Web Exclusive! Wardrobe basics

You'll never make another fashion mistake with these necessities in your closet

By Sarah Casselman

On Sunday September 14th, 2008

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Whether you’re adding to your current wardrobe, or starting from scratch, take Precedent’s advice on wardrobe basics.

Top 10 wardrobe basics for her:

  1. Skirt suit: Opt for a matching fitted jacket and pencil skirt in black, navy blue, or grey.
  2. Blouse: Invest in a classic white button-down with a twist. Look for subtle details like ruffles to add a feminine touch.
  3. Shift dress: Look for a simple dress in a solid colour like grey or black. A bright colour like royal blue or red will really rev up your look. This ‘60s-inspired dress looks great with a blazer or cardigan.
  4. Trousers: A basic pair of flat front, straight-leg trousers is a work wardrobe must. No cuffs please. Opt for basic dark colours such as black, chocolate brown, or grey. A second pair in a hound’s-tooth check is perfect for fall.
  5. Heels: Steer clear of open-toed shoes in the workplace. Invest in a pair of almond-toe black or black patent heels. Pointy-toe pumps are on-trend this season and are also work-appropriate.
  6. Handbag: Whether you prefer a shoulder bag or a tote, opt for basic black. However, subtle accent colours like berry look great when paired with a black skirtsuit.
  7. Jewelry: Shelve your oversized hoops. Keep jewelry to a minimum and opt for smaller personal pieces: pearls, diamond studs (faux or real), gold or silver pendant necklace, watch.
  8. Attaché Case: Slim and understated, the attaché case looks best in black or brown. Experiment with different treatments such as crocodile (again faux or real) to add a little something extra.
  9. Hair: Invest in a professional hair consultation and cut. It is worth every penny. Styles that work season after season: the bob and the blunt cut. Keep it simple and opt for a side-parted low ponytail if you choose to wear your hair up. Absolutely no scrunchies or embellished barrettes. Hint: Bangs add professional polish to any hairstyle.
  10. Makeup: Stick to natural colour palettes (depending on your skin tone). Four items any professional women should invest in: eyelash curler (opens up your eyes and makes you look rested), mascara, blush, and lip gloss.

 Top 10 wardrobe basics for him:

  1. Suit: Opt for a classic two-button light-weight (read: seasonless) suit in either navy blue, black, or grey. Dark grey is the perfect option, as it goes with the majority of shirt and tie colours.
  2. Button-down shirt: Invest in classic colours such as white and pale blue. Keep cuffs simple, unless you have a personal preference for French cuffs.
  3. Tie: Let your personality shine through when choosing your tie. Whether you go for stripes or solids, consider injecting a little colour into your look. The lapel of your jacket dictates your tie width, but in the corporate world remember: don’t go super trendy i.e. skinny ties
  4. Lace-up oxfords: Best to buy two pairs of lace-up oxfords – brown and black. Definitely no square toes, it looks too dated. Brown lace-ups look best with navy blue suits. However, any modern gentlemen should try pairing a grey suit with brown lace-ups.
  5. Belt: Your best bet is to look for a reversible belt – one side is black, the other is brown. Avoid chunky belt buckles and anything embellished. Understated is the key. A black belt looks best with black shoes, however when it comes to brown think outside of the box. Complimentary tones of brown (such as tan and chocolate) work well when pairing your belt and shoes.
  6. Pants: A pair of grey light wool pants is an excellent fall basic. No pleats please. These pants look sharp with a blazer and button-down or with a sweater and a button down for a more casual, relaxed look.
  7. Blazer: Invest in a navy blue blazer. It will take you everywhere. Hint: In order to ensure proper fit, stand with your shoulder touching the wall. If the shoulder pad of the jacket touches the wall before your arm, it is too big.
  8. Overcoat: Look for a 3/4 length cashmere blend overcoat in either black or camel. To avoid the sloppy look, make sure your overcoat is just slightly larger than your suit jacket.
  9. Socks: Throw out all the old rules about matching your socks to your shoes. Like your tie, socks should have a little personality. Look to match them with a colour in your tie, button-down, or pocket square.
  10. Watch: A classic timepiece is a wardrobe essential. Avoid anything oversized i.e. diver’s watches. Stick to timeless dial shapes such as round, square, or rectangle paired with a stainless steel or leather strap.