There are some clothes that are so classic you can buy them now and still be wearing them 10 years from now. These are the staples in so many women's closets that they reach for time and time again.
A lot of these clothes came from either the sporting life where they were design for comfort and practical or from trades and professions that had these clothes tweaked until they were perfect.
While they will sometimes storm the fashion runways with weird twists and novel colors there basic designs are so practical that they will never change. When should you invest in these classics?
When they suit your lifestyle and when you can get them on sale. Even though items like white t-shirts are absolute classics it doesn't make sense for you to include them in your wardrobe if you are not the type of person that wears white t-shirts.
Some of these items you would reach for when they are appropriate for the occasion (cowboy boots) and some of them you would be reaching for again and again because they are so versatile (black skirt).
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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2010
If you are building up your wardrobe where you want the most bang for your buck then you are looking for the best quality in each of these pieces. Best time to get that quality inexpensively is at the end of season sales. No one is thinking of buying leather gloves in the heat of the summer and you can snag great deals on them at leather outlet stores.
There are times unfortunately that the best of the best just don't get put on really good sales you you might have to settle with buying them only at 10% or 15% off. Remember if they are a classic that you will be getting years worth of use from them so the little bit of extra money you will be spending on them will be worth it.
Cowboy boots- These are an American classic. Really beautiful butter soft leather cowboy boots are a great casual but stylish way to go walking about on the weekends when you are antiquing, going out to brunch with friends or walking the dogs. It takes a lot of effort to get them to that butter soft stage if you buy stiff leather so the quality of the boot is very important. You could spend thousands on custom made boots but look for something a little more in your price range. You best bet might be a natural color leather instead of anything that is too over the top style or color wise, but if you have a over the top personality then go for it!
White t shirt- Something that you can dress up with some great jewelry or belts but looks pulled together if you just want to wear it plain. They are also great for layering under clothes during the colder months. The most important thing about a t-shirt is that the neckline has to be perfect. If it is too high then it looks like your head is being choked off. Make sure that the fit is perfect with the shoulder seam sitting right on your shoulder. It has to be a crisp white so as soon as it starts to get even a hint of grey or yellow, bleach it to bring it back to life. You can often buy t-shirts for under $10 but don't expect these ones to last for more than a year with regular use.
Black skirt/Black pants - These are the cornerstone to many women's wardrobes. The fit has to be perfection on the pants. If you ever have the time to people watch in a busy area look at women wearing pants and you will quickly see that most of them have on pants that are too tight, are a bad shape for their bodies or are too short for the shoes that they are wearing.
With black skirt and pants you can go from casual to formal with the change of a blouse. Look for these in summer and winter weight.
Fisherman's sweater - These are those fabulous hand knit cable sweaters usually in a light cream color. They were a much used much loved item of clothing for the fishermen that had to wear them day in and day out. Look for one that is made in a lighter weight wool unless you are only planning to wear them outside. These sweaters are a country classic that look great anytime you are outside in the cold weather. Again the neckline is very important with these sweaters, you don't want them choking you off. Stay away from cheap ones made with acrylic yarn as they wear terribly and will probably be itchy. (Good wool is not itchy as the lanolin has never been removed.)
Cocktail Dress- Even if you don't drink cocktails you should have one of these in your closet. This is the dress you would wear when you find out an old rival or romance is in town. Form fitting and elegant you can change a great cocktail dress just with the accessories you put with it. While many women just stay with the standard little black dress if black does not suit your complexion then don't get it.
Sun Dress - This is the dress that you need when casual jeans or shorts just won't do but you don't want to be overdressed or look stuffy. Generally these dresses are not tight fitting around the waist and hips so you won't have the fabric sticking to you in the heat. Your best buys are made from100% cotton to keep you cool. Think of yourself sipping mint juleps on the porch with a bevy of admirers surrounding you as you look stunning in your bright patterned sun dress.
Walking Shorts - There are times that you will be walking and you will want to be doing it in shorts. Walking shorts are neither too tight nor too high cut. The whole point of them is that you will be able to move comfortably. That does not mean that they have to look frumpy. Well cut walking shorts can look as great as a good skirt and they will make your legs look great.
Trench coat- This item was made popular by British Army Officers in World War 1. It's reputation became hotter when Hollywood started dressing their leading men in them when they played detectives and spies. This coat never goes out of fashion and you can always find them in department stores in the spring time. Depending on your figure you might want to avoid a trench coat that has double buttons as they can make you look wider. In grey, black or dark brown this coat is perfect for everything thing from business attire to casual weekends.
Pea Coat - Another favorite fashion find that came out of the military. These were originally worn in the navy and were navy colored and made from wool. The shape of these is so great it can hide a multitude of wardrobe sins underneath it. This is a standard coat style that often appears in a rain bow of colors. If you are planning to keep yours for a long time them stick to a color that you won't get quickly tired of.
Leather Gloves- If you live in a climate where the weather gets chilly then having gloves is a necessity but having a pair of beautiful gloves is pleasure. There is a whole lot of style in a pair of gloves. On crisp autumn days imagine yourself with a warm bulky sweater, jeans and a pair of red gloves, it sets up the style more than a notch. A pair of beautiful gloves tend to be the finishing touch to a pulled together outfit.
Jeans- These have to be the most worn item of clothing in the 20th century. Originally a work pant they became a symbol of rebellion in the 1950's when James Dean wore them in Rebel without a Cause. While many people still wear jeans only as a work pant most wear them as a fashion item. You can pay a lot of money for a pair of jeans or go down to your local thrift store and pick up a pre-loved pair for less than $5. Like the black pants, the fit of jeans if imperative. Too short, too baggy, too tight, can ruin the look. Even if you are a fashionista you should have just one pair of jeans that are the classic style that would look good at a ranch. Sometimes going over the top with rhinestones, glitter, rips or fancy fading just make the jeans look ridiculous in the wrong setting.
Black Turtleneck Sweater - Both beatniks and spies knew the fashion advantage of the black turtleneck. Even cat-burglars had a bit more savvy when wearing this fashion icon. It is the style of cool and casual. Match this with a pair of skinny pants and you look as sleek as Catwoman, put it with a red leather mini skirt and black tights you are channeling 60's fab fashion.
Shawl- You can find shawls in silk, pashmina, wool, cashmere and a variety of other fabrics. Solid colored shawls have the advantage of not having their patterns become dated. Shawls are fabulous for looking elegant when you are feeling a little chilled. They are also great to have on hand when the weather is changing and you don't know if you need a coat or jacket latter in the evening. Light weight shawls can be taken with you when you travel and double up as a quick beach cover up.
Twin Set- These were such a standard in the 50's that most women are afraid to wear them with a set of pearls in case they are mistaken for June Cleaver. But the sweater, cardigan, twin sets were a favorite of the not so dowdy Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. A good quality wool or cashmere twin set can last you forever. Twin sets can easily be dressed up with jewelry if you are afraid you look too conservative in them or buy them in strong colors.
Cape- These have been worn by women for over 2 thousand years because they are so versatile. A beautiful cape made from a soft wool or velvet will last a life time. These can be ideal if you don't usually have a dress coat but need something to wear when you are going out to put over a evening dress. While many people can't pull off a cape because they feel as if they are in a costume if you have a bold personality it will look perfect on you.
Take the time to seek out these classics and you will be happy with them for years to come!
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Photography and Content
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2010