So my people, let’s talk about fashion/style for a little bit, shall we? But first, a little disclaimer! As with every topic on this blog, this is purely subjective. I am no expert and I’m just sharing with my you my likes and preferences. So now let’s proceed…
Fashion is a creative art form which is usually a representation of the sociopolitical and cultural climate of a certain era. Style is a personal interpretation of fashion. Every one of us has a signature style, whether we know what it is or not. Trends may come and go, but your personal style is unique to you and is usually a reflection of your personality and lifestyle.
Every woman’s signature style seeks to make her feel her best and highlight her body beautifully, allowing her to exude confidence wherever her schedule takes her. Personally, I believe a woman’s personal style is one of those things that refines itself with age and over time. Some of the most stylish people are the ones who rarely shift from a basic uniform; whether that uniform is made up of minimalist staples, or colourful flashy pieces. In other words, a style-savvy woman knows how to mix and match her favourite pieces to achieve a timeless look; wearing items that are classic and comfortable, but never boring
I am in my 30s and have experimented a fair bit with a handful of past trends (whether they suited me or not). So this period in my life has been a great time to strip everything I knew about fashion to just the essentials — what suits my shape and lifestyle, and what outfits make me feel like a goddess without trying too hard (emphasis on the “without trying too hard“ part). Today I’ve found my sartorial comfort zone, and my style is now characterized by effortlessness and minimalism. I am a firm believer in owning wardrobe basics, which I replace with newer and more modern-looking pieces over time, but I endeavour never to fall victim to fly-by-night trends. I also try to stick to neutrals as much as possible; this way, I could quickly and effortlessly mix and match the pieces I have to create multiple looks. Blacks, whites, beiges, greys, and some blues make for a great capsule wardrobe colour palette.
A basic wardrobe is a set of items that form the backbone of your style, reflect your taste, your lifestyle, your preferences and correlate with the characteristics of your silhouette and your phenotype.
Today I share with you a curated list of some essential items I feel every woman should have in their wardrobe. And while these items are quite basic, your preferred size, cut, colour and styling will make them unique to you. Because at the end of the day, it is when these important details are paid attention to that your true beauty and personality really shines. With each item, I will share examples to give you an idea of the range of options on how to style them.
This is Part- 1 of a 3-part series on Wardrobe Essentials.
Let’s have a look…
If there is one piece of clothing that has never, and will never ever ever go out of style, those are jeans. A good pair of jeans is as timeless as they come, and anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am an unapologetic lover of my denim trousers. My mum always teases me that if jeans didn’t exist I would be walking around naked. Well, as they say, mama knows best, so there’s that .
But honestly though, I don’t think I can live without my jeans! I have a good number of them yet they never seem to be enough. I’m such a jeans girl through and through and these are probably the basics I buy most frequently.
I can guarantee that if I were to have a quick look in your closet right now, there most certainly would be a whole shelf (or more) dedicated to jeans. However, I would also be willing to bet that you don’t love the way every pair fits. Considering the sheer prevalence of denim styles available to us right now, it’s no wonder that identifying the best jeans for women of all sizes is a challenge. While certain styles do not look good on everyone (hello, mom jeans redux), there happens to be several that universally flatter your silhouette — and there lies the beauty of jeans. All you have to do is find a pair that suits your body shape and style; one that will flatter your shape the most, and showcase the beauty of your body whether it is a beautiful butt or curvy legs or a slim midriff.
You wanna know another winning argument for jeans? Well, they provide a perfect canvas to build pretty much any type of look. Because of how versatile jeans are, you can pair them with anything. Denim trousers look just as good for a cool and casual style with a cute tee and sneakers as they do with a tucked-in silk blouse, a blazer, and a killer pair of heels. Jeans can also be the quintessential workwear by wearing them with a button-down shirt, sweater or well-cut blazer. Invited to a smart casual event? Slip on a sharp blazer, killer shoes and voila! Going for a night out with friends or a date? A pair of super skinny jeans and a sexy top will do the trick.
Even though the boot-cut or straight-leg are classics, personally I am a big believer in the boyfriend jeans as a staple piece. I am athletic in shape and being slightly tomboyish and casually feminine, boyfriend jeans hit that sweet spot for me just perfectly. But if I want something more streamlined I go for mid-rise skinny jeans because they fit my body the best. I pair my jeans with any and everything: T-shirts, button-down shirts, silk or lace blouses, camis, blazers — just depends on the look I’m going for and to where I’m wearing this outfit to. For a trendier look, opt for slightly distressed jeans which are a great way of adding a little edge to your look. The simple combo of a cute blouse or button-down shirt with ripped jeans and sexy heels, for example, is enough to create a fashion-forward look.
Jeans come in a variety of styles, washes, and designs, so you can never really get enough with just one pair or style. Whether you like skinny, flare, cropped or distressed — find the perfect jeans for you. But as a valuable piece of advice, keep the style clean, with very little or no embellishments or embroideries (especially if you are wearing your jeans to work) so as to provide a plain backdrop against statement pieces.
So, if ever you are in a style rut, a pair denim trousers that highlights your best attributes will prove to be your most fashionable ally — an essential basic piece to always have in your closet. A woman in the right pair of jeans can make a simple but really impactful fashion statement.
Ranking right up there with that perfect-fitting pair of jeans is the basic white T-shirt. This is another staple I cannot live without. And just like my jeans, I have quite a number of them.
The basic white tee is an essential building block for any wardrobe on which you could spend as much or as little as your wallet would allow. What’s more versatile than a basic white T-shirt? Well, this is a wardrobe staple you can wear in a myriad of ways, endlessly. So, even though the white T-shirt is commonly paired with a pair of jeans and sneakers for the quintessential cool casual look, you could also wear your white tee with literally everything else and still look absolutely fab!
While there are so many basic cotton T-shirts out there, it’s always best to invest in a brand you know is 100% cotton and will stand the test of time. These are the clothing items in my closet that get washed the most aside from underwear, so I never mind spending a little more for a white tee knowing how often I’ll be wearing it and that it won’t fall apart after a few washes.
Also, you may decide to go for a completely plain white tee or a graphic white tee for some added pizzazz — whichever works for you is perfect. And while the white tee is always what I gravitate to as regards T-shirt staples, I know other neutrals like grey and black (graphic) or even taupe T-shirts are equally as attractive, so grab whichever fits your style or your mood.
Easy to wear, easy to layer. Wear alone or as a base layer under cardigans, sweaters and jackets, and dress up or down with accessories. You want to spice up a basic T-shirt and jeans outfit? Slip on a trendy blazer and there you go. Personally, I just love the juxtaposition of pairing a snazzy blazer with a casual tee; be it plain or graphic — there’s something about it that’s just SO chic to me. Plus, slip on some sexy heels or a cute pair of sneakers and you’ve got a winner on your hands. If I’m going to wear a blazer with a T-shirt, I prefer wearing a crew neck one versus a V-neck tee. I think the crew neckline of the T-shirt gives the whole look a more polished finish. But this is really just a matter of personal preference, so as always, do you, and seek what works best for your body shape and personal style.
It should also be noted that T-shirts are not relegated only to be worn with trousers or denim. There are a plethora of ways you can style the T-shirt, it’s only a matter of getting creative. With the white tee, nothing is truly out of bounds. You can pair your T-shirt with everything in your closet — denim, leather, prints; the choice is yours. By tucking in a white T-shirt in a pencil or pleat skirt gives some street edge to this feminine look. Throw on a fitted leather jacket on this look and there you have a real fashion moment.
So, whether you like the crew neck, the V-neck, the round neck, boat neck, the basic white tee is an absolute must-have, so make sure you add a handful to your wardrobe and get creative with your styling. And if you want to mix things up, inject in some neutrals and graphic tees to your white T-shirt collection and liven up your various looks with fun accessories like a colourful headwrap or funky jewellery. At the end of the day, there’s something just so classy and sexy about a simple white T-shirt. Whether worn alone, paired with a blazer, dressed up with heels or down with sneakers, a great white tee will never go out of style.
If you know anything about me, then you know that as much as I am addicted to my jeans, wearing a coat or jacket or any clothing item to layer my outfit is very much my thing. I love to layer my outfits with a wide range of garments; but of all of them, the structured blazer is my favourite. As my personal style mantra goes: “When all else fails, slip on a blazer.”
Personally, I feel nIt is an ace on your sleeve for any look you wish to put together, whether it’s for a fun day out with your girls or an emergency fancy event when you have no idea what to wear. The perfect blazer won’t only keep you warm, but can easily add an edge to your every outfit, giving you that unmistakable flair that will make you immediately stand out. You can easily dress it up or down with your other accessories, depending on the look that you are going for.
Blazers are wardrobe staples that come in infinite style variations, but if in doubt, it’s best to go for the kind of cut that can stand the test of time and stand-alone, such as the double-breasted or single button blazer which are really classic chic silhouettes. This is the kind of blazer that you could wear over a pair of trousers or skirt for work, or over a dress or jumpsuit when you are going out for a formal or casual event.
As with any wardrobe staple, there is no shortage of styles, designs, fabrics, and brands when it comes to blazers. But always keep in mind that it’s always best to invest in quality! It’s also best to choose something that goes with your current wardrobe palette and one that fits your lifestyle or usual day-to-day activities. If you are still building your blazer collection, start investing with the basic coloured ones like black, navy, white or nudes. From there you can branch out to brighter colours and prints.
Personally, I am obsessed with blazers. Totally. Completely. Unapologetically. I own them in several colours, and me being the lover of denim trousers, I often wear my blazers with jeans. But in general, I wear them with everything — jeans, jumpsuits, dresses, rompers — everything. My preferred style is the boyfriend blazer which is cut slightly larger than a traditional women’s blazer and extends below the hip. It has the inherent tendency of transforming any outfit into something instantly chic and stylish. It works with any style and in any colour to give an effortlessly modern and stylish look. Another favourite way to wear the blazer is with matching trousers for a coordinated look. A great way to look fashionable in a blazer and matching trousers suit? Settle for a bright colour or checkered fabric, and pair with sneakers.
A smart structured blazer works for every occasion — work meeting, presentation or an evening out. Wear it with matching trousers as a power suit, over a dress, jumpsuit, a skirt, jeans, or shorts, sleeves all out or worn as a cape, and watch how your outfit is transformed from blah to chic in an instant — giving instant sophistication to your whole get-up. A structured blazer is power dressing at its best.
Dressing for the office — especially if it’s a corporate setting with a strict dress code — can be a little bit of a hassle. It can make you go out and buy pieces you wouldn’t typically wear, making you feel out of your element. This is not the case for the classic white button-down shirt.
A white shirt with a collar and buttoned from top to bottom is an absolute must-have for every lady (and gentleman if you ask me); irrespective of age or profession. The beauty of this piece is that it can serve as a blank canvas for any look you are trying to achieve. From fitted to over-size, whether cotton, linen or silk, this collared chic piece could be dressed up for formal and professional occasions, with dressier and fancy pieces or dressed down for a more casual look or setting.
The white button-down shirt is a universal top that looks good on everyone and goes with whatever you pair it with; fresh and edgy enough while keeping you sophisticated. It comes in handy on days that call for polished looks for the office or casual-chic looks for streetwear. Work in an animal print or a pop of colour with your bottoms, coat or accessories such as some striking jewellery, a cute bag, or pair of chic sunglasses, to liven up your ensemble. Consider even the possibility of tucking it in a full-length black evening skirt to wear to the ballet, opera or any fancy event.
Just like every wardrobe essential, its main selling point is its versatility. A simple crisp white button-down shirt has the ability to have a thousand identities; whether you’re going for a formal, casual, or a professional look — knotted or tucked into your favourite pair of jeans or cut-offs; styled with a pair of relaxed sneakers or heels; paired with a voluminous skirt or tailored trousers; worn alone or layered under blazers, sweaters or cardigans, and add some really cool necklaces to spice up the entire look — possibilities are endless.
When it comes to my personal styling, I’m a huge fan of the loose-fitting or slightly oversize white button-down shirt. And as you must have guessed by now, my favourite way to wear it is with a pair of denim bottoms, skirts and trousers, though my preference tilts towards trousers of course. Every style of jeans works perfectly with a white button-down. What I love most about this look is the formal aspect of the white button-down blending with the more casual jeans resulting in an effortlessly chic look. Pairing my shirt with print bottoms especially African (Ankara) print skirts is also a preferred way of styling this wardrobe essential.
Even though the traditional white button-down is 100% cotton, you could decide to mix things up by adding a silk or linen white-button down shirt to your shirt collection. I love these two fabrics for my white-button downs with the silk shirt giving a more polished and feminine look, and the linen shirt (best with big breast pockets) perfect when going for a more casual look. So, wear your white button-down shirt to the office or business lunch by day, and oversized with cut-off shorts or sequin skirt on the weekend, and feel amazing.
If you are not very fond of the crisp white colour, your own version of white could be an ivory, a beige, or even a light taupe colour; a clear coloured neutral that would work well with several items in your closet. The important thing is to find one – or even many – that suits you and your style, or that creates a sharp contrast with your usual style, to create fabulous outfits!
A woman’s wardrobe is not complete without a couple of camisoles. Apart from classic cotton shirts and T-shirts, you also need something a little more delicate for other occasions. Camisoles are a great way to look both feminine and business-like without trying too hard. However, many women are intimidated by camisoles because they are technically considered as a women’s underwear and tend to show a fair amount of skin, so they may seem a little tricky to wear. But when properly styled, camisoles can be so versatile, paired with other pieces to convey a sophisticated and sexy statement. Wear a silk camisole with jeans, shorts, skirts, dress pants, in fact any bottoms of your choice for an ultra-feminine look on a warm day, and depending on what you decide to layer your camisole with, you could wear this ensemble to the office, a dinner date or trendy party.
Camisoles exist in an array of textures from sexy satin, silk and lacy camis, to the more casual cotton and lycra ones and everything in between. Given the delicacy of the fabrics used for cami tops, the choice of underwear is crucial. You need to choose the appropriate underwear in order for your entire outfit to look polished. As a general rule, a nude bra is the most neutral you can get, and you need several of those in order to wear all your camisoles (and dresses) without worrying something will show. You could also use a black bra or a sticky bra for more elegant evening combinations. It’s also better if they are strapless so the straps wouldn’t ruin the look of your outfit. I am very very big on the right underwear when putting together any outfit and this is even more important when it comes to cami tops.
Camisoles can be worn alone or as a base layer under blouses, sweaters, kimonos, cardigans or jackets. However, if you’re wearing a plunging neckline, don’t forget to fill in the empty neckline with necklaces or a long skinny lightweight scarf to keep it balanced. Also, it’s best to skip the overly-skimpy camisole if you are busty and opt for something with more cover, not forgetting to layer with a smart structured blazer or leather jacket to stay fashionable. By sticking to these simple tips, you’ll be able to wear your silk cami tops on your daily looks while looking stylish and appropriate.
Though the skinny straps and simple design make the silk camisole a basic piece with a lot of potential, you must still be careful wearing it to the office or to the streets as it may give unwanted impressions. For example, those lacy and sheer camisoles that look overly sexy even if you’re going to wear a blazer, vest, or coat over them, should be avoided for the office. You could opt instead to wear a silky camisole with an opaque style under a blazer and tailored pants or culottes for a look that can transition to an evening out by just taking off your blazer. Or pair a loose camisole top with a decent neckline and no lace or any other embellishment, tucked in a pencil or flair skirt or a pair of wide-leg trousers to achieve a sexy and polished look.
Dress up your camisole with accessories for date night or tuck it in a pair of distressed skinny jeans or leather pants for a good contrast between feminine and masculine vibe to create a chic vibe. A silk camisole with lace trims paired with a longline cardigan and high-waist jeans is perfect if you are heading out to brunch or dinner, then you can swap your cardigan for a chic blazer or leather jacket for an edgier night time look.
Silk camisoles are an essential layering piece for me which I prefer to the cotton tank top when I need to add a hint of feminine charm to my outfit without doing too much. And if I ever needed to tone down the sexiness or amp up the sophistication, I could just pair it with something to give it an edge like a structured or leather jacket. A silk camisole is a perfect wardrobe essential that can definitely make your style sexy and unpredictable.
*** To Be Continued***