15 Things Every Stylish Woman Must Own, According To Nina Garcia's 'The One Hundred'
Most fashionistas tend to have a closet full of clothes at their disposals, but not all stop to think about the items they're adding to their collections. When it comes to creating the perfect wardrobe, then, are there some essential things every stylish woman must own?
Recently, I was at my favorite used bookstore with my mom, who successfully stumbled upon a coffee table fashion book that I didn't already own: The One Hundred: A Guide To The Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own by Nina Garcia. I didn't know much about Garcia, other than that she is one of the judges on hit show Project Runway. I soon learned, of course, that the Colombian-born icon has worked in fashion houses (like Marc Jacobs) and fashion media (like Elle and Marie Claire) for years, and is considered "an elite authority in the industry."
In flipping through the book, I noticed some very cute illustrations along with a list of 100 things that, as the title suggests, every "stylish woman" should own. Of course, there were a lot of "filler" items — things like "Blackberry," "iPod," "valid passport," and "quality champagne" — that certainly aren't necessary when it comes to your own style. However, there were a lot of gems, too.
Once you get past the fact that Nina Garcia is amongst New York City's fashion elite and that the tone of the book suggests the target reader has the money to spend on high fashion from couture designers, the advice can be pretty helpful, the tidbits informative, and the story almost charming. Having had a look through The One Hundred, I've picked out 15 items from Garcia's list that I believe to be the most essential for the everyday stylish woman who still cares about preserving individuality, quirk, and uniqueness.
1. Animal Print
"The truly fashionable are always daring and never dull," Garcia wrote. I couldn't agree with this statement more, as I think having an animal-print piece in your wardrobe is essential for any fashionable woman. Garcia goes on to say that "buying a print with pedigree (think Dolce & Gabbana or YSL) is the best way to avoid the garish look that is sometimes associated with animal prints. There are items that you can save money on. This should not be one of them."
Personally, though, I think you can find some truly fun, bold, and stylish animal prints without having to dish out the big bucks. It's all about how you wear and style the item, rather than who made it and how expensive it is.
2. A-Line Dress
Garcia calls this the "no fuss dress," and with good reason. "It will work for you on your best day. It will work for you on your worst day. It will work when you don't know what to wear, for all occasions, and in all kinds of weather," she wrote. A good A-line dress can be worn casually with tights, dressed up with heels for evening, left alone in hot weather, or layered in the cold.
Often overlooked and under-appreciated (since shoes and handbags tend to get all the attention), Garcia suggests we to look at belts as "pieces of jewelry." Adding a belt to your ensemble can completely transform your outfit. While I disagree with Garcia's notion that adding a belt can "make you look slimmer" (that's not our concern, Nin!), I completely agree that it can help accentuate your natural curves, while adding a little bling to an otherwise plain outfit.
According to Garcia, Converse are known as the "ultimate cool kid sneaker" that "every downtown girl wears in her downtime," (and my own personal favorite footwear of choice). Originally created as a basketball shoe, Chuck Taylors grew in popularity in '50s youth culture, and have stayed in vogue ever since.
5. Evening Gown
Gorgeous evening gowns happen to be one of my obsessions, and I used to feel so guilty about buying them at random. That is, until I read Nina Garcia's advice on evening gowns, and learned that I was doing it right all along.
Whenever we have somewhere to go that actually requires an evening gown, we are thrown into hysterics and pressure to find something that will work in the short time we have to shop (and we usually end up buying something we don't love). "This is why you should buy an evening gown when you don't need it," Garcia wrote. "It does not matter if [you] have no black-tie events in your future. [You] know that an invite will come — and when it does, it's best to have an evening gown waiting in the wings."
Garcia's advice on "the perfect jean" is, well, pretty perfect itself: "Pick a jean that fits you perfectly and stick with it, no matter the brand. Fit is everything, and the very nature of denim is that it's so democratic. Be you and the jean will, too."
7. Little Black Dress
When you find the perfect little black dress, Garcia suggests that "no matter what the cost, [you] should buy it. It may be H&M or it may be Alaia. The price is immaterial, since it can always be justified by the rules of fashion math: Cost divided by number of times worn equals priceless. It will be there time after time, decade after decade." Wearing all black can allow for the individual in you to shine, so make sure your LBD feels unequivocally you.
8. Black Opaque Tights
Black tights and leggings are all the rage right now, but they first grew popular "in the 1960s when short skirts and mini dresses and Edie Sedgwick walked the streets." Back then, wearing tights was a way to wear short skirts and dresses without being "scandalous." Today, however, "It continues to march its way into every decade, not just for the edge it can bring to an outfit, but also because it can make a leg look sleeker and longer." Yeah, I pretty much wear black tights/leggings with every outfit. I kid you not.
9. Hoop Earrings
Garcia gives some great advice when she writes that hoops are "an old standby for day or evening. Like the diamond stud, they do not have to be real to do the job. They can be bought at any price point and in an array of styles and sizes." However, she goes on to say that "the larger and the thinner are the sexier options," which I disagree with.
In fact, I find all kinds of hoops to be sexy in their own way. Small, dainty hoops can create a simple, classic look, while thick, chunky hoops can give off a sexy bohemian feel.
10. Ballet Flats
I know, I know: Most of us love a good heel. For me, though, I tend to favor the ballet flat, which Garcia says is "chic and timeless in its own right. It is simple and elegant, and it remains one of the few flat shoes that the fashion world has adopted and adored. And it's comfortable!" The ballet flat is the perfect go-to shoe when wearing heels is completely out of the question, or just, you know, whenever.
11. Old Concert T-Shirt
Ah, the concert T-shirt: Every cool-girl's wardrobe staple. Nina Garcia happens to agree, writing that, "Every girl has definitely owned a shirt from her favorite band (or bands) to wear with jeans or even under a finely tailored suit (mix of high and low fashion is utterly absorbing, visually)." The only exception to the coolness factor of a concert tee? Well, it's integrity, of course. According to Garcia, "Under no circumstances should anyone wear a shirt from a band that they do not listen to. Very uncool... in order to wear any band's T-shirt with true style, you must have their albums on your iPod. That's the rule. Follow it, and rock on."
12. Red Lipstick
Even if lipstick isn't something you normally wear every day, having the perfect shade of red for those moments when you're feeling a little more something-something is essential. Painting on a red pout is not only classic, but can also help immediately elevate any look into something more dramatic and glamorous. Garcia wrote that, "Red lipstick is much like the little black dress or your favorite pair of jeans. One size does not fit all. So, you just have to try them all on and then take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror... you will know when you've found 'the one.'"
13. Statement Necklace
One of my personal favorite fashion items has to be the statement necklace. It brings so much theatrics and drama to an outfit, and is the perfect accessory to take your ensemble from flat to all that. According to Garcia, "The statement necklace is the fashion equivalent of a supporting actress who steals the show." She goes on to explain that, "The necklace should be big, and need not be real. And it's best if you own several. The beauty of owning a collection of statement jewelry (real or fake) is that they let you wear your standby Little Black Dress time after time, pushing your look further and further into that of the desired fashionista."
14. Motorcycle Jacket
The Converse of jackets, the motorcyle jacket will always remain one of the coolest items you can own. Garcia puts it well when she explains that, "It is the jacket of subcultures: Bikers, rock n' rollers, punk rockers, metalheads, rebels (with or without a cause). And because the fashion world loves subcultures, the motorcycle jacket will always be the jacket of choice for the absolute stylish."
Out of all the things one can own, vintage items have to be some of my most treasured possessions. Not only do vintage items carry a history, a story, and have a character all their own, but they are a great way to add originality to an outfit. Garcia completely agrees. She wrote, "Vintage items are a fantastic way to add individual style to a wardrobe and set yourself apart from the pack. Nobody is going to have that same dress or coat that you got from the local thrift shop."
The most important thing of all to consider when trying to be stylish, of course, is yourself. Knowing your own preferences, understanding how clothing fits your body, being adventurous and daring, and having the confidence to freely express yourself through fashion are the real things to have when it comes to truly being a stylish woman.