It’s Thanksgiving in the States, and one of the things we’re thankful for is cool smart girls like Alexa Chung. This month’s High 5 comes from her gorgeous new book, It, and lists the writer, model, and TV host’s essential wardrobe items. These five things, she writes, “are the cornerstones I rely upon to make newer, weirder clothing look OK. Without them I would be lost.”
1. Denim hotpants. My relationship with my denim hotpants is incredibly special. I pack them in my hand luggage when I travel because I fear that one day we will be separated and I will be forced to go out bottomless forevermore because no other shorts will ever be able to replace them. Since the day I found them lurking in a Brixton charity shop we have become so inseparable that even when I take them off they still retain the shape of my bum as they lie on my bedroom floor. I use them to dress down a flashy top or as a practical alternative to muddy trousers at festivals, and over the years I have cut them shorter and shorter so that they are now borderline obscene (they keep getting cheekier). Until the denim disintegrates and falls off me, these hotpants are here to stay.
2. Navy blue sweaters. A navy blue sweater is potentially the most boring item anyone could design, and yet it’s my most important possession. The one I own belongs to an ex-boyfriend, and before shops caught on and made “boyfriend-fit jeans” and “boyfriend sweaters” everyone was happily throwing on their actual boyfriend’s belongings to keep warm. I have never traveled without it, and it has rescued me from many mornings of outfit panic. Once when I was heartbroken a male friend of mine sent me his navy cashmere sweater to wear as a perpetual hug to cheer me up. It worked.
3. My Burberry trench coat. This is something I saved up for a long time to buy. When I wear it, I feel like a French detective from the ’60s. Yet I love how quintessentially British it is, in that it’s practical yet proper. It was either this or a parka. I think I made the right choice.
4. Canvas tote bags. Every woman needs a transportable receptacle to shove her collection of clutter into, and as much as I love some It Bag arm candy, I am just as happy to pile everything into a canvas tote. Sometimes I wish I could live like a man and fit everything I need into a single back pocket, but that’s never going to happen, and besides, then I would lose out on the daily drama that occurs when I think I’ve lost something and have to tip the contents of my bag out, only to discover my phone is in my hand. I think a canvas tote bag is as classic as a Chanel 2.55, and the bonus is you can shove it in a washing machine without having a mental breakdown.
5. I thought I could narrow it down to five items I couldn’t life without, but I can’t, so: Ankle boots, because you can wear them with literally anything. A pair of Wayfarer sunglasses—wear at night to seem extra aloof. Ballet flats—I can’t dance, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. Overalls—it’s fine that only toddlers and me like these. A white shirt—a no-brainer. ♦
An excerpt from IT by Alexa Chung. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Alexa Chung, 2013.