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Brianne Petrone, Amanda Eppolito

Back to Basics: How to Create Trendy Outfits Using Staple Pieces from Your Closet

Fashion can be overwhelming. It’s an industry that’s truly ever-changing, with new fads constantly on the rise. There’s a pressure to be “on trend” among all the glamorous madness. However, fashion is also one of the most fun and unique outlets of self-expression. You can tailor it specifically to you. There are no rules, and trying out new looks allows you to begin defining your personal style, which is extremely empowering. 

With all the designer statement pieces that gain attention and traction in the fashion world, odds are they aren’t sustainable in your everyday wardrobe. They’re not as easy to style and they can tend to break the bank (depending on where you shop). 

It’s important to strip it all down. Realize you don’t need to buy the extravagant pieces to look chic and “on-trend.” I’ll argue that less is often more when it comes to style, and once you have a decent foundation you can customize it to your fashion needs and wants. 

In terms of styling, basics are the easiest to style up or down –– from day to night, casual to out on the town. Specifically, layering, accessorizing and hairstyling are a few ways to play up your outfit to cater to whatever look you’re going for. So, let’s get back to basics. 

Staple Pieces 

White Tank

Never underestimate the power of a white tank. It’s the truest basic there is and it’s one of my personal favorites. There’s not one piece of clothing it doesn’t go with –– it will never fail you. 

The ways to style a white tank are truly endless. The color white being as neutral and basic as it gets, there are no limitations to what you can pair it with. Not to mention, it looks great with a tan. 

How To Style

It can be paired with any shade or style of denim, underneath any type of jacket or sweater, over a long sleeve for that early 2000s layered look or, of course, simply on its own. I got my go-to white tank from Amazon, but you can find one just about anywhere if you browse a store/site’s basics section. 

Here’s a visual breakdown of some of the many ways to style your most basic white tank: 

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Black Crop Top

When it comes to a night out or having a limited time to put a look together, black crop tops are pretty much my uniform. They’re my go-to safe choice, while still being incredibly versatile. I find it difficult to experiment with color. Black makes up the majority of my wardrobe –– and there’s no shame in that. 

However, I do try my best to step out-of-the-box and showcase my personal style when putting my ‘fits together. How you pair different items is the perfect way to do that.

How To Style

My favorites include pairing with different denim styles and underneath oversized jackets. 

Going to thrift stores (or these days Depop is a great online thrift option) and browsing the men’s jacket section is a goldmine. There are so many different styles and textures available from bomber to denim. And any shade or style of jeans will do for a simple, put-together look.

I’ve purchased mine from Brandy Melville, Forever 21 and Pacsun. 

Related: 6 Sustainable Style Brand That Are Actually Affordable on the College Budget

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Crew Neck Dress

This one may seem a little different but trust me, you need this in your closet. It’s an outfit one-stop-shop, a one and done and an “out the door in five” comfy yet chic look. 

The crew neck dress is not a look I would’ve gone for in the past, simply because it’s out of my comfort zone of what I’m used to, which is a classic two-piece outfit –– pants and a top. However, this simplistic piece caught my eye one day at Target (yes Target!) It’s an oversized, crew-neck dress. 

How To Style

As an extremely comfortable one-piece outfit, its minimalism makes it super chic and easy to accessorize with some dainty sandals, chunky gold hoops, some black cat-eye sunnies and a cute bag. A very Hailey Bieber, model-off-duty vibe.

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Denim of All Kinds

Denim is an unspoken staple in the fashion world. It’s the everyday, classic piece that just about everyone owns. It may take some digging to find your perfect pair, the ones that are comfortable and fit just right but once you find them, it’s like winning the lottery. 

And again, no need to break the bank. Thrift stores come to the rescue once again for inexpensive and sustainable ways to find your perfect pair of denim. 

How To Style

The best part about this tried-and-true staple –– it comes in all shades, cuts and styles. I deem denim as another easy way to fit any mood you’re going for. 

Some of my favorites: Black (are you surprised?), patched, distressed and your classic vintage high-rise. My favorite places to shop denim (besides thrifting) are H&M, Brandy Melville and American Eagle. 

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When you break it down, the makings of a great outfit really does boil down to basic pieces. It’s all about how you pair and style these pieces together that curate the look and feel you give off. 

Choosing how to accessorize your look can have a drastic impact. Do you add jewelry? Do you go for silver or gold, dainty or chunky? You can add sunglasses, from a ‘90s chic cat-eye to ‘70s retro circular. Do you want to add a bag? A crossbody for day-to-day, a bum bag for a trendy take or an arm bag for an effortless addition? The shoes you add will determine if your look is more casual or polished. From chunky white sneakers to checkered vans to platform black booties –– the possibilities are endless. 

Lastly, don’t forget about an accessory that’s always with you: your hair. A hairstyle can add so much to the vibe of your ‘fit. One of my favorite things to do lately has been adding a large butterfly clip to pin my hair back for that ‘90s, again, model-off-duty, polished and chic look. 

I hope this has shown that all you need to create a killer outfit, no matter the style you’re going for, can be achieved with what you already own. It’s all about strategy. Have a vision (or get inspired on Pinterest) and execute. And just have fun with it, because at the end of the day, fashion is supposed to be fun, experimental and a personal expression. 

Follow Brianne Petrone on Instagram.

A Media Arts & Design student, coffee addict, lover of old music, '90s fashion and a huge passion for creating and storytelling.
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