I realized that for all my talk about focusing on building up my ‘wardrobe staples’ over this past year or so, I hadn’t taken the time to share exactly what those were. From a flattering black mini dress that can be layered or worn alone to the softest bra I’ve ever worn – below, all the pieces that I own, love and wear constantly. Some of these pieces I’ve been wearing for years and others are more recent finds that I find particularly rave worthy.

  1. Converse Sneakers – White sneaker trends tend to come and go (don’t even get me started on the $500 Golden Goose sneakers that look ‘scuffed up’ on purpose…) – but to me, Converse will always be in style. I buy one new pair every year or so depending on how unkind New York streets have been to mine and because I prefer a worn in but not totally tattered look.
  2. High Rise Ankle Length Jeans – At 5’4″ these skim my ankle bone and have a flattering slim cut and nice high rise. Plus a medium rinse that pretty much goes with everything. They’re kind of the Goldilocks of jeans.
  3. Wireless Nude Bra – Possibly made of actual butter. This gives the shape of wearing a real bra but feels better than a sports bra. How is this possible? I’ll never know.
  4. Lace Balconette Bra – If I’m not wearing the aforementioned butter bra, I’m in one of these unlined lace balconette styles.
  5. Black Mini Dress – I’d been looking for some form of this dress for ages and this one is just perfect. I can layer a collared shirt underneath or a sweater over. Looks great with heels, flat or boots. It’s perfect. Runs small though so I sized up.
  6. Black Ballet Flats – Audrey Hepburn in a shoe. These are Italian leather and continue to mold to your feet. They are on sale right now and I’m almost certain I am going to nab the nude color.
  7. Neoprene Backpack – Thoughtfully designed, comfortable to wear and very durable. I’ve had mine for several years now and it’s the perfect size to tote to the gym or as your personal item for travel.
  8. White T-Shirt – These are drapey but not clingy. Lightweight but not see through. Basically perfect. I size down to an XS as they run pretty big.
  9. White Button Down Shirt – I like my white shirts to be slightly lived in looking – so you can wear them under a blazer or throw them over a bathing suit. I take a size 4 in these so that there’s plenty of room to breathe. Nothing worse than button gaps on a button down.
  10. Cashmere Crewneck Sweater – I now own this sweater in 3 different colors (size small) and have had the oldest one for 3+ years I think. They hold up very well in a delicate wash and hang dry and are now at a crazy good sale price. I will likely grab the black color to round out my collection.
  11. Reversible Leather Belt – I buy a size small and then poke a couple of extra holes so that I can wear it on my hips or up high on my waist. Great quality, I probably won’t have to replace this for decades.
  12. Black Crossbody Bag – I prefer a small bag and this one is the perfect size for essentials and then some. I got this one maybe 6 years ago and I’ve basically put it through the ringer since then. Caught in rain, traveled with it, carelessly tossed it around. It’s worn in beautifully.
  13. Double Breasted Blazer – Deep navy wool with gold double breasted buttons and a boxy, but not oversized fit. This is my dream blazer. And if the brand was good enough for Abraham Lincoln.. it’s certainly good enough for me.
  14. Striped Breton Tee – A French maritime brand from the 30’s, I bought mine in Paris but I found the same brand available and offering sleeve monogramming here which would be a nice touch. I now have 3 of their tops and they hold up so well.
  15. Straight Leg Jeans – These are the most recently purchased item on this list but I’m a big fan already. A true 90s fit – high waist, straight leg, no stretch. I find them super comfortable and surprisingly flattering. I took my usual waist size but as they loosen up I actually probably could have sized down.
  16. Leather Satchel – This is kind of the ultimate ‘work’ bag. Big enough to fit a laptop and your packed lunch, but not so huge that you feel like you’re carrying a suitcase on the subway. I like that this is really minimal in terms of hardware too. Clean and classic. Another item I know I’ll have for decades.


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I always find myself hitting reset on my wardrobe in January and going back to basics. Usually we’re coming off a season full of sparkles – and although it was more like a season full of sweatpants this holiday season, it still feels good to be getting up these first couple of weeks of the year and putting on a real outfit.

Below – the outfits I’ve worn this past week. If anything was older or unavailable to shop, I linked a similar item.


This dress is quickly becoming my go to for instant polish. I found this lace blouse on major sale and I love the way it adds a little interest to the look while still being neutral.


I got these boots and high-rise flare jeans back in the Fall and I’ve worn the combo countless times since. A navy sweater and silk scarf feels a little bit retro, a little bit modern.


Last weekend, we took advantage of a warm afternoon and grabbed lunch outside at one of our favorite neighborhood spots. I can’t wait to wear this dress with bare legs come spring, but until then – tights, boots and a headband for good measure. This print looks to be sold out now, so I linked two other prints still available.


While I like a pair of sweatpants as much as the next person, a stretchy pair of jeggings and a simple top is a nice alternative when you want to feel a little more put together. I love the subtle ruffle on the sleeves and peter pan collar details on this shirt.


My no-fail combo is a simple pair of jeans, t-shirt and a great oversized blazer. I usually pair with my favorite lucky charms (mostly vintage charms and mine + my grandmother’s ring) and throw on a scarf if I’m heading out at lunch to grab a Diet Coke.

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I love an ‘Aprés Ski’ style sweater this time of year – from something that literally spells it out to more classic fair isle or fun novelty knits like the snowflake one I’m wearing here. They feel like December to me. Here – a few of my favorites that would make a great gift or just something cozy for yourself now that it’s cold.


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To me, there’s nothing quite like the gift of a book. And at a time when many of us could use an escape, a good cry or a good laugh or something to inspire us – books can provide that. So without further ado – A Very Bookish Gift Guide for 2020. There are mistletoe-filled romances and challenging literary novels, books for parents, partners and friends – and yourself of course. Nearly 50 of them in total!

Disclosure: If you’re able to purchase these from your local bookstores please do so! I’ve also linked everything on which is an awesome resource that supports indie stores across the country. However, in the product carousels below the images link to Amazon – as it was the best way for me to show all the covers.

Click to the next page for all of my recommendations!



(Margaux Pointe Ballet Flats)
  • Strand Bookstore – While I have a solid handful of bookstores in this city that I truly love, the Strand will always feel like my home base bookstore. They’ve been around since 1927 and I’ve been visiting for over 13 years, since I first interned in the city. Like most indie bookstores this year, they need more support than ever this holiday season. Right now if you buy $100 in gift cards you’ll get an extra $20 gift card.
  • Margaux NY – If Audrey Hepburn needed a modern-day source for the perfect ballet flat, she would come to Margaux. I was kindly gifted the pointe ballet flats and I feel approximately 25x more chic every time I wear them. Their shoes come in wide, narrow and regular or custom options and the Italian leather continues to mold to your feet over time. Like I said.. perfect. They’re 20% off sitewide this weekend, but if you miss the sale – code: STEELE10 will get you 10% off your first pair.
  • The Koop New York – A Black, female owned business out of Brooklyn that makes some of the best selling candles I’ve tried. They’re offering 30% off right now and while things tend to sell out quickly, if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll be the first to find out about restocks.
(The Koop New York candle)
  • East Olivia – I’ve followed Olivia on Instagram for a few years now and am always blown away by her incredible floral installations around the city. She’s since opened her own shop and also sells dried arrangements online that are so, so pretty. A thoughtful gift for a flower loving friend spending lots of time at home right now.
  • Madame Matovu – My favorite vintage store in the West Village. Go for the beautifully curated clothing, accessories and artwork – stay for the conversations with Rosemary, the owner and a longtime New Yorker.
  • CW Pencil Enterprise – This female-owned specialty pencil shop on the Lower East Side is a writer’s dream with pencils from around the world plus stationary and other bits and bobs to outfit your desk. The kind of niche place that makes me love this city so much.
  • McNally Jackson – If the Strand is the original NY bookstore, McNally Jackson is her slightly more literary older sister. They’ve got 4 locations including a new spot in South Street Seaport with a beautiful cafe, but also take online orders – and with sales down 70% this year, every order counts.
(Outside of McNally Jackson, at the Seaport location)
  • Dobbin St Co-Op – An expertly curated Brooklyn-based vintage store with two locations. I’m partial to the one in Greenpoint), where I’ve had good luck finding cool, mid-century homegoods.
  • Gigi New York/Graphic Image – a Long Island based company that carries beautiful handbags and leather accessories. I’ve been carrying this black leather crossbody bag for 5 years now and I swear it still looks as good as new. They were also kind enough to send me a leather 2021 planner which would make a beautiful gift this season to those of us looking forward to a fresh page in the new year (ahem.. everyone).
  • Fishs Eddy – Nearly 12 years ago when I first moved to New York I remember reading about this quirky Union Square home goods store and taking the 6 train down to visit. Now I’m just a short walk away and still love stopping in to find unique dishes and gifts.
(Vintage embroidery artwork via Madame Matovu)
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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.