It’s a well-known fact that most people wear 20% of their clothes, 80% of the time. To avoid being a statistic, it’s a wise investment of your time and money to build a capsule wardrobe that centres around great quality basics, allowing you to switch in a few key seasonal/throw-away pieces.
For me, the starting block of this principle is getting the accessories right. In fact, I’m a firm believer that the difference between a “nice” outfit and a “wow” outfit is all in the accessorising. A great example of this is fashionista Olivia Palermo who, most of the time, is actually quite a classic dresser. Her ability to switch well-chosen accessories into her outfits however, amps up the overall effect by several notches and makes her possibly the most “put together” member of today’s fash pack.
Here are my top ten accessories for Autumn Winter. For full details on all of the items shown here, visit our Polyvore set
Number One: The Classic Riding Boot: Buy right and this style will stay in your wardrobe forever. I’ve chosen a black style because it can be styled both casually and smart; whereas I always feel tan varieties lend themselves to a more relaxed vibe. In order to make a sensible investment purchase, choose a style that finishes on, or just underneath the knee. This will increase your ability to wear the boot with a variety of different outfits including skirts, leggings and jeans. Unless you are very slim, mid calf styles cut your lower leg in half at the widest point and over the knee versions (which I love incidentally) can sometimes lose their shape and start to look sloppy. The traditional 1.5″ block heel is the classic option. Don’t worry if you have wider calves (even the most buff of gym bunnies can struggle get boots to fit their developed legs) there are plenty of online retailers offering great styles such as this version by Clarks. Finally, if you don’t do leather, opt for a faux suede style as – generally speaking – they look more realistic.
Number Two: The classic tank watch with leather strap: Watch styles come and go but a classic unisex size tank watch will always ooze style and go with everything. The iconic option is the Cartier, however there are many much more affordable versions such as this one by Belk. Personally I prefer a tan strap to black but the choice is yours and both bottle green and oxblood also look great. Consider your jewellery too – if you wear silver, go for a steel or silver coloured face.
Number Three: The classic leather tote. Clearly black is the easy option here but I personally love shades such as deep teal, bottle green and oxblood. They invariably look more expensive than black and look amazing set against neutrals such as black, camel and grey. As this is your everyday bag, my advice is to not scrimp here and buy the best option you can afford. Cheap linings will rip, so look for styles with a heavy duty cotton inner. Seek out plain, stitched on handles as cheap hardware looks just that and as always, avoid big, blingy logos. Personally I’d opt for a style that had rolled top handles and a detachable shoulder strap. Otherwise choose a bag that has handles that go over your shoulder as well as being handheld. For those of you who don’t buy leather, this option by Target is amazing value and can be reversed for use as a beach bag during the summer months.
Number Four: The cashmere scarf. Not just your friend during the winter months, a lightweight cashmere scarf will save the day when the air conditioning on a flight has you shivering (it also doubles as a pillow) or want something to throw over your shoulders on a cold summers evening. There is one in my bag all year round. Although cashmere is a bit more expensive, it is warm without being bulky and gets softer and cozier, the more it’s used. Camel and grey are great options for use throughout the year – this one by Black is a truly versatile choice at a great price.
Number Five: Aviators. If you are driving in low winter sun or have pesky sensitive eyes (I do) that spout like the Trevi fountain in a stiff breeze; sunglasses are a must all year round. Although there are literally thousands of High Street imitations, the classic Ray Ban Aviator is the go-to option and works with everything. Plus, if you want a prescription version most good opticians stock the brand.
Number Six: French Drop earrings in gold or silver. Our choice from Melinda Maria works with virtually any outfit choice but most importantly, suits all hair lengths as it isn’t too dangly. Conversely, they have enough presence that you could pair them with a black cocktail dress for an evening out. Once again, if you don’t do gold just switch in a silver or rose gold variety.
Number Seven: stacking bangles. As with the earrings, delicate stacking bangles work with virtually everything and are widely available in the High Street. They will pep up the most simple of outfits and are super-feminine. Melinda Maria and Monica Vinader both design great bangles with semi precious stones and that you can collect for your own individual look.
Number eight: Mid height leopard print heel. For me, this is a fashion classic. They key is to choose a classic court style with no embellishments and a muted/delicate print. They look amazing with jeans, fantastic with a formal black dress or pant suit and are a blogger favourite due to this versatility. If you prefer your monochrome accessories, maybe consider opting for a zebra print in black and white. Once again, if you don’t do leather – no problem. There are stacks of great synthetic versions available.
Number nine: Metallic box clutch. Whether it’s gold, rose-gold or silver, a great metallic box clutch will be your best-friend on a night out. Even the most basic of dresses will be transformed with this style (and of course, numbers six, seven and eight on this list) and it’s far more interesting than boring black. So unless you’re attending THE most formal of black (or white) tie events, make metallic your choice!
Number Ten: Western style suede ankle boot. Again a blogger staple , a great mid-tan version of this style will be a style you will go to time again. I even wear mine in summer with my denim shift dresses! Choose a block heel with a height of around 3″ which will (as well as adding a bit of extra height) be comfortable enough to wear all day. Once again, synthetic versions are great nowadays and are plentiful in availability right now.
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Soon we’ll be moving into that tricky time of year, when we’re not quite ready to totally give up on Summer but we need some great pieces to “bridge” the gap between the seasons and cover all eventualities. Living in Scotland, this is pretty much how we have to think all year round because Summer can be such a fleeting season and quite often “happens” early in May. Invariably, you rely on styles you can “take both ways” and wear on both cooler and warmer days, simply by switching other items in.
If you follow us on Polyvore you will find some great sets/inspiration for both capsule wardrobes and complete outfits. Better still, you can shop the look in it’s entirety from one website! Our latest set features fourteen key pieces that a: work for all age ranges with a bit of tweaking and b: you’ll pretty much use all year round. However, they’re particularly good for making the journey from late Summer through to Autumn…and beyond.
1: The Army style jacket: Our one is a softer, more feminine version of this style, featuring a cinched in waist and waterfall style collar. The 3/4 length makes it much more versatile than shorter more utilitarian styles, nor will it date as quickly. It’s light enough to roll up and pop in your bag if it gets too warm and is the perfect accompaniment to skinny jeans and a tee shirt for a pulled together look.
For me, Khaki/Army/Olive green are pretty much neutrals. Other than certain pastels, they pretty much work with most colours.
2: Grey Skinny or Slim leg jeans: The slim/skinny jean shows no sign of going away as (worn correctly) it’s actually very flattering for a wide range of body shapes. If you can’t do skinny, go for the slimmest leg you’re comfortable with, as this makes for a smooth line and versatile foundation for lots of different outfits. Grey is incredibly flexible and (for me) a mid-dark gunmetal shade will never be far from your side.
3: Suedette Wrap skirt: Imitation suede has never been more widely available or more realistic and what’s better, is most versions can be washed! Wrap styles (that are not flared) suit most body shapes and if you opt for a khaki or earth toned version, it looks fantastic on warmer days with tanned legs and sandals. Likewise in full winter, it can be worn with opaque tights and your favourite boots. The style on our board is quite short but just opt for a version closer to the knee if you feel that to be more appropriate, or you’d also like to wear it to work. Try not to go longer than this as you will lose a lot of the versatility a shorter style has to offer.
4: Cream Long sleeved Jersey Top: This is a true hero piece. Other than on searingly hot days, you can wear this all year round. Shades of cream, ivory etc are generally universally more flattering than white. This gorgeous top is currently on sale at John Lewis and is by Alice Temperley; so you know the quality will be great. The peplum adds interest and sass and (along with the fine jersey knit) allows the piece to ease across the bridge from casual to dressy, really easily. Due to the hip length, it is neither too long nor too short and will work with a myriad of items in most wardrobes. As a small peplum, this will work on most body shapes but if you simply can’t wear this style, just choose a plainer version. Pure collection currently has a great silk mix jumper in it’s sale.
5: Silk and cashmere floral scarf: It’s true we’ve become a nation of scarf wearers and they remain one of the easiest ways to take an outfit from “meh” to “pulled together.” Although natural fabrics like cashmere and silk feel amazing next to the skin, there are plenty of great versions on the High Street at amazing prices. Choose a “muted” or “soft” pattern in colours that match your existing wardrobe and carry it with you always.
6: Silk tunic top: A gorgeous silk patterned tunic top will be an item you will wear again and again and again. Busy women need multi-taskers and this, for me, ticks all the boxes. The piece on our set is by UK plus size retail Navabi but a quick browse on the Interweb will reveal lots of similar styles in smaller sizes. September weekend away? Throw it on with the jeans and Army jacket for a stylish, yet casual look. Evening drinks? Style it up with sharp cigarette trousers, heels and jewellery. And being silk it’s light enough to tuck into trouser suits and skirts for work days. Job done.
7: Neutral coloured cashmere sweater: Every woman, regardless of age, needs a great hip length cashmere sweater. Seriously, you will wear it all year around and when you’re not wearing it, it looks great worn over your shoulders! Although black and navy are no-brainers, a neutral tone will work across all seasons. If your budget doesn’t stretch to cashmere or (like me) you don’t do hand-washing, take a trip up to House of Bruar where you can often pick up their cashmere-like range in the Outlet shop. I got a great camel sweater earlier this year for £29 but there was a great colour selection
8: Floral Style Blazer: Admittedly the Phillip Lim version on our set is an investment piece. However, just one look at the cut, colours and finish tells you this jacket is a keeper. It will instantly dress-up your jeans and sweater but will also lend elegant formality to a basic black shift. Perfection.
9: Black crepe shift Dress: At this point, I’m going to get all preachy. If you are out and you see a great black (or navy) knee length shift dress and it is within your budget, BUY IT. If you opt for a version (like this Alexander Want) that has flattering short sleeves and a round neck, it will save the day countless times. From last minute invites to race-days, lunches and weddings, you can dress it up or down and you will make much better shopping choices, knowing you have a classy and reliable alternative hanging in the wardrobe back home. Here endeth the sermon.
10: Tan tote bag: Your starting point for a handbag should always be a great tote style in tan, preferably with a detachable shoulder strap. Tan looks classy and works with everything. Buy the best version you can afford (if you’re in the mid-range bracket, avoid the blingy logo-ed brands – you’re paying for a name, nothing more) and if you don’t do leather; opt for a darker tan shade as some of the synthetic leathers can look cheap in a lighter shade. A great quality handbag, finishes off an outfit, so – if you can avoid it – don’t scrimp in this area.
11: Tank style watch – tan leather strap: Along with handbags, I believe a watch to be a highly personal item and statement of your style. A beautiful watch will last a lifetime and a leather strap never, ever goes out of style. As with the handbag, tan works with pretty much everything, be it casual, formal or otherwise. Again, a swift Internet browse will reveal lots of reasonably priced versions of this iconic style.
12: Leopard print, mid heeled court shoe. This item would make it onto my top-ten accessories to always have in your wardrobe and will go with so much more than you think. As with khaki, treat (a subtle) leopard print as a neutral and a less boring alternative to the omnipresent black court shoe. If you don’t do leather, there are loads of synthetic options available that look really great too. From the skinny jeans and floral jacket, to the black shift dress, these shoes will automatically “pull together” your look and the wearable heel height won’t date.
13: Black loafer: I’ve selected this Valentino style because of the shape. The pointed toe and ribbon detailing is key in allowing this shoe to work both as a casual and formal option. The slight platform makes them super comfortable and wearable and they will pretty much work with every piece on this board.
14: Oxblood coloured ankle boot: Excuse the god awful colour terminology but Oxblood is pretty much my favourite accessory colour. For me, it’s the perfect way to make casual look sharp. This version from Just Fab are exactly that. Although they’re synthetic, the suede effect looks much more expensive than a faux leather and the heel height and style make them supremely wearable. Then there’s the price! This colour looks amazing with the grey and army green and I guarantee, you’ll never have them off your feet.
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