Gorgeous reader Nique popped this doozy into the suggestion box:
I would like to see how you can style a single, basic piece (ie. black pencil skirt or white button down shirt, etc.) in several different ways to expand your wardrobe options.
Since a simple black skirt is one of the few items that I actually believe nearly every woman should own, I took Nique up on that option.* Below you’ll find outfits that all feature the same black Banana Republic skirt – an A-line/pencil hybrid of sorts – and that range from super casual to super dressy. So without further ado:
Lightweight graphic sweatshirt
Gray tank top
Black scrunch boots
This ensemble would be perfect for a Casual Friday at the office, or a Saturday afternoon bumming around a coffee shop.
Here, the cowl neck takes things up a notch but the tough-gal moto boots keep things somewhat casual overall. I’d be more likely to wear this to work than hanging out at home on the weekend. It’s got just enough fanciness to feel more like office wear.
Black multicolored cardigan
Black skinny belt
Black patent peeptoes
Dressier yet, even with the addition of the bright tights. The belted cardigan and heel make this feel slighty more buttoned-up. However …
Black pencil skirt
Gray, maroon, and white dot tights
Black Mary Janes
… this look is what I’d most likely reach for if I were scheduled to speak in front of a crowd at work, meet with my CEO, or do anything else that falls into the “very dressy work” category. It’s conservative and clean, but still has personality. Just right for making a great impression at the office.
And it may seem like a big leap, but here’s an outfit that’d work great for a truly formal occasion – cocktail party, work dinner, benefit concert, etc. The silvery wrap and chunky statement necklace add spice, but the simple silhouette keeps the look from veering too far away from “classic.”
Every single one of these outfits was created around the very same black skirt. Clearly, it’s a piece that can take you from casual to formal in several easy moves, and works beautifully for every look in between.
When I’m considering a new purchase, I generally ask myself if I can imagine wearing the item in question multiple ways. Most items won’t even approach the versatility of a classic black skirt, of course, but I like to know that I’ll be able to craft more than one look from a new purchase. Knowing that you can style a single piece multiple ways – especially if those ways cross over seasonal or stylistic boundaries – can help you determine if that piece will have real staying power in your wardrobe.
Top image via J.Crew.
*Not a black pencil skirt, as that style doesn’t suit all bodies or tastes. Just a simple, unadorned black skirt in a 4-season fabric like twill or stretch-cotton. You’ve got one lurking in your closet, dontcha?
Originally posted 2010-10-25 05:15:00.