What’s In YOUR Closet?

Sometimes, the hardest thing I do all day is get dressed. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but don’t tell me that you haven’t stood in front of the closet in your underwear, weighing the weather (cold? really cold? cold now but warmer later?) and your schedule (work at home, lunch with friends, meet with teacher of kid who is in trouble AGAIN) and your overflowing laundry basket (seriously, who wore all those clothes???) and thought “I just wish I didn’t have to THINK so hard about this!”

Wish granted.

The secret to streamlining your morning is having a closet full of basic pieces that ALL go together. Think of it as Garanimals for Grownups! Or don’t, really.

But basic pieces! That mix and match and fit you well and get you out of the house on time and looking great.

Let’s start with everyday basics.

two long-sleeved tees (one white, one black)

two short-sleeved tees (one white, one black)

two tanks (one white, one black)

three sweaters (cardigan and some combination of crew, v-neck, and turtleneck)

one white blouse

a pair of jeans, hemmed for whatever heel hight you wear most often

a pair of chinos

a pair of corduroys

a pair of black pants

a denim skirt, ideally something in a dark wash, with a finished hem that hits just below the knee

These are the basic basics; if you work at home (for love or money), this is ALL you really need. Staples like tanks and tees go with everything; wear them alone or as layering pieces. All of the tops work with all of the bottoms, which makes getting dressed–even on three hours of sleep or before that first cup of coffee–a breeze.

Have to dress up every so often? Add these:

silk blouse or tank

menswear shirt

wool trousers

wool skirt

silk skirt

day dress

Again, everything goes with everything else; wear the tees with the silk skirt in the summer and the sweaters with the wool skirt in the winter. Dress the wool trousers up with a sweater and some great jewelry or dress them down with a tee and a pair of cool athletic shoes.

If you need to cover up, you should have . . .

a denim jacket (do NOT wear it with the jeans or the denim skirt, though, I’m begging you)

wool coat for winter (in a neutral color–black or brown or cream)

trench for spring and fall (again, in a neutral color)

A three-quarter length coat is the most versatile; you can wear it over pants or a skirt or a dress. If you are only going to have ONE coat, chose a neutral color; the red coat may be lovely, but wear it with a green sweater and you will look like one of Santa’s elves.

For work and dress-up, add . . .

structured wool jacket

beautiful dressy jacket in brocade or velvet

Shop consignment stores for these pieces, or watch for end-of-season sales. If you buy classic shapes, your jacket will be stylish for years. Again, wear the jackets with everything–with the wool trousers for work, and your jeans for the weekend.

If you’re going to rely on a wardrobe of basic pieces, neutral colors are the most versatile; however, don’t shy away from color. Sweaters are a great way to liven up your closet, and a crew-neck in a really beautiful shade of your favorite color can add interest without complicating your morning routine. Chose flattering necklines; if a turtleneck makes your boobs look huge, opt for a v-neck instead.

You don’t have to spend a fortune, or fill three closets, to look great. A smaller selection of pieces you love and a commitment to wear EVERYTHING in your closet guarantees that you always have something to wear, and that you always look great in what you have chosen.


10 responses to “What’s In YOUR Closet?

  1. Great advice! Thanks for sharing & I’m so excited about this new site!

  2. I love it, thanks for the practical advice! The only thing I don’t go for is the “1 white, 1 black, 1 white, 1 black…” Am I the only woman who doesn’t dig the black/white/both look? Maybe it’s left over from the table-waiting years when that was the uniform. And, they both show pet hair more than anything else–a consideration for some.

  3. Mara, you raise a good point (pet hair! I always forget about pet hair!). Another way to think about basics is to focus not specifically on black and white but on the idea of NEUTRAL colors for essential pieces. I’m all about brown and camel this year; grey (something light or a dark charcoal) is also a nice alternative.

    What you want is something NOT hot pink or lime green, at least not as a basic. Build a wardrobe of go-to pieces and then add color and texture to that.

  4. Susan, that is *exactly* what I was thinking! Most of my “basics” clothes are in shades of brown (caramel to coffee) or grey. My “little black dress” is actually a dark brown (chocolate!), because black washes me out so much, but it serves the purpose for my paticular coloring.

  5. you need to get some ads on your site and make some hard earned money off of it and go buy yourself some shoes!!

  6. Printing this out and taking it with me…I’ve decided this New Year, screw the resolutions (that I don’t keep anyway) – I’m just going to re-do my wardrobe.
    And that sounds like more fun anyway.

  7. Love the new blog!!! Hurray!

    Great advice too. (I have a red wool coat that I love, but it would not be a good choice if you had to wear it everyday.)

  8. Susan, I love you. I don’t really believe that it’s as simple as all this, but you are usually right. Lord knows my denim skirt and six sweaters aren’t doing the trick for me.

  9. Hi – Just wanted to ask a question – can you wear a long skirt with a short denim jacket? – Or was this a style from years ago? – What a cool website!

  10. Susan, what is your take on the layering? I am 21 and want something versatile (since I graduate in May, but still have to get through college classes in the meanwhile).

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