Style Shifts - Updating And Refreshing Your Basic Wardrobe

navigating style shifts

Linda Rodin

Linda Rodin, my muse for fun-not-fussy style. Source.


When I began blogging 2007, I was feeling very adrift with regard to style, and disconnected to what has happening in fashion. My workplace had become (much) more casual, and having turned 50 I no longer knew how to dress my body or find clothing that expressed my sense of self and aesthetics. Over the past few years, I feel as though I’ve honed in on what works for my shape and life at this stage. I’ve built up a good wardrobe of basic pieces, and have developed a few formulas that make getting dressed in the mornings (and putting together travel wardrobes) relatively easy.

What’s not always easy sorting out my style voice from influences, both past and present. I remember my mother telling me that when deciding between items of clothing (or home decor) to always go with the simpler, more classic choice as you’ll tire of it less quickly. One of the reasons that I think that the idea of “French” style (a few timeless pieces in classic styles, combined ad infinitum) has resonated with me is because of that early training. When assembling the basis of a wardrobe, I still believe it has validity.

For the last few years I’ve aspired to a very simple, minimalist, restrained, “elegant casual” kind of style. It’s worked for the most part, and helped me hone in on the basics that suit me. But going back through my favorite outfits for 2015, I realized that the ones I liked most in retrospect were those where I’d pushed the envelope: went for that one extra bit of drama or color or ignored one or more “rules” for dressing my shape. The truth is I’m having more fun with style now than at any point in my life, but looking at the majority of what was in my closet, you’d never guess that. Sorting through and culling brought home that I over-buy “basics” and have a tendency to play it safe. (I’ve also culled a few of those “must have” pieces that I bought and never wear, which will be the topic of a follow-up post.) I recognize that a lot of this accumulating and holding on is fear-based, and that’s something I’m working on too. Yes, it sometimes makes sense to buy a “back up” or multiple colors of a favorite piece, but I do this too often.

I’ve recognized for some time that there’s a playful, magpie part of me that doesn’t get expressed with a more restrained and minimalist basic wardrobe. I’ve always been drawn to the sparkly, the funky, the selectively over-the-top. That’s part of my style that’s often been neglected or mistrusted, and that needs to find a place at the table. As it turns out, there’s a Casual Glamourpuss here (to use Alyson Walsh’s “Style Tribes” taxonomy from her fabulous book, Style Forever) who wants to come out and play sometimes. No, I’m not overhauling my wardrobe or starting over, but for the basics, I’m covered. Now it’s time to quit buying more of the same-old-same-old and focus on those pieces that add some verve to the mix.

Jenna Lyons style

Jenna Lyons. Her outfits occasionally go off the rails, but she also nails a dressy-casual mix like nobody’s business. Source


I think it’s natural for our style to shift at times as our life changes, or even just seasonally with our moods. The beauty of a well-honed basic wardrobe is that it should be able to accommodate some “tweaking” to change up the look. A different shoe, color, or mix of proportions is sometimes all that’s needed to refresh a wardrobe and create new possibilities with the same core pieces. And thanks to the “Jennafication” of style and fashion in recent years, mixing high and low, dressy and casual, soft and structured elements is now all on the table, which allows a certain degree freedom to experiment and take your basic pieces in different directions.

How do you accommodate style shifts? Do you rely on accessories and accent pieces or do you invest in different basics?


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  1. Linda Boardman Kerr
    January 13, 2016 / 3:53 am

    I too, feel tired of “playing it safe” and will admit to wanting to stand out a bit at the workplace, where “safe” and even “drab” are the order of the day. My wardrobe is full of the good basic neutrals, for the most part, with the exception of a wonderful pair of yellow cotton sateen pants and a pair of red jeans. So accessories are where I have fun. I scour ebay for great (usually Italian made) shoes in odd colors. Often there isn’t a lot of competitive bidding and I’ve scored some really great shoes in yellow, lilac, purple, red….I also have a myriad of colorful scarves, like you. Lately I’ve been wearing them tied around my head, ala Rosie the Riveter (see my Facebook profile pic for a good example of this). I will also experiment with bright lipstick colors, as well as bright glasses frames. Linda Rodin inspired me for that, as she does in so many ways. The Advanced Style blog is great for inspiration. I look forward to seeing pics of you trying some different looks. Life is too short to always play it safe!

  2. Letisha
    January 13, 2016 / 4:03 am

    I so enjoy your blog! I love lavender and it goes well with my complexion. Can you give me some suggestions on how to wear this color? What goes with lavender?

    • Cindy F
      January 13, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Letisha I think that navy looks great with lavender. The Vivienne Files Blog is a great place to look for putting colours together.
      Cindy F

  3. susie
    January 13, 2016 / 4:16 am

    A very good topic today! I just wanted to comment on your statement of the buying in multiples when you find a good thing. I also do this and have wondered if I am a hoarder at heart? Maybe so, as I am the one donating clothes from a closet sweep with the tags still on them! But to buy multiples in a just about perfect fit fabricwise, stylewise and quality wise is about the smartest thing you can do!! Amen. I have found perfect shirts at J Crew just about look custom made for my weird body fit- and voila! I have an entire row of them at my disposal. To me, that is the essence of French clothes mindedness.

  4. January 13, 2016 / 4:42 am

    I believe many of us feel this way! It’s easy and safe to stick with what you know and what works – but we all need a little fun in our lives – I’m experience the same realization – I love your comparison to a magpie!

  5. Julie
    January 13, 2016 / 5:12 am

    I’m glad you are shifting your look. I too have become bored and underwhelmed with the look you are describing. I have stopped buying Eileen Fisher completely. In having much more fun with other designers and adding new styles, color and pattern. It seems more youthful and makes me happy to see some different pieces in my closet.

  6. Pamela
    January 13, 2016 / 5:17 am

    My clothes are all fairly simple pieces – pants, jeans, tanks, shirts, jackets. Mostly without pattern or minimal pattern – but in a range of colours and mostly natural fibres. I’m not a minimalist or neutrals girl. I buy accessories to give outfits pizzaz – recent purchases in the past year – mostly when in France for a couple of months, include the silver leather mock croc bag with a feature brown leather chain handle that was on the Milan runway in spring 2015 and bought from the Roberto Cavalli boutique in St Tropez, along with one of his silk leopard print long scarves in browns, beiges and black that work well with the bag (waiters at good restaurants in Paris always rush up with their special little stools for the bag – as it’s quite stunning and looks like real crocodile – it is real leather); George Jensen heavy silver jewellery – a large bangle from their 1960s archive collection reissued last year (people stop me all the time to admire it and ask where they can buy) , and some of their stunning silver rings; a fabulously romantic long silk scarf from the Dior boutique in St Trop, designed to evoke memories of his Granville garden, large brooches, wonderful differently shaped vintage bakelite bangles in reds, oranges and mustards I’ve bought at brocantes in Nice, etc, etc. These are all pieces I’ll never need to dispose of – they’re such beautiful quality and so stunning they’ll be heirlooms for my granddaughters who are seriously into beautiful clothes and who love my things. They’re always asking if they can wear them around the house – and they’re so thrilled when I hand them over for some fun. Best wishes, Pammie

  7. Susan D.
    January 13, 2016 / 5:18 am

    I totally understand what you are say8ing in today’s post–and agree that a wardrobe of all basics can get a bit boring. I do not plan to stop buying Eileen Fisher (but I am disappointed at some of her fabric which do NOT hold up–and quite buying those a long time ago), but I am open to other designers as well. I will be watching with interest what you find.

  8. caseymaureen
    January 13, 2016 / 5:30 am

    I do love your reflective pieces and would like to read more! I lived in Paris as a young woman and have always felt that so called French style is somewhat dependant onlooking like Ines or similar with legs like a racehorse to look really good. Most women end up looking a bit dull and frumpy rather than pared down and chic. Consequently I’ve found myself more influenced by London street style over the years hovering between Gentlewoman and Ageless Rocker (in Alyson’s style tribes) with occasional outbreaks of Scandanista!

    • January 13, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      Would like to see what that looks like! I have my basics and lots of EF now but you are right…some small touch of frump especially now that I am not thin anymore….don’t know London Street style.

      • caseymaureen
        January 14, 2016 / 1:26 am

        By London I probably don’t mean a specific style as such, but more the influence of young creatives on London fashion – for instance flat shoes, a slightly geeky, cool vibe. Actually if you follow Allyson’s That’s Not My Age blog I think she has a very London style, much more eclectic than Paris!

  9. Terry E
    January 13, 2016 / 5:31 am

    Bring on the Funk!

  10. January 13, 2016 / 5:46 am

    I think I rely on shoes and handbags to “update” my style. Also, sunglasses, which I wear year round in LA. I think those gold Gucci’s block heeled pumps would be a great lift to your basics, and would transition so well into spring/summer.

    • une femme
      January 13, 2016 / 5:53 am

      I see we share a similar taste in footwear too. 😉

      • January 13, 2016 / 5:57 pm

        I have them in the cognac/brown and they are the most comfortable shoes ever. Because I work as an artist, and not in a workplace, I don’t get a chance to wear them as much as I’d like. If I did, I’d buy the gold for sure.

  11. Vildy
    January 13, 2016 / 5:55 am

    Casual Glamourpuss works pretty well for me, too. While I have very few actual basics, I rely on recognizably simple silhouettes that feature a great color or texture or even a print. I guess I like my outside line to look pretty basic. I would wear almost all of what you show in the pieces you collected to illustrate your point and, in fact, have my own versions of many of them. I was surprised to see that since our shapes differ and your recent past styles have looked great on you but not what I could wear without looking dumpy or like I was flailing about.

  12. Cher
    January 13, 2016 / 6:23 am

    Classic with a dash of funk is my current style. Problem is, “the funk” has disappeared somewhat. This post is going to help me find it again. Great topic and will be looking to see how you “kick it up a notch”!

  13. sandypatti
    January 13, 2016 / 6:31 am

    Yes, I too like to keep the funk (or add it) to my basics and neutrals. I really enjoyed reading your own process, very thoughtful. xox


  14. January 13, 2016 / 6:58 am

    I really related to this post today. I feel like branching out a bit as I play it safe all the time. I have ordered Alysons book and hope that I will gain some insight in how to add some fun to my basic safe wardrobe.
    I will be watching you too to see how you kick your wardrobe up a notch and add that bit of fun.

  15. January 13, 2016 / 7:21 am

    I completely agree that a good wardrobe is one that will accommodate mood and style shifts.

    I would never be happy with a minimalist wardrobe. It would take joy from my life. I rely on my clothes to lift my spirits and colour my world.


  16. LauraH
    January 13, 2016 / 7:33 am

    Great post, I love the peek you’ve given into your thoughts and approach. My style, if I can call it that, is based on simple lines, neutrals + significant amounts of bright colours, relying on patterned scarves to pull things together – lately I’ve experimented with adding a simple dress and some leggings-based looks which have meshed nicely. So even though my clothes are pretty basic, a uniform really, the colour gives me a lot of fun and uplift and I don’t feel outdated or tired of it in any way. Colour really does make a huge difference – getting my colours done a few years ago as part of a major life and wardrobe overhaul was one of the best moves I ever made. ( if anyone wants to pursue this, I’m not associated in any way, just sharing a resource)

  17. January 13, 2016 / 8:55 am

    Accessories usually do it for me. I’m also guilty of over buying some basics. I probably don’t need to buy another pair of black Eileen Fisher pants for 10 years! If I’m really in the mood for change, I’ll buy an expressive, dramatic piece to jazz up my basics. “Basic overdose” is real for me so I need some fun pieces as an antidote.

  18. January 13, 2016 / 9:24 am

    I commented earlier (on one of your Best of 2015, I think?) on the tension I see in your style evolution over the past few years between the woman who lived on that boat and danced in Renaissance Faires and the more restrained, very chic Parisienne-Los Angelena you’ve become. I’ve learned so much from watching you assemble basics in rich neutral tones, wonderful fabrics, classic shapes, and I know it’s going to be great fun and more learning here as you mix it up a bit more now, from that very solid foundation.
    And I absolutely relate to the fear-based shopping, which I see as a big factor in my wardrobe right now. I’m determined to work more from an abundance reality over the next year or two, acquiring only very judiciously. We’ll see . . .

  19. Sally
    January 13, 2016 / 9:27 am

    I play it safe as well. I’ve found this year that I buy occasionally out of fear (will it go on sale in my size…..will they ever make it again…?) and regret the purchase later because I didn’t fully ‘vet’ it. Now I have to return home (4 seasons not one) and cull. And toss. My changing figure and new foot issues are sparking different fashion choices. I need to be more careful with my purchases.

  20. Olivia
    January 13, 2016 / 10:09 am

    I think this is a really interesting topic. It made me do some thinking about my own style persona, which solidified what I knew already: I don’t like too-firm definitions or boundaries when it comes to personal style. I buy and wear what I like and what I know looks good on me. Some days I can definitely do the minimalist, classic, cashmere sweater/skinny jean/Hermes scarf thing. But I also love color, prints, florals, sparkly things, restrained boho… So, my closet also includes Marni, McQueen, D+G, DVF, and others of that ilk. If I have any limits, it is knowing that anything excessively bohemian, funky, artsy, or avant-garde is not me, but that’s about it.
    Sometimes I wonder if we get a bit too concerned about what others may think when we deviate from our usual norms…norms which we have imposed upon ourselves (or maybe, let the dictates of fashion/fashion bloggers impose on us). I say, Fashion is FUN, and there is so much variety out there…why limit ourselves!? 😉 Good luck in your journey!

  21. bomm
    January 13, 2016 / 10:30 am

    I love your style and never think you look safe or boring. For myself, however, I find that I need to change the proportions or silhouette periodically in order not to be bored. The result is often that I go running back to my favored silhouette next day, so I am learning (I hope) not to overstock the styles that are more like a break for me than daily fare. E.g. the rule that everything should go with three other things in your closet is not one I should abide by if it means buying those other two things!

  22. Joanna
    January 13, 2016 / 10:55 am

    I like your outfits but always found your shoes chunky and a bit old fashion. I think with your new funky haircut ( that I love ), that is about to change. I like me shoes!
    I took the Allison’s quiz and while it said I was Tomboy or Funky my favourite outfit was the Scandi. I guess I’m open to a lot of styles.

  23. Murphy
    January 13, 2016 / 11:27 am

    I can really relate to this post! After several years of buying neutrals with a classic French chic vibe, I am allowing myself to wear some color and pattern and I’m finding that this lifts my mood and does indeed spark some joy with my clothes.

  24. Jacqueline
    January 13, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    I knew you had some glamourpuss in you when I saw your Taos metallic sneakers, which I adore.! Those kicks perk up a casual travel outfit nicely .

    There’s a quite bit of Boho in me that I’ve been trying to move away from as I age. I want my style to reflect who I am now and not just who I was 45 years ago, and I was letting that style dominate my choices. I’m still learning how to balance it. A work in progress.

  25. Cathy D.
    January 13, 2016 / 12:08 pm

    What a useful and interesting post! When I retired a few years ago it was such a relief to give up the formal, professional clothing… but it’s taken awhile to figure out what to replace it with. I now have a closet full of what I call casual basics, and while I love them, there’s still something missing. Much of the problem is in my head. For example, I bought the Clare V leopard print clutch you have a few months ago, but have yet to actually wear it. There’s always some silly excuse… the last one was that it might rain and the clutch was too small for my umbrella. I must get over this, and your blog will help!

    Regarding Eileen Fisher, I love the idea of her clothing but have great difficulty with the fit. Even though many of her styles are not fitted, her tops usually don’t fit me. The five or so tops I’ve purchased and kept have not held up well (although the pants are great). I think it’s time to try someone else and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Thanks for putting so much effort into your blog. It is really helpful, plus being lots of fun to read.

  26. January 13, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I love this style evolution (probably because it so closely echoes my own thoughts!). I’ve always loved a variety of styles, with the exception of super-preppy/tailored stuff. I grew up in a much more formal environment, but Los Angeles has changed me. I love all these beautiful, rich, textural basics, spiced up with luscious scarves, flashy jewels, and shoes with character. I’m definitely in the “if not now, then when” mode of thinking? This doesn’t mean sliding back into youth at all, but rather, if I want to wear a sequin swing jacket with skinny jeans and suede boots, why should I let anyone else’s issues stop me? Please keep showing more of this; I would wear virtually every piece you pictured.

  27. Pam
    January 13, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    This made me smile. I watched the Disney movie “Inside Out” recently with my granddaughter and while doing so, I realized the “goofball island” part of me sadly disappeared over the years as a result of always having to dress & act conservatively and Sooo responsibly… Although I’m more of a classic archetype, now that I’m retired, that shift in my life is allowing me to indulge the more playful and glamorous part of my style soul.

  28. Debi
    January 13, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    I’ve always been drawn to a more boho funky style but the last year or so, I’ve moved into basics. I seem to have more to wear since adding the classics. Every lady of a certain age should push the envelop a bit. You always look great, Trish and I always look forward to reading your blog!

  29. Stella A
    January 13, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    i am also a bit bored with my minimalist classic wardrobe. Adding accessories doesn’t seem to help. They tend to look like they were plopped on with a desperate attempt to look stylish. I am looking to add clothing items that show a little personality – menswear, a graphic t-shirt, perhaps a new silhouette.

  30. January 13, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    For me it’s about the shoes. When I add a heel, either in a shoe or a boot, I always feel a bit more pulled together. And I have been loving feminine blouses with pattern or color paired with dark jeans, or black pants and a long cardigan or jacket. I’m trying to include some prettiness in the tailored outfit. Love your blog! It’s filled with great fashion inspiration!

  31. Jennifer
    January 13, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    I really like your present style and look forward to seeing your look evolve. I have used some of your outfits as my inspiration since I have some similar type pieces to you, although probably from more budget retailers. I am a little on the fence as to a couple of the women you cite as style icons, since in my eyes you already dress much better than them. Just my opinion!

  32. January 13, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    I think this Casual kind of Glamour is the way women dress today. Dressed Up Daywear. Love the photos of Linda Rodin & Jenna – and thank you so much for the mention.

  33. Duchesse
    January 14, 2016 / 6:55 am

    I have noticed you seemed to retire your leopard awhile ago, and I always loved it on you. These reed thin (and in Lyons’ case, super tall) women can wear some of the oddball and offbeat. Shorter and curvier women are better off expressing the urge via accessories.

    • Linda
      January 8, 2017 / 1:39 pm

      I agree with you about oddball and offbeat on curvier women. I just don’t feel comfortable wearing loud patterns at all. Adding to the curvy part of me, I am not tall 5 ft 5 inches, with shorter legs so all my pants have to altered! And I have bad feet, so the heels are out!

  34. stylecrone
    January 14, 2016 / 7:12 am

    I’m all about the hat and I go from there! With a heavy or small dose of leopard, depending on my mood. I don’t have a method to my madness, but I’m having fun.

    I’m influenced and inspired by other bloggers, which includes you!

  35. Martina
    January 14, 2016 / 7:39 pm

    Too funny…I’m wearing that J Crew necklace right now, with a black cardigan and black slacks. I mostly stick to the basics, but spark them up with accessories or a fun top. I do like color, so I buy a lot of sweaters n colors that make me happy to wear with pants or jeans. I need to start wearing more skirts.

  36. January 8, 2017 / 6:21 am

    Great post. Think I’m a Scandi with funk and casual glam elements. Guess I’m going to have to start featuring pics of me in my outfits in my blog…. I probably overdo the ‘sack dress with eye catching accessories ‘ look. But always love updating with a new look, e.g. Incorporating culottes. Love a fabulous print a la Marni, Cos (my high and low favourites). But scarves, jewellery and bags are key for me.

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