When I first recognized my need for staple pieces to round out all the statements in my wardrobe, I started to invest in all the basic basics that everyone said I needed. The plain white tee. The crisp white button-down. The basic black pants.
I felt really virtuous buying such practical items rather than splurging on my usual statements. No tulle skirts or hot pink pants for me. I was a grown-up, and apparently, adulthood requires sensible clothes with no embellishments. At least, that’s what everyone told me.
But then those items hung in my wardrobe, and I found I only took them out when my statements needed someone to play with. They rarely made an appearance on their own, or paired together. For example, my white plain button-down and boring black pants never gave me that chic French girl-inspired look I was going for, so I wore them separately with more interesting pieces.
Soon, I discovered that the outfits I admired on other women, and longed to wear myself, often included at least one elevated essential. One special piece that took the entire outfit from boring to beautiful. These pieces were still essential meaning that they were simple enough to be versatile, but they included one element that made them more interesting.
So let’s examine the 3 ways that a basic can be elevated to an essential.
An exaggerated or interesting fit, shape, or cut can take something basic and bring it to life. That fit can be oversized, slim, structured, or flowy, but it’s the uniqueness of the fit and the lines of the item and the overall outfit that upgrade these looks.
Another element that allows you to easily upgrade your outfits is the fabric. Linen, cashmere, silk, leather, or any unexpected material can take an otherwise casual basic and make it elegant.
Details, from sailor-inspired buttons down the front of a pair of pants, to interesting textures and sleeves, to cutouts, ruffles, trim, etc can all help elevate an everyday basic.
And now, let’s look at 5 different categories of basics, and explore the differences between the super simple versions and the more elevated styles. And all of these items can be found right here.
The White Shirt
An essential that’s on every list, this is an easy wardrobe staple that can be tweaked to suit a variety of personal styles and lifestyles. Whether you go for a drapey linen or a crisp poplin, the basic version of this top is versatile, of course, but don’t be afraid to upgrade to a more interesting style. All of these styles can be found right here.
The Black Pants
Sure, the black pants borrowed from your pantsuit will do, but if you want a pair that offers a little more interest and impact in an outfit, consider a more stylish option. Try wide-leg in a knit or a silky material, a leather or denim pair, or one with interesting texture or details. All of these styles can be found right here.
The White Tee
A basic white tee can be a great layering piece or the perfect partner to more interesting pieces in your wardrobe, but there are equally versatile options with interesting styles and details. All of these styles can be found right here.
Tanks are a very important piece this season, with the newer high-necked shapes at the forefront of style. A basic ribbed style is perfect to pair with shorts and other casual staples, but also consider one of these elevated versions. All of these styles can be found right here.
The Black Pump
Start with a sleek, simple, almost timeless black pump in a classic material like kid leather or suede, and then branch out to styles featuring slingbacks and D’orsay cutouts, ankle straps and ties, and other interesting details. All of these styles can be found right here.
What did you think of these elevated essentials? And which wardrobe basic will you consider upgrading? Let me know in the comments!
Nada Manley says
Thank you so much for this comment Bonnie! I always love your insight!
Nada Manley says
Hi Brandy! Thanks for the feedback! I have always done a mix of affordable (Walmart, Target, Amazon) as well as high end items in my videos, and the catalog features a wide assortment of price ranges. I picked higher end items to feature in this video because the selection is still slim for fall, but if you click on the link and check out the catalog you will find that there is something for every budget. Hope that helps!
Bonnie Boyd says
The white lace yoke blouse is my favorite here! The flowy black pants are my style, but not my fabric. I loved all of the Tank tops!
I, too, found that the ‘basics’ don’t really work for me – but that is because of my retired, casual lifestyle. We travel a lot. I rarely go to any event where dress clothes are needed. Casual is my daily look, with a few exceptions . I have a few dresses and dressy tops for those events. I only wear dressy heels about once in a many year span.
So, there really isn’t a good need for new black heels. I wear boots a lot, but my newest Elevated pair of slide sandals has a platform wedge with two bands; they are a deep brown and Perfect for me with any style I dress in. As to my white shirts: one is a bit oversized, another is boho, another has lace at the yoke and cuffs – so I am good there.
I have No need for black dress pants ever (I have a black skirt that works great), so my elevated dark jeans have a soft flow to them, and they are longer, as that would be my Signature flare Jean look. I dislike tee shirts ( I rarely wear them), although I like the fabric and have it in dresses and in medium-long sleeve tops. I DO love tank tops, in many cuts and styles, and I do have many. They are usually color-drenched/color saturated; I prefer halter style but I wear any style, so I imagine most are Elevated. These fit my lifestyle. You didn’t mention, but My cashmere sweaters are in neutrals, so they can go with jeans or corduroy pants easily. My new purse, though, is Elevated- A Brahmin bag in a Turquoise croc patent leather. It can go with almost anything!
With all due respect, I must question every single one of your “elevated essentials”, not for style but simple affordability. The total cost of the highest priced examples is an astronomical $2,728, while the price of the lowest priced is a not-inconsiderable $406. Surely you could search out attractive, “elevated” wardrobe essentials at affordable prices. To think that an average woman could/should pay over $1,200 for a single white shirt? Seriously?