Clothing Staples Every Woman Should Have in Her Closet

Clothes every woman should own

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)
5) Trenchcoat

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!)

Splurge-worthy basics:
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!

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UPDATE (Feb 27 2013): If you like this article – you should ‘Like’ Confessions of a Product Junkie’s brand new Facebook page to get updates when there are more fashion how to’s and articles like this one.

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59 thoughts on “Clothing Staples Every Woman Should Have in Her Closet

  1. Thank you for this article!! I am such a spazz when it comes to dressing myself, and aside from cheap maternity clothes I haven't bought new clothes in 2 years!. I just had my first baby and my wardrobe is so ready to be refreshed and I had no idea where to start! Thank you thank you!! :)

  2. I love this post! My only request would be that you use some of these basics and put together sample outfits for those of us that are “stuck in a rut” with our clothing choices! Please and Thank You!

  3. Thank you for this post! I can so relate to looking at my closet full of clothes but still having nothing to wear! I keep on buying things on impulse without really thinking about the whole picture/how it will fit into my wardrobe/what other clothes they will look good with. I'm trying to change my style majorly and really needed these tips! Looking forward to reading about the accessories I really need! I suck with accessories big time! Thanks :)

  4. Came across this from pinterest. The must-haves are a little boring! I don't see any good bold pieces. I think it would be great to do a sample outfit post for all the ladies that can have all those items and not know how to mix it up. I do notice that almost all of my dresses are prints, most of my skirts are solids and I have tons of cardigans to mix things up. Or maybe… I just have 10-50 of each 'must have' item and my closet is overflowing.

    1. they are supposed to be 'boring', they are the staple pieces in your wardrobe that you can pair with stand outs to make a sensible outfit yet trendy outfit for years.

    2. Thanks for the feedback! I know must haves are a little boring, but a closet full of statement pieces is hard to work with too. I think it's a matter of investing in the pieces I suggested, then adding some trendy pieces every season. I'll put together a post with outfit suggestions :)

    1. I haven't written this post yet, but off the top of my head I'd say…

      Basic black pumps (at a reasonable height for going out and for work)
      Ankle-strap pumps are huge this year and very versatile, so I'd add those too
      Colored pump, for making a bland outfit pop

      Leopard flats or pumps, because they go with everything
      Black flats
      A metallic flat or pump

      Ankle boots to wear with skinny jeans, leggings, and with skirts and tights
      Rain boots

      Tennis shoes

      And those are the things that come to mind as BASICS as far as shoes go :)

  5. LOVE this article! I agree that a jean jacket (or a more informal jacket) should be included in these essentials. I also think you should have included at least one sweater that isn't a cardigan. These can be used to turn summer dresses into winter wear. I love dresses as well. They are so comfortable. Thanks for reaffirming why i always have plenty to wear. :)

  6. I totally agree with all of these!!!

    I would add shoes to the list just because people at times need a full mental picture of complete outfits but besides that this is perfect.

  7. I need to do the full monty, and here's a kicker: going to be loosing a bunch of weight AND graduating soon. Both goals are set for April. My area of study is going to be a style challenge from the word go, since I'm majoring in Industrial Maintenance. I need to establish a style that shows I know how to dress as well as be tough enough to handle whatever the workday will throw at me. Got any ideas?

  8. you missed a shoe, bag and accessory section

    ie every girl need a black clutch, a big stand out bag, a dressy clutch…

    ie, flipflops, black pumps, strapy summer sandals, sneakers, a pair of sexy boots, a pair of casual boots …

    ie. casual scarf to wear with a card, dressy watch, diamond (or cubic zarconia) studs, a standout necklace piece…

  9. Marvelous!!! I am really impressed to find out this site as well. Every cloths seem to me very nice and awesome. Besides this, some cloths are affordable prices. Thanks for your great presentation.

  10. Fashion is general style for clothing, accessories, footwear and makeup. In this blog given all variety of clothes is very nice. All fashionable clothes gave look modern and stylish. I like all dresses.

  11. I just discovered your blog and desired to state that I've actually loved reading your blog posts. In whatever way I'll be checking to your supply and I expect you post again soon.

  12. Thanks a lot for this content!! I'm a really spazz in relation to outfitting myself personally, in addition to other than low-cost maternity outfits I never have acquired fresh outfits in year or so!. I simply got my personal 1st little one in addition to my personal closet is so able to possibly be restored in addition to I had created not any notion the place to start! Thanks a lot thanks a lot!!: ).

  13. I respectfully strongly disagree with the items that you have listed/shown that a woman needs. the pants that are shown and skirts are too tight and short and make a woman look like a floozy. If you are going to show/recommend these items at least have the decency to suggest something more modest, otherewise they might as well be hookers. Personally I believe that pants are only for men and have no business on a woman.

  14. I really like this post! My only demand would be that you use some of these fundamentals and put together example outfits for those of us that are "stuck in a rut" with our outfits choices! Please and Thank You!

  15. I have some of these things, but those that I do have, particularly the dresses rarely get worn. I keep a couple of good ones for special occasions but as I'm really long in the torso and short from the waist down, most dresses just don't sit right. I'm a fan of pencil skirts but again I have two, as they rarely get worn.
    I live in the country and at night its either too hot, too cold or the bugs are biting for you to wear a dress. I love peplums in both jackets and tops as they make my jeans more girly.

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