House of French

December 11, 2008

Fall/Winter Wardrobe Essentials

Filed under: Building Your Perfect Wardrobe, Fashion — xfrenchx @ 5:44 pm

As I have discussed, there are certain classics that every woman should have in their wardrobe. Not every classic, however fits into both your seasonal wardrobes. Certain items can be worn year round, others seem out of place during other seasons. Here I have supplied a basic list of the items you need in your closet to get you through the colder seasons. Some of them are classics, others are just smart investments. Of course not everyone can afford to buy all of the items on this list, but you can pick the ones that work for you, then add as you go along, with other classics and more trendy pieces. The best way to shorten this list and pick items that work for you, is to look at the suggestions for your body type and eliminate anything that you’re advised not to wear.

Belted Coat with Fur Trim; available at Neiman Marcus

Belted Coat with Fur Trim by Vera Wang; Neiman Marcus

A classic long winter coat is a must have for fall and winter. Despite the attraction to buy a gorgeously trendy coat, it’s much smarter to get one that will last you years. A classic long coat is great for almost anything you will wear. You can wear it over dresses and skirts, but they also work great with jeans; and you can even get away with a nice pair of yoga pants and flats on your days off – providing the coat isn’t extremely long. For some personlity, look for special details that help it to stand out without making it trendy; unique pocket designs, a fur collar or interesting buttons.

Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti; $1350 at bluebee.com

Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti; $1350 at bluebee.com

A jacket to wear with your skirts and pants is a great transitional item. With the right jacket, you can instantly make any outfit look sophisticated, and it’s one of the most flattering pieces you can own. It’s important that you invest in a quality jacket, if you want it to have any staying power in your wardrobe. You should look for something with clean, simple lines, in a neutral hue, with a tailored shape. It’s very likely that you will need to have it tailored to yourself, since every woman’s body is completely unique. Your jacket will get you through any slightly chilly weather during spring, summer and early autumn, and is of course a staple for job searches.

Tory Burch; $395 available at Saks Fifth Avenue

Tory Burch; $395 available at Saks Fifth Avenue

Work dress; a sheath is classic, a shift is trendy. Having a great dress for work helps you keep your feminine side in check while keeping your look powerful and professional. The sheath is your best option, as it is a classic dress shape, appropriate for most work environments, and helps you feel a little sexier too. The shift is a trendy option for the moment, and likely to stick around for a season or two, so it’s also a good option. The downfall of a shift is that a lot of them are too short, or too trendy. If you opt for the shift search for a longer, solid version. 

Pinstripe Pants; $60, available at The Gap

Pinstripe Pants; $60, available at The Gap

Black bootcut pants are an obvious staple. They can take you from day to evening with a quick change of top, their foolproof and effortless, and they match everything. You want to find your pair in a classic rise (nothing low or high waisted, since both are only trendy waistlines); they should sit at your natural waistline – just slightly below your belly button. They should fit snugly but not tightly – there should be no bunching at the crotch and no gaping at the back. You should not be able to see roll definition, and they shouldn’t be so tight that they create thigh rolls when sitting. Always sit, bend, stretch riase your knees – if they feel flawless depsite all those movements, you’ve got a winner! A classic black pair is forever stylish, but pinstripes are a popular and very flattering choice; however, if you’re really tall, stick with basic black. 

French Connection; $54 at Dillard's

French Connection; $54 at Dillard's

An A Line or kick-pleat skirt are both universally flattering skirts, but the A-Line is the preferred style since it’s timeless. Both can be dressed up or down, and with a blouse & cardigan, they’re great for work. For the most versatility you should look for one that falls at or slightly above/below your knee. Shorter styles are trendier but work for less occasions. A skirt is a great way to incorporate colour into your wardrobe, but for a more classic appeal, go for a colour such as navy or red, which are less trendy.

Straight Skirt by Sematiks; $88 at Nordstrom

Skirt by Semantiks; $88 at Nordstrom

A Pencil or straight skirt is perfect for many occasions. Although the pencil skirt is sexier, since they follow your every curve they don’t suit all women’s body types. A stright skirt is not as tight, so it flatter more women and is more comfortable as well. While a pencil skirt is more dressy and works great with professional and evening looks, it tends to be the more versatile option. However, if you can find a straight skirt with feminine details (such as the one above with the pleated hem), you can get just as much use of it. If you want to achieve a slimming effect, always opt for a dark hue; if you’re already thin you can go ahead and play with bold colours or prints to spice it up.

Dark Wash Denim by Arden B, $118

Dark Wash Denim by Arden B, $118

A pair of dressy jeans is very important. It’s quite necessary for you to invest in a high quality pair of jeans for formal-casual events. Dressy jeans are typically very simple in detailing, but intricate in design and construction, which is why it’s important to invest in these. You will want to look for a dark jean with no wash designs, which are more trendy. Generally you should get a jean with a slight flare – in order to accomodate your various types of heels. You should get atleast a bootcut; stay away from skinny’s which are also too trendy. The idea behind a pair of dressy jeans is that they should almost look like pants and not jeans – this way they will look appropriate with more formal wear such as blouses and silk cami’s.

Light Wash Denim by 7 For All Mankind; 149 at bluebee.com

Light Wash Denim by 7 For All Mankind; 149 at bluebee.com

1 casual pair of jeans are something we could not live without. A casual pair of jeans is for those days off when you want to look stylish, but want to feel comfortable. Since these jeans aren’t meant to look fancy, you can skimp a bit more on the price of these, as long as you don’t sacrifice quality – never sacrifice quality ladies! While it’s important that your casual jeans are comfortable, you have to make sure they fit right – you definately don’t want a tight pair, but never should you wear a baggy pair either – you want to find a happy medium, a pair that will just loosely skim your body. If you’re big on flats, have your casual jeans hemmed so they look right; you don’t want to drag or cuff your jeans.

CARDIGAN by Lynne Hiriak; $235 at shopbop.com

CARDIGAN by Lynne Hiriak; $235 at shopbop.com

– 1 each of :  a cardigan is a great layering piece and a long favourite year round. They are great for wearing over camisoles, blouses and t-shirts and they work great with jeans, pants and skirts of all types. The cardigan is just a versatile piece that enhances any wardrobe. There are a wide variety of styles and they are a great way to incorporate colour or personality to any wardrobe. Not to mention they’re a chic way to stay warm anytime. You should aim to get at least one in cashmere, or for a cheaper option find a cashmere blend.

Intarsia Turtleneck by Abaete; $295 at shopbop.com

Intarsia Turtleneck by Abaete; $295 at shopbop.com

a turtleneck is hands down the absolute best sweater a woman can own. The turtleneck is such a favourite among the fashion industry because it’s classy, and it’s the single most flattering top. Its clean and simple design makes it timeless and it’s a great layering piece. Try it under jumpers, jackets and other sweaters for easy elegance. This is such a great sweater for the winter months since it keeps you warm from the head down. For a more sophisticated look stick to the classic fitted style, or for a dressy look, you can find many widths, heights and style of neck; such as the one above, which has a low, draped turtleneck.

Cashmere Sweater by Co2Cashmere; $217

Cashmere Sweater by Co2Cashmere; $217

a v-neck sweater is great for creating a slimming effect, as the the shape of the v draws the eye up and down, giving the illusion of a taller, slimmer body. The v-neck is a favourite among women as it is chic and sexy and is great for layering. The style of the v-neck should be determined by your body shape. If you are already tall and slim you want to look for a wider plunge; if you want to slim your silhouette, a deep plunge like on the sweater above is your best choice. You should avoid a deep v if you are either very busty, or not busty at all (if you’re busty you will look trashy, if you’re on the smaller side, you won’ fill out the top properly). A cashmere version is a great option as it will go nicely with your dressy outfits, as well as your casual ones.

Crew-neck Sweater by Newport News, $29

Sweater by Newport News, $29

a crew neck sweater is simple and appropriate for most occasions, but they are not meant for every body type. Since the neckline is rounded, if you have a rounded body type, you want to avoid this top. The crewneck is great for more casual outfits. The style of the neckline is typically very close to the neck, but trendier versions like the one above are becoming the favourite. Look for longer styles, since the high round neckline can make you look stumpy – the longer the overall shirt is, the longer you will look.

Blouse by Banana Republic, $69

Blouse by Banana Republic, $69

A White Blouse is one of the most important building blocks of any wardrobe. With a classic white blouse the possibilities in your wardobe are endless – it can be worn with anything and everything you could possibly own. A blouse is a great layering piece, works for any occasion and it makes every outfit look polished. The style options are endless, making it easy to incorporate personality without sacrificing timeless appeal. You want to make sure that your blouse fits you flawlessly yet comfortably; you should be able to move around in it easily.

Tote by Marc Jacobs; $1395 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Tote by Marc Jacobs; $1395 at Saks Fifth Avenue

A leather tote or roomy hobo should be your everyday, go-to bag. You want it to be roomy enough to carry everything you need, but not in the trendy, oversized kind of way. Both a tote and hobo are classic purse styles that generally only change in details. To give you the most versitility, look for one in a neutral hue, or find what is called a “neutral colour” – camo greens, burnt oranges and vibrant reds tend to compliment almost everything. Steer clear of trendy details like embellishments or pockets and look for something in a classic style, such as the quilted one above.

Structured Bag by Charles David; $205 at piperlime.com

Structured Bag by Charles David; $205 at piperlime.com

A structured handbag will be your career purse forever. A structured handbag never goes out of style, looks clean and works with all work attire. You will want to get one in a medium size for the most classic version. The most popular hue for a structured bag is timeless black, which will carry you through many seasons. Other favourites include navy and grey’s. Skimp on the details and opt for a simple version to make sure it will compliment anything.

Clutch by Elaine Turner; $396 at Nordstrom

Clutch by Elaine Turner; $396 at Nordstrom

An evening clutch is a very important purse to have, since your regular daywear handbags are completely out of place in eveningwear. A clutch is a must have for all your formal events, to wear with your dresses. No matter what the trends are, or the direction fashion moves in, a fancy clutch will always hold its place in the evening scene. There are so many styles to choose from, in everything from simple designs all the way to jewel encrusted glamorous ones; there is a clutch for every woman out there. A deep gem tone is likely to last you years, as they compliment many hues and look stately at any time. Despite the growing trend of the ultra-chic oversized clutch, stick with the classic small frame – it will never lose its appeal and the oversized versions do not fit in well with your gorgeous dresses.

Boots by Report Signature; $250 at shopbop.com

Report Signature; $250 at shopbop.com

A pair of fashion boots is a necessity when it comes to winter. The kind of boot you are looking for here is a fashionable boot – not a winter boot! There are many styles of boots to choose from right now, including the ultra-trendy booties; but you may want to go for something more classic if you’re really invensting in a pair. Since you will wear these on a regular basis during the winter, unless your boots are super high quality it’s okay to go for something trendy here, because your boots are likely to get worn out within the season. Your many fashionable options include: knee boots, calf-high boots, ankle boot, booties, some sort of Ugg, or any flat boot. It’s very wise to find your boots in a neutral hue – black, greys or browns will go with any outfit, making it much easier on you. Stick with simple details like the ankle boot above – the buckle is trendy this season, but not likely to look out of place in the near future.

Classic Pump by Miu Miu; $286 at bluefly.com

Pump by Miu Miu; $286 at bluefly.com

Classic Black pumps are another building block to every stylish wardrobe. Black pumps are fool proof; they go with everything. For the most classic appeal, look for a rounder toe and a stiletto heel. Timeless shoe fabrics are leather and patent; both are chic and classy at all times. It’s a very good idea to spend some extra money in this department. You will want a pair of high quality shoes that won’t fall apart easily, since these are likely to be your go-to shoes. You also want to make sure the quality equals a comfortable shoe; cheaper heels tend to be made of cheaper fabrics, resukting in hard shoes that hurt your feet after a couple of hours. Certain shoe labels such as Choo, Louboutin and Blahnik are all raved for having extremely comfortable shoes; Sarah Jessica Parker mentioned the ability to walk for 6 hours with no pain. So the extra money will be worth it.

LBD by Max Mara; $585 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Max Mara; $585 at Saks Fifth Avenue

A little black dress is a fundemental piece, possibly the single most versatile item you could possibly own. As one garment, in an interchangeable hue, it takes all the guesswork out of the outfit. You can apply a little black dress to almost any occasion, and can dress it up or down with various style of accessories and different colours of jewelry. There is nothing you couldn’t match to a black dress, and that’s what makes this piece so appealing. Effortless chic is not just a look, it’s a lifestyle; and having the ability to look glamorous with little to no effort is something all women can love. Look for a simple cut with minimal details to ensure staying power. Once you’ve gotten a basic LBD go for that special, sparkly one with more style.

Diane von Furstenberg; $280 at bluefly.com

Diane von Furstenberg; $280 at bluefly.com

A Wrap dress has become one of the most raved pieces for women of all shapes and sizes, due to it’s universally flattering quality. The wrap dress was introduced in 1972 by Diane von Furstenberg, and was quickly picked up by some of the most stylish women in history.  Due to it’s v-neck, tied waist and gently flared skirt, the wrap does a great job of achieving the coveted hourglass figure, while it hides your flaws and creates beautiful curve. However, since there are many styles and cuts to choose from, it’s not just as easy as picking up any old version. You need to pay attention to your body when buying any clothing, and this dress is no exception. Keep in mind that you do not want to mimic any part of your body through your clothing. If you have wide shoulders, you need to find a narrow v-neck; if you have tummy bulge, find one that ties up under your bust and not your waist. Stick to the general guidelines for your body type and you should find the perfect wrap dress for you.

Blue Dot Blouse by Banana Republic, $69

Blue Dot Blouse by Banana Republic, $69

A silk blouse is a sexy and feminine way to dress formally. The luxe fabric of silk adds soft texture to your otherwise thick winter wardrobe and can be used for many occasions; from work to parties and nights out. A silk blouse can play up a pair of jeans, and looks stunning underneath a powerful pantsuit. Since you already have your basic white blouse, here’s where you can be expressive and find one in your favourite colour, or in a beautiful print, which will help liven up your neutral work palette.

Tweed Pants by J.Crew, $298

Tweed Pants by J.Crew, $298

Wool trousers are great pants for work and for semi-formal events. A textured tweed pair will look chic and are most easily transitioned from casual to dress attire. Basic black is reliable and likely to stay in for many seasons, and traditional brown tweeds are always sensible. For a trendier choice try out this season’s favourite, the grey tweeds; which aren’t so trendy that you can’t wear them for years to come. These pants will quickly become one of your favourites since they are versatile and look proper, but especially due to their comfort.

Blazer by Victoria's Secret, $128

Blazer by Victoria's Secret, $128

A Wool blazer is one of the items that just enhances any outfit instantly. With a fitted blazer you can create curves and a clean, polished look. You’ll wear it with jeans, skirts and of course your work attire. It’s important to make sure that you blazer fits you flawlessly, and works with your general body shape. A classic single button style is timeless especially in a dark colour or a neutral, and it’s flattering for most women. A wool blend is important because it’s very durable and easy to care for, and it works for all seasons.

Cords by Old Navy, $30

Cords by Old Navy, $30

Chinos or cords are great casual pants that can easily be dressed up as well. Their comfort and versaility has earned them classic appeal, and has made them a favourite. The classic light brown takes a backseat to darker browns, which are more versatile within your wardrobe, they work for all seasons and of course are more flattering. Be careful that you don’t go for a cord that is too bulky – you want to find thin wales, not thick ones. Chino’s are a lighter option since they fit loosely and are made of thinner material. If you have chunkier thighs, chino’s are the better option for you.

Suit by Piazza Sempione; $1040 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Suit by Piazza Sempione; $1040 at Saks Fifth Avenue

A seasonless wool pantsuit is definately a must-have. It is so important that women have a classic pantsuit that will carry on for many seasons. Suits are not cheap, especially since you want one that is good quality, so make sure that style will last. Black is the most classic, but pinstripes are nice as well. You will want a pant that is bootcut, nothing too flared but of course nothing tapered. A single button jacket is again, the most timeless choice.

Camisole by BCBG Max Azria; $70 at bluefly.com

Camisole by BCBG Max Azria; $70 at bluefly.com

A white tee or camisole are both great for layering under everything. A camisole has much more versatility withing your dressy wardrobe, but a tee can bring a casual nature to many outfits; you could wear it under your suit at work or pair it with a full skirt for a nice balance. Camisole’s work great with jeans for nights out, and help glamourize pencil skirts for an ultra-ladylike look. Both are inexpensive and great ways to build your wardrobe.

These are just the essentials for this season, don’t forget to chceck out the trends for Fall&Winter too!

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