Three So-Called Wardrobe Essentials you *DON’T* have to own

wardrobe essentials

[Image: M&Co]

We’ve all seen those lists of so-called “wardrobe essentials”, right? They’re the items we’re told every woman should own – and they’re always full of things we don’t want, don’t need, and don’t think every other woman in the entire world wants or needs either.

OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. We do agree with some of the items that always seem to crop up on those lists, but there are three in particular that we always take issue with. Here are the three “wardrobe essentials” we DON’T think you all need to own. Feel free to add your suggestions, too…

wardrobe essentials: white shirt

[Shirt: Delia’s]

1. A crisp white shirt

They’re always described as “crisp”, those white shirts, aren’t they? They’re also always described as the number one (or thereabouts) wardrobe essential for women, and we want to call foul on that, because seriously, not every woman NEEDS a white shirt, “crisp” or otherwise. Don’t get us wrong, white shirts are great… IF you have a job interview, are working as a waitress, or have some other reasonably formal setting to wear them in. They’re also great worn casually… IF they fit perfectly. And let’s face it: they never do, do they? They’re always either so loose they could be mistaken for maternity wear, or so tight that they gape at the chest. They’re either so short they pop out of your waistband if you so much as sneeze, or so long you feel like you’re wearing a diaper if you try to tuck them. Then there’s the tucking issue itself. To tuck, or not to tuck, that is the question? Untucked can look sloppy, unless you’re lucky enough to have found that perfect fit. Tucked, on the other hand, can make you feel like you’re about to appear in court – as the defendant.

Not every woman NEEDS a white shirt. Some do, of course. Some of you have jobs or lifestyles which demand the wearing of a white shirt, and others among you just like the look of them. But the rest of us? We don’t need one. We can cope perfectly well without one: especially when you consider how many other options there are out there…

Replace it with…

Any kind of smart top will fill in for that white shirt you don’t have/need/want. Blouses are great: they create the same kind of look as a shirt, but are generally softer and more fluid in shape, which makes them easier to wear. If that doesn’t appeal either, a structured shell top, or silky boat neck will also work just as well. And they don’t have to be white, either. it’s a good idea to have a smart top in a fairly neutral colour, just in case you DO have to attend an interview or something, but there are so many “neutrals” to choose from that you don’t HAVE to stick to white, especially not if it doesn’t suit you: pick a colour that flatters with you and will go with the rest of the wardrobe and don’t worry if it doesn’t happen to be white.

Wardrobe essentials: little black dress

[Dress: Warehouse]

A little black dress

Not everyone needs a black dress in their wardrobe, little or otherwise. As with the white shirt above, we’d say that yes, it’s a good idea to own some kind of formal dress: the type you can dress up with heels and accessories for evening, or dress down with boots and scarves for daytime. Our quibble here is with the notion that it HAS to be black. No, it doesn’t. (Or not unless you’re attending some kind of event which specifies that black dresses are mandatory, obviously.) The fact is, not everyone looks good in black. Some of us look positively deathly in it, in fact. And why force yourself to wear a colour that makes you look like the living dead? Exactly.

Replace it with…

Pick a colour. We would say “any colour”, but you’re aiming for versatility here, so you’re going to want to choose a colour that will go with everything, and which will be appropriate in almost any situation: neon yellow, for instance, would be a no-go here, because you probably wouldn’t wear it to a funeral, say, or your child’s parent-teacher meeting. There are plenty of versatile, non-black options out there, though. Navy. Dark green. Plum. The list goes on. Pick a colour that flatters your complexion, works with your wardrobe, and won’t easily look out of place. That’s the colour to buy your “little dress” in. It may be black, it may not be: no one will come round to check.

Wardrobe essentials: wrap dress

[Dress: Diane Von Furstenberg]

A wrap dress

We have no idea why this is so often quoted as a “must have” item for everyone. Wrap dresses? Seriously? Many sections of the fashion media would have you believe that wrap dresses look good on everyone. They are wrong. Some of us look terrible in wrap dresses. On some body shapes, wrap dresses never really “wrap”. The top will always gape open. The V neckline will be far too low, forcing you to either show your underwear to the world or wear something underneath. Sometimes they look frumpy. Sometimes they don’t, of course: just as some women don’t suit this style of dress, others look like they were born to wear them. This is the point, though: we completely disagree with this idea that there is one single dress shape that suits every single body shape. There isn’t. If there was, we’d all be wearing exactly the same dress, and all looking equally fantastic in it. Doesn’t really work that way, does it?

Replace it with…

While there isn’t one, magic dress shape that suits everyone, regardless of shape or personal style, there IS a dress shape out there that suits YOUR shape and style. You just have to work out what it is. It might be a pencil dress, or a skater dress. It might be a shirt-dress, or a tea dress. Hell, it might even be a wrap-dress. Better to work out what it is, and make THAT your wardrobe essential, though, that to work on the “one dress suits all”

Of course, we’re not saying these items aren’t essential for ANYONE. We’re just saying they’re not essential for EVERYONE, contrary to popular belief. And it’s always better to find the items that are essential for YOU than to simply check them off a list, and end up wearing clothes that would be better suited to someone else.

Which so-called “essentials” can YOU live without?