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Elizabeth Stilwell of The Note Passer and Christina DeSmet, fashion designer, friend, and fellow blogger, got together to to guide us through some essentials for a more trend-proof wardrobe, offering up ethically-made examples to round out your own wardrobe. I absolutely loved the concept, so I’m reposting it with their permission. 


Hello! My name is Christina DeSmet and I am the voice behind DeSmitten Design Blog. This year, I tried to reduce my purchases by limiting myself to a 5 Piece French Wardrobe each season (read more about it here). I did pretty well the first half of the year, but the second half was a little more challenging. I’m still committed to building a wardrobe of essentials that will withstand the test of trend and season. Like any good collection, wardrobe essentials are acquired over time and are almost impossible to find all at once.

I’m here to show you sixteen essentials that make up a trend-proof wardrobe and what to look for when you’re shopping for each style. I looked through fashion history to see what styles reoccur and never look dated. Next, I considered what works for everyday life and pulled pieces from the current ready-to-wear market. Then, Elizabeth matched each style with vintage or ethically sustainable counterparts. Because of the classic nature of these styles, you can often look to vintage for quality made pieces (usually at a fraction of the cost). If this is a route you’d like to explore, be sure to read my previous guest post, How To Buy Vintage.

Most importantly, before buying anything, you must absolutely love the style. This is a non-negotiable. The sixteen essentials outlined below are suggestions, but each piece must work for your lifestyle, so feel free to adjust accordingly. Finding the right pieces for your wardrobe is kind of like the old fairy tale: you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. In this case, you just have to try on a lot of clothes, and that’s not so bad.

It’s very important to be selective when adding pieces to your wardrobe. The below guidelines will help you better assess a possible purchase.

The Guidelines

  1. FIT: The fit must be perfect, or close to perfect. Minor alterations like hemming pants, sleeves, or skirts is an easy fix. Don’t buy pants that whisker around the crotch, or dresses that are too tight at the waist. If the alteration is something you know your dry cleaner can fix, then it’s okay to buy. If you have to find a skilled tailor to do your alteration, it’s better to keep shopping for something that fits better
  2. COMFORT: Make sure you can move comfortably in each item you buy. There is no room in your closet for a dress you can’t sit down in.
  3. VERSATILITY: Can you think of three or more ways to wear it with other items you already own? Don’t buy something that you know needs an extra piece to complete the look.
  4. QUALITY: It’s important to invest in quality made pieces that will wear well with age.
  5. FABRIC CONTENT: When you can, buy natural fibers. Natural fibers include silk, cotton, linen, wool, alpaca, cashmere, leather. They tend to be more comfortable, easier to launder, and don’t hold odors the way manmade fabrics like polyester tend to do. Just because it is a natural fiber, doesn’t mean it is good quality. Make sure it is still comfortable to wear (not too itchy or irritating). Natural fibers like cotton, linen, and leather tend to get softer with age, so this is another big plus!

Now that you know the basic rules, let’s talk about the actual styles that make up a trend-proof wardrobe.


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Historically speaking, this is one of the most versatile pieces to have in your wardrobe. Whether in white or classic oxford blue, you will continue to reach for this style over and over. It should be long, almost covering your butt with a shirt tail shaped hem. The silhouette should be slightly oversized, but the sleeves should be slim and long. Go for a small collar, as it is guaranteed to withstand the test of time. You will wear this shirt under blazers and sweaters, paired with shorts in the summer with the sleeves rolled up, and even as a beach coverup. If you’re like me, and don’t have patience or ability to keep your whites white, then I recommend spending around $50 for this style. You can replace it in a few years once the white has yellowed or after you spill a glass of red wine all over it. This style from H&M has never let me down, season after season.

See their picks at The Note Passer!