Wardrobe Essentials

Studies suggest that a person has approximately 3-5 seconds to make a positive initial impression on strangers. Does your wardrobe do a good job at advertising yourself to the world? If not, a wardrobe audit may be in order, to ensure you have everything you need to make an impact!

Step 1: Begin with underwear.

Many a beautiful outfit has been ruined by a lack of appropriate underwear. Bra straps peeping out, visible panty lines (VPLs) and purchasing the wrong size will all distract peoples’ attention from your natural elegance. Be sure to purchase underwear that is the right size. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of buying too big rather than too small, because anything tight can create unsightly bulges through your clothes. If you haven’t already, try having a professional bra fitting. This should be a free service in any good department store, or at Victoria’s Secret. If you are wearing a dress that is closely fitted or made out of a very thing material, you may want to consider using Spanx. Even the skinniest of professional actresses often use Spanx to ensure a smooth silhouette under their red carpet dresses.

Step 2: Go shopping in your own wardrobe.

Before you purchase anything new, sort through each item in your wardrobe, piece by piece, and ask yourself whether you’ve worn the item in the last 12 months. If not, ask yourself why not? If it’s because the garment does not fit, is not flattering, or is damaged beyond repair, consider eliminating it from your wardrobe or giving it away to a charity. If you still like the item and it fits you well but does not match with anything else you own, think about what it would take to make the item work. You may discover that your wardrobe would increase exponentially with the addition of just a few essential items, such as a fitted black tee or a white collared shirt. Make a list of all the items that can be considered ‘Wardrobe Expanders’, and take this list with you next time you hit the shops.

Step 3: Consider whether your wardrobe meets the needs of your current lifestyle.

Do you have clothes that inspire respect from colleagues, admiration from friends, and make you feel comfortable and confident? Sometimes we neglect the essential items that make a wardrobe really work. For example, some women have hundreds of shoes but nothing to wear to work, while other women develop a fetish for coats or handbags but have no time to shop for well-fitted trousers. Try making a list of all the places you are likely to go in a given month. Then try to identify one or two different outfits that you would feel confident wearing to each event. See if you can use this list to identify any holes in your wardrobe that may need to be addressed. If you’re not sure what to wear to a particular event, call the hostess to enquire; she will appreciate the courtesy.

Everyone’s needs are different, so the most important thing is that you determine your own priorities. As a starting point, it may be helpful to consider the following, which are considered to be wardrobe essentials by Diane, from the Paris Fashion Institute:

· A well-tailored white button down shirt with a collar. There are hundreds of variations, so choose one that flatters your shape

· Classic black trousers. Chose a style that flatters your figure and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. (See the following section for more information on dressing for your body type.)

· A little black dress. No doubt, you will have heard this before. But we would be remiss if we did not include the ‘LBD’ in this list. Invented by Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the LBD is still the epitome of chic.

· Classic stud earrings. These can be simple pearls, small diamonds or your favorite precious or semi-precious gemstone. Try to spend an amount that is reasonable given your budget; what matters is not the price of the gems but the elegance and simplicity of the style.

· High heels that you can walk in! A comfortable pair of stilettos is like the holy grail for the modern wardrobe.

· A couple pairs of flats. Ballet flats can be both comfortable and stylish.

· A pair of tall leather boots. Leather boots are wardrobe expanders, worn over jeans or with skirts or dresses. Try to find good quality black or brown leather in order to maximize wearability.

· A good quality coat. Go for a neutral color if you will be wearing this to work; otherwise, find an uplifting color to brighten those dark winter days!

· A trench coat for rainy days. Burberry may have invented the trench, but there are many other brands available for any budget.

· Cashmere cardigans and a cashmere shawl. Nothing is cozier than a cashmere shawl wrapped around you on a chilly evening. An essential item for any long-haul flights as well.

· A large tote bag. Sometimes it’s inevitable that you have a lot of baggage. But try to limit the size and weight of your handbag; you may be surprised what a relief it is not to carry such a heavy load!

· Smaller bag for evenings. A clutch is very chic but can be a bore to carry. Try to find something with a strap if you will be dancing or balancing several cocktails and canapés in one hand.

· Comfortable lounge wear. Sweatpants are no more comfortable than a silk robe or a cashmere hoody, so try to find some elegant loungewear to wear around the house.

· A pair of sunglasses that flatters your face shape. Even if you aren’t worried about keeping the paparazzi at bay, you may need a pair of sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays from the sun.

· A black or cream coloured sweater. It may look boring, but it matches with everything and you can throw it on over any outfit for comfort and warmth.

· The perfect pair of jeans. Finding the perfect pair has nothing to do with price; it’s about trying on dozens of pairs until you find the ones you love. When you find them, try to buy them in two different lengths, so that you can wear them with either flats or heels.

· Some floaty sundresses. Perfect for wearing around town or on the beach.

· Cotton dresses. It seems to be a common misperception that dressing casually means wearing jeans. Try looking for dresses or skirts in more casual fabrics, such as wool or cotton, and wearing them with tights and flat boots or ballet flats. On many curvy body shapes, this will create a more flattering silhoutte than jeans.

· An evening gown. Even if it is only worn once a year, this is your chance to bask in glory. It helps to try on many gowns in different cuts and styles until you find one that you love. Choose any color but white, which is best saved for your wedding.