Several of you have e-mailed me with similar requests, but Galena popped this one into the suggestion box:
… posts similar to “insomniac sale picks” where you post different stores/websites you can find wardrobe staples or pieces you find yourself reaching for often (for example, a yellow cardigan, or good places to get colored belts, etc) – links to the specific pieces would be ideal, but even saying “this store is generally good for this sort of thing” would be a great narrowing-down for your readers. Speaking as someone with limited income, I would also LOVE to see posts on where you can get mid-quality but affordable pieces, or links included for cheaper options when you do posts similar to what I describe above (for instance, many of the “ISP” links are out of my price range, even on sale).
I’ve highlighted many of these vendors before, but am more than happy to round up my favorite resources for classics and basics into a single post! Please take a look at my reasoning for each retailer, as my criteria may be quite different from yours.
Karen Kane: My top choice for all skinny denim. The only vendor who makes jeans that stay skinny and don’t sag after hours of wear, but are also high-rise and comfortable. Plus sizes available in many denim styles.
Lee: My top choice for non-skinny denim, as Lee’s skinnies aren’t as skinny as I’d like. Either that or the skinny fits are lower in the rise than I prefer. Lees are affordable, wash beautifully, and feel great. Lee stocks petite and plus sizes.
Talbots: I wore my Talbots jeans a lot more in the past, but still recommend the brand to many clients and friends. The denim itself is durable and the jeans are well made, plus they come in a variety of rises and cuts. Get ‘em in petite, tall, plus, and petite plus sizes.
Tees and tanks
Nordstrom: Specifically Amber Sun. I stocked up on this brand’s v-neck boyfriend tees – with my beloved shirttail hem – last spring, and have been a devotee ever since. They’re ribbed, opaque, wash well, and skim the body without clinging.
Gap: Many of my thrifted tees are Gap, and I’ve bought new ones, too. However quality varies from style to style, so use a discerning eye. All Gap tees are not made alike. I look for thicker cotton, rib knits when I can find them, v-necklines, and shirttail hems. Petite and tall sizes available.
Old Navy: Gobs of my tanks – both thrifted and new – hail from Old Navy and they’ve held up beautifully. Old Navy online stocks plus and petite sizes.
Bella Brand: American Apparel quality and style without the horrifying ads. Tees and tanks run loooong and slightly small, so beware.
Blazers and button-fronts
Banana Republic: Mostly because I thrift this brand so frequently. Many of my thrifted blazers and button-front shirts are originally from BR.
Express: Ditto. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever bough a new blazer or shirt from Express, but I’ve thrifted gobs of both!
Pants and leggings
Gap: I don’t own a basic black dress pant right now, but have purchased skinnies, crops, and cords from Gap and loved them to bits.
Karen Kane: Some of my favorite pairs of basic pants hail from this brand. They have nice high rises but modern cuts and styling. Also cannot say enough about how amazing Karen Kane jeggings are.
Old Navy: Most of my non-miscellaneous (picked up at local boutiques, gifted, etc.) leggings are from ON. They last about three years before sagging horribly, which isn’t bad especially for the price.
Hue: Their cotton leggings can pill a wee bit, but I’ve got a metallic pair that has been worn about 50 times and still look brand new.
eShakti: With a caveat. I always love eShakti’s designs and do wear their dresses to death, but anything I order in twill or brushed cotton typically needs tailoring in the bust. And I’ve heard similar complaints from friends. Even when we use the customization features, things can get wonky. But the knits are more forgiving, and the dresses are always well made. They come in great colors – lots of useful solids – and designs that are cute and fun, but basic enough to be the foundation upon which outfits are built. And they stock sizes 0 – 36W in every style.
Karen Kane: For real, people. I have several dresses that I’ve worn year-round for going on three years and they’re still looking great. Again, most dresses are basic enough to layer beautifully, but cut so well they’ll stand on their own, too.
Land’s End: From cotton shirt dresses to ponte sheaths, my LE dresses have endured years of washing and wearing. Prices are great, quality is good, and they have frequent sales. Watch those size charts, though, as things run a bit big. Overall, a fabulous vendor for size diversity, though, with standard, plus, petite, petite plus, tall plus, and tall sizes available.
Banana Republic: Another vendor from whom I buy both new and used. Their merino sweaters are particularly fantastic, but I’ve bought cotton, cashmere, and blends there, too. Solid knits that hold up over years of wear.
J.Crew Factory: Main line J.Crew wanders into my sweater collection fairly often, but almost always in the form of thrift as the prices make me blanch. Factory is more reasonable, and the quality is decent if not stellar.
- I highly recommend thrifting belts, as you can get them for SO cheap. My non-thrifted belts are typically artisan made or hail from Amazon.
- I highly recommend thrifting scarves for the same reason. The only scarf brand I’d recommend by name is Desigual because they do the absolute best prints.
- You can see my recommendations for tights brands right here.
- Most of my jewelry comes from Etsy.
- I won’t even tackle shoes because I spend big on my shoes and generally feel that cheap shoes aren’t the best use of money. I will give some quick shout-outs to my current roster of favorite brands, though: Clarks, ECCO, Frye, Kork-Ease. None are bargains, all are eBay-able, and all four brands are as comfortable as they are gorgeous.
And here is the world’s biggest caveat: I have thrifted things from ALL of these categories that get worn as hard or harder than the items I’ve bought new. Virtually all classic, basic items can be found at your local thrift stores, and I encourage you to start there, if you can.
Do you buy your basics from any of these resources? Others to share?
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