With all the shopping we’ve done for Figuring Out Fashion, we found ourselves with a new trouble — waking up in the morning, staggering in a daze to get dressed, and finding so many choices, colors, and styles that we would just throw on the first thing we could see. We quickly realized we needed to simplify our morning routine by building a base of, well, basics. Comfortable clothes that always look put together without much effort. Here’s the list we came up with:
1) White button-down shirt
Ladies, look for a more feminine fit, cinched at the waist. Guys, find the right fit by making sure that shoulder seams are actually lying on the shoulders. Both genders should absolutely experiment with unobtrusive details and textures. Embroidered embellishment or unobtrusive stripes add interest while different material weights add versatility. Thin materials mean a casual look, while heavy fabrics are structured to hide flaws and look professional. Wear it buttoned under a suit or fitted sweater for a professional look, or unbuttoned with dark jeans, over a colorful top.
2) Dark neutral sweater
Go for a soft, touchable fabric that keeps you warm (though cashmere is ideal, acrylic and wool are better fits for college student budgets). Ladies, experiment with buttoned cardigans as a layering option, but be careful to find the right fit. Guys, again, watch the shoulder seams. Buying ill-fitting clothes just make you look disproportional, not bigger or smaller.
3) A formal outfit
Guys, this means investing in a great pair of slacks and a collared shirt. Get the slacks tailored if their length isn’t perfect — both socks and trailing hems are a turnoff. Ladies, find a great dress for all occasions. This doesn’t just mean a black dress: contrary to popular thought, any color will do as long as the length and bust coverage are fairly modest and the fit is flattering. This means that for those of us who have any bodily flaws, stay away from silky fabrics for this staple.
4) A scarf
This is a basic Boston accessory both because of warmth and versatility. Guys should stick to traditional colors with patterns added for interest. Go for colors matching your outerwear. Girls, try playing around with interesting fabrics (silky, sheer) and colors (brights, pastels, and patterns) to add pop to an outfit.
5) A sexy pair of jeans that’s comfortable
With jeans, fit is everything. Look for styles that don’t pinch in odd places or sag, well, anywhere. Super extra incredible low-rises don’t look good on anyone, so make sure you can bend over with no worries (this goes for guys too). Guys should look for the exact length of their leg, while girls can go a bit longer for versatility in shoe height. Dark styles are more slimming.
6) Bright but comfy T-shirts
This means not having to sacrifice comfort, convenience, and cash in order to look good. T-shirts are always cheaper than more elaborate shirts and are always suitable for class. Just look for the right fit and find interesting screen prints and colors so that you won’t look boring even if you layer it under a bunch of neutrals.
7) Comfy pair of good looking shoes
Ladies, this means flats. Look for a bow or buckle for detailing. Guys, think loafers or lace up shoes in either brown or black. Choose by matching your coat.
8) A big bag for girls and a wallet for guys
For men who carry wallets in their pockets, three- and five-fold wallets are often too bulky. A tip: if you put a full, 3-5 fold wallet in your pocket and it doesn’t show, your pants are too loose. Try a two fold wallet or a card case/money clip combo for a sleaker look. Girls, take a textbook or two to the store when shopping for a bag and make sure they fit easily inside and the bag doesn’t seem to be straining from the weight. Even if you never choose to carry your books to class in a purse, being able to fit them is a plus if you’ll ever have to wait in line or take a laptop or files to an interview or other backpack-free function.
9) A good scent
All of us who have overslept for an exam understand the importance of this item …
10) Your signature outfit
Have fun with this. Think somewhat semiformal/nice dinner to get the most versatile look. The most important part in choosing this piece, however, is peer review. No matter how much you like an outfit, if everyone around you thinks it’s ugly, it won’t really do its job. Ask for a lot of opinions in the dressing room, and go for expressing your personal style. When you find it, take great care of it (dry clean if necessary) so that it doesn’t loose its color or fit, and reach for it every time you’re in a pinch.