If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a stylist, building a wardrobe of classic staples makes life so much easier.
Why? Because you can spend less time wondering what to wear and spend more time doing things that matter.
Wardrobe staples may slightly differ from one closet to the next, but finding the right pieces that can be styled in multiple ways provides a strong foundation for anyone’s personal style.
Enter the Button-down Shirt
The button-down shirt is one of my favorite go-to items in my closet.
Most people associate the button-down as an item that’s only for the office—too professional, stiff, “buttoned up.”
What people need to realize is that the button-down shirt works well beyond sitting in a board meeting.
Picture a crisp, white button-down shirt—make it edgy for a night out by wearing it open and layering it with a black and white graphic t-shirt, dark grey jeans, and black leather boots.
Not feeling the rock-and-roll vibe? That’s okay.
Let’s try a flirtier outfit for brunch or a summer date. Pair the same white button-down shirt with a denim pencil skirt, a cognac-colored belt, and wedge sandals. If you don’t want to wear a skirt, replace it with your favorite pair of jeans.
Not into denim? That’s cool, too. Take the white button-down with tailored khaki pants, classic penny loafers and a bright, patterned silk scarf for a continental look.
I could go on forever. The point is that the possibilities are endless.
One Button-down Shirt, Two Ways
In this post, I’ve styled one button-down shirt in two ways through two different personas. Note that both of the looks feature the same sleeve roll and popped collar—the differences are slight, yet it’s the attention to detail and the attitude that truly sets each look apart.
The Unabashed Prep
According to her, it’s never too early to get excited for polo season and sun dresses. Every color of the rainbow is represented in her collection of Longchamp’s Le Pliage nylon totes. Her desk is annoyingly, perfectly neat. Talks to her mom at least twice a day about how she should redecorate her Upper East Side apartment—again. The polo dress from Ralph Lauren’s Rugby label hangs in the back of her closet as a souvenir of easier times. She also hangs onto the dream of becoming Blair Waldorf one day.
Style Tip: Add sophistication to the look by wearing any accessory—almost any other accessory—besides a basic pearl necklace.
The Beached World Traveler
She meant to stay in California for one week, but fell in love at the bar with a surfer-turned-Silicon-Valley-genius and ended up staying for much longer. She’s still living out of the same rotation of clothes that she had packed—cotton button-down shirts, linen-blend tank tops, and a few pairs of denim. Her golden beau has offered to spoil her with a digital shopping spree on Reformation and Everlane, but she doesn’t see the need to buy new clothes when her capsule wardrobe is working more than fine.
Style Tip: Tuck the front of the tank top or T-shirt layered underneath the button-down shirt for a playful polished touch.