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the stylist’s notebook | it all comes down to the basics

9 January 2009

Happy Friday, darlings! I do hope you’re having a wonderful week; but if it’s been a bit stressful like mine, at least it’s quite the relief to know that the weekend is near!

I received an email earlier this week from Shamora – a fashionable girl, but in a bit of a rut:

I LOVE FASHION! I really do, and I have an eye for all things fabulous. I help all my friends get dressesed. Im always eyeballing trends and new ways to look .. cute. BUT the problem is I have problems applying these things to myself. It seems like when I see everyone elses closet the always have something to wear. But it seems like I just shop aimlessly because the things I buy .. well once I get home I then realize how uneasy they are to match or I see that I just bought it because it was cute. Is there anyway you could help me with a list of “basics” or something of the sort. Just like essential things to have because Im having trouble figuring it out for myself =(.  P.S. LOVE YOUR BLOG SITE!!!

We’ve all been stuck in such predicament – I completely understand. It seems you have quite a fashionable eye, since you do help out friends with things concerning style. Don’t be frustrated yourself; it’s not that you have a problem with applying style tips to yourself, but it’s simply the fact that you know and love too much to decide on what you want. We all want to channel the ever popular rock-chic look; the next day, try the bohemian-hippie outfit; then dress the following day as a tribute to Blair Waldorf. But when there is simply too much to choose from, with too overwhelming of a selection, we sometimes just end up buying a rather random piece on a whim. So where to start?

Start an inspiration journal. It seems to be a cliche idea, but it is guaranteed to work. Begin by browsing through blogs, magazines, books, etc. for a bit of inspiration. Compile a little journal or folder of clippings. Wait a day, then look through your inspiration pile again – are their similarities in each of the images you’ve chosen? Take note of the running trend of oh, say, red lips and black lace dresses and jot it down! That way you know what you love & can easily keep track of the basics you need to help build your wardrobe and add the fashionable, trendy you into it.

Courtesy of JaimeWearsBlack; isn't her inspiration binder darling?

courtesy of jaimewearsblack; isn't her inspiration binder darling?

And now for a list of basics, a la moi. [Disclaimer: these are simply things I think are necessary! :)]

{the basics.}

1 black & 1 white short sleeve tee. Preferably fitted for best results. Why? They’re the ultimate basic, acting as the perfect everyday piece, a blank canvas, a layering tool, etc. I absolutely love the ones at Forever 21 – they’re cheap, form fitting, stretchy, and just a tad sheer. Wear it plain with a pair of jeans and boots for a super-chic, clean look. Pair it with a statement necklace to tone down the ornateness of the jewelry; or toss on a scarf for a sophisticated finish. Wear it beneath a sweater, cardigan, blazer or another tee. The possibilities are endless.

Jeans (obviously). Depending on your body shape/type you may want to opt for different cut jean, but I personally prefer fitted, straight-legged denim – they’re like the more flattering version of skinny jeans (if you will). The shape is perfect for any kind of shoe wear, from flats, heels, and tucking inside boots. I always have one pair in a dark wash, and one in a medium wash!


Silver Jewelry. Sterling, preferably. It’s what I wear everyday; I rotate between a silver chain necklace with a) the Eiffel Tower (I bought it on the Eiffel Tower – tourist-y, yes, but I love Paris!) b) crystal heart c) Swarovski lock & key d) heart shaped locket on a longer chain. And the occasional something-else pendant. All silver, of course. I always have a single silver bangle on as well, and a ring (that depends on my outfit of choice!). Silver jewelry is pretty, dainty, and light – it’s color isn’t as heavy as gold, and is easier to pair with different outfits than gold.

Black Tights. Opaque or sheer, they winter-ize a dress, provides coverage, and adds a dash of sophistication. A must-have!

Blazer. A black blazer, cropped or not, can completely change the overall effect of an outfit – making it one of the most versatile and practical pieces. Typically the piece of a woman’s suit for work, the blazer goes beyond the office. It dresses up a graphic tee and jeans; adds sophistication to a minidress; and plays up any plain ensemble. Do invest in at least one good jacket – it will be sure to last quite a while!

Leather Jacket. For that perfect, rock-inspired ensemble. And a warm coat.

Graphic Tee. For a bit of a fun touch. Whether you like cutsey, punk, vintage, band, etc. tee shirts, owning at least one is a playful way to add personality on a casual day. Sometimes we get tired of the same thing; wearing a tee shirt for a casual day is a great way to change it up: pair it with a blazer and jeans, a vest and denim, or tucked into an adorable skirt.

3/4-sleeve Top/Sweater. The most sophisticated cut ever; a tee is too casual, as are long sleeves.

Butterfly Sleeved Top. Half of my closet must consist of these types. I find them chic, comfy, and feminine. AKA the batwing top, though butterfly sounds much more appealing to me. They’re the dressier version of the tee.

Lace Camisole. Yes, they can be worn around the house as pajamas or beneath a tee of some sort for added warmth. But when used as a layering tool for tees so that a bit of lace pops out, it adds an element of sexiness and dimension. Or wear it beneath a black blazer for a sexy, formal date. Chic, sophisticated, and demurely alluring.

The Little Black Dress. It’s inevitable, unavoidable, inescapable. A must. A hemline just above the knees is the perfect length for dressing down or up!


Black Skirt. Because the possibilities with a single black skirt (whether a pencil skirt, pouf a la Proenza Schouler, etc.) are endless. A feminine blouse or graphic tee tucked makes for such a sophisticated outfit.

Tailored Shorts. The cuffed hems with a pretty button make fitted short-shorts sophisticated. And they seriously elongate the legs when paired with kitten heels or pumps. One of my favorites!

Heels. A pair of great heels make the woman, so they say. But I beg to differ: it makes the outfit, and helps the woman with a bit of a hip-swinging, men-entrancing gait. Most of my shoes are black, as they truly are the most versatile and practical: 3.5 inch pumps, boots, & a kitten heel sandal.

Flats. Every woman needs a break from heels; so for that shopping spree, wearing flats would be most comfortable. I’d suggest  black and/or white  ballet flats & flat, leather boots, knee high.

Cocktail Rings. So perhaps I’m biased because I have a mild obsession with them, but they are a key piece in making any outfit glamorous. They don’t necessarily have to be expensive; as Coco Chanel said, costume jewelry is a must.

Scarves. They’re the epitome of classiness and versatility. Worn in a myriad of ways and knots, they provide warmth and color to a more basic outfit; I love knitted, silk, and satin ones – they add a bit of detail and texture to the tee-and-jeans outfit.

Floral Print: Easiest worn in the form of a dress, a floral printed dress in a light fabric is more versatile than it’s accredited for. In the spring & summer it can be worn by itself with a light cardigan and a pair of espadrilles/pumps/sandals depending on the occasion. In the colder months, pairing it with a dark cardigan cinched with a belt, opaque tights, and stacked heels adds color to a winter-washed wardrobe.

Belt. A wide one to cinch at the waist (it does wonders in tummy-hiding!), and a thin one to add detail.

So begin with these items; they act as the foundation and blank canvas. Personalize it with a bit of you, whether it be with an eclectic cardigan or Carrie-worthy hairpiece. Make it yours.


La C.

81 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 January 2009 5:43 pm

    You give the best advice! I’m still on the hunt for the perfect leather jacket, and now I’m going to have to find a great pair of tailored shorts.

  2. Marissa permalink
    9 January 2009 5:51 pm

    just what i needed!! thnk u! x

  3. 9 January 2009 5:52 pm

    great post!

  4. 9 January 2009 5:53 pm

    How nice, just what I needed! I´ve lost like… a trillion pounds lol, and I can´t wear anything in my closet, really, I look ridiculous, like if I was wearing someone elses clothes!

    Really helpful dear, this will go to my inspiration diary 🙂

  5. 9 January 2009 6:41 pm

    umm… will somebody give you a book deal right now? you need to put all these posts down on paper. The images are gorgeous and the writing is so inspiring.

  6. 9 January 2009 6:56 pm

    what a great website! x

  7. 9 January 2009 7:15 pm

    Very inspirational and a great list! Thank you!

  8. 9 January 2009 7:29 pm

    great advice 🙂

  9. 9 January 2009 7:36 pm

    This is a great list! I would also add some tailored black pants and a tan trench coat. 🙂 Voila = the perfect wardrobe!

  10. Cristine permalink
    9 January 2009 7:43 pm

    Nice post!
    You have great style and you actually update the blog! I love it!

  11. 9 January 2009 9:55 pm

    darling i second the comment on the book deal as all these posts should be bound up and in a fabulous book shop! love this as a wardrobe is no where without the basics.
    have a great wknd my sweet.
    muah x

  12. 9 January 2009 10:33 pm

    Right on target again! If your blog were a book, I’d read it cover to cover.

  13. 10 January 2009 12:04 am

    oOO Love the advice!

  14. Alina permalink
    10 January 2009 12:32 am

    You are truly amazing. I’ve been reading your blogs for the past week and I think I’ve found the most useful site on the internet. I think you might be a fashion angel sent from heaven:)
    Thanks for the useful advise.

  15. Alina permalink
    10 January 2009 12:41 am

    You are truly amazing. I’ve been reading your blog for the past week and I thing I’ve found the most useful site on the internet. I think you’re a fashion angel sent from heaven.
    Thanks for the great advise:)

  16. 10 January 2009 1:03 am

    Nice advice hun. I especially agree w/the jeans…I actually panick when I know I need jeans. It’s all I think about. U R awesome, and sooo sweet!

  17. 10 January 2009 3:58 am

    This is great advice for every girl, thanks! You have a really nice blog here, would you like to exchange links?

  18. 10 January 2009 4:24 am

    You always have such great tips 🙂

    Thank you, I hope it looks as good in real life as it did on the website 🙂

  19. 10 January 2009 6:33 am

    Hi La C,

    Great advice and great post! I agree… I am accesoris fan. The basis of everything the accessories. Superb shoes, superb bags, scarves and jewels (bijou). These are keystones for me. Many dresses are not needed for me, because these I may be chic always with his variation. 😀 But I have more things, but But I am listening better in order to spend little on unnecessary and trends being over soon since years. Let him be enduring rather. I adore the blazers, especially the chanel style…

    Have a great weekend, xoxo: Janet

  20. thebaglady permalink
    10 January 2009 8:38 am

    i love your list! i just printed it out & stuck it in my purse so the next time i go out shopping i know exactly what to buy! thanks ❤

  21. 10 January 2009 8:48 am

    Hi there! fabulous post, we all need reminding of the basics and they are the foundations for any wardrobe!!

  22. 10 January 2009 10:21 am

    oh thank you 😀
    are you from france? 🙂

  23. 10 January 2009 10:54 am

    fantastic list! I will definitely put it to use 🙂

  24. 10 January 2009 11:09 am

    Great post, as always. I wrote a little about u in my last update, hope you don’t mind.

  25. 10 January 2009 12:23 pm

    happy wknd honey!hope yours is lovely.

  26. 10 January 2009 1:10 pm

    love the advice! xoxo

  27. 10 January 2009 2:02 pm

    You need to write a book about all this! I love all the tips ^^ I even followed them today when I was shopping, thank you so much, it really helped me out:D I usually never think if the clothes I buy match the rest of my wardrobe xD

    I think I will make myself a inspiration folder right afterwards ^^ Looks so much fun it itself ^^

  28. 10 January 2009 3:04 pm

    i agree with everything you said, especially with: black t-shirt,high heels, scarves and a great pair of jeans!

  29. 10 January 2009 3:39 pm

    Fantastic advice–you were very thorough with that list! I wear a lot of silver jewelry too.

  30. kristine permalink
    10 January 2009 3:56 pm

    what amazing advice, as usual. i’m def gonna bookmark this page for future reference!

  31. 10 January 2009 3:58 pm

    thanks darlings! i’m so glad this list was of use to you, or at least somewhat helpful! 🙂

    karolina j. : oh, i wish i was from france; but i’m not 😦 i’m just from the u.s.!

  32. 10 January 2009 3:58 pm

    You’ve covered it all!

  33. 10 January 2009 4:30 pm

    Hi! So glad you enjoyed my 2008 favorites. But this is a fantastic list of basics that we should have in our closets. I have not the cuffed shorts but I think I might need to! Lots of great inspirations here to look through, thanks so much for sharing them with us!

    x Grayburn

  34. 10 January 2009 5:11 pm

    Fabulous list of must-haves, La C! Makes me realize I need a batwing type of top in my wardrobe. Love those MiH jeans!


  35. 10 January 2009 6:20 pm

    girl, you should post some of your own outfits! I know I speak for many of us when I say we want to see the girl behind the blogging magic :))

  36. 10 January 2009 6:48 pm

    I definitely need some of those things on the list. and i love those ankle boots! ah . i have an obsession with them right now but can’t seem to find any that work for me

  37. 10 January 2009 7:04 pm

    great advice!

  38. 10 January 2009 7:24 pm

    I couldn’t’ve made a better list. For basics this is the round-up to end all others. Good job 🙂

  39. 10 January 2009 7:36 pm

    Such great advice!!!
    Lovely post the one about being fabulous!!!
    Hope your weekend is more relaxing than ur week! If it makes u feel better I’m staying at home with assignments…:(


  40. 10 January 2009 8:25 pm

    i have an inspiration journal that i love to refer to when i’m lacking outfit ideas! it’s a great use for old magazines 🙂

  41. 10 January 2009 8:42 pm

    you sure nail the basic list a gal should have in her wardrobe.

  42. 10 January 2009 8:42 pm

    You’ve inspired me to work on my inspiration journal again.

  43. 10 January 2009 8:56 pm

    I’m loving the idea of an inspiration binder! I might start one myself!xo

  44. 10 January 2009 9:25 pm

    hi honey, thanks for your comment! first time i have seen your blog – i really enjoy it! you have some awesome info in here. will be coming back for sure. all the best for 2009! xxx LM

  45. 11 January 2009 12:17 am

    and here’s another essential: v-neck shirts! my latest obsession.. i wear them as a coverup in dance over my leotard, OR i will wear them to school with a pair of jeans… or if your going to dinner and a movie, slap em on with skinny jeans, heels and an array of necklaces and dangly earrings and you’re all set to go!

    and i think you inspired me to have an inspiration binder.. hmm.

  46. 11 January 2009 3:32 am

    I so agree wit black tights. They make every single outfit so chic!

  47. 11 January 2009 4:20 am

    “it all comes down to the basics” my thoughts exactly 🙂 loved this post, inspirational as always!

  48. 11 January 2009 4:52 am

    so useful! i am definately starting an inspirational journal a.s.a.p..what a wonderful idea 🙂

    thank you.

  49. 11 January 2009 6:01 am

    thank you 🙂
    and as always, very inspirational post! your basics are spot on!

  50. 11 January 2009 6:58 am

    Wonderful post! Very clear advises that anyone can follow. Love your Blog!

  51. 11 January 2009 8:00 am

    I love your blog ! so warm & inspiring


  52. 11 January 2009 1:40 pm

    you know what. i love ths post, not only it teach the basics to the girl that send the mail, but also it made me re-learn them, because what happens to her, sometimes happens to me, but I kin of always solve it.

    PS. i love jaime’s inspiration binder i think i’ll make one! what do you think?

  53. 11 January 2009 2:38 pm

    An inspiration journal is really te way to go! I have a few inspiration books that I love.

  54. 11 January 2009 3:32 pm

    OMG this is a great post, fantastic list.
    Just to print and have near by to read once in a while.
    Thanks for sharing


  55. 11 January 2009 4:34 pm

    Brillaint post! I love your list of the basics, every single one is so very true. I am particuarly a fan of your mention of cocktail rings. They are my favourite piece of jewellery to wear, I love how you are a fan of them too!

    Your blog keeps getting more and more perfect (if that were even possible!) with each post. You have such a huge future ahead of you!! Love it all so very much xx

  56. 11 January 2009 5:39 pm

    You did a great job! Wonderful post! You are so supportive!


  57. 11 January 2009 7:00 pm

    Thanks for stopping by today! Your site is fabulous!

  58. Kelly permalink
    11 January 2009 7:38 pm

    could not agree more with your basics. love them. i think i might mention it in my blog 🙂

  59. 11 January 2009 10:05 pm

    Hey! i absolutely love your blog 🙂 I’ve probably mentioned that already but! never hurts to say it again. anyways I love your current inspiration too. it’s just my kind of style. If i bothered to wake up earlier in the morning to dress up, hahas. (psst, I have my photo blog up, do take a look when you have the time!)

  60. 11 January 2009 10:07 pm

    I love your blog 🙂
    I just started a new one.. I added you to the blogs I love!! please add me!!


  61. 11 January 2009 10:51 pm

    Once again, fantastic advice!!! I will definitely be taking this all to heart 🙂
    And, I have white, black, purple and green short sleeved shirts from Forever 21…I think they were like $6 each at most and they are just my absolutely favorite! So definitely a good call with that, darling!
    Thanks again for the advice

  62. 11 January 2009 11:59 pm

    i agree with you completely.. it IS all in the basics.. mix and match and embellish! 🙂 great post!

  63. 12 January 2009 1:52 am

    love your blog! added you to my list.. hope to trade links with you 😉 behind the seams

  64. 12 January 2009 3:46 am

    These are such practical and helpful tips! Another amazing post xo

  65. 12 January 2009 3:58 am

    You should do this as a job. Great list, I’m on my way creating my own basic wardrobe.

    juliet xxx

  66. 12 January 2009 7:32 am

    oh the little black dress! i loves it! x

  67. 12 January 2009 11:32 am

    An inspiration diary is the best! It helps you focus on all the necessary. It’s easier to put up a lot of things you need and stay on track whilst shopping. I did that a lot in the past and I still do in nowadays. I think I should share some of my inspiration soon, too. 🙂

  68. 12 January 2009 12:03 pm

    Basic is beautiful! Enjoy reading all these! Inspiration!

  69. 12 January 2009 1:09 pm

    lovely blog!


  70. 12 January 2009 1:53 pm

    Aaaah, another amazing post!

    The Little Black Dress bit was brillaint… and couldn’t agree more.


  71. 12 January 2009 2:15 pm

    Great tips! I couldn’t agree more. Btw I tagged you!

  72. 12 January 2009 3:04 pm

    Email me back! :]

    I love making Inspiration folders too, Jaime’s is adorable. xx

  73. 12 January 2009 4:44 pm

    Flat shoes… into the next months they will be my new basics!

  74. 12 January 2009 5:11 pm

    What a wonderful and complete post! Very informative and useful 🙂
    I also have an inspiration journal/folder!
    I totally agree with the basics you chose!

  75. 12 January 2009 5:29 pm

    wow, i loved this.
    you write so well, and i’m definately going to start a journal just like jamie’s. i know this definately benefitted me, i look forward to reading more of your blog.

  76. 12 January 2009 6:15 pm

    what a great list. such helpful advice in such a neat package 🙂

  77. 12 January 2009 6:34 pm

    Great post! As always*

  78. 12 January 2009 9:06 pm

    I completely agree with all of this! Your blog posts are always so much more inspired than mine! Also, Jaime’s inspiration binder is AMAZING. I wish I had the patience to put that together.

  79. 13 January 2009 12:53 am

    This is quite brilliant. I just need to get off my backside and really do something …

  80. 15 January 2009 11:07 am

    Very true. I need to go out and get a black short-sleeved tee, I’m always reaching for one,only to see that I don’t own one!
    Love this post!

  81. 25 January 2009 12:41 pm

    love your blog! it is very simple and smart. you got yourself a new reader 😉


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