I purposely try to buy a lot of my essentials with textured fabric for this very reason--I don't want my outfit to be too boring. In the winter, I often buy ribbed fabric turtlenecks to help add interest to the long block of solid color that a turtleneck creates.

If I'm wearing an outfit completely of essentials, I don't generally like it, so I turn to accessories. I will wear large hoop earrings or a pendant, and maybe a ring. Maybe I will roll the hems of my jeans to create more interest, or roll up the cuffs on my shirt.

Rachylou -- I think I'm almost always looking for individual items with interesting proportions, like welted hems or wide cuffs or front seams. And I tend to go for pieces with heathering or fading or ribbing or some other kind of texture. I can't think of many essentials in my wardrobe that are just a flat piece of fabric in a solid colour. When I do add those kinds of things, thinking they'll be versatile, they end up relegated to (I think) completer status. And yes, I cuff, tuck, semi-tuck, push up sleeves, etc etc.

I think it can, using Tanya’ great example.

While “ texture and shine” are part of outfit interest, the wide “ color” contrast of neutrals— using Angie’s concept also, of white as a “ brightest” neutral- on can make quite bold outfits with neutrals.
Then, impeccable tailoring and quality fabrics and STRUCTURE helps. I think it’s harder to do this with an outfit in all flat soft knits, for example but even there you could have a structured purse and great shoes in contrasting high- polish neutrals.
Good food for thought, though- need the right mix in the wardrobe to make it both versatile- lot of things go together- and interesting, without too much re- thinking when getting dressed.

I regularly wear a black top + blue jeans + black boots and it feels finished to me. Plus the navy longchamp tote I carry to work and my grey wool trench. For me, all these items are essential. (I think some might consider the coat (in finds below) as a statement, but for me it fulfills the role of an essential - I can wear it with almost everything I own and it looks fine.

I’m wearing plain wovens today - olive khaki jeggings and a burgundy puff sleeve sweatshirt. Not essentials for me by my accounting, but no pattern or accessories, and pretty neutral in colour... the colours are muted. I don’t feel unfinished, but if the sweatshirt didn’t have puff sleeves, I’m thinking I would...

Some of my favorite outfits are all "essentials". Though i need a watch and earrings and a bag in every outfit. Essentials, to me, doesn't mean boring in the least. I do think that texture and other details can make an essential x special. For me, a white button shirt can be swiss dot or be one with a neck tie. I will get the exact same use of it as one without those details.

To me, someone like Jennifer Aniston is the queen of wearing my type of essentials and I think she always looks amazing.

I keep returning to that old advice from Angie, Stacy & Clinton, and others: color, texture, pattern, shine.

I personally NEED a variety of textures and finishes in my wardrobe because I don't do a wide variety of colors and I don't do much pattern/print. I like things that are shiny and textured mixed with distressed jeans, or a shredded sweater with a more polished pair of jeans/pants. I like wearing a polished top with a leather biker style jacket. I would say that textures are essential to me, much like light colored footwear is an essential for Angie; I don't think ANY of my sweaters have the same texture, and neither do any of my sleeveless tops.

I think that what constitutes an essential would have as many definitions as we have members, and each of those definitions is 100% correct

I love all-essential outfits. If I get the right set of essentials together, the length of line and simplicity of color makes a Statement, and creates a finished outfit.

I think the reason the whole “essentials” and “statements” thing doesn’t work for me is that I need both. I could wear all essentials, but I’d fall asleep, and I could wear all statement pieces, but I’d look like a clown. One needs the other to make a “me” outfit. (Emphasis on the “me” there—some people do the all-essentials look well and look sophisticated, and there are probably some who do the same with all statements (come to think of it, a patterned dress and glittery slides are probably just that. I just killed my own argument. Sigh.)) I think I’m pretty instinctive about buying whichever i need. But I also think that my “essentials” are less basic than necessary—the new intermissimi tops feel wonderful, have those channels, and I think they somehow look great. My navy sweater dress has cool ribbing on just the top part, my black pants are super soft to touch & make my butt look good, and so on. Even with that lurking quirk, I don’t wear them on their own—the dress gets either blue tights and red boots or blue tights & boots with a tweedy cardigan, and so on.

FI, I think you just described essentials and statements exactly, and described how they work together and why both are needed to make a wardrobe and outfits work.

While I love an all essential outfit, notice I said "the right set of essentials." It's very hard to find essentials that aren't merely dull, that do have that right cut, good fabric, extra texture, and excellent fit. If even the essentials have that, then they elevate all my outfits, even if they're not the center stage items.

If I'm going to wear an all-essential outfit, I have to choose the items, proportions, and colors carefully, or it's merely dull, and I feel frumpy rather than striking.

I think the texture is significant in picking essentials. I have a wardrobe that is essential heavy, and I probably wear a lot of all-essential outfits. In the picture, I am wearing a white button-up and olive green pants. Styling helps. Rolling up the sleeves of the shirt and half tucking it makes a difference.

Standing in a cool and groovy way really helps.

Lol, StyleFan. Have to say the stance does add something! Definitely Cool Girl Love the look!

Yes, I also think it can be done and can look quite nice. It depends on the person too, and some wear that look very well. Interesting hair plus/or make up helps, texture too. I also think that the quality of the clothes is very important.

RL, there’s an outfit you and I have talked about ( I don’t have pictures) that I suppose is all essentials, but not boring—baby bootcuts, button-front shirt with some ruffles on it, floral belt and my metallic boots. What we’ve said about it before is that it can be either 70s flowerchild or cowgirl/Western. I suppose the boots don’t fit the “essentials” category, but with other footwear, it’d fit right in there, wouldn’t it? Or does accessorizing with that belt ruin it?

May I weigh in from the view of working in a traditional work environment? It’s common to see all essentials in my field — a plain black suit, an essential blouse or shirt in cream, white or light blue, classic and non-flashy jewelry, and a pair of pumps in black leather. Done with quality pieces it looks quite luxe. it’s kind of insulting to women who work in finance or other traditional fields to have their classic business attire in good quality fabrics likened to what hotel staff wears. From my perspective for my work place in some meetings the blue suit posted above would actually a bit of a risky look because the suit has a very modern cut and the shoes are a bit of a wild card. It would be great for other contexts.

I will say, cat2, the dress code I refer to was for non-uniformed hotel staff and for ranking management - who interact with such persons in finance and other traditional fields, not only as servants or customers but also as equals. Such hotel staff have quite similar dress codes, dress expectations, and requirements for discretion.

FI... and now I’m not sure... because on the one hand ruffles, floral belt and cowboy boots don’t sound very neutral to me right at this moment... but when I think a little more... well white shirt, yes ... but-and c’mon Rachy! - what’s seriously more go with anything than cowboy boots?!

Cat2... so I once worked for an English banker. He let on he hired me because I was button down (and I was back in the day). He’d left banking, but not the dress code behind. In any case, I had to ask Tanya about jewellery, because while flash was strictly forbidden - Rolex not allowed - there *was* an expectation for discreet jewellery. Although it’s interesting, I suppose in some circles, even small button earrings are the sign of a floozy... Did Margaret Thatcher wear earrings?

Rachylou -- Thatcher had a jewelry uniform! I just read something about this while I was catching up on The Crown. Let me see if I can find the article...

Flash, but consistent flash: https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashio.....-jewellery

Really, she was kind of gaudy: bright colours, big hair, big stones. It's a take on power-dressing that (I'd wager) is intended to remind you of her blue-collar background. It's like the femme version of those "everyman" pieces -- leather jackets and ball caps...

Oh that’s so wonderful, LaPed! Thank you for this link!

And the link... oh, so pertinent to the discussion re hotel staff... the part where she dismisses a Lord... who ranks above financiers and hotel maids certainly... that’s a bit of complexity there: what was once the epitome of conservative no longer quite defines it... Kamala’s pearl necklace is an interesting combination: traditional pearls in a design that looks not unlike Margaret’s pebble bracelet...

Margaret Thatcher was in the 80s, when everyone’s shoulders and jewelry were much bigger! I do think in banking, finance, law, etc. that you are expected to be well turned out, as no one wants a down at the heels advisor, but also not look like you might steal a bit of the client’s money to finance your next Ferrari.

Lol! That is exactly what my boss and hair stylist’s daughter both said to me independently! No one wants to know you took their money and bought a Rolex! But I also don’t suppose people want to feel you’ll keep their secrets. They don’t want you drawing attention to yourself when you are the keeper of their secrets!