Would love to see a post from you on your wardrobe essentials. I know your 30x30 challenges kind of poke on that, but you do such a great job on curating your closet (as well as remixing for completely different looks) and I'd love to see an update :)
I jokingly replied that every piece in my closet is considered essential. Or at least that's what I tell myself to justify each purchase ;) I personally don't think I have a well-curated closet (thanks SPG for the kind words though) because my closet seems to be growing at a more rapid pace than what is going out. One thing that works for me is not buying duplicates and very rarely do I buy similar items (weakness: three gingham shirts). I figured if I'm faced with a dilemma every morning between two pairs of slightly different dark-washed skinny jeans, I'll always reach for my favorite over the other.
In general, my life is pretty simple and my wardrobe reflects that. I work in a casual environment and spend my weekends in an even more casual state. For times where I feel like dressing up, I try to buy items that will work in both worlds. I do this to get the most wear out of my clothes and to challenge my styling ability.
I'm hesitant at putting a hard cap on the number of essential items because lifestyles change and so do closet size. So using categories as a guide, here are my wardrobe essentials:
Button-up shirt: Whether solid colored, various fabric (linen, chambray), or prints (gingham), I live in button-up shirts. They allow me to seamlessly transition between work and casual outfits because they are just so versatile (and perfect for layering). Examples include: (1) by itself; (2) doubled up (great way to mix colors/patterns/textures); (3) layered underneath with collar and hem out; (4) open and layered with a jacket; (5) turning a dress into a skirt.
Tee: I find plain t-shirts to be the best blank canvas to style an outfit around. V-necks work best for me because I'm small up top and the neckline is great for accessorizing. Examples include: (1) simple and classic in t-shirt and jeans; (2) dressed up with a blazer; (3) moto-chic; (4) business casual work-appropriate; (5) feminine with lace.
Pants: I like skirts, but I'll always be a pants kind of girl. Right now I'm going through a slacks phase, but I always eventually go back to form-fitting, well-worn jeans.
Outerwear: More often than not, a well-tailored blazer will suit any occasion (though it's also nice to have a casual jacket, ie: anorak/leather, on hand for others). Of my three blazers (navy, gray, black), I find myself reaching for the navy most often. I suppose the color is just so easy to pair with everything. Examples include: (1) with a dress; (2) with a skirt; (3) with shorts; (4) with cargoes; (5) with jeans.
Trendy piece(s): I'm a believer that fashion should be fun. There's nothing more laughter-inducing than when experiments go wrong. It's also times like this when you learn about your personal style -- what works for you and what items should be burned.
The cost of chasing trends can add up, so I try to stick to a couple items at a time, and from the cheaper end of the spectrum (Old Navy, Forever 21, sales, etc). If an item works out, great! I'll wear it until it needs a replacement. If not, that's okay. It's a small cost to pay.
This season, I jumped on board the train for big polka dots, tapered pants, and anchor prints. Trends that I decided are not a great fit for me include pastels and peplum. I won't completely rule them out for the future, but as of right now I have my hands full.
When paired with older/classic pieces, trendy items are a great way to give an old outfit a new "look." I do this often by taking an overworn outfit and replacing a piece or two here and there. To the general public, it may look like a completely new outfit but I know better ;) For example, a black tee and jeans worn two ways: with an anorak vs. a fur vest.
Bags: I love bags, so my essentials list is probably longer than most. I have a diverse enough collection where most (if not all) voids have been filled: dressy, casual, crossbody, low-maintenance, fun, and clutch. If I had to pick just one as the utmost essential, it would have to be my white Longchamp tote. It best fits my everyday needs, rain or shine.
Shoes: This is probably the hardest one to narrow down, but I'll say: neutral pumps/wedges (ie: black, nude, snake-skin), ballet flats (great for casual and dressy occasions), non-rubber sandals/flip-flops, and a pair that's totally unexpected (ie: satin, bows, spikes).
Accessories: A scarf is my most essential accessory. Not far behind would be a statement necklace. I feel that both pieces would instantaneously add an interesting detail to any outfit, especially simple/neutral-colored ones. Scarf examples include: (1) dressed up; (2) with a sweater; (3) for warm weather; (4) to stay warm; (5) for added color.
What are your wardrobe essentials?