I've always been an advocate of developing your personal style over just being trendy - while following fashion is fun, interesting, and means of self-expression for many people (myself included), wearing something just because it's "in" when it doesn't fit your look is victim-y. But really, part of the reason that knowing and rocking the current trends (or whatever unique style you prefer) is so much fun is because, well, classics can get boring. And it's tough to define "classic" without limiting yourself at least a little.
Of course, most of the people who create those "10 items every women needs to have" sort of lists would probably agree that personal style is key. However, do those lists really ever encompass the majority of womens' needs (or if they do manage to do this, they are so broad as to be meaningless)? There are traditional classics - the little black dress, the crisp white shirt - and there are personal classics - mine would be a black leather bomber jacket, animal prints, and a chunky turquoise necklace that I wear every spring and summer.
For instance, does everyone really look great in wrap dresses, which is a typical item on the list? And if you live in a warm climate and rarely visit cooler ones, you probably don't need to invest in a heavy coat and boots. Those lists of "classic items you need to own!" are actually pretty subjective - I have a feeling that if we all created our own top ten lists they would be much more varied than the ones that appear in fashion magazines and books every so often.
So what are my top ten items?
1. The previously mentioned black leather jacket - it adds a little toughness to everything I pair it with, it's fairly durable and warm, and it just looks cool.
2. Luxuriously plush cashmere scarves in stand-out colors - they keep you warm and add some color to every outfit, which is necessary during Chicago's cold, gray winters. You can even find them for a steal off-season if you know where to look.
3. Casual cotton jersey dresses - worn on their own in the summer and as a layering piece in cooler months, these are a basic part of my wardrobe. Besides, a simple dress is one of the simplest ways to look pulled together.
4. Knee boots - black works better with my wardrobe, but a high heeled pair of simple leather boots is my go-to footwear from October to March.
5. A variety of tights - I'm not a fan of leggings (they cut off the line of your leg, which is not something you want to do when you're as short as me), but tights add warmth, color, and texture to all my winter ensembles.
6. High-waisted, wide-leg pants - these work well for my body type, and they've got a bit of old-school glamour (think Katharine Hepburn). They can also go from business casual or dressy by switching your top and your accessories.
7. Standout jewelry - like my aforementioned chunky turquoise necklace, a few signature pieces of jewelry can go a long way towards personalizing your wardrobe. They don't necessarily need to be pricey (mine certainly weren't), just indicative of your style.
8. Camisoles in several colors, from neutrals to rich jewel tones - for layering purposes (they're flattering worn with a deep v-neck top) and those situations when cleavage just isn't appropriate.
9. Wide belts to accentuate the waistline and cinch everything in - these were particularly valuable during last season's trapeze/tent dress craze, which was a silhouette that just doesn't work on me. Add a nice waist-defining belt, however, and it's all good.
10. Animal prints - I've always been a fan of animal prints, worn in every possible way. Current favorites include a leopard print peacoat (which I've worn and loved for five years), leopard pony-skin pumps, and a tiger print scarf. Yes, I'm looking forward to Roberto Cavalli's H&M collection, why do you ask?
Does your personal top ten differ from the mainstream, even a little?