7 key wardrobe pieces


Invest in a couple of dresses that are appropriate to wear in a number of different settings: Christmas parties, cocktail parties, business luncheon, and more. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to buy a dress everytime you get invited to a new event.

A key turning point on the way to maturity is discovering when it’s time to moderate impulse shopping and start treating every outfit purchase as a long-term investment. Although the process of carefully curating a closet for long-term use sounds about as much fun as shopping for a retirement plan, it’s necessary to make a few sensible purchases if you want to make the most out of your wardrobe over time. (Plus, it helps to tame the anxiety of not having anything to wear to a pop-up office party or last-minute theater invitation). If you are ready to make some wise investments of your own, keep reading for a guide to the seven key wardrobe pieces that every woman should own.

Classic Coats Every woman needs at least two well-cut overcoats that can withstand a variety of weather. Even the chic-est of outfits can be ruined when it’s hidden underneath an old windbreaker, or even worse, a hoodie. It’s better to nip this one in the bud and invest in some tasteful outerwear for each season. For example, a tailored black or taupe trench coat with contrast piping can be thrown over a button-up shirt and denim jeans for a causal Friday at the office, or used to cover up a shift dress for a night out.

Black Dress Most women universally use the term “little black dress” to describe this closet staple, but for young ladies, it can be misinterpreted. The “black dress” part is easy to understand, but the word “little” can cause confusion. I prefer to say “fitted black dress” or even “flattering black dress.” A sexy, strappy, little black number that barely covers your thighs isn’t a piece that will be appropriate in most grown-up situations. Invest in a couple black dresses that you could see yourself wearing in a variety of settings, such as a dinner party, a business networking event, a friend’s wedding, or a cocktail party.

Basic Bags A purse can make or break an outfit. As most women know, a fantastic, sophisticated outfit can visually unravel when accompanied by a tattered, grimy handbag. Your everyday accessories (purse, wallet, and work tote) should be selected with care, as they have the tough job of coordinating with nearly three-fourths of your ensembles. Splurge on the purchase of two well-made, small-to-medium sized purses, and two matching wallets. Skip the loud patterns and bright prints, and opt for basic black or brown leather for fall/winter, and cream or taupe for spring/summer.

Sensible Shoes In short, the term “sensible shoes” means you wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear them to an important interview, an office party, on a date, church, or to your grandmother’s 80th birthday party. When looking for long-term footwear, search for shoes that are neutral, timeless, and flattering to your body shape. You will want at least five pairs that vary slightly in color, height, and design. An example lineup includes: nude strappy sandals, black pumps, black wedges, black ballet flats, and canvas casual shoes.

Dark Denim Denim color trends come and go, but flattering dark denim is forever. Regardless of the fashion industry’s current style craze, it’s worth the effort to find which cut fits your body best, then stock up on at least three pairs of dark denim jeans. In order to maximize your denim’s long-term usability, avoid extreme styles such as ultra-flared, wide-legged, or skin-tight skinny jeans. Dig into the details a bit more to select denim that flatters your body the most. Consider styles that combat flaws such as bootcut for wide thighs, mid-rise for muffin tops, and tapered legs for women with straight figures.

Real Rocks A few fine jewelry items, such as diamond studs, are investments that last a lifetime. Instead of collecting hoards of costume jewelry, seek out a few select, subtle pieces that convey a look of effortless luxury and never go out of style. For example, fill your jewelry box with diamond studs, a long, silver chain necklace, a pair of gold hoop earrings, a pearl necklace, a distinctive bracelet, a gemstone ring, and a high-quality watch. If you don’t have the means to purchase all these pieces at once, pick away at the list over the years. Include them on your wish list for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.

Signature Style Pieces It’s important to always have a few signature style items that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Some pieces that fall into this category are travel souvenirs (such as a red poppy patterned silk scarf from a trip to Europe), heirlooms (for example, your great-grandmother’s sapphire ring), and personal taste pieces (such as a gold horseshoe pendant for an equestrian). Developing your own personal style is a process that takes years, and your signature style items will change constantly to reflect your tastes and experiences. Incorporate meaningful items into your everyday ensembles to create a unique style that is all your own.

Next time you get the urge to go on a wild, trend-stalking buying spree, remember this list of seven (responsible) key pieces to buy. Even though it may not be as fun as buying an entire outfit straight off the mannequin, you will be overjoyed in the end when your closet is stocked and ready for any event that comes your way.

Kristin Hauch-Melton

Kristin Hauch-Melton is a writer and communications consultant. She earned a degree in Communications and Business from University of North Florida, serves on the board for the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and lives in Peachtree City with her husband, horse, and dog.