Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wardrobe Workhorse Count-Up

When I was thinking about what to select for the Wardrobe Workhorse Week, my black Steve Madden Boots, my black wool coat, and my collection of scarves immediately popped into mind. These items are, far and away, my favorite ones in my wardrobe. I wear them constantly in the fall/winter/spring, and it is only in the summer when they are all not in frequent rotation. I was looking for photos of these items and I realized that this blog has not existed over a winter yet! It is still a baby blog, haha. I have therefore not posted any photos of my wool coat here, nor of my favorite scarf, which seems sacrilegious. Well, that is now rectified in this post!
As I was looking through the photos on the blog, however, my last two selections for my Wardrobe Workhorses made themselves clear--my neutral work skirt and my neutral cardigans. These items seem to show up time and time again, and work with almost every item in my wardrobe. They don't elicit the same sense of joy as the first three items, but are worn just as often and are another set of foundation pillars in my closet.
Here are my selections for the Wardrobe Workhorse Week!

Black Steve Madden Boots

I love these boots. I had previously worn through three different pairs of black fake-suede calf-high boots (all looking extremely similar to this pair) over the course of three years before I decided that I should probably invest in a leather pair that would last a bit longer--obviously my taste in boots was remaining consistent and this would not be an impulse buy. I looked for the pair for about six months (I am VERY picky) and ended up returning them a few times due to flawed sole construction. I eventually just got them re-soled and the problem was fixed, plus I had my perfect boot. They are wearing a bit faster than I thought they would and will most likely only last me three to four years, instead of the six to ten that I was hoping, but even so I am pleased as punch with these boots.
They are formal enough for work (due to the nice looking leather), casual enough for a day off (due to the slouchy factor), and comfy enough to wear all day walking (extremely important--plus they fit my orthotic inserts wonderfully! ...I feel like an old lady saying that). I wear them constantly. with pants and skirts, and will continue to do so.

Black Wool Coat
I bought this coat when I was living in France mainly because every French woman has a black wool coat. I am not exaggerating! I wanted to fit in and not be immediately identifiable as an outsider, so I found this coat on clearance (it's awesome, there are coats in France that actually fit me and actually make it to the clearance rack!) after several months of looking and snatched it up.
That was three years ago now, and this coat is going into its fourth winter of being worn almost every day. I love this coat. My love for this coat cannot be put into words. It is beginning to get a bit threadbare at the elbows, and I have full plans to take it into the tailor (perhaps next year--it can last a bit longer as is!) and have elbow patches put on. This was a my first garment to hit this stage with me, where I would take it to a professional to mend it when it is getting old, rather than buy something new to replace it. It is a great feeling, one that I hope to find with much more of my wardrobe.
This coat goes with everything. It is black, so it does not show dirt (or the massive wear and tear I am sure it has). It is thigh-length, but not too long on me. It is full on the bottom, giving a bit of a retro-vibe that I love. It is wool and warm. It has huge pockets and a belt to cinch the waist and it fits me beautifully.

Perfect Scarf/Scarves
I wear scarves almost constantly. I have quite a large selection, ranging from a handknit bulky, warm scarf, to a silk/wool blend pashmina, to a few thin, silky scarves. I love how they can completely change the feel of an outfit, while also blocking the wind from entering my coat/sweater/shirt (I'm usually cold, as you can probably tell from my selected wardrobe workhorses, haha!). If I had to pick one scarf to be my workhorse, it would be my cranberry silk/wool blend pashmina that I bought in Kiev, Ukraine. Every time I wear it, I think of my travels, plus the fiber blend makes it super warm and durable. I also love the color (it goes with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, plus it's a color and not a neutral!), the subtle print (it adds interest without overpowering anything else), and the fringe on the ends (another bit of interest).

Underarmour Leggings
I bought these my freshman year in college and have practically lived in them every winter since then. They make wearing skirts and dresses possible in the winter (I have lived in some pretty cold places!) as well as being useful to layer under pants when it is truly frigid outside. I will wear them on their own as leggings, under tights for another layer, under pants, and by themselves for skiing/running. They were pricey in the beginning, but I got the price per wear down to under a dollar in the first year of wearing them and am now going on my fifth year, so they are a true staple for me.
(I'm wearing them as leggings today!)

Neutral Work-Appropriate Skirt
For me it is my taupey-brown skirt, since I have so many other black items of clothing and it avoids the look of too much black. I also have a very similar skirt in black, which I also love, but the brown looks a bit softer and I find myself reaching for it much more frequently.
(good lord, I'm wearing my neutral cardigan, neutral skirt, black boots and a scarf. I just need my underarmour and black wool coat to make this a complete workhorse outfit!)

Neutral Cardigan
It's been well-established that I am usually cold. Therefore, I am usually wearing a cardigan. I'll wear sweatshirts from time to time, but generally find myself feeling more pulled-together (and therefore more pretty and on top of my game) when wearing a cardigan. Plus, with my new professional wardrobe, cardigans are more appropriate and automatically make anything I am wearing seem more appropriate. I love me a good neutral, and my two go-to cardigans at the moment are my brown cardigan from The Limited (thrifted from Goodwill) and my no-name gray cardigan that I found in someone's Goodwill donation pile. My perfect cardigan would be a mix of the two (long sleeves of the gray cardigan, plus nice weight, buttons and waist-tie of the brown cardigan) but so far I have not miraculously found it yet (what, it's not like I'm picky! lol).

I hope you found this interesting to read! I am excited to see what everyone else chooses as their wardrobe workhorses, and if it will be at all similar to mine! What items can you relate to, or do you see reflected in your own wardrobe? Are there any workhorses that you expected to see but I did not choose? Anything that caught you by surprise?


  1. Hi Plummy! These are such great items! It's fun to see that other people get so attached to single items in their closets, too, and you wear all of these items so well!

    I wish I could find a coat I love as much as you love yours. I compulsively MUST buy a new coat every winter, even though I love the coats I already own. (I didn't buy one last year, actually, and I considered this a major success of self-discipline.)

    AND-- I have these boots! Almost. I have the flat version in gray, and you have the slice heel version, yes? I did the same exhaustive search you did and I remember both pairs. I've not worn them TOO often precisely because the sole seems so sketchy- I hadn't considered getting them resoled! Genius idea. I'll have to consider it.

    Thanks for sharing your wardrobe workhorses!


  2. Haha, yes I have the ones with the 'hidden' mini wedge heel. The sole construction was a pain with this design, but all I did to fix it was to bring them into a cobbler and have him put a small 'heel' on the back. It's like he just put a half sole on it, and I think it only cost me 15$ at most.

    It was fun to participate and I can't wait to see all the other contributions!

  3. You must be having a vibrant and fun personalty. I see that in your posts. I can't agree more with your choices. I am currently living in south so I do not really need many coats or boots. However, one thing I can't live without is scarfs, scarfs and scarfs. It's interesting that I actually saw that limited cardigan in brown and ivory in plato's closet here. I wanted to buy but they (xs) fit me a little too tight. My favorite outfit here is the second one. The top and the skirt are so unique yet the color combination is so classic, which I love!

  4. I have a similar relationship with my scarves, so I'm glad you wrote about them! Also, I know you didn't emphasize these, but I love the animal print shoes you're wearing in some pictures.

    Thanks for contributing - I think I need some leggings now...and maybe those crazy heels two posts back :)


  5. I am lusting after your coat. What an awesome piece! I, too, am a scarf collector and a chronic re-soler of shoes. I am single-handedly keeping two cobblers in business. Why, why put a frail leather sole on a shoe? Why? And, after reading this, I now need to find a pair of Underarmour leggings. Apparently unbelievably handy and I can pretend I'm a football player while I'm wearing them.

  6. Haha, the Underarmour leggings are SO WORTH IT! Especially if you live in a chilly area or are outside a lot in the winter. And re-soling shoes can make such a difference! I did not realize until recently when I've started resoling a few different pairs of my shoes.

    Thanks for all the complements everyone! It's awesome that other people have similar workhorses as I do (especially the scarves, which seem to be a common theme).