For the past year and a half, we’ve been blessed with the limited need to dress outside of our comfort zone. Sweats and leggings have been just fine, thankyouverymuch. But now that we’re heading back to a state of normalcy, you may have found that your previous go-to corporate pieces are a bit… drab? Unappealing? Ill-fitting? Thankfully, there’s a way to keep comfortable + stay in style, (and yes, our moms knew it all along).
To guide us on our post-COVID apparel journey, we turned to Jacqui Stafford, author of The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget (AKA ‘the style bible’), to give us her tips on the smartest investment pieces to have in your wardrobe today, and forever.
LISTEN: And if you missed Jacqui’s episode of the HerMoney podcast: Help! I Have Nothing To Wear give it a listen ASAP. Your wardrobe will thank you.
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Style
On average, we wear only 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time, Stafford tells us. When it comes to creating an easy and timeless wardrobe, there are two key things to think about: longevity and flexibility. One outfit can take you from brunch with your girlfriends to an afternoon of corporate meetings. So how do you fill your closet with fuss-free + classic pieces? According to Stafford, the bulk of your wardrobe should be pieces that you can wear for years to come. She mentions 10 key pieces every woman needs:
- Denim jacket
- Crewneck cardigan
- Crewneck T-shirts (in every color)
- Classic leather handbag
- Straight, ankle-length cigarette jeans (no rips!)
- Classic wrap dress
- Knit dresses (anything with a stretch)
- Ballet flats
- Neutral colored heels (1-2 inch at most!)
Pay Attention to Fabric
The proof is in the polyester… or, erm, silk. The simple truth is that better fabrics last longer. Unfortunately, we’re often so focused on color, cut and style when we’re shopping that fabric quality is something we tend to ignore when shopping for clothes. The secret? Look to the tags for a higher percentage of natural fabrics. We’re talking wool, cotton, silk, linen, anything that your great great grandmother would have recognized as a fabric.
“When you invest in better fabrics, they wash better, last longer, and hang better on your body,” says Stafford. “You can usually keep them for decades.” For example, pima cotton has longer fibers than conventional cotton, making it softer and wrinkle-resistant (Pro tip: reach for at least 70% cotton, just keep an eye out for shrinking!).
Also, cashmere is a breathable, smart fabric, meaning it self-regulates to the body’s temperature. Most people think cashmere is reserved for the winter, but it’s actually a three-season fabric. No, you probably wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it in 90 degree weather, but look for lower gauge cashmere for the warmer days and finer gauge cashmere for the colder months, Stafford suggests. And when you’re looking for linen, don’t worry if it wrinkles and creases – that’s how it is supposed to look!
Put Comfort First
True style is not dictated by expensive brand names or whether or not your outfit is ‘on trend’ (which, let’s be honest, is often just a trap for spending more on short-lived pieces). Instead, true style is about having pieces that make you feel comfortable. When we feel good, we look good. And vice-versa. Across the country, we have seen a shift to a more casual dress code in the corporate landscape. But beware – casual does not mean sloppy. According to Stafford, “the shift now has gone into more luxurious, comfortable fabrics, embracing all the new technology in fabric.” For example, when shopping for denim, look for jeans with 5% elastane for more stretch. That way you can stay stylish without sacrificing comfort.
Add Some Color
Our wardrobe should work just as hard for us as we do for it. Although neutrals are a typically safe way to approach style color palettes, these more subtle colors also have the tendency to wash us out. Adding colors to your closet is a great way to keep things fresh and exciting. Srafford says, “When you wear color, it gives your skin that luminosity, that brightness, that vibrancy.” This is something we have definitely noticed in the age of Zoom meetings. “When you’re dressing, think about embracing colorful pieces, certainly on the top half that just give your skin more vibrancy,” says Strafford.
Have A Good Tailor
Clothes that fit well look better. Sure, that may sound obvious, but, much to fashion designers’ dismay, no two bodies are the same. A size 10 skirt will not look the same on all size 10 bodies. That’s why having a trusted tailor is pretty much invaluable. A good tailor can have the power to turn something simple into something that looks couture – and you don’t need to break the bank to do it. “Little tiny tweaks, not massive alterations that cost a lot of money, but little tweaks you can have done that easily make something fit perfectly are worth it,” says Stafford.
More On HerMoney:
- Less Clothing, More Outfits: Save Money And Time With A Capsule Wardrobe
- Social Media Steals: How To Use Facebook To Save On Fashion
- 10 Quick Fixes For Fashion Emergencies
- How to Avoid Fast Fashion, Saving the Planet + Your Wallet
- 10 Women’s Wardrobe Essentials You Should Own
- 5 Best Clothing Rental Services Under $100
- The 5 Building Blocks of Your New Work Wardrobe
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