The cat's pajamas.

Secondhand Sartorialism: Are fall's wardrobe essentials really fashion must-haves?

I'm always curious to know whether or not the items that fashion magazines list as a season’s essentials are actually considered to be must-haves by the buying public. I've discovered that fashion blogs are a great way to find out what items people are obsessed with purchasing and which ones they choose to integrate into their wardrobes time and again. I figured that by first seeking out a given magazine’s list of essentials and then plugging those essentials into a search engine, I could learn which items the fashion-obsessed were actually interested in wearing.

I logged onto www.LuckyMag.com, the online home of Lucky Magazine, "the Magazine about Shopping and Style," and checked out their list of "Fall Classics under $100." The sixteen pieces that Lucky's editors billed as "completely chic and wallet-friendly essentials to update your cool-weather wardrobe" included the cable knit cardigan; ruffled white blouses; short trench coats; super dark, bootcut jeans; A-line dresses; knit vests; long cardigans that can double as dresses; corduroy high-waisted trousers; double-breasted sweaters and denim pencil-skirts. I placed a check-mark next to the items that I thought would actually be most popular amongst fashion bloggers (gotta test those instincts!) and then started surfing. My (admittedly vintage-inspired) picks were the A-line dress, white ruffled blouse, knit sweater vest, double-breasted sweater, empire-waist dress and, my personal pick for the online winner, the denim pencil skirt.

I quickly discovered that while the A-line dress and knit sweater vest often pop up in various what-I-wore-today pictures of fashion bloggers, they were rarely mentioned as current must-haves -- although I did see a natty little handmade sweater vest that one knitting obsessed blogger had made for her cat during a recent power outage. The double-breasted, military-inspired sweater did have some popularity online, but not as much as I expected. The versatile and classic ruffled white blouse, of which I'm a huge fan, was a big favorite in the blogging world. But the clear winner was, as I anticipated, the denim pencil skirt. Fashionistas all over the World Wide Web were chattering about how it was an absolutely essential piece for their fall wardrobe -- whether in dark, light or white denim, and with our without contrast stitching, it was the absolute must-have piece.

Ultimately, the most essential pieces any wardrobe requires are the ones that most flatter their wearer, whether or not those pieces are considered to be current must-haves. However, it's always interesting to know what other people will be rocking all season long. Depending on your sensibilities, you can rush right out and snatch the most popular pieces right up or avoid them like the plague. Fashion editors may pick the essentials but the true must-haves are up to you. -- TaRosa Jacobs

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