Bijou how fascinating, that an essential of convenience morphed into a true essential!

Lesley, and others who mentioned neutrals, YES, have totally experienced that. There was a period this past winter when I bought two black sweaters and a black shirt in quick succession, and I thought: well, now I see why lots of people end up with a wardrobe heavy on black! It's just always there. Lesley, I think it's interesting that availability of colorful items has shaped how you put outfits together -- using shoes/accessories rather than clothing items as might be your ideal. I guess what I'm really trying to think through here is the difference between one's wardrobe and one's style -- and not allow the ways in which external factors have shaped my wardrobe to influence how I conceptualize my style.

La Ped, yes, there's definitely a connection between essentials of fantasy and HEWIs. Maybe essentials of convenience are even the opposite of HEWIs in a way...

lisa p, sigh. You get it. My wish for you is a mother lode of essentials of fantasy!

Angie, I don't think you do have "essentials of convenience"! My perception of your wardrobe is that you are always ultimately able to find what you set out to look for. It's very admirable and a little intimidating!

anne, totally get it re: 3/4 sleeve tops. I have to be careful of them too, I run cold and they are a high summer only item for me.

unfrumped, you hit the nail on the head, when is convenience warranted, when is persistence a better bet, how desperate do you have to be for the item and how big a difference will the exact right thing make.

White sneakers. I have this ecco pair (glad I got a duplicate because the first pair wore out and the soles turned ugly yellow). I'd much prefer to find a more supportive arch, and fashionable white sneaker that I could buy several years in a row. It's a HEWI now, I've ordered and tried at least 8-10 various brands and none seemed right.

I think my Allbirds loungers fill this role. I espoused my love for them in another recent thread, but if there were other shoes that looked good with all my pants and casual dresses that I could walk 4 miles in, sockless, without causing massive blisters and/or bleeding Achilles tendons and that also covered my janky toes, I'd probably be happy to throw them into the mix. But that's a tall order.

In winter, black pants. I don’t necessarily love them, but I reach for them often as an essential outfit component.

And this winter a 3/4-length sleeve white crew neck tee from Eddie Bauer surprisingly became an essential. I wore it about twice a week with all sorts of toppers, and I wondered how I’d got along without one before. As a matter of fact, I may duplicate it.

Ooh, Windchime, another instance of essential of convenience becomes true essential. Fascinating!

Andrea H I hope you find your ideal white shoes!

SARAH- WOW- I love how you worked and expanded on the fruit explanation ........... it does not help the diet one iota .......but it definitely clarifies the whole essential of convenience thing. Great job!

Oh yes! I am hard to fit, and so I will fudge on style a bit if the fit and functionality are what I need.

In my useful-but-not-enjoyed-essentials category are a pair of AT jeans, a couple of short-sleeve tops from Anthro, and a few long-sleeve t-shirts. Thankfully, these items are wearing well, so I have a long time to find better replacements!

I keep track of my outfits in a spreadsheet, and I like to go through and see which unloved essentials I wear a lot so that I know what to keep my eyes out for. But I have definitely noticed this category in my closet. There are items I may wear a lot, but it's only because they fill a big wardrobe hole.

How funny! I have white tuxedo shirts that I’ve had no occasion to wear during this stint in Florida. I really enjoyed seeing you wearing the heck out of yours last winter.

Are you sure they’re only for “convenience”? What else could fill that slot?

FashIntern I enjoyed wearing those shirts too but I did wish for more variety. I don’t dislike those high-contrast, neutral-heavy looks, but I’d like them to be an occasional palate cleanser rather than the main dish because there’s little else in the larder, to belabor yet another food metaphor.

As for what else could fill that slot, maybe not a one for one replacement, but I’d like more blouses/tops in a few key colors for each capsule, as well as some more prints so that I could do a cold weather version of my print-sundress-and-cardi formula.

I just saw this post and thread and have enjoyed it so much. Certainly, I have had a number of shoes that were essentials of convenience because my feet are so hard to fit and keep pain-free. In fact, as I write this I realize that my comfy, perfectly functional Ahnu black oxfords are this. I get plenty of compliments on them, too, but they just don’t make my heart sing the way other, more men’s wear inspired oxfords do. Your way of framing this question helps me realize that it’s probably worth it to me to spend some,time looking for black oxfords that I love even more.

Thanks for this post. It really has me thinking-What would I wear if I could design my own clothes and have them magically appear-at a price I could afford.

It is reassuring to hear that lots of you wear clothing that is useful but not necessarily just right. I’m hard on myself. It’s very useful to realize the extent that our choices are constrained by what is available.

Mostly I want to dream. Maybe dream first, then look.

I’m wearing a robe I just love. And if we went back in time there would be a clear path to it from what I wore to my high school graduation.

Lots to think about.

KnittingGene I’m so glad you found this thread useful, and I am hoping for the perfect pair of menswear inspired oxfords to come your way!

What a great thread. For me, oxfords. I walk a great deal every day, and have narrow feet, so flat, lace-up shoes are my friend, and my ultimate essential of convenience. Happily, I love oxfords, have a lot of them, and am always happy to add to the collection. Same with my other essential of convenience, the turtleneck (or mock turtle) sleeveless tee. Primarily in black, and I have them in many weights and fabrics, but have added other neutral colors over time. Would dearly love to find one in olive.

It does help that I really love my essentials of convenience. My wardrobe would not function as well as it does without them.

Kate, yes, I know what you mean. I think cardigans fill the role for me that oxfords and turtleneck sleeveless tees do for you. I run cold, so I need a top layer at some point in the day even for most of the summer. At this point, cardigans have moved beyond essentials of convenience for me to become truly central to defining my style.

Ah, Barbara Diane, I missed your post earlier, my apologies!

"Dream first, then look." YES. I am going to be following this principle in the future. Thank you for articulating it so well.