When someone’s e-signature reads “digital style director,” you know they know their stuff. Being a skilled shopper and outfit-putter-together is part of the job for ELLE.com’s Nikki Ogunnaike, and amongst all the season-specific pieces you’ll see her wearing to fashion weeks around the globe, a few favorites pop up time and time again.
“I really like to have a plain white tee, a great denim jacket, and one pair of jeans that I can always reach for. Those are the tools that I use, especially when I’m traveling, to mix and match.
“I have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of what my wardrobe looks like at any given second. If I’m looking to intro a new style that’s not one of my staples, I’ll think about how it can mix in with them. If I’m really confused I’ll call my sister and say, ‘I’m thinking about getting this; how can I wear it?’ Since we both know each other’s wardrobes pretty well, we have that conversation frequently.”
Here, she talks us through the three pieces she always has on rotation, plus two ways to style them.
1- The White T-Shirt
AG Jeans The Gray Boy Tee
“I’m always looking for a higher neckline like a crew, something that’s structured so it looks like I’m deliberately wearing a t-shirt, not like I rolled out of bed, pulled on a t-shirt and came to work. A slightly thicker material is vital so my bra doesn’t peek through,” she says.
“I wear blazers a lot, and since I’m inherently a more casual dresser, I tend to layer a t-shirt underneath it. It’s also a nice canvas to highlight jewelry; layered necklaces look great against a white tee.”
The key to making your t-shirt work for any outfit, work or weekend, is keeping it as pristine as possible. That means washing with like colors—especially a white one—and trying to hang dry rather than putting it through the high temperatures of a machine.
2- The Jean Jacket
AG Jeans The Robyn Jacket
“You can wear a jean jacket with all sorts of stuff: as a shirt on its own, with a t-shirt or turtleneck layered underneath, or open over a dress. I treat this white version the way I would blue denim—it’s just as versatile and a nice alternative. Everyone reaches for a classic indigo, but you can get just as much range out of white.”
When tucking into pants, look for a high-waisted style; since most denim jackets fall above the hip bone, it can be tricky to get them to stay tucked into anything else.
3- The Straight-Leg Jeans
AG Jeans The Etta Jeans
“I always chose a jean that hits above the ankle or right below, because that way I know I won’t have to get it hemmed and can wear with flats or heels and it’ll look good. Straight-leg or slightly wide cuts are my go-tos too since any type of shoe works.”
Making the boyfriend-ish cut work for a sexy night out is as easy as tying a shirt at the navel and putting on heels. The versatility lets it swing to the other side of the pendulum too: A sporty crewneck sweatshirt and sneakers look just as appropriate.