Tina, here.

We talk about a multi-purpose wardrobe all the time. A closet of clothes you can wear in multiple ways to various types of occasions in multiple seasons. Possible? Not only possible, it's our way of life.

I've taken 3 very basic items you probably have in your closet at this very moment, black pants, jeans and a grey dress (black is good, too, if that's what you have). And I'm illustrating how to get a dress it up/dress it down wardrobe with just these 3 closet staples that are wardrobe multipliers. Make your clothes work for you! The big take-away? It primarily has to do with mixing different textures and swapping out accessories.

3 Closet Staples That Are Wardrobe Multipliers

1. Black pants

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

My black pants are a seasonless wool that I literally wear 12 months out of the year. I have worn them everywhere from just a normal day running around with a white v-neck t-shirt and wedges to a fancy-shmancy party with a sparkly top and my good jewelry. This is my in-between look: a leather western shirt.

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

This is my in-between look: black pants with a leather western shirt. I added a pearl leather necklace because I love wearing pearls with unlikely partners. And my pop of color is, of course, turquoise.

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

A low wedge is a daytime favorite. Don't shy away from leather and suede - just buy this spray protector (it's what I use on my suede shoes and handbags). These wedges are featured in the October Style Vault. Every time I wear them, people stop me. They're great if you do a lot of walking.

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

It's all about what fabric you put with black pants to dress them up for evening. When you put an evening-wear top with a daytime pant, no one notices that they weren't meant to go together all along. Style Vault members: I found the perfect black pant and you are going to do cartwheels! It's one of November's must-haves, but shop it early now, in the October Style Vault, Style Notes section.

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

One of our big rules is don't pair primary colors with black; neutrals and earth tones against black are so much more elegant. This forest green is a neutral because it's a color you see in nature. A luscious silk top instantly dresses up anything. But make sure it's a good silk or faux silk. Even polyester can be luscious these days. If it has a good hand, it's good no matter if it's 100% silk or 100% polyester. I put on a sparkly crystal necklace to really turn up the fancy factor. Just added to the October Style Vault: 2 gorgeous green silk tops.

The Dress It Up/Dress It Down Wardrobe

Your choice of shoes is key. I cannot overstate the importance of wearing a nice shoe when you need to be dressed up for an event or even a nice dinner. Shoes make the woman. If you have nothing to wear, just put on a fancy shoe with your black pants and off you go. Bonus points for adding sparkly jewelry.

2. Dark rinse jeans

Everyone has dark rinse jeans. And if you don't, it's time. I always like bootcut because they are just easier to wear with so many kinds of shoes and tops. And they are the most universally flattering silhouette for any woman, or haven't you heard? And they happen to be available in stores this fall for the first time in years, hands up. For a boppin'-around day, a t-shirt and boots do just fine.


I love buying in pairs, and I did with these beaded cuffs. You may remember these beaded cuffs from last spring and this summer - I wear them all the time. Either together on one wrist or on two. Always take that extra 30 seconds to put on some jewelry. They are outfit completers.

Boots and jeans go together like peanut butter and jelly. But what will make your jeans a deluxe edition is creasing them down the middle. You'll get a longer, leaner leg and you'll look famous.


But when it's time for that "dressy chic" event, and no one is wearing a dress and no one knows what to wear, grab your dark rinse bootcut jeans and a fancy top. Add statement jewelry and fun shoes.


Again, the wardrobe building block, the jeans, are the backdrop for the main player, the "going-out top." I think I may have only worn this silk wrap top with jeans over the years, come to think of it. I have this thing about wearing my clothes in the ways they are unintended for, like silk with denim and pearls with leather. Just added this Maltese cross necklace to the October Style Vault, Style Notes. And I'm still popping the outfit with turquoise. When you dress in mostly neutrals, you can add subtle but significant accents.


A dramatic statement, like this sash, really ups the ante on the jeans.


When you're wearing jeans, the mainstay of the American wardrobe, take some risks with your shoes. Have a little fun. I've added some great styles of fun shoes to the October Style Vault, Style Notes, all heel heights.

3. Grey sheath


We'll often choose a grey sheath or a grey suit over black when we are shopping for clients. Black is great, but so ubiquitous. And grey can feel easier to wear in the warmer summer months than heat-sucking black. And grey can be dressed down as easily as it can be dressed up when you need a go-to event dress.


Just pop on a scarf or a jacket. You've seen me put leather jackets over my dresses, which is also a definite favorite.


A grey sheath is a blank slate for anything. Literally anything. I'll do animal print flats to juje it up and keep it from being a bit boring. Not that there's anything boring about a classic grey sheath.


But to dress this knit sheath up for a chi-chi event, I bring out the big guns. That would be my snow white blazer with silk rosettes, a pair of silk heels and matching ebony and crystal cuffs. Hose optional for daytime; probably would wear them at night. And yes, you can wear hose with an ankle strap shoe.


Pile on the jewelry when you need to bring it. When you need to go fancy. And you might want to wear a darker lipstick than normal, too. Just added to the October Style Vault, Style Notes, a fabulous bouclé snow white jacket (on sale!).


Your shoes will either make or break your outfit.

Needing some fresh wardrobe staples? These wardrobe multipliers we keep talking about? You may have them and just need fresh eyes to reinvent them in new ways. Our Shop Your Closet package does just that. We can also clean out your closet, then we can shop with you and style all your pieces this fall. If you’re in the Nashville area, check out our amazing Nashville Wardrobe Consulting services, and don’t forget to join the Style Vault today to start shopping and saving. 

Click on image for our annual membership; buy our month to month membership here.

 The Style Vault…Your Subscription To Style

Thanks for reading and all the best,


I’m addicted to the vault!  I can’t get dressed without you!

~ another happy Style Vault insider

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