Friday, March 16, 2012

Staple Clothing Pieces EVERY Woman Must Have

By Diane McLelland, Our Resident Fashionista

Have a ‘Go-To’ Outfit ready at all times….
When I think of wardrobe staples, my ‘Go-To’ outfit comes to mind. When interviewing some years ago, I finally decided to give up on trying to ‘match up’ an older skirt (and several pair of slacks) with a new blazer I had purchased, hoping that the black shades would match out in the bright sun. I eventually took my friend Donna’s advice, and sprang for a nice business suit. It’s black, and the blazer can be worn with other skirts, or even jeans. Hers was sage advice. I no longer had to rummage through my closet, looking for separates to piece together. I made certain I had several blouses to choose from so that I didn’t have to stress out if a potential employer called to set up an interview for the next day. Maintaining the look of your suits or separates is important, too. Be sure that your outfit is clean and ready to go at all times. As I stated in an earlier blog, great deals can be found at stores such as Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, and even your local Goodwill. Check your local paper for coupons and special holiday or weekend sales.

Basic Black- flattering to us all!
Every woman should have a pair of black slacks and/or a black skirt in her closet. Stay away from pleated pants, as they tend not to flatter most women’s figures. Skirts should hit the knee, or measure just an inch or so above it. When thinking interview attire, those are must-haves that you can pair with a crisp white collared shirt (considered timeless), and a blazer or jacket, depending on the season and weather. Black really does flatter all figure types, is considered a neutral color, and can be worn with any other color. Gray is also a good choice and still a basic, as is brown. If you wear brown, be sure your shoes are in the same tone. Black has a tendency not to show stains as easily, and is always a good choice for formal attire as well. When choosing fabrics, avoid fabrics that wrinkle easily (stay away from 100% cotton) as you’ll find yourself ironing and/or sending your drycleaners on a cruise.

That LBD (Little Black Dress)
Having a basic black dress in your closet is always a good idea. It can be dressed up or down simply by changing jewelry, shoes, and for example, choosing a classic blazer by day, and a lacy shawl or scarf for evening. You can always add a pair of patterned tights for another look altogether. There are numerous websites and fashion magazines that offer advice to those of us who need a bit of ‘dress for success’ advice.

Even if you’re interviewing for a construction position, you still need to dress to impress. Remember the saying, ‘You have only one chance to make a first impression’. You simply cannot go wrong with a basic black skirt or slacks, and a white or pastel colored shirt. If the shirt is cotton, be sure that it’s pressed or dry cleaned, if possible. Some women prefer to wear sleeveless or short-sleeved cotton, polyester, or silk blouses under a blazer. Blouses or tops look best tucked in, and adding a belt is fine if there are belt loops present on the slacks or skirt. There is no such thing as being overdressed for an interview!

Save those strappy sandals for the weekend….
A pair of black pumps is another ‘must-have’ for your closet. They don’t need to be 4-inch heels, of course. There are many choices out there that offer both style and comfort. As a former flight attendant, I felt I was something of an expert on shoes. I learned early on in my career that the higher the heel, generally, the sorer the feet were later that day. It’s best to choose a mid or even lower heel, and a rounder toe. While the strappy sandals are great for summer, be sure that you have a basic shoe that works with your slacks or skirts for a more professional look. Another lesson I learned was- do not buy a pair of shoes the day of an event…they may feel comfortable in the store, but after several hours on your feet, they’ve caused several of your toes to go numb…and it’s difficult to concentrate or enjoy yourself when you’re in excruciating pain! A medium heeled black boot can be a good choice as well, however, if you live in a warm climate, they are considered seasonal and too warm for summer wear.

To top it off….
A long sleeved white blouse is a great piece to mix and match, and should also be at the top of your ‘staple’ list for your closet. It goes great under a blazer for an interview, and it looks equally as sharp with that same blazer and jeans. Classic never goes out of style! Of course, some women prefer a knit top to a blouse, and choosing a white or neutral light blue or gray would work well, too. Consider buying a lightweight sweater to wear in the cooler months under a coat or jacket, or for a wrap when you just need a topper for your tank or t-shirt. Choose a versatile shade of camel or taupe, and you’ll find it an invaluable option for many outfits. Purchasing a few brightly colored t-shirts can add a pop of color, and can be worn with jeans or a pair of khaki pants or shorts.

There’s nothing like a great fitting pair of jeans!
Another great staple to own is a well-fitting pair of blue jeans. With the pieces mentioned here, you could create multiple outfits, and by simply changing jewelry and shoes, you can create an entire new look! Your black dress can go from office to evening dinner by throwing on a lacy scarf, and a sparkly pin or pair of earrings. Jeans can go from casual to dressy by adding the same jewelry, and a higher heeled (or strappy) shoe or boot. So, remember to build your wardrobe on these key staple pieces, and you’ll always have choices for any invitation you receive!

About the Author
Diane has been called a "fashionista" from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in fashion merchandising & business she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials and magazine layouts. She also worked as a flight attendant for 15 years and wrote for a well-known travel publication. Diane currently works with students to provide career advisement and loves to act as a personal shopper on the weekends for her friends and family.

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