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How to stop basics looking boring

How to stop basics looking boring

Basics should be the cornerstone of your wardrobe. “They’re simple, comfortable pieces that you can grab time and time again,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “And because they’re simple, you know that they’ll always look great no matter what you wear them with. They take a lot of the stress out of getting dressed.”

But “basic” shouldn’t be synonymous with “boring”. One benefit of wearing subtle pieces is that even small changes can have a big impact on your look – an interesting fabric, or a brighter shade, is more powerful when it’s not competing with patterns or graphics. These are the three techniques to master that will stop your basics being, well, basic.

Non-boring basics


The most important thing when you’re wearing colour is to pick a palette that works well. “Pastels, for example, go together really effectively,” says Freddie. “They rarely clash with each other, so you can match different coloured basics together – a light blue shirt with a pale green jacket, for example – to create something that looks good and feels comfortable.”

Just remember that with basics, the clue’s in the name. “Stick to one block of colour,” says Freddie. “Something like a long-sleeved t-shirt can look good with two colours, but any more than two and it stops being a basic.”


A plain cotton tee can be a little uninspiring. But the same basic in a salt-and-pepper knit suddenly gives your entire look extra depth. “Texture catches the eye a lot better,” says Freddie. “There’s more detail to take in and it creates a kind of natural pattern.”

As with colour, stick to one textured piece per outfit. “It could be anything from a knitted jumper to wool trousers or a houndstooth blazer,” says Freddie. “But if you wear all three at once, your outfit gets too busy and becomes much less than the sum of its parts.”


Detailing is perhaps the subtlest way to inject some life into your basics. But that light touch is surprisingly powerful. “It shows the extra forethought you put into your look,” says Freddie. “It makes the basic personal to you, and adds character.”

Look for elements like collar and cuff stripes, or stitched branding, which makes a more refined statement than prints. “Just make sure the detailing is small. Subtle is king when it comes to basics,” says Freddie.” As before, stick to one piece of detailing per outfit and don’t try to dress it up too much. “It works best when dress codes are less strict,” says Freddie. “In smart looks, it can come across as gimmicky.”