I did something quite uncharacteristic and fell down a Reddit rabbit hole this week.
Specifically, what they call “French Fashion” The principle here is that you buy five items of clothing per season, aside from basics, for a total of ten items per year. (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter are grouped.) You, in the end, have a core wardrobe+a few things to freshen it up.
The comments are a bizarre mix of comical and deeply useful, roughly in proportion to the age of the commenter. (IE, there seem to be a disproportionately high number of girls who have only yesterday stopped wearing leggings and Uggs every day, but there are also some legit grownups.) Worth reading with a large pinch of salt.
An acquaintance who shopped this way for years said it was actually exhausting–your basics get so much wear that you spend an inordinate amount of time replacing them, and good basics are in fact somewhat challenging to find. Still, its an interesting formula.
There are two critical terms that the threads seem deeply resistant to defining. The first is quality. Understandably, with so many of the respondents just leaving college, there’s a sense of “anything is better than GAP/Urban Outfitters.” If you want a more detailed discussion of quality, I like the series HERE. Look around for her “I have nothing to wear” flowchart while you’re there. Fascinating.
The more amorphous point of all this is what defines “basic.” I few enumerated lists I found suggest that things like white T-shirt dresses are awesome staples (this person obviously knows underwear secrets that I do not) and that no wardrobe is complete without denim shorts. Cutoffs, even. To which I say better you than me.
I’ve struggled a bit with defining (not to mention buying) basics, anyway, especially as I have gotten older and my hair is no longer gloriously, perfectly auburn. Read: I am, in classic redhead style, becoming a faded brunette with a hefty dose of grey in my early 30s. Mother nature giveth, and mother nature taketh away. This means my ability to wear black near my face is rapidly diminishing. (If I really loved black, I would wear it anyway, but I don’t.) In a perfect world, I would own grey and navy instead, but tell that to the people who manufacture women’s clothes.
I started writing out my list of basics here, but, man, I am verbose when I am writing-as-thinking. Come back for that half tomorrow.