Eight KEY Pieces You Should Own

Are you staring at your closet, day after day, and wondering what to wear? Break it down to a core set of eight items around which you can really build multiple outfits every day of the week. These eight items work in every season and also make for a great core wardrobe for those weekend getaways when looking sharp is a necessity.  When you look at these items, you may say, “Where are the black shoes?” or “What about a white V-neck t-shirt?” Yes, I did not include every item needed and made some assumptions that you likely have a few staples in your closet already. But the items below are ones that are true work horses and are sometimes overlooked in favor of something trendier … these items are the ones that make getting dressed so much easier. That is what we all want, right?

1. Black & White Horizontally Striped Shirt ~ A black and white striped shirt is a classic look that is always fresh — and it is a wardrobe multiplier. What I mean is that it can give a whole new look to some other wardrobe items. Take any patterned pant or skirt — as long as it has black in it, it will likely work paired with this shirt. Tuck it in, wear a blazer over it, layer it under a chambray shirt or pair it with a long chiffon skirt and strappy sandals for a dressy / casual look. This shirt will be one you go for time and time again.


2. White Button Down Blouse ~ Untucked with jeans for a Saturday brunch, or tucked into a skirt for a workday outfit, nothing compares to the classic white blouse. Tie it, tuck it, untuck it or wear it over a cami unbuttoned … it always works. The key is to find one that fits you perfectly. It is worth trying on many and finding the one that fits you just right across the shoulders and the bust. After that, make sure the sleeves are long enough and consider getting alterations if needed as the money spent is worth it — you will wear this shirt nonstop!


3. Chambray Button Down ~ This shirt is my favorite go-to look. Pair it with white jeans, gray jeans, a dark denim skirt, a dressy skirt, with a suit, with grey dress pants … I am not sure what this shirt does not go with! Find one that is not too thick or too bulky. You may end up wanting a few as the different washes are fun to play with.


i4. Camel Blazer ~ A black blazer is amazing…..but, we wear our black jeans so much in the winter and white jeans so much in the summer that the camel blazer is just perfect year-round as something to be worn with the aforementioned jeans as well as with a gray, navy or black dress without it looking too dark. The best of both worlds is to have black, camel and white blazers, but if I had to choose one that most women need, likely do not have and will be worn time and time again, it is the camel blazer.


5. Leopard Print Shoes ~ This print works well with many outfits because it is a classic look that is modern as well. And, the print is made up of neutral colors making it an easy one to pair with many prints and solids. While I love a leopard print jacket and blouse, accessories like handbags, belts, scarves and shoes are easy to incorporate into many outfits. They are super versatile, but if you simply do not like leopard, think about snakeskin.


6. Black Pencil or A-line Skirt ~ A black skirt is a must-have, hands down. It is the go-to skirt that you can pair with a t-shirt and jean jacket on the weekends, or with a black blouse and heels for a night out, or with a white button-down top depending on what your work dress code is. The pencil skirt is a classic look, but it can be hard for some women to wear as plenty of us are simply wider across the thighs than the hips. If that is you, an A-line works well.

7. A Gray or Navy dress ~ You need a dark dress for many reasons, but here are a few: they work if you are not quite sure what the dress code is for an event, they dress up or down with ease depending on your accessories, they are perfect for travel as they do not show dirt easily, and the sad truth is that we attend many funerals and you really do always need that dress you can wear to a funeral in your closet ready to go. The reason I say gray or navy and not black is because many people do not like wearing black to weddings and baptisms, and this is the dress that you want to be able to wear to EVERYTHING! If you are super casual and do not really need a more structured dress, buy a more casual one, but keep it classic and select one that works for many occasions. When you need this dress, you will be so thankful it’s in your closet … and you will need it more than you may think.

8. Dark Rinse Jeans ~ While ankle skinny jeans are still a favorite of many, a dark pair of bootcut jeans (with no whiskering and no holes) are flattering on everyone and round up this list as a must-have. You can wear them dressed up in a way that other jeans just cannot accomplish. Yes, you can have all the other jeans, but just make sure these must-haves are always on-hand. On those days that you cannot decide what to wear, consider these your default choice.


Inspiration from Pinterest.


Off the Shoulder in Winter

The “cold shoulder” or “off the shoulder” trend was a huge hit this past summer….and it can continue into the cooler months.  Try adding an off-the-shoulder knit sweater over a collared shirt.   Adding a necklace on the outside of the collar can add a fun detail and focal point.   This is also a great way to stay warm in the winter months…..layering!


Inspiration from Pinterest.

4 Tips to Take You From Day to Evening

We have all been there — there is an evening function on a weekday, and going home to change after work is not a possibility.  So whatever you wear to the office is basically what you will be wearing all night. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to change your look from day to evening super fast.  In the past, I  have spend too much time trying to figure out what I would wear to work that could satisfy the needs of a nicer evening function, and honestly often ended up packing an entire second outfit, so that I could change at the end of the day. It was annoying, inconvenient, and looking back, totally unnecessary.

However, day-to-evening looks actually are not all that complicated — you just need to have a few of the right items, and more importantly, know how to pair the items you already have. So if you are struggling with wardrobe transitions like I used to, here are four simple tips that should help.

1.   Change up Your Accessories ~ Just change your necklace to something more blingy.  Change out your daytime purse to a clutch.  Change your blazer to faux fur vest.  Switch out your daytime earrings to chandelier ones.

2.  Change Your Shoes ~  If you opt to wear boots or flats during the day, you can change  to a dressy heel for the evening, or change from a low-key colored shoe to a bold blue heel that matches a chic blue clutch. By changing over to heels — and especially a bold heel that matches another accessory — you instantly have a dressier, pulled together ensemble.

3.  Think About the Materials ~ For example, the right leather skirt can look completely appropriate during the day, and with the right added accessories and minor adjustments, can look totally perfect and even sexy for evening wear. Also, opt for the sheerer, or even sparkly top under your blazer instead of a plain old button up.

4.  Invest in a Versatile Dress ~ I have so many dresses that I dress up and down with simple accessory changes.  A little black dress with a blazer and flats looks completely different than with a shawl, belted waist, and heels. The right base dress can take you from corporate to cocktail party ready in literally a matter of minutes. Plus, you do not need to invest in dozens of different dresses for every specific occasion.


What Gretchen Wore

When I go Christmas shopping, it is difficult for me not to find something for myself as well as gifts for my friends and family.  After all, I am a shopaholic.  The deals and bargains around the holidays are too amazing to pass up.  This charcoal grey swing dress was only $12 from Old Navy!  Today I paired it with an eggplant colored cardigan, chunky necklace and over the knee black boots.  This dress is veritable.  You could easily add a collared shirt underneath for another layer or a scarf to add more color.



What Gretchen Wore

These pants from New York & Company were originally purchased with the idea of hiking in them (which I have done).  However, there is no reason not to utilize them in other scenarios, pair them with different shirts or sweaters, and therefore get the most use out of them possible.  Today I have paired them with a sleeveless charcoal grey sleeveless sweater under a cardigan, both from Loft Outlet.


Sweaters ~ Mix up Your Wardrobe

Brrrrr…..It is definitely sweater season!!  I used to only gravitate to one or two types of sweaters, and that made for a very long and boring winter wardrobe.  I guess I did not realize there were so, so many styles of sweaters that could add variety and life to winter style.  Lately I have been loving sweaters as I have been more mindful of mixing up the types of sweaters in my closet.  So I thought I would share a few styles of sweaters in hopes of inspiring your winter wardrobe.  One thing to note is that today I am mainly focusing on styles of sweaters.  In general, for colder weather, look for thicker sweaters, tighter knits, or ones with material that is more insulated.  For warmer weather like I have down here in South Carolina, look for thinner sweaters, ones with more open knits, or even short sleeved sweaters.
Fitted Pullover Sweaters (V-Neck Or Crew Neck) ~  These are pretty standard staples and are a great backdrop for a statement necklace or a printed scarf.  These are also perfect for layering under blazers and jackets. You could even add a button up shirt underneath.  This style is helpful for tailored looks and especially great for business casual style.


Loosely Fitted Pullover Sweaters  (V-Neck Or Crew Neck) ~  These are similar to the previous ones, but more loosely fitted.  You can get some that are plain, or you can get some with texture.  I prefer loosely fitted sweaters like these for a few reasons. I find them more comfortable.


Cowl Neck / Turtleneck Sweater ~ Cute and cozy!  There are plenty of super thick warm ones that are so good for cold weather, but there are also plenty of thinner ones that are good for warmer climates. I would not accessorize much with these. Depending on the cut and material, these can look a little fancier and make good options for dressier sweaters.


Textured Sweaters ~ Adding texture just gives your look some dimension.  I love textured sweaters!


Sweaters With Peplum Hem ~ These sweaters with a peplum hem give you the cute look.  They are super easy to wear, but are really cute.  They work well for casual outfits but also dress up nicely with pants for an office appropriate look.


Printed Sweaters ~ Last but certainly not least….sweaters with prints!  Christmas sweaters are popular around this time of year, but there are many other prints like polka dots, stripes, hearts, or cute little animals or characters.


Inspiration from Pinterest.


Reflection ~

Reflection is not only what a mirror produces for you to admire, but reflection is also a great tool to look back on decisions you make. In our own way we possess the power to achieve greatness. We all can create goals and conquer tasks to meet those ends. Dress the part. Strut your stuff. Be fabulous.

Whether the situation is a job interview or running a race, appropriate clothing for the occasion could push you to the front of the pack. Your level of motivation will be higher. Your confidence will be greater. Watch as it propels you forward, a momentum that cannot easily be stopped.

Recently I trained for, and participated in a 10K bridge race. Here is a photo from that. The lighting is not perfect. There was no cropping and no chance for a better angle. I am running….and I feel great!47573738_10156878124726665_5380825793972666368_n