Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back to basics - Fashion tips for Men and Women

When you're on a date, you're out to make an impression. Needless to say, its a good impression that you're trying to make. So you want to look your best, but looking your best (without actually looking like you've been trying to hard to look your best) isn't always the easiest thing to do. You've got grooming, accessorising, clothing, etc. There are actually some simple basics that you can always fall back on, no matter what the occasion and where the venue.

The Basics

Basics are the staple of any wardrobe. They are the clothes that you add on to, to build a whole new look. Usually, these items are timeless, so all a person has to do is buy the occasional new and trendy item to make an outfit look more current.

The amount of basics you have should depend on where you live, what your interests are, etc. For instance, if where you live is always warm, there's not much point in having a wool coat, not unless you travel to colder climates. And a vast array of shorts and tank tops are useless if most of the year is spent under 25 degrees celcius.

I'm going to make two different lists of closet staples; one for men and the other for women. And even though I say staples, by no means does this actually make for a short list. in fact, its pretty long.


Men actually have an easier time when it comes to the basics. So long as the items are easy enough to co-ordinate, most of the clothes will be able to be mixed and matched for both day and night wear, dressy and casual. no male wardrobe should be without:

  • A few good T-shirts, either with prints or in a solid colour. These can't be too baggy or too loose.

  • A few polo T-shirts (the ones with a collar and 2 or 3 buttons at the top) and the fit is the same as with regular T-shirts.

  • At least 2 or 3 white cotton dress shirts (that's work shirts) and some in other colours/patterns. These should not be too long at the sleeves and too 'slopppy' at the shoulders.

  • Trousers in black, khaki/beige, cream/white/off-white. Any fabric is fine, just avoid full polyester and chunky corduroys. Cotton or linen is good, expecially for summer.

  • Dark and light jeans. Avoid the 80's stone-washed and acid-washed jeans. Vintage-washes suit most guys. Also, keep in mind that leg-hugging 'drainpipe' jeans will never, EVER look good on a man.

  • Knee-length shorts (boardies in Australia) are always good for hot days. Have a few pairs for swimming and some in cotton/linen for going out during the day. Good colours to have are mainly neutrals though a pair of bright-coloured shorts can look good with a plain top.

  • A good suit. At least one, if nothing else. Cuts, colours and fabric may vary, that depends on what you like. The jacket can be worn as a blazer with jeans or trousers and the suit pants can be worn more casually without the jacket.

  • A denim jacket. Or even a leather one. The more worn, the better.

  • A coat, preferably in wool or a wool-mix for winter.

  • A selection of ties

  • A few belts. Leather ones for work/dressier occasions and cloth/canves belts for casual wear. You can be creative with your casual belts, they're a good way of injecting some colour into an outfit.

  • White socks for sports and black/dark ones for dressing up.

  • A good pair of sports shoes. Choose one that's made for the sport you do as they all offer different types and degrees of suppport.

  • Dressy black leather shoes. These are the sort you can wear to work and for formal occasions.

  • Smart loafers. Brown or tan are popular colours and will go with practically anything. Suede loafers are particularly nice but its not an easy fabric to take care of.

  • Sandals are practical for hot days and when you need to be a little dressed up. You can go for the conventional leather type or the funky sporty designs.

  • Slip-ons or flip-flops (thongs to the Aussies) are a staple. Excellent for the beach or dressing down an outfit.


Needless to say, a woman's closet will always be more extensive than that of her male counterpart. After all, you've got all the skirts, dresses, jewelery, tops, etc. For all of these mentioned, the very basic of colours are black, white and beige/cream. These are the foundations that you build on and add more colour, texture and patterns. Tht doesn't mean your basic wardrobe can't contain any colour. by all means, have as much colour as you want. Just make sure it suits you and avoid flouros. And now, to get down to the nitty-gritty. As any self-respecting woman, you'll need:

  • Fitted T-shirts, singlets, strappy tops, strapless tops, halter tops, polo T-shirts in your basic 3 colours, along with other colours and patterns that will easily match up with other items in your closet. Some of these will have a V-neck and some a round neck. Either one is alright, it depends on what you like. V-necks do generally emphasize your bust so if you want attention drawn to that area, V's the way to go.

  • A few good sweaters (for the cold season); a fine knit or bulky cable look great with nearly everything.

  • A pretty camisole top that you can dress up or down. Good details to have are lace, satin, beading or sequins. not all at once of course.

  • A glam top for nights out on the town. Perfect for jazzing up a pair of jeans.

  • Jeans are the news girl's best friend. Not just for lazing around, these are a MUST have. Choose a wash you like but keep in mind that darker shades will flatter women on the heavier side. Getting the right cut is also important. Tall slim women can pretty much get away with any cut, though the cool-again skinny-leg jeans will make their legs look like they go on forever. The boot-cut is good for women who want to draw attention away from their hips. The regular straight-cut suits most shapes. Always try on jeans before buying them and make sure they are neither too short nor too long. You want to be able to wear heels or flats with them.

  • Structured or tailored shorts can look smart with the right top.

  • Denim or cotton shorts for very casual wear.

  • Trousers. Any fabric will do, so long as they fit well. This will be good for both warm and cool seasons. A few pairs should have a corporate, office look and another 1 or 2 can be casual. Again, these 3 basic colours apply.

  • A denim mini will see you through anything. The length is up to you. Don't go too short as it just looks cheap but try keep it at least an inch or so above your knee.

  • A pencil skirt in a nice fabric can work for the office, for chilling with friends in the daytime or dressed up for a hot date.

  • A longer skirt that falls in soft folds. Cotton is a good option for this. You could also have a darker-coloured one in a more 'dressed up' fabric for night-wear. Details that makes this special are pleats, beading, embroidery and assymetrical lines.

  • The timeless LBD, or little black dress.

  • A casual day dress that can double for night with proper accessorising.

  • A denim jacket it in style that suits you.

  • A blazer that will work for day and night.

  • A coat for the cold. Double or single-breasted is up to you. These can be in whatever colour you wish, but a good basic is black as it doesn't show up the dirt.

  • A pair of proper sports shoes

  • A pair of covered high-heels in your basic colours.

  • Sandals in a lighter shade though again, the basic colours appply here. Red is a good way to inject some colour as it doesn't 'date'.

  • A pair of kitten heels; ideal for when you don't want too much height.

  • Slip-ons and flip-flops (or thongs).

  • Boots for winter. Ankle boots may sometimes be trendy but stay clear if you're legs are not on the longer side. Also try not to go too high up. Anything above the knee just screams hooker.

  • Belts, handbags, scarves, hats, brooches, necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets/bangles are all good for dressing up an outfit and for changing your entire look. Just don't go too crazy and wear them all at once.

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