Essential Basic Wardrobe Pieces

Building your wardrobe — without waste — and looking slimmer in the process.

This makes sense on so many levels…thinning, economizing, simplifying…love it!

"Shoe to shoulder is all one color or a "backdrop" of a top and bottom in all one color layered with a contrasting jacket left open. Tops and bottoms that match perfectly (a column of all one color) allow room for so much potential. Think of an artist's blank canvas. With this clean canvas not only can you visually lose weight and gain height, but you can change the mood of the ensemble over and over and over again by changing your accessories and shoes. Changing a jacket (left open) and shoes can dress it up or down. Life is at it's easiest, and you are at your thinnest with this concept. It's also a useful format for the travel wardrobe." —Tolomei and Associates

In leaving the jacket open, the sides of the jacket create vertical lines that are close together and also allow the base color to continue up without interruption…as doing so will make the eye travel vertically, it serves to elongate your body. Suggest wearing your neutrals (in warm or cool, depending on your skintone) as your base outfit and the jacket in a complementing color.

Another concept is introduced by Susan Graver, QVC fashion designer, in her book "It's a Fit!: Dressing With Style, Comfort and Confidence" where she suggests obtaining five base pieces (jacket, pants, skirt, blouse, shell). The jacket, pants, and skirt all in one of the following colors: black, chocolate brown, gray, camel, or navy. For each of these pieces, choose timeless, classic styles.

The information I took out of this book, as it applied to me, includes:

  • Jacket = Fully lined gabardine. Black best, unless too severe for your complexion then navy, deep gray, or warm brown.
  • Pants = Flat front, straight legged. Bottom should touch top of foot.
  • Skirt = Slim skirt, hitting at knee to a few inches above.
  • Blouse = White or ivory long sleeve (go w/color best for your complexion and that coordinates with chosen base color). If jacket and shirt have lapels, match them to each other as far as style. Microfiber or crisp cotton are good choices. If cotton, choose one with Lycra for better form fit and feminity.
  • Shell = short sleeve with jewel neckline. Choose neutral color, but not white. Coordinate with all pieces.

After obtaining the above, work on:

  • Shoes = medium heel leather shoes in basic black
  • Dress = classic black sheath
  • Coat = classic black wool best, basic button front, hemline at midcalf or below. If base color is other than black, can go with it instead if want. Removable collar and cuffs allow for more versatility.

Extend from there, adding more of certain items, as well as scarves, pashminas, shawls, hats, gloves, jewelry, and other accessories. (Oh, and Susan says wearing hose and shoes in the same color will make you look more sophisticated and taller.)

For help in figuring out what your base color should be, pick up a copy of "Color Me Beautiful" by Carole Jackson.

Also, see Looking Slimmer – Fashion Tips and Tricks.

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