Blog #4 of 5 Ways to Mix Up Your Wardrobe
I firmly believe that I would be lost without a closet full of basics. Basic jeans, tees, sweaters, LBDs, shirt dresses, and of course, multiple versions of the ubiquitous button-down. As much as I sometimes wish I had more loud prints and bold silhouettes to work with, I like having a wardrobe that takes out the guesswork for me. I know if I put that sweater with those jeans or that shirt with that jacket, I'll look polished all day long and I won't have to worry about it for a second, saving me precious brainspace to worry about a plethora of other things.
The truth is, I see clothes as armour; a crucial buffer in what seems like an endless journey to 'fake it till I make it' and radiate confidence when I couldn't feel less sure of myself. I may have woken up this morning anxious about my day, but there is small likelihood of you picking up on my emotional turbulence when I'm wearing something elegant and interesting, an ensemble that actually makes me stand a bit taller and feel a bit calmer. Oftentimes, it's classic pieces that make me feel the strongest and the most self-possessed. Pair that simple outfit with a red lipstick and suddenly, I'm unstoppable. Funny how that works. Is it possible that a minimal wardrobe leads to a calm uncluttered mind? Did I just reach enlightenment?? Any expert yogis out there, feel free to weigh in.
I remember in my early 20s, reading interviews with impeccably styled fashion magazine editors who all seemed to preach the same thing: the importance of investing in good-quality basics. It took a few years for this advice to fully sink in, but now it makes perfect sense, especially at a time when I'm growing increasingly concerned about my closet's overall environmental impact. In my youth, I made frequent purchases with little thought of the future. Now, I try to stop and ask myself... How many wears will I get out of this? What other items in my wardrobe will it work with? Will I regret this purchase in two years? As a result of this inner dialogue, I often find myself putting the dress covered in sequins back on the rack and walking out of the store with a decidedly unexciting but good-quality knit (not to bash sequins or anything, there is a time and place for sequins).
While it may be difficult to eschew trends, well-made staples are longer-lasting simply because minimalist style doesn't have an expiration date. The white button-down and cigarette trouser ensemble was chic when Audrey Hepburn wore it, it's still darn cute now, and I would bet good money that it will continue to be adorable 20 years down the road. I consider every purchase of a simple, classic piece to be a solid addition to my closet, which I am now thoughtfully curating to last.
That said, I wouldn't consider myself to be a die-hard minimalist. I toe the line between Not Your Standard minimalism and Man Repeller meets Iris Apfel maximalism on what seems like a daily basis. While one day, an outfit consisting entirely of solids and neutral tones will give me life, the next I'm going to throw on every patterned item of clothing I own and top it off with a vibrant orange lipstick and statement earrings. You know, to tie the whole look together.
If my working definition of minimalism in the fashion world serves (simple items in muted colours, contained in a capsule-sized wardrobe), I find the prospect wildly compelling and much-needed in an era otherwise characterized by consumerism, waste, and excess. But my soul yearns for FASHUN as it were, for complex, interesting, weird and wearable art, and it's hard to imagine eliminating colour altogether after seeing the latest Valentino collection (although the recent lilac Oak + Fort pieces have convinced me that minimalist doesn't necessarily have to mean monochrome). Most often I find a happy medium, a simply constructed outfit with a pop of colour or a dash of texture.
Which leads me to my main point... The fun thing about basics is that they can be effortlessly transformed by how they are styled, and this is where the ability to tuck, tie, twist, and roll becomes an exciting prospect. Tie your basic white tee in the front to see how it changes up your outfit's overall shape. Tuck your oversized sweater into the side of your jeans. Maybe tuck it in all the way for some extra dramatic sleeves, who knows!
I had always turned to tucking, tying, twisting and rolling to change up simple pieces in my wardrobe, but my worldview was blown wide open when I encountered Double3xposure's blog about a year ago. Reese Blustein, the creative genius she is, takes the concept to the next level.
I tied, twisted and tucked a simple button-down into a puzzling but intriguing shape, then layered it with a crop made of similar poplin fabric. The result is an unexpected, asymmetrical maze of twisted cotton, with not two but three knots keeping it all together. It reminds me a bit of a Jacquemus creation, where the classic white button-down is deconstructed and reimagined, which couldn't make me happier. So I guess we can all agree, basics aren't necessarily 'basic,' now are they?
Lipstick: Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Flame Red Available here
Button Down: Zara Similar here