the capsule wardrobe. While your capsule wardrobe will most likely include dark denim jeans in both the fall and spring, you will be including seasonal items in spring that you wouldn’t in fall, and that is the slight difference between the 10 essentials and the capsule wardrobe. Just as a sound foundation is crucial when building a house, it is the same when it comes to building our everyday wardrobe. Or another way of looking at the 10 essentials, they are the glue that hold your capsule wardrobes together. They are of high quality and are items that can mix and match well with many other clothing separates in your closet.

1. Quality Jeans

Quality jeans can take you through the weekend, your weekday evenings and even a dressed up casual outing. A quality pair of designer jeans is more than worth the price.  Not only will they hug your body in the most flattering way imaginable, but you’ll be wearing them for many years to come.  As a young girl I had a horrible time finding jeans that were long enough at the price point I could afford, but once I learned that what I needed was going to cost a bit more, I realized that what I was paying for – a much longer lifetime, quality and a beautiful silhouette was more than worth the price once I had saved up.  And always remember to buy them a bit snug, as they loosen a bit with wear. Some of my favorite brands for my figure are Citizens of Humanity, J. Brand, Rock & Republic, and Notify.

The versatility of jeans makes them a must-have as a foundation piece in your wardrobe. Expand your possibilities by including boot cut, straight leg, a pair to wear with flats and one with heels, and don’t forget boyfriend, ankle length and trouser jeans as well.

2. Trench Coat

Begin by purchasing a classic khaki trench which can be paired with jeans, dresses, skirts for either day or evening. The flattering classic belt tie is a wonderful feminine component as it cinches your waist and displays your figure. Once you’ve included khaki, feel free to include colors (red, yellow, green, prints) or other classic tones (black, white or navy).  One of my favorite go-to outfits is my dark denim straight leg jeans, ballet flats, a blouse or classic t-shirt and a trench. Viola! I’m ready for just about anything. The two classic trenches I have are from J.Crew (khaki) and Banana Republic (black) and I absolutely love the fit, and the quality is top notch at a great price. (And I’ll tell you a secret, for neither did I pay full price as both companies offer sales periodically and these are classic items they seem to always have.)

3. Cashmere Sweaters

Year round having a cashmere sweater on hand (summer or winter) is always a good idea. Trust me, include a light-weight (2 ply) cashmere sweater for evenings in the summer – it’s a classic choice, and feels oh so fantastic on your skin. Whether with a dress, skirts, jeans or dress pants, a cashmere sweater or cardigan can be dressed up or down depending on the situation.  While a cardigan can be paired with a beautiful camisole or sleeveless blouse that shimmers, a luxurious v-neck sweater can be layered and accessorized with a beautiful scarf.  With a cardigan, let it fall by your sides, or wrap around a belt to look more cohesive, and with cashmere sweaters remember that lightweight styles can be worn in the spring and summer as well. Some of my favorite cashmere sweaters are from Eric Bompard, so long as you order a size larger than you typically wear (French sizes), I have never been disappointed.

4. Dress Pants and/or Skirt

A pair of well made dress pants in camel, black, gray or tweed are a wonderful way to bring the element of mixing and matching to your wardrobe. There are many different styles to choose from depending on where you want it to hit on your waist and how you want your leg to look. Wide leg has the effect of elongating your leg when paired with a slim fitting blouse and belted waist.  A slimmer leg can also pull off a very professional look when paired with a cardigan and blouse. Heels look wonderful when dress pants are worn, so don’t forget to grab your favorite pumps.

Skirts – pencil skirts and A-line skirts – are the traditional classic options. A pencil skirt is more formal and slimming, while an A-line is camouflaging and playful. Both however, are very feminine, so it is completely up to you which style you choose to wear. Choose prints and pair with a solid silk blouse or keep a couple of neutral colors in your closet as they can work any beautiful trendy top you find from season to season.

~Why Not . . . Wear Ankle Length Pants?

~Why Not . . . Wear a Pencil Skirt?

5. Leather Jacket and/or Blazer

There are many different types of jackets that you can include in your wardrobe, but a short leather jacket is a versatile piece to have on hand. Paired with jeans for a weekend outing or a casual dress ensemble, it truly allows you quite a bit of freedom when pulling together casual, yet stylish outfits.  Black, brown, camel or even jewel tone leather jackets are all options to consider. Always make sure it fits well through the shoulders and the sleeves hit just below your wrist bone.

Now if you don’t want a leather jacket or are looking for something more classic and professional, be sure to include a blazer in your 10 essential items. Whether you choose a matching suit jacket to wear with a skirt or pants or select a neutral brown, khaki or black blazer to layer over a beautiful camisole, I highly recommend keeping one in your closet as it can serve as a coat as well in temperate weather or buildings where the air conditioning is always on high.

6. White Button Up Shirt

A white shirt with a collar and buttoned up from top to bottom is a classic and quite versatile option. Sleeve lengths, cuts and colors can vary based on your need and personal style, but having one in your closet is always a good idea. If you don’t prefer white, choose a neutral color that works well with a variety of other items in your closet. Working as a great layering piece, it can be easily dressed up down which is all about creating that effortlessly chic look. (Foxcroft, Equipment)

7. Blouse

Depending on your taste and lifestyle, you will gravitate toward different styles of blouses.  Whether they be long sleeve, short sleeve or sleeveless, you will want to have a few in your closet. Again, pair them with jeans and skirts, layer them with cardigans or jackets, and have the peace of mind knowing you can wear them to work or out on a date.

8. Nautical Top

While not every stylist or expert includes a nautical top in their essential wardrobe, if it were up to me, it would be at the top of the list (perhaps its the passionate Francophile in me). Sometimes referred to as a Breton (in reference to the French region of Brittany and the original purpose – sailor uniforms) or la marinière, so long as you have navy and white horizontal stripes, you have a nautical top. However, now-a-days you can find stripes in every color and size, and it would still be called a nautical top. Find the color, fabric, and neckline that best suits you and enjoy the versatility of this essential item. Below are a few links to my favorite destinations for stripes galore.

9. Black Dress

Again and again, the versatile black dress is listed as one of the must have items and truer words have never been spoken. Whether you choose to purchase a black sheath dress, black wrap dress or a beautifully short cocktail dress, you are set to look amazing. Always be on the lookout for one that calls your name.  You never know when you’ll come across something you can’t imagine not having in your closet for those unplanned, last minute occasions.

10. Wrap Dress

Diane von Furstenberg has me hooked and for a very good reason.  The wrap dress again is an item with legs, in other words mileage, when it comes to getting your cost per wear.  You will find that a wrap dress can be worn in so many different settings and can be accessorized different to meet your needs.  Be sure to include one, or two, in your closet. If wrap dresses are not something you prefer not to wear, include an extra dress such as a sheath or shift (looser than a sheath) in a classic color or print that will always be in style.

As you can see while the 10 essentials items are specific in their name, they are many different options for you to choose from in order to build your signature style, in the long run save yourself money and more importantly time as you can rest assured you look your best each time you walk out the door. While compiling these 10 items will take time, be patient and invest wisely.

~Bonus Podcast! – Listen to Podcast #4 now – 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile

Shopping Links:

~How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget

~TSLL Shop – hand-picked items by Shannon to find your 10 essential wardrobe items

~J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer

~Eric Bompard – cashmere

~Foxcroft button-up shirts

~Equipment white button-up shirt (silk)

Nautical Tops:

~DVF wrap dresses

~The BookChoosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide (available January 2015)

Petit Plaisir:

My handbag of choice that also doubles as an ideal travel tote:

~Rebecca Minkoff’s M.A.B (morning after bag) tote (large, medium, mini)

~Listen to the episode here.

~Need help shopping for your fall or spring capsule wardrobe? Hire Shannon as your online stylist. Click here to learn how.

~Sign-up for TSLL weekly newsletter here

~Podcasts from the Archives You Might Enjoy:

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Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

9 thoughts on “3: 10 Essential Wardrobe Items – Updated

  1. Love this list!

    You mentioned you are tall (5′ 11″) and I am as well. Do you have trouble with button up shirts not staying tucked in? I’m very long-waisted and have an issue with constantly needing to tuck my shirt in. I’d love to hear your advice – thanks!

    1. Michelle, I know exactly what you are talking about. One of the brands I love due to having a longer body is Equipment. The tops are more expensive, but the quality is top notch and always flattering on a woman’s physique.

  2. I just bought the medium MAB tote in Almond for $151 with tax and S&H from Bluefly! The sale goes through tomorrow. They also have the Medium MAB in Wintermint and Ultraviolet!

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