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WARDROBE ESSENTIALS – II

Hiya everyone, hope we are all protecting our energy and cherishing our loved ones. This week has been pretty🤬🤬🤬 for me. But I’m here, I’m well, I’m grateful. An attitude of gratitude now and always! 🙌🏾

So let’s get into the next sequence of Wardrobe Essentials. But first, there is something I failed to address in Part I of this Wardrobe essentials series.

FIT

Fit is everything! Regardless of how expensive a piece of clothing may be, if it doesn’t sit right on your body frame, then you won’t be able to pull off any look you may want to achieve. And who says fit says shape. You must be very knowledgeable about your body shape — your curves and angles —  for you to be able to select clothes that would highlight your assets instead of having the opposite effect. You want to look effortless and stylish, and not sloppy or like a stuffed sausage. 😬👎🏾

And a great fit doesn’t mean tight! Unfortunately, lots of us confuse well-fitting clothes with tight clothes. Those are 2 completely different things! You want to be comfortable in your clothes without worrying about a button popping off, or your seams coming apart just because you had to move your arms or sway your hips. You don’t want to spend your time adjusting your skirt or shirt every time you stand or walk, or have the waistband of your trousers or skirt digging into your skin so much so that your breathing is hampered. That is just a horrible place to be in. 

So what is a good fit then? Well, it would be first of all, knowing your body shape and wearing your size! Not a size under, but your exact size. But since we do not all have standard measurements for all our body parts, then you watch for things like your boobies sitting high and right in your blouse/shirt and not squashed, trousers the right length and not sweeping the floor, the cuffs of your shirt sleeves long enough to get to your wrists or a little way past, skirt or dress hugging your curves but in which you still have room to walk comfortably, jacket resting comfortably on your shoulders and not past them, etc. There are so many examples of poor/good fitting and you only get the hang of it after numerous trials and errors. You live, you learn and you get better. Reason why I believe personal style only gets better with age. 

Depending on personality some would like their clothes snug and others a little less. Being slightly tomboyish I love my clothes to be a little loose-fitting or sometimes even slightly over-size. At the end of the day, whether you are into form-fitting clothes or oversize, the goal remains the same — you want your clothes to fall on your body as if you were a hanger, looking as beautiful as you saw it, without you having to constantly adjust any part of it for it to sit right on your body, or for you to feel comfortable in it.

Now let’s get to the business of this post: Part II of my curated list of Wardrobe Essentials.

Let’s go…

6 - Tailored Trousers (Dress Pants)

The very first thing I look for when choosing an outfit is comfort. For me comfort is non-negotiable. If I’m not comfortable in a piece of clothing no matter the brand, no matter how pretty it might look, I’m not putting it on. And what I am most comfortable in are trousers. I love trousers. Granted I love my jeans wholeheartedly, but I still got mad love for a pair of well-tailored trousers.

Thanks to their versatility, dress pants can be worn during the day or at night. They are excellent for the workplace because they make you look smart and fashionable at the same time. So, if you are thinking of something functional yet stylish, and your profession allows trousers at the office, impeccably well-tailored pants are the way to go. All you have to do is find a style that works with your body shape and personal style.

What’s great about women’s trousers is that they exist in several different styles to choose from depending on where you want it to hit on your waist and how you want your leg to look. The wide-leg pair of trousers has the effect of elongating your leg when paired with a slim fitting blouse and cinched waist. A slimmer leg can also pull off a very professional look when paired with a cardigan and blouse. Heels look wonderful when dress pants are worn, so don’t forget to grab your favourite pumps. So select the style of pants that would balance your frame and flatter your curves rather than make you look like a walking fashion faux-pas.

Since I love trousers I have a good number in different styles, but my favourite style remains the cropped pants which end around my ankles. I love this style of trousers because they perfectly transition from day to night depending on what you wear them with; from a sophisticated office-appropriate look by pairing it with a classic button-down shirt to a casual sexy day out look wearing cropped trousers with a crop top.

Well-made dress pants are a wonderful way to incorporate menswear-inspired pieces into your wardrobe — you know, a little bit of mixing and matching of your personal style. A celebrity who has mastered this is Victoria Beckham. I find her looks in tailored pants simply exquisite. For practical purposes, I would always recommend to start your trousers collection with a great pair of black, navy or charcoal trousers. If you’re working in a conservative office start with a basic black classic-cut, nothing skin-tight, but rather a pair of straight or slim leg trousers, to be paired with a chic blouse or soft cashmere sweater. If you wish to wear them on a night out, think of wearing your trousers with a sexy top or a striking blazer.

Though it’s easy to reach for a little black dress when heading to a dinner date, casual chic weekends, or even office parties, you can decide to show up in trousers and will still look and feel amazing. If you’re looking for more dimension, a pair of pale-coloured or printed trousers kicks up the fancy factor immediately. Whichever fabric or print speaks to your personal style (crepe, tweed, tartan, houndstooth, stripes, checkered, etc), finish up your look with menswear shoes, like oxfords or some cute flats or a pair of heels for a contrasting look. Or team your trousers with a boyfriend blazer and/or sneakers to amp up the cool factor. 

Women’s trousers are extremely versatile, and can be paired with any top in your closet to create endless outfit combinations with the same pair of trousers — a sweater or a feminine blouse for a classic look, a button-down or blazer for a sophisticated look and a T-shirt, crop top or camisole for a casual look. By knowing the way different trousers can be worn for different occasions, you can make a smart decision every time you shop for a pair of women’s trousers. Tailored trousers are the workhorses of your wardrobe, whether you wear them for office or casual looks. You’ll be logging a lot of miles in your tailored trousers, so try to pick up something that’s both tough and tasteful.
7 - The Pencil Skirt

If you have been following this series of wardrobe essentials so far, you must have learnt by now that skirts are not really my thing when it comes to bottoms. Trousers just suit my personality and lifestyle so much more, so I gravitate towards them more. Nevertheless, I know it is important for a woman to have (at least a couple of) tailored skirts in her wardrobe. Nothing feels more grown-up than a beautiful well-tailored skirt that sits on your curves just right. And speaking of skirts, the Pencil skirt and A-line skirt are the traditional classic options.
A pencil skirt is more formal and slimming, while an A-line is camouflaging and playful. Both, however, are very feminine, so it is completely up to you which style you choose to wear. If I were to choose just one style though, it would be the pencil skirt. A pencil skirt is a slim-fitting style that ends just at or below the knee and is arguably the most flattering skirt shape for all body types. It goes well with a T-shirt for coffee catch-ups or with a button-down shirt at the office.

If there is something that a pencil skirt epitomizes, it is femininity. Nothing is sexier than a shapely pencil skirt that perfectly accentuates your womanly curves and says, “Yes, I am a woman!” A pencil skirt elongates your legs and hugs your waist and can be your secret weapon if you want to walk into a room and look and feel feminine and powerful. However, not all pencil skirts are made equal, so select the perfect style and fit that flatters your shape. Also, make sure you pick the right hemline that will flatter your frame. Whether you choose a skirt that’s at your knees or a little below, you want your skirt to hit the slimmest part of your legs so your entire silhouette looks proportioned. If you have a little belly pouch you don’t wish to advertise, a good shape-wear will go a long way in giving you the fit you desire to achieve.

Pencil skirts in neutral shades of navy, black, brown, white, and grey create a more timeless look. So as a rule, always start your skirt collection with one of those colours. You will find it easier to pair with other pieces while staying true to your style. Now, if you want to bring a modern and fun vibe to your outfits, then feel free to incorporate bright colours and prints to your skirt collection. Though a dark coloured pencil skirt is always more slimming than a light, bright or patterned one, pencil skirts generally look great with any top tucked in. As with any wardrobe staple, just let your imagination run the show.

When it comes to materials, cotton is always a safe option, but you may want to consider mixing things up by getting something a bit firmer to maintain the shape like a leather or denim pencil skirt, or something more delicate like a lace skirt. Get the casual look by pairing your pencil skirt with a denim shirt or basic T-shirt. And if you need to amp up the sexiness, pair your high-waist pencil skirt with a crop top and some sexy heels. Looking for what to wear at the office Christmas party, slip on a sequin or lace pencil skirt, a cute top of your choice and some stilettos and you are ready to have a good time. Personally, I really like the sequin pencil skirt. I am not big on sparkly outfits — I prefer my sparkle in the form of jewellery — but the sequin pencil skirt is a really fun way to wear something sparkly and still look cool and glamourous. Obviously, you should avoid pairing it with a sparkly top to avoid looking like a disco ball.

Pencil skirts never go out of fashion and they can go from fancy to absolutely casual. You can wear them with heels or sneakers — they’ll look awesome either way. Its clean lines and sophisticated silhouette make it a must-have for any girl who wants to look fashionable and sharp, not only in the workplace but in everyday life as well. These skirts can last forever with the right fabric, so feel free to buy several. They definitely won’t just stand there in your closet.

8 - Sweater

The sweater is a cold-weather layering essential. Sweaters are actually one of the timeless pieces that you can wear season after season and build the backbone of your closet. You have the turtleneck sweaters, lightweight sweaters, V-neck and crew-neck pullover sweaters, and casual hoodie sweaters that can keep you warm and stylish and are perfect for layering your clothes, and then the plunged back, cropped and off-shoulder sweaters for a sexy feminine look. All you need to do is select sweater styles that flatter your body, conceal your flaws and accentuate your best assets. You want to upgrade your basic sweater and dress it up, so you can stand out? No problem. Layer over blouses, tanks and tees or even button-downs for the preppy look and pair with any bottoms of your choice. Sweaters can be worn with distressed jeans for the casual chic look, with cropped tailored pants for a classy look and with lacy or pleated skirts for more formal and sophisticated settings.

During the colder months, it’s best to go for woolly and chunky sweaters which would leave you feeling warm and cozy, and then something more breathable and lightweight for not-too-cold weather. If you have an oversized sweater big and long enough to be a dress then wear it like one! Best to be paired with a pair of warm and comfy knee or thigh-high boots or cute sneakers, finish off with some accessories and you’re good to go. Or if your oversized sweater isn’t long enough to wear as a dress, and because it is so loose and slouchy, you may want to pair it up with something nice, snug and fitted like cozy leggings, (I hate leggings BTW!😬) skinny jeans or fancy short shorts, to create a nicely balanced silhouette.

There are many ways to dress up your sweater to obtain a stylish look. Whether you choose to go the casual route or the formal route, there is a sweater for every occasion.

A sweater is a collarless piece of clothing that fits formal dress codes. If this is the case in your office, give your collared blouses a rest by wearing a neutral-coloured sweater instead. For a stylish office-appropriate look, team your cable-knit or turtleneck sweater with a pencil skirt or pair of tailored trousers. If you are going for the preppy look, style your sweater by layering it on top of a button-down top. Make sure to use a shirt and a sweater in different colours, preferable contrasting ones, to really create a nice look. This combo will give you added warmth and style as well.
An off-shoulder oversized sweater or sweater with a plunging neckline is perfect if you want something that’s super relaxed and laid back for an everyday outfit. This style is a great way to show a bit of skin and inject a sexy vibe into your look. I absolutely love it. And for an ultra-sexy look perfect for date night, opt for a cropped sweater or a sweater with either a plunging neckline or a sexy open back.

If you are a fan of bright colours, sparkly details, quirky prints or embellished, texture-rich sweaters, a festive sweater can be a great way to make a bold fashion statement. In case you decide to go for a very brightly-hued sweater, keep your bottoms in shades of neutrals to balance out the entire look. Grey and white will create a low contrast with your neon sweaters, while black bottoms will give a higher contrast to your brightly coloured top making your outfit more eye-catching. A typical knitted sweater in festive colours of neon yellow, orange, cobalt blue, hot pink, and bright red look is statement-making enough even when worn with casual jeans or black leggings. You may also opt for a fuzzy cropped sweater and pair it with a ballerina tulle skirt or a leather pencil skirt to create a quirky and festive look. Cool and stylish, such sweaters are not only ideal for casual holiday parties but also on a casual date night, girls night out, or even on casual Friday in some work settings.

Year-round, having a soft sweater on hand is always a good idea — an absolute must-have especially when temperatures start to drop and the air starts to get chilly. A cozy sweater is a classic garment that feels oh so fantastic on your skin and is perfect for every body type and almost every occasion. I live in the tropics, so I don’t get to wear very thick clothing often. But as you already know, layering is my thing, and I love love love my sweaters. If I’m not wearing a blazer, I always make sure to have a light-weight sweater for evenings even during the warmer months. My favourite kind of sweater? The slouchy supersized sweater with a too-wide neckline that wouldn’t stay put, and instead of fussing about it, I just let it be with one shoulder bare for an effortlessly sexy look.

So whether you choose to wear a plain or patterned sweater, as a single garment or layered on a button-down shirt, turtleneck sweater for a sophisticated look, festive sweater to the office holiday party, or cropped sweater for a hint of sexiness, there is a sweater for every occasion and every woman. You just have to find out which one works for your style and personality.

9 - The Striped / Nautical Top (La Marinière)

Many may wonder why I chose to add a striped top as a wardrobe essential, but I am of the firm belief that it very much is in every way. When it comes to my personal style, this piece is very very high up my list of wardrobe must-haves and I’m not even playing. Striped tops are a chic alternative to your graphic shirts and tank tops as there are a myriad of ways to wear it and you will always look very fashionable. Nothing screams holiday, warm weather, sea, carefree fun and effortless elegance like the striped top. Easily the most versatile piece in your wardrobe, its stripes could be vertical, horizontal, thick or thin, and with so many different variations, you will still be able to obtain that timeless look. The simple striped top gives even the most basic outfit, instant cool-girl cred.

The striped or nautical shirt is the “neutral” of the print world, and synonymous with that chic, minimalist French style. It is also sometimes referred to as a Breton (in reference to the French region of Bretagne, where its inspiration was drawn from its local sailors) or la Marinière by the French. It is traditionally 100% cotton, long sleeve, with a boat neck and alternating navy and white horizontal stripes. However, nowadays you can find stripes in every colour and size, and it would still be called a nautical top. Find the colour, fabric, and neckline that best suits you and enjoy the versatility of this essential item.

The striped top can take you from casual to more formal looks with a few styling tricks. Are you going for a day out on a boat or beach, or going to a fun outdoor picnic or barbecue with friends, the striped shirt couldn’t be more perfect for a preppy summer look — team it with a pair of white skinny jeans or shorts, a cute hat and some big sunnies. Layer a striped tee under any jacket — blazer, trench coat, leather jacket, and pair with jeans and you get a very chic and highly polished look. For a more professional look, a dark striped blouse over a pair of ankle-length pants or culottes can look amazing, giving you that stylish office appearance. Looking for flirty but not so dressy way to look feminine? Wear your Breton striped tops with full skirts. 

As mentioned above, the nautical top can serve as a neutral print, and in that light can be worn with louder prints. A very stylish way to wear this would be to mix and match it with other print patterns like florals, polka dots, plaids, gingham or animal prints, or go wild with abstract and quirky patterns. This is a great way to take a stab at the print-on-print or double-print trend. Another way to create a statement look with a nautical top would be to pair the top with brightly hued bottoms.

Striped tops are highly fashionable and can be used to create a wealth of variations. Just make sure you select a stripe-print scaled to your body scale, where petites will look great with slim, narrow stripes while large stripes flatter curvier women. Another tricky decision is whether to go for horizontal or vertical stripes, so be careful when making this choice. Vertical stripes can make you appear taller and leaner, meanwhile horizontal stripes can give the visual effect of widening your shape.
So when you want something simple, tried and tested, you can start with the classic black/navy and white stripes; they are simply timeless. They go really well with just about anything paired with them from denim to prints or leather and whatever else you can think of. The options with striped tops are limitless.

10 - The Little Black (White) Dress - LBD

A whole lot has already been written and said about the Little Black Dress – LBD; so I don’t think I would be saying anything new here. The versatile black dress is listed by any and everyone worth their salt when it comes to women’s fashion, as one of those canonical items, essential to every woman’s wardrobe. This is a feminine and classy garment that never goes out of style. Personally, I may not be big on dresses, but if there’s one thing I have learnt about fashion, it’s that, the little black dress is a mandatory clothing item if you ever have to wear dresses. I have a couple, and I can say the LBD is perfect for dinner dates, cocktail hours, business meetings, weddings, parties and even funerals. Your idea of “little” might vary, but a classic LBD will never look played out.

The success of a black dress, like any other wardrobe essential lies primarily in its versatility. A black dress is one of those things that can be worn from dawn to dusk, radically changing the overall style with accessories. Another plus for the black dress is that it is not subject to fluctuations in fashion, and all ages are submissive to it, no matter what the proponents of the paradigm of “dress according to your age” might say. That being said, there is no limit to the styles or number of LBDs you may own. You could have as many variations as you need of the LBD, but it’s imperative that you have at least one which you can absolutely rely on for any occasion; which is right for your body type and flatters your silhouette without being too trendy or overly sexy.

A black dress is an excellent base for creativity and accessories; the perfect blank canvas for accessorizing — plus, black looks great on literally everyone on this planet. It is best to invest in a classic fashion style that has clean lines and simple silhouette that can be complemented with understated accessories to create the perfect look for any event.  If it doesn’t fit with any particular trends, it will never look outdated. When going for a glamourous look, the LBD is best styled with gold accents, and for an ultra-chic, timeless and sophisticated style, you may go monochrome or all-black look (I love love love this look🥰🤩). Grab a clutch, crossbody bag, or a structured bag, some simple and refined jewellery like pearl necklaces and metallic bracelets that will complement your outfit and a pair of sexy strappy sandals to finish off the whole look.

Thanks to the neutral colour of the dress you can combine it with any other piece of clothing and accessory, suited for any occasion. Depending on your shoes and accessories, you can wear it as both a business-wear and a highly formal dress for special occasions. For an office look, team your LBD with a cute pearl necklace, a pair of classic black or beige pumps or chic leopard print flats and you are ready for a day’s work. You have a date or an impromptu cocktail party to attend, the LBD will always save the day. Some bling, a cute clutch and some sexy stilettos, and you are out the door. Slip on a leather jacket on your LBD for a rock-chic look. 

The simplicity of a Little Black Dress makes it a dress which can suit any body type. Whether you have an hourglass body shape, a pear-shaped body, an inverted triangle body shape, a rectangle-shaped body or an apple-shaped body, there’s a little black dress for you. Personally, I have a handful of LBDs in a variety of styles, but my favourite remains a good LBD with a plunging back, preferably midi length, long sleeves, in any textured fabric. Very elegant. Very sexy. So whether you choose to purchase a black sheath dress, black wrap dress or a beautiful short cocktail dress, you are set to look amazing. Just always be on the lookout for one that calls your name.

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The Little White Dress (LWD)

As much as I advocate for the LBD, I do the same for the Little White Dress. Many wouldn’t look at the LWD as a wardrobe essential, but I am of the opposite opinion. I really love the LWD. It is an excellent addition to your wardrobe and will prove to be a valuable investment in the long run. The Little White Dress is a staple that has limitless possibilities, and instead of wearing your favourite LWD one way, make use of your accessories to create a variety of stylish looks with just one dress. Exceptionally stunning and high impact! We love to see it!

Just like the little black dress, the LWD constantly gets reinvented to keep up the pace with modern times, but always stays timeless. Plus, there exists multiple fashion styles to suit your personality and mood, so all you need is to pick one and be tasteful in your styling, by using accessories to create the looks that will turn heads. But before any styling or accessorizing, make sure you have the RIGHT underwear for your dress. The right undergarment for any outfit is extremely important and even more so with the LWD. Your LWD could be see-through and especially during the day under the sunlight. So keeping that in mind, choose your undergarments very wisely so as not to wreck your entire getup because of unwanted transparency and advertising your “goodies” to the whole world.

Where the LWD really shines is in warm weather; be it casual or formal. No colour is fresher or crisper than white. Depending on how you accessorize it, you can wear it straight from lunch to a dinner date. A little white dress is the perfect outfit for any daytime event such as brunch with your girls or a fun pool or garden party. Just don’t miss to make it look more romantic with a chic handbag and strappy sandals either heels or flats. Switch things up for a night look with shimmering and dazzling touches on your accessories like going for silver and gold jewellery, elegant clutches, and feminine shoes.

Who says all Little White Dresses need to be fancy? If you’re more of a simple, classic and basic kind of girl, an everyday LWD (no, you don’t need to wear it daily) is what you need. Look for something with a simple and clean silhouette that you can easily slip into, that would look good with sneakers or flat strappy sandals but could also look nice and chic with a pair of heels. The cute eyelet lace dress falls into this category and you are guaranteed to look stunning. Perfect for vacation or warm weather casual outing.

Depending on your style, your Little White Dress or LWD could be something as simple as a modish shift dress to something as elegant and extravagant as a designer red carpet inspired one. Whichever you choose to add to your wardrobe will always prove to be a formidable ally for different occasions in your life; be it a summer cocktail party or a sea-side casual get-together. And something that’s great about the white dress is that accessorizing is best kept to the very minimum with the dress left to speak for itself. What’s not to love?!

YvvY

If you surrender to the wind you can ride it ... Toni Morrison

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