Your 5 Wardrobe Building Blocks | Life Lately

(This post contains affiliate links so must be tagged as an AD - however I have not been paid or asked to write it. If you click through and purchase from some of the links, the company you buy from can track that link back to me and may pay me a small commission if you keep your purchase. This is the income I use to maintain the running costs of the blog, so I'm grateful when you do click through on my links but you can google the items if you don't wish to use my links)

I've blogged about wardrobe foundation items before but I'm aware that the other posts are older and a bit out of date so rather than rehash old content, I thought I'd start again from scratch, armed with what I've learned from my recent wardrobe detoxes and give you my 2020 guide to the 5 foundation pieces I think you should have in your wardrobe.
These building blocks in themselves give you an outfit but most importantly, they can be worn with your existing wardrobe to make it work harder for you. Starting with the classic, timeless..

...White Shirt
This is such a game changer in a wardrobe, especially if it's got the 3 C's. What on earth are these I hear you ask? They are the three things I demand in a white shirt and conveniently, they all begin with C - Colour, Collar and Crease.
Colour means a bright white shirt - no faded off white or grey allowed. If your white shirt has seen better days, add it to the charity bag or dye it another colour.
Collar means no curling edges - a sharp white shirt has a sharp white collar. Remember to use vanish on your collars before washing to deal with any make up rub-off.
Crease means getting the fabric right. I've had shirts that I literally have to iron while wet as they're so creased out of the wash. They even get creased hanging in the wardrobe and need ironed before wearing. You want a shirt that has a crispness to it but which has a bit of stretch to prevent the ironing issue. It needs to be easy to iron and to hold it's shape well while hanging.

My recommendation will always be the Hawes and Curtis Single Cuff Stretch shirt 

I have 2 of these, one gifted and one bought. One is a 10 and one is a 12 - I alternate between them depending on my outfit. They're the best I've tried in years. Dunnes Stores also do a cheap as chips shirt which isn't as good but I do recommend it to reluctant shirt wearers until they realise the amazing addition a white shirt is and rush out to buy a quality one from Hawes and Curtis!

Straight Jeans
Wow - no skinnies here?! That's because although I'm not ready to embrace the bootleg again, I am moving away from skinny jeans a little bit. I still love my coated skinnies but for a blue, slightly distressed wash, I'm all about the straight fit with a bit of a turned up or frayed cuff.

Look for a pair that will sit comfortably on your waist band and that you can fit your hand inside. This is not a jeans shape to wear tight on the waist or bum. But you should wear a neater top with them to offset the slightly looser bottom half and if wearing a distressed pair, definitely wear a smarter top to offset the distressing (i.e. the shirt above and blazer below)

My favourite ones are H&M from a few years ago and my most recent purchase are some Mango ones from last season. These are the most similar current Mango ones:

A basic blazer in the right shape and length for your shape is such a great wardrobe building block. It'll take you to a job interview, a night out, the supermarket, even a wedding or funeral.
Black is the classic colour and this Mango one is my pick of the season because the cut and the buttons create a gorgeous silhouette shape on any figure:
 but navy or grey are great alternatives. Also, if you love your colour, a brighter blazer is a great option. There are some gorgeous greens in the shops this season and my pick of them is this one from M&S. Looks amazing with a breton top and distressed jeans.
I wear my blazers a few different ways. Apart from the obvious work/formal options, I love wearing them with jeans as a lovely way to dress distressed denim up a little bit. They also look great with midi dresses as an alternative to the ubiquitous biker/denim jacket and with midi skirts too - particularly enjoy wearing a blazer with my faux leather midi skirt.

I'm sure most of you have embraced the trainer trend in some shape or form by now. If you're still reluctant, I urge you to try a neat basic white trainer with a dress or skirt when the weather warms up. They just take getting used to when you're used to boots or darker footwear. It can feel like your feet are having a party when you look down and see a white trainer but trust me, your feet will be having a party for comfort reasons...and you'll struggle to go back to heels.
My favourites, and I've bought MANY a pair in recent years, are these M&S leather ones. They get better and better with age. True to size - I wear my usual M&S 5.5 in these.
My second favourite are these Skechers - the most comfortable ones I own. Always size down in Skechers - mine are a 5.
And a top tip if you're a size 5 or thereabouts. Look in the kids sections for a bargain. I've a pair of Geox kids trainers in a size 6 and they're amazing quality - fully leather lined and definitely tie for second place with my Skechers.

Midi Dress
This is another look that takes embracing if you've not gone here before but when you do, you'll also never look back. There isn't a woman's shape that doesn't look better in a dress and you'll not believe the compliments you get. Go for a muted pattern, shirt style ideally, on a classic black/navy or grey base and see how you get on. Here are a few great options that can be dressed up for work or down for the weekend. And remember, you can add tights and boots on colder days. I wear my dresses in winter with thermal tights, a vest and a slip. Oh and thermal socks in my boots!

Length wise, look for something that hits the leg around where your leg starts to narrow again from the calf. There is quite a variation in lengths when it comes to midi dresses. At 5'7, I aim for the midaxi length (not a maxi but longer than a midi) because I find the midi length in many shops is too short for me and looks frumpy. I've also bought maxi ones that I've loved and had them shortened. It's not a big or expensive job so don't rule a dress out just because it's too short.
I've sourced 4 dresses from the current season for this blog post - this first monochrome one from Topshop has some lovely pink detail in the print
The colours in this next one, also Topshop, are warmer but still quite neutral. The print, while striking isn't too in your face and the ruffle details will help give curves if you don't have them.
This next one isn't a shirt dress strictly speaking but the shape is very similar. It's from Zara and I'd belt it myself - would look fab with a brown leather belt. It's the print I love with this one - really easy to wear as it's a small and not too busy.
Finally, I know this Closet one is a gorgeous fit as I've seen it in a few local boutiques. I always size up to a 12 in this brand. Not a shirt style this time...but the pockets make up for that!

And there you go - hope you found that helpful! It's been a much requested post but due to life lately, it's taken me longer to get written up. My day job has been busy and as the blog doesn't generate that much income, I have to prioritise the day job. I'm actually starting projects with two new companies next week which is a welcome development given we were forced to change our car on Friday due to our main family car dying a death (on the main road between Dublin and Kildare - but that's another story!). The new workload will likely further curtail the blogging for March but I'll do my best - it's so encouraging to see people still coming over here to read and I hate to leave it weeks without new posts.

Meanwhile, I'm long overdue an outfit post so that's my next to-do list item. Maybe I can get it up before the end of the month and get to the heady heights of 3 blog posts for February! Watch this space.

Back soon,




  1. Love getting notifications that you've written a blog, nothing like reading a well written one, as yours always are

    1. Thank you so much - that's really lovely to read. Life's been so busy recently, I'm struggling to get them written but hopefully will get a few done over the weekend x


I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

© A Life To Style | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig