How to Update Your Basics
One of the fashion lies we’ve heard over the years is "Buy this now, wear it forever." But what can you really wear forever other than a pair of diamond studs? Even basics have an expiration date. It would make our lives so much easier if clothes came with tags that read, for example, GOOD UNTIL LABOR DAY 2008. But because we don’t have such a definitive directive, it’s challenging for many of us to part with pieces we once loved. (In my case, that’s compounded with guilt for having spent so much on them.) The result: Many of us have boring, outdated "classics" that should have been ditched seasons ago; they not only take up valuable real estate in our closets, but, worse, they broadcast for all to see that we just can’t let go.
One of the keys to looking fabulous all the time is to have a sixth sense that tells you quickly whether a piece is past its prime. I don’t have that sixth sense, but I admire women who do. Instead, I’ve played this ridiculous, time-wasting game with myself (maybe you have too), moving the piece in question down the food chain of available closets: to a second closet, then a third closet, then to a closet in a second home, then to its final resting place in the basement. But I’m getting better at making the tough decisions, and I’m discovering the euphoria of Getting Rid of Stuff — which beats holding on to it for eternity. I’m passing along what I learned from keeping all my vintage (late 1980s, early 1980s) jackets in the basement. Unless my friend Martha has another Dress Like the ’80s party, I am never going to want to wear those dated pieces again. The fabrics look sad, the colors aren’t right, the shape is different enough to not quite work, and most important, old clothes don’t make you feel good because you’re not the same person you were back then. How clothes make you feel is as important as what they say about you; that’s why you shouldn’t wear something just because it still fits. That basic beige Donna Karan pantsuit from 1994 has to go.
Isn’t it time you treated yourself to some new basics? Take a look at our best picks to freshen up your look this spring. Nothing boring about these!
New Basic: The Structured Dress
The dress has reclaimed its status as the go-to piece when you don’t know what to wear. Instead of a boxy A-line or droopy knits, a tailored neutral color sheath like this O by Oscar style ($149, Macy’s or macys.com) contours an hourglass shape. Its wide belt defines and controls your waist. Wear it with platform wedges or slingbacks. MICHAEL Michael Kors Santorini straw clutch ($168, Nordstrom). Via Spiga Ibsco shoes ($185, select Macy’s).
New Basic: The Soft Shirtdress
This crisp-lined navy and white silk print from Milly ($371) looks like a skirt and top, but it’s actually one cool body-skimming piece in a very forgiving fit. The look is St. Tropez — just add big gold hoops. Dooney & Bourke blue patent Medium Cinzia bag ($295). Ann Taylor Collection chain link wedges ($165).
Milly at Bloomingdales.com›
Dooney & Bourke›
Ann Taylor Collection›
New Basic: The Cropped Leather Jacket
This lightweight leather topper replaces the jeans jacket. Lafayette 148 cropped Dani style ($798) works over everything from capris to dresses. The new basic blouse is a geo-print like Faconnable cotton/silk version ($135, Faconnable boutiques, 877-322-2595) worn with a khaki cotton trumpet skirt (The Limited, $68). Glory Chen shoes ($280).
Glory Chen at Olive Shoes›
New Basic: The Brilliant Anorak
Color, a strong trend now, works better for most of us on top. Wear this Anne Klein New York water-resistant, polished cotton anorak ($425) over a sleeveless ruched jersey tank (Cacharel, $135) and lean, white pants: These by Jones New York Sport have a slim, leggy look. You’ll want a new bag like this Lulu style by Botkier ($625, botkier.com). Nine West Echatta shoes ($79, zappos.com).
Anne Klein New York at Dillard’s›
Cacharel at Jane Boutique›
Nine West at Zappos›