Basic Elements for Every Woman’s Wardrobe

Hello my elegant reader.  This week I’ve been on bed rest most of the week due to my broken foot and my desire to heal as quick as possible and because of it I’ve taken some time to keep up with the fashion industry and the do’s and don’ts.  I watched Tim Gunn a lot, one because I love his sense of style and two I find his advice very helpful.  One of the things I love about his show is that it gives us a list of 10 essential and basic elements we all need in order to build our wardrobe he calls them  “Tim Gunn’s 10 Essential Elements Must-Have Basic Wardrobe Pieces for Any Woman” and it consist of the following (comments by Kelly Whitt):

  1. Basic Black Dress – The basic black dress has been around for a long time. It is often called the “Little Black Dress”, and it’s true that shorter skirts on the basic black dress, when they hit you in the right place, can be more flattering than a long black dress.
  2. Trench Coat – The trench coat is one of the pieces that is both classic and currently a hot fashion item. Most any store sells this piece now. It is great for fall and you can pick it up in a wide range of lengths.
  3. Dress Pants – Although it doesn’t say black, this is probably what you want to look for. Black is flattering on all figures and goes with everything.
  4. Classic Shirt – The white shirt is a definite classic. But it can also come in many different styles to make it look trendy and not dated or like a man’s piece of clothing. Find one that accentuates your best attributes and minimizes trouble spots. For example, if you have wide shoulders, stay away from large collars.
  5. Jeans – Everyone has a pair of jeans, but does everyone have a pair of jeans that make them look great? The wider leg, low-rise jean style has been popular (and still is) but a narrower leg is coming back along with a higher waist, which eliminates the unflattering “muffin top” look.
  6. Any Occasion Top – Find something you look great in that can look respectable under a jacket but bring on the fun after hours.
  7. Skirt – If you need dress pants then you also need a skirt. A skirt is womanly and can be flirty or businesslike. Nowadays women do not wear many skirts or dresses, which makes a lot of them fall into a rut of dressing sloppily or like men. See number 8.
  8. Day DressWomen also are not wearing as many dresses anymore. It was certainly liberating to go from the ’50s when women wore dresses every day to wearing more practical pants for gardening, exercising, and so forth. But the dress does not have to be abandoned altogether. They can be very flattering, and there is nothing wrong with “dressing up” for daytime.
  9. Jacket – A jacket does not have to be masculine. Find one with a proper, fitted shape. Women’s jackets should follow the silhouette of a woman’s body and accent the hourglass curve at her waist. It is also a perfect piece to put with the skirt or dress pants, and white shirt. Or make it casual with a pair of jeans.
  10. Sweat suit Alternative – As mentioned before, women wear fewer skirts and dresses these days. But some women have taken casual to the extreme and spend days on end in sweat suits. It is possible to be casual and comfortable without looking like a slob. Find a comfortable material (that’s why this doesn’t say jeans again – denim is not as comfortable as a nice soft cotton) that you would want to wear every day. It could be khakis, cords, a cotton dress, or much more.

Bonus: One Indulgent Trendy Item

I believe that when it comes to footwear, these are the essentials every woman should have:

1.  Classic pump

2.  Flats

3.  Evening Sandal

4.  Walking Sandal

5.  Boots (depending of where you live)

6.  Casual Sandal – optional item that can be used for a casual look with jeans or a more formal look with dress pants

7.  Sneakers – should be used for exercise or hiking

 Compare the list to what you currently have and if your closet seems to be full and cluttered this may a great time to go in and pull it all out and sort it out (ie: pants, jeans, blouses, skirts, dresses and suits not forgetting to take out the shoes and categorize them as well) and take an inventory of what you have.  After you’ve taken the inventory set aside all the items you’ve not worn in a year and if their condition is good you can decide to do a yard sale or perhaps give away to a friend, goodwill or a charity of your choice and discard the pieces you deem unusable.  Now that you’ve taken out the clutter, you can put the pieces left back in the closet categorizing your closet as well (this will help you keep an eye view of what you have).  At this point you can use the checklists to ensure you have all the essentials and if you’re missing an item, be sure to make a mental note so that on your next shopping spree you can pick up the ones you’re missing.  Don’t forget to stop by Big and Elegant for your footwear if you leave a big or wide footprint and I’m sure we’ll be able to complete your list.

I hope you find these tips helpful, if so, feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think and suggestions of your own; I love to read your feedback.

 Till next week,

 Amy “Your Shoe Lady”


  1. Amy, how clever of you to use the Tim Gunn model for shoe basics! I lost a great deal of weight and Tim was my guide for creating my new wardrobe and it works. I probably only have about 30 items altogether in my closet – much of which I purchased at Target (including my trench coat) and Stein Mart – but the people at work are constantly asking me for fashion guidance.

    I’m actually kind of bummed that I have a small foot…


    • Thanks Kat for your comment and kudo’s to you for the weight loss. Having lost some weight myself, I know what it’s like to have to start from zero. I went from a 22-24 to a 12-14. I think I changed my wardrobe 3 times and wish I would’ve had his list to guide me. Don’t be sad about your shoe size, it’s all good!

      Much success to you!

      Amy “Your Shoe Lady”

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  • "I decided to open a shoe store for women with big and/or wide feet where they could shop with pleasure, would not have to sacrifice fashion for comfort and walk out with their head held high."