Do you ever look at your closet, full of clothes you’ve been curating for years, and think “I have nothing to wear!”? If you never have this problem then you probably have a well-balanced wardrobe full of basics and staples…or your own personal stylist. Either way, kudos to you! You can skip this post entirely!
But if you’re anything like me, you can probably relate to that feeling of despair when you ransack your closet and somehow still can’t imagine constructing a flattering outfit.
The frustrating part is that men have no trouble throwing outfits together! Why? Because men don’t buy impractical clothes. They buy things they know they can wear with everything they already own.
I know, I’m describing a boring shopping philosophy that goes against every trend I’ve ever reported on, every outrageous pair of shoes I’ve ever suggested you buy, every glorious neon handbag I’ve ever ogled in a Nordstrom display window… But it’s just the plain truth that before you can seamlessly incorporate trends and fun pieces into your wardrobe, you need a wardrobe full of basics.
So to help us all get dressed for any imaginable occasion, I’ve put together a list of clothes that I believe every woman should have some variation of in her closet. If she owns clothes like these, and the proper “basic” accessories, she should have no problem getting dressed for any occasion or finding something to wear with everything else she owns.
1) Tailored white blouse (recommendation here)
2) Silk or chiffon colored and/or patterned blouse (recommendation here)
3) Chambray shirt (recommendation here, here and here)
4) Flannel shirt (recommendation here and here)
5) Striped top (recommendation here and here and here < — As you can see, J Crew is my go-to for stripes!)
6) White and gray crew, V, or scoop neck tee shirts (recommendation here)
7) Basic tanks/ cami
You may also enjoy: 10 ways to wear jeans and a tee shirt
If you work in a formal office, you’ll want to add more blouses to your collection than what I’ve suggested here. If you’re working at a more casual office, or you’re a student, load up on tee shirts and tank tops that you can layer with cardigans and jackets (like those shown below in Outerwear).
You may also enjoy: The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Chambray or Denim Shirt
1) Dark-wash skinny jeans (recommendation here < — these are my FAVORITE jeans of all time!)
2) Black pants that can be dressed up or down (recommendation here)
3) Dark-wash trouser jeans (recommendation here)
4) Black leggings (recommendation here < — yes, these are workout leggings – but they could just as easily be worn during the day as for lounging and workout leggings are thicker so they’re less likely to be see-though)
5) Pencil skirt (recommendation here)
6) Pleated or a-line skirt
For a formal office, you’ll want doubles of numbers 2 and 5. And you’ll probably want a couple more pairs of slacks (because trouser jeans won’t quite cut it.) If you’re in a casual office or a student, you probably want to own more jeans than what I’ve suggested here.
1) Neutral and colorful cardigans (Recommendation here)
2) Black or brown leather jacket (recommendation here)
3) Black blazer (recommendation here)
4) Peacoat (lots of recommendations here)
Choosing a flattering peacoat or trenchcoat:
If you’re tall or have wider hips: Look for a pea coat that sits above or right at your hips. Longer pea coats will elongate your torso and emphasize your hips.
If you’re shorter or have narrower hips: Look for a coat that hangs past your hips and above your knee. This will add length to your body and give you some curves.
If you’re busty: Look for a coat with minimal detailing at the top. Avoid double breasted styles, because those will emphasize your chest (and likely be too tight).
If you’re flatter chested: Look for a coat with more detailing at the top, such as large flaps, buttons, ruffles, etc.
You may also enjoy: How to Wear a Leather Jacket with a Dress
1) Conservative, semi-formal black dress (recommendation here and here)
2) Cocktail-style LBD (recommendation here and here)
3) Comfortable maxi dress
4) At least two casual sundresses
5) Dress you could wear to a summer wedding (recommendation here < — I own this dress and trust me, it’s AWESOME)
6 & 7) At least two dresses (that aren’t black!) that you could wear to a winter wedding, holiday or cocktail party (recommendation here, and here, here)
8) Optional: Depending on your lifestyle, you may also want one to two “Vegas dresses”/ party dresses/ New Years dresses
You can probably tell that I’m a big fan of dresses. Maybe you don’t need as many as I suggested here. But if you follow this list, you’ll have something to wear for pretty much any occasion.
A wardrobe without basics is like a home without a foundation, it’ll crumble before it’s even livable. Or wearable. Whatever! You get the point.
Now… Where to buy all this stuff (and more!) I get a lot of questions about where I shop so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorite places I buy my basics from.
Basics on a budget:
Nordstrom’s Savvy department
J Crew’s sale section (I stock up on their sweaters, striped tees and even coats and shoes when they’re the right price)
ASOS (they have any and everything – but their house brand pieces are really great and affordable.)
Madewell (depending on what you’re buying – this could fall in the “save” or “splurge section of this list… But their t-shirts and everything in their sale section is really reasonably priced)
Rent the Runway (for formal dresses)
Bloomingdales’s AQUA line
The Outnet (great deals on designer pieces!)
Aritzia (they carry the softest, best fitting tees and sweaters and jeans!)
Club Monaco (classy blouses, blazers, coats and dresses)
Nordstrom’s TBD department
Nordstrom’s Individualist department
I’d love your input!
Do you feel like there’s anything important that I missed? I’m curious, how many of these basics do you already own? Leave a comment on this post and let me and my readers know!