Building a Classic Wardrobe through Consignment Shopping

December 01


The word “classic” sounds expensive and labor intensive, but building a solid, wearable wardrobe, of classic, yet functional, pieces should be fairly easy and potentially a lot of fun.

Forget about old-school Brooks Brothers, stiff, stuffy and boring, and think about what makes you feel confident and comfortable, without having to wonder too much about what goes with what. It all goes together!

Today’s classic wardrobe includes these easy-to-find secondhand pieces:

1. Jean Jacket

Once again, the jean jacket has made another comeback! The more classic the better. Think Levis, with a little extra wear in the fabric. It looks great on most women’s figures, and it’s the kind of clothing item that never goes completely out of style. It’s durable, maintains its shape and size, and can be dressed up or down to suit your style need. Just this morning I saw a woman show up at the gym wearing her jean jacket over her Lulu workout wear. So cool. So perfect.

2. Pants

Skinny jeans are the first obvious recommendation for a classic wardrobe, but there are so many more styles to choose from. If you don’t find skinnies comfortable or flattering, look to the millions of other cuts and fabrics, some with a bit of stretch that makes them even more comfortable and flattering. Do try to stay with a “less embellished” style; no bling on the back pockets, no whiskers, no tears and no bleach. There’s a time and place for those (kind of!), but not in a classic wardrobe. Higher waists are back, and are great for holding in the tummy and covering all the “parts”. Slightly flared is always an option, especially if the flare is worn with a more fitted top. The main thing is to feel comfortable and put together, and to keep it simple and elegant. As with finding princes and such, you have to try on a lot to find the one that fits.

For summertime, try classic chinos in a loose fit, or drawstring waist linen. Love!

3. Long-Sleeve Cotton Button-Down

This too is a style that looks good on just about all of us. And it also a style that you’ll find in abundance at good consignment shops. They should be inexpensive enough that you’ll be able to stock up. The most basic version is white, with simple buttons and the right cut for your body. A beautiful pinstripe would be good too, along with plenty of florals and solids that would add a little understated pizzazz (oxymoron?!). A longer cut in the torso means a little more movement and coverage for you as you move the world, and it will look fab with a cardigan or light blazer. Again, try them on. They all fit a little differently, and the more perfectly nipped and tucked on your body, the better you’ll feel about your style.

4. Sheath Dress

I love the sheath dress. Period. But I’m not sure it works on everyone. If it’s good on your body, you’re lucky and it’s perfect. A little jewelry, a nice pair of flats, and you’re on your way for the day. If, however, the cut is a little too staid, and makes you look like a girl in a box with your head sticking out, you might need to think about choosing a different style. In warm weather, stick with cotton weave – definitely no silk, and no polyester. If you like your shoulders, look for a style that cuts in a little, showing off your great arms. Waists are to be flaunted! Look for something that nips in and accentuates your curves just a little. You can’t go wrong with a hemline just a couple of inches above your knee or hem it a little longer, at the length where your calves are their smallest, just below the knee. When wearing a classic dress style, like any of these, you can go a little crazy with pattern and color. Just hold back on jewelry if the fabrics are bold.

5. Flats & Wedges

I couldn’t decide between these two, so I’m choosing both! Ballet flats are always a classic choice. If you’re a little older, or you’re wanting a more elegant look, forego the bow on the toe. A slightly pointed-toe flat is also a good classic choice, and suits some personal styles better than the ballet option. There are all kinds of colors and patterns to choose from, so look for the pair that suits your classic style, and stay within your “age appropriate” range. The wedge gives any outfit a classic summertime feel. It’s most versatile in a natural tan leather, and – bonus – because it’s the color of your skin, it’ll make your legs look longer. The perfect pair may be a little harder to find secondhand, but be patient, it will show up and you’ll be happy when it does.

In either case, try them on, and do a lap around the store. If the flats don’t stay on or don’t feel comfortable, put them back and try another. If the wedges make you walk funny, or worse yet shuffle funny, not a perfect fit.

6. Stud Earrings

Pearls, diamonds, gold, silver or rose are all perfect for the woman who is not at all concerned about flash, but wants a simple, sophisticated style. Metals don’t have to match with the rest of the outfit. Wear them with confidence. No one knows if they’re “real” or not. Finish up the look with a basic watch or bracelet, Timex or Cartier; it’s about how you wear it, not how much it costs. And when was the last time you dug out your 7th grade boyfriend’s ID bracelet out? Fun! Flaunt it.

Stop in at Rags Consignments and see how easy, and fun, it is to start building a beautiful wardrobe full of classic pieces that will never go out of style.