Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Solid Foundation

Stop! You are being forced into a box and tied up neatly with string and a tag that says SEASONAL TREND. It’s mass marketing and it has you in mind left to ponder the exact bikini you will wear next summer of 2010, now on the eve of September, 2009. It tells you the skirt length this season. It tells you chartreuse is the new black.

Confused? Well of course you are! That’s why it is good to have an idea of fundamental style; something that can be molded into one’s own. Once you have a hand on the idea of the necessary basic foundation of a wardrobe you can add elements that meet contemporary trends without compromising your own unique self, your pocket book, or your dignity.

The best part – these wardrobe essentials can be found at your local thrift store. Say no way to the department store Stepford wife keeping up with the Janets you must wear it because we said so style. The Thrifty Chick's idol, Audrey Hepburn was noted for admitting all she really needed for style was a scarf. Style is best served simple. Here’s our top 5 simple essentials to get you started:

Essential #1

The little black dress. You need one. It is the perfect transitional piece from season to season, daytime to evening and casual to black tie. Choose accessories accordingly: sandals and a floppy hat to the garden or a picnic; off with the hat, on with heels and red lipstick for dinner; add a sparkly bracelet, earrings, and pull the hair back and you're off to the opera.

Essential #2

A well fitting pair of trousers. In Colorado we wear jeans, jeans everywhere – much to my chagrin. One can however; find a trouser cut that is flattering to most if not all figures. Look for neutral colours and medium weight quality fabrics of a natural origin (wool/cotton blends, cotton, wool/silk). Again the idea of a basic is that it can be worn season to season. Check the length, better to be too long and hemmed than to be waiting for a flood.

Essential #3

A black wool turtleneck. (cotton will do, as long as it is ribbed, to maintain shape, and not faded) I believe Miss Golightly has mentioned this before. No, one cannot wear wool turtlenecks in June but the classic silhouette is a fall through early spring necessity. It can be paired with a skirt, short or long, trousers, jeans – think Audrey Hepburn with cigarette pants and ballet flats. Another day to evening sure thing.

Essential #4

A short skirt, a long skirt. Think neutral, solid, quality fabric, and a shape that flatters your figure. A-lines that flow away from the body are always a good choice for most body types considering knee length.

Essential #5

A cute jacket. Appearing in thrift stores by the thousands; they have their own rack. Not a matronly suit jacket, something with a vintage cut, or a fun pattern. This breaks up the neutrals and it can be worn with your trousers, your little black dress, your turtleneck – get the picture?

Take this knowledge to the thrift store and skinny down your wardrobe without doing major damage to your pocketbook.


Anonymous said...

How true! How true! One does not need a packed wardrobe to present a worthy style. Style is in the eye of the beholder and that's something that can't be bought, even at Barney's.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

It's pretty hot here most of the year, so I don't own much that is wool (though I do have several straight skirts like the one you pictured--in wool).

In the 50's, the maternity patterns had skirts that shape as well.

I didn't see any long maternity skirts like that this time. I went to the thrift store looking for new maternity clothes (after 5 children, my maternity clothes are pretty tattered and shrunk).

I do have a black maternity dress, though :) It's velvet and doesn't work right now when it's over 105º, but it will work in late fall!

Shopping Golightly said...

Oh! I know exactly what you need! Have you heard of CP Shades? They are out of the Bay Area and used to have stores all over the county in the 90’s. They are not maternity clothes but make gorgeous maternity clothes. I wore them and felt stylish and light, not frumpy. I just checked and you can find a lot of items places like Ebay. They wash great, just pull them straight and let them air dry. Let me know how it turns out!

Jennifer said...

I greatly enjoyed this post. After discovering thrift store clothing, I no longer have to pay $100 for a seasonal party dress. I go to my favorite thrift store, and pick out several dresses ($3/each!), and two gorgeous silk peacock print scarves (one pink, one green), and for under $20, I'm set for the season.

Miss C said...

The only disagreeance I have with the article is that it does not apply so well to those of us who are plus sized. However, I believe that this has more to do with #1 the fact that most plus sized clothes are pretty awful to begin with, and #2 the good stuff gets kept because its so hard to find anywhere to begin with.
It is true, though, that simplicity is the way to go.

Shopping Golightly said...

Add a black beret to wear from October through March. Modern Mommie and I are always in a dilemma come spring when it's time to remove the beret because that means we must style our bedhead. Crikey! Soon enough, July ushers in the floppy summer hats.

We often have a good laugh when we pick our girls up from school because we usually are dressed the same. Great minds dress alike and shop alike.

I always spend more at Goodwill when I run into Modern Mommie there because she literally throws clothes at me that are to wonderful to pass up. Modern Mommie has fashion on the down low.

Derelict Diva said...

Awesome advice! Most women don't realize that to look great you a)don't have to be super duper trendy or b)have to spend a lot of money!!
And everyone NEEDS a little black dress.

Love it!
-- The Derelict Diva

Shopping Golightly said...

Today I replaced my black Merino wool turtleneck sweater al a Goodwill for $4.99. My old one somehow made it to the dryer. It's been handed down to Little Pie.

Make certain the black, wool turtleneck is form fitting. I noticed that several on the racks had flappy sleeves. We don't want to look like we have wings when we're on the run way!

Avrila said...

I was watching one of those late night talk shows the other night and the guest being interviewed was some kind of fashion person, I forget what exactly. The host asked something about what someone might do who had taken their $100 fashion budget and reduced it, in this economy, to $20. Her answer was that they could buy a lipstick. (I remarked to BF that I didn't think I'd spent that much on lipstick in my life.)

Today I got two shirts in new-looking condition, one of them good enough for interviews and the other a bit more casual, for $5 plus tax. I also added a little embroidery to one, so now I have a completely unique item of clothing that cost 99 cents (it had the right color tag!) plus a few cents worth of string. Good thing I didn't waste my money on designer lipstick!

Shopping Golightly said...


Why the fashion industry believes that the majority of American shoppers have assets of over seven figures baffles me. Even being cheeky, to talk like this person in times like this is an insult to the masses.

I was in Crested Butte, a CO tourist town and was cold. So I went to the CB thrift store and bought a vintage Neiman Marcus angora plaid wrap which kept me warm for $3. As I strolled through the over-priced boutiques I had sales associates and customers alike offering up compliments. Funny how things work.

Godspeed in your thrifting.

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