| August 6, 2013

Open up any “style guide” and you’ll be met with a long list of wardrobe essentials that “every woman should own.” A trench, an LBD, a pair of ballet flats, a white button down, a string of pearls, the list goes on.

While we’re not saying those items aren’t classic, versatile, and often very necessary, we also think every women already knows how valuable they are. It’s hackneyed to tell us we need a classic trench, when we’ve been told that since we were old enough to read fashion magazines.

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Plus, let’s be honest: Times are changing. While women still value the importance of looking polished, sophisticated, and timeless, we also want to look unique and modern—something that’s difficult to do while wearing dime-a-dozen ballet flats and classic trenches, for example.  When every women is told they need the same thing, we run the risk of starting looking similar, even if if we style our essentials in different ways.

That said, we decided to call out six of these tried-and-true essentials and offer simple swaps with modern alternatives that’ll still retain a similar vibe, but modernize your wardrobe all year long.

Lucky Brand
Instead of a white-button down, try a chambray shirt.

A classic white shirt will forever have a place in women’s closets, but a fitted chambray or denim button-down is just as versatile while being a smidge more modern. Wear it the same way you would a white shirt: Tucked into jeans, under a sweater or blazer, with a pencil skirt, or with a pair of trousers for work.

Forever 21
Instead of a beige trench coat, try a utility jacket.

Army green utility jackets offer a more modern approach and can look evert bit as polished as a classic trench, which often can look a bit conservative.

Instead of a black pencil skirt, try tailored black shorts.

Black shorts–whether slouchy or tailored—can step into the role of a standard pencil skirt all year round. In the summer, wear them as you would a skirt: with a silky blouse, a basic tee, or a silky tank. In the winter, add a sweater, a black blazer, and a pair of tights.