20 Feb 2019

Masterclass: Redefining The Essentials

Masterclass: Redefining The Essentials on vickiarcher.com

What’s wrong with essentials?

Absolutely nothing.

Essentials in the wardrobe are not dull, don’t have to be boring and are not there to define our signature style; they enhance it, make it happen.

I rely heavily on essentials and as I describe my style often as, “classic with a twist”; I think of my wardrobe as “essentials with a twist”.

Essentials, when we talk wardrobe, are very personal and unique.

A list of “must haves” should never be the same for every woman. Simply because my closet contains a rainbow of trainers I consider to be crucial doesn’t mean another woman doesn’t feel as connected to her ballet flats. It’s the same for tees and shirts. Some women would only wear a button down shirt and never a tee; me, I am forever searching for the fabulous tee to wear with all my outfits.

The answer is to create our own essentials list – draw inspiration from others and adapt to what suits our body shapes and our lifestyles. Don’t like a leather jacket look? A cropped jacket in a fabric that suits is equally as useful and can do the same job. Never wear a little black dress? Swap the idea for a pair of tuxedo trousers or a bias midi skirt and slim fitting top.

Essentials are about us and we lose this notion when we try and follow too many “official” lists.

The wardrobe basics change.

Pieces can do their work and then cease to be effective. Essentials can change with the season and with the years. They change with our moods, mine do.

My body is not the same as it once was – it’s not the same as it was last year, let alone ten years ago – different pieces work better for me now than they once did. Working changes the list. I am more dressed up and yet need the freedom of movement o type and sit at the desk on a daily basis. Dresses are so much more important to me now than they were and therefore the LBD is one of my top essentialsI can work and play without having to change in between, that’s a win/win.

A suit is still very much a part of my go-to but it needs to be a versatile version I can mix and match. I can’t sit and work in a stiff jacket all day; it is too restrictive unless it is squishy linen.  I’m thinking of adding the linen/cotton suit as essential. Simply a new version of what was included before as my easy dressing.

How far do we go with essentials?

What constitutes essentials? I think it is any piece or accessory to be worn on a nearly daily basis. It’s the sweater or blouse you reach for without hesitation. The dress you can style without looking in the mirror and the one you reach for on a hard day. An essential should provide all the self-confidence in the world.

The spend?

How much should we spend on our essentials? I consider them on an investment basis by cost per wear. If I wear them regularly then these key items are worth the spend. They must be well made to last and trendy should not be confused with fashionable. Celebrating fashion in a unique way does not have to be here today and gone tomorrow. If we spend it is worth looking after our clothing and accessories with regular maintenance.

Redefining our essentials is as much about knowing ‘who we are’ as it is about looking inside our wardrobes.

If we know who we are then the choices become easy; choosing is fast and furious when our self-awareness and self-confidence are intact. xv

Some Of My Essentials

leather biker jackethad mine forever, simple style and works with everything

little black dress – eliza j bell sleeve for every occasion  ||  dress the population add leather jacket  ||  co a-line button through  all day every day

vince cropped tuxedo pants  ||  helmut lang wider leg tuxedo pants  is every second day too much?

this feature contains affiliate links

image, patrick demarchelier

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What an interesting post Vicki; it did make me think about my essentials. I’m definitely a navy blue person but recently do like the twist of colours to go with this. I adore a good quality blazer – one I can wear and wear and wear! I’ve just purchased a new one for this season, slightly different shaped than previous ones I’ve had and with antique gold buttons and love it. I’m also a V neck jumper lover; this can be a fitted cashmere or a long loose fit. I wouldn’t say I’m a t shirt wearer but do like a linen shirt and love tailored trousers in a variety of shades for each season. Kitten heels I adore but also love a wedge for a contrast. Basics that make you feel good all the time and can be relied on to give you confidence. Looking forward to reading others basics too.
PS Yoga class with my sister as teacher last night was just wonderful, relaxing and so filled with love as my daughter was with me too.


Your yoga sounds fantastic! I went this morning with my son… of course, I managed to stay in the back row as he is also a teacher. He obviously inherited his athleticism from his father ;) :) None of that matters, the most fabulous part is experiencing the practice together.

Thank you for your list… the obvious and perfect thing is it is tailormade for you :)


Excellent master class. It’s about redefining and tweaking every year for me, and that’s good because I love to tweak what I already have, what I can’t totally change, but only enhance with a good essential piece AND a transformed change of perspective!


“Perspective” is everything… How we relate to a piece can change overnight. I can “love” something on Monday and fall out by Thursday… this is another way I can tell what must be essential for me :) Longevity!


Oh Vicki, how I can relate to the ‘love something on a Monday and fall out by Thursday’!!!! Over the years I have learnt what colours, essentials and style suit me and I have pretty much stuck with them; just tweaking a bit each season to update. I am lucky that my body shape hasn’t changed much for which I am grateful as I don’t think I would know how to change my style now. Getting back to the love and fall out thing, every now and again I do really stupid things like on a trip to Europe last year I thought I would change my style a bit and spent an outrageous amount only to get home and give most of it to my daughter. What was I thinking? Essentials and knowing your own style are paramount. Great article – think I’ll paste on the walk-in door so I never deviate again.PS it was fun !


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