Wardrobe Essentials: Ten “Perfect 10” Pieces for Paris

The most recent issue of Matchbook Magazine (a recent obsession) boasts a great article about riding boots. I’ve actually been on the hunt for black leather riding boots for more than a year, and just last night found a pair of Anne Klein black riding boots that I’ve been lusting after.

Having submitted my application to study in Paris, I’m already thinking about what I need to bring. Parisian style is timeless, minimalist and practical (except for heels on cobblestones), so I thought I’d write about the 10 essentials that I’ll be bringing (even though I’m only bringing one suitcase!). I also haven’t written about my “Perfect 10” in a while, so I thought I’d pay homage to that.

Thus, ladies, the Perfect 10 essentials for my Paris wardrobe:

Crasslee boots, Anne Klein

1. Leather riding boots [CHECK!]. Let’s start with a New England classic. And no, I’m not talking about a North Face jacket. Classic leather riding boots are timeless and should last for years. My mom, who’s in her late 40s just tossed a pair of leather boots she bought in college. They’ve been loved and dyed and resoled, but black leather boots will never go out of style. I’ve been looking for the perfect pair for months, and finally found one that is high quality, reasonably priced, and doesn’t have excessive frills. But if plain black seems a little too boring, I also love a dark brown, which is equally versatile. Or try another kind of boot: I know I love my cowboy boots!



Reva flats, Tory Burch

2. Not-so-boring flats. The ballet flat is not only comfortable, but it’s a chic, polished alternative to sneakers. Anything with a rubberized sole will be sturdier. Also, this might just be me, but I Febreze the crap out of my flats because my feet sweat buckets in them and I don’t wear socks or anything. Though I’m a huge fan of plain black flats (like black Tory Burch ones that are both sporty and pretty), I feel the tres Parisienne trend is colored or embellished flats. I love red or green ones because they add a punch of unexpected, fun color. Plus, red and denim go incredibly well together.


dress, LOFT

3. The LBD [CHECK]. Can’t go wrong with a timeless dress. Sometimes people label any black dress as the “little black dress” without realizing that in order to earn the title, a dress has to be versatile, perfect for work, play, party or funeral; in hot or cold… I recently snagged this LOFT dress (belt included!) for $22, when it’s worth $90. Sometimes I’m paid more in discounts than in paychecks. I wore it to work yesterday and felt like I was channeling my inner Jackie O. It’s a classic piece that I can dress up or down and the skirt is just a tad longer than expecting, adding a level of elegance and making me feel four inches taller. And with the cap sleeves, I can wear it anywhere.



source unknown

4. The perfect jeans. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect pair of  jeans for more than 19 months. But I just can’t make up my mind about what it is I want. Dark, but not too dark. Boot cut, but slim-fitting. Thick, sturdy denim that doesn’t stretch out or have scuffs and cuts. Perfect for flats or heels… It’s an ongoing battle, but when I find them, I’ll know. And at this point, I’m willing to splurge on them. I don’t wear jeans all that often while I’m on co-op or probably in Paris (don’t want to stick out even more as a goofy American), so if and when I do, they must be good.



cardigan, JCrew

5. The perfect cardigan. Though sweater sets are a little dorky, a little outdated, a little too matchy-matchy, the cardigan has never gone out of style–and likely never will. The “Perfect 10” cardigan should be long enough to be worn alone, a solid color, and a touchably soft fabric.  Not that I’m the kind of person to own a billion cashmere sweaters, but you can bet that the first cashmere I buy will be a cardigan. I love the idea of wearing jeans and flats, but then classy-ing it up with a cardigan-slash-shirt (with a cami underneath) and pearls. Elegant, yet casual.



cotton trench, VS

6. The trench. Another timeless piece in a neutral khaki or olive… whether it’s in a Burberry print or not. I have numerous raincoats from traveling, backpacking, and stealing fun yellow slickers from my brothers. But it’s a little over-the-top to wear a yellow raincoat in Paris, I’m sure. Because a trench (and everything else on this list) is timeless, it’s worth investing in one, despite the fact that it’s only good for a couple months out of the year. I also will we waterproofing mine, which will make it a lot easier to clean, as well. Nothing is worse than dirt khaki.



suit, MetroStyle

7. Black tailored suit [CHECK]. So I’m cheating a little bit here, but not really. Everyone should have a classic black suit, tailored to their curves. But for this post’s purposes, I actually love the idea of splitting up a suit. A black pencil skirt is just as versatile as a LBD, and a tailored blazer can take a cotton t-shirt or a party dress from plain Jane to anything but. Pairing the blazer with the riding boots boats a little equestrian style, too. And if it’s a three-piece suit, that means there’s a pair of black dress slacks in the mix, as well. Personally, I like a pencil skirt to be at or below my knees, and I love slacks with a tapered leg. They’re just so elegant.


blouse, LOFT

8. The (non-mandatory) button down. I did a little research and most similar blogs emphasize the importance of a crisp, white button down. And while I admit it looks great in the photos, my whites are white for about two minutes. After that, they are never quite the same. I still love the crisp button-down, but think it’s a great opportunity to style an outfit a little bit more. A button-down doesn’t have to be white, nor does it have to be collared. It doesn’t even really need buttons. The point is to have a classic piece that serves the same purpose as a button down.



scarf, Pucci

9. The scarf. This is the most fun little accessory and tres Parisienne since Parisians–boys and girls–wear scarfs in all sorts of weather. A scarf adds polish, color and class to any outfit and is the ultimate finishing touch. Pretty much every other accessorie–earrings, necklace, watch, purse–should be simple, but a scarf has the potential to pull it all together. Don’t believe me? You’re wrong.




leggings, Target

10. The black leggings [CHECK]. I wear leggings a lot, and I tend to get a litter grief for it. But in my humble opinion, leggings are socially acceptable as long as they follow the rules: Leggings shant under any cimcumstances be see-through; leggings shall not be worn by anyone larger than size 8 (don’t mean to discriminate, but you shouldn’t want it either); tops must hit at or below the hips. When done correctly, leggings can loot classy, not trashy, and they go well with any shoe type, as well.




Bon voyage! Vais vous voyez de l’autre côté.

As a related side note, I’ve noticed a trend in my closet since I started this whole “Perfect 10” ideology. I’ve noticed that in buying “classic” pieces, I am getting a lot more basic colors: black, brown, tan, denim and grey, with the occasional punch of red. When I want to liven something up, I add a colorful scarf or fun nail polish colors. This helps keep me from buying fad pieces in–say–neon green. But it also means I’ll be wearing these colors for a long, long time. Good thing I like them!

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Hi, I'm Marian.
By day, I'm a PR maven with a nerdy affinity for research and branding. By night, I'm an explorer; I delve into books, food, design, and the murky waters of my own psyche, then share my musings here.





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