A completely not-basic guide to wardrobe basics
This is the first of a series of Style Quilt columns by Amelia Olson.
First thing’s first: This column is for everyone, and when I say everyone I mean everyone. This is a weekly style guide, yes, but it’s more a style high-five and a reminder that fashion doesn’t need to be exclusive, insanely expensive, shaming or uncomfortable. You belong in the fashion world and, even though we’ve just met, I already know you’re a total boss who can wear anything she wants.
Now that we’ve established the basic ground rules of fashion (PRO TIP: there are none) let’s go straight to this week’s Style Quilt! As a vintage shop owner and all around obsessive clothes hoarder, I am a snow globe of glittery happiness over being able to share my favorite things with you each week and hopefully, in the process, encourage you to own your beauty and style in a way that is meaningful to you.
Thanks to the Internet you can basically get any absurdly cute and amazing garments you want within a week. This access to fashion is unparalleled and amazing, but it can also be sort of overwhelming to find the real gems. After decades of dressing sorting, obsessing, buying, helping, and styling, I’ve come to realize that every good, offbeat, fun closet has five staples. These staples are their own free agents—they stand on their own. They are your fashion foundation, your initial investments, and they will offer years of stylistic elation and joy. They’re meant to compliment every other piece of fabric in your closet and will be the bread and butter of what makes your daily style routine feel on point. So let’s start off this column right, with a fun, cool version of the basics.
A BANG-UP PAIR OF SUNNIES
We’ve all seen designer sunglasses. They’re perfect, duh. They’re also really expensive and if you’re anything like me, you will inevitably destroy, lose or scratch your brand new sunnies within a few months of owning them. I stick with companies that value handsome design while offering affordable pricing. A.J. Morgan has an ocean of sunnies to choose from whether you’re looking for masculine aviators or wide-eyed ’60s inspired shades.
A PAIR OF RED SHOES
Most style guides would tell you to buy a pair of black or brown shoes, but I am not going to do that. You know why? Red shoes go with everything. Seriously. Skinny jeans and a t-shirt? Red shoes. Black skirt and white cotton blouse? Red shoes. Plaid vintage polyester midi skirt and crop top? Red shoes. Get a variety, get one glorious pair, I don’t care, just make sure you’ve got a pair of ruby-red gems in your life.
I love, love these red platforms from Miz Mooz. I’m thinking with socks and a pair of shorts, or with Levi’s and an old vintage baggy t-shirt.
Less expensive and with a more classic approach to the red shoe game are these darling ModCloth Three Strides and You’re Haute Flats. I love the strapping and bows, they’re soft and feminine but still hold it down AND they’re on sale!
A POWER JACKET
Leopard print is the most obvious choice when choosing a power jacket. It’s true that a leopard-print coat is a “statement” as my uptight old neighbor in Boston would say, but I think it’s the perfect statement. It says “It’s really cold out right now but I look like a million bucks, I’m warm and I don’t mind waiting for this bus!” it also says “I couldn’t care less about matching, because my jacket is so wonderfully loud that no one can tell me what to do ever again!”
This knee length leopard jacket is amazing and mega affordable. The best part? The oversized style allows you to wear your pajamas underneath while going on a quick trip to the market and no one will ever know!
If leopard print freaks you out, try a bold/geometric print jacket like this blue and white Southwestern pattern coat from Forever21. Don’t worry about what it will go with, or what you’ll wear it with. Let your freak flag guide you. Trust me. If you like the print, get it, no strings attached.
JEANS THAT FIT RIGHT
Wearing jeans that require you to pull them up by the belt loops repeatedly is seriously on my list of WTF OMG things that make me angry. Obviously, my first world jean problem is very boring in that grand scheme of conflict. But seriously, invest in a pair of jeans that are comfortable, fit properly and make you feel good.
I like these 311 Shaping Skinny Jeans by Levi’s because they totally mold to your figure after several wears, are a classic standby and genuinely last a good, long while. While my jean tendencies lean towards as high waisted as possible, I think a classic mid-rise skinny jean flatters everyone.
If you’re looking for a moderate flare and mid-rise, for me at least, Gap knows how to make a dreamy-wash denim flare.
It’s not just the New Mexican in me that thinks everyone should own a pair of cowboy boots. I hate to brag (kind of) but, on average, I get complimented on my cowboy boots more than any other pair of shoes I own. They go with every single outfit I have in my closet and they’re the most comfortable of all the shoes I own. As a vintage shop owner, I come across tons of aged leather. I love previously-loved leather because it has its own life of stories, settles well on the body and foot and adds character to a too-polished-outfit. I’m always freaked out by brand-new leather.
To that end, I love these floral chestnut brown vintage Acmes in my shop right now. The cream flowers are so cute and the reddish-brown leather is the perfect color to wear with just about anything, plus they’re the perfect height and style.
Maybe you already have these staples in your closet (hand praising emoji) or maybe you have some shopping to do, either way remember to be loving to yourself while you search for your power jacket. Style is whatever you make it, you deserve to feel wonderful as you are, whether you have cool sunglasses or not.
Happy shopping, Gigglers, and, as Coco Chanel reminds us, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”