Your Basic Wardrobe Forty and Beyond

We all have to start somewhere. Wether you are just beginning to rebuild your wardrobe, have a fairly good one going but want to be sure you have the basics, or even if you are fully stocked but want to check to see what others think you should have, this is the place to be. Granted this is only my opinion so please check other’s blogs as well! 

I am coming from a place of a woman who is 45, rebuilding her basic and expanded wardrobe, and really not looking to walk the red carpet. If you are looking for things that glitter and glow this may not be the article for you to read, but if you are just wanting to know “what does the average woman need?” then read on! 

To start, we all need good undergarments. Don’t skim out here just because no one, or maybe only one other person will see them! I can not stress enough how essential a well fitted bra is ladies! Especially if you are my age or older. No offense women but please get a good bra that fits correctly, at least one. You will notice the difference. I admit, for years I was anti Victoria’s Secret. Simply because I swore up and down my dime store bras did just as well. Well those years have long gone! That no longer holds true, because my chest no longer holds true! Go get fitted, because we change, shape, size, girth, etc. Get a fitting, try on a good bra, put on a tee shirt with it, and see the difference! Take a photo of yourself in that tea with your old bra, and your new bra, and you will be a believer. 

Undies, okay you always heard your mama say “don’t get in an accident in dirty underwear!” Well don’t get caught in bad underwear either! Wearing pretty panties will make you feel better, thus appear better on the outside! Now I am not saying my bra and panties always match by any means, but at least for the most part, I would not be embarrassed to run out of the house from a fire in them! 

Then we have a slew of other undergarments from slips to things to help us keep our guts in, etc. but I am not going to touch on those as those, to me, are an “as needed” basis. I do however really need to pick up a white slip soon so I can wear one specific dress that has been hanging unloved in my closet. Note to self added. 

Lets start with tops. We all need some camisoles, and they can be found for dirt cheap at most malls. It does not matter what your age is, I go to a place called Wet Seal, where my daughter frequents, and grab them five for twenty dollars! I usually make sure I have black, white, tan, and then get some other colors depending on the tops I plan to layer them with. Even though they are cheap they last forever so every now and then I grab five more and expand my color palette of camis. 

Then we need some tops! This depends on what you like better, button ups, blouses, tees, etc. But it also depends on your weather, seasons, and if you are a person who runs hot or cold. My daughter is always buying fabulous sweaters but rarely wears them as she gets super hot. I on the other hand am always cold! We also live in an area that has all four seasons which is nice as I get to wear a little of everything through the year. For me, I absolutely love a button up, but with my chest being larger it can be difficult to find one that fits right. I found this one at the Gap and adore it! I want more of them in other colors! 

Taken with my old phone camera (sorry it looks bad)

Not only does it button and not gape between buttons, but it was only around eleven dollars! You see me here wearing with one of those cheap camis as well. I also like prints, so many of my tops have florals, or mixed patterns, or geometric designs on them, but you want to be sure you have some solid colors too and that is where I suggest you start. Begin with black, white, navy, taupe, brown, green, red, pink, whatever floats your boat, then move into some patterns and fun stuff. It is far easier to pair solid colors with skirts, pants, and jeans than prints. 

Now granted, we all have different wardrobe requirements, some of us work in an office, some of us wear a work uniform, and some of us stay at home working all day. Always get what you ned first because you can add the “fun stuff” later! 

Bottoms, which are everything from skirts of all types, to shorts, jeans, pants, ete are more complicated because it seems there is far more variety in choice here. Again, depending on what you need for your lifestyle, some of my basics include a light pair of jeans, a dark pair of jeans, a white pair of pants or jeans, and a black pair of pants or jeans. Jeans are vital to my personal style. I love the “boyfriend” style of jeans, and skinny jeans as long as they are not too skinny.  My husband prefers me in boot cut jeans. I have both. I also recommend a pair of khaki pants, which you can also find in many styles. Mine are very light weight and summer like, in boyfriend cut, they roll up at the ankles. I also suggest a few good skirts, depending on what style looks best on your body type. I love a classic pencil skirt but they don’t love my figure so much. In fact, I do not look good in many styles of skirts, and was surprised to find I look rather decent in maxi skirts even though I am short! 

I look good in shorter dresses but since I have no real waistline or torso to speak of, skirts look odd on me if they accentuate the waist. I wish I could wear a cute fit and flare skirt but the one I have goes unworn in my closet. 

So when building your wardrobe play around with things, try on many styles, shapes, lines, before you decide on what to buy because you want ultimately to feel good in what you wear. Trust me I have tried to wear things because other people look good in them but in the end I just feel silly or dumpy or whatever. Wear what compliments your body style, and it does take time to figure out. 

As for bottoms though, have a few great fitting jeans, a few pants that are not jeans, various colors, and cuts, a few good skirts, in base colors, add in the fun stuff later, and of course anything else that is needed for your workout routine, or lazy days. I could not live without my sweat pants and shorts because some days just call for a tee shirt and comfy bottoms! 

Dresses are a must have for me! In fact I would wear a dress every day if I had the energy to style myself daily. I mean I can put on a top and bottoms no problem, tossing on whatever earrings and such, but when wearing a dress I feel the need to take more time styling with better stuff, if that makes sense. 
We all need to wear a dress now and then, regardless of body shape, age, job, etc. 

Jackets, Blazers, Cardigans are a must even in warm weather climates because they finish off an outfit in a lot of cases. Some outfits look unfrosted without them, you know like a cake without the icing! Great, now I want cake … anyway … I own about three cardigans, and two jackets, and a couple other cover up type items, but no blazers because I work from home, and really do not need them, although I did get a lovely satin jacket on clearance a few weeks ago, for my fancier dresses and tops for 5.50 – originally 54.90 which I never would have paid for it! 

A good rule of thumb when starting out is to pick your favorite color, stick to that getting about three to five items in that color, then focus on tans, browns, black, and whites around that color. Here is a photo that I stole from the interwebs that gives you a good idea of what I mean:

As you can see they chose blue as their “favorite color” adding white, browns, and black around it. This keeps it simple, and gives you plenty of items to mix and match right out of the gate. Then you can simply add in more colors, and even prints to the base items. Then you could add something like this:
Or this:
Then you could go crazy and add in this:

The thing is, there are no rules. Everyone experiences the building of their base wardrobe differently. Just don’t get frustrated, and don’t try to do it all in one day!  Start with the things that are easiest for you. I personally have no problem finding bottoms I like, but tops are another story! I have a really hard time finding tops that I like, that also fit me properly. I used to go out swearing to myself I will only buy tops, but end up coming home with more bottoms, but finally I have figured out what looks good on me, fits right, and now I can fairly easily snag a few tops when I shop. It just takes time to get to know your own body, let alone the way things fit, since sizing varies from one shop to another. Which leads me to my next word of advice. Select around three shops that carry styles you like, and focus only on shopping at those places until you gain more experience on what works for you. Shopping at too many places will only lead to more confusion, and more wasted money on things that you think work but don’t. At least if you keep your shopping to a few key locations you will get used to their sizing while you figure it all out. Then, once you know what does work, you can expand your horizons and already be armed with what styles you like, then only having to focus on how their sizes run. 
In summation here is my base wardrobe in list format:
3 well fitting bras minim 
10 nice pair of undies minim
5 to 7 camis
12 tops, blouses, sweaters, vests, button ups, pull overs, etc (this does not include tees)
3 tee shirts to be comfy and lazy in (can have screen print)
2 good tees  – no screen print, just plain, they will come in handy!
3 pair of jeans in various colors and styles – stick with base colors
5 pair of pants in various colors and styles – stick with base colors
2 skirts that fit your body type, fit and flare, maxi, pencil etc.
3 dresses 
This is just a starting place, remember – neutral base colors, with one primary or fun color mixed in at first then build on that. As you get your base collection established you can start to throw in “wild cards” of colors, prints, designs, etc. That is also when you can really start having fun with accessories such as scarves, totes, clutches, etc. Jewelry is a whole other area to explore but be sure you have at least the following:
A simple strand of pearls
Simple gold chain
Simple silver chain
Simple silver bangle bracelet
Simple gold bangle bracelet 
Basic pearl bracelet
If ears are pierced:
Simple pearl stud earrings
Gold stud and drop earrings
Silver stud and drop earrings
One pair of real or faux diamond studs, or simple dangle earrings
Pretty much this will work with everything else you have to get started. 
Also see my blog post on a basic shoe wardrobe here.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read all of this and if you lived through it all I commend you! It became a thing unto itself didn’t it! Anyway, I do hope you found some helpful tips and hints but remember all of this is just the way I worked it out, nothing here is gospel. 
Stay Stylish! 

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