The bones of a wardrobe is the signature pieces that go with almost everything, they never go out of style, and fit you perfectly. The tool is to go with something with a blank canvas that you can layer on to. A stylish woman knows that not every piece will be remarkable. Some items are not remarkable, but the key is to be reliable. There are ten signature pieces that stand the test of time, trends, and travel. You can wear them from day to night, season to season, and can still be worn five years down the line. These ten pieces are items you can work just as well in New York, Paris, Tokyo, or Sydney.
1. The Little Black Dres
$27.99 at Maykool.com
This is the ultimate blank canvas! The little black dress is mysterious and chic, and can be worn modestly or provocatively. Basically, you can look effortlessly stylish in this piece. It makes you look endlessly elegant and will let you shine, and flatter you without distracting from the rest of you. Allow your hair, accessories, and your personality to take center stage. Oh, and the slimming effect, please don't forget it's slimming effect. Fashion Legend Coco Chanel created the LBD, it represents everything Chanel; comfort, practicality, and self assured sexiness.
2. Classic Men's White Shirt
Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction
The classic white shirt is just about as key to American style as blue jeans. To be chic and simple. Practical and unpretentious. Pair it with black pants like Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction, or with jeans like Jackie O. No one knows who started to wears men's shirts as a fashion statement but she is the kind of woman, I'd love to meet! In 1977, Diane Keaton character in Annie Hall wore a shirt, several sizes too large, and incited a craze. Any time we see a cool girl throws a man's shirt into the mix, it is a reminder of the power that comes with crisp simplicity.
3. Cashmere Cardigan or Turtleneck
$79.99 at JCrew
No matter the weather or occasion, throwing on cashmere makes you feel instantly luxe. When you first try it on, you immediately understand what all the fuss is about. A cashmere cardigan is perfect paired with a dress, t-shirt, button down, but also sexy worn alone, like Marilyn Monroe. Or try a cashmere turtleneck with almost everything -- jeans, pants, skirts. In the 1890's, sweaters were worn by both men and women for sports and equestrian activities, but before WWI, they were bulky and not all attractive. On a brisk day on the polo field, Coco Chanel borrowed a player's jersey, belted it, and found that she liked the look. She started making similar sweaters and they flew off the shelves.
4. A Trench Coat
Jessica Simpson Asymmetrical Zip Ruffle Trench Coat
A classic trench coat can work with almost any kind of weather and almost everything, or nothing ;-) The best part about a trench coat is that as soon as you put it on, you instantly feel mysterious. Wear it with sunglasses if you really want to channel your inner detective, spy, or fugitive. Thomas Burberry was the first to create the trench coat. He designed the trench coat for the British army officers in WWI to keep them warm and dry in the trenches, and every element of the coat had a purpose. The fabric is waterproof, and has a wool lining making it serviceable in all weather; the epaulettes were originally used to hold gloves or hats; the D-rings on the belt were made to secure grenades; the huge pockets were meant to hold maps and extra ammo. These functions are not as useful today, but the basic elements remain the same. The design has barely changed in ninety years, which is what makes the trench so glamorous and alluring.
Nothing gives a girl an aura of instant style, more than jeans. Simple and practical. Sexy and perfect. Rebellious and elegant. They are the most versatile, most perfect item. The thing about denim that makes them so alluring is the fact that you can dress anything down and make even the most uptight items look relaxed. In the 1850s, Levi Strauss started selling rugged blue jeans to gold miners in San Francisco, who needed durable and comfortable clothes. In 1873, Jacob Davis and a tailor in Reno, Nevada, contacted Strauss with the idea to rivet the pockets to make the design stronger. Today, over 100 years later since Strauss and Davis took out the patent, blue jeans have grown from being just practical to becoming one of the sexiest and seductive articles of clothing imaginable.
I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity-- all I hope for in my clothes. -Yves Saint Larent
6. A Men's Classic Watch
Women's watches change with the trends and seasons, but a classic men's watch is timeless and looks great on a woman's wrist. A men's watch makes a bold statement and breaks the rules in an unexpected but subtle way. It's a great item to "borrow" from a boyfriend/husband/father/friend. Women first started wearing wristwatches in the 1880's in Europe, when they began to attach their pocket watches to leather wristbands to go out hunting or horseback riding. Soon the wristband began being manufactured for women, but men stuck with the pocket watch and considered the new wristwatch style too effeminate. It wasn't until after WWI that the soldiers realize that the wristwatch was more efficient and almost overnight, European manufacturers started working overtime converting women's wristwatches into military timepieces. The men's watch was BORN!
You can never go wrong with diamonds! They are the perfect compliment to any outfit, either day or night, casual or dressy, winter or summer, with other jewels, or not. Fake is also fine! In the fifteenth century, King Charles VII of France gave his mistress, Agnes Sores, a diamond ring. Agnes took quite a liking to the stone and started to wear as many as possible, an understandable move. It was a notable move because prior to this gift, diamonds were only worn by men. Diamonds were a symbol of power, status, alor, and women were legally not allowed to wear them. Agnes publicly defied French law and made it acceptable and fashionable for women to wear diamonds. Half a millennium later, there is no sign of the diamond going out of style.
8. Ballet Flats
There are some very rare moments when you have to toss the heels to the curb, temporarily of course, in the name of practicality or shopping strategy. For example: 1) in an airport, when you have to haul for the plane. 2) On the first day of a major sale at the mall. 3) On the sand, which is quite tragic because there isn't a better time for a high heel's boost when you are half-naked, but stilettos and sand just don't mix. 4) Driving, because although I'm sure you think you have mastered the technique, you just haven't. In the 1950's designers began to create their own variations on the ballet flat, and actresses began wearing them on screen (Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot). Since then, ballet flats have become a staple in every woman's closet and have helped up navigate tricky terrain ever since.
9. A Classic High-Heel Pump
Yves Saint Laurent $670
Every woman deserves to buy shoes that are outrageous, impractical, and bold! Those same women should also have at least one classic high-heel that they can rely on for those times when that fierce red patent leather stiletto won't do. The red stiletto is just the kid of shoe you want to take out on the town, but she's probably going to clash with a few outfits and a few prospective in-laws. We all know that the red pump is the shoe we all love, but you can't depend on the red stiletto the way you can depend on a more classic black high-heel pump. Sure, the red pump will get more attention, but the black pump will let the other pieces of your outfit speak, which is sometimes just what you need from a shoe. Nobody knows who invented the high-heel. Some give credit to Leonardo Da Vinci, I'll buy that! However, we can record to date that back in 1953, Catherine de Medici wore a two-inch heel for her wedding ceremony to make her appear taller. The world had to wait more than five hundred years for the stiletto to be born in the 1950's, but we have Catherine de Medici to thank for laying the two-inch groundwork on her wedding day.
10. A Great Bag!
Michael Kors Selma Satchel
The bag, like the shoe, is a great place to have fun and play with colors, textures, and shapes. But, like the shoe, you should have at least one classic bag (okay, maybe three) that will go with you anywhere. Every woman should have
A tote or shoulder bag: for daytime and carrying around almost everything
A clutch: for nighttime and carrying around almost nothing
A medium-sized handbag, with a chain link strap: for those times in between.
The must-have bag: Chanel 2.55, Louis Vuitton Speedy, Gucci's Jackie O., Hermes Birkin.
The handbag only became a female accessory at the beginning of the 1900s. Before then men were the only ones who carried a purse, and if a woman wanted something, she had to ask him for it. Women put an end to that at the turn of the twentieth century, when women began stepping out into the world alone and carrying their own belongings. The handbag became the symbol for independence!
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Leonardo Da Vinci