Thursday, August 25, 2011

curious birds: wardrobe basics

i have a problem. and no, it's not actually a real or serious problem. it's a silly little problem that i have just begun to realize. i really don't have a lot of "basic" pieces in my wardrobe. and i have a crap load of clothes, people. tons. to many. and i often find myself sifting through all of them and thinking, "i have nothing to wear"! this from a gal whose closet(s) looks like this (warning. they are a bit of a mess.)...

shirts and dresses
oops. no room for jeans and belts. just stick 'em in a basket, i guess...

and then there is my shoe closet (which also houses my purses, blazers, skirts, dress pants, sweaters and cardigans).

please take note of all the cardigans still waiting to be hung up. see, there on the left? where the heck are those going to go?

jim and i also have a closet downstairs where we keep all of our outerwear. and one in the basement full of things that need to be ironed (ha!) or hemmed (ha ha!). no pictures. i think you've seen enough...

so, back to my "problem". i have closets full of clothes and nothing to wear. i think i have realized that, when i shop, i look for edgy, funky, cool, different, sparkly (my closets are teeming with sparkles. why?), floral, bright, get the picture. basically, i never shop for basics. and don't even get me started on "investment pieces". i always think, "i can find that for way cheaper at the thrift store". but can i? and yes, it is fun to have all sorts of crazy, funky, sparkly clothes. but then i see someone in some simple blue jeans and a white tee and think that they look so cool! chic, simple, classic. i want to be that person. but i don't have those clothes. dilemma! basically, what i'm saying is that it is time for me to do a major closet overhaul. and, my trusty blog friends, i need your help. i want to know what you think...,what are the basic wardrobe staples? what should i be filling my closet with to get that simple, classic chic look that i so love? don't worry, i won't be giving up all my sparkle and funk. but i think it's time to be filling my closet with less "cool" and more "classic". what are your thoughts??? i am excited to hear!

(i've always loved the sparkle).

xoxo, nora bird 


  1. I'd love to help, but I have the same problem! I'm always finding myself lacking in a simple item when I want to finish an outfit and it can be so frustrating. I thrift shop a lot but never leave with any basics, and I think part of that is I think to myself "This isn't THAT much of a basic, how often can I really wear a basic green tee? Meh, it can stay" and I leave it behind... and then find myself wishing for one later, woops!

  2. I only consider a few things in my 'basics' wardrobe
    1.) The PERFECT pair of blue jeans (dark and skinny), and the PERFECT t-shirt in grey and white
    2.) A little black dress that is easy to dress up or down
    3.) A simple but well fitting grey or brown blazer
    4.) A pair of cognac riding boots
    5.) A pair of back pumps
    6.) A pair of bright colored heels
    7.) A great fitting black pencil skirt

    Sure I think there's probably different 'basics' for different people. But I think with these basics, all those bright sparkly fun bits will fill in the rest. And I would guess you have most of those things in your closet SOMEWHERE I think part of the trick to finding great basics is to really fall in love with the pieces that you find, so that you WANT to wear them all the time.

  3. and the girl in simple blue jeans / white tee looks at your style and feels totally BO-ring. trust me and my (teeny tiny) closet full boring basics :) keep it funky yo!

  4. I wish I could help, but I'm afraid my closet resembles yours. Bold, sparkly, patterned and colorful (and slightly messy). But, I hate buying basics. Except for jeans. But T-shirts and turtlenecks and neutrals? I struggle big time. So, though I have no advice, I can't wait to see what you come up with - maybe it'll give me the kick in the pants I need to do an overhaul of my own.

  5. Haha, thanks for the insight into your closest! You know what? Mine looks exactly the same, and I share your problem. Why do we do it? I think it is a generic problem with anyone that loves

    a) fashion
    b) thrift shopping


  6. I tend to have the same problem even though I've made a list in my head with basics I need. Here it is:
    Classic pair of jeans
    Perfect v neck in black, grey & white
    Trench coat
    Striped shirt
    Red coat
    Navy jacket
    And I agree with Loren's comment and she has u covered with the shoes too
    Scarves in neutral colors are classic too!
    I have to say though, I do love your style as it is!

  7. What a lovely problem you have there. A few things to add back to your funk. I call my style at times ClassicFunk.

    a structured handbag
    classic pumps
    pencil skirt
    stud earings, pearl, cz, diamond
    classic hoop earrings
    black pants
    leopard print
    buttoned down shirt, with French cuffs or not
    riding boot

    Have FUN!!

  8. That is quite a shoe collection. I always gravitate towards my basic mini skirts and cardigans when getting dressed.

  9. i have the exact same problem as you. my closet is full of prints and "out there" pieces. i have to force myself to buy solid colored items so i can have something to pair with all my prints. i'm looking forward to hearing everyone's tips on wardrobe basics because i need to work on boosting mine.

  10. Your shoe collection is amazing! I also have a crazy amount of shoes but you definitely have me beat!


  11. I'm also a fashion magpie. I made a conscious decision in the last year to start buying more basics. Basically I just go to The Gap or Lands End Canvas and look for tailored neutral pieces. It's not an exact science - I'm very interested in the lists I'm reading in the above comments!

    Secondhand Stylist Thrifted - Three Ways

  12. oh how i wish we could skype and go on, and on, and on, and on about this subject

    did you ever see this post of mine?
    it's not a list i wrote but i strongly agree with

    we'll leave it at that, for now, adding the ballet flats and some cropped black pants, a black pea coat, great leather bag that goes great with brown and black... i'm rambling

  13. Hey I'm in the process of fixing up my wardrobe too. It's ongoing especially if you know you've been making too many impulse buys and accumulated just about everything that's cute! Thing is we probably won't be needing or wearing all of them. My philosophy is to buy the item if I really "love" it and I can see it fitting in with my other wardrobe pieces. I say get a few key neutral pieces and work from there. A nice white blouse and plain loose fitted tshirt are great basics! Aside from that skinny jeans and a good pair of trousers. : )

    Hope that helps! Come by my blog for some inspiration maybe? I've only been thrifting for a year or less and I'm loving it! Thanks for sharing your 'problem' with us but I'm sure it's not all that bad since all thrifters can relate. ; )


  14. Nora, I went thrifting yesterday realizing that I have the same issues. nothing to wear but so many pieces of clothing in my closet. So I stuck to neutral colored clothing that can go with anything. A few button downs including a blue one and 2 white ones are my go to pieces. Stick to the neutrals for a bit when thrifting and you will see a difference.

  15. Oh how I love your shoe collection! I have done a closet overhaul so many times. It refreshes me and my creativeness with remixing. My staples include:

    -dark wash skinnies and bootcut jeans
    -relaxed, lighter wash jeans
    -black, brown and a colored flat
    -black blazer
    -colored cardigans
    -striped tees
    -printed dresses in versatile shapes
    -flat/heeled congac/brown boot
    -flat/heeled black boot

    I'm not a white button-down, LBD kind of gal, so they will never make my staples list. I'd rather have a great animal print dress any day and bright colored top than the later.

    Oh and here's a link to my newly, organized closet. It really helps you to be able see and find everything. Good luck!

  16. Oh, I forgot to add a great pump and wedge platform sandal to my list.

  17. WOW! I thought that I had a lot of shoes but your's put mine to shame. I am super jealous.

    I went through reorganizing my closet and trying to figure out what to donate and what to keep. One of my lessons learned is to do a quick clean: go through the closet and pull out each piece, using your gut reaction begin sorting, put all the pieces you don't really like in the bag (don't worry you will go back through them later), once they are sorted go back and try on every item in the bag, get rid of the one's you really don't like, leave the questionable one's in the another pile, and keep sorting. I would go through this process over a couple days so that you can really separate what looks terrific and what doesn't work.

    I agree with the other comments about what key pieces can be but I think that there are elements that need to stay unique to the individual. Your style is so fantastic on it's own and can work to create your own set of basics.


  18. you need to do a 30x30 to help you think of combinations because come on, you have to have SOMETHING to wear! id die for your closet.

  19. one of my favorite all time looks is a simple white t-shirt with a statement skirt. if you have a ton of funky prints, a white t-shirt is the way to go, in my opinion!

    but like someone else said:
    1. perfect jeans (for this fall I would say a pair of dark wash skinny and then a pair of higher rise wide/flare leg)
    2. basic white tee (and black, and tan/neutral)
    3. good-fitting slacks
    4. neutral blazer (looks good as suit set or with jeans/skirt/dress etc)
    5. little (black) dress or any color as long as you feel GREAT in it
    6. neutral trench
    7. cardi's!
    8. button down blouse
    annnnd i think you've got the shoes covered, lady!