Anyway, I have been thinking about the usual "top ten" wardrobe essentials that circulate around the blogosphere and fashion mags: you know, crisp white shirt, dark denim jeans, trench coat, little black dress, pencil skirt, etc. These are all good and useful, for lots of women. These lists often make me feel inadequate because my own wardrobe is so this-and-that, so individualistic, and my clothes all touch when they are hanging in my closet.
Staying true to the intent of my blog, I've been focusing my thoughts on the must-haves for the average working woman over 40. This list isn't meant to represent a complete wardrobe, by any means. Just the can't live-without-pieces, if you're going to be a self-respecting Woman of a Certain Age, and in my humble opinion only.
I hope you will add and subtract from this list in the Comments below, and/or let me know I am off my fashion rocker.
- Comfortable -- yet stylish! -- shoes for work and play. I look back on some of the heels I used to wear in my 20's/30's and I am amazed at my stamina, or my high pain threshold. Now it's a 2.5" heel max, a nicely padded footbed, room for my toes, and flats if you got 'em. We just cannot have fun if our feet hurt. But it's way too soon for grandma shoes, so I love Clarks, Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, and Naturalizers.
- A couple of silky or silky-knit, v-neck tops in your best colors. A few prints if that's your thing. These should be at a minimum hand-washable and go with most everything in your closet. These are not 100% cotton tees (that are great for play-time) but work-quality blouses.
- A couple of knee-length -- or a little shorter or longer -- solid skirts in your favorite shapes. I love a full skirt, or a gored one. Pencils are okay, but they don't give me enough freedom of movement through the day.
- Some stylish cardigans or, if you are more conservative/classic, structured blazers. I am more of a cardi woman. A couple in your favorite neutrals and one or two in zippy colors or patterns. This year I love a looser cardigan that hangs a little lower.
- A few great dresses, at least one in a solid neutral and not-too-memorable shape. This one you can layer up, or wear as a skirt, or under a blazer like a suit. Another dress or two can be in your favorite colors/patterns. I tend to find a shape I love (fitted, slightly raised waist) and stay with it, although this year I an looking at the classic wrap dresses again.
- Leather and fabric belts in solid neutrals, and in some bold accent colors. I am a belt person, so I tend to over-accumulate in this category! Some women are happy with just 3-4 nice neutral belts (they are??)
- A great handbag that holds all your stuff, looks stylish and grown-up, and makes you feel good when you carry it. It can be leather or not (I like Big Buddha's vegan bags a lot). But don't deny yourself a good-looking purse over 40; I think it really does make a difference in how you feel about your whole look.
Naturally, I have more stuff than this -- vests, button-down shirts, jeans and tees, party dresses, coats and rain boots, undies and PJ's -- but I consider this list a good basis for a solid work wardrobe. What say you?