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Ask Avery: Back to basics

blog by Avery Hartmans  • 

Dear Avery,
What are some of your favorite/best basics? I always struggle to find things that fit the way I want: soft, comfortable and slim. But I’m also not willing to spend $250 on a t-shirt. Where do you find top-notch, inexpensive basics and layering pieces?

This time of year, you can’t afford to leave the house in a silk top and thin leggings — not unless you have the urge to contract frostbite, anyway. Layering is the only option if you hope to keep your extremities intact.

But finding the perfect pieces can be tough, I know. For years I went the androgynous route and shopped the men’s underwear section for tees and tanks, developing an intimate relationship with Fruit of the Loom ribbed tank tops and white v-necks.

We all have to grow up sometime, though, and find pieces that will accommodate some curves. I, too, love soft, slouchy tees and cozy leggings, pieces that will keep me warm but still make me look like a girl. Below are my top 10 favorite pieces, right out of my own closet.

A year or two ago I found the perfect t-shirts: soft, long, loose but slim-fitting, these tees became an instant favorite. But of course, nothing good ever lasts, and the store no longer carries them.

Luckily, I’ve found a substitute that may be better than the original. The Aerie boyfriend tees have the same long, loose silhouette, wide neckline and are made out of a thin, soft material, which makes them perfect for layering. The one is worth stocking up on.

Aerie, $19.95

At this point I can’t really remember what it’s like to be warm. These temperatures have me seriously checking for the first signs of frostbite every time I come inside, and I’ve started planning my outfits around how many layers I can possibly wear. So when my mom gave me fleece-lined leggings for Christmas, I was nothing short of delighted.

They’re warm, they’re thick and when I step outside, my legs don’t immediately go numb. These leggings are well-worth the $18 investment.

Francesca’s, $18

If you have a chambray shirt, you probably wear it way too much. If you don’t have one, you most certainly need one. Chambray shirts have become the staple to end all staples: they’re versatile, they’re comfortable and they go with absolutely everything.

My favorite chambray is a lighter wash that’s a little roomy. A light wash can be paired with black and studs for a tougher, grungier look, with a white lace skirt and brown boots for a boho vibe, or with dark denim and flats.

The possibilities are endless.

J.Crew Factory, $34.50

Sometimes you just have a lazy day when putting on real clothes seems really hard. For those days, you need simple, fashionable basics you can throw on without looking like a total slob.

A gray sweatshirt that’s long enough to pair with leggings, boots and a scarf is the perfect option — it looks comfy and cozy, but you won’t look like a gym rat.

Target, $24.99

Disclaimer: this is not a shirt. Instead, treat this bralette as a base and work from there. Say, for example, you’re wearing a shirt with a low v-neck or you want to let loose a little and unbutton your shirt one more button.

This is the perfect option for underneath: it adds a little sex appeal but keeps you covered up. Plus, since it’s half of a shirt, a bralette won’t create any extra bulk underneath your top.

Free People, $38

As cliché as it sounds, everyone needs a basic black dress in her closet. Since acquiring a simple black shift dress, I’ve realized just how functional it can be.

The loose, almost boxy silhouette looks great belted with a blazer, or worn as is with a pair of ankle booties. The possibilities for such a classic shape are endless, so it’s definitely worth picking one up.

Mango, $69.99

The struggle to find perfect jeans is one that affects all of us. They need to have enough stretch to accommodate everything you’ve got going on, but they need to have enough shape that they don’t get baggy the second you take your first step.

These super skinny jeans are perfect for the sole reason that they don’t immediately stretch out in the knees, which is my denim pet peeve. Just be sure you don’t sit on any white couches in these — such inky, dark washes tend to rub off, even after the first few washes.

Loft, $64.99

Every girl needs a slouchy, gray tank in her closet, regardless of her style. It’s the ultimate layering piece, since heathered gray goes with pretty much everything and this slouchy silhouette looks good on pretty much everyone.

It’s soft, it’s comfy and it’s inexpensive.

Just watch the neckline on this top, as the soft, thin fabric doesn’t lend much support to the girls and you may end up overexposed.

H&M, $9.95

A white silk button down is the new white cotton button down. It’s more feminine, it’s easy to dress up and dress down, and it’s far more comfortable than the typical stiff white shirt.

This top will become your go-to for work or play, since it looks good tucked into skirts or worn loose with jeans. But be careful, because you know the second you put on a nice white top is the second you spill something on it.

J.Crew, $138

I have a weird obsession with thermal shirts. Maybe it’s the Buffalo girl in me, the childhood winters spend in long underwear, or the fact that I’m a ‘90s baby and have an innate grunge-era fashion sense in me somewhere.

Either way, thermal or waffle-knit tops should become a staple in your wardrobe, too. They’re warm, they’re extra comfortable and they make you look cool. What else could you ask for?

Target, $14.99

Image courtesy of Zara

TAGGED: ask avery, fashion, layering, wardrobe staples, winter style

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