Back to Basics

Not the legendary club night in Leeds in the 90's - happy happy memories - (not that I actually do recall that much but we'll gloss over that.  I kept going back so it clearly was fantastic) but basic items of clothing.  Plain jersey ones.  Which, in theory, should be immensely easy to find.  Well maybe I'm doing something very wrong (and to be fair I'm not the most normal of shapes) but boy do I struggle finding decent basic tops. 

Firstly the fabric.  I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of 100% cotton.  I am happy to stand corrected if someone can enlighten me on the world's perfect top in 100% cotton but every one I've bought over the years (and there are charity shops the country over drowning in 100% cotton bloody basics thanks to my crappy buys) has either a) shrunk b) become ridiculously misshapen or c) just never hung that well.  They're sort of a bit stiff and awkward.  There's not enough loose drape for my liking (as I'm writing that, I see that I am going to be scoring pretty highly on the OCD scale with regards to Perfect Tops.  Do not read any further unless you are happy to witness the demise of a once sane individual).   The nearest I've come to perfect, is the Dawn solid tank top from By Malene Birger.  I have a couple and they have served me well as tops in the summer but they're not great as basic layers for me, as I find them a bit too thick. (another gripe that I have with pure cotton)  However one of my best friends absolutely adores them so I will recommend them if you are a big fan of 100% cotton (or if you're completely desperate like I was)  On the upside, they don't shrink or lose their shape so big thumbs up in that department.   Interesting colour selection this year - again, being super pernickety, I do prefer my basics in more neutral shades.  They're not particularly cheap at £35 (do check out the sale at the end of season though, as they nearly always do go in) but as they do last, I would say if they're your bag, you're going to get your money's worth out of them.

I do actually have the perfect layering tank vest tops in white and khaki that, you may have noted from what I wear, that I get an awful lot of use out of.  They're from Joseph and are now a couple of years old.  I bought them in the sale as spending nearly £100 on a vest is just risible and they have been just the best buys.  In fact, if we apply an often bandied about law of fashion that says you should judge an item on cost per wear, I could easily spend nearly £100 on them.  I dread to think the amount of £3.50, £5 tops I've bought stupidly from New Look and Dorothy Perkins only to realise after one wear they are dreadful and consign them to the charity bag (actually they may make it into my nightwear drawer.   Oh The lucky lucky Husband.)   I did venture into Joseph a while ago and they'd stopped making them but I am going to check and see if they're doing them again for the Spring/Summer.  I will report back. 

On the longsleeved longline tops, I can report that officially, the best I've ever had are from Isabella Oliver.  They are, again, ridiculously expensive when bought full price but I buy with either a discount code or you can often catch them in the sale.  The last one I bought recently was £38 I believe which isn't the best saving in the world but preferable to full price.  They wash like an absolute dream, if you get the right size, they're not too clingy and with the amount of fabric they ruche perfectly over any lumps or bumps you may have.  Lovely low scoop neck line and fabulously long sleeves.  My only criticism would be the dire (again, obviously only in my opinion and clearly it's a lone one) selection of colours.  They did used to do a "khaki" which arrived as Kermit Green - lovely if you're a fan of bright green, not so great if you had envisaged a more swampy version of Kermit.  I only have the white and the black but I would just love them to do a stone or a blush pink (or a swampy frog colour).  If you hunt in the sale section on the website, they do have some reduced but I believe there is a very limited selection of colours. 

On the subject of longline strappy vests, I am currently living in a rather antiquated selection from Primark.  But, blow me down with a feather, if they are not the best I've ever come across.  Perfect fabric, lovely shades to choose from, perfect length and the most perfect price of about £2.  And they wash fabulously well, as I've had mine for at least a year and wear them easily every other day (I do have about 6 to choose from).  I so hope that Primark still do them - we don't have one easily accessible to us, but I am planning to make a trip once the Rugrats are back at school.  Again, I will report back. 

In the meantime though, I have been doing extensive research on the rest of the High Street and have come up with a big fat nothing.  The only thing that I've found, online actually are these which I have ordered from Marks and Spencer.  I have high hopes for them and will be picking them up next week.   I've ordered them in the Rose selection I believe it's called and the black and white pack. 

Another basic top which I have had lots of wear out is the linen t-shirt from Zara  They've done them for the last couple of years in a really great selection of colours.  They're not wholly perfect but seeing as I've got bugger all else to mention on the t-shirt front, they're going in.  Plus I do wear them a lot, they are very useful (in the absence of anything else) and it would be churlish not to.  On the positive, the colour selection as mentioned, they do hang very well and skim over the love handles and mumtum and they're only £15.99.  My downsides would be that they can be prone to those tiny little holes that suddenly appear in clothing (it seems to be random - some I've washed loads and have never had them, others get them after one wash.  And it's not my washing machine either - I truly believe it's the specific batch of fabric) and, in the lighter colours, they are on the see through side.  They're very much day wear or casual nights out (I like them to dress down a very dressy jacket) and I think there's probably a place for them in most people's wardrobe.  My advice would be to size down. 

Lastly, the other tops which are a bit dressier than a basic (and I actually need one of the above strappy vests to wear under them which means they have no place here at all) but I have to include them here as they have been my go to top for nights out, are the Renoir Tops from FCUK.   The other reason I'm including them is that there is an absolute bargain to be had online with the offwhite version (which I haven't seen so I can't comment on - I have a grey one, a black one and a cream one).  This cowl neck basic top is now an unbelievable £8.75 and appears to be available in all sizes.  If you search Renoir on the FCUK website, other tops do come up.   I actually think the one below is a slightly higher neckline than the creamier one (it's Pavlova the shade I have, not Unicorn - how on earth could I have got those shades confused......)

All in all a pretty mediocre selection, considering that I have been searching for the capsule basic wardrobe for years and am only marginally happy (actually that could say more about me than the products, but I don't think we'll go there) .  I am constantly on the look out for more - I have many holy grail items missing - the perfect shell top (but with a tiny tiny cap sleeve), the perfect silky top for nights out but of a plain basic variety.   FCUK definitely looks like it has some interesting options which I shall be exploring, as does Cos.   My usually beloved Zara has been woefully inadequate this season - shall be watching their new releases like a hawk though, fear not. 

Now for what I've been wearing for the past two days.  The start of the Easter holidays.  Oh joyous times.  I look forward to them (and I genuinely do) with high hopes and have every intention of transforming myself into a cross between Martha Stewart, Poi or Kerry from CBeebies and Annabel Karmel.  By 11am on Monday morning though, I'm doing a much better impression of Cruella De Vil on speed, heading for McDonalds.  

So let's gloss over the first couple of days and we'll see how we get on later in the week. 


Leopard print silk sleeveless top - Zara
Indigo Baxters - Topshop
Camel knitted blazer - Whistles
Black suede and patent ballet pumps - Banana Republic
Chestnut Lily bag - D&G

Tuesday - escaped the rain - happy days.  Doesn't look like I shall be as fortunate tomorrow..

Striped tunic - H&M
Stone skinny trousers - Dorothy Perkins
Chocolate leather biker jacket - All Saints
Leopard print scarf - Louis Vuitton
Tan Cypress ankle boots - Acne
Fuchsia Roxanne tote - Mulberry

Here's hoping I survive Day Three.

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2 comentarios:

  1. Primark do still have those vests Kat. I bought 3 last week - grey, coral & navy and will be back for more. I'd def size up at least 1 if not 2 sizes as they are quite thin and a bit too clingy otherwise. They do the same in a regular length, so have a hoke til you find the long ones. Still £2 each ;)

    Nic x

  2. Hey hun, just noticed those French Connection tops on the French Connection Ebay shop for £8.75 and free postage so £4 saving on postage from main site :) Have ordered one, hope the sizing is right!