The Myth of Wardrobe Essentials

“5 Pieces Every Woman Needs in Her Closet” – Search any fashion/style publication and you will no doubt find dozens of articles with similar titles, all promising the answers to your “I have nothing to wear” woes. My opinion? Do NOT take them as Bible.

If you’re trying to find your personal style, what’s the point of filling your closet with pieces an article claims are for everyone? Lists of “X” amount of items that will supposedly complete your wardrobe are quick fixes. They’re fun to read and the super specific checklists seem like they have all the solutions. That is, until you stock up on what the list told you you needed, only for them to gather dust in the back of your closet.

Now, some of the items these lists can be fantastic ideas! However, on your journey to find your personal style don’t pigeonhole yourself into thinking you NEED any particular piece because those lists say so. Maybe you’re not a trench coat girl and never will be! That’s totally fine.

These lists aren’t totally useless, but they need to be treated as an outline that you will then combine with your own taste and needs to find out what YOUR staple pieces are. Check out my four top items below commonly deemed “essential” that I think are great starting points to brainstorm what wardrobe staples suit you.

The Classic Trench Coat:

The trench coat is a timeless piece. It’s been around for decades, worn by iconic characters in countless films and shows up every season on runways around the world. It’s utilitarian roots and simple style make it a great piece for many wardrobes. That being said, the trench coat has a fairly specific design that might not always be right for your personal style.

What to look for instead: The concept of the trench as a functional but chic piece of outwear is a great building block. Look for a practical, yet stylish jacket or coat that fits both your climate (most of the year) as well as your taste.

Things to consider:

  • Your climate – What weight of material would you get most use of during the year?
  • What colors do you wear most often? Find a jacket that plays well with a variety of your favorite outfits. Maybe this means a neutral jacket. Maybe you prefer a pop of color on the daily.
  • What level of formality do you frequently choose or need to dress for? Part of the beauty of the trench’s tailored silhouette is that it can be worn with more formal attire or it can be used to dress up casual outfits. Take a cue from the trench and look for an outerwear piece slightly more elevated than your everyday look.


The Plain White Button Up and/or Plain White Tee:

The key here is “plain white.” These pieces can be generalized as your “blank canvas” tops. They’re both solid options for most wardrobes since they’re so simple. That doesn’t mean you should buy the first white button up or plain white tee you see. Do your research.

What to look for instead: A“Blank Canvas” Top – meaning, a plain white top that is simple but not boring. You can work it into *almost* any outfit and you will feel great in it all day long.

Things to consider:

  • What fabric feels best? Crisp linen, comfy cotton, maybe a bit of stretch?
  • What fit makes you feel amazing?  Tailored, oversized, low cut, cropped?
  • What design elements catch your eye? A pocket or two, sleeves you can roll up, frayed or distressed textures?
Red Lipstick:

Yes, this is a “classic.” There’s a red lipstick out there that can flatter every complexion and style. But, lipstick is one of those things that either feels like your second skin or you immediately wipe it off two seconds after applying because you just weren’t feeling it.

What to look for instead:  Your go-to cosmetic that makes takes a few seconds (okay, minutes) to add, but elevates your daily makeup look and gives you a boost of confidence.

Things to consider:

  • What is one of your favorite features? Eyes – try a winged liner. Cheekbones – contour away. Brows – you know what to do.
  • Use your resources! Consult the workers at your favorite makeup store/counter – they’re there for you. I’m pretty proud of my winged liner skills and I owe it all to my favorite girl at the MAC counter who taught me when I was 16.


The LBD (Little Black Dress):

Coco Chanel really hit the nail on the head with this one. There’s just something magic about a solid black dress you can pull on a look great in with next to no effort.

What to look for instead: Alright, this one is probably as close to universal as wardrobe essentials go. As I’m sure you’re catching on by now, not just any black dress will work here. Again, put some thought into the elements that define your personal style. And if you’re not into dresses – the main takeaway here is all black. It never goes out of style and pairs with anything!

Things to consider:

  • Go through all of the same questions we went through with your “blank canvas top” – think what fabric, fit and design elements you are drawn to.
  • Since there’s a dress style for every occasion, consider where you see yourself wearing your LBD – Work? The farmer’s market? Your favorite bar?  Not a bad idea to buy a few different LBD’s for various occasions.

A few of my staples:

Trench coat: I personally love a good trench. I’m a sucker for a rich, camel color and tortoise shell buttons. After a few years of searching, I finally found this amazing (and super affordable) version at a Banana Republic Factory store!

Dark Wash Jeans: I love this high waisted fit from Abercrombie & Fitch! The denim has the perfect amount of stretch that stays through multiple wears. After getting these black jeans I got them in dark wash and white as well. Once you find your staples, stock up!

Statement Earrings: Statement earrings are one of my favorite ways to add personality to a look. I had my eye on these Kendra Scott earrings for over a year and finally decided to get them last winter. Besides, the earring style is “Alexa” so how could they not be one of my staple pieces?!

Leather Cross Body Bag: Leather crossbodies are my go-to bags! Tiny clutches are tough to juggle and big bags get tedious. For daily wear I love mid-size crossbody bags made of a good quality neutral leather.

Thanks for reading my very first ~official~ post!! If you have any wardrobe or styling questions please be sure to comment below! And if you haven’t already, go check out my About page to read why are started my blog and what’s to come.

xo, Lexa Bryn


My outfit:

Trench coat: Banana Republic Factory

Button-up: The Limited (similar here)

Jeans: Abercrombie & Fitch

Pumps: INC International Concepts

Earrings: Kendra Scott Alexa Lux Earrings in Gold with Black Stones

Sunglasses: Lulu’s (similar here)

Bag: Coach (similar here)


Photography by the wildly talented @mbzphotog


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