Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, every day, without saying anything.

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photo by Julia Elizabeth photo by Julia Elizabeth

Alright, do I have your attention?

Let’s talk about longevity. What if everything we owned (and specifically, everything in our closet) was something we planned on having forever?

What if every time you went to buy something, you had to justify owning it? I venture to say we’d own a lot less, save a lot more, and never feel lukewarm about our “things” again.

Whenever I get a request from a reader to talk through the pieces every woman should own before 30, before you have a baby, if you’re in sales, if you’re a New Yorker, etc etc, I get a bad taste in my mouth.

How convenient would it be if we could just go off a master list that told us exactly what to buy? How convenient and how utterly boring. Fashion is just not that simple (thank goodness).

But, I aim to please. In an effort to give you everything you’ve ever wanted (!), I’ve come up with a list of 10 pieces that will last forever. Think of this not as a rulebook, but a guideline that can be interpreted in your own style and in your own way.

1. A white tee: Do not underestimate the power of a simple, well made t-shirt. I’ll never forget a friend mentioning to me once that I “always wear the same shirt.” It felt a little like a dig, but the true message was clear: dang girl, you know your style! There’s something so powerful about knowing a piece will always make you feel good – I think a comfy white tee can do that for anyone.

2. A great pair of jeans: I cringe at the amount of hastily purchased denim I’ve acquired over the years. What a waste of an opportunity! Finding your jeans takes patience. You gotta do the (right and left) legwork: get to a store and try on everything you like. Buy a pair or two and take them home. Wait 24 hours (this is critical!). Try them on again. If they’re not right, start over. You’ll get there!

3. A jacket: I’m not saying blazer, I’m not saying leather jacket, and I’m not saying denim jacket. I’m saying jacket, because the type you wear depends entirely on your style. The requirement for said jacket is that is puts the cherry on top of any given outfit (warmth + layers are bonuses). That’s what I want for you.

4. Black boots: Similar to a great jacket, a pair of black boots can instantly elevate your outfit. Suddenly jeans and a tee become appropos for a night out. A neutral outfit becomes eye-catching. If you’re anything like me, the sound a good pair of boots makes when you’re walking is just as confidence boosting as any power pose.

5. A silk blouse: I grew up going to a school with a dress code, and was constantly reminded that people who have to dress up for school or work tend to perform better. Though I rolled my eyes back then, it’s undeniable to me now. Real materials feel more precious, and a silk blouse is a great way to feel professional without looking too buttoned up. You will reach for this staple again and again.

6. A versatile bag: The term evening bag drives me a little bonkers, as it usually implies that we’re meant to carry around a pill box with no strap for the night. Though clutches on the red carpet are beautiful, functionally they’re kind of a drag. I suggest adding a small to medium sized crossbody to your closet,  that can be worn day to day but function as your “fancy” bag as well.

7. A little black dress (or suit): You will undoubtedly have countless occasions that require something simple that can be thrown on. This requires some searching as well, but is a bit less emotionally taxing than say, a hunt for your pair of jeans.

8. A pair of pumps (or flats): You will not regret going the extra mile and finding a pair that is as comfortable as it is chic. I don’t wear heels much on a day to day basis, but when you need them, you need them. And, if you DO wear heels a lot, these should definitely be the jumping off point for the rest of your shoe collection.

9. A winter coat: Around this time of year, it is so easy to get caught up wearing the same black puffy coat day in and day out. And that’s great, because they get the job done. But what about days where you wanna feel a little fancy, or dress up because you’re feeling down? As with the rest of this list, find something you adore and can eventually hand down to a child / loved one someday.

10. A cool pair of sneakers: The unsung hero of a New Yorker’s closet, I’d say. Have a pair that will get you where you’re going quickly, and will be more eye catching than the purpose they serve.

Of course, this list is totally up for debate and interpretation, but if you’re looking to take a critical inventory of your closet, and you want to know which pieces to keep, I would start here. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you 🙂



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Cara Colbert
Cara Colbert
4 years ago

Love this!! I’ll take one of everything 🙂