Have you ever bought an item that wound up sitting in your closet? Chances are you have. When we shop haphazardly, we often find ourselves buying fashion items who never get the shine they deserve and spend the majority of their time unworn. As gorgeous as a neon pink top or a fun patterned clutch is, it won’t work unless you have some great basics to anchor it with.
We want to save you from all that getting-dressed drama. That is why we compiled this handy guide to 30 wardrobe staples you should always have in your closet. Once you have all these timeless pieces, all those quirky, trendy, and colorful pieces will suddenly have all sorts of garments to be worn with. Your closet will finally make sense, and outfits will cease to feel forced, or impossible. So, get out a pen and paper and take notes! It’s time to revamp our closets!
Neutral T-Shirts and Tanks
Your wardrobe has to have basic foundation pieces. This means T-shirts and tank tops in all the neutral colors — black, white, nude, gray, and brown. You’ll find yourself wearing these a lot, so it’s important invest in good quality ones. We recommend buying several of each color. Once you have these, you can feel free to branch out to more fun colors and prints.
The Perfect Blue Jeans
Let’s face it — the majority of us live in jeans. Nowadays, you can even wear them at a business casual work environment, so it’s safe to say having a solid pair of jeans (or several) is imperative. There is a jean for every mood and setting (dressy, distressed, boho, glam, punk, trendy, classic, etc.), so find some that really work great for you, and can be worn with all those tops that are currently living in your closet. Start neutral, and then branch out from there in terms of color, pattern, etc.
When fall rolls around, you are going to want to buy yourself a few pairs of boots that you can wear with sweaters, skinny jeans, leggings, dresses, and layered outfits. These don’t have to break the bank, but they should be good enough quality so that they will still look fab season after season, and wear after wear. Ideally, you will want at least one pair of ankle boots and one pair of knee-high boots. You can definitely branch out from there in terms of different colors and styles, like dressy going-out boots, fun color boots, over-the-knee boots, rain boots, etc. Just start with the basics first.
The Classic White Shirt
Before you invest in cute, printed tops, make sure to load up on basics first. They will go with practically everything and can be mixed with more fun bottoms, cardigans, jackets, and accessories. A classic on most, if not all wardrobe staples lists is the timeless white button up top. You can go really traditional with a long-sleeved, collared top, or have more fun, like the lace and pintuck sleeveless top pictured above. The idea is to have a top that will go with as many pants and skirts in your closet as possible, so you don’t have to waste your time trying to make things go together. Start with one, and get different varieties of winning neutral tops and blouses from there!
A Timeless Neutral Skirt
You may a good amount of classic tees, shirts, and sweaters but find that you don’t have enough bottoms (or the right ones) to wear them with. Having at least one classic skirt (but hopefully several) will save you the drama of trying to properly match separates. Main skirts to invest in (depending on what works best for your lifestyle and body type) include a pencil skirt, midi skirt, A-line skirt, and maxi skirt.
A Go-Anywhere Luxe Tote
You probably have a ton of cute canvas totes with all sorts of fun designs and words on them. They carry your everyday essentials, groceries, weekend stuff, and everything else you can cram in there. But you should also aim to get at least one tote that is more sophisticated and timeless. That way, when you lug it around, it will add a little something extra to your outfit. It can be a luxe cognac leather bag or a chic black fabric tote. Think of it like an investment piece, that will soon pay itself off with the number of uses you’ll get out of it.
The Perfect Nude Pump
The next classic wardrobe staple you should have in your closet are the perfect “nude” pumps. These should be what nude is for you, matching your own skin tone, instead of what the fashion industry has been pushing as “nude” for years. Not only will nude shoes go with everything in your wardrobe (as they act as a neutral extension of your own skin), but they will also make your legs look longer when you wear them with dresses or skirts!
The Little Black Dress
A wardrobe isn’t complete without an LBD (little black dress). It is chic, classic, and easily can be dressed up or down in a variety of ways. You can throw a jean jacket over it and wear with sneakers or sandals, wear belted with a long cardigan and boots, or add on jewelry and strappy heels for a night out. It’s one dress that does so much multitasking. You’ll find you’ll want to have several LBDs so you can rotate these fashion lifesavers.
The Go-With-Anything Casual Jean Jacket
There are certain cool-girl fashion pieces that just make anything worn with them look stylish yet effortless. Like the timeless jean jacket. You can throw it over practically any outfit for a layer that looks chic and casual. Have at least one jean jacket, but aim to get several you can rotate (light denim, dark denim, black, etc.) and mix and match into your wardrobe.
Another fashion piece that will instantly elevate your outfit to cool girl status is a badass pair of sunglasses. You don’t have to spend a ton for a stylish pair; we just recommend investing enough to get solid UV protection for your eyes. You can have one “this is my pair” pair of sunglasses that will perfect and complete every outfit you wear or a number of glasses for each and every one of your many moods. Have fun with these accessories!
Neutral, Versatile Sneakers
Athleisure has welcomed sneakers to the main fashion playing field, instead of just being relegated to casual, workout wear. A simple yet stylish pair of sneakers will make outfits look sporty, keep your feet comfy throughout the day, and just look youthful and effortless. Aim for some classic options, like Adidas shell toes, crisp white Keds, or black and white Vans. Have the basics covered, then feel free to go for the trendier kicks.
The Go-To Summer Maxi Dress
You want to feel comfy yet stylish during the summer months, not restrained and stuffy. A pretty maxi dress is such a needed wardrobe staple for looking and feeling fab. You can opt for a great floral go-to, but you should first have a totally neutral option. A solid wrap maxi is effortlessly stylish, and can be dressed up or down; the same goes for the classic maxi tee or tank dress. There are so many ways you can wear these types of dresses, which also make them the perfect travel clothes. Just roll up and place in your luggage for several vacation outfits in one!
The Timeless Trench Coat
Classics become such because they are tried and true. In terms of fashion, they look chic on almost everyone they are worn by and are symbols of style and good taste. The trench coat definitely fits into this category. Whether you are going for the traditional double-breasted version, or a more feminine, minimal version, a great classic coat will make a tee and jeans look more fashionable, and act as the perfect topper when you’re layered up for the cold.
A Polished Pencil Skirt
We already mentioned having at least one neutral skirt in your closet at all times, but we had to shine the spotlight on the classic pencil skirt. You can rock this above the knee, below, or as a midi, but the pencil skirt instantly adds old-school style and va-va-va-voom to any outfit. Tuck all your casual tees into a pencil skirt to instantly dress them up. Throw a jean jacket over that for a feminine daytime look. Or wear a pencil skirt with a blazer and blouse for a boardroom-ready outfit. Pencil skirts are versatile, bring out curves, and can be as comfortable as a stretchy pair of sweats.
Neutral Summer Sandals
The right neutral sandals will make a tank and jean shorts look more chic and cool. They will serve as your warm-weather go-to, and work with everything from a bathing suit and cover up, to a fancy maxi dress. And they will be the sandals you will reach for first when packing for a getaway. Start with a black or brown pair, and branch out from there to include other neutrals, metallics, fun colors, patterns, and more!
The Perfect Dress Pants
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Whether they are glorified dress joggers or a dramatic wide-leg pair of slacks, you want at least one pair of pants that you consider to be “dressy.” You can wear these when you want to elevate tees and tanks, and to your job interviews, dates, and other special occasions. With at least one pair of dress pants in your closet, you don’t have to scramble and run to the store, when you need to get dressed up.
Whether you are a fan of chunky turtlenecks, sleek crewneck sweaters, or in-the-middle v-necks, you need some neutral sweaters in your closet (or folded in your drawers if they risk stretching out at the shoulders!). You might want to invest in a luxe quality option like cashmere if you plan on wearing your sweater(s) a ton, but there are so many beautiful options at a variety of price points. Just focus on the overall quality of the sweater, the fit on you, and what you can wear it with (a good tip is to only buy things that you know you can pair with one or more items in your existing wardrobe).
Neutrals don’t have to be boring and drab. Once you get the solid-colored neutrals that look the best on you out of the way, have fun with leopard print, stripes, polka dots, tortoiseshell, plaid, and more! These prints go with so much, they are often considered neutrals in and of themselves. They also give your otherwise solid outfits a little bit of pizzazz and chicness.
The Badass Moto Jacket
A motorcycle jacket, whether it’s classic black, brown, or other neutral shade, instantly gives anything you wear with it a tough-girl edge. Throw it over a tee and distressed jeans, a floral dress, or a jumpsuit and heels — really the sky is the limit. You will get a lot of wear out of this wardrobe staple, but that doesn’t mean you have to invest in a luxe real-leather version. There are a lot of super cute faux options from stores such as Forever 21, Nordstrom Rack, and Old Navy.
Latinas love themselves a good pair of hoop earrings! You will probably amass a large collection of these versatile, bold earrings, but why not invest in at least one luxe pair? They can be real gold, or a goldtone (or whatever finish you prefer) option that you know won’t tarnish or lose its luster. Instead of getting so many cheap pairs (which is fine, especially for trendy versions), you can combine all that money for at least one that you know will last for a while.
The Go Anywhere, Do Anything Bag
While a tote falls into this category, you may want another classic handbag you can use for a variety of occasions. This can be a crossbody that converts into a clutch for nighttime; a mini backpack you can also wear as a handbag; or a large Boston bag that will hold all your stuff, no matter what the occasion. Having a chic, neutral go-to handbag means you can wear it with almost all your outfits, and it will add style and polish to them all.
The Signature “You” Piece(s)
Even if it’s about buying wardrobe staples, you have to include items that are true to your style, your lifestyle, and you as a person. Get all the basic colors but also get the “you” colors (and patterns and prints). You can wear pink pants with a variety of neutral colors like black, white, grey, and navy, so if they make you happy and speak to your style, buy them! Love leopard print or snakeskin? Those are neutrals that you can rock as well! Make sure you have the necessary classics to make your closet work for you but don’t lose yourself either in what you feel you have to wear.
The Save-the-Day Jumpsuit
When I tell you that jumpsuits are lifesavers, it’s because they are. Not only are they super comfortable for the amount of timeless style and glam they provide, but you can wear one jumpsuit in a number of different ways. You can belt it and wear with accessories and heels for a night out, throw a casual jacket over it and rock with sneakers, sport with ankle boots, a long cardigan and a patterned scarf when it gets cold out, and in so many other ways. You should have at least one black jumpsuit in your wardrobe if they work for you (there are also so many different styles to choose from!)
Statement jewelry can take one outfit, and instantly make it look dressier. You can get so much out of your separates, dresses, and more by just switching out the jewelry you wear. Have fun with trends by buying your accessories at inexpensive stores (so if you want to get rid of the jewelry after the moment has passed, you won’t feel guilty about it!), and invest in pieces you will wear forever if you want to! Jewelry is so much fun, so enjoy shopping for it and wearing it!
Your statement jewelry is fun, but you may want more simple, classic pieces that you can wear every day if you choose to. Think stackable rings, layering necklaces, and statement earrings. It’s easy to find affordable jewelry, but, but if you wear these pieces all the time, you may want to invest in a higher-ticket option that will look great forever. Besides, why not treat yourself?
The Comfiest, Yet Still Polished Chill Wear
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If you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of a huge trend of women wearing workout tanks, hoodies, and yoga pants as everyday wear. We are as casual as we probably will ever get. But that doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy, or like you’re about to hit up the gym. You can find stylish joggers that can be worn with a tee, stylish shoes, and a moto or jean jacket. You can even dress it up with some statement jewelry pieces. It will make for a great casual and-off-duty outfit. Finish your look with a stylish pair of sunnies.
The Special Occasion Life Saver
You can recruit your LBD or your classic jumpsuit for this, but you will probably also want to get another go-to dress or outfit when it’s time to go to that special occasion. There’s nothing worse than having to run to the store and frantically try to find the perfect outfit, praying it fits as it looks like on the hanger. Find that perfect look now, so when you get the heads up of a special occasion, you are already ready.
The Casual Button-Up Shirt
If button ups look fab on you, get a bunch of them. You can have the dressy white button up, but also think about the casual, yet amazing flannel/plaid shirt and chambray shirt. These look great as is, layered under a sweater and over a tee or tank, or just wrapped around your waist with a casual top and leggings or jean shorts. And there are so many cool options to choose from. If specific garments work great on you, invest in those pieces. It makes it easier when it comes time to figure out what to wear because you have several items you already know flatter you and just work.
The Go With Anything Black Flats
Another pair of shoes that will make putting together cohesive and stylish outfits so much more easy for you are classic black flats. They go with everything and are the perfect middle ground between casual sneakers and dressy heels. And there is a black flat for everyone. You can go girly with ballet flats, preppy with loafers, masculine with oxfords, old-school chola with the Chinese Mary Jane slippers, and much more. The idea is to have at least one pair of black flats that will go with just about everything in your wardrobe, acting as instant go-to shoes.
The “It’s Suddenly Cold” Layering Pieces
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The cold is everywhere. Whether you’re dealing with cold temps outside or blasting air conditioning, there’s really no avoiding the cold. This is when that cozy cardigan, zip-up hoodie, or cute scarf comes in handy. Wardrobe pieces that are meant for layering not only keep you warm but they add something polished and elevated to an outfit. It’s partly because a perfectly layered look takes some thought and planning. It’s an effortless way to slay your look while staying warm.