Back To The Future, Part 2: 5 Lower Body Capsule Wardrobe Essentials

Updated: Jul 31, 2019



When building your capsule wardrobe, I always recommend looking to the future instead of the past.


Are your choice selections timeless? Or are they reruns of past trends that you will donate to Goodwill in a year when they are out of style?


This week we’re talking about building a capsule wardrobe for your lower body, and there is nothing more destructive to your capsule than the currently popular high-rise jean. It seduces well-meaning women with promises of a longer leg line, but in reality leaves us all looking like a fifth member of the “Mom Jeans Collective.”


The esteemed Tina Fey taught me this precious lesson years ago.


Perhaps you recall her brilliant ditty from Saturday Night Live entitled “Mom Jeans”:



“Are you looking for the perfect gift for mom this Mother’s Day?


Introducing Mom Jeans!


Mom Jeans fit Mom just the way she likes it: she’ll love the generous 9-inch zipper and casual front pleats.


So this Mother’s Day, don’t give Mom that bottle of perfume… give her something that says “I’m not a woman anymore - I’ve given up!”


Tina taught me the failure to avoid high-rise jeans would inevitably result in a bleak future for womankind, painting an ominous picture where we would walk out in troves, voluntarily appearing like we had aggressive wedgies in the front and a soggy adult diaper in the back. For the love of all that is good and holy in the style world, denounce the power of Mom Jeans when building your capsule and their allure and soggy bottoms will flee from you.


Instead, let’s focus on some timeless pieces for your lower half!


1. Dark Blue Skinny Jeans


My favorite timeless style for jeans is the mid-rise, dark-wash skinny jean. This cut hits between the navel and the hips and is key in masking any unwanted tummy flub. The key is to choose a dark wash with plain back pockets that are free of appliques or any kind of creative pocket stitching as these adornments will date any jean. While there are a host of brands out there for you to choose from, perhaps you are wondering if the great Jeanie herself (pun intended) has a recommendation for you? Why yes, yes I do. I am particularly obsessed with Democracy Jeans with Ab Technology. They are a gorgeous dark washed jean that comes with an interior elasticized waist that offers generous stretching power so you never feel the bulge from that 6th slice of pizza. In addition, the cotton-polyester-spandex mix provides the holy trinity of comfort and shapewear, giving you lift and making it appear like you have done some serious squatting when you are not shoveling pizza down your gullet. For a mere 40 dollars, this miracle worker can stand up to any designer jean and outlast any item in your wardrobe.


2. Classic Pencil Skirt


The black pencil skirt will never go out of style. It’s classic sheath cut sits close to your leg line and is flattering on every body type, bringing instant polish to any outfit ensemble. When choosing a black pencil skirt for your capsule wardrobe, remember to not pick a size that is too tight: you should be able to get in and out of a car without showing the world your reproductive magic. Also, be sure to choose a length that hits just above or at the knee, as this length tows the line between sophistication and sexiness. This skirt can be dressed up with a pair of nude pumps and a black body suit tucked in or dressed down with a tucked in graphic tee and flats.


3. Black Jeans With Tears


The black jean that is torn exclusively at the knees oozes bad ass without seeming like you are even trying to be cool. While jeans with elaborate tears are trendy, jeans with just a few choice tears can go a long way without risking falling out of style next year. When choosing a torn pair of black jeans, remember less is more: multiple tears reads “junior” or disgruntled millennial, something that you will grow out of in the years to come. However, a pair of black jeans with one clean cut along the knees is something that is edgy yet timeless, spanning and surviving the decades. This pair of ripped black jeans adds edge and intrigue to even the most basic t-shirt and flat ensemble.


4. The Neutral Maxi Dress


The maxi dress will be with us until the end of time. It summons instant bohemian princess vibes the second you put it on and its typical empire waist cut ensures a bit of flow and flounce while offering some luxurious comfort. The key to choosing a timeless maxi dress is to choose a neutral color absent of pattern that sits close to the leg line. I know that the fluted skirt that comes away at the ankles is adorable now, but it will be a dated look in the years to come. Instead, reach for a maxi that is cut straight and narrow along the leg line. The less embellishment and added detail on your dress, the easier it will be to coordinate it with the rest of your wardrobe. Not only can the magical maxi transcend time, it can also master any season. Wear it as is for warmer months and with a front knotted dress shirt in cooler months. This is a dress that will play nice with every permanent member of your closet.


5. Navy Ankle Pants


Ankles are understated and helplessly sexy. It only follows that a fitted pair of ankle pants should always be part of your capsule wardrobe. The key to choosing a flattering pair of ankle pants is to ensure that the hem of your pant is positioned immediately above or right on your ankle bone. Go higher than the ankle bone and it will look like a confused pair of capris; go lower and it will look like a shrunken pair of skinny jeans. The beauty of this cut is that it sits close to your leg line, working to elongate your silhouette while showing just a hint of classy skin. These pants were popularized by Audrey Hepburn in her “funny face days” and have never fallen out of favor since that marvelous era. These pants go the distance in the business world, giving you polish without appearing pretentious and will equally work for you in the day to day as a sophisticated alternative to a t-shirt and jeans ensemble.


Skipping Out On Mom Jean Mania


There you have it – 5 pieces to clothe your lower half for years to come. While it can be tempting to follow celebrities and fashion icons down the high-rise pant road, sticking to the classics will help you build a capsule wardrobe that lasts into the future. You may just thank me when you look back at your pictures from 2019 in 2029 and you notice yourself in timeless looks while everyone else is stuck in Mom Jean Mania.


If you haven’t checked out last week’s post on my top 5 upper body capsule wardrobe essentials, take a look and fill out your capsule with these 10 foundational pieces. You’ll be set to build outfit after outfit from your capsule with quality pieces that don’t go out of style!



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