— We all have basic pieces to wear to work in our closets, and we tend to wear them over and over in traditional ways. But as we start looking forward to new spring styles, here are some easy ways to take the “boring basics” (things you don't need to buy again) and recycle them into exciting, trendy new looks for the forthcoming season. Before you go to the mall, start your shopping in your closet — you’ll find that by adding inexpensive updated pieces, you can create a whole new wardrobe!
Basic white shirt + khaki dress = spring safari trend
We all have one: a white, button-front, short-sleeved shirt. Very classic. Work-friendly. Easy to wear under a suit. It's a no-brainer essential, really.
But remember: Your white shirt can be layered under more than just a suit. This spring, safari styles are back — khakis and whites, epaulets and patch pockets, even animal prints. You can wear this style to work appropriately by layering your white shirt underneath a khaki dress: The white pops the outfit from being too bland and brown, and the layering effect creates a surprising visual interest and a more “finished” look.
Make sure your shirt fits well and isn't too oversized: It should lay flat underneath the dress so that it doesn't bunch up, and the dress should fit snugly but comfortably over it. For an even more polished and figure-flattering look, try belting it. You can also try this shirt under a khaki safari jacket and pencil skirt for an equally trend-conscious and work-appropriate style.
Blouse: George ME cap-sleeve button-down white shirt, $12, available at Wal-Mart and Walmart.com
Dress: Ann Taylor, $139, khaki button-down dress, available at AnnTaylor.com Shoes: BCBGirls, Lord & Taylor $89, Carella in sunkist coral available at Lord & Taylor department stores
Handbag: Poppie Jones, $29.95, bamboo handle raffia, available at select DSW retail stores, DSW.com for locations
Necklace: Isaac Manevitz for Ben-Amun, $98, coral resin beads and brass Style #MAG 679, made to order by calling 212.944.6480 or Ben-Amun.com.
Necklace: Gabriella Francesca Designs, $78, amber beads, available at GabriellaFrancesca.com Bangle: Kenneth Jay Lane, Vivre.com $32, (small animal print bangle)
Bangle: RJ Graziano, $45, small wood bangle with gold studs, available by calling 212.685.1248
Ring: Gabriella Francesca Designs, $88, green quartz ring, available at GabriellaFrancesca.com Sunglasses: Chines Laundry, $42, tortoiseshell frames, available at ChineseLaundry.com
Belt: Banana Republic, $59, brown leather stretch one size fits all, available at BananaRepublic.com or 888.BR.STYLE for stores
Scarf: Echo Design, $78, 36x36 silk twill patterned python Style #185251 in split pea, available at EchoDesign.com
Basic straight skirt + textured jacket = spring textured trend
Ever since Michelle Obama stepped out on Inauguration Day in a wool lace matching dress and coat, everyone has been talking about texture. But texture isn't a pattern printed onto a fabric; texture is the fabric itself, which looks patterned.
This season, you'll see lots of textured fabrics, like lace and brocade. Add a little kick to your trusty straight skirt instead of a traditional knit. A great jacket like this gives more structure to a work-wear outfit than a knit, yet isn't too stuffy. This jacket has a playful collar and just modernizes what could be a more conservative look.
Anything goes when it comes to texture, and these fabrics are usually solid or two-tone in color, making them easy to pair with any basic in your closet. I love the idea of wearing the jacket casually with a tank top and white jeans on the weekend.
Basic black trouser + new striped shirt = Hollywood glam trend
A black trouser is a cornerstone in any work wardrobe. It can be a blank canvas on which to try new trends — or it can be a big fat bore.
I recommend a slightly wider-leg trouser, because it is always work-appropriate and flatters all body types. While you may already own and wear your trousers with a traditional cotton striped shirt, consider the new stripe of the season: This black-on-black stripe paired with a slightly high-waisted black trouser instantly updates your look into a big spring trend: 1940s-50s Hollywood glamour. Think dark red lips, tousled hair, an air of mystery.
This black top is more feminine than a collared button-front shirt, yet still provides enough coverage for a day in the office. The style is a perfect transition from work to drinks or an evening event. Big chunky jewelry (especially necklaces), also a big trend for spring, helps complete the look.
For a pop of color, try a red patent shoe with a stacked heel; a thicker heel provides more support. They are more comfortable to wear all day than a stiletto, while also giving that ’40s Kate Hepburn feel.
Pants: H&M, $34.90, high-waisted trouser, available at select H&M stores, HM.com for locations
Blouse: H&M, $34.90, silk stripe blouse in black, available at select H&M stores, HM.com for locations
Shoes: Nine West, $69.95, WNWITHLOVE maryjane pump in wine patent, available at select DSW retail stores, DSW.com for locations
Handbag: H&M, $29.90, black molded patent tote available at select H&M retail stores, HM.com for locations
Necklace: Ann Taylor, $59, silver geometric, available at AnnTaylor.com
Necklace: Ann Taylor, $69, silver oversized chain-link, available at AnnTaylor.com
Earrings: RJ Graziano, $85, jet earrings, available by calling (212) 685.1248
Bangle: SURevolution, $25, small studded bangle, available at Vivre.com (Link: Small Studded Bangles)
Bangle: RJ Graziano, $38, black and white tribal design, available by calling 212.685.1248
Ring: Vivre, $80, faceted horn ring, available at Vivre.com (Link: Faceted Horn Rings)
Sunglasses: Chinese Laundry, $42, black oversized lenses, available at ChineseLaundry.com