I covered footwear a couple of weeks ago from the checklist 50 Classics for Your Closet, so today its time to turn to accessories. The accessories list is over double the size of the footwear list, and for must-haves, I think this is probably about right, but unlike the footwear selection, I am not convinced that every item on their list is a must-have
- Silk Scarf
- Tortoise Sunglasses
- Straw Hat
- Opaque Tights
- Leather Handbag
- Evening Clutch
- Casual Tote
- Colorful Skinny Belt
- Wide Leather Belt
- Lace Underpinnings
- Black Bikini
I love the concept of silk scarves, and indeed, have 5 beautiful ones from Hermes. However, I am not convinced that these are must haves for everyone, or even everyone with a classic wardrobe. While I love them and think that they are works of art, I can’t help but feel either a little bit frumpy or a little bit like an old-fashioned air-hostess when I am wearing one. I am getting better, trying out different methods of tying them, learned at Mai Tai’s Picture Book, and I love one tied on to the handle of a handbag, but I still wouldn’t consider them a must have in my wardrobe. Rather, I prefer long skinny scarves in fabrics like chiffon and jersey, and in cooler, less humid weather you can find my wearing one almost everyday.
A shawl, on the other hand, I can thoroughly endorse for just about everyone, especially in the winter months or when travelling. In fact, I never travel without one (not that I travel that much anymore!) as it is such a great multi-tasker. It takes the place of a scratchy airplane blanket, acts to ward off unseasonable chills in the air, and can be used when entering a place of worship if you need your head or shoulders covered. I also love them in my regular life for their versatility. They can be used as a scarf and tied a multitude of ways, or as a wrap for a touch of old-school glamour. I have a few, but the two I wear the most are vaguely ethnic in pattern and combine or co-ordinate with the main colours in my wardrobe. One is shades of brown, grey and black, and the other is shades of blue, grey and taupe.
I really hope they mean Faux Tortoise Sunglasses! Again, I am not convinced that this belongs on the list. I have a pair and love them, but I really think the colouring of tortoise shell suits those with warmer colouring rather than those with cooler colouring. I think this entry really should have been for a pair of classic, semi-oversized (ie not huge like the Olsen twins used to wear) glasses a la Jackie O, in a shade that suits. My colouring is neutral to cool, so I look much better in my newish black sunnies than I do in my tortoiseshell ones (check them out in this post) image source
I like the inclusion of a Straw Hat in Matchbox’s list, especially in this day and age of rising skin cancer rates. But, and it’s a big but, I honestly feel a bit poxy whenever I have worn one, and so while I have bought a few over the years for holidays in sunny locations, they pretty much get worn by the pool or the beach and then get left behind on the return journey. I might try again if I see a nice one in the summer sales – I’ll let you know how it goes!
I am assuming that when they list an Umbrella, they are not talking about the dime-a-dozen black fold-up variety, but a stylish and more durable one. I don’t think I would go so far as to call this a must-have, but I can say that my umbrella makes me smile every winter. I have had it for over a decade, and got it for free when I used to worked for Aramis fragrances. They used to give away a free one every year and they were quite the collectors item. They were of amazing quality and always had a quirky and unique design. Mine is classic black on the outside, with a wooden and metal handle, but the inside is a vibrant blue sunny sky with fluffy white clouds floating across it. I didn’t realise at the time that the design was “inspired” by MoMA’s classic sky umbrella (the pic above), but I still love it and use it nonetheless, even though I don’t like copies.
I love wearing skirts and dresses (as you can see here!) and cold weather doesn’t change that, and that is where Opaque Tights come in. Despite Kate Middleton supposedly bringing pantyhose back into fashion, I still find it a bit old-fashioned for me, whereas I love a matt black opaque. The key, IMO, is to buy opaques that are thick enough, but not too thick. I’ve seen opaques at about 30 denier, but they often look like sheer pantyhose that are too dark. Conversely, I find 80 denier opaques too heavy, and they remind me a little too much of school uniforms. My personal fave are around 50 – 60 denier (with just a hint of sheerness) and they have to be a true matte. Avoid any that look even remotely shiny when you wear them. While I have only worn black, brown and grey opaque tights in the past, I am planning to experiment with coloured tights this coming winter. image source
You can’t go wrong investing in a good Leather Handbag, so I definitely think this is a good addition to the list of 50 items. In fact, I think the only place that Matchbook erred was only listing one! For me, I think you should work towards having a basic neutral bag that works with your wardrobe (eg black, brown, taupe, grey, tan), and a bag in an accent colour that also works with a lot, if not all, of your wardrobe. For a go-with-everything pop colour, I love an olive to mid green, a cobalt blue or a Hermes orange (like the Kate Spade bag above). These three colours will co-ordinate with most colours and can really elevate your outfit. When choosing a leather bag, again, choose the best you can afford. Go for a simple shape that suits both your wardrobe and your lifestyle, and try and pick minimal embellishment for a bag that will stand the test of time. For your neutral bag, most people say go for black, but I disagree. Unless you only wear black, you will probably find that black is not as versatile as you think. I find a tan or a taupe to be the most versatile colours. They go well with black, but they go just as well with navy, camel, white, brown and beige. Also consider the shape carefully. While size is an obvious consideration, a lot of people forgot to consider whether the shape will go with their wardrobe. If your wardrobe leans towards the casual side, then a slouchier, perhaps hobo-style, bag will look better than a structured lady-like tote, and vice versa.
I don’t have an Evening Clutch, and at this stage of my life with two preschoolers, I probably don’t need one, but it is something that I am keeping my eye out for. I want a black, beaded number that is vintage in style, or a simple black satin envelope style. It needs to be just big enough to fit my phone, some money, my compact foundation and a lipstick. I want it to be a clutch, but to also have a long strap that can be tucked away. And lastly, I want it to be totally unmemorable, so I can use the same clutch over and over again without people realising that I am using the same clutch over and over again. image source
When Matchbook is listing a Casual Tote, they are talking casual as in going to the beach or the pool or on a picnic, not everyday running-after-the-kids casual. I have classic Lands End totes (both monogrammed and in classic navy/natural like above) in medium and extra large, and I use them all the time in summer. They are great for carrying towels and drinks and the myriad of other things you need. I also love using one when I am in a super casual, summery outfit and one of my leather bags (which tend towards the more structured) would not look right. And they are so cheap, that when the natural coloured canvas starts getting grimy after a few years and are beyond washing, then you just replace them. Do I think they are a must-have? No. Like the umbrella, you could easily get away with an even cheaper and more utilitarian type of bag, but sometimes that small investment makes you feel so much more stylish and elegant. image source
So, for the above items, I generally have no problem with them being listed as part of the 50 classics for your closet. It is pretty sound advice that if followed (with a bit of tweaking regarding colours, etc) would provide the backbone for a well rounded accessories selection. If you had each of these, you would pretty much be covered for most occasions, and would be adding in those little extras that help elevate a wardrobe from basic to sophisticated and stylish. The following four items, however, I am not convinced about…
I love a Colourful Skinny Belt. On someone else. These can look great and add a touch of colour to a basic outfit, but they can be a disaster if you are busty, short-waisted or plus sized, and I am all three! They also don’t look great on those who are apple-shaped (women who carry their weight around their tunny) and on rectangle shaped women, they can highlight the fact that the woman doesn’t have a true waistline, rather than “creating” a waist as the belt is meant to do. If you have a waist, are relatively slender and are well proportioned, then go for it. For the other 80%, I would think twice!
Everything I said about the skinny belt pretty much applies to the Wide Leather Belt, except I think there are slightly more people who can wear one and look good.
I would love to have sexy Lace Underpinnings as part of my closet, so if you know of somewhere that sells these, that are supportive for larger cup sizes, and don’t cost over $50 each, then let me know! Joking aside, I think good underpinnings are vital to every closet. I don’t think they need to be lace, but supportive (and hopefully pretty) lingerie can make a world of difference to both how you feel and how you look. The real key is to make sure they fit, since the majority of women are wearing the wrong size. Most often, the cup size is too small and the back size is too big. Get fitted yearly, or if you gain or lose some weight.
The Black Bikini is probably the one item out of the fifty that I really don’t agree with at all. Firstly, black is definitely not the most flattering colour for most women, but that fact notwithstanding, a lot of women would still go for black since they think black is slimming. Which brings me to my second issue; if you are wearing black because you think it will make you look slimmer, then is a bikini really such a great choice? I am so surprised that the list didn’t include what I think of as a classic, the simple tank style maillot. I’ve gone for a tankini style, in navy with white trim, and I find that much more flattering than a black bikini could ever be.
So what do you think? Are these accessories must-have classics for your closet?