Essentially speaking...

I love the annual essentials review. Maybe that's because, like EmilyK and a few others here, a large proportion of my wardrobe is comprised of essentials! And left to my own foolish ways, I might never buy anything else. (This is why YLF is good for me. Breaks me out of my rut.)

Like Angie, I'm going to break mine down into categories and compare to past preferences.

Jeans: I've been trying to wear jeans less often and I'm wearing trousers and even skirts and dresses much more this year, which has been a lovely change. But jeans are an absolute staple of my style and I don't know what I would do without them. White and denim blues are essential in a skinny/ slim and slim BF type style. Others, like burgundy BFs, are workhorses but probably not an absolute essential.

Navy blazer: I love jackets of all kinds and have a number of statement items. But a fantastic navy jacket is absolutely crucial for my style. If I find the *right* houndstooth jacket it will join the navy in my pantheon of rock solid dependable loves. Even though it will straddle the line between essential and statement. :)

Navy knitwear for all seasons. Unlike Angie and a few others, I do wear t-shirts and quite like them if I can get the neckline and sleeves right for my frame. Graphic tees are brilliant when I'm aiming for outfit juxtaposition. But as a calm base layer for a column of colour (with denim), nothing beats navy knitwear with a crew neck, jewel neck, slash or envelope neck, or turtleneck (depending on temperatures.) I like to have tops like the J. Crew Jackie in light cotton or the linen 3/4 length sleeve tee for summer, and merino and cashmere "tee" like sweaters and turtlenecks for layering over in cold weather.

Stripes: This is hands down my favourite pattern and favourite pattern to pattern mix with! I wear stripes more often in spring and summer but I'm thrilled with my stripey winter items too. Mostly knits.

L(Blue)Dress: I have a number of these in different levels of formality for different seasons. I wear the casual versions much more often, of course, but the dressy versions make me feel like a million trillion dollars and it's so great to know you have something to wear when an occasion arises!

Silver and grey footwear: This bookends with my silvery hair and blends well with denim yet gives a kick (especially metallic). I will continue to collect silver, pewter, and grey footwear. I also love white and navy/ ink for footwear. Navy could become an essential if I found the right pieces.

Silver watch, earrings, bracelet, and statement ring. I don't have Finds yet for all of these but they are signature style items and I always wear them.

Belts: I really should invest a few dollars in belts because I love them. I'm still wearing an old Canadian Tire leopard belt (no Find). I need to prioritize purchase of these this year.

A beautiful and capacious bag. Can't be tiny. I love structured bags but they often overwhelm me if big enough for my needs, so I tend to carry a soft hobo nowadays.

Denim shirt and navy woven tops. I wear denim shirts often with white jeans or with black or navy trousers or with pretty dressy skirts. It dresses down these items just enough for me. I wear the woven tops less often in winter but really all year. 

Navy coat for various seasons and levels of formality. (My puffer is similar but not the same brand. No Find.) Still in search of my perfect pea/ military coat. And my perfect navy trench. 

I would like to add "patterned silky blouse or shirt" and "bright knit top" but that would take me over into statement territory, I think? What say you, Angie? Have I identified essentials correctly?  This is my "uniform" I would say. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

24 Comments

  • shevia replied 6 months ago

    What an enjoyable read Suz! 
    As listed on Angie's post my current essentials are black booties that are as comfortable as sneakers
    -black jeans
    -blue jeans
    -fedora with a wide brim
    -long sleeve tops in blue or dark purple or dark green that work under pullovers or jackets
    -lightweight puffer as an added layer if I am cold
    -crossbody bag with minimal hardware
    -hoop earrings in a variety of color.

    I just wrote this on Torontogirl's thread and I think it clarifies my current thinking on my pretty pared down list of essentials:
    My essentials,as I see them, are season specific and tend to change somewhat year to year. I often like to start dressing with a statement piece I want to try to wear - the essentials are what I use to make it work for me and make it me.
    So crazy pants need the essential booties to balance them.
    Crazy blazer need the essential jeans.
    Crazy shoes need the essential jeans but the top can go a lot of ways (non-essential).
    Everything needs a hat and hoops.
    Next year everything will still most likely still need a hat but maybe I will switch to posts and pendants as my look and they will become my essentials.

  • Jenni NZ replied 6 months ago

    Looks so cohesive Suz all in Finds like that. And I raise a glass to feeling a million trillion dollars. Think it feels rare to me x

  • rachylou replied 6 months ago

    Your Little Blue Dress is so interesting to me. I see this. I wouldn’t have thought to include a dress. I wouldn’t have ever thought to have an essential dress. But now that I think about it... I do have one. Specifically, the farm house dress in black. I have several (!)

  • torontogirl replied 6 months ago

    Suz, love your list ... In fact, you've got me thinking about rejigging mine to include some of these! You've got such a solid and cohesive style; I'm sure this foundation is part of that!

  • Jenn replied 6 months ago

    Replace the blues with black, swap your high necklines for open ones, and exchange your silver for warm browns, and my essentials are very similar! In fact, I’ve even been thinking about the printed, silky blouses. I find this fascinating.

  • lisa p replied 6 months ago

    I always envy your wardrobe . It’s so “ you “ and nothing seems out of place . Your collection of navy tops is admirable too . I mentioned on the blog post today that tops are where I have trouble in terms of essentials . I’ve also been thinking about t-shirts today ( while avoiding actually working ) and considering how to make them work better for me . I may try tailoring one or two to fit - as in creating a curved , fitted look as opposed to a straight - cut , which is gross on me . Anyways - I laugh every time you or Elizabeth P mentions that Cdn Tire belt . Makes my day :)

  • Joy replied 6 months ago

    Suz, I enjoy reading everything you write and am impressed at the thought you have put into your wardrobe. I agree that statement (crazy) pieces need essentials to balance the outfit and make them work.

  • Sara L. replied 6 months ago

    I'm impressed how you (and others on the forum) are able to put together an essential list.  I just can't seem to wrap my head around this concept.  I also love seeing all the Finds for your silver shoes - so tempting!  

  • La Belle Demimondaine replied 6 months ago

    I'm really enjoying these essentials posts - it's helping me identify and plan a bit better.  

  • Suzanimal replied 6 months ago

    Suz, I like your style. I'm essential heavy, myself. 

    I also love white and navy/ ink for footwear. Navy could become an essential if I found the right pieces.

    Regarding footwear, is it just me or is it hard to find great shoes in Navy? 

  • Roxanna replied 6 months ago

    I love that your essentials really give a snapshot of your core style - it really does show how put together and fictional your wardrobe is. Filing this under 'inspiration'.

  • Suz replied 6 months ago

    What a great discussion -- thank you! You've give me more food for thought. 

    Roxanna, laughing at the typo (fictional). Sometimes I do feel like my wardrobe is fictional! 

    Suzanimal (love your screen name!!) -- it is not just you. Navy footwear is often really difficult to find. As with grey and chocolate, manufacturers seem to go in waves of making it, then not -- and it's just not as available in the range of styles. Elizabeth P has a great collection of navy footwear but I haven't managed to keep up with her on that. But if you check out her Finds, you might see some options there. 

    LaBD -- looking forward to your own list!

    Sara, you're an eclectic dresser and change things up all the time. I would say that black and white are core neutrals, though, so you might start looking there (and at jeans) as some of your essential items. 

    Thanks, Joy!

    LisaP, right? The Canadian Tire belts!! So great. They don't have such nice ones these days at our CT. I keep looking! The perfect tee seems to be a holy grail for many women. I do wonder if other kinds of tops can fill the spot at different periods of the year. But I also think they used to make tees nicer!! 

    Jenn, that is so interesting but also not surprising to me. Your style has a strong boho streak and mine is more menswear/ prep influenced, but we ltypically ike to make our "statements" with a third piece, meaning we often aim for a column of neutral or core neutrals with denim. I think our basic ideas about wardrobe building are quite similar and I have learned a lot from your posts. Also, apart from differences of weather, it sounds as if our needs and lifestyles have a lot of overlap, and we're both really focused on functionality, so there's that element of similarity as well. 

    TG -- the foundation of ink/ navy (with white, esp. in summer, and grey, esp. in winter) is absolutely key to making it work. 

    Rachy, we'll see if Angie says a dress qualifies. For me I think it does, even though I don't wear it all the time. It's also a category of item. It has to be blue and it has to be an adaptable style (shift, sheath). 

    Raising a glass, Jenni, and hoping we all feel that way more often! :)

  • Suz replied 6 months ago

    Shevia...I really like what you have said here. Even though I am less of a statement dresser, some of what you say applies to me as well. I notice that essentials do evolve. The colours stay the same (for me, anyway) but the exact style of favoured and necessary item does shift depending on trends (denim) and on what else I am wearing with it. 

    The trouble is that we can't always predict which items will become workhorses even if we know our own style pretty well! But I guess once we figure out the proportions, we're okay. 

  • Angie replied 6 months ago

    Suz, you nailed it like you always do. WELL DONE.


    YES, you love wardrobe essentials, and why not! I do too. They *are* easier to identify and evolve when you have a style rich in essentials.

    Jeans - try to be SPECIFIC about the silhouettes that are essentials.

    Stripes - you mean tees and pullovers?

    LOVE the addition of the dressy L(Blue)D, and the Navy Toppers. They ARE essentials for your style. Even though by example, I love navy/ink too, and wear a lot of it - I don’t think of my navy toppers as essentials. My assortment of topper colours is high and I wear THEM ALL all the time. I always have citron and chartreuse toppers in my topper capsule - but they are statements.

    And to answer your question: I don’t see a pattered blouse as an essential *yet* - maybe next year. Bright tops are statements. You are spot on. 

    Please add the list to the blog post when you have a moment. 

  • rachylou replied 6 months ago

    Aha! The LB(lue)D has been accepted!! Could it be the adaptability is key?

  • Cardiff girl replied 6 months ago

    I m going to study this in depth when I get time as you are rapidly turning into my style crush .

  • Emily K replied 6 months ago

    Hi Suz!   I think my wardrobe is a little essential-heavy. I've been (incorrectly) thinking that this makes it boring, but I realize that I just need to put more thought into defining and finding the right essentials.  And I need to drop from the list items that I just buy repetitively and grab without thought.  I will resupply almost 100% of my knit tops this year--they don't last long with such frequent wear and most are at the point of getting those pesky holes where the belt/jeans button grinds on things--it's a much needed opportunity to invest in essentials that are less basic.  So, instead of counting  3/4 sleeve scoop neck tees as an essential, the "new essential" will be a group of tops more like my EF boatneck. (Kinda same/same, but I hope it's a bit of an upgrade.)

  • Suz replied 6 months ago

    Emily, I think upgrading the essentials is a great idea. I have derived the greatest wardrobe satisfaction from true upgrades of true essentials. My Reiss blazer is an example. 

    Aw, Cardiff Girl, you are too kind. 

    Rachy, I think you're right. 

    Angie, thank you. I think I get it. 

    Jeans... FOR NOW -- it is higher waisted slim, slim BF, and skinny. That might change as styles change. But for me, wide leg crops are a statement, just as patterned jeans would be a statement. 

    Stripes: I mean pullovers (knitwear) and some tees (in summer only). 

  • La Pedestrienne replied 6 months ago

    This is such an instructive list, Suz! I think you've got it down. Stripes are definitely my essential pattern, although I gravitate more towards plaid in the colder months. I guess denim is essential for me, though I only reach for it about half the year. I don't have nearly as much denim variety as you and others do. I think black footwear serves the same role for me as metallics do for you -- totally a bookending thing. I also adore navy footwear. If it were more widely available in fabrications beside suede, I'd have much much more of it. Navy leather is so rare. Knitwear -- hmm. I don't think knitwear is essential for me? I like chunky statement sweaters, but I'm still not sold on lightweight layering sweaters, though I keep experimenting. I think part of it is the lack of durability, as Emily K notes. I'm just not willing to commit to things that need to be replaced so frequently. That's why I'm dialling back on t-shirts too. I just really dislike replacing things. :) Anyway, thank you, this is the most helpful list of essentials I've seen yet!

  • Suz replied 6 months ago

    Thanks, LaP. I don't wear denim much in summer if by denim you mean full length jeans. But I do wear denim shorts and (sometimes) crops, so that still counts. And I figure 8 months of wear makes something quite essential even if for two months I don't look at it. 

    I hear you on the fragility of knits. I seem able to keep some of mine for reasonable lengths of time but it is partly because I have amassed a quantity (so rotate often) and also partly because I wear over a cami or shirt or blouse, so they don't need laundering as much. 

  • Chiara replied 6 months ago

    These Essentials discussions have been great- very helpful to see how you've approached it, Suz. Combine working out your essentials + buy for your climate/lifestyle, and that is enormously helpful. Thanks Angie! I've realised I was going with too many statement pieces, that were not for my dominant climate and were not the right fit for my workplace. 

  • Column replied 6 months ago

    Suz,
    I was so relieved to read your post. When I read Angie`s discussion of essentials (which is just starting to make sense to me now, a few years into YLF), I thought: EVERYTHING! I need my footwear, jewelry, scarves, belts, etc. to make the rest work. My statement pieces are usually dresses and an occasional topper. Anyway, I always have an epiphany when I read your posts!

  • Beth Ann replied 6 months ago

    Having a good respect for essentials is what keeps a wardrobe in good working order.  It's easy to get pulled into statement pieces that thrill, but don't work without a solid foundation -- but you seem to enjoy the process of keeping your essentials stocked!

    (Love the navy on you!)

  • Sal replied 6 months ago

    Great list - and very specific to you, it gives you a checklist to work through at the start of the season and without at least one option in these categories you might find it harder to get dressed...That is how I intend to use mine, before getting carried away with all the exciting statement pieces...

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