Fashion’s Favorite Freethinker, Lynn Yaeger, Shares Her Wardrobe Essentials

All my life, I have been addicted to wardrobe guides—“17 Things You Must Have in Your Closet by the Time You Are 30,” “11 Fashion Staples You Can’t Live Without,” “32 Pieces to Take You From Office to Party.” And every, every time I have come away thinking, Why do these well-intentioned instructions never have anything to do with me?

Don’t these exercises realize that some people—okay, me—look like a potato sack tied around the middle when belted into a classic trench? That the perfectly cut trouser, the white button-up shirt, the pencil skirt, can make some of us look and feel like a very dull, very sad moose?

Not only do these basics fail to excite the imagination, but they also do not exactly celebrate our newfound commitment to diversity and inclusion! Who says a little black dress is superior to a vast off-the-shoulder frock? Why opt for a classic pullover when you can sport a nutty Fair Isle like Linda wears in The Pursuit of Love? Why drape your frame in a beige mackintosh when you could opt for an artfully frayed vintage Comme des Garçons coat? Isn’t a tutu with an elastic waistband just as saucy as a narrow skirt?

If just about now you are thinking, I want to look like Lynnie, at least for one day (and not October 31), we have thoughtfully prepared this handbook for you. This roster of wardrobe necessities with tips on how to wear them—who doesn’t love tips?—will make you look like a cross between a cartoon animal (an elephant in a tutu, anyone?) and 1920s screen siren Clara Bow (because Cupid’s bow lips and heavily rouged cheeks put the finishing touches on these ensembles).

Here, our guide to Lynnie Essentials:

Tutus

Contents

The fuller, the better! Once you start prancing around in layers of tulle, you’ll wonder why you ever relied on boring old jeans and stretched-out jogging suits to get you through dark times.

Red Valentino floral-appliqué tulle skirt

Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini tartan tulle midiskirt

Act N.1 draped tulle skirt

Men’s Oversized Cardigan Sweater

Something needs to go over that tutu—why not a capacious cardigan to make you look like you are just taking a break from ballet rehearsal, no matter how clumsy you are in real life?

John Smedley Petworth merino-wool cardigan

Ami Ami de Cœur logo-appliqué cotton-blend cardigan

Comme des Garçons Play embroidered logo cardigan

Dries Van Noten ribbed-knit cardigan

Fair Isles

Pretend you live at Brideshead! A particular Lynnie favorite, these classic patterns hark back to Britain between the wars—a gorgeous explosion of stitchery indispensable given the isle’s notorious lack of central heating.

Molly Goddard Bibi Fair Isle lambswool sleeveless sweater

Liinaloom 1940s Jersild Fair Isle wool cardigan sweater

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Bette Fair Isle cardigan

La Fetiche Mildred Fair Isle wool sweater

Vintage Jewelry

Clothes come and go, and even the most solidly built tutu will someday melt into the air. That’s why you should consider creating a collection of vintage jewelry—Lynnie has been collecting for decades!—to give your wardrobe a bit of glitter and shine, and also serve as a worthy investment that is so much more alluring than mere stocks and bonds.

Renee Lewis 18-karat white gold and antique diamond necklace

Antique emerald and rose cut diamond cluster earrings

18-karat gold, sapphire, and diamond double-snake ring

Stephanie Windsor antique 18-karat yellow-gold, silver, ruby, and diamond halo Navette ring

Ugg Boots

Do your feet always hurt? When you try on a pair of stilettos—or even kitten heels—does pain shoot up from your piggies directly to your brain? Shed those torture chambers in favor of a pair of squishy Ugg boots, whose squat glamour goes surprisingly well with floaty frocks.

Ugg x Molly Goddard mini boots

Ugg Diara genuine shearling booties

Ugg Fluff Yeah panther-print shearling slippers

Ugg classic short stellar sequin boots

Ballet Flats

Because you can’t wear Ugg boots all the time! Sometimes you want to slide into ballet-style slippers, and if they sport pearls or stripes or glitter, well, so much the better.

Jimmy Choo Ade embellished suede ballet flats

Miu Miu glittered ballet flats

Vibi Venezia striped canvas Mary Jane flats

Off-the-Shoulder Dresses

Who says a Lynnie essential can’t be sexy! Instead of baring your belly or prancing down the avenue in what looks for all the world like a bra and panties (what a summer this has been for underwear on the street), why not opt for the subtle seduction of the off-the-shoulder frock?

Erdem Vacation Algarve parrot-print off-the-shoulder dress

H&M off-the-shoulder dress

BoutiqueUA oversized linen dress with ruffles

Silvia Tcherassi Tavira off-the-shoulder dress

Vintage Comme Des Garçons Coats

Not for us, the Michelin Man puffers or the duck-down nightmares masquerading as chic outerwear. The timeless appeal of a Comme des Garçons overcoat will brighten the dreariest winter day, and since these things were never really in style in the first place, who is to say what season from which they hail? (Fun aside, Lynnie actually owns one of the very coats pictured here.)

Comme des Garçons vintage 1999 poncho

Comme des Garçons Noir Kei Ninomiya coat

Comme des Garçons oversized draped coat

Fancy Quickie Handbag

Though she is an avid H&M shopper, sometimes Lynnie cannot resist the siren call of a fancy handbag—especially since, when she interviews a subject in person, she likes her outfit to say, “Yes, this tulle-and-Uggs ensemble may make you think that I am nuts, but have you clocked how expensive my handbag is?”

Balenciaga Neo metallic basket tote bag

Gucci x Disney Three Little Pigs Ophidia backpack

Goyard 2020 Goyardine Villette tote

Fendi FF Vertigo pattern backpack

Collars

Whoever said that before you leave the house you should take one thing off clearly wasn’t following our playbook. We say, “Put one more things on,” and why not a jaunty fluffy collar to pin over that giant man’s cardigan?

MSGM tassel knitted collar

Ganni broderie anglaise collar

Eugenia Kim Leonora satin-trimmed faux-fur collar

Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini tie-fastening tartan-print collar

Gauzy Dress

Once in a while, you will be invited to a very swanky evening gala (maybe more than once in a while if this pandemic ever ends), and you will want to jump for something really special: a dress to make you feel like a Cinderella who didn’t need a fairy godmother to whip up a gown for her, but instead sued her stepmother for unpaid wages and bought one of these confections for herself.

Simone Rocha floral-embroidered layered-tulle dress

Free People Nowhere to Go slip

Marchesa Notte bead embroidery tulle gown

Molly Goddard Jimmy gathered tulle midi-dress

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