Step Two: Master the Art of Basics and Layering
See Step One, right HERE.
For a long time I felt like the word basic used as a noun was mere marketing fluff. But over the past year, I’ve changed my tune and become a basics devotee.
Here’s the idea: to build a small collection of simple—and for me that means largely unadorned—clothes that can form the base of the majority of my outfits. For me the key is that these basics can either be worn separately, or topped with other things to make them feel more special.
The specifics of your basics will vary widely according to budget and taste and personal preference. In my particular wardrobe, the clothes I love the most are comfortable, fairly androgynous in style and simple in design and my basics follow suit. All of my basics require little in the way of special care. I’ve accidentally shrunk too many shirts to continue buying basics that require handwashing—or worse, dry cleaning.
Before I started paying attention, I never had enough of the basics, I always had too many outliers.
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to home in on what basics can help me through the week, with the ultimate goal of having fewer clothes that I rarely wear and more clothes that can work in multiple scenarios. I’ve said goodbye to the random camisole with a little embellishment along the edge that I could wear with exactly one sweater and swapped it for camisoles that work with many.
My basics right now:
5 simple tank tops (I’ve found that these ones fit consistently and hold up well to frequent wear. I’d love to find a domestic replacement.)
4 short-sleeved cotton t-shirts (These v-necks are the nicest.) (A certain someone’s recent proclivity for spitting up means I just ordered two more.)
3 long-sleeved cotton t-shirts (I’m on the hunt for ones to really love.)
Also counted among my basics are some heftier items, including:
Not all of the basics I currently own are what I’d call perfect. One of my four t-shirts has a tear. One pair of jeans is too uncomfortable to wear for more than a few hours, one is slightly too short. One sweater has pilled strangely. I have three basic dresses that I can’t wear because I’m nursing. This is the stuff of real life. Which is to clarify, that I haven’t gotten rid of every single thing I own to start fresh, but I have started to pay attention. It’s been a slow process of finding what works best and deciding to reinvest in something similar or to try something new. I’ve flagged certain things as in need of replacing, I’ve wish listed other things as being nicer versions of what I already own.
In addition to these basics I have a few button-up shirts for layering, a favorite tunic, a few stand-alone dresses for being fancy in, a blouse to love (and hopes to add a few more to the mix), a colorful sweater for dreary winter days, a favorite pair of overalls, a few cozy things for blustery days. My entire wardrobe, including dress up clothes, but excluding pajamas, exercise clothes, and a few maternity items, is comprised of 52 pieces of clothing. It is not the wardrobe of a fashionista. Yours might well include things that decidedly more fabulous. But whether the layers are simple or showy, I’ve found it to be awfully nice to have a solid base to build from.