Dear Fashionable Kiffen,
I would love to be one of the those people who is really stylish and always looks great, but I don't know where to start. I'm so clueless about what will look good on me - I just end up wearing the same boring jeans and t-shirts all the time. How can I look classy and stylish without spending tons of money and time shopping?
-Clueless in Chicago
Everyone is capable of looking great. Developing your own individual style is very important, but you need to start with some basics - by building a good foundation, you will never be at a loss for what to wear and you can add trendy pieces as you feel comfortable. Here is a good list of items that you'd want in your base wardrobe:
Classic Coats: A knee-length, princess-seamed single breasted coat looks fantastic on all body types. Get two - one in a lighter weight for fall and spring, and a heavier one for winter. These will instantly update your jeans and t-shirts, and have the added bonus of being extremely slimming. Try fun colors like turquoise or bright red, or go sleek in black and camel.
Jeans: Get a mid-rise dark denim pair. Classic bootcut five-pocket styles are probably best when you're building a base wardrobe. Do not get tapered, pleated, or high-rise styles. Its also best to stay away from really light blues unless you're tiny.
Pants: Again, get mid-rise, flat-front bootcuts. Choose neutral colors in non-shiny fabrics - black, camel or khaki, charcoal, and chocolate brown are a good choices.
Jackets: A hip-length blazer (or several) is a must for every wardrobe. It should have two or three buttons, a back vent, and hit just above or several inches below the widest part of your hips. Try on different styles to see what looks best on you. Get neutrals first, then go for a fun color - maybe fuschia.
Shirts: You'll need a few button downs with long or 3/4 sleeves in various colors. Black, white, pale pink and baby blue are all good. Also, get a few nicely fitted tees in different colors and cuts to mix and match. Make sure they are of good quality and heavier cotton so that they're flattering.
Shoes and Bags: This is where you should invest in a couple quality pieces. A good pair of black pumps (or slingbacks) and a neutral leather handbag will take you far. I like a rounded or semi-pointed toe for the shoes and either a tote or doctor's bag for your everyday bag. Your shoes and bag don't need to match exactly, but they should coordinate - no chocolate brown shoes with a black bag. Camel, deep brown, wine red, and of course black are all good neutral choices. Just stay away from navy here - the eighties are over.
These are the basics that every woman should own. From here, you can develop a personal style - think about what kind of pieces consistently draw your eye. For instance, do you always reach for the embellished pieces? Add some bohemian elements to your closet with beaded tunics and wide belts. Or do you like crisp polos? Break out the ribbon belts and suede moccasins and go for the preppy look. Don't be afraid to experiment - its only clothing, you can change.