Rethink your wardrobe before buying more

By Jessica Yadegaran

March showers. Blooming flowers. And a hike in the cost of clothing.

Didn’t expect that last one as a sign of spring, did you? Well, this season will be remembered as the first time in a decade that the cost of clothing, particularly cotton, will go up instead of down.

That should make you think twice about throwing away that cardigan when you’re doing your spring cleaning – even if it’s three seasons old. With that in mind, we enlisted the help of Alicia Shaffer, owner of Prim, Pleasanton, Calif.’s newest boho chic boutique, to select seven items every woman should buy or salvage from her closet. These pieces can be worn year round and mixed and matched with other basics to make multiple outfits. And, for inspiration, some of the items have a distinctly soft, feminine feel of spring.

–Tunic jersey dress:

Tall people can pull off a tunic-style dress as a top, but most women will rock this soft, jersey tunic as a dress. With the right accessories, it seamlessly goes from day to night, Shaffer says. You can buy it in a solid color, such as gray or navy, but she prefers the bright floral patterns of spring.

Plan to spend: $45 to $60.

Outfits: “Wear it with a wide, woven belt and gladiator sandals or throw it over a pair of leggings for more of a bohemian look,” Shaffer says.

–Black leggings:

No one item is as versatile as a cotton-lycra blend of leggings in black, Shaffer says. They are comfortable, flattering, affordable, and break up the week for those of us who live in jeans.

Plan to spend: $15 to $25.

Outfits: “You can wear the leggings with the tiered tank top and flats or tunic dress and pumps,” Shaffer says. In cooler weather, pair the tank and leggings with boots and a feminine blazer or big sweater.

–Slub cardigan:

One touch of this long, lightweight, knit cardigan and you’ll never go back to the short, buttoned variety. “You want one with an asymmetrical cut that hits at the hip bone,” Shaffer says. “That’s the most flattering.” She suggests choosing one in a charcoal gray or chocolate brown.

Plan to spend: $30 to $45.

Outfits: “This cardigan goes with everything. It works with a tank top and jeans just as much as a pencil skirt and blouse or over a dress,” Shaffer says.

–Tiered tank top:

It’s likely you don’t have this item in your closet. And you might think the three-tier style wouldn’t favor every body type, but it does. The drapey style hits just below the hips, Shaffer says, so everyone falls in love with it. For maximum use, she recommends it in a neutral tone.

Plan to spend: $20 to $40.

Outfits: “You can wear this with everything,” Shaffer says. “Skinny jeans, black leggings, shorts, work slacks. You can throw the cardigan over it or the tunic dress for a soft, pulled together look.”

–Linen pants:

“These are a basic you wouldn’t normally think of, but they work so well from spring to summer and even into fall if you pair them with darker colors,” Shaffer says. She suggests a putty or gray color.

Plan to spend: $35 to $50.

Outfits: Where to begin? You can wear these lightweight, straight leg pants under the tunic dress for a bohemian look or with the tiered tank and cardigan or any other basic top in your closet, Shaffer says.

–Ruffled blouse:

If it’s not a staple already, this rayon-cotton blend blouse will join your white button-down as a wardrobe must-have. It’s also long-sleeved but softer and lighter than its crisp, boxy cousin, so it can be belted for a flattering fit, Shaffer says.

Plan to spend: $30 to $40.

Outfits: The top looks great with a pair of skinny jeans, a pencil skirt, or if it’s long enough, with black leggings, she says.

–Skinny jeans:

Despite their staying power through the seasons, a lot of people are still hesitant to go skinny, Shaffer says. “But they have so much stretch to them that you cannot go wrong, no matter how curvy you are,” she says, especially since tops have trended on the long side for some time now.

Plan to spend: About $80. Though brands can cost more than $150.

Outfits: The possibilities are endless, Shaffer says. She loves skinnies with the ruffled blouse or tiered tank top and cardigan. But a simple white T-shirt is also chic and timeless. And we hope you’ve got plenty of those in your closet.