We all know her – the woman who always looks effortlessly stylish and put together, whatever the occasion, whatever the weather. It might be at work, on the school run, or one of your best friends – somewhere, somehow, we all have one of these ladies in our lives! And try as you might to emulate her style, it always feels like you never quite hit the nail on the head – you constantly feel a bit over-dressed, or a bit under-dressed, or… just not quite as put together as you’d like to. Is this resonating with you? (Or is it just me??!)
If you’re identifying with this issue, then fret not! The new year is a perfect time to make a plan to look and feel more stylish and put together. The secret is to incorporate a key set of stylish pieces into your wardrobe. You’ll then be able to build your wardrobe around these wardrobe basics, according to your own personal style (and you do have a personal style that’s unique to you, even if you might not realise it!).
These stylish wardrobe basics can be put together in a number of ways without even adding any extras. More importantly though, they’ll enable you to wear the other items in your wardrobe in new ways – so that you always look stylish and put-together. Yep, you will be that woman who always looks great, whatever the occasion! You’ll also find that it takes you less time to get dressed, as you’ll be able to put your outfits together much quicker once you have the right wardrobe basics to work with.
Below is a selection of the most important wardrobe basics for you to aim towards if you want to create your own stylish and put-together signature look. The pieces shown here are mostly high-street brands so they’re not going to cost a fortune. You’ll also find that some of the pieces are shown with lower-budget and higher-budget alternatives, to help you out if your budget is restricted, or so you can see some of the best options if you really want to invest. I’ve also found some options to cater for particular body shapes, so you’ll be able to find something that suits you whether you have a boyish or curvy figure, or anything in between.
Have a look through these wardrobe basics, then assess what you already have in your closet. It’s likely that you’ll own at least a few of the pieces already, so it might be that you’ll be able to identify just two or three key items to add to your wardrobe to pull it all together. Then decide what pieces would benefit you the most right now, and make a plan to invest in them over time. Clearly you’re not going to need the coat if it’s mid-summer, and you might not benefit from the trouser suit if you’re a stay at home mum!
So let’s get to it ladies! Check out this selection of the most stylish wardrobe basics for you to build your look around. You’ll be feeling effortlessly stylish and put-together in no time!
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Your Key Wardrobe Basics
Update: the shopping links on this post come from a third party server. I have noted that a couple have changed, for example some red sneakers are showing under the white sneakers heading!! I will get this sorted asap!
Wardrobe basics: item no. 1 – well fitting blue jeans
It’s no surprise that a good pair of jeans comes top of the list for wardrobe basics. The key is to make sure they’re comfortable and flattering, so that they’re your go-to item in any situation. Now, ideally, it’s great to have at least a couple of good-quality pairs of jeans in different colour washes and styles. Sometimes that’s not feasible though, so you have to think about what style you’ll get the most wear out of. The most versatile option to go for is generally a well-fitting pair of dark blue skinny jeans. They can easily be dressed up or down, and go with pretty much anything. Shop around though and see what works for you, as if you just don’t feel comfortable in skinnies there is absolutely no point investing in them. Instead, try wide or straight legs. Bootcuts can be flattering too, just be a bit wary as they can look a bit dated, especially with flats.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 2 – a good-quality white t-shirt
This can be worn year-round, and is another item that can be dressed up or down depending on what you wear it with, and how you accessorise. Stay away from baggy fitting t-shirts when your focus is on building up your wardrobe basics. Something a little more close fitting will be more versatile (it doesn’t have to be a very tight fit), and can be flattering whatever your shape.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 3 – a good-quality black t-shirt
Same goes for a black t-shirt. You’ll turn to it again and again, and can easily change it up with accessories.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 4 – a neutral coloured boyfriend cardigan
This will add an extra layer of warmth to most outfits. A boyfriend-fit is the most versatile, but shorter cardigans can look smarter for work, so it’s a bonus if you can invest in one of those too. If you can only splash out on one for now, go with a longer fit – it’ll go with jeans, trousers, and leggings, where it’s often better to have a little coverage over your behind! Black is a versatile colour choice, but grey can be a little softer and add more dimension to your outfits.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 5 – a lightweight neutral coloured jumper
This is an item you’ll turn to again and again to pair with jeans, trousers, and leggings. You’ll even get wear out of it in the summer months when you need to throw something on during a chillier evening. A slightly looser fit will suit most body shapes, and fit well over t-shirts and shirts in the colder months.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 6 – a denim shirt/chambray
These are great, not least because they can work as a light jacket as well as a shirt. You can also knot them for a different look if that’s your thing, and try out a double-denim look with your jeans if you’re feeling brave.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 7 – a white or light coloured shirt that fits your lifestyle
A basic white shirt is an item that comes up time and again in ‘capsule’ wardrobe recommendations. The key though, is to find one that fits in with your lifestyle. A crisp white shirt is fantastic if you often go for a smart look, but you’re probably not going to get that much wear from it if you prefer to be casual most of the time. In that case, you might be better off going for a looser fitting silky-feel blouse, or skipping this one. Think about what you’ll really want to wear on a regular basis, don’t feel it has to be a basic white shirt just because it’s a ‘traditional’ wardrobe staple.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 8 – Ankle-length black trousers
A pair of ankle-length black trousers are a fantastic wardrobe basic to own because they can be dressed up really easily – they’ll look just as good with a sparkly top as with a white t-shirt. They can also work well with both heels and flats.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 9 – the little black dress
Having a little black dress to turn to can be invaluable for smarter occasions, and it can work as a smart-casual, or very formal option. You can wear it again and again and no one will really notice that you’ve worn the same outfit several times, since it’s just so classy. Choose a fit to flatter your shape. A 50’s style will suit if you prefer not to draw attention to your bum, and a closer fitting option can work equally well for boyish figures and for curves.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 10 – a well-fitting trouser suit
This one’s not a priority if you rarely need to look really smart, but you’ll get fantastic use out of it if you work in an office. You can wear the pieces both as separates and as a suit, so it’s an excellent investment. If you’re going to wear this a lot, it’s a good idea to spend a bit more so that it really lasts.
Wardrobe basics: item no.11 – a denim jacket
You can turn to a denim jacket in all seasons, whether it’s thrown on top of a t-shirt in the spring, or worn on top of a couple of layers and finished off with a scarf in the colder months.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 12 – a stylish winter coat
We all need a good winter coat to look stylish in the colder months. Look for something that will look good with both jeans and boots, and with smart trousers paired with heels. This is another one where it’s a good idea to invest a bit more if you can afford to, so that it’ll last you for years to come.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 13 – a neutral coloured blazer style jacket
You might be able to get away without a blazer jacket if you’ve already invested in a trouser-suit, but this is one item that you’ll turn to again and again to smarten up your look. A darker colour like black, charcoal or navy will be the most versatile.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 14 – a stylish leather-look jacket
If you can afford it, a leather/leather-look jacket can be hugely beneficial to your wardrobe. A leather jacket can actually look better as it gets a bit worn in, so it’ll last you forever and probably become one of your most cherished items.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 15 – a great belt
A stylish belt will make a casual outfit like jeans and a t-shirt look instantly chic. Try a partial-tuck with your tops, which will show off your belt and add a modern twist to your look.
Wardrobe basics: item no. 16 – a stylish tote or boxy handbag
A chic handbag is a daily essential, but it needs to be tailored to your lifestyle. If you work in an office then a classic boxy style will be more versatile, but if you often carry around a pile of random stuff for kids, then a roomy tote is a better idea. You need to think about how much you want to spend on a handbag – a pricey classic bag will be loved for a lifetime, but you can also buy great looking budget options. A tan-colour will work in all seasons.
Wardrobe basics: item no.17 – a classy wallet
This is another one where you can chose to invest or look for a less expensive option. Bear in mind though, that your wallet can take a bit of a battering, so a really cheap one can be a false economy if it looks scruffy after a couple of months. Of course, no one is going to see your wallet straight away. However, when you do pull it out, you’ll feel so much classier with a smart one.
Wardrobe basics: item no.18 – a beautiful scarf
A stylish scarf will add interest to your outfit, even if you’re wearing something really basic. Pay attention to what colours best suit your skin tone, since you’ll be wearing it so close to your face. The general rule of thumb is that cooler skin tones (which often have pink or red undertones) will look good with cooler colours, and warm skins (with more yellowy undertones) will look good with richer warmer colours. If you’re struggling to determine your skin tone, try looking at the veins on the inside of your wrist. Blue veins indicate a cool tone, more greenish veins indicate a warmer toned skin.
Wardrobe basics: item no.19 – diamanté stud earrings
These will add class to every outfit, and are so versatile. Having a dressed down day in your joggers? Just stick these on and you’ll look like you’ve made an effort. Off for a date in your little black dress? A no-brainer to take your look up a notch.
Wardrobe basics: item no.20 – a simple chain
A beautiful chain is a classy accessory for every outfit, and you can literally wear it day-in day-out. This is another area where it’s important to take your skin-tone into account. Most of the time cooler skins will look better with silver jewellery, and warmer tones will look better with shades of gold.
Wardrobe basics: item no.21 – white lace-up sneakers
You’ll end up wearing these all the time, whether paired with jeans, trousers, shorts, and even little summer dresses. Just give them a miss on muddy days!
Wardrobe basics: item no.22 – black flats
Again, these will go with everything and become your best friends.
Wardrobe basics: item no.23 – black ankle boots
Black ankle boots are essential in the cooler months. Try suede effect for added interest and versatility.
Wardrobe basics: item no.24 – great sunglasses
A true summer-essential wardrobe basic. Instantly class-up your look with a pair of stylish shades, whatever you’re wearing. And the fact that they’ll hide the fact that you didn’t get much sleep is a bonus!
Wardrobe basics: item no.25 – a capsule makeup kit
Finish off your look with a few basic makeup essentials to pull it all together and make sure you’ve nailed the effortlessly groomed vibe. For a small basic kit we recommend a good concealer, powder, blush, brow pencil or powder, eyeliner, mascara and lip balm or gloss. You’ll also need a couple of decent brushes, and we highly recommend a good pair of eyelash curlers to help you look wide-awake.
Optional Extras For Ultimate Style!
Once you’ve nailed your basics, there are a few items that we’d class as ‘extras’, but which can help you to go the extra mile when it comes to looking and feeling effortlessly stylish…
Bonus item number 1 – cuffed grey joggers
There’s no need to look or feel scruffy when you want to feel super-comfy. Some cuffed grey joggers will become your best friend around the house, and will also look good paired with your white slip-on trainers if you need to nip out to the shops. And remember you can wear your diamanté studs and pretty chain so that you feel a bit more chic!
Bonus item number 2 – feel-good perfume
This clearly isn’t a wardrobe basic as such, but a spritz of a beautiful perfume can transform how you feel about yourself on a dreary morning. It can give you a noticeable confidence boost, and also let others know that you’ve made a bit of an effort when they catch a whiff!
Bonus item number 3 – a matching set of silky pyjamas
Make bedtime feel a little more luxurious with a pair of beautiful pyjamas. Even if you’re the only one who’s going to see them, treating yourself to gorgeous nightwear can help to change your mind-set when you’re feeling a bit frumpy. And don’t forget well-fitting undies for daytime luxury too!
Bonus item number 4 – strappy heels
You can always get away with your black ballet flats for dressier looks, but chances are you’ll also want to purchase a great pair of strappy shoes at some point. Choose some that make you feel fantastic for dates and girl’s nights out, but that you can also walk in!
Bonus item number 5 – red lipstick
A basic lip balm or gloss is good for a quick pulled-together look, but a classic red lipstick can take your whole look up a notch even if you don’t wear any other accessories. Try Mac ‘Ruby Woo’, a cult-classic that suits most skin-tones.
And that, ladies, just about does it! Let me know how you get own with curating your own super-stylish closet full of classic wardrobe staples. What do you consider to be your most essential items? I’d love to know. Until next time!…
PS Want to bring some order to your wardrobe full of stylish basics? Then check out this post on getting it all sorted easily and inexpensively.
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