fall 2010 series: the essentials + where to shop them for less

For the next post in the Fall 2010 Series, I figured it was time to move onto clothes and do a post about the essentials for a fall wardrobe. The majority (or all) of these basics will be no-brainers for many, but it never hurts to review your options, now does it?

The clothes and accessories I’ve listed here are commonly referred to as “investment pieces” — wardrobe standards that you should invest a little extra money in to get the best quality, as you’ll be wearing them often. However, I believe that you still don’t need to break the bank to purchase good fall essentials — there are plenty of affordable options out there! (Especially at outlet shops, sample sale websites, and places like Neiman Marcus Last Call … the home of my new black Vera Wang dress!) Which is why, at the end of this post, I’ll do a quick list of ways to get designer pieces for a lot less. So without further preface …

Click collage to enlarge.

Part I: The Essentials

A good jacket | A fabulous jacket is the basis for every fashionista’s wardrobe. This is one area where quality definitely reigns, as a solid jacket will keep you warm and looking chic. Plus, you wear it every day (for multiple seasons!), so the cost per wear should be next to nothing. Maybe you already have a fantastic jacket, but if you’re looking for a new piece to rejuvenate your wardrobe (I certainly am), go for a camel color or basic black. Military style trenches are in for this fall (as are leather jackets, bombers, capes, and anoraks), but be sure what you’re buying is not too trendy, especially if you’re putting a lot of money into it.

A pair of perfectly fitted jeans | There is nothing better than a good pair of jeans, a pair you can always trust to fit you perfectly. We all have a ton of jeans, but if you’re anything like me, you tend to gravitate towards the same one or two pairs every time. If you’ve already found your perfect brand, that’s great! (Personally, I love J Brands … the fit is incredible, they are insanely comfortable, and the inseams are long enough for my legs.) If not, keep looking (try on several brands at an upscale department store … I promise you’ll find something that works if you look hard enough!) to find the jeans for you, and than try and snag them at a lower price (see the bottom of this post).

Tall leather boots | Buttery leather boots are a staple of any fall shoe collection and this year, they’re back in a big way with over the knee boots (which look fabulous with tights a cute dress). For those of us who don’t want to take the trend to the extreme, tall leather boots are the perfect alternative. You can wear them multiple seasons without them falling apart (if they’re good quality, that is) and they go with practically everything. I am guilty of wearing one pair of leather boots practically every day during the fall and winter for two years straight. (But again, in terms of cost per wear, they cost only a few pennies!)

An oversized silk blouse | I love this trend for fall. It’s simple, understated, and sophisticated at the same time. Plus, an oversized blouse (whether it be silk, chiffon, or some other material) is a great investment piece for your wardrobe. It can go from day (with a pair of jeweled flats and slim-fitted black pants, like the J. Crew Minnie Pant which I am currently obsessing over) to night (loosely tucked into a body con skirt with chunky jewelry and sleek pumps) quite easily. It’s a versatile piece that I’m looking to add to my wardrobe this season.

A utilitarian tote | I never liked the utilitarian trend — until J. Crew came along with their August catalogue (starring Maryna Linchuk), that is. Among the loads of cargo, silk, and sequins was this tote bag (also shown above). Simple, yet perfect for fall. It’s black color, durable fabric, and leather handles match with just about everything and are a great alternative to the increasingly trendy Longchamp “Le Pliage” bag.

The one-shoulder dress | A chic, updated version of the LBD, draped, one-shoulder dresses sprang up on the f/w 2010 runways in abundance. Despite its recent elevation to “fall trend” status, the one-shoulder dress is a standout wardrobe basic: it’s a flattering style for any special event and sets one apart from a sea of strapless cocktail dresses. Go for it in classic black, or a mauve or nude shade.

Voluminous trousers | A luxe pair of trousers are a great way to dress up any look without being, well, “dressed up.” Once you find a pair that fits nicely and flatters your figure, they’ll last forever and be a go-to piece when you simply can’t decide what to wear to work. As long as they’re not overly baggy, the extra volume helps offset a more fitted combo (like a dress shirt and blazer) up top.

A go-to pair of heels | Pumps are quite an obvious basic for any girl — a good pair will go with anything and be perfect for slipping on with any combination of dresses, trousers, and blouses. Patent is especially chic in black or nude if done correctly (too shiny, colorful, or with an overly pointed toe and you risk looking tacky). Look for a pair with a solid stacked heel that’s not too high (somewhere between 2.5 and 4 inches, depending on what you’re used too), so they’ll be comfortable for walking around.

Part II: Where to Shop

Everyone’s heard this advice before: If you’re just buying a trendy piece to supplement your seasonal wardrobe, get it for less at a store like Forever 21 or H&M. But if you’re shopping for a basic, it’s better to spend a little extra money for quality that will last you through the years.

Still, it’s always a bonus if you can get quality, designer pieces without splurging, and I’m going to quickly share a few of my favorite options here. Be sure to let me know in the comments of other ways you’ve found useful!

  • TopButton.com | A website where you can sign up for sample sale emails for new sales coming up in your city.
  • ShopItToMe.com | Sign up for emails featuring your favorite brands and styles on sale!
  • Ebay | Seriously, if you’re lusting after a specific piece, check for it on Ebay (look for NWT, or “New With Tags” items with photos from a seller with a good rating). It’s a great way to find denim — I bought a pair of brand new Hudson jeans there from this seller for $50. (Still not a total steal, but at least they were real … beware of super-cheap finds!)
  • Clothingline.com | A weekly sample sale in New York City — they stock a lot of J. Crew, Theory, Free People, and Tory Burch, among other finds.
  • TheOutNet.com | Net-A-Porter.com’s sister site, stocking tons of designer duds for less. They also have flash/pop-up sales and fabulous giveaways (which are impossible to win, but still).
  • Neiman Marcus Last Call | A cool outlet for Neiman Marcus clothes and shoes (including Louboutins, if you’re lucky). You really have to dig through the stuff in the store, but they have some incredible finds, especially on the extra-discounted clearance racks. Recently, I purchased a new Vera Wang Lavender Label dress (retail $525) for $70.
  • Outlet Shopping | Outlet malls are a great resource. Just be sure you’re buying something that you’ll wear this season and the next, and don’t get sucked into purchasing something ugly/trendy just because it’s cheap. I’ve found that Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Calvin Klein have especially good outlets. (With big discounts — some brands barely give you anything off!)
  • RueLaLa.com | I love sample sale websites like Gilt, Ideeli, and HauteLook, but RueLaLa is my favorite. Their site is clean and easy to use, with a great selection of high end and low end designers at heavily discounted prices (they even have special treats, like vacations and wine tastings). Note: clicking the links for RueLaLa.com, HauteLook.com, Ideeli.com, and Gilt.com will take you to my personal invite link, as these sites are invite-only.

View the full Fall 2010 Series here.

{Source: Images used in first collage via net-a-porter.com, vanmildert.com, and jcrew.com. Images used in second collage via ruelala.com, theoutnet.com, ideeli.com, gilt.com, hautelook.com, and neimanmarcus.com. Collage background image from computer-wallpaper-backgrounds.com.}

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7 thoughts on “fall 2010 series: the essentials + where to shop them for less

  1. Pingback: vena cava for aqua | collection favorites « Prada For Breakfast

  2. I finally feel like I’m at the point in my life and my wardrobe that I can spend the season filling in holes in my wardrobe with quality pieces. I am looking for a great silk shirt that has a silhouette that will carry into seasons to come. I’m not sure oversized is what I want, but I wouldn’t mind something with a tie neck.

  3. Love this post, and I especially love that one-shoulder dress! I’m going to have to start looking around at some of the places you listed…I didn’t even know this, but after looking at the website, there’s a Neiman Marcus Last Call in my general location! So excited.

  4. perfect list of fall essentials! there are a few things i need to add to my wardrobe… and I totally agree with your list of discount stores. I swear by the outlets and places like TJ Maxx and would probably cry tears of joy if they put a Neiman Marcus Last Call by us! I also find that Lohemann’s has a great selection from time to time :} I haven’t heard of some of these but will totally check them out!

    http://dressedupallligators.blogspot.com/

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