Essentials 2021

Every year we get into deep conversations about this and every year it gets simpler for me...not least because my list of essentials grows ever smaller -- likely due to a change in climate with my move, and also the pandemic, meaning I don't really go anywhere! 

My list is awfully like Angie's and also is similar to Carla's -- and this makes me think this concept is just easier to grasp if you are a modern classic dresser with a limited colour palette. 

For me, it's blue and white, all the way, with stripes as a key pattern. My essential jeans are slim straights (cropped or not), even though they are not trendy. I've also added a pair of slim straight navy pants, which I find myself wearing more than the jeans these days -- they're that comfy! 

Footwear would once have included sandals and booties, but things have gone haywire with my injury, plus my new suburban location, and sneakers are pretty much the only essential at the moment! 

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.


  • Helena replied 2 years ago

    Classic, crisp and sophisticated set of essentials Suz - definitely looks like you! 

  • slim cat replied 2 years ago

    Looks great! I'm too more into navy, blue, white and a bit of black
    ( denim and sneakers are the kings ;) ). My striped pieces are diminished though - not seeing "the right" ones.

  • Runcarla replied 2 years ago

    Interesting point about Modern Classics having an easier time with identifying wardrobe essentials.  With the universal love of black garments and blue jeans, it is no wonder these easy to find neutrals are the colours that are core for so many.  

  • Synne replied 2 years ago

    Great collection! Very wise thought about modern classics. I have realized I am by no means a classic, and that's why Breton stripes don't work in my wardrobe although I love them on others.

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 years ago

    It’s not many, is it Suz? I think of your wardrobe as moderate sized ( we established some time back that it was around the 150 item mark, similar to what I am aiming for). And this is only 15 items. They do all look like essentials. So there must be a lot of statements or a lot of stuff you’re not wearing.
    I will have to check my own numbers! I have only recently woken up and read Angie’s post- lucky me slept in this morning on day off!

  • Tanya replied 2 years ago

    What a great essential collection, Suz!  It is very you.

    I am curious about your greys, especially in simpler pieces.   Do you think they are getting there to become essentials, or are they still taking backseat to your beautiful navies so they are completers at best?

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 years ago

    I have checked my lists and came up with 32 essentials out of I think 162 counted items. Not in Finds, so would need to write a post to see if I am doing it correctly.

  • suntiger replied 2 years ago

    Do you think the sandals and booties are permanently off the essentials list? I'd think they'd be "essentials on hold" like our officewear or climate related things (ie: a heavy coat but this winter is mild). We still historically need them- just maybe not right now.

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 years ago

    Apologies Suz-I found the old post where we discussed wardrobe size- yours was about 130 at the time, you said you felt comfortable around 130-150. Still, 15 essentials is a relatively small percentage.

  • Style Fan replied 2 years ago

    I agree that classics have an easier time identifying their essentials.  Blue is definitely your signature colour.  It works so well for you.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Jenni, you are right -- this isn't a lot of items, is it? But that's it, during the pandemic. I just don't wear much of what's in my closet. And lately, I've been wearing gear almost 3/4 of the time! Seriously! 

    But a casual sandal in silver or white should have been included in that list, for sure (have added it now). 

    I've added some things that WOULD count as essentials (I think) in a normal year (maybe even the coming year?) Tanya is right that this would include some greys. 

    Suntiger, I'm sure I'll go back to the boots/ booties again - in navy or grey/ silver -- as soon as we are out and about more. Ditto for blazers -- I love a jacket. Usually my jackets are statement items but I will always want a navy or charcoal blazer in a dressy cut. 

    It's funny, because I think of my closet as extremely heavy in essentials! And they really are the anchors in my outfits! But I seem to make do with not too many -- I find the versions I like for each season and then I'm good. 

    I wear denim quite a lot but my jeans are mainly trendy/ statement, not essential -- I switch them up a lot. 

  • Angie replied 2 years ago


    You nailed it, like you do every season, Suz

    "My list is awfully like Angie's and also is similar to Carla's -- and this makes me think this concept is just easier to grasp if you are a modern classic dresser with a limited colour palette".  - True, although my own wardrobe is very colour and pattern rich, and I'm a Trendy Classic! 

    High fiving my Essential Sneaker Sister :)

  • Christina F. replied 2 years ago

    Brava on having such a well-defined list of essentials. You know what works for you—and pieces like this anchor outfits so well. You must have an easy time packing, too! (Remember travel???)

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    I feel it must be true that classics have an easier time identifying essentials... I rather think it has to do with the philosophy of making outfits. You have Star and Stage with classic dressing often if not always. I’m not a classic... my schtick seems to be how to make crazy pass, lol!

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    Interesting! I was just thinking (well typing) that essentials are easier to identify in my statement rich wardrobe because they are what I wear with the statements so as not to feel too costumey. Anyway, your list makes perfect sense and your description is clear as a bell.

  • nemosmom replied 2 years ago

    Ditto Carla! And, to Shevia's point, it makes sense that statement-rich wardrobes could also be able to identify essentials easily. 

    Your essentials seem to be not only essential, but signature to your style. Great visuals, Suz! Thank you!

  • replied 2 years ago

    Nice and concise, and well-edited.  I'm always in envy of your wardrobe and how well you manage it - and have been since the day I started reading the forum posts.  Which is the "slim straight navy pant" you have added recently ? Or do you mean a resurrection of the Kit & Ace pant?  There's a brand I haven't thought of or heard from in years. Are they even still around? 

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Lisa, yeah, these are just my old Kit and Ace pants (I don't think they even make this style any more, but whatever). They're still around, apparently, but I haven't purchased from them in several years -- I just keep wearing my old stuff. 

    Shevia -- that's a really good point, too, about statement heavy wardrobes! Although maybe Jenni is right -- maybe my closet is more statement heavy than I think, because, as she pointed out, this isn't too many essentials for someone with a moderate sized wardrobe! 

    Plus, Angie's right -- her wardrobe is full of bright and varied colour. I have brights, too, but blue and white and grey predominate. But not all my blues etc. are essentials. Only certain ones. 

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Suz, I think you’ve replaced a good portion of your essentials with gear - which can be thought of as BASICS or essentials depending on how they function for your style.

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    You have found your color and your style. You could make many great outfits with just your essentials. Wonderful!

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Angie, that's absolutely right -- I've replaced essentials with gear. Very good point. 

    This year (pandemic) I wore some of the gear pieces as essentials. Because, not going anywhere but hikes, biking, or the garden. Or to do my physio. 

    But that won't be the way I live forever. (I hope!!) I mean, my lifestyle will still include a lot of walking, hiking, gardening, etc. But it will also include more regular outings and hence, regular clothes. I won't wear gear into town except if I bike there and the weather is miserable. I'm not sure how I will handle that -- I'll need clothes that work both ways, and might look to Kit and Ace or similar for items that will do that work. 

    Gear pieces that did count as real essentials this past summer....

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    That’s bang on the money! I suspect your essentials list will expand in 2022 :)

  • Isabel replied 2 years ago

    I LOVE that the list is getting smaller and tighter !

  • smittie replied 2 years ago

    Yup yup yup. Navy and straight blue jeans. The perfect backdrop for some statements and completers.

  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    Practical and stylish pieces that suit your life right now. That’s the key and you nailed it.

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