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suit shotLet’s face it. We have neither the time nor the money nor the closet space to invest in our quest to emulate our Pinterest idols. Despite popular assumption, I have a very streamlined style and beauty routine most days. I refuse to be late on account of my fashion mood.

Several must-have lists are popping up on Facebook and Buzzfeed recently with nice click bait titles such as “20 Items You Need Before Turning 20” and other such nonsense. I agree with many items on these misguided lists, but do you really need a signature scent or an expensive handbag when you’re eating frozen food? My scent is called bodywash, and it works for me. I receive a lot of compliments.

You do realize most of those posts are sponsored, right? Who has the money to buy or the space to house 20 or 30 items?

Here are my completely unsponsored opinion of what to throw into your wardrobe (if that ever changes, I will tell you. Promise. Besides it means free stuff and money to buy more stuff. Of course, I’ll brag).

Many of these items are gender neutral. I was careful not to leave the guys out (hi there). All of these items are appropriate for all stages of life, which means college grad and grandma can go shopping together.

Don’t forget to use my advice on living the frugal life.

A Multipurpose Jacket

A structured, well-made jacket is an absolute must-have item in your closet. As I’ve mentioned before,  don’t scrimp on blazers. The jacket in the picture at the top of this post fits the multi-purpose description. It is more formal, but the cuffs make it a good pairing with slacks or jeans.

If your budget is tight, stick to neutrals. As your budget grows, invest in more jackets. I currently have seven jackets in my collection (disclaimer: I have a professional job that sometimes requires suiting). Only one of my jackets is a non-neutral color (bright pink, baby). Jackets that can go from the boardroom to the restaurant and from suits to jeans are the best buys.

By the way, I’m loving me some cuffed jackets.

A Good Pair of Fitted Jeans

Good is a rather vague descriptor. You will never regret investing in a good quality jean. It survives the occasional washing with minimal fading.

The fit is what makes it stylish. Stick to a dark wash jean if you must have only one pair. Faded jeans do not translate well into the workplace. I’ll leave the cut (straight-legged, bootcut, widelegged) to you.

teesSolid-Colored Tees

You can always find solid-colored tees on sale. I love pairing a tee with a jacket. V-neck tees are my favorite, but there are so many styles (crew, scoop, henley). Load up on these beauties when they’re on sale. You can layer. You can dress up. You can dress down. I just can’t rave about tees enough. But, alas, I must move on.

bootsA Fabulous Pair of Boots

Again, define fabulous however you like. Unlike many other fashion pieces, boots actually have utility. Unlike heels and flats, they look even better with age and stretching. This is another investment piece. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.

scarvesScarves

I went easy on the accessories this time. I decided scarves would be a fantastic pick. Never underestimate the power of a light-weight infinity scarf — easy to throw on and no YouTube tutorials required.

Leather

Leather anything works. Leather jackets. Leather boots. Leather belts. Maybe not leather pants — a little too on trend this season. Leather is a classic fabric that stays fashionable all the time. Reach for leather and not that pleather abomination. Uh huh. We’re on to you. We can tell the difference. Leather > pleather.

paletteAll-Purpose Eye Shadow Palette

Drugstore dupes are amazing these days. I’m a tremendous fan. Find a go-to palette with mattes, shimmers, and varying spectrums of nudes that allow you to create multiple looks like the e.l.f. smokey palette above. Travel palettes that fit inside your purse are even better.

lipstickA Signature Bold Lipstick Color

I’m obsessed with European style, in case you didn’t notice. Parisians wear little makeup on the face but finish the look with a bold lip. Nothing is more effortless than a great lip color. Apply. Blot. Go. Reapply later. Easy peasy.

I see some of you metaphorically shaking your heads. “Uh huh, no way. I can’t pull off a bold lip.” You would be mistaken. They are beauty advice articles that help you choose the right color. I didn’t think I could pull off red (by the way, the name of the lipstick in the photo is simply Red). With bold colors, the undertone of the lip color should compliment the undertones in your skin. If you’ve tried bold lipstick in the past and were horrified by the result, choose a different color.

After my successful foray into red lipstick, I graduated to oranges, purples, and bright pinks. There’s no rule that says a girl can’t have several signature colors to match her mood.

leggingsLeggings and Tights

I need to provide a quick tutorial first. Yoga pants are not leggings. Leggings are not tights. Yoga pants are loose fitting in the leg and have a fold-over waistband. Leggings (pictured above) are form-fitting and are made primarily from spandex. Some women wear leggings to yoga class, but they are still leggings. Tights is thick hosiery, often patterned but not always. The Internet likes to confuse the three.

Leggings are also not pants; however you can pair leggings with a nice dress, skirt, or long tunic. In other words, hide your bum. When worn properly, leggings can be quite chic.

Leggings and tights add flare to a plain skirt or dress. It’s what the fashion industry experts call “visual interest.” Best of all, they are cheap!!! Don’t worry about the quality of tights. If you tend to snag pantyhose easily like I do, tights can take a heavier beating. Tights are not indestructible, of course, but they do hold up better than traditional hosiery.

bangles

It’s not your eyes. The picture is blurred. I thought the blurring added an artistic effect.

Bangle Sets

This suggestion applies to ring sets as well. For the per-price breakdown, bangle and ring sets are hard to beat. I have small arms, so I seldom wear the entire set at once. Mix and match sets. Wear one or two here and there. Bangles and rings are accessories that have quite of bit of mileage without the excessive price attached to them.

What is your favorite must-have? Let me know in the comments section. Happy shopping!