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?

Join The Conversation

19 Responses

  1. You are all about fashion this week! I guess the change in season has you all inspired to get out there and shake things up a bit.

    I counted and I have 6 pair of long jeans and 5 pair of capri jeans. That’s been my wardrobe for a while. But, now that I go into work 2 days a week, I’ve expanded my wardrobe. I now have a great pair of black and dark brown slacks. I’m wearing skirts with blouses, I might add. And I even have a cute “blazer” type thing, that I plan to break out when it gets a little cooler. I wore a new outfit to school yesterday and I got at least 5 compliments on it. It was a good day! Oh, and I have 3 blue jean jackets! I have a cute on that I like to wear with a black shirt and white shirt (I’ll be pulling that one out too, when it gets cooler!).

    Well, I’ll be looking for more fashion tips soon!

  2. I own…five? Six? Pairs of jeans that I wear in a rotation. I just recently updated my jean wardrobe (I need to post on this, I keep telling myself I am going to) and am retiring two pairs. I got a pair of nice, dark rinse, flare, dressy jeans, and I LOVE them. They make me feel like a rock star.

    Regarding the “new” high waist jeans? We just.got.out. of the high-waist jeans category in the late 90s! Me, Miss Naturally High Waisted, was so thankful for the advent of low-rise jeans. If you buy lower-rise jeans that fit, they shouldn’t muffin top on you. I cannot, I will not, go back to high waisters!!! 🙂

    I do have a little black dress from Ann Taylor Loft. I bought it for my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago, but it’s just a simple black sheath dress, very classic. I also have a fancy, sequiny, ooh-la-la little black dress that I wore in Vegas last year. It is incredibly flattering and good for parties, nights out, etc.

  3. For dress ideas, you need to check out the blog “A Dress A Day”… she specializes in interesting, fun, throw-back sort of dresses and updates them (she’s a seamstress)… anyway, I find them very fun and feminine and while I don’t always like what she chooses, I learn something new all the time and have gained a greater appreciation for the “old school” house dress in days of yore.

    Me personally? I love long skirts now… having lived overseas in very modest places, I practically LIVE in long skirts, and I totally love em. All colors, shapes, textures, and yes, sizes… I’ve really become a long-skirt convert.


  4. WOw, I’ve never heard of that show! I think I have 4 pair of jeans. *I* think they are flattering. I also do not usually wear blouses. I can’t find any that fit.

    I’m not sure about the trench coat…

  5. I have all of it except a day dress (intrigued though – want to try it), but several pieces need to be replaced – the white shirt, the skirt and of course, I need more jeans (and a new pair of cords). I also need more cashmere, but ugh, hard to justify! I wear athletic wear out and about every now and again. I try to do cute stuff with some structure and style, but you know, sometimes just yoga pants and a hoodie or a fleece pullover.

  6. I have almost none of those but I have to say I love Tim Gunn. I love how he speaks and his incredibly dry wit.

    Oh and her name is Veronica Webb – model in the 80s. 🙂 I just remember her because I was in high school then and obsessed with models.

  7. I have one pair of jeans. I can’t wear them to work, so I can’t justify spending the money to buy several pairs. However, I have TONS of twin sets and polo shirts. Man, I need to go shopping!

  8. I think the show should be give Tim Gunn two toddlers to chase around all day, and see how his wardrobe looks! Don’t get me wrong, I love Timm Gunn (Project Runway). I haven’t seen this show. I don’t have a trench coat (many others), a white shirt (replace that with a black turtleneck), or a cashmere sweater. As far as sweatsuits, I spent the whole day yesterday in black yoga pants from Nike, it’s to comfortable. Five pairs of jeans is nothing, I have 13 that I wear I am an addict and I still want to buy more, help!

  9. hmmm…I own a lot of essentials, not so much the dresses though.

    I love Stacey and Clinton, but I may have to check this guy out. Thanks for the tip!

  10. I don’t have a basic black dress, but I do have a basic brown dress that serves a similar purpose. No trench coat, though I love the way they look. I have just never felt like I could pull that look off for some reason. I have had versions of classic dress pants but have begun looking for new ones (non-maternity of course). I do have a white shirt that I really like, very flattering fit and can be worn alone or under a jacket/blazer. I have jeans but I don’t love them. They all sag in the rear and I need to find some better ones (again non-maternity of course). I don’t have a cashmere sweater–the price scares me away. I have many skirts and wear them often in the summer. I have dressy skirts for church and more casual skirts for running errands or going out. In the summer I don’t wear shorts if I can help it, only skirts or capris. I don’t have any day dresses–hard to find flattering, affordable ones in my opinion. I have a couple of blazers. I love them. They can make an outfit just slightly dressier, which is great for church or nicer nights out. And, they are a great weight when it is not too cold but you need a layer. Which is often in TX. I do not have a sweat-suit alternative. I think some of them are cute, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable in them. If I was going to the gym/had just been, then maybe so, but otherwise, jeans and a long-sleeved v-neck shirt are fine for me.

    I like dressing a little bit when I go out, even just to run errands. As a stay-home mom I can stay in “lazy clothes” all day, so it feels good to put on real clothes when going out. And I like to project an image of being put-together and organized when going out (even if it is just an image sometimes!). I think the way I dress often affects my mood and outlook, so dressing up a bit when I go out helps me feel less overwhelmed at the difficult parts of running around with several small children.

    I love talking about clothes!

  11. thank you for clarifying who Tim Gunn is…

    I guess I should have goggled him awhile ago, but I kept seeing his name in posts and wondered who he was.

    I have all of it, except it’s all in the wrong size for my post-pregnancy body. Okay, scratch that – I do NOT have a cashmere sweater (cashmere anything)

    As far as blazers go, I’m picturing more like a tailored waist length cute one.


  12. Well, my husband probably won’t be thrilled to hear I need to go shopping again, but he’ll get over it. On my list are a trench coat–I did look at several this past weekend, a new cashmere sweater–mine is two sizes too big now, a skirt and day dress–but I’m not so sure about these. I have never been real big on dresses or skirts. As far as the sweats go, I am not opposed to them, but I feel lazy and frumpy when I where them. I feel much better about myself when I’m “dressed”.

  13. Well, I don’t have a trench coat or a cashmere sweater, and I don’t suppose I really have a sweatsuit alternative (still not totally clear what that would be), but other than that, I think I have it all covered.
    I think sweatsuits – as long as they fit well, are in good shape (no holes, etc.) and are clean – are perfectly fine for grocery shopping and such. As a matter of fact, I’m looking for a couple of good sets myself, because the are oh so comfortable! All that I have are worn out and NOT suitable for even pumping gas, which is why I’m in the market for something new.
    I agree with you there though, I see no reason for an alternative if what you have is nice and FITS CORRECTLY!!

  14. I just adore Tim Gunn’s new show. I’m currently reading his book. I get lots of tips from What Not To Wear, but I think Tim and Veronica handle the whole process with more dignity and humanity. They try hard not to embarrass and humiliate people during the transformation.

    I’m working right now on cleaning out my closet and starting to build a wardrobe based on those basic principles.

  15. *black dress-check

    *trench coat-sort of…mine isn’t the usual trench fabric, but it is that cut, and quite stylish

    *dress pants-nope. I have too hard a time finding pants that fit and continue to fit, so I’ve given up on them for the time being

    *skirts-heck yeah, I wear them all the time! they’re really not impractical, once you get the hang of wearing them for casual, kid-duty sort of time

    *classic white shirt-oh, yeah

    *jeans-only one pair for wearing out of the house, and I don’t wear them that often

    *day dress-several. as comfy as my jeans, honestly, and they make me feel so much more put together. The feeling of wearing them is worth as much or more than the way it looks

    *cashmere sweater-I had one but gave it to Goodwill a while back because I never wore it–too cliche for my taste

    *blazer-a couple

    *sweat suit alternative-why bother? I’ve got athletic clothes that I don’t think look awful, so I just wear them. I don’t care what I look like at the grocery store or Target

  16. SO glad you enjoyed the show. I love Tim Gunn, you’ll love him even more if you watch Project Runway, which I googled yesterday and it airs NOVEMBER 14TH and 10:00 your time. Yikes, its that way too late for you (is me).
    I can’t wait!!!!!
    If you have time this weekend, go to blocbuster and try to get a season to pre-watch. Any season is great, I really enjoyed two.
    I have absolutely NOTHING that Tim says to get, but in my dream life I would double!

  17. I really enjoyed your post on fashion. Now that last baby is 14 mo. old and weened, I have decided to get serious about my sorry wardrobe. I have a few weddings a parties this fall, so I needed a good black dress. I found a great one at (of all places) Kohls. I will do a blog and post a picture of it. It looks like something Audrey Hepburn would wear and it is machine washable!!!! I have only 2 pairs of jeans from 3 years ago. They seem newer just cuz I was pregnant in between that time and couldn’t wear them. I have one pair of dress jeans that are trouser shaped and one boot cut (cute) pair. I also am always looking for a great white shirt that doesn’t buckle in the wrong places. I was surprised that Kohls had as many cute pieces as they did. THey have a new Vera Wang line that is beautiful. DH got me a grey velour sweat pant suit from victoria Secret that is really cute. I have never owned Cashmere but will look into it. What is a day dress? I love the shirt dresses out now. I need shoes too. I have one black pair and one brown. THen I have a pair of black boots. THey all look dated, so I will have to go get more shoes this fall too.

    Keep me posted on what you find.

  18. Well, I am a huge “What Not” fan! To each his own guru! I don’t think you have too much denim at all. I’m proud to say I recently bought my first pair of trouser jeans. Go me!

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