Every time I pick up a fashion magazine, I know there’s bound to be one of those “Five Essential Pieces Every Woman Needs” articles. You know what I’m talking about — the ones that claim you need a black blazer, a white shirt, a red lipstick and a little black cocktail dress to survive on Earth. Those are all great items that you should indeed have.

But doesn’t that get a little boring? It’s 2016, and like Madonna, the classics need to reinvent themselves to stay fresh. Tell your white shirts and LBDs to make some room in the closet, because according to these local boutique owners, the new classics are coming!

1. Stephanie’s St. Paul: The slip dress

“The slip dress is a trend right now, but it’s becoming a classic cut,” says owner Stephanie Morrissey. “It’s so flattering.” The slip dress has done some shape-shifting over the years, showing up as a flapper-style sheath in the ’20s, a disco go-to in the ’70s and a favorite of Courtney Love and Kate Moss in the ’90s. It’s back again for another round, and Stephanie’s is pumped. You’ll find a classically sexy, lace-trimmed slip dress from Goldhawk and the “Angelina” style from Nicole Miller on its racks. Morrissey thinks the customization factor gives this dress its classic status. “Over spring and summer, women will want it in their closet,” she says. “They can wear it so many different ways: with a blazer for work, then throw on some necklaces for going out with girlfriends.”

(Stephanie’s St. Paul, 758 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul)

2. Proper & Prim: The matching set

Thank Kim Kardashian and her crew for the current ubiquity of the matching set. Though the look harks back to the suits of the past, it’s been modernized in new silhouettes and with new proportions; think cropped tops instead of boxy jackets. No one does the matching set better than Minneapolis’ Proper & Prim.

“Together, the set looks polished and modern, but the pieces can easily be worn separately to maximize your wardrobe’s potential,” says owner Ashlie O’Day. A set is totally Instagram-worthy when you go matchy-matchy, but equally useful if you wear the skirt to work and the top with high-waisted jeans. Kimmy K & Co. would be proud. (Proper & Prim, 2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.)

3. Parc: The cloud scarf

“A nice cozy scarf that can be worn all year and well into 2056” is Parc owner Thao Nguyen’s classic choice. “[It’s] the perfect travel piece.” The boutique’s line of wool cloud scarves from Scarf Shop are dyed in Minneapolis and come in a simple, goes-with-everything color palette of black, gray and nude shades. With the Twin Cities’ crazy all-over-the-place weather, keeping one of these scarves in your bag is smart. They’re warm but not heavy, so if your office is a little chilly due to overzealous A/C, you can wind one around your neck and not worry that it’s competing with your outfit.

(Parc, 320 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. / 5023 France Av. S., Edina)

4. Cliché: The jumpsuit

Since their customers have a wide variety of personal styles, Uptown’s beloved Cliché fills its racks with edgy pieces, minimalist designs and feminine looks in bright colors. Their version of the classic “goes with everything” item is the jumpsuit. “It’s the ultimate utilitarian item,” says owner Delayna Sundberg. “It can be worn casual with sneakers to the supermarket or dressed up with the right ankle boots or heels and worn to a wedding — which makes it also the perfect travel item!”

With a change of accessories, there’s no reason why you couldn’t wear the same jumpsuit a few times a week.

(Cliché, 2403 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.)

5. Grethen House: The updated white shirt

Grethen House, the upscale home of brands like Ace & Jig, Simon Miller and Golden Goose, offers a twist on the classic white shirt with the iconic Comme des Garcons long-sleeve shirt. The little heart embroidery takes the shirt from buttoned-down boardroom to the street.

“[One] way we like to style it is to use it as a jacket alternative over a tee or tank and pair it with jeans,” says Grethen’s Maggie Brindley. “It’s the updated white button-up.”

(Grethen House, 4930 France Av. S., Edina / 212 3rd Av. N., Mpls.)


Kara Nesvig is a freelance writer and beauty blogger living in Minneapolis. Find her writing all over the Internet, especially at xoVain.com.