Have you heard me talk about support pieces before? There’s a chapter in Brenda Kinsel’s Fashion Makeover where I sing the praises of support pieces. Not every piece of clothing needs to be or should be a star piece–you know, the piece that gets all the compliments?
Oh, what a beautiful coat!
Wow, that dress is so pretty!
Where’d you find such an interesting blouse?
I believe that every wardrobe needs to have star pieces and support pieces.
Defining star pieces and support pieces
A star piece is like a movie star in a leading role. I’m thinking of names like Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, and Annette Benning. The star will get most of the attention, most of the scenes, and most of the acclaim. Like that awesome leather jacket you have or your leopard print skirt or your large scale polka dot swirl skirt. Memorable.
A support piece is like a supporting actress. In the movies, supporting roles are essential even if they’re not as noticeable. I’m thinking of names like Naomie Harris, Geraldine James, Mackenzie Davis, and Leslie Castay. I’m lying, I wasn’t thinking of those names at all. I had to look them up. Not so memorable.
That’s how it is with wardrobe support pieces too. They may not even show in an outfit or maybe they get a sliver of the attention. Maybe there’s nothing that special about them (or is there?). They’re plain or basic, but we need them. We depend on them. They are essential to getting dressed and feeling good about what we’re wearing.
The award for best support piece in my wardrobe goes to…
It’s awards season so I’m casting my vote for best support piece in my wardrobe. (I’m confident that a few of my clients would vote for this piece as well.)
The envelope please…
And the winner is the Tippi sweater from J.Crew. (Applause, applause.)
Why is the Tippi sweater a winner? I think of Tippi sweaters as the equivalent, but more refined than, the basic cotton T-shirt. They’re a Merino wool, nice and smooth, and not clingy like a cotton T-shirt can be. Nothing fancy-smancy. Simple. No bells, no whistles. Just totally dependable.
My first Tippi came into my life via a Beauty Bundle I was creating. I’ve fallen in love with the color mulberry (cranberry, or merlot, or burgundy–whatever you’d like to call it). I had purchased my AGL patent berry oxfords. I needed a handbag in that same color story. I found it at TJ Maxx. Next I found a pair of comfy skinny cotton jeans in the same shade. Wow, I was getting awfully close to a column of color and I wanted to go all the way.
I thought of the Tippi. It’s a classic sweater from J.Crew that’s been around a long time. I found it in Merlot and my cheeks flushed. I was happy.
The Tippi sweater as an sung hero layering piece
After the success of the burgundy Tippi I decided to order more of them. I picked a navy blue one, a black one, a gray one and I decided to step out and get one in a shade of robin’s egg blue. The color was bright enough to maybe even push it into a star piece in an outfit.
I wore the gray one (above) under a sweater to keep me warm. I was cozy comfortable and the two sweaters didn’t cling to each other at all.
In the example below, I wore my black Tippi under a silk blouse that had a few buttons unbuttoned. It was so much more refined than a cotton T-shirt would have been. I felt smart and sophisticated in this outfit. (Thanks, Tippi, for your support!)
Tippi sweater as almost a star piece
Actually, you know those movies that have an ensemble cast of actors in it like Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975)? There were more than 25 speaking roles in that movie.
My outfits don’t come close to having 25 components to them but there can be several. In this next example I’d say the Tippi sweater is a strong member of the ensemble cast. The color stands out. But then so does the double strand Sol Sisters necklace and the houndstooth check jacket. So I don’t think I can call it a definitive star piece. (But thank you, robin’s egg blue Tippi! You’re doing a great job!)
Clothing items that are support pieces don’t always get their due. The paparazzi isn’t following a layering piece around taking pictures of it. They want to photograph the fancy jacket, the see through blouse, the tight dress.
But anyone who dresses every day knows that those pieces that you use all the time, pieces that aren’t always seen or memorable, do really important things.
They provide comfort, coverage, some modesty perhaps. They don’t expect applause. They’re just happy to do what needs to be done.
If I was getting a best dressed award I’d walk to the podium, hold my gold statue in both hands. I wouldn’t need to look at notes to remember who to thank.
“I want to thank all my Tippis for helping me out in countless ways: for keeping me warm, making me look tall when you’re part of a column of color, for adding a spark to an outfit that would otherwise look dull. I couldn’t have gotten dressed without you!” (Applause, applause.)
What go-to items get your vote for best support piece?