Does basic get too basic?

Yesterday, I went to an open studios event at Everlane. They're an online clothing line that designs basic clothes and works directly with factories to make high-quality items for less money (by keeping their line very focused and cutting out the middle layers of wholesale->retail).

They're based down the street from me, and they had an open house to let people try on their not-yet-released fall things and also the items they have available for 1-hour delivery in SF. It was nice to get a sense of the sizing on different items. Though it was one of our hottest days, so trying on chunky merino was painful!

Anyway, here's the thing. My wardrobe - tops, especially - is becoming full of basics, often repeated. I have 5 or 6 black Uniqlo drapey cotton tees that are perfect with everything. I could happily wear black sleeveless silk shirts three or four times a week. I have a new one from Everlane that is amazing thick silk, as good as Equipment, so I might duplicate it - or triplicate. I was tempted to get a few of their black silk tank tops, also, and another long-sleeve silk blouse to go along with my two Uniqlo Ines de la Fressange silk blouses (another duplicate...).

But, with my current obsession with Uniqlo (for cheap basics), Everlane (for minimalist staples like silk tops), and COS (still haven't bought anything) - am I going to become too boring? I'm trying to give myself permission to stock up on the silk tops but I worry that I'm going to get stuck in a rut.

I guess I rely on all-black for impact, and I think that's ok. I have high-quality shoes and a selection of crazy pants and skirts. Maybe I should just recognize that tops are not where I want to be crazy. I get enough drama from basic silhouettes. I also recognize that this is fitting a trend shift towards luxe basics. It feels hipster (in a good way) and French (also in a good way).

Some of the tops in question:

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  • ironkurtin replied 4 years ago

    If you are, I am. I think good basics are huge as a core wardrobe.

  • Janet replied 4 years ago

    I think this can be good. I tend to be drawn to statement pieces, but I need a healthy dose of basics to wear with those statement pieces. I'm not wild about maximal outfits where every piece calls for attention -- at least not on me.

    You certainly have plenty of personal style, and I really enjoy your simple but distinctive outfits -- I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

  • Alassë replied 4 years ago

    If you don't want attention on top, then your purchases are right on track for your style. Sounds sensible to me!

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 4 years ago

    *For me*, there is such a thing as too basic. I think that if everything I wear is without details and in neutrals, I look (and feel) that I've given up on dressing entirely. There's a lack of artiness to it, if you will.

    I don't think that's true for everyone though. Certain body types and ages can pull off the French minimalist look much easier than others.

    I keep hoping for Everlane to make more things in XL, but so far no dice. Sigh.

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    That's an insightful way of putting it, Alassë. I wonder if that's part of it. Though possibly I like relying on my body rather than clothes for visual interest on top. NOT the boobs, but I like how my bare neck and collarbone look against black, or my shoulders. Hmm.

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    Oh, and if anyone feels inspired to try out Everlane, would it be appropriate to ask you to sign up via my referral URL, in which case I get a store credit if you buy something? You can PM me for the URL - seems too commercial to just post it here.

    (On reading comments:  Laura, that's stupid that they don't offer things in XL! I would have hoped they'd expand into more sizes as they got more established, but really they should have offered them from the beginning.)

  • shedev replied 4 years ago

    I like a lot of items with details, but usually I like a grounding piece. It usualy is the top. Those are nice picks.

  • Marley replied 4 years ago

    The basic tops are perfect to showcase your beautiful hair.  If you were to wear "statementy" tops - then, I think, that along with your hair, it would be not just ALGO for your preferred style - but TOO MUCH GOING ON!

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 4 years ago

    Greyscale, I have been looking at quite a few blogs lately and a few really resonate with me.  They seem to be bloggers who rely fairly heavily on basics and then change them up with accessories. The focus is on fit and cut.  Here are a few articles I found particularly helpful.

  • catgirl replied 4 years ago

    I feel there's a big difference between basic and basic-plus, which is what I see in your style. 

    There's a basic black top:

    and there's basic-plus:

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 4 years ago

    Greyscale, it actually seems to have gotten worse, not better. Last year, when I first heard about them, they had offered several items in XL that had already sold out (at least in the colors I was interested in) so I subscribed to their notifications. Every single piece I've been interested in since then has not even been offered in XL. And it's not like their stuff runs big; from the size chart, their XL is a lot of other brands' L. I finally unsubscribed from their emails. They must believe, whether or not it's true, that their demographic is all skinny people. Very annoying. /gets off soapbox

    The gal who runs Into-Mind also strikes me as someone who opts for very traditional silhouettes and a lot of neutrals, but somehow makes a very current look out of it. She doesn't post her own pics that often but there are some on the blog.

  • ma342 replied 4 years ago

    For what it's worth, I find that Everlane's V neck tees run a size bigger than the size chart indicates, and I've heard that the U necks run larger still. The size chart claims I should take a large, but I'm fine with a medium--it doesn't give me the super oversized/slouchy look you see on the models, but I don't want that anyway.

    Still dumb that they don't offer XL.

  • thimblelina replied 4 years ago

    I love basics that are cut well. I second the basics-plus category! I haven't tried everlane yet.... I'm still sad Pickwick & Weller closed shop.

  • Sal replied 4 years ago

    I don't think basic necessarily means boring.  A simple black or white tee with classic jeans and converse can look great.  I have a few simple/basic/classic outfits that I feel are flattering and stylish.  I have not seen a lot of your style but I think you add a few twists to make it interesting.  And quality does tend to show through in basic pieces.

  • Missey replied 4 years ago

    While your clothing may be basic, you have never looked boring in any of your posts!  I think you bring your style home and elevate it with your awesome hair and your footwear.  You have well chosen pieces that fit you well and flatter you.  There is nothing basic about a matter of fact, that is what most people strive for!

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    Missey, thanks for saying that.

    Maybe it's a grass-is-greener thing in my head. I have a friend who has amazing style, and her style incorporates a lot of dramatic pieces. She is a more interesting dresser than me and I forget that my own sense of style does come through loud and clear in what I wear.

    And if I'm craving drama, maybe I should indulge in one item that fits my look - a crazy pair of shoes, maybe. I'm always scared of color or exotic texture but maybe shoes would be a place to take that plunge.

    Laura, I hadn't seen Into Mind. That looks like a great site.

  • Caro in Oz replied 4 years ago

    I'm buying more basics & fewer "statement" items. I have enough coats, jackets, bag & shoes but never enough basics - I buy them whenever I can :)

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    When you identify essentials for your own style -- which for you, includes luxurious-feeling, well made, and simply designed tops in your dark neutral -- then I think the only time you have "too many" is when you find you're not wearing and enjoying them all. 

    I suppose you might also feel you have too many if you suddenly feel bored by the ones you have. Or maybe when, all of a sudden, you're not able to create outfits that excite or interest you from these building blocks. 

    I share your preference for simply designed or minimalist tops. I do sometimes wear patterned tops (especially in summer) and in winter I'm pretty much forced to add scarves for warmth if I'm not wearing turtlenecks. (Now, there's a classic "basic" if ever there was one...and an essential, for me.) But I strongly prefer simple cuts in solid neutrals (mostly) and fine fabrications. 

    I think that first Everlane top is amazing. Love the tank, too, although I would be in search of one with a higher neckline for myself. 

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    I agree that your hair and shoes are the highlights. Even dramatic dressers don't generally wear all dramatic pieces (with certain notable exceptions of course). You are smart to realize you don't want drama from your tops and stocking up on work with anything, high quality basics seems like exactly the right thing to do.

  • Deborah replied 4 years ago

    I love your style and would call it anything but basic.  I think you know your style and what works for you and you elevate those 'basics' like nobodies business:) with your footwear, your hair and your attitude :)  Don't change.

  • krishnidoux replied 4 years ago

    I disagree with you. These basics are very appealing, yet still do their jobs as basic, and on the contrary of what you say, I think we can never have too much of these foundation pieces, on which to build fantastic outfits. Maybe what you need is to get another neutral color than black? View them as imagination's enablers,  closet-orphans placement tool, unique pieces' life-extenders, mix-and-match's essential glue, SYC's facilitators. 

  • chadya replied 4 years ago

    What is their stuff like, for a while I got their emails, but since I don't order anything online I stopped. 
    I have  to try on any clothing in person, and I hate to return by mail.

  • Irene replied 4 years ago

    I think your look (haircut, hair color, glasses, body-posture, probably personality) is your statement-piece. Therefore, wearing simple yet striking tops makes sense: otherwise you would be maximal and your appearance and your clothes would compete against each other, which might not be what you want!

  • Angie replied 4 years ago

    I like the way your simple tops provide a fabulous backdrop for your dramatic hair. Nice complement. 

  • replied 4 years ago

    I don't think these types of tops are too basic at all. They're simple, but very special, IYKWIM. I love the understated luxe factor, and I agree that there's something very French about dressing this way. I'm taking notes!

  • unfrumped replied 4 years ago

    I think you have a signature style that is very on-point for your specific situation. "The basics" if good quality and excellent fit are part of the style and not just basics as a supporting cast. The same pieces, poorly made, or even with  the wrong figure type or hairstyle , would  not work as well. 

    I recently re-read the posts on signature style vs being in a rut, so you may have fun with those, too. I was reading them because I thought I might want to embrace a clearer signature style and not get too scattered. You might like to think how to add a bit of interest, as you mentioned with footwear, letting the other pieces remain understated but not dull. Also, other neutral colors or "almost neutral" colors or tone-on-tone colors can create interest while keeping the comfort and style of the basic garments.

  • karymk replied 4 years ago

    Hi Greyscale.  How was the sizing on the Everlane items? I have been dying to try them out.

    I am loving Uniqlo. Have for years.  I just bought another light puffer vest. I have several now.  They just work so well for California climes. Have you tried any of their down yet? 

  • Greyscale replied 4 years ago

    Silk tanks, S (XS got hung up across my chest)
    Silk sleeveless button down, S for extra drape but an XS would work too
    Silk pocket blouse, XS
    All sweaters, XS - loose and drapey (I tried the lightweight merino, the seed stitch merino, and the not yet released chunky wool turtleneck)
    Last season's poplin short-sleeve, S

    Shoes (coming out soon): my usual 6.5 was the right length but far too narrow. I think their shoes just won't fit me.

    For comparison, I'm always an XS at the Gap but occasionally S in some other less generously sized brands.

    Also, their leather bags are gorgeous.

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