How to Choose and Style Versatile Clothing for Any Occasion

Do you ever feel like you have a closet full of clothes and no idea what to wear? It happens to the best of us! The good news is that learning how to build a wardrobe with versatile clothing is easier than it seems. And we’ve come up with a series of tips and tricks that will have you dreaming about hundreds of possible outfits for weeks on end. 

What exactly do we mean when we say versatile clothing? We are referring to the pieces that we keep going back to, no matter the seasons or fads that dominate the internet. To those beloved garments that, with a little creativity, can be worn in quite a few ways, adapt to different dress codes, and stand the test of time. These pieces are perfect for travel and busy days since they can be glammed up or styled down to easily transition from one occasion to the other. 

Building a versatile wardrobe is important for many reasons. For starters, it’s great for your finances, since you’ll no longer feel the need to buy an entirely new outfit when you want to feel your best, dress up for a special event, or take fashionable pictures. It’s also great for the planet since it means using what you already have more times, plus it lowers needless consumption (fewer purchases mean fewer clothes ultimately end up in landfills). 

Overall, versatile clothing makes your life easier, and (our favorite part) it gives you a chance to get creative with fashion. Read on to explore the endless possibilities! 

Begin with basics and neutrals. 

Basic items like t-shirts and dresses in neutral colors like black and white are a superb way to begin building a versatile wardrobe. These are the sorts of pieces that can lay the groundwork for more elaborate outfits if you choose to go all out on accessories or shoes, for example (more on that below!). Though they are also ideal for days when you’re going for minimalist and laid-back outfits. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite basic pieces: 

  • The white t-shirt: white t-shirts are a staple everyone should have in their closet! The good news is, there are hundreds of options to choose from, and if you’re the kind of girl that likes a little flair, you don’t have to settle for a classic short sleeve t-shirt with a u-neck. A white t-shirt with a bit of ruffle has a touch of romance that will set you apart from the crowd. White t-shirts can be paired with printed bottoms for a fun summer look or worn with a blazer for a chic office ensemble. They’re also the perfect way to bring balance to your outfit when you’re rocking attention-grabbing accessories. 
  • Your favorite pair of jeans: jeans are another essential piece of versatile clothing we love. Skinny, bell-bottomed, or straight, this trusty garment can bring comfort and style to relaxed weekend outfits, and with the right top and a pair of sky-high stilettos, they can become your go-to piece for nights out on the town. 
  • The black dress: when thinking of day-to-night outfits, a black dress is a garment you’ll be going back to, time and time again! No matter the length or silhouette, this item is a great starting point to create many different outfits for multiple occasions. 
  • The floral dress: at Especia, florals are a must and a necessary piece in any wardrobe! Use a floral dress to create day-to-night outfits by changing up the shoes, or make it weather-appropriate by adding a stylish jacket or cardigan to your look. 
  • The fabulous midi dress: midi dresses are the ultimate day-to-night garment, and they’re life saviors when you’re not sure how to comply with a dress code. They’re just long enough that they’ll always have a touch of elegance, but they also manage to make you feel effortlessly chic.


Get creative with styling

Of course, there are many more versatile pieces than the one we just mentioned above, it’s all about getting creative with styling. And sometimes it's not about the garment itself but about how you choose to wear it. As a general rule, any given garment can and should be worn in at least a few different ways. A button-down shirt, for instance, can be worn tied around the waist, tucked in, tucked out, and even a half-tuck can add an unexpected and fun element to an outfit. 

When you’re deciding what to wear on a hot day, smart styling will also come in handy. In this case, you’ll want to pull back on layers and choose breezy fabrics that will keep you feeling and looking cool no matter how bright the sun shines! 

Mix and match. 

When you think of matching sets, you probably envision a statement outfit, and versatile is not necessarily the first word that comes to mind. If you think again, you’ll discover a universe of possibilities. For instance, mixing a patterned crop top with a pair of jeans and white tennis shoes is a fabulous way to make use of a top you probably thought you’d only wear once or twice. Take that same crop top and pair it with tailored pants and a pair of sandals, and you’ll have a slightly more elevated look. The same goes for a pair of printed pants or a long printed skirt. You don’t always have to wear these pieces with the matching garment, instead discover a universe of possibilities by mixing and matching them with neutral pieces, like the white t-shirt mentioned above. 

Layers, layers, layers. 

When it comes to versatile clothing and weather-appropriate outfits, layers are your go-to strategy. And you don't have to wear all of your layers at once. If you play around with styling a bit, you’ll find you can wear layers in numerous ways. Take a cardigan, for example, a great layer to add on top of a dress on a breezy fall day, it can also be worn over the shoulders in spring —adding a touch of sophistication to your look— and it also works very well tied around the waist for a more relaxed outfit. 

Jackets are another layer that can add endless alternatives to your outfits, and how you wear them makes a big difference. A jean jacket can take you from a day at the park to a fun night of drinks with your girlfriends. A timeless leather jacket can add an edge to a romantic outfit, and a flattering blazer can make an outfit you’d normally wear on weekend, instantly office appropriate. 

Accessories do wonders.  

If there’s one thing to keep in mind about building a versatile wardrobe, it’s the importance of accessories. A pair of gold hoop earrings can add glam to an understated outfit, while a string of pearls can add charm when worn with a long black dress. A scarf is another versatile accessory that can be styled in many ways. Wearing it over your head and tied at the neck is a splendid idea if you’re looking to channel your inner French girl. Yet, choosing to tie that same scarf as a belt with your favorite blue jeans is another terrific way to add a pop of color to a casual outfit. 

Change up the shoes. 

Ok, ok, shoes are accessories, we know. But when it comes to versatile clothing, they deserve to be in a category of their own. White sneakers, a must-have in any modern closet, can add flair to even the fanciest of skirts. Swap your ballet flats for sky-high sandals to elongate your figure and bring extra glam to any look. Choose one or the other depending on the dress code, and voila! The same outfit immediately becomes different! Boots are also a phenomenal yet understated option, and they can change the style of an ensemble, depending on which style of boots you choose. Go for trendy cowboy boots if you’re a fan of boho, and if you’re feeling a bit edgier, consider adding thigh-high leather boots to a pair of black shorts to create a show-stopping outfit! 

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