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Casey's Clicks
Fashion 101: The Basics

It's easy to find trendy stuff: fashion mags and stores are loaded boho, gypsy and denim stuff you're dying to own.

 More of this feature
Part Two: Pulling it all together
Part Three: Personal Style
 Join the Discussion
"I am trying to build a wardrobe up of "basics"--a few must-have items that can be mixed and matched. "BBBARENY1
 Related Resources
• TeenScene

But when it comes to building a basic wardrobe (and by that I mean Tshirts, jeans, sweaters that won't be over in a few months), things get trickier.

So I've come up with some easy tips for making sure there's something to wear in your closet:

Core pieces
You must have a backbone -- the simple basics --  for your wardrobe! A closet made up of novelty tees and bedazzled jeans or ultra-trendy, current-season-only clothes won't last you through more than a year. Keep in mind that your basics might be different than mine (depending on your climate, school dress code, personal taste, etc.)

But I think there are a few universal items:

  • Two pair of jeans that fit great (A medium wash is the most classic. Avoid super dark rinses or light bleached tints - too trendy for a basic pair).
  • Khaki shorts. Not too short or long.
  • A pair of semi-slim-fit twill trousers.
  • Three solid-color Tshirts. Choose a basic, short-sleeve style in go-with colors like gray, black and white.
  • A button-down oxford
  • A well-fitted denim jacket
  • Nice pair of boots
  • A great pair of sandals - thongs, slides, wedges
  • Several versatile belts

Be yourself
If you forget everything else I've taught you about style, remember just this: only wear what works.

For example, I adore Gwyneth's wardrobe. But I'm not sure days spent hanging with friends and trips to the mall really call for haute couture gowns.

Instead, I rely on cute, "fresh" preppy separates to round out my wardrobe. I'd love to be in NYC or LA where I might get some wear from designer styles, but for now I just need to buy things that fit my lifestyle.

Here's how to assess what works for you:

  • Think about the places you go and what type of clothing is appropriate for your life.
  • Take personal activities and interests into consideration when trying to figure out what you really need.
  • Decide what comfort level you need. If soft fabrics and jeans with stretch have you spoiled, you'll want to stick with those.
  • Assess your figure. Take someone you trust shopping with you and ask her which styles really work on your body.
  • Find an inspirational source, style-wise.  Whether it be Vogue, a certain fashion icon, a designer, or a little catalog, it should be something that gives you ideas for new ensembles, styles, and creations.
  • Here's a little secret: try shopping at stores that aren't limited to teens.  There are so many great places with nice basics and fresh buys that you wouldn't expect finding. Never limit yourself to shopping only at "teen" stores.  For starters, check out J. Jill, Casual Corner, or even Eddie Bauer (great tees and cool prints).

The rules

  • Trends are great in moderation.  The goal is to pick one or two trends each season that you know you won't get sick of fast. (Insider tip: You're less likely to get tired of solids than prints)
  • If you decide to invest in a high-quality trend, don't ditch it the second it goes out.   Hold onto it for a bit - it will definitely come back in style.
  • Learn to live with knock-offs (the stuff you buy in chain and discount stores).   You might adore designer clothing, but where would the money for $300 jeans or even a $75 tee come from?
  • Buy what you love.  Never buy something just because it's trendy, on sale, or because a friend likes it.  Really.
  • Great style is a learned art. Don't worry if you don't have it down pat yet. You'll find your fashion groove over the next few years.
  • Have fun. What good is fashion if can't lift your mood? Great colors, perfect fit and touchable fabrics can be real boosts.

Casey is a real, fashion-forward teenage girl who loves clothes (and describes her own look as "trendy prep")  If you want to ask her a question, post it to the Fashion Forum under "Teen" and put "Ask Casey" in the Subject line.

  

 

 

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