Find Your Staple 6 & Avoid Those Nothing-To-Wear Mornings

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With all the great choices available, it’s hard to resist going into a shopping frenzy just before every new season. Many of us blindly enter a store without thinking ahead about a strategy we will use to make decisions about what we will buy. We purchase on impulse and later stand in front of our bursting closets thinking we have nothing to wear. Sound familiar? That was my mode of operation until I figured out how sticking to six staple items every season would help me develop my sense of style and give me guidance when making fashion choices.

I always keep a clothing rack outside my closet that holds my go-to items. There are always several hangers off to the side, which are in constant rotation — in other words, I have my six staple items in sight every season. It makes getting dressed and packing easy when I know what my tried-and-true go-to items are. I rotate the items out as I wear them, so that I am not wearing the same thing over and over. For example, in the spring, I will always have a clean tunic on the rack ready to go and, once I wear it, I’ll replace it with another one. My go-to sixes are a mix of classic investment pieces that I can use for years and less expensive items that will remain in style only temporarily. My sixes are not going to be another girl’s sixes, and they may not be your sixes — each person’s staples will definitely be unique to her own style sensibility.

I also apply this rule when traveling. Packing used to be such a daunting task, because I’d end up throwing everything but the kitchen sink into my suitcase, only to find that I wore just 10% of what I packed. By covering your basic pieces and choosing them in complementary colors and patterns, you end up having a cohesive style throughout your trip, an easier time deciding what to wear and, usually, a much lighter load to travel with.

People are surprised when they find out I am a seriously conservative shopper. I only invest in pieces with longevity, I go easy on trend items and I love sample sales. Investment items are long-term staples that will be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. This could be an incredible blazer, a classic handbag, a great pair of nude pumps, and so on. Your investment pieces should be timeless and of high quality.

When it comes to the trendy items — think studded jackets and neon accessories — I look to less expensive brands and chain stores and buy items at a price that I know I won’t regret later when the item is no longer on trend.

To be spend-savvy not only means knowing when to splurge and when to save, but how to tailor what you already have into what you wish it were. If I love something, I tailor it — even if it is a $45 chain-store dress or a free hand-me-down. We all have pieces in our closet that don’t quite fit as they should, so they are either worn without looking as great as they could, or they just sadly stay in the closet. What a waste — it only makes sense to have them altered so that you can wear pieces to their fullest potential.

I realize that it might be unrealistic to tailor everything you buy, and the most important pieces to tailor are your investment pieces. But there are some great tricks and less expensive alternatives you can use for other pieces, like using tailoring tape to change a hemline, adding an extra button or taking something in by wearing it with a belt. My mother always says when it comes to a hemline on a skirt or dress, we should keep those extra few inches of fabric because while we might want that skirt to hit north of the knee today, in a few years we might prefer something more conservative. And she's usually right. But don’t tell her I told you so.

Reprinted with permission from 365 STYLE by Nicky Hilton, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.