Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Basic Instinct


That’s a misleading title for this post, but perusing the latest issues of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, I was struck by a single thought: You’ve already got all this.

The theory is that in tough economic times it only makes sense to invest in something other than throw away fashion. “Buy things that you will love forever!” shout the editors.

Ummm. Yes.

Actually, that’s really good advice in any economic climate and for both genders. It’s just good common sense, basic instinct, isn’t it? I bet that if you’ve been following that bit of advice for awhile, you’ve got all the elements needed for a perfectly elegant summer wardrobe already.

Herewith, the Easy and Elegant Life Basic Woman’s Wardrobe for the Warmer Months.

1) Espadrilles (flats.) I love them in stripes, in bright basic colours like white and red, in dark solids like navy and black. Perfect for indoors or out of doors.

2) A white sandal, with or without metal accents. White shows off that tan.

3) Great sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with Ray Bans (Wayfarers or Aviators), and I love Mrs. E’s Persol’s. Black, gold metal, silver metal or tortoiseshell.

4) A striped fisherman’s pullover like those from St. James or any number of makers. 3/4 sleeve, boat neck.

5) A perfect white shirt (I can recommend Brooks Brothers’; it is as advertised. But stock up at The Gap for casual wear, too.)

6) Black and khaki capris. Lightweight cotton. No bells and whistles, no laced up legs or fancy metal studs. Just plain, dress ’em up or down capris.

7) Whites. That would be a dress, skirt or trousers. Maybe even in linen. Whatever you tend to wear when it gets blindingly hot.

8 ) A black bandeau bikini or maillot. You just can’t go wrong. I think one of my earliest “brand” experiences was Bain de Soleil “For that St. Tropez tan”. Sophistication. Can you look elegant on the beach? This is a good start.

9) Sundresses. But please, with spaghetti straps at least. They just look neater. Prints? Colour Blocks? Up to you. In cotton or linen.

10) A polka dot dress. Navy with white. A-line or with a fuller skirt. Classic, go anywhere wear.

11) A sarong. For the beach. It’s a towel, it’s a coverup, it’s a shade, it’s a picnic blanket….

12) The little black dress. Seasonless.

13) Sparkly accessories. Gold tones on tanned skin. Diamonds are forever. White pearls… (just remember to wipe off the suntan lotion and perfume first….)

14) A navy blazer (or a white suit that can be split into separates). Lightweight, in linen. You just never know.

15) Brown belt, shoes and handbag. The spectator cream and brown combinations are especially elegant in summer. Croc prints are wonderful against linen.

16) A lightweight cardigan. Throw it over your shoulders. Air conditioning can be a shock after a day in the sun.

17) Self tanner. To even out or just to avoid the problems associated with long-term exposure.

18) A colourful tennis shirt (Lacoste, Polo, Peter Polo… but make it a shocking bright one)

19) A colourful scarf. It’s convertible weather.

What got me thinking about summer aside from the magazines… Today’s Tuesday, it’s been three days of this:


14 thoughts on “Basic Instinct

  1. I do have this already! Except the navy blazer. Though I have a J. Crew safari jacket that is a favorite. So happy to not have to invest in one thing for the season. Here comes the sun.

  2. I love your list, too! Perfect check list to print off and post in my closet! Perhaps Karen would be interested in two fantastic pairs of Bottega Veneta espadrilles of mine–one in black, one in taupe, both with wonderful little satin bows at the toe, Resort, ’08–unfortunately I bought them both a half-size too small. And Craig’s List isn’t sounding so appealing right now–love ballet flats, too, but espadrilles are the REAL thing and a must! That linen and jute is cool on the foot, unlike leather ballet flats, and just such a classic. Bought my first pair of espadrilles at about age 16, in dark navy with a jute wedge. I might add to this list a shirt dress for city visits–in black polished cotton preferably. Love the reference to Bain de Soleil! I loved its smell and the packaging was chic for its time. I had forgotten all about it! Wasn’t it sort of a self-tanner for its time?

  3. I enjoyed reading your listing this am; much more comprehensive than that of Tim Gunn! My only substitution would be a golf skort, polo and visor, rather than the tennis attire.

  4. I should have to add a lightweight raincoat in a pale colour for our English summer, and a straw hat for the sun – so chic !

  5. Loved this post – Keep these coming! Now, please extend it to put together outfits, and what to wear where – thanks so much!

  6. What a list! I love some of the pieces list – classic sunglasses, espadrilles, white trousers, a fisherman’s sweater – but there were things I really didn’t agree with (or considered options not necessities) and some items that just seem missing that I couldn’t imagine a summer without.
    Of course, we all have our own preferences and needs based on our lifestyle … and so, reading your list lead me me to create on my own list. Thanks for the inspiration – what fun!

  7. Ms. Wooten, I will.

    Alex, please share. Additions are always welcome.

    Parthenope, a wise idea.

    teaorwine, when I say tennis shirt, I believe I mean the same thing as a “polo” shirt. Pull-over, three buttons, piqué knit, knit collar, short sleeves.

  8. Another superb list! I would add only one extra: a necklace of hefty branches of red coral (real or fake). A tiny bit scratchy but so beautiful and rarely worn.

  9. What?? No soft and drapey silk pants? In ecru, white, and black! Washable! Mon Dieu!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.