When it comes to style basics, there are a few fashion staples that are helpful to have on hand to make a wardrobe both versatile and complete. A little black dress for those dressy occasions, a pair of pumps, a blazer, jeans — all of these are considered by many to be sartorial musts.
But, what of those fashion “staples” that you really don’t need? Here, we look at 12 supposedly mandatory items that you can easily cross off your must-have list.
It’s often said a turtleneck is a necessity for a fall and winter wardrobe. But, this so-called style staple is actually not the best form of a versatile sweater. And, it is actually not universally flattering as you are covering up the décolletage and shortening the neckline significantly. Those with shorter necks or larger chests should absolutely steer clear. Stay warm instead with a quality lightweight knit or cashmere sweater that has a moderate V-neck. It’s great for layering, too.
2. Polo shirt
The epitome of casual Americana style, this country club staple doesn’t have to make it into the ranks of your own personal wardrobe. Believe it or not, there are plenty of other more neutral T-shirt and top options you can wear.
Once considered a fashion staple (and also a natural pairing to that polo), khakis — especially the pleated ones — should not be considered a necessity at all unless they’re part of your personal work wardrobe or style. Sometimes, these casual pants can translate as outdated (cargo pockets, anyone?), or as tired office wear.
You can achieve the same business professional effect with black pants or a crisp pair of lightweight charcoal or olive trousers. As for street style, jeans or pants in fun colors or other neutral shades are a great staple to consider instead.
Capris, clam-diggers, pedal pusher — call them what you will. But, don’t call them a fashion staple. Once very much in style, the shortened, calf-grazing pants aren’t necessary. What can you wear instead? A longer, cropped trouser that falls right above the ankle is a sophisticated answer. Or simply wear a pair of pants in a lighter or white hue for summer.
Like capris, shorts might be a necessity among some. But, if they’re not your thing, don’t force it. They can be a hard sell for many who don’t wish to wear Daisy Dukes but also want to stay away from the mumsy longer lengths. Stay cool in the summer swelter with a nice sundress instead.
6. White dress shirt
Button-down dress shirts might be a fashion staple for many, as they are an effortless go-to option to pair underneath a suit or with a skirt for the work day. But, they’re not required for all. White can be problematic, as it stains and discolors easily, and it can be quite uninspiring, too.
Even those who swear by the white button-down should reconsider another neutral hue or a subtle pattern or print to add as a new staple. Or, go bold with a vibrant color paired with black or neutral separates; it can breathe new life into your look.
7. Pencil skirt
A wardrobe should have a pencil skirt and an A-line skirt, right? Wrong. At least, halfway wrong. Whereas, A-line skirts have a lot of flexibility and versatility for most figures, a pencil skirt wasn’t made for everyone. In fact, depending on its cut, it can kill any form of an hourglass shape if you have an athletic figure or no curves. So, it’s certainly not a staple you need.
For the office, wear a suit with trousers instead of the pencil skirt. For any other time, choose a skirt that flatters your form and your personality. Maybe that’s an A-line; maybe it’s a trumpet skirt; or maybe even a sassy little mini.
8. Ballet flats
Flats, especially ballet flats, are a dime a dozen these days. But don’t rush out and buy a pair if you don’t have to have them. While they’re designed to be classically chic and comfortable, that doesn’t make them a staple. In fact, some designer varieties will be the very opposite of comfy as the flat style often has no support or cushioning. The small, round shape can also create the illusion of stubbiness, which is never a good look.
9. Trench coat
We have news for you: The classic, tailored icon of the coat family — the trench coat — is not a fashion staple that you really need. While we all have visions of Burberry trench-drenched beauty running through our heads, not all trenches are created equal. In fact, the coat can actually look quite sloppy if the silhouette and structure aren’t razor sharp. For example, longer versions can also overwhelm the more petite.
Aside from that, most climates don’t create a need for a trench, per se. A rain coat is a good substitute for wet weather. As for covering up on cooler days, any form of a light jacket (from a blazer to a bomber!) will do the trick. No trench required.
While a watch is often considered a must-have fashion staple, the accessory really is no longer a necessity. The time follows us everywhere — especially if you have a smartphone glued to your hand as any watch would be to your wrist. Just like any piece of jewelry, a timepiece is a great option if it fits with your signature style. If not, skip it.
As with a timepiece, pearls are often thought to be a necessary accoutrement. They’re classic and timeless, and they can be dressed up or down, but that doesn’t make them a fashion staple you must own. Nor should you force yourself to feign an affinity for them if you prefer other types of jewelry. Maybe diamond studs are more your thing, or maybe nothing is — you don’t need either of them to make your wardrobe sing.
12. Tall boots
Tall boots are certainly on trend and because of their ubiquity, they may be considered a staple item in some corners. But, you don’t really need a pair of these boots and they aren’t well-suited to all shapes and sizes. If you’re petite, it’s likely most tall boots will swallow your calves whole — and cut your shorter leg line in half. Whereas, if you have larger, muscular calves, the boots probably won’t fit. Shorter booties in the fall might be a better option.