Are Staple Pieces Actually a Thing?

What constitutes a ‘wardrobe staple’? Traditionally speaking, I’d probably be tempted to say something like a black blazer, a white button-up, a good pair of black heels…. But honestly, I own barely any of the ‘staples’ we’re always told we simply have to have. What I do have, though, is a double-digit (and steadily growing) sweater collection and six identical white t-shirts (this is that perfect piece of heaven) neatly hung side by side in my closet. Do I think we all have variations of the same item somewhere in our closets? Yes. Do I actually believe in the idea of universal wardrobe staples? Not really. Personal staples, however, are an entirely different kettle of fish. ‘Classic’ and ‘versatile’ are, in my opinion, essentially subjective.

But, I am willing to admit I might be wrong. Staples, I think, are what you instinctively gravitate towards because they’re fail safe. You went out last night, you woke up fifteen minutes before your seminar presentation, you want to be comfy and confident and put-together all at once – what do you grab? A quick survey over coffee came up with the following results from three of my friends:

TaliaCC beret

  • Black turtlenecks
  • Activewear that looks a little snazzier than activewear – like flared leggings
  • Mom jeans of all sorts
  • Hats for a bad hair day (can confirm she’s on the beret train)
  • ALWAYS coordinated jewellery
  • Fitbit 

LizCC turtleneck

  • Fitbit (why are my friends so athletically inclined????)
  • Turtlenecks of any colour
  • Black booties
  • Black jeans
  • Thermals, because she’s anaemic and always cold
  • Navy blue sweater (refer to her memoir)

IslaCC pinafore-2CC pinafore-2.jpg

  • Pinafore dress
  • Turtleneck/cosy jumper
  • New Balance trainers

(I see her in this is the combo she wears at least four times a week)

All pair their staples with a generous helping of stress.

For me, depending on the season, it’s mom jeans, black boots, sneakers, white t-shirts, cosy jumpers, and some sort of oversized jacket. I also rarely leave the house without earrings or my grandma’s necklace (awwww). I also agree with the general consensus on turtlenecks.

So, let’s compare.

Hats are most definitely not a staple for me, even on the worst of hair days. Talia has been trying to convince me that the whole beret thing is something to get on board with, but I’d rather see that shift sail swiftly into the sunset. I do admit to having considered the whole fitbit-thing, though never since my phone started counting my steps (a CC fitbituseful yet guilt-inducing feature). Liz’s staples seem more relatable to me, but then we get to Isla, who’s a bit of a wild card here. If you ever saw me in a pinafore dress, you’d probably be hallucinating. They’re cute on her though. What an art history vibe.

I think what have become known to us as universal ‘staples’ are really just items that will always combine well for generally acceptable outfits in almost any context. That being said, the reality of ‘staple’ pieces is much more personalised. Not to say dark wash skinnies and a blazer aren’t great additions to any closet, I just think that in practice they may not serve the purpose of wardrobe staple for everyone. I propose a different definition for the term – staple pieces, I think, are just the ones that constitute your sartorial comfort zone. AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH A COMFORT ZONE!!! We’re always told to think outside the box, take risks, try new things – and we should – but, that being said, long days holed up in the library, accidental sleep-ins, and the occasional can’t-be-assed attitude sometimes just call for snazzy athleisure, thermals, pinafores, or purchasing six of the same white t-shirt.  

Maja Hollmann





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