Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Valuable Investments: Quality Wardrobe Staples

Photo via Superstock

No matter who you are, what your occupation, or the size of your income, there is one investment that is always worth spending the money on: quality wardrobe staples. There is no better way to outfit yourself for success than by owning a few, quality staple items that will last for years to come. A sale at your local Forever 21 (or similarly inexpensive, fad-driven clothing depot) may seem like the perfect opportunity to stock up on a number of pieces (5 tops for $35, no way!). It’s typically not until the first wash sparks unraveling seams and shrinking shirtsleeves that the buyer’s remorse starts to creep into our psyche. 

A more refined approach to purchasing new articles of clothing will save you the frustration of ill-fitting outfits and, in the long run, decrease the cost per wear of an item. However, a blouse that is expensive or carries a designer label is not inherently a quality staple. Stick to the following criteria when shopping for key wardrobe pieces, such a neutral suit, basic dresses, or fitted trousers, to ensure that you are making a wise investment.

1. Must be a team player

When shopping for staples, take time to think about how many outfits you can create from the new purchase. If you can easily come up with a number of outfits based on clothing you already own, it may be a keeper. However, if you think you have found a great piece but it can only pair with one or two other items you currently own – put the hanger back and walk away. A true staple will work with lots of other items you already own. If a seemingly “perfect” skirt, for example, does not go with the shoes and tops you already have – then this item is not a staple for you. Remember, each investment piece needs to be a team player with the clothing and accessories you already have. 

2. Countless years of experience

When selecting new wardrobe staples, opt for classic silhouettes and time-tested statements over the latest runway inspirations. Wardrobe staples are items you will come back to again and again for moons yet. The last thing you want to do is choose investment pieces that are the latest craze: chances are you will no longer wear the item once the fad has passed and if you do you run the risk of dating yourself. Instead, look for pieces that embody a timeless elegance. 

3. Comfortable speaking in public

While choosing neutral staples that transition easily from one season to the next is important, remember that your staples can have a voice too! You do not have to submit to dull pieces just because they seem practical. Instead, search for staples that flatter your figure and have a touch of your own personal flair. Just because so many people choose a black suit as their go-to piece for important meetings or interviews does not mean you have to do the same. I personally look terrible in black and there is nothing more stifling to me than dress pants. Instead, I prefer dresses in softer neutrals, such as brown or grey, which can be topped with a properly fitted jacket. The benefit of doing something different is two-fold. For one, your look will stand out as a breath of fresh air and serve as a testament to your unique character. Secondly, the confidence that comes from wearing items you are comfortable in will be apparent to those around you.

4. Compensation will be commensurate

Do not be too price-focused when searching for key wardrobe staples. Look first for high quality pieces that fit the above criteria before considering the immediate cost. When purchasing wardrobe staples you are making an investment that will continue to return dividends for hundreds of wears to come. In most cases, paying more for a piece that is tailored to perfection and wears with grace is a sign of a quality product. Be prepared to save, and spend, selectively. 

Stop by tomorrow to see some photo inspiration of quality wardrobe staples and get some ideas for how to transition your own staple pieces through all four seasons!

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