Suz - further to your comment re skirted leggings - I consider those more of a novelty item and not really a classic or basic piece. I actually wore mine again the other week. They aren't my favourite things , but once in awhile it's good to have something different.

Shorts are a whole other post. I'll start in closer to the season and we can all commiserate again I LIVE in shorts and need many pair .

I'm coming late to this thread to agree that many of these commonly-agreed-upon Essentials are not only NOT Required Wearing, but--for some of us--unwearable. The crisp white shirt, the denim jacket, the standard blazer, the classic trench, have all driven me bonkers whenever I've taken those wardrobe-must articles too seriously. These pieces, I've come to realize, are just too classic for me. In them I look as though I've borrowed someone else's clothes, and I feel frumpy, even when they fit well. I know now that I need my own versions of these essentials, and that my versions must have certain shapes and details that flatter my body, as well as something a bit skewed, asymmetrical, or strange about them, so they may no longer even resemble the classic items. Thanks for bringing up this issue; even those of us who know ourselves very well can be drawn by the sirens who promise a perfect and simplified wardrobe if only we invest in the 10 basic items they deem necessary. Angie's method of personal style and wardrobe analysis is much more realistic, and more fun. But it is a commitment! I'm still working to think up a moniker that I can live with...

I used to love wearing a faded snapped chambray shirt untucked with some striped palazzo pants back in the day.
These days I keep meaning to revisit a denim shirt but never get to it.
I had one I really loved and donated that wasn’t too long and was a nipped waist. Could kick myself for donating it.
I don’t mind denim jackets with denim elsewhere when it’s a different wash.
I have a few denim jackets that always feel right and a few that feel frumpo.
I tend to prefer ones with some stretch.
I run from white shirts for a variety of reasons!
I love white on others but always feel very unfab when I wear white tops or shoes.
And forget keeping them clean...
I like long wider leg trouser jeans with the built in cuff but don’t wear them a ton.
Anyway, I basically feel like you do with most of what you mentioned!
Trenches do not flatter me at all and I feel kinda awkward and goony in long flares!

I thought of two more classics I don't like to wear....

Leggings. I wear them around the house but not in public. Probably has something to do with the fact that I don't wear tunics and crotch points, lol.

Bomber jackets. Nope. Not for me.

I don't have much to add to this brilliant, funny and insightful thread, except yeah, I'm shaking my head along with Angie. These lists always seem so very arbitrary to me. Also, what Bonnie said about short waists.

A thought about classics though: I do notice that my preference varies from year to year, which is why I'm happy to maintain a holding area with a variety of styles. If a thing isn't working this year, there might come a time when it feels relevant again. Never say never, as Angie says, and you may yet find your perfect trench. I must say I've never found mine, but I've worn some fabulous raglan sleeve mackintoshes over the years.

The flip side of this is that very few styles work for everyone, and nobody gets to wear everything. There's so much out there that sometimes it's harder to know what not to wear. But when you know what your no-go styles are, you can eliminate them and look for something else instead. I'd call that a win.


nope, nope and nope
to jean jackets, crisp white shirts, and chambray shirts,

don't work for me and those articles that say they are essential, are just wrong.

Have a Burberry raincoat though

as always yvmv

LOL, Lisa, when I first read your list I thought #1 was denim SHORTS. And I was going - I thought you loved shorts?? And all of the responses were talking about shirts, what's with that?!

I'm another who has (almost) nothing on that list. I've never worn a denim shirt. I used to have and wear denim jackets, but I gave away the last one that didn't fit right, and now I reach for a blush pink moto instead. I have a trench coat, but it's late 1970s vintage, single-breasted, and knee-length *flared* skirt. It has saved me during springtime thunderstorms when leaving/going to work, but I don't commonly have the need. I haven't worn a white shirt in probably a decade; my white tops are tees or blouses and usually reserved for layering or pairing with a loud skirt. And I purged my last pair of flares several years ago!

I hope you are fully empowered to let go of your pieces! No regrets - they're just holding you back!

I'm looking forward to the shorts discussion... I love shorts, but the best ones for me are pretty short. I'm hard to fit in waist/bootie/thigh altogether and can't tolerate them being tight in the thigh. 4-5" inseam is as long as I have ever voluntarily worn. Anything longer is cut like a narrow stovepipe and looks and feels dreadful. At least I can usually find what I want in the juniors' section (yikes). I would wear them to work if (a) they fit dresscode and (b) it wasn't so cold in the air conditioning!

Thought of another one...


Oddly enough, I love coats but I hate the way blazers look on me.

Oh, Lisa, the only thing I think you should reconsider on your list are trenches; the rest are too masculine for you. After all, I wear them! Not a whole lot, but enough to keep them in my closet.

I had to kiss a lot of frogs to get my perfect crisp white shirt and my two others which are softer white shirts but still tailored enough to suit my taste.

I have one chambray shirt and two denim ones, but only the chambray is a perfect fit and I had to alter it. I wear my denim dress more. I can't imagine you being happy in any of them.

I have four denim jackets: Dark and medium blue, white, and red. I tend to wear sleeves with a vest on top rather than sleeveless with a jacket on top -- so these don't get a lot of wear.

Bootcut/flares. I have one of each or maybe three altogether. I had a few pairs of baby bootcuts but found them stupid because they don't hang well over shoes. I hacked them to be cropped flares and now I love them.

Trench coat. I associate trench coats with rain, and we have been in a drought for four years or something like that so it gets little use. The belt makes it a bit fussy. It has been my only coat until this year when I bought my Uniqlo ultra lightweight down one, so it is staying around.

My Do Not Wear/Buy is very similar to Suz's and Unfrumped's.

My challenge is not to get sucked in by YLF lemming items. . .

Ehh, I don’t subscribe to the idea of universal essentials. Of the ones you list, I don’t do white button downs so much. I do have a long linen one I use as a beach coverup, but that’s it. I have a chambray shirt, but I find it useful at times, though not essential. The others do work for me.

I’m thinking this whole idea may be a holdover from when offerings were more limited and fashion less individualistic.

@christina F
I’m thinking this whole idea may be a holdover from when offerings were more limited and fashion less individualistic.


I wish this site had a reply/quote function
have been reading for a while and haven't figured it out

I own a denim shirt, white shirt, denim jacket, and trench, but it took a long time to find ones that worked and even now, they don’t get the wear they deserve.

Denim shirts—I rarely see people wearing them in real life. None of my female friends, acquaintances, or family members where them, and I don’t see them on the street, either. Why? I’m not sure.

Denim jackets—stiff and not ideal wear for those who experience real winter. They’re too bulky under coats, inadequate for rain when you want more coverage, and too warm for humid summers. I like mine, but it doesn’t get the wear it deserves for those reasons. When would you able to wear them regularly in Winnipeg? What about a denim-look blazer instead, or do you have too many blazers at the moment?

White shirts—you say you’ve tried them all. Guessing that includes different fabrications, oversized vs slim cut, but what about 3/4 sleeves and short sleeves to avoid the cuff issue? Now that I own a few, I don’t see them as essential outside of a professional work environment, though they get more wear in summer time.

Trenches—keep trying if you want one! Of all the items you mentioned, I would save up for this one, because of how easily it pulls an outfit together. When a trench fits and flatters, it has more of a “wow” factor than the other items. Maybe make a separate thread detailing what hasn’t worked for you, so the hivemind can offer suggestions?

I could not have written this post better myself! I so often relate to the things you post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed out to purchase all of those articles of clothing (except the jeans) and have been left feeling confused and frustrated when they didn’t magically make my entire wardrobe come together. I’ve forced myself into so many white button downs that I feel irrational anger when I see someone wearing one now. Last year I spent a considerable amount of time on this blog reading all the posts and finally realized I hate white shirts and starchy items! After 16 years being the only female in a sea of men and wearing a very male uniform, I don’t have any interest in being Tom boyish at all and I prefer soft blouses instead! It’s taken me 30 years to realize that! It sounds silly but it’s the truth and it’s very freeing! Edited-oh and this just in, I ordered the Eloquii peplum jacket that Angie showed in a post a few weeks ago because I loved it on the model and felt that it would look great on me even though I am squat and 5’4. It arrived yesterday and all I can say is look for me in 2019 starring as Danny Devito as the penguin in Batman circa 1992.