Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Items Every Woman Should Own

I just read an article ( that lists five articles of clothing (and/or accessories) that every woman should own in her 20s, 30s, and 40s. I have to say that I disagree with quite a few of them, so I decided to put together a list of my own. These are the items that I think are worthy of investing in at these ages.

In Your 20s
In your 20s, you are probably starting a career, and have a limited budget. You are also able to pull off fashion trends that older women just can’t get away with. (To quote one of my favorite lines from The Golden Girls, “At that age, you don’t even have to be pretty to be pretty.”) The article recommends that 20-somethings own a sparkly dress, a leather jacket, metallic lace-up oxfords (no, I am not making that up), a “cross-body bag”, and a monogram necklace. Here are my recommendations:

Instead of a sparkly dress: A classy, classic little black dress that can be dressed up or down to be suitable for weddings, funerals, work functions, or any other social or business event that comes up. A well-fitting, well-made, flattering dress will last for years and will get plenty of use.

Instead of a leather jacket: A mid-length trench coat in a bright, print, or textured fabric. Like the little black dress, it can span occasions from casual to dressy and from social to business. In your 20s, you can get away with something flashier than a basic khaki trench, so go with something more visually interesting, like a cute Burberry plaid or a deep burgundy with a satin finish.

Instead of metallic lace-up oxfords: A pair of fabulous, brightly colored or blinged-out shoes. Go for a pair of bright red spectator pumps, purple velvet stilettos, or rhinestone-trimmed sandals. Like the trench coat, a pair of great, eye-catching shoes is a fabulous way to dress up an outfit that you can really pull off in your 20s.

Instead of a cross-body bag: a leather briefcase or laptop case with a shoulder strap. In your 20s is a great time for traveling, especially spontaneous, last-minute trips. This bag will serve you well at job interviews and on long plane trips. And it can last you well into your career, so get one you love in a classic but not boring style.

Instead of a monogram necklace: A fabulous pair of rhinestone chandelier earrings. Your 20s is the decade of cocktail parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and moving out of the bar/club scene and into nice restaurants, concerts, and theater. Get the bling for it now.

In Your 30s
By the time you reach your 30s, you may be well into your career, or married and raising children, or maybe both. You're also probably investing in "adult" things like a house and nice furniture. And although you might not have exactly the same lithe figure you had in your 20s, you've got the confidence to carry off both more sexy and more elegant clothes. The article recommends that 30-somethings own a pair of leather pants, a wrap coat, platform pumps, an investment bag, and a “statement cuff”. Here are my alternatives:

Instead of leather pants: a perfectly tailored wool suit. Whether a woman is on her way to a business meeting or a PTA meeting, nothing says confidence like a great suit. And a classic style will last from your junior associate to your vice president days and from parent-teacher conferences to college admissions interviews.

Instead of a wrap coat: a long wool coat. Like the little black dress, a long wool coat is always classic and elegant, and can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion. Pop on leather gloves and a fur hat and you’re ready for the opera; toss on a scarf in your team colors and matching earmuffs and you’re ready to cheer at the big game.

Instead of platform pumps: leather dress boots. A pair of high-quality leather boots can project confidence like no other kind of shoe. If you like to be a bit more subdued, stick to a simple, classic style; if you like to make a statement, choose a pair with buckles, braid, or texture.

Instead of an investment bag: If you follow my suggestions, you already have a great bag from your 20s. So your 30s is time to invest in a designer handbag. Most women love bags, and your 30s is the time you’re most likely to have both the disposable income to afford one and the lifestyle in which it can be appreciated. So if this is your thing, splurge on a great Coach or Kate Spade bag. If it’s not your thing, find a bunch of cute knockoffs that you just love.

Instead of a statement cuff: A single-strand pearl necklace and matching earrings. If you can’t afford the real thing, get a good faux strand. Chances are you already own a ton of costume jewelry; now is the time to start getting the real stuff. Pearls are a great start to your collection.

In Your 40s
If you’re a career woman, you’re probably in a position with significant responsibility by your 40s. If you’re more family-oriented, you need clothes that are versatile and can go from your son’s football game to your daughter’s recital to your board meeting. The article recommends: a sheath dress, a faux fur vest, pointy-toe pumps, a bright clutch, and a cocktail ring. This is what I think you need:

Instead of a sheath dress: A wrap dress. More versatile than a sheath, but just as figure-flattering for all figures. Let’s face it, your figure probably needs a bit more support these days, and a wrap dress allows for maximum coverage but is still sexy.

Instead of a faux fur vest: A tailored leather jacket. In your 40s is the time to find a princess-seamed, figure-flattering jacket in a rich shade of mocha or charcoal. It spans seasons, is appropriate for business meetings, and looks great on all figure types. Plus, if you're like me, it helps satisfy your secret biker chick side.

Instead of pointy-toe pumps: Kitten heels. In your 40s, comfort becomes more important than fashion – but with kitten heels, you can have both. Sexy kitten heels with that tailored suit from your 30s makes a great statement about both the competence and the femininity of the wearer.

Instead of a bright clutch: a small casual purse. 40-somethings have a habit of falling into the “giant purse” trap, usually with the only other purse in their wardrobe being a small, dressy evening bag. Get something in the middle that carries only what you need: wallet, phone, tube of lipstick, mints, and a few tissues. And make sure it has a shoulder strap – you never know when you’ll need both hands for something else.

Instead of a cocktail ring: An understated gemstone ring. Cocktail rings tend to be big and tacky; in your 40s, aim for subtlety and class. Choose your birthstone or a gemstone in your favorite color in a simple setting. A single, simple ring on a beautifully-manicured hand is much more elegant than a gaudy cocktail ring.

So that's my take on wardrobe essentials at every age. And by the way, I'm in my 40s and I have in my closet several wrap dresses, a tailored leather coat, a great mid-sized handbag, and a topaz cocktail ring. I guess I'd better get shopping for those kitten heels!

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