Wardrobe Essentials

A Classic Wardrobe

A guide for building Basic Wardrobe Essentials for the elegant woman. How to build a wardrobe that works.

wardrobe essentials

Interestingly, the best dressed woman is not necessarily the one with the biggest budget for clothes. And she doesn't take four hours to get dressed either.

She is the one who THINKS carefully about what she wears, and how she wears it. She curates her collection selectively.

She plans her wardrobe according to what she needs and her lifestyle, ensuring that she has her wardrobe essentialsa> first.

Planning is essential to an elegant woman's wardrobe. A wardrobe that works is a wardrobe that has been well thought out. She will take into account the amount of time and effort taken to maintain her wardrobe too.

How does she maintain her wardrobe?

Maintenance of your wardrobe means - what kind of care do your clothes require? hand-wash? Dry clean only? Ironing? These are the things you have to think about before buying them. No point buying high-maintenance clothes if you need them everyday and don't have enough time to care for them.

Other forms of maintenance means routinely safe-bleaching clothes to ensure the whitest of whites, getting buttons and loose zips repaired, shoes re-soled and polished and jewelry cleaned.

A wardrobe edit is also done every three to six months.

What is a Wardrobe edit?

It a de-cluttering of your collection of clothes. It consists of giving away clothes that does not fit, or clothes that are no longer loved. Maybe you have too many of a certain clothing item, now that you have changed your lifestyle.

(See Wardrobe Refashioning Step One)

Shopping Well

Over time, as you now think carefully about the collection of your clothes, instead of buying on a whim whatever takes your fancy. You'll be building a mental list of favorite boutiques, designers, brands or favorite fabrics as you become more shopping-savvy.

What price range or quality? It is up to you to decide what is acceptable for your budget and lifestyle. That way you narrow down your scope when it comes to searching for the items you need.

For instance, my favorite store for basics are Uniqlo, a Japanese brand available everywhere in Asia. I routinely buy cardigans, casual knits and the occasional lounge pants. I sometimes take photos of the color schemes of my outfits and posts it on Instagram. You can see quite a bit of Uniqlo stuff there!

I have my favorite stores for infinity scarves, Marks & Spencers for inner-wear, and online stores for pants etc.

I also know I like certain knits, jersey fabrics and tweed. I also like no-ironing-needed type of fabric.

You should know what suits you. Otherwise, you'll have to start to pay attention to what looks good on you. What is your style? What makes you feel like you...and something you're completely at ease and comfortable with? Of course, at the same time looking good! We have to be appropriate, otherwise those comfort types will want to wear PJs all day. You'll have tp have a good gauge of what is your style.

While you're exploring, it is good to take certain risks to figure out your own taste. Do not buy something that is quote out of the world, i.e. is not you. This means you shouldn't buy clothes to try to impress others or communicate a certain image, that is not authentic. Why? It's never really going to work.

Don't be a fashion-horse, unless, you are a true blue one. Don't go after designers just for the sake of impressing other people.

Designer or non designer?

My take on designers items? I have a genuine appreciation for beautiful designs, and respect for innovative ones. That doesn't mean every designer item is for me! It also really depends on your lifestyle and the kinds of values you place on them.

I think - it's best that you buy what you can afford. Affording them doesn't mean you starve for months to buy a $6000 handbag. Unless, that is the most prized possession you want to reward yourself. I mean it's up to you.

As much as I love certain really expensive, luxurious designer things, I allow myself one luxury item every couple of years. (It used to be once a year, but now I've decided to spend money on other things, such as learning a language, or going to see the arts like symphonies and ballets.)

Read also about my inspiration of the non-designer elegantwoman.

I'm careful to also not project an image of myself that is not quite true. It is strange to be dressed looking like I can afford to eat at five Michelin stars restaurants when I'm still paying off student loans.

So for designer items? I think going for designer items that are less loud is always preferred. Maybe one or two designer items in your #ootd (read: outfit of the day) is more than enough. Most Elegant style dictators say, no logos is the most elegant at all. As for me, I tend to agree, but I'll admit that I like some of my things which unfortunately have logos.

Whether or not you love designers, the most important person to get to know in having an elegant wardrobe is YOU!

It takes time to learn the savvy of picking out good quality, reasonably priced outfits no matter where you shop. Knowing how to differentiate quality without looking at labels is a skill. Learning the skill of how to dress in classic elegant styles that is becoming of you is also not easily acquired.

When you learn that, you can shop anywhere with any budget. You are not limited to designers. And you don't have to pay designer prices!

Learn how to analyze the fit. Be aware of how some clothes fit, and NOT fit. In the mass production of clothes today, we have more clothes for sale on the rack that do not fit well on us. It is a good investment to buy only clothes that can fit.

Otherwise, ensure you have a good alterations tailor at hand. I sometimes factor in the time, effort and cost of tailoring into the item, should I buy it knowing that it does not fit if I just buy it off the rack.

A Well-Dressed and Appropriate Wardrobe

Because an elegant woman seeks understanding first, then planning, she always has enough good quality clothes that will enable her to be well dressed at all times.

In other words, she is ready for almost any occasion.

Her habit of editing her wardrobe every couple of months ensure that she weeds out clutter and that her wardrobe is constantly refreshed and updated.

I also believe that a truly well-dressed woman does not necessarily have a large wardrobe. Unless of course, she is in fashion, or she's a stylist. An elegantly dressed person, I believe will not have too many shoes or too many of one item. She understands the need to keep a collection of clothes carefully curated, in order to remain well dressed.

Imagine going over 300 items of clothing instead of 30 items when trying to pick an outfit? It just takes too much time in the former.

Updating and editing your wardrobe requires an awareness of your lifestyle needs. What kind of clothes do you need most for the lifestyle you need? No point buying a 100 pairs of stilettos if you wear them once a month. This is tailoring your wardrobe to your lifestyle.

Whenever there is a change in seasons, or when there is a change in lifestyle (a baby, a new job etc), you must re-evaluats her wardrobe, take an inventory maybe, to prepare for the new season.

Good Dressing Quotes

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich but not gaudy, for the apparel oft proclaims the man. - Shakespeare

Clothing identifies who you are in your world. If you met someone who was dressed and groomed in such a manner that you could not relate to them, you would never know if the person had a heart of gold or not. - Ginie Sayles

Change your appearance and change what you do with your time - and your life will change. You are more in control than you think. - unknown.

Interesting Books on the Art of Dressing

Click on the book if you want more information.

Want A Wardrobe Refashioning Make Over?

Do you desire the wardrobe of a well-dressed, elegant woman too? Check out elegantwoman.org's Wardrobe Refashioning page. It shows you the step-by-step process of a wardrobe overhaul and teaches you how to build an elegant basic wardrobe. A wardrobe that works!

Thank you for reading 'Wardrobe Essentials'!

You may like:

Wardrobe Refashioning Step One - Edit & Discard

Wardrobe Refashioning Step Two - Acquire Your Everyday Basics

Wardrobe Refashioning - Step Three Guide to a Basic Wardrobe

Elegant Wardrobe Gallery

Timeless Style - How To Get It

Return from Wardrobe Essentials to Elegant Woman Homepage


Don't Miss Important Updates
Subscribe via email
Subscribe to
Elegant Letters




I keep this private.

Subscribe to my blog.
Latest Entries
Jan 12, 2017

An Elegant Mind - Elegance Comes from the Mind

Elegance comes from the mind. How do we have an elegant mind? I draw inspirations from a great man from my country, Lee Kuan Yew who has inspired brilliance and greatness to the world.

Continue reading "An Elegant Mind - Elegance Comes from the Mind"

Jan 12, 2017

How To Be Elegant - Tips For Simple Everyday Elegance and Living Well

How to be Elegant? An elegant and gentle guide for women to timeless chic, grace and poise. A personal insight into the art of refinement and living graciously

Continue reading "How To Be Elegant - Tips For Simple Everyday Elegance and Living Well"

Nov 08, 2016

A Woman of Grace

The mesage of grace: Be known as a woman of grace. Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection and remember to extend that same measure of grace to others.

Continue reading "A Woman of Grace"

Jun 19, 2016

Class Distinctions and Bridging the Gap - The Up Series Documentary. "Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man."

This is about Class Distinctions and Bridging the Gap as documented by The Up Series Documentary. In this documentary, the findings show how unfortunately equal opportunities do not exist for every person, however, it gives us more reason to realizeand believe that by making a focused and educated change, there can be greater social mobility and we can all overcome obstacles, defying limitations of financial background and upbringing.

Continue reading "Class Distinctions and Bridging the Gap - The Up Series Documentary. "Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.""

Mar 07, 2016

An Accomplished Lady - As defined by Jane Austen

Who is the accomplished lady? Jane Austen tells us who deserves the respect and praise of being educated, refined and accomplished.

Continue reading "An Accomplished Lady - As defined by Jane Austen"

Nov 23, 2015

How To Be Gentle

Lessons on how to be gentle derived from elegant women whose poise and grace inspire us.

Continue reading "How To Be Gentle"