I’m recently back from my first vacation in 5 years, and on that trip, amongst all the pancakes and alligators (it was Florida, clearly), I also got to experience the sheer joy that is dressing out of a suitcase. Two whole weeks of not having to try and hunt for that one teeny-tiny black sock that I so badly need and so badly can’t find. Two weeks of only having a few outfits to choose from, and knowing that they all fit and, wait for it, that I like them all.
Since coming back to Scotland and facing my floordrobe, I’ve had renewed energy to streamline my clothing choices and to find that one bloody, tiny, perfect black sock. As a result of all this, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of content called things like, “10 must have wardrobe staples”, and “the 5 items you NEED in your closet” – and while, don’t get me wrong, it is helping me, I have also noticed that there are at least 5 items that consistently pop up in these lists that I just don’t own, and yet somehow, I’ve survived until the age of 28. I thought today I would share the 5 wardrobe essentials that I don’t own, and I’d love to hear your opinion – is it just me, or are these items not as ubiquitous in closets as YouTube creators would have me believe?
1. A white button-down shirt
Arguably the most chic and versatile wardrobe option for many women, I haven’t owned one since I had to as part of my school uniform. And yes, that is in fact WHY I’ve never owned one since. Without embarking on a dark path for a style post, suffice to say I HATED school – it was where my severe anxiety attacks started, and it was a total struggle for me to get through the days there. For me, putting on and buttoning up a plain white – or black – blouse just takes me right back to struggling to do so in my childhood because my hands were shaking with all the adrenaline in my system. I wear other, more casual button ups and it’s fine – but I think, at least for the time being, I’m going to have to skip out on the classic white option.
2. Ballet flats
I love ballet flats and I’m frequently drawn to looking at them in stores and online, but as far as actually owning or wearing them? Uh, no. I have very small, narrow feet – for reference I’m a UK 2, and most UK women’s shoes start in a 3. So, for a long time I just could not get nice, sleek ballet flats in my size so it wasn’t an option, now of course, there are a lot better options out there for us tiny-footed gals but, having spent my life up until this point walking around in mostly Converse or chunky boots, my feet object rather strongly to the thin, flat soles of ballet flats. I’m always on the lookout though so if anyone knows of a super-comfy pair that come in tiny sizes – let me know!
3. A trench coat
I actually did own a trench coat, once. It was in that classic beige colour, which washed me out completely, and it was always creased because I would never steam it and it would live in a scrumpled heap in my wardrobe. I’m sorry trench coats, it’s not you, it’s me. Being a little more colour-savvy and a little more familiar with my steamer these days I’m definitely open to trying a trench coat again at some point, but, given that I need to avoid the “typical” trench coat colour, and beware of the ones with giant buttons and lapels that will draw way too much attention to my large chest and short torso… yeah, suffice to say I’m definitely not yet sold on this being a “must have” piece.
4. A white t-shirt
I am forever hearing people talk about how brilliant a white t-shirt can be; just throw it on with jeans and a blazer – use trainers to dress it down or pointed toe shoes to dress it up – and they’re right, it IS a great look, just not one for me. Generally, in fact, barring some fairly mad circumstances, I don’t shop fast-fashion, I buy basically everything second hand – and let me tell you, white t-shirts are not easy to come by in charity shops! Well, at least not in any sort of condition I’d like to wear – hello, yellow armpit stains. I guess the obvious other option would be to buy a great white tee from an ethical and sustainable brand, but, given the alarming frequency with which I drop pizza sauce down myself, I don’t think that would necessarily be a wise financial investment.
Growing up, I had the same struggles with heels as I had with ballet flats – trying to grip onto a pair of size 3’s with my tiny size 2 feet. But, I did own some, and when I was younger I did wear them to parties or whatever. As I got older though, I just enjoyed it less and less – I remember my Degree art show at Uni and wearing these lovely, knee-high suede boots with an amazing heel – looked great in the photos, but I spent most of the night hoping nobody would ask me to move. Now, I know that there are comfier heels than others, and I know some women seem to amazingly be able to get used to the sensation, but yeah, I guess I’m not one of those women. I kept some more classic pairs and moved them with me to Glasgow four years ago, then, recently, after finding them covered in dust in the back of the wardrobe, never having once been worn since we moved here, I cleaned them all up and sent them off to the charity shop.
So those are 5 wardrobe “essentials” that I don’t have in my closet! Like I said, I’d love to hear your opinion on whether these items are indeed “classics”? Or, what are the items that you, personally, couldn’t be without?