wardrobe essentials

I can never tell whether it's personal style or just plain formulaic, that I've found what works for me and have stuck to it; I suppose it varies based on my optimism levels at that particular moment. In any case, here are some of the clothes that define my style and that I can't live without.

To be quite honest, I'm very unimaginative when it comes to dressing the top half of my body; most of my creativity goes into coming up with interesting combinations of skirts/belts/tights/shoes. Because of that, fitted tops in every color have been a real savior -- I love looking like I put in effort when I haven't. :)

I don't wear very much jewelry at all, so belts are about the extent of accessorizing for me. They add a great pop of interest or color to an outfit, and I love the way a skinny belt accentuates my waist. Oh, and I can't forget how useful they are at keeping a slightly-too-big skirt comfortable...and on me!

Fitted, cropped cardigans are one of my favorites because they help to fake a glamorous hourglass shape that I don't really have. I know that loose and baggy clothes can contribute to a certain style aesthetic, but I've personally never felt comfortable wearing that sort of look. I have no shame in subscribing to the normative ideals of beauty; I'm not out to be a revolutionary, I just want to look nice and blog about it.

Recently I've been inspired by preppy fashion, and collared shirts are a big fixture of that look. I used to be all about ruffled, peter pan, or sailor collars, and I find that it actually transitioned well to wearing tops with regular collars. Regular collared tops are more grown up, but they serve essentially the same purpose to me as ruffled/peter pan/sailor collars: they add interest to the neck area as I don't wear necklaces. And they're also a smart year-round staple: wear them on their own (with long sleeves rolled up) in summer, and layered under cozy sweaters in winter.

It took me a while to get into the habit of wearing white (or cream) tights on a regular basis because of all that Lolita/infantilizing/"they make your legs look fat!" stigma attached to them. But I've long gotten over that, and it continually amazes me how versatile they really are. I've been wearing them a lot lately, and sometimes I have to force myself to pick a different color. They're great as an unexpected neutral when black or navy tights become too pedestrian.

I love skinny heels too, but chunky heels are more casual and appropriate for everyday wear, especially when I know I'm going to be walking a bit that day. Wearing heels makes me feel more sophisticated and grown-up, they help me stand up straighter, and they've taught me to walk with purpose. Chunky heels make it easier for me to feel like an adult, haha.

And here are a few recent outfits with my wardrobe workhorses in action!