Ask Belle: Easy Casual Pieces for Spring

Jan 23, 2013

I receive a lot of reader e-mail asking how to create a wardrobe from the ground up from women who want to be stylish, but they just don’t know where to start.

Over the next three days, I’m going to show you the easy pieces that I think comprise a well edited wardrobe.  Today, I’ll be featuring casual pieces that will work in most seasons, but are well suited for spring.  Tomorrow, work pieces.  And on Friday, going out attire.  

 

Jeans: AE Super Skinny Jeans ($45) Shoes: Via Spiga Debbie Flat ($93) Blouse: Joie Berkeley Top ($188) Tee: Adrien Striped Top ($100) Blouse: JCREW Blythe Shirt ($110) Sweater: Collection Cashmere Tee ($188) Bag: Coach Legacy Candace Carryall ($328) Dress: Cacharel Boatneck Dress ($380) Earrings: Hive & Honey Geode Earrings ($18) Sunglasses: Ray Ban Aviators ($145) Scarf: LoveQuotes Scarf ($88) Trench: Iris Trench ($198) Bracelet: Tortoise Bracelet ($68) Necklace: Serenity Necklace ($198) Rings: Jacquie Aiche Waif Ring ($143) and Overlap Circle Ring ($165)

Since this is a casual wardrobe, not a business casual wardrobe, I decided to choose skinny jeans.  Were this an office selection, I would have picked a bootcut.  And while I chose the wallet-friendly jeans for the post, my current faves are the Paige Skyline Ankle Peg jeans

When building a wardrobe or packing a suitcase, you need to choose a foundation color palette.  For this set, the base color is dark blue with hints of green and brown.  I started the collection with four blouses: a peasant top, a silk button up, a striped tee and a bright sweater.  You could swap out the green for pink with this sweater, this blouse and this necklace.  Or orange with this sweater, this blouse and this necklace.  Or you could go for the neutral trifecta with this grey sweater, grey blouse and gold necklace.

During the slightly chilly spring, I wear mostly jeans on the weekends but I like to keep an easy dress in reserve.  This boatneck shift from Cacharel is a great choice because it can be dressed up or down.  Not loving the price? Try this $88 Lilly Pulitzer number. (You know, I don’t usually like Lilly–garish tropical print, ick–but she has kind of stepped up her game lately.) 

I chose a nude shoe for versatility, but I could have also selected a gold flat.  I have been eyeing this Coach bag for forever…so if a certain set of parents–who I know are reading this–could remember this come birthday time, I would be very grateful, indeed.  Need a cheaper tote? This $108 Steve Madden tote is pretty cute.

The jewelry is pretty basic.  I chose a blue and green statement necklace to pull the pieces together.  If this necklace is too rich for your blood, this green $34 one will work too.  I love the delicate rings because they are impactful without being overpowering.  This Gorjana ring at $36, and this sub-$40 stacked ring set would be good substitutes.

I think aviators are classic cool, I wear mine all summer.  If you’re looking for a cheaper pair, look for a pair that are NOT made of triacetate.  This material lets in 100% of UV rays, and because the shading opens up your pupil, you’re burning the inside of your eye.  So be an educated consumer.

Lastly, a good trench and an ivory scarf can complete any look from this set and keep you warm at the same time.  If you’re looking for a trench that doesn’t break the bank, I like London Fog (they make plus size coats, too). But you’re best bet for a really good deal will probably be a consignment store or vintage shop.

If you want to see some outfits made from these pieces, check back at 1:30PM.

Ask The Edit, Building a Wardrobe, Casual Style

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  1. anon says:

    love this type of post.

  2. Leslie says:

    Banana Republic is giving out coupons for 40% off one full-priced item every Wednesday for the month *I got my coupons two weeks ago when exchanging a Christmas gift and picking up a little something extra. But I digress, I used one of these coupons yesterday to pick up their classic trench for about $125 with tax (instead of $198, the same price as the AT one Belle uses) https://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=87049&vid=1&pid=236222032

  3. Christine says:

    Doesn't that shift dress need a belt?? I think a light-brown leather one in the right width would also be a nice a addition to the jeans, especially if someone wore them with the silk blouse loosely tucked. Or, a wider braided belt might look nice with the peasant blouse.

  4. Belle says:

    Christine: I don't belt shifts because I like the breezy, concealing style. If it were a sheath, I would. But a belt with the jeans could be nice.

  5. LS says:

    Hi Belle. The trench that you link to is not the same as the one in your picture. Could you give the link for that one? Thanks!

  6. Belle says:

    LS: The pic is for a club monaco trench that is sold out. I used it because it was the only one without a model in the photo.

  7. Mary says:

    Love the suggestions and the later stylings. Very practical guide.

  8. Rachael says:

    Belle, I have been reading your blog for years and this post is my favorite by far! Love it! Do more please!

  9. Lloyd & Wolf says:

    Can't wait to break out the Spring wardrobe. Loving the tortoise bracelet and navy shift dress!

  10. Jamie says:

    Belle, are the J. Crew cashmere “tees” more like sweaters? Or is the cashmere very thin?

  11. Hanna says:

    Belle, is the picture missing now or does my computer just not want me to be stylish?

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