Sunday, March 7, 2010

Top 10… Clothing staples!

I often see articles in magazines that profess to have the definitive top 10 must have lists. 10 items you can’t live without this winter! Seven key pieces for fall! Eight must have shoes for summer! Despite claiming to be classic lists, often these articles are more trend driven than anything, and are designed to sell advertisers current season stock (well duh, Miss Kitty…) which does annoy me somewhat. I am more what you would call a classic dresser – not really focussed on the must have jean for the season (I look silly in skinnies) or the latest gladiator sandal.

For me, a clothing staple list must be trans-seasonal and also trans-trend. It’s not about the latest skirt length or shape (mid thigh and tulip apparently for this year, just in case you were wondering). It has to contain things you would wear to multiple occasions, preferably over multiple years. For me, dressing means I look classy, smart and age appropriate. Practical, perhaps, but I rarely feel inappropriately dressed for an occasion.

A note of warning – classic dressing does not necessarily equal investment dressing. There is something to be said for investment dressing, i.e. spending the maximum amount you can afford on a piece of classic clothing in order to make sure it lasts as long as possible, but for me, it’s a separate discussion altogether. Whilst I think this is often true with accessories (the more money invested in staples the longer they will last) I don’t always feel the same way about clothing. I think you should invest good money in coats, if you can, but often I find some of my best cheap buys last as long as some of my more expensive ones. It’s often about cut, fit and fabric more than price.

So here is my list of top 10 clothing staples.

A good black dress: This will take you absolutely anywhere if it's good enough quality. I think you need one for winter and one for summer. If you are only going to invest in one, try and make sure the shape is as neutral and classic as possible while still showing off your figure. A good black dress will take you from the office to dinner with no more than a change of accessories. Some of my favourite black dresses come from Leona Edmiston (pictured below), Diane Von Furstenberg, Banana Republic, Target, Mela Purdie, Sportscraft and Cue. If you find a good black dress that really suits you, buy two. You won’t regret it.

A crisp white shirt: generally white shirts are hard to wear for those of us who are - shall we say - bustier than the average? A fact of life is that it does make it difficult to buy shirts that don't gape. My answer is to buy shirts that are made from poplin with a bit of stretch in them, which is a bit more forgiving. I buy mine (or have them made for me) by Bespoke by Ganton or at Thomas Pink in the UK where the cut of the shirts seems to suit my figure better. Mr Rose also makes good shirts in varying cup sizes but personally for $300 odd dollars a shirt, I’d get mine custom made.

A classic trench: I sometimes struggle to find a classic trench that suits my somewhat curvy figure, but I have found a few that are better than average. I have a fabulous trench from Cue that I bought last winter - the collar is quite a bit deeper than the average and the "skirt" is more flared so it gives curvy girls a great shape. I have mine in black - goes with everything! Also - make sure the quality of the material is good - cut is super important but material quality is equally as important. A good option for this season is Sportscraft – pictured. I have also bought trenches and coats from Dorothy Perkins in the UK and have been very happy with their quality.

A good jacket: It doesn't need to be a suit jacket (personally I hate them and think they make me look boring) but it's important to have a smart looking jacket of some description, particularly as we move into winter. In the past I have bought mine in a heavy stretch ponti from Mela Purdie - the collar is often a bit different so it makes it look up to date without being dated and it goes over everything from a black dress to jeans and a t-shirt. Good buys usually come from Cue and Veronika Maine, but it's definitely important to buy one that is flattering and classic rather than trendy. I personally don't think a suit is necessary (I don't wear them in my line of work) but if you do, get one that is cut well and made from good fabric. Nothing trendy that you will regret next winter! Other purveyors of good quality coats include Dorothy Perkins and Boden (both available online from the UK), Charlie Brown and Country Road. I have also invested in a couple of good coats from Gerard Darel while shopping in Paris. Both of them were leopard print and will last me a lifetime.

Good black trousers: having said that I don't think a suit is a good buy (for me anyway) I think it's important to have a pair of well cut black trousers in a good quality fabric that suit your figure. Doesn’t matter what the cut is – bootleg, wide, skinny – so long as they suit you. I have bought well fitting bootleg and wideleg trousers from Saba, Sussan (yes, really!) and Target. My current ones that I love are Target - $30 and they fit really well. Go figure.

Jeans that suit your figure: Here is where I definitely don't spend money - I buy jeans from Target. Yes really. I rarely wear them so for me buying really expensive jeans is an absolute waste of money. I buy a pair per year and they set me back $32. They are dark navy blue and do exactly what I need so I don't feel it's important for me to be a spendthrift here. I also buy Gap jeans - that's a real luxury for me at $60... And mine are always bootcut.

Good quality long-sleeved tops: I like something with a bit of stretch and I find that on me the neckline is one of the most important things in a well cut top. I like ones Esprit, Sussan and Giordano. In summer, I buy tank tops from Ojay and Giordano - usually 2 in black, one in white and one in burgundy. Maybe more.

A classic pencil skirt: All ladies should have a well fitting good quality pencil skirt. In the past I have bought mine from Witchery, Target and Country Road. They are really neutral and fit me well. Knee length on me is most versatile because I can wear it with ballet flats and a tank top on weekends and with a shirt during the week to work.

A good quality denim jacket: I would be lost without mine. I have an old favourite from Esprit but Sass and Bide make great ones too. Last year I bought an amazing one from Sportscraft (pictured) and I am hoping they repeat again this season because it was great. I’d happily invest in another. It dresses everything down just a little but still makes you look smart. Never - I repeat - Never wear your denim jacket with jeans. Double denim is a major fashion faux pas. Well, unless the objective is to look like Donna from Beverley Hills 90210 circa 1991. then, by all means do.

A good cardigan: Never underestimate the power of good knits. Over the past year I have invested time and energy as well as good money in finding fantastic cardigans. I tend to wear longer cardis, often reducing the need for a coat in the Sydney winter. I have a great red one from Banana Republic that I adore and Witchery also do good knits, as do CR, Cue and Veronika Maine. But the best ones without a doubt come from Sportscraft. I have three that are longer in the front and are more wrap style and they are fantastic. This season Oroton make a fabulous cashmere wrap cardigan that is both on trend and classic (pictured below). How marvellous! If you don’t think cardigans are for you, you could replace this with another knit, like a jumper. But I prefer the versatility of the cardigan.

So there is my list. Practical yet chic. Coming soon, I will share more of my must have lists – next will be accessories (including shoes and handbags) and the dreaded must have underwear list!

Have a wonderful Sunday, wherever you may be!

Kitty xx


Elise said...

Great post Kitty. Can I ask what fabric ponti is though? Ive never heard of it

Miss Kitty-Cat said...

It's a double knit interlock stretch fabric, Elise. I have a lot of pieces in it - mostly dresses, skirts and a few jackets. Very comfy to wear and it travels really well!

Anonymous said...

great post, as usual :) but if that was my list i would have left off the denim jacket - i just don't know what to do with them? can i wear them with jeans? with a skirt? the don't go with any of my skirts... and i rarely wear normal-pants. endless conundrums...

Miss Kitty-Cat said...

Understandable. It's not for everyone. I wear it with everything bar jeans, Clare - black trousers, white shirt, denim jacket; over a black shift dress to make it more casual; with black pants and a tank top; tank top and pencil skirt... The possibilities are endless for me, but that's probably because most of my wardrobe is black so it goes with pretty much everything ;)