February 19th, 2022
On My Mind

On Coveteur: Leaning Into Personal Style

I’ve been thinking about an article on Coveteur titled “One writer makes the case for eliminating universal closet staples,” which asks the question “(i)n an effort to truly embrace personal style, how are ‘closet staples’ still a thing?” The image of a rack of beige and black clothes the author, Shanna Battle, chose to illustrate her piece made me laugh out loud. My wardrobe and the kic shop are, for the most part, neutrals-only. But, that’s not what Ms. Battle is addressing really, she’s poking at the idea of creating a stringent wardrobe of prescribed basics. She found that a little black dress and turtleneck, foundation items in many a wardrobe, are not her thing and ended up letting go of them. My favorite nugget — “(i)t wasn’t until my fourth pandemic closet cleanout that I decided to divest my closet from the idea of needing “universal closet staples” and lean into the pieces that made sense for my personal style.” Furthermore, I completely agree with Ms. Battle when she says of the drumbeat of posts on basics “you will no doubt find more than a few people drained from this idea ready for more creativity in their style arsenal.”

This all got me thinking about my own wardrobe of neutrals and similar silhouettes and I realized that they are my personal style. However, I could shake things up a bit and not be so neutrals-all-the-time. I collect wool vests and Gucci 1955 Horsebit bags, perhaps a color and pattern outside my comfort zone would be good. The bag in cherry red and a brown diamond patterned vest (I’m besotted with brown these days) would go quite nicely with my predominantly grey and beige wardrobe. I already lean into my personal style, it’s just that my personal style could use a bit of zing.

  • During the most recent Tibi Style Class Amy Smilovic mentioned pairing a brown dress with turquoise tights. I haven’t had any luck finding tights online but am thinking turquoise would be a good color for a spring accessory.

    CBFebruary 19th, 2022  9:40 AM

  • That is a chic combo and Amy may have been thinking about this picture which was a much-run street style photo.

    PrestonFebruary 19th, 2022  10:08 AM

  • Hello Preston, I recently purchased brown suede booties. I wear them frequently; they really update everything. So modern. CB, try the Japanese brand Tabio for colored tights.

    SuWuFebruary 19th, 2022  10:21 AM

  • My wardrobe consists of basics with very minor exceptions. I am a grandmother with frequent children here, a person in charge of building repairs and new projects, and gardener as needed. My favorite piece is a 15 year old timeless trench coat that an elderly sales lady who knew her brands encouraged me to purchase. I miss classic Coach loafers and do hunt to find good substitutes. I tend to add real jewelry, quality scarves, and a great purse to basics. A closet full of things you don’t wear is useless; donate them!

    DianneFebruary 19th, 2022  11:16 AM

  • I drive a brown Volvo, lower to the ground than an SUV “station wagon”…can’t tell you how many people, mostly men, ask me about it. Easy to spot in a parking lot of white, grey, and black cars. Not dissing on those color options, as I have had them all…just reiterating how fresh a chocolate brown vehicle can look these days. The same goes for my investment pieces, I have a Veronica Beard crinkled patent leather trench coat in russet brown…lots of compliments on my so-called “70’s flasher coat.

    Jean Louise LillyFebruary 19th, 2022  12:20 PM

  • Preston, I love your approach to this article. All of us undoubtedly have ‘our basics,’ which were purchased because they served a good foundational role in our wardrobes and are helpful to us. I adore turtlenecks and rely upon Ralph Lauren’s single-ply cashmere ones in ink blue, grey, and black. I don’t view them as neutrals; rather, colors I can wear a lot and in different ways, nine months a year in my climate, and are a perfect foundation for beautiful accessories, outerwear, shoes, or earrings. Sometimes, I love to dress monochromatic, typically in ink blue. Personal style has more to do with than the clothes on our back. The way we wear our clothes, the accessories, jewelry, fragrance, eyeglasses and hair styles, we choose changes everything! I am kin with you in my wardrobe purchasing philosophy (invest well and hold) and know what I can and can’t wear, what I love today and will love for years to come. If the real estate ethos is ‘location, location, location,’ the wardrobe ethos should be ‘foundation, foundation, foundation.’
    Congratulations on the WSJ mention! Go for that pretty red Gucci bag!

    PaulaFebruary 19th, 2022  1:16 PM

  • Since I like quality, longevity and versatility,
    black, grey and (pure) white are not only my staples and style,
    but also what look best with my coloring.
    I use accessories to give my “go-to” palette a dollop of pop.

    JaniceFebruary 19th, 2022  2:58 PM

  • My absolute favorite advice (among many others that you’ve given, and I hold on to) is ~ What do you grab for?!? I’ve learned I virtually always grab for a brown shoe and bag, from cognac to mahogany brown, over black leather. Even if I’m wearing all black. I do have question about the Gucci bag – can one make the strap long enough to wear it crossbody, on the occasion I might want to?

    KathyFebruary 19th, 2022  3:36 PM

  • Yes. The strap extends to crossbody length, which I wear coat season – September to April…

    PrestonFebruary 19th, 2022  3:41 PM

  • Ah yes, coat season September to April. Explains my coat wardrobe, which for me is a foundation item along with boots. Find when I look through my wardrobe, the “must/should haves” are sometimes the least worn. By that I mean someone I usually didn’t know who seemed like an expert (not KiC) said I must have X but it simply didn’t work for me. In that same way aspirational, even business casual dressing doesn’t work for my life anymore. Having said that, my daughters call me “Moira” because I refuse to dress down too much.
    You are a dangerous influence Preston, lol, I hadn’t seen that bag before in the red…..

    SueMFebruary 19th, 2022  4:34 PM

  • Just finished OFF DUTY in the WSJ –
    was fun reading in “Nothing New” your segment on how to shop your closet.
    As per usual for you, sage advice dispensed for wardrobe maintenance and upgrades .

    Along with Paula, congratulations on WSJ mention!

    JaniceFebruary 19th, 2022  5:11 PM

  • I can clearly see you in the vest but that red Gucci bag is not your style. You like more understated items.

    TracyFebruary 19th, 2022  5:16 PM

  • anyone looking for colored tights – welovecolors.com

    patriciaFebruary 20th, 2022  2:05 PM

  • I go to Palm Springs every year after Thanksgiving and if my NYC son is home I take him to Mr. Turk to hit the sale. I picked up the Favored Vest on the Trina Turk side of shop and paired with an emerald green silk knife pleat skirt for a Christmas cocktail party. I later received some text thank you’s that included compliments on my Gucci vest!

    MarieFebruary 20th, 2022  5:37 PM

  • That vest is the best thing I’ve seen so far!

    Elizabeth VelasquezFebruary 21st, 2022  9:45 AM

  • I love this perspective; everything can change, but my constants are silk button-up shirts, crew neck jumpers (Smedley for merino, Laing for cashmere) and some kind of hip length jacket. And a mid-size bag. Everything else is subject to whimsy but a steady diet of stiff denim, leather skirts, dramatic coats etc helps! Also, jewellry.

    SundaeMarch 2nd, 2022  1:09 PM


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