Freshening Up The Basics

Happy new year!
Actually, okay, let’s be honest: SisterBang and I were on the phone New Year’s Eve and just could not bring ourselves to say “HAPPY” New Year so we tried to come up with hale and hearty alternatives that would be honest but not totally defeatist. We settled on “2017! Have at it!”

From The Sisters Weinstein to you, have at it!

It’s a good time of year to do a big closet purge and if you can’t go full Marie Kondo, at least weed out the saddest of your garments: the threadbare, the stained, the hopelessly unraveling. Clothing has metaphorical meaning as well as being literal covering for your bod, so don’t unintentionally and unconsciously communicate to others or to yourself that you’re literally falling apart at the seams!

Replenishing the basics is never a fun journey of discovery, let’s face it. But like purchasing new undies now and then, it must be done. Your wardrobe basics are those classic items you reach for every day and rely on, so make sure you are not without these staples. It’s worse than having no coffee and milk in the house! You can always run to Dunks if you’re out of coffee, but if you find yourself without a tailored skirt or bright white shirt, whence can you run?
Nowhere! You’re left flinging clothing around in your closet trying to come up with Plan B when there are much more important things to think about.

My professional BASIC NECESSITIES are as follows:

Black, white, grey sleeveless shirts, in cotton for every day and poly/silky blends for dressier. At least 28″ long. Neckline must be modest.

Black blazer.

Black pants.

Pencil skirts.


Black and nude bras.

Trench coat.


Knee-high fitted black leather boots.

Dressy black 1″ heel shoes.

If all of these things are in order and ready to go, I am prepared for most exigencies of ministry. Accessories do the rest to make me feel like me. Without accessories, I would be a sad generic lady.

What are your BASIC NECESSITIES? You should know them and know that they look terrific on you and that you have them lined up and ready to go at all times. Please don’t wait for an emergency. Do a closet audit on a regular basis and be honest: what’s about to go? Line up a replacement now. Don’t wait for a Saturday night before Confirmation Sunday to realize that you never don’t have one dress shirt in the house that isn’t pitted out and frayed at the buttonholes.

I find it difficult to find one of my basic necessities: sleeveless shirts that are decent quality fabric with an appropriate neckline and long enough length — so I was very happy to see that J. Jill is having a sale on just such a shirt. J. Jill makes pretty decent clothes but their styles are definitely for the willowy type gal, because they seem to be ALLERGIC TO DEFINED WAISTLINES. Their clothes are all long and tunicy and sexless so I usually pass on by their site and stores. J Jill seem designed for the kind of woman who goes to Pilates every day and stands around in her granite-countered kitchen holding a glass of perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio whipping together a healthy dinner from the farmer’s market for her three adorable children.
She’s amazing on a sailboat and her peonies never die. She has been happily married since the age of 31 and she never dreams about slitting her husband’s throat when he snores.

I am not like this woman. I am terrible on sailboats, I buy just as much bread and cheese from the farmer’s market as I do vegetables and I need a WAISTLINE in my dresses!
This is just to point out to you that I am not the J Jill demographic but I did make out very well with this sale and I scored some excellent sleevless T’s:


Look at that model’s guns! If I had upper arm definition like that you would find nary one sleeve in my closet. Even in the bitterest cold of winter, I would wear fur vests and show my upper arms.

ANYWAY, gang, I hope the new year brings you upper arm definition and fierce soul strength and a serious clarity around your vocation as I have felt in mine of late. We just cannot mess around. Prepare ye for a very difficult and painful Congressional agenda, and make sure your wardrobe is looking as ready as you are.

7 Replies to “Freshening Up The Basics”

  1. I did a little weeding. I did an honest assessment of how recently I wore things, and pulled out three bags for giveaway. I tried on all four pairs of black pants, and gave away one that was too small. (I’ve known that one of them was too small for about a year. My previous method has been to rip it off instantly, and then toss it back in with the others. Lather, rinse, repeat.) I’m also pretty careless when I get into the full sharknado of ministry, so there were a bunch of tops and cardigans wadded up here and there, completely unwearable. I ironed a bunch of them and put them back into drawers in civilized manner. It feels like I have twice the wardrobe!

  2. I am getting back into interview mode with the knowledge that one way or another, I will be back in a call before too awful long. I have NOTHING. The few thing I do have are too small…it has been some years since I had to wear a suit and nothing fits the current bod like it should.

    I don’t even know where to GO to replace my basics! Any suggestions would be helpful! I’m on a strict budget (aren’t we all) and live in a metro area in the South U.S.

  3. Beth, as someone coming off a few years building a professional wardrobe on a budget, I recommend sales at big department stores over the Limited, Ann Taylor etc. You’ll probably get better quality for the same or less price, and department stores are especially helpful if you’re near the higher end of the straight size spectrum (I’m 16 but not quite in plus sizes.) I got my current suit during the Nordstrom Anniversary sale for about $150 for jacket and skirt, free shipping, can return any time for any reason. If you really hunt you might be able to do $150 for jacket/skirt/pants at a department store.

  4. Some high end consignment stores have very nice things that are still current. However, I usually go there for the “extras” rather than the staples. Generally, any time I go for something specific, I don’t find it.

  5. Beth, go to Belk if you have one. They have essentials for a classic look and the BEST sales. I also like the Dana Buchman stuff at Kohl’s.

  6. Thanks! I used to have a Belk and I loved it, but it closed. I did find a surprisingly affordable gray kind of tweedy pantsuit at Macy’s, so that will do for interviews with a cute black pump (thrifted, $20). I also had good luck at Marshalls for basic black pants, but struck out with consignment and Kohls. I appreciate the suggestions; I used to be good at this but haven’t had to shop with these kind of clothing goals in way too long.

  7. Any thoughts for men? The reverend husband could use some help in this department and we’re not sure where to go.

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