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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Personal Top 10 Essentials List

Keeping in vogue with my fashion gurus is a constant aspiration of mine, ESPECIALLY Tim Gunn, who is one of my personal heroes! I love, Love, LOVE him!

Several (so-called) experts have put out great books on style in the last five years or so, including the ever fabulous Tim, Nina Garcia, Clinton Kelly... the list goes on. I have read many of them, mostly out of curiosity about what they label as "wardrobe essentials." ALL fashion books seem to have a "Top Ten Essentials" list, and I sort of became obsessed with comparing them all.

I'm not going to talk about them all here, because that would boring and repetitive, so I'll reference my two favorites: Tim Gunn's A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style and Nina Garcia's Little Black Book of Style. Though both books are a few years old, their advice still holds and likely will forever (proving that style and class are here to stay).

Tim's List

Nina's List

And now... *my* list!

10. Leggings and/or tights in various colors: sorry Tim, I know you hate leggings, but this is the one piece I will argue you on. Let me tell you that it is super fun to wear purple ones under your basic black to work! You still look chic while pumping a little energy into your wardrobe du jour. Plus, as a girl who is NOT a twig, these can be necessary for comfort, if you catch my drift.

9. Signature piece of jewelry: you don't have to wear it *every* day, but it's that piece that is uniquely yours that you often get compliments on. It can be some crazy, ginormous earrings you bought in Morocco, a diamond right hand ring for you luxe-lovers, or perhaps a funky watch. I have two I consider my personal "signature" pieces - one is a silver claddagh ring that I wear in honor of my circle of friends that I studied abroad with in Dublin (we all wear one), and the other is an antique scarab bracelet that was a gift from my mother. I'm also generally acknowledged to be an earring junkie, but there isn't one particular pair I wear more often then others.

8. Well-fitting foundation garments: aka, your undies. It is IMPERATIVE to wear a bra that actually fits. What's the point of having great clothes if your breasts look lumpy? Also, watch for panty lines with your bottoms, and I will throw in here an additional essential (in my opinion) - shapewear. I have 3 different kinds myself, and I use them all regularly. They just help smooth your silhouette, and are therefore a girl's best friend. This is regardless of your body size - I have a friend who is a size 4 who wears them.

7.The classic LBD: EVERY girl needs a little black dress. They work for weddings, nights out on the town with your boy OR your girlfriends, work, and hell - even funerals. A truly multi-function piece. It should be impeccably tailored, not too short (or too long, for that matter), and comfortable. In order to have fun with this, try to find one with a unique cut or seaming. And accessories make this outfit!

6. Pencil skirt: ok, this may not be on *your* essentials list, but it is DEFINITELY on mine. I own 4. A good friend of mine once told me that it doesn't matter how big you are or what body type you sport, if you believe that you can pull it off, you can, and so it went with my first pencil skirt. At the time I was much heavier than I am now, and I still rocked one (or 3... whatever). A pair of pointy-toed flats or ankle strap pumps and some red lipstick, and you feel like you walked straight out of a Marilyn Monroe movie! Or off the set of Mad Men.

5. Tailored blazer: another great multi-functional piece. You can wear it with work trousers (blech - I hate work pants), skirts, or jeans. You can even wear them with tailored shorts and look great. There are many varieties out there - my two favorites are the riding habit style, which has three pockets, and the boyfriend blazer which is long and covers problem areas (read: my bum).  Make sure it's nipped in at the waist and not too boxy, though! Whether you're a size 6 or a size 26, you want it to accentuate the curves, not look like a football player.

4. At least one great pair of high heels. If you *do* only get one pair, be sure they are comfortable (yes, comfy heels DO exist, contrary to popular belief), sturdy, and in a neutral color you can wear with lots of stuff. Black is always great, of course, but you can think outside the box on neutrals - a lot of metallics (bronze, gold, and silver) are also great neutrals, so think about those when investing. And I mean it when I say "investing" - you might wince when you pay that $100, but you won't be wincing when you wear them. I'm just sayin'. A suggestion is Cole Haan for comfort - he makes a line that is padded with Nike insoles. Sofft and Naturalizers are also good ones.

3. In line with the previous, a great pair of ballet flats is ALSO on my essentials. I wear these when I go shopping on the weekends, and to work when my feet hurt from too many days in a row of wearing pumps. A lot of people wear flip flops out and about, but I keep hearing Tim Gunn in my head yelling, "DOWN with the slobification of America!," and so only wear them around the house or *maybe* an emergency grocery run.

2. At least two nice shells/ dressy camisoles. You can wear them under blazers and cardigans, layered together with jeans, etc. They can be dressed up or down, can be sexy or sweet, and can keep you cool when it's a bazillion degrees out with a humidity index of 110%. (Much like it is right now...)

1. JEANS. And I don't mean baggy, holey ones with raggedy cuffs (though those can have their place... for yard work). I mean tailored, dark wash demin that fit like a glove. You will look like sex on a stick when you pair them with heels, a belted blouse, and some killer earrings for a night out. You can wear them to the mall with a ribbed tank and some ballet flats. You can even sometimes wear them to work (we have jeans day on Friday in my office). You can wear them in any country, in any climate, and for any activity and look awesome.

Ok, so there you have it! What are your top 10?

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