Gunn’s Essentials

We now return to our project clothes horse discussion, already in progress. 

Wiki calls this a Clotheshorse... I'm sure Daddy meant something ... snarkier

My father first called me a clothes horse some 30 years ago.  I know by age 14, I had two closets, two dressers bigger than I was, all overflowing.  I’m not precisely sure how it happened though, because I distinctly remember being 11 0r 12 and having a specific outfit for each day of the week.  It’s a far cry from seven shirts to a wardrobe that overfloweth, and I seem to have made the transition in record time.

Here’s a factoid about me:  I’ll NEVER be a minimalist.  I get itchy in hotels and even friends’ homes when there’s nothing but furniture, walls, a smattering of art… and nothing that can pass for clutter.   I need to have a magazine or photo album to flip through in the name of entertaining myself, or a curio cabinet to ponder… SOMETHING.

But I can admit that I want and need to plan my wardrobe, for a host of reasons, and since almost nothing fits, it’s a good time to make a plan.

My dear Mrs. Darsie alerted me to Tim Gunn’s list of essentials for every woman:

Tim Gunn’s 10 Essential Items Every Woman Needs
• Basic black dress
• Trench coat
• Classic dress pants
• Classic white shirt
• Skirt
• Blazer
• Day dress
• Cashmere sweater
• Jeans
• A comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit

Knee-jerk reaction… that’s a perfect list for almost every woman.  It’s certainly a great start for me.  Yes, I said start.  Capris aren’t on there, nor are basic tees, just to name a couple of things I have to have in my wardrobe, at least for the next 6 months or so.

I can honestly say I don’t have a single one of those items that fits at the moment, so I’m going to link to at least one of each item so that when I am ready to shop, I have somewhere to start…

Calvin Klein LBD

LBD.  Hold on a minute…  Let’s talk about how hard and fast we should hold to Mr. Gunn’s list.  I suspect I’ll always own a LBD, but honestly, basic black and stark white aren’t my best colors.  What say you?  I do realize the basic LBD is a stand-alone fashion icon, but would Mr. Gunn shake his head if I bought a little navy dress or a little brown dress?

Macy’s even has a separate category for LBDs, as do several other websites.   The one I’m showing here would almost assuredly suit Mr. Gunn.  It’s truly timeless, classic and black.  It also comes in an oatmeal color, which would be worse than black on me…

Trench.  I actually have a cute, turquoise trench, but alas, it’s too big and not worth altering.  I’d definitely consider this LL Bean Commuter Trench Coat in china blue, but it’s hard to argue with basic black or stone for an all-season jacket.

Jump on in.  I want your thoughts on the list as a whole, on individual items…  whatever.  I’m pretty sure Mr. Gunn realizes that not all of us need a day dress every single week, and I’ll debate any of you – and call in my pal Alison as soon as she’s feeling better – on the cashmere sweater.   Everyone – man or woman – needs a cashmere sweater.  Thrift it, knit it, or pay full price, but unless you’re allergic, there’s nothing like it.  Soft, warm, and … Gretchen and I are both big fans of the lofty, light, warm fiber.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Next on the list is classic dress pants.  Bah.  I do own navy, black and camel, but I don’t honestly believe I’ve ever had a pair of slacks that fits correctly.   I assume Mr. Gunn means something like these Talbot “Seasonless Wool Straight Leg Pants“?  Short inseam aside, there’s something about my very muscular thighs that yields unsatisfactory results with every single pair of dress pants/slacks I’ve EVER tried on or worn.  And don’t tell me to try boot cut or wide legs; I wear a size 6.5 shoe, and I have serious problems with a pant leg that swallows my foot, shoe and all!

Top on left...

White shirt.  Okay, I did say stark white is bad for me, but like the LBD, I lurvers me a crisp white shirt, especially in the warmer months.   I love a no-iron, touch of stretch, 3/4 sleeve blouse.  That outfit on the left is virtually a 4-season classic, no?  (Minus the shoes.  They say Roman gladiator meets 1970 to me… sorry.) 

Can I talk to my busty buds for a moment?  Do you wear blouses?  See…  I haven’t for a couple of years now, as a general rule.  If I get them big enough that the placket doesn’t gape, the shoulders slide down too far, even on my broad frame.  Le Sigh.  I’m hoping that the girls fade just enough that I can enjoy crisp blouses again, because this shirt is the type of thing I would own in every single color, with duplicates in white and red and…

Which brings us to Mr. Gunn’s skirt.  (That sounds wrong.  Mea culpa, fine gentleman Sir.)  I’m pretty sure that cute, full denim number above I adore with the white shirt isn’t what he means.  I’m thinking he means a very standard, tailored, slim skirt, like this pencil from Coldwater Creek.   I’d order the petite though, so that it hits me above the knee.  I’m not a true petite; I can only wear petite skirts and once in a while, a dress.  Yes, I’m under 5’4″, but just barely, and if you don’t know by now that the size charts are NEVER really accurate, well…  I just gave you a good tip.  Hem. 

Okay!  That’s half the list, and I think that’s more than enough for one day.  I’d like to thank Mr. Gunn though, because he’s reconnecting me with my preppy, classic roots and I think that’s my happy place.  I’m ready to go shopping now… but I won’t. 

What’s on your weekend agenda?  Kids in the Kitchen it my big deal.  I’m not even linking, because everything the three locals who read my blog need to know is tomorrow, free, Albemarle HS cafeteria, rain or shine, 9-1.   And no, there won’t be pictures because I feel very strongly about not posting photos of children on my blog, since it is a public blog.  I won’t be there the whole time, so if you’re going, email me so I can be sure to see you!


15 comments on “Gunn’s Essentials

  1. gMarie says:

    I love that list! Honestly. So – I have ‘my colors’ done for my 40th birthday. One of the things she said, was never wear white whiter than your teeth – if you do, it makes them look yellow. Also, black, white and taupe don’t have to be your neutrals if they aren’t good colors for you. My neutrals should be chocolate (closer to my hair color) a grey, navy and a rich olive green. Because I look fab in those colors. So my LBD would be grey, brown, etc. get it?

    That Talbots skirt you show? I bought fabric at Expo to make one. I’m so excited. But now that TB is kicking my hiney regularly, I’m not sure I should start it.

    You know I’m the queen of the skirt, full, a-line and now so very happy I have a pencil skirt that fits. You know what I say about the shirt, right? 😛 g

  2. Nichole says:

    That is a great list – to start, as you say. Capris are necessary.
    I have the same blouse issue as you… if I get one large enough to not gap or give a peep hole, then the shoulders and arms are often too big. Sigh….
    I also probably don’t have a truly proper fitting pair of pants either… plenty of dress pants, just none are a GREAT fit.
    I love that LL Bean trench…… very cute! Mine’s black..

  3. Mary says:

    • Basic black dress – Use to have one, but probably should look for a replacement though I rarely wear a dress.
    • Trench coat – Short women with big boobs look like boobs in a trench coat unless the coat is single breasted (few are) and she is way taller than me; don’t own one.
    • Classic dress pants – Not an easy find when you get to be a certain age and don’t look like Sigourney Weaver. However, I do own a black pair.
    • Classic white shirt – I do own one – foxcroft brand.
    • Skirt – I don’t own one.

    Tomorrow is a great day – Having family brunch with my just returned last night from the Middle East military deployment in Middle East DIL in the morning. Home safe and sound.

  4. Sue says:

    Where to start! First, a rant. Why do men think they’re experts on what women should wear, do think, etc? If a man would wear a short tight skirt and high heels while fighting all day to keep his crisp white shirt from gaping and ignoring the itchy neck from his wool sweater, cashmere or not, then I might listen to his fashion advice.

    Now back to reality. I no longer have the lifestyle that calls for certain styles. When I was working, I had a huge wardrobe that contained all of the above, or most of the above. Now I need sturdy clothes that don’t show dog prints and can be worn to scoop the yard or to the vet’s office with a vomiting or bleeding pup.

    I love the look of a crisp white blouse with slacks and a jacket and I recently bought a couple, but again, white is not a good color for me because of my lifestyle.

    I have a couple pair of dress pants, but I have short legs and the wider pantlegs make me look even dumpier. I actually do better with leggings and a tunic. I look taller and have more freedom of movement.

    I have two trenchcoats. One is burgundy color and street length, the other is tan and ankle length. I plan to make a pink one because I fell in love with the one Brenda wore in The Closer.

    Some women have a thing about shoes, I have a thing about jackets and coats. I love them and can’t get enough. Everytime I look around, there’s another pretty one that I just have to have.

    Enough for today.

  5. kathy b says:

    Okay I just bought Fireman his first cashmere sweater this Christmas. He loves it! maybe I’ll get one next year from Santa.
    I love a eyelit blouse in white…just saying
    I am having the same busty issue with blouses lately.
    this weekend I am OFF OFF OFF on vakay! yippe. Enjoying the kittens tremendously

  6. I’m a fashion ‘no no’! Pants hate me, pencil skirts don’t really work for pear shapes, and I’m really never happy with a white shirt…of any kind! Does my black raincoat count as a “trench” coat? I’d guess not…Weekend is crazy busy…I want a REAL weekend, where I don’t have to dash about the whole time. Harrumph!

  7. kn1tty cat says:

    Drying rack … clothes horse? what?

  8. Kathy says:

    Basic black dress — Nope. I’d need to buy one if I ever was invited to an occasion where one was required.

    Trench coat — I’m lacking here too.

    Classic dress pants — Got this covered in both black (winter and summer weights) and tan (summer). It’s hard to find pants that fit well when you’ve got no waist (waist and hips are virtually the same size) but Ann Taylor often works for me.

    Classic white shirt — How I love these! How I hate to iron these! I have a bunch, but they all need to be ironed.

    Skirt — yup, doing fine here.

    Got to admit, this is a very boring wardrobe unless you add in some colorful scarves or cardigans or jewelry or something!

  9. Amy says:

    Thinking of this list, and I can’t tell you how lucky I felt when I found that single breasted powder blue trench at the vintage store. I agree with Mary – double breasted is just scary on women who have shapes like me.

    I’ve noticed that I am trying to move away from jeans and t-shirts. This is something that I think women wear too much and certainly take for granted. I want to wear more skirts and dresses! Don’t get me wrong, I love my jeans and tees. But I really think women have let themselves go!

  10. AllyB says:

    Hey Chan! I love those wool straight leg pants. I wish a pair of those could make me look as tall as the model, LOL

  11. Jessica says:

    OK, i am skipping ahead to comment before i finished reading, because i gotta hurry and answer the blouse question before i forget. I am not HUGELY busty, but busty enough that regular blouses usually do not fit properly. Almost every year, GAP comes out with a white tunic blouse. buy yourself one, or some. They are cut more generously in the bust, and torso in general. They are my wardrobe staple. i noticed that Old Navy has some this spring, but have not checked out the gap ones. I have several styles in my closet. Actually, last year i found one at Aerie that i LOVE. Thin and gauzy, i wear it over a tank always. Actually, i wear all my blouses over a tank. covers the bra, because some are so gauzy, even a nude bra shows through.

  12. Barbara says:

    Gunn’s list is spot on. A LBD is a necessity! And for every season, I also have a “funeral” outfit. Depressing, I know, really important to have something ready to go at any time. I also agree a trench coat is important…bought mine years ago in NYC….good designer one, but it IS khaki.
    Do you believe I don’t own a pair of jeans? (Perhaps you do believe that!)

  13. Bubblesknits says:

    I love a crisp white shirt, but my sweaty self always ends up with horrible sweat stains that ruin it in no time. /sigh/ Why do I have to pour perspiration like a 300 lb. wrestler? /grumble/

  14. Anita says:

    I’m even further behind than usual…. I’ve had the flu. Not that anyone noticed I was gone anyway. :/

    Well, you know that I have no occasion to have more than jeans/shorts & T’s… sometimes I wish I did. It’s been so long since I wore a skirt to more than a funeral that I feel weird in them now. LOL

    How are the girls? 🙂

  15. […] first five items were covered in THIS post, so we’ll jump right in with the blazer.  Anyone else think of a Chevy SUV when they […]

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