Effortless Style Series: Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits

Effortless Style Series: Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - header

putting together outfits is effortless WITH THIS TIP

Why Is This So Hard?

“How do I create outfits with what I have? I’m embarrassed that I have so many clothes and putting together outfits is still so hard! How do I get effortless style?”

Most of us have more clothes than we need, and yet, putting together outfits is still a challenge. It feels like it shouldn’t be, and that fills us with frustration, shame, and overwhelm. I hear from you all the time, and I know exactly how they are feeling because I’ve been there!

There is a secret to easily putting together effortless outfits, and it doesn’t get talked about much. You might hear tips like, “You need to accessorize!”

“Add that third piece and you’ll have a perfect outfit!”

“You need four points of interest in your outfit!”

And those are all good tips, but they are all secondary to this most important tip, and it’s probably sitting right in your closet going unnoticed, unloved, unappreciated.

Let’s talk about the unsung heroes of the closet, the behind-the-scenes wardrobe warriors, the foundations upon which we build our fashion. They get no credit, not love, no accolades, but they should, because they are the key to effortless style and creating easy outfits!

Let’s Build a Foundation

When shopping for a new home, you notice the architectural features like beautiful windows that reach for the sky, domed ceilings that soar above, and open spaces that make everything feel so large. These are the features that sell a house.

The only thing you want to know about the foundation is it’s not cracked, sinking, leaking, or crumbling. It’s not pretty, and usually goes unnoticed until it’s a problem, but the foundation of your house is what the windows, ceilings and open rooms rest upon. These windows on my front staircase made me go all heart eyes when I first saw them, but what would happen to them in my foundation failed?

Effortless Style Series:

Likewise, your wardrobe needs a foundation of basic pieces that support all the eye-catching pieces that make you swoon in the store. Without them you can’t build outfits that can support and display those pieces.

If I had to divide my wardrobe into two sections, it would be basic foundation pieces and special pieces. Both have an important role in creating a wardrobe and an outfit, but the most important one is usually overlooked because talking about them and shopping for them is as fun as reading an inspection report of the house you’re buying. What many don’t realize is they are the secret to effortless style and effortlessly putting together outfits.

Each of the outfits in this post is a combination or basic and special in varying degrees, but they all need that basic element.

Basic Foundation Wardrobe Items

What is a basic foundation wardrobe item? They tend to be classic styles and silhouettes, solid or classic patterns that suit your style, in neutral colors, and really unremarkable…or so they seem.

Items like jeans, basic tees or tops, pencil skirts, flats, a jacket, and ankle pants, in solid neutrals create a foundation for every outfit you wear. They are the items you wear over and over, your go-tos, your wardrobe work horses that go with everything, and yet they rarely get the compliments, the attention, or the love.

And that’s the point! THEY GO WITH EVERYTHING! There isn’t a single top in my closet I can’t pair with my dark wash classic jeans. Not one! So if you could up my tops, that’s how many effortless outfits I can start with. Then add in my black jeans. And pair them with all my tops and we just doubled my effortless outfits.

Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - red top and jeans
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - burgundy top
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - green top and jeans

My neutral tops go with every skirt and pair of pants I own. More effortless outfits.

Black turtleneck sweaters never get a compliment, a question, or a text. But those blue pants and houndstooth skirt have, they do, and they will. They get all the attention, but if you had to guess which items in my wardrobe get the most wear, which would it be? You got it – the basics. And what frames the special pieces so beautifully? The basics! And yet we don’t get excited about finding them or buying them, but we SHOULD.

Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - black top and skirt
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - all black
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - black turtle neck and cyan pants
Do I love the blue ankle pants with all my heart? Oh I do. But do I wear them as often as the black sweater? No. Because they aren’t as versatile. The sweater goes with everything. The blue pants don’t. I need a neutral basic top to go with the blue ankle pants unless I’m in an extraordinarily bold mood. The black sweater gets a ton of wear, but none of the love. In order to be able to wear these pieces, we need something to wear them with, so we need to have a foundation of…foundation pieces! They are what hold your outfit together.

Overthinking Outfits

My wardrobe has always been mostly black, white, and blue, which a college roommate once pointed out to me. When I decided I needed to find my style again after the lost years of motherhood gave me memory loss of what I loved to wear, I went a little crazy.

Every outfit needed to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Beyond awesome! They were going to be fresh! Fashion forward! Ahead of their time! Making. Fashion. History. And…I looked ridiculous.

I wore ALL THE THINGS in all the outfits. I had colors, patterns, textures, accessories, third pieces, big hair, lots of makeup. I HAD IT ALL!!! But rather than looking stylish, I looked like a Ringling Brothers runaway. Everything in these outfits is shouting, and there is nowhere to let the eye rest.

Awful outfits

What makes it effortless is the effort you put in beforehand of having the right foundation pieces in place to make these outfits come together easily.

But…basics are boring. No one wants to shop for them or talk about them, but they are the foundation for successful style and outfits.

Without them you wouldn’t have a functional wardrobe. Wardrobe basics are a foundation, just like a house has a foundation. Without the proper structure in place, the beautiful home you build will fall apart because there is no stability. The foundation pieces support the special items and allow them to shine.

Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - green top and jeans
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - brown top and jeans
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - purple top

Basics Don’t Have to Be Boring

The truth is, boring is kind of my favorite. Sure I’ll bust out a colorful combination when I’m feeling it, or get so fancy with my combinations sometimes, but honestly, my very most favorite outfits are made of basic, boring pieces.

Any outfit described as effortless is subtle, casual, cohesive in a way that’s hard to explain because we can’t reconcile that boring basics are chic.

Even though basics are…basic, they can have special details and elements that elevate them, and if those details reflect your Classic Style Twist, you get a double benefit of extra chic and telling your style story.

Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits- all navy
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - all white
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - Denim top

Unsung Heroes

It’s not as fun to go in search of the perfect jeans. Being totally honest it ranks right below swimsuit shopping. But the value of a pair of perfect jeans – the ones that fit you like a glove, stretch but don’t stretch out, lift and separate your bum (no more mooshy mommy bottom!) in the perfect color – is priceless. They make all your special tops look that much better.

Compare that to jeans that squeeze your belly out and over the waistband like a tube of toothpaste, cut into your hips, lose their shape by lunch time, and smash your tush into an unidentifiable mass? How great will your awesome top look now? Not that great.

Because I’m a Minimal Classic, many of my favorite outfits are made up entirely of foundation pieces, and if I had to choose one category or the other to keep, I’d keep only my basics and part with the specials.

Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - all black
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits - Denim top
Effortless Style – Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits- all navy

Every Outfit Starts with the Basics

Shopping for basics isn’t sexy, fun, or Insta-worthy, but you need them. It’s worth the time to figure out what you are missing and find the right ones because it will open up so many more outfits when you find the basics that go with your special pieces.

If you are struggling to create outfits, reconsider the basics. Do you have the foundation pieces you need? Or do you have a closet full of special items and nothing to wear?

Just like every outfit starts with the basics, so do the Stunning Style Classic Wardrobe Guides. They are intentionally based on classic, foundational items you probably already have in your closet. Then I add in a few special pieces to refresh and update your seasonal wardrobe. Each Wardrobe Guide is a collection of 30-40 pieces that create a cohesive, effortless wardrobe, and I create 100 outfits from those pieces, put them on a monthly calendar so you don’t have to choose your outfit, and provide you with a shopping portal to buy anything you might need or want, from basics to special pieces.

The doors to the Society are opening soon, and you can learn more and join the waiting list here!


14 thoughts on “Effortless Style Series: Cover Your Basics for Easy Outfits”

  1. Wonderful post! And thank you, thank you for sharing the pictures of you from the “lost years.” It gives me hope. You’ve come a long way, April!

    1. Thank you, and you’re welcome! I’m far from perfect, and I have come a long way! I’ll continue to refine my own style, and I’ll share the process along the way. Thanks for joining me!

  2. YOU are my kind of girl.
    BASIC foundations, I call my uniform. I love these. Always feel “put together”. I can add color as ‘I FEEL’ or as the ‘event determines’. A jacket, a scarf, a belt, or jewelry.
    Now as a retired 82 year old business woman, life is easy but always in good taste. Many days I stay at home all day but always ready for company. Classic clean look, where people say, ” You always look so beautiful”. Short stylish hair, earrings and lipstick are part of my everyday uniform.

  3. You look great in all your outfits. But I have a big stomach. So they won’t look as good on me. Thanks for your ideas.

    1. Cathy, I know how frustrating that can be. I had a severe diastasis for several years and looked 4-5 months pregnant all the time. Every woman’s body is different and comes with its own challenges to find figure-flattering clothes. I had 5 kids in 3 years, and a sixth a few years later, and it took a big toll on my body. I decided long ago to dress and love the body I have/had, no matter how it looked – pregnant, post-partum, pregnant again, etc. It was so freeing. You deserve to love what you are wearing, and I hope you can love yourself just as you are.

      I have three daughters, and they all have very different body types and proportions. I am doing everything I can to teach them that every body is beautiful, and there is no ideal size, shape, or proportion that’s better than another. They are each perfect, and so are you.

  4. April, Thanks for another powerfully simple insight. It seems obvious when you break it down like this, but It reinforced an A-ha moment I had while perusing one of my favorite store catalogs. (Soft Surroundings) I’m a soft classic with subtle touches of edgy and just love so many of the Stand out pieces I was drawn to. The problem I found was because they stand out so much I just knew I wouldn’t wear them as often as I could if they were just a bit less memorable.

    1. Cathy, you’re welcome, and I’m glad it helped you figure out the problem. I have the same issue. I just don’t wear those super memorable pieces as often, even though I love them, and I don’t need as many in my wardrobe as I thought I did. Being totally honest, even though they make me swoon, I rarely reach for them. It’s usually the idea of them I’m drawn to.

  5. Good Afternoon,
    I am currently a stunning society member -Last winter was my first season. How do i sign up for another year?
    thank you

  6. I so enjoyed this style snack today. You are so authentic and fun to listen to. I look forward to it every week. I always learn something about why I do or don’t like something in my closet. It is helping me curate my closet. Thank you! Your stairs and ceiling are gorgeous! Congratulations!

  7. Mary T Chamberlain

    Good morning!
    I am currently taking The perfectly put together course and enjoying it very much. What exactly is The Society and what happens there? Does it cost money to join? If so, how much? How many people are part of it?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Mary, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Perfectly Put Together course! You can find more information about the Society here stunningstyle.com/society. If you join the waiting list you’ll be the first to know when the doors to the Society open!

  8. Lizzy McAlinden

    This video makes sooo much sense! An “aha! moment” for me too.
    And, you know what,… packing for travel instantly becomes so much easier!

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