Oprah's top ten, revisited and annotated
1. Trench coat.
Shauna said that she has been searching for a trench that doesn't make her look matronly. I understand that; the right trench is the perfect outerwear, but the wrong trench is a fashion disaster.
Look for a trench that flatters your shape -- double breasted works well for women who are curvy, while single-breasted is better for girls with flat chests or boyish hips. Check the length: a trench should hit above the knee, slightly shorter than the hemline of most of your skirts. If you have slim shoulders, look for a smaller collar -- a gigantic collar can overwhelm a small frame.
2. Black (or white) turtleneck.
Blackbird wants to see a different list: "I'd like Oprah to list how many of each of these garments she has." Oprah did admit that she does not currently own a black turtleneck, although I'm sure that the very MOMENT she said that an assistant scurried out to Neiman's and brought ten back. Don't you think?
I have mixed feelings about the black turtleneck as a wardrobe staple for EVERY woman. The turtleneck is NOT universally flattering, particularly in black; a crew or boatneck sweater is often a better choice. But I do agree with the idea that you need AT LEAST one sweater in a basic style and neutral color. Black is always useful, as are white and gray and brown. Choose a shade that flatters your skin and hair and works with virtually everything in your closet.
3. Black trousers.
No arguing with this. Choose a pair that fit and flatter your figure; choose a fabric that works for your lifestyle. Wash black cotton pants inside out in cold water and hang to dry, to preserve the color; replace when they start to fade.
Hairline Fracture described her tunic as a "babydoll top with a empire waistband." As with everything else, the trick is to find what fits; if the babydoll works for her, then yes, that can be the tunic stand-in. A tunic is a great way to dress up jeans or capris, and really is a staple worth having.
5. White jeans.
I'm going to defend the white jeans; they have a cool, Jackie O look that is timeless and elegant, and they are more versatile than white trousers. And no, white jeans (or white pants of ANY sort) are not the best choice around small children, but for moms whose kids are past the phase where they must CONSTANTLY touch you (it passes, I promise) or for women who are looking for an alternative to the jeans-and-tee routine, white jeans are a nice addition to your closet. Pair with black or bright colors; wear in the summer with a little cotton blouse and in the winter with a sweater.
I'm not sure that I would say they are a necessity, but they're a nice add-on.
6. Dark jeans.
You know how I feel about this: everyone needs AT LEAST one pair of mid-rise, dark-wash jeans. But Jill raised a good point about having ONE pair of jeans: "Okay, but with the one pair of jeans... the Oprah site says you can wear flats and then dress them up to go out with heels? Doesn't that violate everything you've been preaching about hemlines?"
Yes it does. And no you can't -- you need jeans hemmed for flats and jeans hemmed for heels, if you want to do both. Start by getting a pair to go with the shoes you wear the MOST OFTEN, and then add a pair in another length. DO NOT wear your long jeans with flats, or vice versa. I'm begging you.
7. Black dress.
Again, no argument. I would say, though, that you need more than one; you need a black dress for summer and one for winter, and you may also want to think about a day dress and an LBD for evening. The black dress for day should be machine washable, as this will make it more wearable; the one for summer should be lightweight (a sheath dress or sundress) while the winter version should be something more substantial (wool or wool blend).
8. White denim jacket.
I am torn about this. I like the idea of the white denim jacket, because it is the denim jacket but more sophisticated, but really, I'm kind of over the whole denim jacket thing. Put on a real jacket -- or, better yet, wear your trench coat!
9. Black skirt.
Also a no-brainer. No matter what you do all day, you need a good black skirt -- if only, as my mother says, so that you have something to wear to a funeral.
10. Timeless cashmere sweater.
Excuse me while I get my soap box out for a moment: you canNOT get good cashmere on the cheap. You can find moderately priced cashmere that is soft and well made and that will last for years, but low-end cashmere from places like Old Navy and Steve & Barry's is not worth the money. It will pill and wear and be itchy.
It's worth it to invest in ONE great cashmere sweater, in a neutral color -- or a color you LOVE and will wear all the time -- and a style that works with your current closet. I'm a big fan of the cashmere cardigan; wear it with a blouse or a tee or a turtleneck, with jeans and skirts and dresses. Cashmere is light weight and warm, which makes it perfect for travel. And really nice cashmere is soft and luxurious.
Cashmere is also surprisingly kid-friendly, primarily because you can -- and should -- hand wash it. Dry cleaning ruins the fibers. Hand washing cashmere is simple and inexpensive. I promise.
What wardrobe staples are we missing here? And what are the pieces that are staples in YOUR closet?
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