The must-have list

These are the pieces to build a wardrobe around. Are they in your closet?

By Rachel So


Every woman’s complaint at some point seems to be, “I have nothing to wear!” It doesn’t matter that she has a closet full of clothes, there are just days where thinking of what armor to put on to face the world is beyond her. The solution: investing in some classic pieces, clothes that you can wear and know you’ll look effortlessly chic and timeless.


WHITE BUTTON-DOWN SHIRT: The founding brick in any wardrobe, a classic button-down shirt can be worn with anything and will survive all of fashion’s trends. You can tuck it in, you can layer a blazer, a cardigan or a jean jacket over it. You can wear it by itself. You can put a colored tank or t-shirt underneath.

The best button-down is one that’s loosely tailored to your body. It’s not so snug that it emphasizes every curve and bump along the way, nor is it so loose that it can serve as an extra blanket for two. The perfect button-down skims over your curves for when you feel bloated yet flatters your body any day of the week.

You can pair it with anything, from dressy slacks for perfect office attire, to cut-off shorts at the height of summer. You can wear it belted over leggings, or by itself as a beach cover-up. Dress it up with some pearls, dress it down with a funky scarf.

BASIC TEE: Everyone has T-shirts in their closet. The basic solid-colored tee is the fashion must-have. Pick the neckline that most flatters you, whether it be a round-neck or a v-neck. It should skim over your body, again, nothing too snug nor too loose. It should easily be worn underneath a button-down shirt yet flattering enough to be worn on its own.

Sharon Stone famously wore one paired with a fabulous skirt for the Oscars yet you can wear it to the gym or to market. Depending on what you pair it with, you can go from sneakers to stilettos. You don’t have to go for the most expensive variety. Basic tees, because of their versatility, are worn often, but only have a limited amount of washings before they become pilled-up and misshapen. Buy a couple in black, white and gray and replace as needed.


SLACKS: A must-have in every wardrobe is a pair of flat-front black trousers. Whether you wear them with a kitten collared blouse and a cardigan for the office, or an oversized soft sweater while running errands, black slacks are a fashion must have.

Choose one in a comfortable, flattering material. Check that the crotch does not crease or pull. Find one with a flattering fit in a material that you can wear year-round. Find a length that you can wear with the heel height that you most often wear.

Remember to stay away from the pleated variety. Pleated pants add bulk to an area that does not need any plus look dated very easily.

JEANS: If you must have only one pair of jeans in your wardrobe, choose the style that’s never passé—a flattering straight-cut. Whether the fashion of the moment swings towards skinny or flared, a straight-cut jean is timeless. A narrow-legged straight cut is the most flattering for most body types. Find one in a dark wash that has a bit of stretch in them. A pair with about two percent Lycra will flatter your curves plus keep its shape even after repeated washings.

It’s always worth it to splurge on a pair of jeans that both flatter your body and is a comfortable fit. A tailored pair will give you the most versatility.


LITTLE BLACK DRESS: There are millions of odes to the little black dress (LBD). Every designer worth their salt has sung its praises. It’s the one item in a woman’s wardrobe that can be customized to flatter her specific body type.

It doesn’t just go from day to night but from formal to casual. Pair it with a blazer of cardigan and it’s perfect for the office. Ditch those, add a contrasting belt and killer accessories and you’re ready for a night out.

It’s endlessly customizable. You can accentuate any part of your body depending on the cut of your LBD. You can opt for short or long. It hides your flaws and plays up your positive attributes.

Choose an LBD that most feels like you. Choose a style that flatters your specific body type. Want a longer neck? Then find one with a v-neck. Have great legs? A shorter length will suit you. If you work in a conservative environment, a longer shift dress may be ideal.

A little black dress is both universal and yet very individual. Make sure to find one that makes you feel totally fabulous. It’s worth the investment.

Cardigans, skirts and blazers round up this must-have list. Learn how to optimize their use in your wardrobe in the August issue of HealthToday, out now in bookstores and newsstands.

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