It doesn’t seem to matter how many clothes we have, who hasn’t at one point looked into their closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear”? No one. So, the concept of a No Buy February or not making any unnecessary purchases for an entire month can seem almost impossible.
Unless you have a cheat sheet.
Well, here is your cheat sheet. Consider it a Cliff’s Notes for wardrobe styling. It’s a list of the 15 staples I believe everyone can benefit from having in their closet right now.
These items may not seem super exciting, but that’s also kind of the point. These are the basic pieces that begin any wardrobe. Once you have the simple items that fit your everyday needs then you can jazz them up with trendy pieces and fun accessories. But at the end of the day—or the season—you can always come back to these staples.
It also makes getting dressed each morning and “shopping your closet” that much easier. No matter the day or occasion you always know you have these classic pieces. It’s an automatic base on which you can build an outfit or look.
Now, I want to make it clear that the point of this post isn’t to tell you to immediately go out and buy all 12 of these items. I am linking to many options just so you can get a feel for what I’m describing. But it does not mean you or your closet are incomplete without these. Many of these items you may already have. And some you may want to add here and there.
This list is merely a suggestion. It’s something to work off of. And everyone’s style is different. So, when I say you need a white button-down shirt, that might mean a tailored slim fit look, or maybe oversized and asymmetrical is more your game. Cool! That’s what makes fashion so much fun. It’s one way of sharing your personality with the world.
Without further ado, I give you my 12 wardrobe staples (in no particular order).
This is just a classic piece. And one that I have spent years searching for the perfect version of. A white button-down shirt is so versatile. You can wear it on its own with jeans and sneakers, with a pencil skirt and heels, layered under a sweater or blazer, or open over a pretty camisole. It has a way of extending your closet because adding it to a look can change things up in so many ways.
My favorite option right now is the Men’s Non-Iron Slim-Fit Shirt from Uniqlo. Yes, it’s men’s but the structure is just so good. And it’s durable and not flimsy at all. The under $30 price tag is also pretty awesome. Just size down from your typical women’s size and you’re all set! For reference, I wear an XS if I want a more slim fit, and a S if I want it to be more relaxed.
Want to take even the simplest look to the next level? Add a black leather jacket. There’s something just so effortlessly cool about a t-shirt and jeans with a leather moto jacket.
But because it’s leather (real or faux) it also has the ability to work with dressier looks as well. You can even wear it as a jacket alternative with a pant or skirt suit.
It’s also just a lot of fun. And it’s the perfect piece of transition outerwear in both the spring and fall. Unless it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, I rarely travel anywhere without packing at least one leather jacket. It just gives you so many options.
To me the perfect blazer is fitted and hits at the lower part of your hips. Cropped blazers have never been my thing because I am so tall, but if you like a shorter look, then that style also fits into this closet staple category.
Like a leather jacket, a blazer can pull any look together. Wear it over a dressy top or a graphic tee, with distressed denim or a pencil skirt. Its versatility is what makes it a staple. And it can also be used as a light jacket during seasonal transitions.
The color is up to you, but I think the more neutral the better. A classic black, navy, or dark gray blazer will go with so many looks. A bright colored blazer is also a fun touch, but that makes it more of a trendy piece and not a closet staple.
Thank god the low waist pant trend has come and gone. I totally did my best to rock them when I thought they were my only option, but now that I have experienced the beauty that is a high-waist jean, I have no idea how I wore anything else.
A high waist is far more forgiving around your middle and gives you so many more options when it comes to tops. You can tuck them in, do a half tuck, keep them out, whatever you want. And if you still want a hint of skin, then go with a cropped shirt.
The straight leg fit is also flattering on almost everyone. It’s slim but not too slim and the straight cut elongates the leg without feeling like you’re stuffed into a sausage casing. It also lends itself to a variety of shoe and boot options.
See above reason description and then add the word “black” before “jeans”. The same reasons you need a great pair of high waist straight leg jeans is also why you need that version in black as well.
Why a black jean? It can be worn casually since it is denim, but the dark color also makes it easier to dress up when needed. A classic blazer with a pair of black jeans can even verge on business casual, depending on the environment. Basically, black denim gives you that fabulous style option that falls in between super casual jeans and much more business-appropriate trousers.
These are a footwear staple for sure. You can have a high heel, mid heel, or no heel. That is totally up to you and your style and comfort level. But having a pair of black ankle boots in your arsenal will go a long way in terms of fashion styling.
By this point you are likely seeing a theme. Basically, all of my wardrobe staples are versatile enough to be dressed up or down. The black ankle boot is no exception. Wear it to work or wear it on the weekend. It all depends on what type of look you style it with. Black ankle boots truly are the chameleon of shoewear.
This is one of my favorite items on the list! It was beloved as a kid and the grown-up version is even better. A denim jacket is just cool. It’s casual by nature and can dress down an outfit when needed.
A great denim jacket can be worn for almost every occasion, and it’s the perfect extra layer when there is a chill in the air. I also like to throw one over a dressier look to give it a laid back feel.
When I lived in California this was a year-round staple. Now in New York it can still wear it for much of the year, just think layering during the winter months. Even a denim jacket under a blazer is a great option.
I’ve had this J. Crew denim jacket for about ten years now and it continues to be my go-to. It’s the perfect weight and the perfect amount of broken in to make it the most worn item in my wardrobe.
Perhaps the simplest piece anyone can own, the white t-shirt is as classic as it gets. Once again, versatility is the name of this game. A white tee is the perfect layering piece. You can wear it under sweaters, jackets, shirts, almost anything.
The trickiest part about a white t-shirt is finding the right t-shirt. Often times they are too thin or too short or just too not right. Look for a slightly higher price point, and also don’t be afraid to re-stock often. Just by the nature of being a simple white t-shirt that can be worn so often, they will also need to be replaced regularly.
This is the opposite of a white t-shirt but just as important and versatile. It is a base layer for so many looks. And by going with a turtleneck in black it dresses up very easily. But it’s also simple enough for a casual weekend brunch or errands.
Unlike a white t-shirt, the black turtleneck will be more durable, so it’s okay to spend a bit more money. In theory, this is an item that could be worn multiple times per week. The Wolford black bodysuit is on the very pricey side, but it is a classic and holds up extremely well. If it’s within your budget it might be worth the splurge.
My first thought was to label this “black flats” but really, any neutral color will do. Obviously, everyone needs a pair of shoes they can easily walk in. But if you can combine that comfort with something that can be worn for a variety occasions you have the perfect versatile flats.
These should be comfortable but also chicer than a pair of sneakers. You’ll need a shoe option that can be dressed up or down but is also practical. A pair of neutral flats totally fits the bill!
Versatility has been key in this list but sometimes you just need a formal look. Often this is called the little black dress, but not everyone embraces the “little” in that description. Myself included!
I prefer a dress that hits around or just below the knees. But this is really a matter of personal preference. I believe that if you go a little longer in length you also go a little longer in the list of places and events it can be worn.
The perfect simple black dress can be quickly thrown on for a work meeting, dressed up for a fancier event, and still be fun enough to transition to cocktails. Black also makes it easier to style for multiple occasions. So, if you only have one dress in your arsenal, make it a simple black dress.
For the same reason you need a simple black dress you also need a tailored skirt. Black is a versatile choice, but really any neutral will do. You need an option that will pair well with a variety of tops and is classic enough to be appropriate for a variety of occasions.
When picking a staple skirt like this, opt for fabrics that will work well in every season. While an amazing choice for winter, a heavy wool skirt will not transition well into summer. But a wool-blend will. Just like a linen skirt won’t work in January, so avoid that type of fabric as well.
Having a structured skirt in your wardrobe will give you options, along with your simple black dress, for when a more formal look is required. But it also has the versatility of being paired with a t-shirt and sneakers for a weekend cool look as well.
Now it's your turn! What do you think of this list? Did I leave anything off? I wanted to also throw in a pair of sneakers, but I didn't like the idea of a list of 13! Let me know what you consider a wardrobe must in the comments below!
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