6 ways to update your basics
The Handbook / Style / How to update your wardrobe basics

How to update your wardrobe basics

6 ways to update your basics

Words— Mylène Genty

In these modern times, where individuality prevails, to be qualified as "basic" is the usually the last thing most ‘fashionable’ people want to be called. Wearing a basic, however, is far more respected than following trends blindly. If you take a closer look at who inspires you in a fashion sense, many of them are likely experts in the art of elevating the basics. That’s because style is all about attitude, not clothes. I know you're sick to death of hearing about "French It girls" but they do the basics better any anyone. The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin and Françoise Hardy is their sense of laissez-faire. Their style often follows the same formula: a basic white tee, jeans and messy hair. How can they still look unique while basically wearing the same uniform?




Clockwise from top-left: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Catherine Murphy, Carre Otis for Vogue Italia and Jane Birkin.


First, the fit is everything. As an example: I’ve been searching so long for the perfect crewneck white tee. The quest for the perfect white tee is daunting, but it's because there are a myriad of ways to design one. Once you understand this, be patient and you’ll find one that complements your unique body. It might not be the one you saved on the gram, but if you invest in a piece in which you feel confident in, then it’ll look unique. Inspiration should only be your starting point - don’t aim to look like someone else.


That said, basic pieces in your wardrobe require extra styling to be noticed. I gathered a few easy tips - but it’s up to you to adapt them to your unique self. Rather than loving an outfit, you should be inspired by the way a person wears the outfit.


First, here are some of the essential basic pieces one should own:



A striped tee




Breton-Stripe Bell-Sleeve Cotton Top in Snow White



A neutral crewneck t-shirt




The Boy Tee in True Black



Blue jeans




The Debbie High-Waisted Skinny Jean in Light Indigo



A crisp white shirt




The Andover Stretch Dress Shirt in White



A black dress




Heavy Cotton Short Sleeve Tee Dress in True Black



A leather or denim jacket




Denim Jacket in Light Blue



And here’s how to wear these timeless pieces:




1 - Step away from traditional accessories.

I often try this exercise: I establish what the obvious trends are. When bucket hats were all the rage, I was wearing berets. If small sunglasses are in, I’ll try the opposite: huge ones, or classic Ray Bans. It should make your look less generic and more personal. Who knows, you might end up being above the curve for the next trend.


2 - Hairstyles.

This actually took me a long time to notice because it looks so natural: most of my personal style ‘icons’ all had distinct hairstyles. Most of the time, the trick is to keep it real. I’m not big on hairdos - which is a good thing since messy hair is undoubtedly cool. Go on and play with accessories as well - headbands and scarves are perfect for summer.


3 - Quality matters.

A basic piece can be easily forgettable, that’s why quality is key. You got yourself a leather jacket. Great! How do you manage to have it stand out? It has to have a perfect construction or a unique detail. Denim jackets are easy to customize with patches or by cutting off the edges for that frayed look.


4 - Mix up the styles.

A little black dress will leave a much stronger impression paired with Doc Martens rather than a pair of ballerina. While the latter is fine, the former will more memorable for its unexpectancy. Socks are also often understated: a pair of black fishnets will give more personality to the ensemble.


5 - Use your crisp white shirt creatively.

I’m not sure how relevant Jenna Lyons is today, but her styling tips still live on. She gave one piece of advice on how to cuff a shirt and it’s one the best styling advice I ever learned. You pull the cuff all the way up to the elbow, and then roll it from the bottom. Much more chicer.


In the end, I view basics as a blank canvas on which I can create something unique. The trick is to know yourself! There’s no debate here: with the right styling you can spend a lifetime solely wearing basics.



Need help finding your style without all the shopping? Try Style Plan, our new clothing subscription box. Answer a few simple questions and we'll send you what you exactly what you're looking for.


Our purpose

Designed in Canada. Made for good living. We’re dedicated to providing you with purposefully designed products, made ethically and sustainably.