And While We’re On The Subject of Jeans . . .

I cannot believe I spent the entire summer watching What Not To Wear reruns when I could have been watching a show full of fresh new fashion makeovers, in the form of Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style, thank you Ericka for expanding my world.

Thanks to my DVR, which is the best invention since sliced bread the Internet, I recorded several episodes of my new find.  Several could be a double digit number.  Suffice it to say, I’m in fashion TV heaven.  Whether they’re first-run episodes or reruns, they’re all new to me!

So Saturday night, after cleaning up from my brunch and getting the kids settled in their beds, I hunkered down on the couch to see what Tim Gunn is all about.

He’s not Clinton, and his sidekick certainly isn’t Stacey, but it’s a fun show.  The first episode I watched was about a New Jersey teacher and mom of two? three? named Nicole. 

When Nicole opened her closet for perusal, it contained numerous quantities of the same two items — capris and solid t-shirts.  I swear, she must have had 50 of each.  Tim and his sidekick (who is evidently not so memorable as I can’t even remember her name) were astounded that a wardrobe could consist solely of the same two items.

I was not astounded.  My closet looks the same.  I have confessed before that I feel like I’m in a style rut because I basically have a "uniform".  Just replace the capris with blue jeans, and I could be Nicole from New Jersey.  We even have (had) the same profession!

Now, yall know that I adore denim.  Jackets, skirts, capris, and full length blue jeans, I love them all.  And I have no problem justifying the cost of a pair of well-fitting jeans because I wear them so often.  I wear them to run errands during the day, I wear them to visit friends, and I wear them when I go out at night.  In fact, I subscribe to the philosophy that there is almost no event for which a pair of jeans will not be appropriate (exceptions being a black-tie event or a traditional wedding).

Which leads me to my next question.  How many pairs of jeans do you own? 

I just went upstairs to count, and I have 5 pair of full length blue jeans.  I’m not talking about jeans that are rotting in the recesses of my closet; I’m talking about jeans that I wear regularly. 

That’s not so bad, is it?

I also have 3 jean jackets, 2 jean skirts, and a pair of denim just-below-the-knee capris that I wear ALL. SUMMER. LONG.  I’m serious, I probably wear those things five days a week.

Tim Gunn operates under the philosophy that a complete wardrobe consists of 10 Essential Elements.  Which is one reason I like his show.  I feel like What Not To Wear kind of throws their contestants to the wolves.  Even though they give them "rules", it seems like an overwhelming task to go off and shop for an entire new wardrobe without a specific list of items to purchase.

So I was very interested when Tim announced that he had a list of 10 essential pieces for every wardrobe.  Do you have your notepad out?  Here they are.

Tim Gunn’s 10 Essential Wardrobe Elements:

  1. Basic Black Dress – The basic black dress has
    been around for a long time. It is often called the "Little Black
    Dress", and it’s true that shorter skirts on the basic black dress,
    when they hit you in the right place, can be more flattering than a
    long black dress.
  2. Trench Coat – The trench
    coat is one of the pieces that is both classic and currently a hot
    fashion item. Most any store sells this piece now. It is great for fall
    and you can pick it up in a wide range of lengths.
  3. Classic Dress Pants
    Although it doesn’t say black, this is probably what you want to look
    for. Black is flattering on all figures and goes with everything.
  4. White Shirt
    The white shirt is a definite classic. But it can also come in many
    different styles to make it look trendy and not dated or like a man’s
    piece of clothing. Find one that accentuates your best attributes and
    minimizes trouble spots. For example, if you have wide shoulders, stay
    away from large collars.
  5. Jeans – Everyone has
    a pair of jeans, but does everyone have a pair of jeans that make them
    look great? The wider leg, low-rise jean style has been popular (and
    still is) but a narrower leg is coming back along with a higher waist,
    which eliminates the unflattering "muffin top" look.
  6. Cashmere Sweater
    This is one item probably not many people own. But including it forces
    people to buy a piece of clothing that is high quality and that is also
    a luxury item. Having a cashmere sweater in your closet is like giving
    a gift to yourself. And aren’t you worth it?
  7. Skirt
    If you need dress pants then you also need a skirt. A skirt is womanly
    and can be flirty or businesslike. Nowadays women do not wear many
    skirts or dresses, which makes a lot of them fall into a rut of
    dressing sloppily or like men. See number 8.
  8. Day Dress – Women
    also are not wearing as many dresses anymore. It was certainly
    liberating to go from the ’50s when women wore dresses every day to
    wearing more practical pants for gardening, exercising, and so forth.
    But the dress does not have to be abandoned altogether. They can be
    very flattering, and there is nothing wrong with "dressing up" for
  9. Blazer – The blazer sounds very
    masculine, but when you get the right one with a proper shape it is
    not. Women’s blazers should follow the silhouette of a woman’s body and
    accent the hourglass curve at her waist. It is also a perfect piece to
    put with the skirt or dress pants, and white shirt. Or make it casual
    with a pair of jeans.
  10. Sweat Suit Alternative
    As mentioned before, women wear fewer skirts and dresses these days.
    But some women have taken casual to the extreme and spend days on end
    in sweat suits. It is possible to be casual and comfortable without
    looking like a slob. Find a comfortable material (that’s why this
    doesn’t say jeans again – denim is not as comfortable as a nice soft
    cotton) that you would want to wear every day. It could be khakis,
    cords, a cotton dress, or much more.

How many of those items do you have in YOUR closet?  Here’s my list.

1) The basic black dress.  Yes and no.  I do have a nice black-and-white number that I got this summer.  I feel like it is appropriate for most summer dressy events.  The black dress hanging in my closet that I wore to Hubby’s office Christmas party a few years back is on its way to a consignment shop.  In retrospect, I can see that it is not a particularly flattering cut for me.  I will need to replace it this year.

2) Trench Coat.   Yes!  I have a pretty aqua-colored trench that I bought on sale at Ann Taylor loft a couple years ago.  Whenever I wear it, I get compliments.  I usually save it for a rainy day, but I’m thinking I should wear it more often.

3) Classic Dress Pants.  I have several nice pairs of slacks.  In the winter, I prefer slacks to
skirts.  I usually pair them with a cashmere sweater for church and
other dressy events.

4) White Shirt.  No.  I do NOT wear blouses.  I just don’t.  I have yet to find one that is flattering on me.

5) Jeans.  We have already established that I have a collection of jeans.  And I certainly hope they make me look great.  With the exception of one pair, all have been purchased within the last year-and-a-half, and they weren’t exactly cheap.

6) Cashmere Sweater.  I also have a collection of cashmere sweaters.  I adore cashmere.  I think I’ve gotten one for Christmas the last several years in a row.

7) Skirt.  I have a couple of pretty summer skirts.  I’d like to get a nice winter skirt so I’m not wearing pants to church every week in the wintertime.

8) Day Dress. I guess I don’t really have one of these.  And frankly, I see no need.

9) Blazer.  Negative.  Blazers sound so masculine to me.  And not very practical for my lifestyle.  If I had a job, maybe.  I have several denim jackets, do those count?

10) Sweat Suit Alternative.  I have cords for winter.  I have brown twill walking shorts for summer.  None of these are what I’d consider a sweat suit alternative.  NOTHING is as comfy as spandex. 

Which is why I must I respectfully disagree with style gurus everywhere that a stylish sweat suit is inappropriate for going anywhere but the gym.  I actually find sweat suits to be quite suitable for grocery shopping and dropping one’s kids off at school. 

Two days a week, I actually go directly from school to the gym to lift weights, and I usually keep my sweatpants and t-shirt for the rest of the day afterwards.  I honestly don’t know why this is a problem, as long as it’s cute and fits well. 

Not that mine necessarily fits that criteria.  In fact, I’ve been thinking that I should get something a little more stylish since what I’m wearing is Old Navy circa 2001.  But I still assert that a stylish sweat suit is an appropriate staple in any mom’s wardrobe.

So what have I learned?  If I want to be a model Tim Gunn pupil, I need to introduce a white blouse, a blazer, a winter skirt, and a day dress to my wardrobe. 

And I think it’s quite clear that I need to place a moratorium on purchasing blue jeans for a while. 

And I suppose I should look into the possibility of a sweat suit alternative.  But you will have to pry my sweat pants out of my cold dead hands.

How about you?  How many of the essential wardrobe items do you own?  And how do you feel about moms wearing sweats out of the house?