If there's one piece of clothing that I just can't live without, it's the little black sweater. If I had a uniform, the black sweater would be it. It seems that I wear one every day - universally flattering and appealing, not to mention versatile. Due to the myriad of styles the little black sweater is such that it can be worn year round. (A black sweater in summertime? Of course, one needs to cover up in those frigid air conditioned buildings.) I don't think that one can have too many - thick, thin, long sleeved, short-sleeved, sleeveless... in cashmere, linen or cotton. Worn on their own, under jackets, coats, or over blouses, their flexibility is perhaps unrivaled. Always sophisticated, the black sweater ranges from casual to elegant and complements a wide range of accessories from pearls and baubles to scarves of assorted sizes, sizes and textures. I have lost count of all the black sweaters to grace my wardrobe, and it is quite likely this collection will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.
There's one, singularly and without exception, item that every woman's wardrobe must have that's truly ageless, timeless and versatile. It is the little white blouse. It's a style that looks well on young and old alike. It's one of the first serious pieces we purchase in our youth as we embark on our careers, and it keeps evolving throughout our lifetime. The little white blouse may sound simple by description - but by description only. It perhaps the most versatile, flexible and diverse of all the items in our wardrobes, with the exception of the little black sweater. The blouse, however, takes on many shapes and styles and forms from fitted and figure hugging to loose and forgiving thus also making it a favorite for many body types.
This simple staple is perhaps the most important item in your closet. Dress it up, dress it down, this item transitions from day to night seamlessly, from the office to a dinner party, from the casual comfort of denim to the elegant sophistication of a body-skimming black pencil skirt. Whether tailored, loosely fitting, collared or ruffled... worn with sleeves rolled up or down, with jewels or not... whether you've pulled it from your husband's closet or the boutique down the street, there is nothing quite as versatile as The Little White blouse. Casual, fun, flirty, sophisticated, elegant, youthful...
It's 7:45 on a Monday morning and as I sit on my couch piled up high with pillows, surrounded by blankets, and sipping my morning coffee with an ease and leisure of the weekend, I take a rather guilty pleasure knowing that our schools are operating on a two-hour delay due to ice and high winds. Of course I should be working... and I will... soon. But easing into the week, slowly, gracefully and with ease, isn't such a bad thing. My children are still all asleep. The sun's rays are pouring into my oversized windows casting glorious shadows all over the place.
Outside I can hear the winds howl; I can see the trees sway. My cappuccino is warm, comforting, soul soothing. I'm enjoying this purely Hygge moment. But soon it will be interrupted and I will have to begin my day in earnest. If hygge is a way of being, a way of thinking and a lifestyle, then surely it can be a way of dress too. If a hygge home is filled with furs, warm chunky knits, and soft cashmeres, then the hygge dress must be similar, surely. Below are some images that I've curated from all over the web on styles for both at home and on the street that I feel best represent this at ease, peaceful, easy feeling.
Feeling comfortable in my clothing has always been important to me - I believe it dates back to my college days, even earlier, perhaps, when oversized faded jeans and college sweatshirts worn with Tretorns or Stan Smiths were practically my uniform. Perhaps I would have swapped out my sweatshirts and jeans for my Benetton sweaters and leggings. La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme. (The more it changes the more it stays the same.) I'm certainly tidier and more put together these days, but it's not unusual for me to be seen in a large cashmere sweater, leggings and thigh high boots. Comfortable, well- fitted jeans combined worn with comfortable tops are easily "dressed up" for client meetings when paired with a pretty pair of heels, and tailored jacket. My hygge style is, I believe, practical and functional.
Stay warm everyone!
The food has been eaten. The table has been cleared. The dishes have been done. The leftovers have been packaged up and placed in the fridge in anticipation of the promising leftovers that will beckon tomorrow. If you're like me the last thing you'll want to do is to slip into a pair of jeans. Their unrelenting waistbands cruel reminders of last night's Thanksgiving meal, of the celebrations of the seasons... Some of us will wake up and go for long morning runs, some will run to their local gyms and hit the weight machines, spin and Zumba classes in order to try to undo some of the damage. And some brave souls will get up and fight the crowds to secure some of those great Black Friday deals. I will most likely try to get in a workout and chase down some deals, but I won't be going anywhere near a pair of jeans today! I'll be dressed in something casual, comfortable, forgiving and flattering. I love dresses. There's a dress for every occasion, from play to work to holiday party - from tunic to sweater dress to shift and A-Line to the classic wrap. Paired with a pair of leggings and flats or tights (Spanx?) and boots, dresses are the perfect way to carry through this Season of Eating!
1. The Classic A-Line
This might be the most flattering of all styles with it's streamlined top that flares out generously from the waist down. Elegant, graceful and perfect for carrying you from the office to the office party. Go ahead, sneak another piece of pecan pie - if it goes directly to your hips no one will know!
2. The Swing/Trapeze Dress
This dress forgives a multitude of sins Sleeveless versions reveal toned arms and legs. Some styles allow a lightweight sweater or blouse to be worn underneath, giving the dresses more versatility. Choose from casual to more formal styles. It should be noted, however, if you are well endowed the swing dress may resemble a maternity dress, which if you're expecting, is a wonderful thing... but if you're not, you may want to opt for one of the other styles featured.
3. The Shift Dress
The shift dress (as opposed to the sheath) hangs straight from the shoulders down to the hips. (The sheath has a defined waist) Shifts became popular in the 1960s and are still popular choices. Wear a shift after a big meal and your bloated belly remains top secret. Or select something as the dress pictured immediately below so that you can fully enjoy your holiday fete in comfort. Another canapé? Yes, please - don't mind if I do!
4. The Sweater Dress
This is my go-to choice in the wintertime. Not only is it warm and comfortable, but forgiving and flattering. I wear mine with leggings for a more casual look and dressed up with tights and boots for a more polished look. For more ideas see my recent piece on Sweater Dressing.
5. The Wrap Dress/Faux Wrap Dress
Although appearing form-fitting, this dress style is forgiving and flattering- hugging you in just the right places, highlighting curves, hitting you in all the right places. A pair of control-top or Spanx will smooth out those unwanted bulges from last night's mashed potatoes ad stuffing!
and when you just want to lounge around...
Leggings and an Oversized Sweater
For those of you who are feeling more casual and plan on spending the next couple of days running errands and shopping and prepping for Christmas there's nothing that a pair of leggings and a slouchy sweater can't fix! For those of you who work in a more casual office environment you might be able to pull off a look like this or pair the leggings with a less bulky sweater and a tailored jacket. But remember not to get too comfortable in those leggings - waistbands are forgiving, but your jeans aren't. Don't let this fashion friend replace a healthy diet and trip to the gym!
Every chic wardrobe needs just a few pieces to make it complete. At the very least, a black dress, a pair of well fitting jeans, a pair of pumps in a neutral color (black and beige tend to offer most versatility), a cashmere sweater in a neutral color and a white blouse will cary you far. The white blouse has perhaps the most versatility than any other garment in your wardrobe. This one item can take you from day to night, from summer to winter without a glitch, without looking out of place or inappropriate. A simple white blouse, whether button down, with ruffles or worn tied at the waist transitions seamlessly from any outfit instantaneously and can be worn for both the most casual of situations as well as the most formal. In our youth we learned quickly about the importance of the little black dress (LBD) and how every wardrobe needed at least one, yet there was never such a thing as owning too many. Once a woman hits a certain age - let's say her 30s - her wardrobe should contain a few basic, classic staples even if her style is neither basic or classic. Although my style has evolved greatly over the years, there area few things I will never part with, the LWB is one of them - it is timeless and classic for a reason, as you'll see in the images below.
If you enjoyed this piece I invite you to check out what might possibly be my most popular piece of all time, 21 Classic Must-Have Items for Every Wardrobe.
I happen to love velvet - the way it feels, the way it drapes and hangs depending on the thickness, and of course the look. It's so versatile and so luxurious and that's what precisely what this season is about. While velvet has never really disappeared from view, it hasn't taken center stage on the fashion scene in quite some time. It is, after all, quite a dramatic fabric. This season seems to be about luxury and being over the top.
As for my latest crush - You'll notice it everywhere, on suits, dresses both long and short, skirts, shoes, boots and bags. You'll see it worn simply, on its own and you'll see it dressed up with brocades, sequins, beads and all sorts of embellishments that we are also seeing with denim and tweed. It's a fun season for fashion where these days almost anything goes. As for me, I'm crushing on velvet and have a few items I can bring out from hiding - What about you? By the way, are we seeing a return of the velvet pantsuit?