An ongoing love affaire with all things fashionable, tasty and fun

Real Girls Need Real Closets

I don’t know about you, but I adore closets. Adore. I’ve been keeping scrapbooks filled with magazine clippings for years {Fashion Inspiration} – Clothing, home decor, art, handbags, accessories & jewelry, hairstyles, fabulous photography, hotels & vacation destinations… And closets. So many beautiful closets. I may be alone in this, but I genuinely get the chills when I look at a well-organized closet.

And on that note, today I want to discuss closet basics with you. The building blocks – if you will – to a creating your very own, chill-inducing closet.

I’ve read countless books, blog posts, newspaper pieces, and magazine articles on what the essentials of a woman’s wardrobe should be. And while I adore Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Rachel Zoe’s Style A to Zoe and the like, their recommendations can seem like they’re geared towards a fantasy jet-setting lifestyle or an heiresses’ allowance.

Neither of which I have.

Below is the real girl’s guide to picking out the key elements to incorporate into your wardrobe, including suggestions for where to look for these items, hopefully everyone can find something that appeals to both their personal style and their pocketbook!

Button-down:

A white button down is quite versatile and a great piece to have in your closet. It can be worn tucked into slacks or a pencil skirt for work, or you can wear it with a pair of shorts or slim pants on weekends. This is an especially key piece given all of the menswear inspired collections the last few seasons.

{I love the pristine formality of this tuxedo-style button down, it makes me feel like Fred Astaire when I wear it!}

The key to the right button down is a combination of fabric and cut. You want to make sure that the fabric isn’t too thin or overly see-through – unless that’s your goal, you little minx – and that the buttons don’t gap when it’s done up. I would suggest trying a few on in stores to ensure the fit. Great places to find a good, basic button down? In the past I’ve had success finding good versions at Gap, Banana Republic, and Zara {the version above is Zara}.

Trench Coat:

No matter how frumpy I’m feeling all I need to do is throw on a trench and I feel like Audrey Hepburn.  Tan, black and navy are all good choices for your closet, or red if you’re feeling daring.

The trench above is one of my favorites, I especially adore the polka-dotted lining. I got it at H&M in London YEARS ago and am still wearing it to death. Trench coats can really run the gamut price wise. You can find a decent one for under $150 at Nordstrom or online at bluefly.com, while the Ferrari of trench coats, Burberry, will cost you closer to $1,500. I recommend keeping an eye out for sales at department stores like Bloomingdale, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and even Macys, since they’ll have a larger selection and you can find exactly what you’re looking for (double-breasted, wool, knit, flared, cropped, ankle-length etc).

Jeans:

If you’ve been following MCLV for a while you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m not much of a jeans girl by now. That being said, I do believe that everyone should have, at the very least, a pair or two of nice jeans in their repertoire.

Just in case.

My current favorites are these cropped black Juicy denim pants – They’re cute with pumps or flats, can be dressed up or down with ease, and fit like a dream. Jeans are another article of clothing that I believe must be tried on rather than ordered online. Fit, length, snugness… All these aspects are crucial to finding the right pair. Stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom are great because they have large denim departments so you can try on various pairs and have your very own Goldilocks moment. Too big. Too tight. Juuust right!

Pearls:

A pearl necklace is a must and instantly adds a touch of Breakfast At Tiffany’s to any ensemble. Don’t panic though, there’s plenty of costume jewelry on the market that will perfectly suit your needs and wont break the bank. Macy’s, Ann Taylor and J.Crew have great classic versions and Lord & Taylor, Kenneth Jay Lane and Max & Cleo have some funkier versions if you’re looking for something with a modern edge. And don’t worry if a single strand, a la grandma, isn’t your style. Try multiple twisted strands, versions with metal and stones intertwined with the pearls or even a drop pendant.

{Kenneth Jay Lane for Bergdorf Goodman}

LBD:

Originated by Coco Chanel in the 1920’s, the Little Black Dress became an overnight sensation and an instant classic. Whatever your personal style, there’s a LBD with your name on it out there. Strapless, long-sleeved, knee-length, mid-thigh, lace insets, sheer panels, cutouts, interesting fabrics and textures… So many choices, only 7 nights in a week! I love a little lace for nighttime, so I was thrilled when I found the Jill Stuart dress above, which fulfilled all of my current loves: flattering cut, eye-catching details and a design that is just a little bit naughty. The nude panels and lace make a relatively conservative cut younger and more fun. Paired with booties and a fitted blazer, parfait for a night out on the town! You can find a LBD at most stores, but my recommendation would be to keep an eye on websites like shopbop.com, theoutnet.com, bluefly.com and Zappos Couture for steals on designer frocks.

Blazer:

A well-made, fitted blazer in black or navy is crucial to a girl’s wardrobe. Paired with slacks or a skirt, or worn over a dress for work, over jeans or a cocktail dress during your off-hours. I love the juxtaposition of silhouettes when a cropped blazer tops off a short, flirty frock. As with trenches, a blazer come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Boyfriend length, shrunken, ruffled, embellished, linen, knit, tuxedo-inspired. The options are unlimited.

If you get a quality piece and stick with a more classic cut, a blazer can truly last. The one above was purchased during my first mom-sponsored work shopping trip before I started the interview circuit my senior year of college and in the last six weeks I’ve worn it with black slacks and a sweater to work, and over cropped, slim black pants and a tunic on a weekend. This one is from Banana Republic, I would also check out Zara, Anne Taylor and J.Crew for other classic versions.

Handbag:

I should probably preface this section by confessing that I have a slight purse problem. Don’t worry though. I’m looking for a 12 step program.

Every girl needs a good, basic handbag. Something that will go with virtually any outfit, during any season. It’s fun to switch up your bag as seasons and trends come and go, but having a well-made bag that you can always count on is a must.

The first picture is the love of my life, found on super-sale at Barney’s New York. There are many shapes and sizes out there, so heading into a store to see how a new design looks on your arm is a good idea (you wouldn’t take your arm candy out for a night on the town without seeing how he looks in the mirror, would you?) I recommend keeping an eye on the handbag sales at Bloomingdale, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue for great deals.

Clutch:

The perfect way to accessorize your LBD is a clutch. There are many choices out there, crystal and stone embellished satin, jeweled, envelope, metal box clutches, classic black snake-skin… There’s something for everyone! The black beaded clutch above was handed down to me from my grandmother and I love the old-fashioned glamour it evokes.

And luckily for all the purse-lovers out there, clutches aren’t just for nighttime anymore. Day clutches have been making appearances over the last few seasons, especially in lighter colors and fun patterns. And as much as I love my giant carryalls, it’ll probably be good for my posture, shoulders and neck if I stop carrying around half of my apartment with me each day. The Asos Portfolio Clutch pictured above is currently en route to my apartment and I plan to love the lining out of it all Spring!

Black pumps:

The right shoe can change your life! {At this point my mother is reading this and shaking her head sadly, wondering where she went wrong with me}

But really. It can.

There was a time when I did not believe this and *gasp* wore cheap shoes. But I have seen the light! It is worth the time, effort and money to find shoes that genuinely fit your feet and are well made. Always try on shoes before buying them to make sure. My favorite brands for work heels are Franco Sarto, Cole Haan, BCBG, BCBGirl, Max Studio, Fendi and Calvin Klein.

My number one tip for picking the right shoe? Know your limits! Have you ever seen a woman shuffle-strutting down the street with tiny, delicate steps? Her heels are too high. Don’t be that woman! Stay in your comfort zone so that you can walk easily and naturally.

Boots:

I think that a woman should have a few different types of boots in her closet. Booties to wear with pants or a cocktail dress, knee-high black boots for dresses and skirts, a neutral colored boot that can be worn during non-boot seasons and, if necessary for your region, rainboots.

{As a semi-aquatic resident of the lake formerly known as San Francisco, rain boots are a must. I tested my new Hunters out a few weekends ago in Sonoma, splashing and wading through puddles and generally making a nuisance of myself. And I’m happy to report that they are, in fact, waterproof.}

{The booties below are my current favorites, I always feel a little rock n’ roll when I throw them on}

{This is a Spring look that I put together with the help of Shopstyle to show lighter colored boots worn in a non-Wintery way}

Flats

From Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe to Michelle Obama and Carla Buni-Sarkozy, everyone loves a good pair of flats. My personal favorites are Ruby & Bloom, J.Crew, H&M, and, yes, Jessica Simpson. For me, breaking in flats results in drastically more blisters and uncomfortable moments than heels, so the key for me is to find flats that are soft. Below are my not initially soft, but finally broken in sparkly Dorothy flats from the Vera Wang for Kohl’s collection.

And with these tips, I leave you. Go forth and conquer your closets!

Veni, vidi, vici!

{Photographs are mine unless otherwise cited – Click on the images from other sites and you will be taken to the original source}

21 responses

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