9 Unboring Ways to Style Your Basics

Same closet, completely new outfits.

We all have closets full of basics, but it's how you update your styling every season that makes a difference. A white shirt, pencil skirt, and a pair of black pants may not seem like the most exciting pieces, but pair them with other already-haves and smart new acquisitions, and just you wait! Here, three spectacularly cool new ways to wear each of your stand-bys.

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The White Shirt: Option 1

Step 1: Layer a black turtleneck underneath your shirt, then slip on a pleated skirt. Thanks to Gucci, brightly hued pleated skirts are having a major moment.

Styling Tip: Pull the turtleneck sleeves out from the under the white shirt and flip the cuffs.

Step 2: Wear it with socks and loafers! Socks will help keep your legs warm, while loafers make a marathon workday way more comfortable.


Vince shirt, $116.98, nordstrom.com; Vince turtleneck, $98, nordstrom.com; Topshop skirt, similar here; Hue socks, $8.50, nordstrom.com; Stuart Weitzman shoes, $455, nordstrom.com.

The White Shirt: Option 2

Step 1: Add  patterned pants (because that white shirt needs some life), and a fuzzy crop top over the shirt. The trick here is to find a crop top that ends at the top of your pant, so you don't see any white shirt underneath. 

Styling tip: Buy a crop top one size bigger than you normally would, so it's not tight against your shirt. Then, roll up your sleeves and unbutton your collar. 

Step 2: Add some color by experimenting with a bold lip. 


Vince shirt, $116.98, nordstrom.com; Sea crop top, similar here; Guess pants, $198, guess.com; Hugo Boss loafers, $595, hugoboss.com.

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The White Shirt: Option 3

Step 1: Pair it with a denim suit, add a long-sleeve striped shirt underneath, then pull out the sleeves to create a dynamic patten.. It will add a layer of warmth necessary for winter temps, and change up an otherwise tried-and-true look.

Styling tip:  Unbutton your white shirt a few extra buttons to see more of your striped shirt. 

Step 2: Add some fun accessories like a slim choker (before the trend dies!), and heels—because with flares, everyone needs a little extra height.


Paul & Joe blazer and pants, similar here; Pam & Gela top, similar here; Vince shirt, $116.98, nordstrom.com; Ivanka Trump shoes, $119.95, nordstrom.com; Theory bag, $345, lyst.com.

The Black Pant: Option 1

Step 1: Add a skirt on top—look for a wrap style with a slit at the front. It not only lets you walk with ease, but shows off the length of the pant.

Styling tip: A skirt with graphic detail, like prints or stripes, in simple colors will be the most versatile. 

Step 2: Add a bright sweater. A form fitting one (rather than a bulky style), will keep this looking more sleek than slouchy.


Eileen Fisher pants, $168, nordstrom.com; Rag & Bone sweater, similar here; Stuart Weitzman shoes, similar here

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The Black Pant: Option 2

Step 1: Layer a printed dress with a fun print or ruffles on top (this is a great opportunity to pull out summer dresses you may have regaled to the back of your closet). 

Step 2: Add a skinny belt over your dress. It will add structure to the look—and give you a waist. 

Styling tip: Roll up your pants, but flip the hem inside to create a straight (not rolled) bottom. Then add one big, statement earring to give your look an evening-ready edge.


Eileen Fisher pants, $168, nordstrom.comJill Stuart dress, similar here; Stuart Weitzman shoes, $238, nordstrom.com; Annelise Michelson earrings, available here.

The Black Pant: Option 3

Step 1: Slip on a printed blouse, then a jacket, then shrug a heavy coat over your shoulders. The trick here is about combining different colors in the same family. 

Step 2: Wear with socks and a fun pair of heels. Faux fur accents are a huge trend this fall, and wearing them on your shoes is a fun way to experiment with the look.

Styling trick: Wear your hair in a messy topknot to make the look less serious.


Eileen Fisher pants, $168, nordstrom.comTibi blouse, $425, nordstrom.com; Veronica Beard blazer, $645, nordstrom.com; 2nd Day coat, similar here; BCBG shoes, similar here

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The Pencil Skirt: Option 1

Step 1: Put on a striped, silk blouse, then add a denim shirt over the top. Opt for a thin chambray fabric so the doubled shirts don't become too bulky. 

Styling trick: Unbutton the denim shirt all the way to point where it hits your skirt, allowing the striped shirt to peek through.

Step 2: Add a pair of low heels or sandals.


Acne Studios skirt, $420, nordstrom.com; Equipment blouse, $268, nordstrom.com; Cupcakes & Cashmere chambray shirt, $100, nordstrom.com

The Pencil Skirt: Option 2

Step 1: Add a puffer-inspired leather jacket. A leather option is a little sleeker for the office, and a soft, medium-knit sweater is sleek and slim underneath.

Step 2: Pair it with sneakers. Essential to keep your look grounded.

Styling tip: Keep the jacket cinched up for a slimming effect.


Acne Studios skirt, $420, nordstrom.com; Topshop sweater, $75, nordstrom.com; McQ by Alexander McQueen puffer jacket, similar here, Vince shoes, $195, nordstrom.com.

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The Pencil Skirt: Option 3

Step 1: Pull on a chunky sweater, tucking the front in slightly, but leaving the back untucked. 

Step 2: Add a neck scarf in lieu of jewelry. This is a fun way to dress up a plain sweater look, and instantly adds a touch of color and polish for the office.

Styling tip: If the bandana-style isn't your jam, try wrapping the scarf all the way around like a choker.


Acne Studios skirt, $420, nordstrom.comRebecca Taylor sweater, $350, rebeccataylor.com; Scarf, stylists own; 3.1 Phillip Lim shoes, $395, nordstrom.com; Tyler Alexandra bag, available here.


Photography by Jack Waterlot, Styling by Aeri Yun, Hair by Clay Nielsen, Makeup by Rommy Major. 

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