“I like my money right where I can see it: Hanging in my closet.”—Carrie Bradshaw
Although the lovely Ms. Bradshaw makes a point that I feel most women will relate to, it is important to understand which pieces to invest in and avoid any frivolous spending on items you won’t actually wear! The concept of investment dressing isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s only recently that fast-fashion came about. Somewhere along the way, though, with the push for trends, must-have-now’s, and disposable fashion, we got lost. Fashion became about quantity and not quality. But a well-edited and curated wardrobe is worth every penny. Your brand depends on it.
Here are five essential pieces that have helped me set up my summer-season wardrobe and thrive in business.
The Classic Dress
Imagine you are about to walk on stage for a major presentation, or you are accepting an award for your latest project at a company event or attending a family celebration or date night. This dress is “the one” at all of these events!
Investment Details: In every piece you purchase, always think “fit.” With the classic dress, I always make sure that I am looking in a three-way mirror before purchasing. If there are small “tweaks” to make, a good tailor can save the day. An ill-fitting item can look sloppy no matter what the investment was! Midi or to the knee is the ideal length. The fabric should be forgiving and comfortable, and the color should be neutral—white, black, grey, tan— to pair with bold-color accessories and key accents!
Final Recommendation: When looking for a classic dress, keep it simple and well-tailored. This dress should look incredible with flats or heels. It holds up alone, pairs perfectly with a blazer, light sweater or moto jacket. Style options are limitless!
A Tailored Shirt/Blouse
A collared shirt or soft, yet refined, blouse portrays authority while maintaining femininity. With a few top buttons undone, exposing a dainty necklace or two on the décolleté, you are conveying both those messages. It’s versatile and can be paired with a power suit or jeans and flats. A light-weight blouse can be worn for a special night out for dinner, at a concert or even under a suit for an evening business reception.
Investment Details: Look for seams that are properly tailored, that don’t bubble because of the sleeve length. Properly placed pockets (if there are many) and fabrics that won’t wrinkle each time you take off your jacket. The length of either of these pieces is important to notice—for a more relaxed and casual look, you could wear it untucked and it should not be too long. That said, it should be long enough if you’re planning to tuck in. The fabric should be a good cotton or silk blend.
Final Recommendation: The most important note for our blouse search: pay attention to cleaning instructions. Nothing is more heartbreaking than ruining a piece you have invested in that should be timeless by washing it incorrectly—for certain pieces, a good dry cleaner is essential!
Like the other investment pieces, the fit is especially important here. A well-tailored pant should compliment your silhouette. Whether we are walking ahead of others, sitting at a business meeting or on an airplane for several hours, the pant has to be flattering in all the right places. When we are comfortable in the clothes we wear, we exude confidence!
Investment Details: The inseam must feel comfortable; the waist size should not feel tight and the fit around your posterior is key. A blend with some stretch is recommended for look and comfort. Just like the tailored blouse, the fabric should not wrinkle too much.
Final Recommendation: Nothing is worse than too much stretch around the behind! Do not fear going up a size with some tailoring to ensure the fit is true to form.
This completes the look! If it is a surprisingly cool evening, or the air conditioning is on too high, it is easy to throw on something to keep us warm. From a fashion perspective, it is a versatile piece to put over a dress, pair with jeans or a dress pant, or dress up a pair of summer shorts!
Investment Details: A classic silhouette is best, and the length should be just below the pelvis bone. If you choose a copped jacket, it should be at your waist. The fit at the shoulders is important so that it does not give the “slouchy” look—that is very different from the relaxed look! For summer, I would choose a camel/neutral color.
Final Recommendation: The blazer is a staple. It can dress up a multitude of outfits—from dresses to denim. The fabric should be a cotton blend and lined for the best look.
For the summer, this is a great investment. Even if they are a little over your budget, go for it! Especially if they are what you have been looking for from a comfort and fit perspective. There is nothing worse than walking around in ill-fitting shoes—and trust me, I’ve been there. Nothing feels like summer has arrived than displaying our freshly-polished toes for their seasonal debut!
Investment Details: If you plan to walk for more than a couple of blocks, choose a sandal that isn’t too strappy. Ensure your toes are not hanging over the edge of the shoe. Colors should be neutral to match with all your favorite summer pieces, and the heel should be accessible for you to walk in. Could you wear them over and over for a few summers? The answer is YES!
Final Recommendation: The ideal height of the heel should be four inches for best comfort. This height elongates the leg while being able to go about your day—but you know yourself better than anyone if you can handle this.
The Classic Tote
The tote is the must-have accessory to finish the look: The cherry on top! A well-made tote can carry you through your day, perhaps at the office, dropping off the children at their lessons or running your day-to-day errands.
Investment Details: Choose a classic fabric or leather, something that won’t easily scratch or scuff. Ensure there are several pockets inside the tote so that keys, pens and other items don’t get lost in the open space. Bold or neutral colors, this bag will carry anything from car keys to our summer novel, to your business files and snacks for the little ones. The multi-purpose item is chic and oh-so-versatile.
Final Recommendation: You should be able to put the tote comfortably over your shoulder in case you are carrying groceries, or you’re at the airport and wheeling your carry on. Test this in the store since there is nothing worse than realizing the handle is just a bit too short to throw over your shoulder (been there!)
Which pieces are you planning to invest in this summer?