The Bare Necessities

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The other day in class, one of my professors said: “It takes a lot of work to really be a glamorous woman.” She wasn’t trying to be cynical or disparaging – although she said it in reference to the feminist art of Cindy Sherman, which largely poked fun at glamour – but I had to disagree. I firmly believe “glamour” isn’t about designer clothes or perfectly glossed hair, but simply the idea of feeling your best. When you look good, you feel good; it’s that easy.

Still, glamour isn’t completely effortless. You can’t exactly feel or look your best without putting in a little bit of work, right? Not to mention experimentation; it would be truly miraculous to stumble upon the clothes and beauty products that best suit your body and lifestyle on the first try. You have to play around with different shapes, styles, fabrics and textures. But where do you start?

For me, the first stop on the road to Glamour Town is “Basics.” Basics include jeans and t-shirts, of course, but even more importantly, they include the classic clothes you need for work and events. Not to mention great accessories; a woman is nothing without her best bags and shoes.

Every magazine article about “closet essentials” or “the best basics” will tell you to buy plain black pants, a crisp white button-down, a black blazer, black pumps, maybe a pair of jeans or two… Excuse me while I drift into deep slumber. Since when do basics have to be so lifeless? Instead of the standard black blazer, try one with an interesting shape, like draped lapels or an open front. Or go with a bright hue like coral, which is subtle enough for the office but bold enough for your sweetest summer ensembles. (Throw it over a white dress or denim cut-offs for an easy and chic outfit). The same can be said for black pants. Instead of your typical straight leg, choose a cigarette style or a wide, flattering flare. These shapes are on-trend yet not dramatically different, so you won’t stick out like a sore thumb in your internship or work event.

You have even more leeway when it comes to the “classic white blouse.” Stiff, starchy office styles are not only uncomfortable, but they’re painfully uninspired – and with so many other options out there, why suffer? The same style is being done in soft fabrics like silk and satin, so you get the same crisp look with some interesting texture. You’ll stand out from the others in a completely non-obvious way.

I always say the key to a truly memorable outfit is accessorizing, and this is especially true for your essential basics. Although you’ll radiate chic in your silk blouse and Audrey-Hepburn-esque skinny pants, grabbing a bold bag on your way out the door changes everything. You can play with different colors, sizes, patterns and textures since your black-and-white outfit is so neutral, but I personally prefer oversized envelope clutches in rich textures. A snakeskin, studded or chevron envelope clutch is understated and chic.

Similarly, I think a gold watch is both timeless and unbelievably versatile. A gold watch literally goes with any ensemble, but it also lends a hint of masculinity and sheen to basic outfits. Try a slightly oversize style for a trendy touch, or a smaller, feminine style for a quieter statement.

Sophomore > Journalism and Art History > Indiana University

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