Sweet Spots

WARDROBE ESSENTIALS – III

For this third and final installment of wardrobe essentials I would focus on what I love to call bonus pieces. What’s life without bonuses huh? Well I am of the opinion that wardrobe essentials wouldn’t be complete without a couple bonus pieces.

So what do I consider bonus pieces? These are pieces that are unique to your personality and lifestyle. They are those pieces that define you! Define your style. Those pieces that no matter the number of jeans or blazers you may have, they are always a great addition to your wardrobe to differentiate you from the next woman. They give you that distinct flair that makes you stand out without doing too much.

Of course there are quite a number of pieces that can be categorised as bonus wardrobe essentials, so it’s really up to your budget and lifestyle (like every other piece duh). Below I will be sharing my personal favourite bonus wardrobe essentials.

The Chambray/Plaid Button-down Shirt

Being the denim lover that I am, it goes without saying that I love a good chambray button-down shirt. For those of you who may not be familiar with the word ‘chambray’, it is basically, a lightweight denim. It is absolutely versatile and gives a casual off-duty look like denim but has the softer and lighter feel, making it wearable whenever. The women’s chambray shirt is a wardrobe essential of mine, with its versatility offering a range of options when it comes to creating a perfect look, from casual social functions, to more sophisticated and corporate environments,
And just like the chambray, the plaid (check(ered)) button-down shirt is another off-duty favourite of mine, which works well with pretty much everything. It’s just as easy to style for the streets, for the office and for date nights as well.

Personally, I think both of these shirts serve the same purpose. They are perfectly interchangeable; reason why I chose to write about them as a single item. You can choose to add one or both of them to your wardrobe, and style them the exact same way to give you that casual and stylish look with some street edge.

The chambray button-down works well with any of the fashion pieces in your wardrobe for creating plenty of different outfits that work for different occasions. However, if you choose to wear it to the office or any formal event, it’s best for your chambray shirt to be crisp and neat with no trendy holes or distress marks to look fit and neat for the setting. This is best styled with more elegant and polished pieces such as a pencil skirt or classic pants to achieve a sleek and professional look, or a with a lacy or floral skirt for a sweet feminine look.

And despite popular belief, you actually can wear ‘denim’ (or chambray) on denim and look pretty sharp. The key is to either choose the same colour of denim for both pieces to create a monochrome denim look, or make it more interesting by mixing two pieces of different shades of denim to create a contrast between the same textures; in this case, a lighter top and somewhat darker, distressed bottom will do the trick. I love the simplicity of this look, yet also how chic and sophisticated it is. Want to elevate this look? Accessories!!! You could break up the outfit by adding a belt, a hat or with a pair of animal print shoes or scarf. Bright colour accents, such as, a red scarf or a handbag, yellow or orange sneakers, and so on, will help to refresh such a look and add a touch of playfulness. Add some gorgeous neck jewellery and chunky bracelets to amp up the atmosphere of femininity of the entire look. 

Fashion blogs would often qualify plaid shirts as “cold weather pieces”, most appropriate for fall and winter. But I am not a fashion blogger, I live in the tropics, and I don’t adhere to rigid fashion rules anyways, so I’m all for wearing plaid button-downs all year round, with all kinds of bottoms and for all kinds of settings, whether paired with a pair of jeans or shorts for a casual look or leather bottoms for a more daring and sexy look.

Grab a traditional tartan plaid top and pair with your skinny pants for a casual chic look. You can even reach for a pair of trousers with a slight texture or pattern! For the office or after-work drinks, tuck a plaid button-down into a pencil skirt and finish it off with a pair of heeled sandals or classic pumps. If you really want to turn heads at your next holiday party, pair your plaid shirt with a full or sequin midi skirt. And for a fashion forward look, why not go for a brightly coloured plaid shirt and tuck it into a full skirt of the same colour.

These shirts layer very well, and you can make them work with just about any look — just make sure you keep the palette to neutral hues, as to not overwhelm the entire get-up. For a cool, casual look, your chambray or plaid button-down shirt can serve as a proxy jacket; keeping you warm without adding too much bulk. For an edgy and dressed-down look, I love to tie my chambray shirt. This way it almost becomes a crop top, so to counterbalance that if I’m not wearing it over a dress, I like to pair it with a high waist pencil skirt. Just a note: If you are going for this look, you may want to size up for a slouchier fit.

For a preppy chic look, layer your button-down with a coat or sweater. Also, toughen an otherwise very sugary and feminine look by pairing your tulle, lace or floral skirt with a chambray or plaid button-down shirt. Pairing my chambray top with a sequin skirt and some sexy heels is an absolute favourite of mine. You can never go wrong with this look.

Now that you know how to wear a Chambray or Plaid button-down shirt, you can make one of these tops a part of your wardrobe. You’ll be amazed when you realize just how versatile they actually are. Timeless, the perfect transitional piece between seasons, and probably one of the most versatile items you’ll ever own, the chambray and/or plaid button-down shirt is the perfect top for you when opting for a very modern and comfortable style.

The Leather Jacket

Leather jackets have always been an iconic look to fit any style for any occasion. I live in the tropics where the climate is almost always pretty hot, so I don’t get to wear leather often. But whenever I can, or when I travel to colder areas of the world, I do not hesitate to take my leather jacket along. Not only does a good leather jacket keep me warm, it also adds such a nice, edgy and chic vibe to any look. However, a good leather jacket is an investment piece. Faux leather jackets are great but they don’t last very long, and they don’t look too good when they start getting worn out either. Genuine leather, on the other hand, may be a little pricier, but they practically last forever (given that you care for them well, of course) which means you’ll be getting the most out of every single buck you spend on it.
So, whether you’re going for a casual, sexy or glamorous look, the leather jacket is a perennial classic that will always add some urban edge to your outfit.

The thing about a leather jacket is that you don’t have to ride a motorcycle, have a certain type of attitude, or dress a certain type of way to look fierce in one. They are super easy to pull off and they give such great style cred to any look, making your looks more relaxed with an urban twist. Toughen up a feminine maxi dress by throwing a leather jacket over it — an easy-to-wear look that’s sure to become your summer holiday staple. Leather and lace is a combination that on paper, seems to go together as well as chalk and cheese but, in reality works quite well. A cute lace dress with black bomber jacket will look simultaneously elegant and edgily modern. So if you want one piece of outerwear that will always be practical, stylish, and absolutely badass, invest in a nice leather jacket — you can’t go wrong with a classic, iconic black leather jacket.

If you’re looking for a true investment piece and you want something you will be able to wear for the years to come, choose the classic style. This means no studs, no spikes and little to no embellishments, if possible. However, if you want to mix things up a little when it comes to choosing a leather jacket, you can step away from the traditional black biker and choose a jacket of a different colour. If that is the case, it is best to go for neutrals like maroon and different shades of brown, as these are so much sleeker and chicer compared to bright colours; plus, they’re guaranteed to look good on you no matter your age. But if you really want something quirky, choose a leather jacket in a bright or pastel colour.

The secret to looking chic in a leather jacket lies on your creative styling and fashion sense, because they look good with any and everything. Toughen up a too sweet look by wearing a leather jacket with an ultra-feminine or floral dress or skirt, and add some ballet pumps or sky-high heels to finish off your outfit. Sunglasses, a leather jacket and a form-fitting dress equal a sexy and sophisticated look or with a casual T-shirt-and-jeans outfit to add a rock chic personality to the look. You may also think of teaming a black leather jacket with an all-black ensemble for a chic night-time look or with anything lace for that sexy, chic and somewhat mysterious look — great combo to wear on dates.

Whether faux or real, a leather jacket can add some edge to any chic, feminine, and simple outfits that can be so personal and true to your style. It is unapologetically brash and bold, a piece which takes any outfit to the next level. From jeans to rompers, mini to maxi dresses, pencil and tutu skirts to leggings, the leather jacket is one of the most versatile pieces there is, and such a timeless trend which adds such a nice, sleek and chic vibe to any look and will always be handy on a chilly night. Rebellious, versatile and undeniably cool; if there’s one rule in fashion, it’s that everyone ought to own a leather jacket.

Cardigan/Kimono

I love to describe myself as a “tropical girl”. Not so much personality wise (not anything bright and sunny), but because I usually get the chills once weather temperatures begin to drop. So, if like me you tend to get the sniffles once the air around you gets a little chilly, then cardigans are your friends. From floor length to blazer lengths, a cardigan always has its place in a woman’s wardrobe, and it is an absolute must-have for me. 

Cardigans make great transition pieces. They can be worn all year round, basically, and are perfect for when you just want something quick and cozy but not too warm. I personally love throwing a nice kimono cardigan on top of a plain and simple outfit — gives me that oomph without doing too much. Aside from the fact that a cardigan makes me comfy and warm, it also gives an effortless chic look; and with the right piece, a good splash of colour to liven up the entire look. During the warmer months, best to go for cardigans which are more sheer and lightweight with prints which are rather colourful (kimonos are best during these periods), and as temperatures drop, go for chunkier and heavier cardigans in darker colours and less colourful print.

The wonderful beauty of the cardigan is that it is a piece to add to your outfit that will serve as both a statement piece and something that will keep you nice and warm. Its generous proportions and slouchy appeal is what draws me to this piece, because it’s just so comfortable and you can just cozy up in one and look cute at the same time. Another great thing about this piece is that there are a variety of styles, which could work for almost every style preference and body shape. You can add different cardigans to your wardrobe that will be appropriate in both casual and dressy situations, and style it to make it look very cool and feminine at the same time. Cropped cardigans are perfect to wear on top of your cute little dresses, and you can wear pretty much anything underneath a blazer-length to long/maxi cardigan.

Cardigans tend to be more fitted than jumpers and sweaters, and a long cardigan serves as a lightweight jacket that you can throw over a camisole/tank top and jeans for a day/evening out with friends. To create the look of a laid-back but not too dressy outfit, mix and match your cardigan with casual chic pieces such as tailored pants, shorts, dresses etc, creating a casual chic look. Don’t forget to add some cute accessories that complement well with your outfit. And for anyone who lives in an area where no layers are required, a cute cardigan is very travel friendly and airport ready. And if you’re looking for a dramatic touch to add to your outfit, a maxi printed cardigan which is a stylish reinvention of a simple, plain, and neutral cardigan may be a great option for you.

Cardigans are basically the trademark outerwear of a preppy style, as its natural and soft texture makes your overall outfit look impeccable. Since office outfits are often layered with a sleek and well-tailored blazer, why not switch to cardigans to refresh your typical office look? A neutral-coloured cardigan paired with an office-appropriate dress or skirt is stylish and creative; and don’t forget to accessorize with a scarf or/and a belt to take your outfit to the next level. You have the freedom to choose virtually any colour, provided that you are aware of which colours are appropriate for office attire and which are best reserved for your personal outings.

Personally the long/maxi and kimono cardigans are my favourite styles of cardigans because they provide that unique loose fit that drape beautifully on anyone who wears it. It can serve as both a statement piece and something that will keep you nice and warm; great for adding a dramatic flair and movement to any look. Kimono cardigans tend to have a very soft and feminine vibe to them and can even act as an alternative to your bikini cover-ups. So whether you are more into the light weight or heavily knitted cardigan, printed or plain coloured, long or cropped, a cardigan is an essential fashion piece you need to get you through a lazy day, which aside from them being great warmers, they will also give you stand-out look without trying too hard.

The Power Trouser Suit

Because we need more elegance in our lives the power trouser suit immediately comes to mind. Wearing good tailoring can make a woman’s confidence soar. However, the blazer-and-skirt combo often looks a little too Thatcher for comfort. Solution? Women’s pants/trouser suits A.K.A The Power suit! This suit is essentially a jacket and tailored trousers (dress pants) in the same colour and fabric. There was a time when the female trouser suit (pantsuit) was only part of the wardrobe of women who had to adhere to a strict dress code at their workplace. Today not so much. The pantsuit is no longer exclusive to the cubicle and boardroom; it is now styled for special occasions like weddings, and even for casual and bold street style looks. I love a well fitted jacket. I love well-tailored dress pants. So goes without saying that a power suit is very much my thing — right along my alley.

As with every wardrobe staple, versality should be its strongest selling point. Trouser suits are not any different. They exist in variety of styles and colours which work for women of all ages, shapes and sizes and for all sorts of occasions. If you are new to the pantsuit world, best to start with the basics, i.e a black or navy suit in a typical tailored silhouette which is, a double-breasted or single button blazer and straight-leg trousers. However, despite being known as the quintessential “Working Girl” uniform in classic shades of black, grey, blue or brown, feel free to experiment with any and every colour (red, rust, burgundy, pink, yellow, etc) so long as it suits your skin tone, and keep the look sleek with streamlined accessories. 

If you’re feeling brave and wish to stand out, try bright patterns for a decidedly out-of-office vibe! Deviate from the more traditional look and go for pantsuits with cropped pants or culottes, making way for a more playful shoe opportunity. If you are going on a date, to a wedding or some other special event, rock a chic coloured pantsuit — bold tones or striking prints. Wear them with a sexy top or no top at all, add a pair of sexy heels and a bold and catchy clutch, and you are ready to go.

As already mentioned above, the trouser suit is no longer relegated to the workplace only. How you choose to wear your suit makes the whole difference. For a more casual take, style your suit with a plain white tee and sneakers that don’t make the look feel so buttoned up. I am a huge fan of this particular look. The suit makes me feel formal and grown-up while the sneakers bring the fun and casual vibe to the look. The combination of these two items is just the perfect smart casual outfit. For another suiting look outside the office, instead of a blouse, try a cropped top, a lacy bra or nothing at all underneath your suit jacket for an ultra-sexy going-out look. Also get creative with pantsuits by mixing up the fabric, going for prints or unusual materials like velvet. 

The simplicity of a well-cut neutral trouser suit leaves you free to accessorise to your heart’s content. A pantsuit in a vibrant colour or in a print fabric is instantly statement-making in its own right. Play with the silhouette of your trouser suit by belting it at the waist to flatter your curves! Personally, I love love love a good pantsuit – in every colour, I love it. Slightly oversize jacket, matching cropped pants, strappy heels or sneakers and I’m sold. But in the end, there are just so many ways to rock the power suit — don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone, try one!

Confidence

This is the most essential of all items in your wardrobe. It’s not about trends. It’s not about brands. What matters the most in how you dress, is your confidence. The simplest pair of jeans, tee, and sneakers would look like a million dollars on anyone who wears them with a whole lot of confidence and attitude. 

Sounds cliché, but the most stylish women — and men, for that matter — in the world, are ones who have confidence, and who know they don’t need the $700 sweatshirt or Chanel handbag to make themselves appear cool. These folks can step out in a faded grey tee and jeans and still look like the coolest person in the room all because they have confidence. It doesn’t matter if those heels are the prettiest Choos — if you can’t walk in them, you won’t be considered stylish. Throw on a pair of comfortable sneakers with that mini dress, you’ll look much cooler. Look for the clothing styles that work with your figure and fit your lifestyle; whether you’re working in a super conservative office, spending hours brainstorming in creative open-spaces, or jet-setting to tropical destinations, no matter how much you’d like to wear it, leave those unflattering pieces on the rack and look for garments that flatter you. By taking these accounts into your mind, you’ll look more fashionable and expressive on your style without being a fashion victim.

And with that this list comes to an end.

I had so much fun compiling this list. These are the essentials that make up the skeleton of my wardrobe. They connect my prints, accents, colours and textures to create endless outfit combinations. When it comes to selecting basics, the best advice I ever received : “ALWAYS value comfort and fit over style!” From there punch up your wardrobe by adding bright colour pops and more prints, and express your classic individuality by adding some clothing with ruffles and fun accessories. You’ll benefit from projecting a more contemporary classic look.

And finally…

BE CONFIDENT – you can pull off anything you wear, even if it’s not something you would usually put on, as long as you are confident. Confidence makes any outfit look better. Try it out, at least for a day, to see how you would feel about it. If you think it makes you look great, do it again! Otherwise, you either re-style or try another piece.

Fashion says me too; Style says only me, so flaunt your classic and fashion individuality by mixing what’s already in your closet in new and unexpected ways, and make sure that the contents of your closet stays functional, flexible, and loved.

YvvY

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

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