Breaking Down the Basics of Basics

Breaking Down the Basics of Basics

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt’s home


News flash: fashion people can be snobs. That’s the most captain-obvious shocking revelation of the decade, right? While every industry has snobs amongst them, I know the fashion ones a bit more intimately. I think one of the areas I’m most snobby about is whether something is a basic staple or basic, basic.

What comprises a basic staple has elicited many French girl chic books and posts waxing poetic, “What ever gal needs in her wardrobe,” suggestions and lists. There’s a lot there that makes sense to me as they are classic silhouettes, they are size inclusive, and they have no trend-embellished fuss that will date. Classics that come to mind are pencil skirts, wrap dresses, white dress shirt, high waist wide leg trousers, tuxedo blazer, fitted striped boat neck top, slim ankle pant, trench coat… I could go on.

Basically – excuse the pun – if Royal Meghan or Princess Cate (or their spouses) would wear it, it’s 95% likely categorized a “classic” staple.  If I had to guess why these articles have reached “classic” staple status it would be the following:

  • Worn in different iterations over multiple instances by white, Anglo aristocracy. (The need to check privilege and who historically set trends is totally noted. Ooftah.)

  • Can be purchased at every price point, in neutral colours, bold colours, and prints alike; and in multiple fabrics.

  • Shape of garment remains mostly unchanged over decades of time.

What takes a garment out of a classic basic and into something more trend-fuelled “basic,” basic, are fussy embellishments. Extra seams or darts, ruffles and frills, cut outs, changing waist placement, fruit patterns, idioms or sayings, icons, etc are all ways to change up a garment. They also tend to date it as you can tell when it was made based on the deviance from the classic original. We’ll be retiring unicorns any day now.

Let’s be clear, I love me some embellishments, just not all. I tend to like the more though provoking choices that communicate something deeper than, “I’m wearing what my friends wear.” Have you ever noticed a group of teen boys at the movies or mall and they all look the same in their khaki joggers and zip up hoodies? Or group images on Instagram of a gaggle of gals and their hair is styled the same way and they are dressed too similarly to be a coincidence? Or how about going to a concert or festival and there appears to be an unspoken dress code?

That’s when… you basic.

Urban Dictionary, thank Dumbledore, is here for us to help clarify the true meaning of colloquial words in situations like these. Basic means…

“only interested in things mainstream, popular, and trending [as in] “Omg BAE is so basic. all she wants to do is drink pumpkin spice lattes and play candy crush.”

#lame #boring #basic white girl #basic biatch #not cool”

Here are a few illustrations that come to my mind of basic-ness.

When you don’t want to dress classic – I get it, reject the status quo. And yes, each to their own – but then you just put on leisure ready, no-personality-clothes while your more dressed up garments hang sad in the closet for infinity, you basic.

If you strongly personally identified with normcore movement, you basic.

If you style icon is a L.A. based reality star, you basic.

If you had to ask if you are basic or not - to quote “Orange is the New Black” most recent season - you basic.

When all you dress in are the ever-changing trends of the moment, you’re basic. Remember low rise flare jeans, Ugg boats, polo shirts en masse, strapless wedding gowns, jersey shirts with just the shoulder cap cut out, whatever that current horrendous alien-meets-dad sneaker we are calling is, and printed <insert wilderness brand icon> crew neck jumpers? There’s nothing “wrong” about any of these individually, but if you’ve worn every single one of these, you’re definitely basic.

Fashion friends, basic isn’t bad. I do, however, want you to know it’s exceptionally expensive and tiresome, no? If you’re always chasing and buying the newest thing, that means you’re not investing in pieces that express your sincere, unique self. Why not figure out what you want to say, and let fewer, carefully selected pieces help you do that? It’s a lot less rat race-like than constant, half assed thought perpetuated by insatiable consumption. 

By all means, if you want to have less things and things that last, the “classic staples” lists that have 50 items or less, all in, are fantastic. Bonus points if you get them tailed to your unique, fabulous body. You’d be soaring, kid.

If you want to stay basic, keep on running round and round and round and round, hunny.

And if you want to join the tiny club who loves to wardrobe yolo like me – which is a mix of basic staples that I customize and trends that risk becoming basic but you love and wear forever regardless of current trends – you’re in welcome, yet admittedly sartorially silly company.

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