The REAL Wardrobe Must Haves

wardrobe must haves

I love fashion magazines. I do. Despite their multitudinous flaws and tendency to assume that everyone everywhere is Scrooge-McDuck-rich and longing to be slim, I love that my monthly style rags tell me about new brands, test out beauty products I’d never even think to explore, and offer styling tips and advice. I find the seasonal digests of clothing trends particularly helpful.

BUT. I loathe the tendency among fashion magazines to create utterly outlandish must-have lists. I mean, universal must-have lists are bad enough, making women who loathe button-front shirts feel left out and women who hate heels feel fashionably frustrated. But the seasonal ones? They’re the worst. “This season’s must-haves” articles inevitably include trends that many women cannot afford or reasonably work into their lifestyles. And although I’m sure many people skim over them with nary a twinge, others may feel subtly chastised. If you’re someone who adores trends and enjoys experimenting with new looks, being presented with a mandatory list of items that includes precisely zero things you’ll ever be able to buy or wear can feel … deflating, at the least.

And although I rail against these lists, I do believe there are items that every single living woman should own. Here they are:

Underwear That Fits

For most of us, this means bras and panties. In styles and fibers that don’t chafe, and cuts that work with our specific anatomy. I suggest a minimum of two great bras and – depending on your laundry schedule – seven or more sets of knickers. I know this can be incredibly challenging for some, but it’s worth exploring specialty shops and custom options so you can find the fit you need. Blogs like Hourglassy and The Lingerie Addict can help, too!

Shoes That Are Comfortable

Many must-have lists include several pairs of shoes that have absolutely no chance in hell of being pleasant to wear. In reality, most of us need at least one pair of relatively simple shoes in a neutral color that we can wear for at least 30 minutes of walking. These everyday shoes aren’t activity-specific like gym shoes or rain boots, but should be in a style that works with your overall dressing style.

Weather-specific Items Like Coats and Sandals

You live somewhere with weather, right? If you live near me, you MUST own a heavy winter coat. If you live in Tulum, you MUST own sandals. If you live where it rains you need wellies and a waterproof coat, if you live where it’s incredibly hot you need natural fiber tops, if you live in a place with multiple seasons you need items that work in a variety of weather conditions. Your closet should reflect your climate.

Garments, Shoes, and Accessories That Will Work for Your Work

Even if you don’t have a traditional job, you likely do some sort of work – raising children, looking after your house or yard or aging parents, volunteering at a homeless shelter, etc. So regardless of whether you go to an office every day, make sure you’ve got some closet staples that are comfortable and formality-level appropriate for the work that you do on a regular basis.

Clothes That Feel Good

No matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live you need to have clothes that feel good to you. This may sound like a nice bonus or an optional add-on, but IT IS NOT. I have recently become utterly fed-up with the items in my closet that make me feel uncomfortable in any way, along with the items that only fit when I’m below a certain level of bloat or that can only be worn for a short amount of time before chafing or digging. And ditching them in favor of the things that feel good on my body all the time, things that make me feel my best both visually and physically, has been a revelation. You – yes you – need clothes that feel good. Make sure you have a few.

THE END. As far as I’m concerned, anyway. So if you’re one of those folks who feels a tiny twinge when you come across a “must have” list that feels irritatingly exclusionary – or just rankles at the ridiculous specificity of such lists – I hope you’ll pop over here and peek back at this post!

Image credits bra, shoes, coat, sandals

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4 Responses to “The REAL Wardrobe Must Haves”

  1. Rebekah Jaunty

    This was great! As a list-lover, I feel cheated by lists that turn out to be useless— as so many must-have lists do. Your list is vastly superior.

    Also, I bought two pair of sandals this summer, after not owning any for a few years. They’re such a treat! I’d forgotten how good sandals can feel.

  2. Carol Marie

    I really like this article; especially the parts about uncomfortable clothes. I recently donated all of my button & zip pants because they all fell down (I’m what’s often called an apple shape). I switched to pull on pants & jeans and it feels great not to be to be constantly yoinking pants up. They fit my body and it sounds minor, but that simple solution made a word of difference. I’m old enough to have lived through the panty hose dress code. I spent a good part of my work day waddling to the bathroom when the waistband of those suckers rolled down to the tops of my thighs. Not cool. I would love to see one of those “wardrobe must have lists” for Minnesotans. Where to get a chic wool hat with earflaps, which lipstick perks up blue lips, how to select a fragrance that won’t clash with mosquito repellent, how to look French while shoveling a driveway…

  3. Linda B

    Well said! You really put your finger on why I tend to skate by those lists. I like your list better! Though I admit I do indulge now and then in a beautiful garment that is not for every day wear. But that is such a rarity!

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