The Only "Must Have" List You Need

As sure as the sun rises, with a new season comes a new crop of articles telling us about the “must haves” from Paris street style or the “must have” accessories for your spring wardrobe or – my personal fave – the “must have” items for your 20s, 30s, 40s and so forth.   

The fashion industry is really trying nowadays – they’ve gussied it up and started talking about the items to “invest in” in the different decades of your life/different points of the year because they know if they keep recommending twin sets to women in their 30s we will rise up and overturn the entire industry.  Regardless, lists that tell you what you “have to have”, be it in a season of the year or a season of your life, but which are written by people who do not know you and have no idea what you get up to, are weird.  


Take for example, this list from  9 accessories to invest in before summer arrives.  First of all, you cannot “invest” in an accessory, unless it is one of the very few luxury bags that costs an absolute bomb but does go up in value.  That’s the definition of an investment in my view – you buy it with an intention of getting a financial return.  A bucket hat is the first thing on this list.  Now, a bucket hat might be very important in the fulltime occupation that is Being Sunsmart but an investment it absolutely bloody is not.

[Side note: if you don’t have any investments but you are still going out and buying new clothes just for funsies, my dearest chum, light of my life, please consider setting up a savings account or a Sharesies account or something, anything, to start yourself on the path of getting yourself some of that sweet, sweet passive income.  Okay, side note over.]

Let’s take a closer look at these nine accessories Vogue says you should spend your money on over the next couple of months.  You’ll be buying them at the rate of one per week, so best get out the day planner now and start booking in some serious shopping time.


First up, the bucket hat.  Look.  I am 36 years old so I remember these from the last time we wore them, in the 90s.  They were terrible then and they are terrible now.  They are literally named after a bucket, which isn’t my go-to reference for something that will look good on top of my head.  I do agree that if you don’t own a hat, now is a good time to start looking for one you like.  Maybe a fabric hat is a good idea – so machine-washable! But can I buy one that doesn’t make me look like I have a hacky sack in my bag and am enjoying the fresh new song “Mmm-bop” by those totally cute Hanson brothers?

Next up: top handle bags.  I am a huge fan of a nice top handle bag and I am on board with their redux as a trend.  However, again: it doesn’t matter if you buy one now or if you buy one never.  Buy one in the depths of winter; buy one on Boxing Day in the sales; don’t buy one because you think they’re naff.  Live your best, bag-related life.  I warn you now that top handle bags are low on the convenience scale.  There’s a reason we developed a global obsession with cross body bags.

While you are buying your top handle bag, apparently you should also be buying a pouch bag, because the only thing more frigging annoying than a top handle bag is a bag with no handle at all.  Let me save you some money: shove all your belongings in a pillow case and then roll it up and tuck it under your arm.  Congratulations – you are now chic.  Why am I buying one, specifically, now? What is going to happen in summer that will make a bag that is just a child-size cushion with a hole in it suddenly the go-to option?  Nothing!  In fact, in summer the likelihood of me being somewhere with a drink in one hand and a snack in the other increases exponentially.  This is the worst possible time for me to start carrying around a Chihuahua sized bag that I can’t hang from my body.  You know it, I know it, trying to get a glass of champagne to your mouth while frantically clamping your arm to your size so you don’t drop your pouch is not stylish.  Also: “pouch”.  What hideous visual images does that conjure up for you?


I could go on – trust me, I also have strong opinions on their recommendations that we all buy hair barrettes and “naked sandals”, but to be fair, Vogue is an easy target.  It’s literally their job to sell us shit we don’t need, at the slightest opportunity. 

Instead, I’m making my own “must have” list for the sunny days ahead, and here it is so far:

  • This summer I plan – nay, promise – to go to swishy places and drink things while also eating things.  Therefore, item number one is a bag I can sling over my shoulder with gay abandon.  This large silk number with embroidered flowers is perfect, especially since it’s big enough to chuck in my sunscreen and a water bottle should said swishy place be outside and sunny.  It was $2 from an op shop, result.

  • I definitely need an array of dresses that waft.  Firstly, ideal for power-swishing: summer edition; secondly, I am STILL getting bigger muscles courtesy of weight-lifting.  This has to end eventually but in the meantime, dresses cut like tents are budget friendly because I don’t hulk out of them in two months.  I won’t buy silk unless it’s secondhand (did you know they boil the silkworms alive to get that silk?  What the actual fuck), but silk is A+ because it dries fast. Perfect for a quick wash/ideal over togs.  Plentiful in secondhand shops around this fine country.  I grabbed this one at Recycle Boutique using credit from my account.  Perfecto.

  • I just…cannot deal with stilettos in the summertime.  My little (*cough* size 39 *cough*) feet swell up and then I have flashbacks to my high school principal who used to wear shoes that I think must have been too small (unclear to this day) and then her feet would swell up over them and my god…it looked so painful.  Bring on the block heels and slingbacks and mules.  I’ve collected an array of fab options thanks to tirelessly searching TradeMe and secondhand shops so this year my feet shall be fabulous.  And not sausagey.

  • As always at this time of year, culottes.  God, I love them so much.  They’re socially mandated shorts that you can wear to work!  In fact, anything that I can wear to work that a man definitely would not be allowed to is a true seasonal “must have”.  As long-time readers know, I take huge satisfaction from going to work events in summer and watching dudes sweat it out while I breeze about in a weather-appropriate dress (or culottes).  Must.  Have. 

  • Similarly, tshirts.  I own too many.  I know I do.  I still gravitate to every tshirt I see, despite having a full time fancy-ish lady job in a city where the temperature sits somewhere below “ooh, it’s a bit cool out here isn’t it” for ten months of the year.  I love them.  I can’t wait to wear the one I found in the depths of winter that is for an event held in 1983.  I can’t wait to throw a blazer over a tshirt/wear a tshirt with a pair of fancy work pants/basically wear a pyjama top every day. 


See, the key thing about a must-have list is that it has to be written by someone who knows you, and nobody knows you better than you know yourself.  Vogue would be better off writing a piece about how to figure out what you want to wear this year, than writing another listicle about effing sandals and bloody bucket hats (no, I will never let it go).   Go, dear readers, unto your own wardrobes and diaries and figure out (a) what you’re going to get up to once it’s warmer and (b) what you already know you’ll wear and then generate your must have list yourself.

And if you know how to carry around a pouch bag without spilling champagne down your front, please let me know your tricks immediately pleaseandthankyou