I read a great piece of advice the other day from one of my favorite street style photographers, The Sartorialist:
“Wear the Clothes You Have.”
My freakin’ mantra, seriously. I mean, aside from the fact that I have no choice anyway, due to the fact that A.) I just barely got my toes wet in the “big girl job” world, and B.) I still have a solid pile of student debt to be paid off that I’m slowly working off, and that I won’t be relieved of anytime soon. Let’s just say that I haven’t quite yet reached that point of my life where I can just go splurge on new clothes whenever I want. Priorities, priorities.
But it’s really shaped my style to be what it is. I focus on a few classic pieces I have, and build from there. Some of these pieces I’ve spent a little bit more on in order to make sure they were of good quality and would last. (And even then, that price tag is significantly less than what most people pay for clothes they wear one season only to throw out the next.)
And for other pieces, they are so cheap and easy to find, that I have bought a bunch of the same. I’ve learned to be resourceful. I’m pretty thrifty, and I know how to score some great finds. I’m a sale rack, thrift shop-shopping kind of girl. I still try to pick pieces that I feel are timeless. But hey, if those cheap finds do end up going out of style, the sunk cost is worth accepting because it didn’t cost an arm and a leg in the first place.
But right now, I can’t even remember the last time I went shopping. I’ve worn the same clothes for a long time. It’s honestly what I find fun about fashion. I love taking the same sh*t I’ve worn time and time again and throwing it with something completely new to give me an entire new look. I like the challenge of getting funky with what I’ve got. And I LOVE finding old clothes buried deep in the back of my closet that I totally forgot about and bringing them back to life.
Anyway, here are those classic pieces I was talking about that pretty much form the foundation of all my outfits:
1. The Chambray (DUH)
Just call me Doug or Steve from Blues Clues because if you open my closet it’s just chambray after chambray after chambray. It’s my uniform. And I particularly like it over-sized. I do have ones that are a little bit smaller, and I have a TON of other button downs — striped, printed, floral, colored — in case I feel like getting fancy one day. But the classic blue chambray is my go-to, for sure. This is a great example of a piece that is easy to find for cheap (hence, why I have a closet full).
2. The Striped Breton Top
I love stripes, I can’t even help it. I have a bunch of striped breton tops. It’s honestly such a classic look, and it’s a way to look effortlessly chic with minimal effort. Another piece that can be found for a reasonable enough price to buy multiple.
3. The Dark Denim Skinnies
You have to have one pair of really great jeans. Thankfully for me, between me and my little sister working at Guess for a couple years, and my older sister having worked at GAP for a few, I am stocked up on jeans. But my favorite are my stretchy, super comfortable, very dark, skinny jeans from Guess. I never thought I would ever spend more than $100 on a pair of jeans. But I’ve come to find that a truly great pair of jeans — the right fit, comfortable, the right style — is hard to find. And when you do, it’s worth splurging. A great pair of jeans is a good investment.
4. Boyfriend Style Levi’s 501s
Sometimes, you don’t really feel like being in skin-tight jeans. My 501s are super comfortable and loose, but rank a lot higher in style than sweat pants. And talk about a great investment. I have had mine for a little while now, and I love them even more now that they’re older and worn in. AND I only got them for $20 when they were on sale! The best fashion score of my life. You need to get in on this classic if you don’t own a pair. I think I need more myself. (Happy 140th this year, 501!)
5. The Tube Maxi Dress
For those times when you really just feel like being comfortable, and don’t really want to wear pants, but still need to be socially acceptable. I prefer it in black because mine is cotton and it can look super informal, almost cheap. When it’s in black, it instantly gives it a higher level of formality depending on what you pair it with, regardless of the material. This is definitely one of those super cheap purchases. I think I got my cotton black maxi at H&M for probably $15. I also have a black maxi with a sheer overlay for when I feel like being a little more dressy.
And here are those staples in action. Happy mixing, friends.