Sometimes I open up my closet in utter frustration. How can there possibly be so many clothes, and yet I have nothing to wear? I have blouses in nearly every color, tank tops to suit any event and sweaters begging to be worn. How can my love for all these items be so short-lived? Sure, I still adore a few pieces, but if I wear them one more time, people are going to start wondering whether I own much else.
Like so many others out there, I have discovered that I suffer from impulse buying. That pretty much means that if it's on sale, I immediately consider buying it. If giving up buying isn't an option, there must be some other way to remedy the problem that so many seem to share.
First, we have to realize that with all of the impulse buying that we do these days, our closets have become never-ending black holes full of generic, mediocre stuff. There are always the girls who are aspiring to somehow fit into their pre-college "skinny" jeans and guys who are still attached to their old high school sports T-shirts that have accumulated years of food residue.
Needless to say, some of this has got to go. It's becoming ridiculous to hold on to or continually buy all of the articles of clothing we no longer need or will only wear once. Therefore, the easiest way to go about shopping these days is to get what's necessary — not just focusing on what you want right now, but what's going to be useful for the future.
It's difficult to think past the present, especially when it comes to money, but by allowing a few essential clothing items to inhabit our wardrobe, we can instantly be set for any occasion. With styles and tastes continually changing, it's important to have clothing that can withstand numerous years of use as we age.
Beginning with the men, a suit is always a good item to have handy. Though it probably won't be worn frequently at this point, a suit in navy, black or gray is great to have on hand for interviews or special occasions. With a suit, there are plenty of clothing combinations that can be made by mixing and matching the coat and the pants. They are also great when it comes to another essential item: the casual button-down.
A button-down can do wonders for a man. Usually, if they are bought in neutral colors, they can be paired with jeans or any other casual pant. They're light, airy and can easily be used to dress up or down.
Button-downs can even be paired with a great vintage T-shirt. Ranging from concert tees to college-inspired themes, throwing one on under an open button-down can make any casual look become instantly hip. It's a great way to modernize while still being your age.
This brings me to another mandatory item for a male's closet, and chances are that most, if not all, guys already own it. It's about as basic as they come — the traditional blue jean, except this jean differs from what most men own. I can't even recall how many times girls have commented as to how crucial it is for men to own a great pair of jeans.
Brand names aren't even an issue here, because it's all about the fit and the wash. The fit shouldn't be too baggy but not too tight, either. Usually a boot-cut or wider leg is ideal, and it should sit reasonably around the hips.
Surprisingly, women also require very similar essentials. Just as any man needs a respectable suit, a woman in her early 20s must have the perfect pantsuit, preferably in neutral colors that are made out of a lightweight, medium material. Although a classic suited skirt is ageless, the pantsuit is more comfortable for most women. It doesn't require nylons and presents a confident and powerful look. Traditionally cut pantsuits in colors like black, grey, navy and taupe all work with a variety of accessories and blouses, so they can easily be worn for formal job duties or even out to dinner.
Along with the pantsuit, every woman must own a little black dress. I know that it seems very cliché, but I only say it because it's so irrefutably true. It's important to select a dress in a woven material (stretch materials likely won't hold their shape after a few wears) and get it dry-cleaned whenever possible. Dry-cleaning will only allow the fabric to last longer and help to resist fading. I firmly believe that if you are going to own a few pieces of designer clothing, this is probably one of the places to splurge. The use you can get out of this item is truly well worth the heavy price tag.
If there were to be another piece that you should go crazy designer for, it's your pair of jeans. I must say, I never really thought too much about jean brands until I actually tried on a more expensive pair. The cut was absolutely to die for, and the wash was an immaculate dark indigo. Truth be told, I was sold.
While Citizens of Humanity and Joe's make a great pair of tailored jeans, I found my stomach turning into knots at just the thought of forking more than nearly $200 per pair. If you can afford them, then more power to you. However, I think I'll just make due with my $100 Express paper denim jeans, which give me nearly the same look for half the price. A great pair of jeans that can be worn with heels is a must, but don't be fooled into thinking that spending a fortune is the only way it can be done.
With pants being covered, there is no other way to get around owning a button-down white shirt. Even if ironing isn't your thing, there are always some wrinkle-free blouses. Otherwise, the classic 100 percent cotton or Lycra/cotton blend is just fine. After all, it's probably the most in-demand item in any fashionable woman's closet. Not only can it be paired with almost anything, but when everything else seems to have gone out of style, this remains a classic.
Finally, there's one necessary item that can be paired with all of the others mentioned: Every woman must own a great black shoe. Whether they are pointy-toed, platform or a pair of sweetheart round-toes, a black shoe never goes out of style. It's a piece to invest sensibly in because you'd like them to remain in good shape over many years.
Whether you suffer from some of the symptoms of a continual spender or you hardly add to your wardrobe at all, it's important to always have the basics down. While these are just some requirements of an exceedingly long list, they're enough to propel your wardrobe instantaneously.
Remember, it's always better to start simple and expand according to your lifestyle. After all, timeless pieces don't mean boring.
Lauran Sloan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Need help separating the trendy from timeless? Send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.