I'm a fashion editor who thinks every woman should own these 14 items wardrobe basics

The secret to good style every single day.

wardrobe basics
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While fashion trends may come and go, a capsule collection of wardrobe basics will never go out of style. In fact, they are the perfect foundation to add more trend-led pieces to.

These are the items that are worth investing in, as you'll be wearing them for years to come, and the good news is you probably own some of them already - and if you don't, it's a shopping list of only 14 items.

Wardrobe basics might not be re-inventing the fashion wheel (we're talking white shirts, blazers and jeans here) but they are your ticket to looking stylish and put-together no matter the season.

As Gabrielle Chanel once said, "fashion changes, style endures", and these items embody that quote.

You can wear these hard-working items as is - you really don't need to own anything else. But they will also seamlessly slot with your exisiting pieces, and are easily updated with more trend-led seasonal items.  

Keep scrolling for my edit of the must-have wardrobe basics. 

Wardrobe Basics: The perfect white t-shirt

Whether you’re teaming it with jeans, suit trousers or layering it under a slip dress or cami top, the perfect white t-shirt is the gift that keeps on giving. My top tip is to go for a heavyweight cotton that won't go see-through no matter how many times you wash it and wear it.

Wardrobe Basics: A longline blazer

Whether you go for classic black or heritage-inspired checks, a longline blazer will see you through every season. Throw it on over tailored separates or dresses and chunky loafers during the day, then pair with jeans or smart leggings and heels come evening. I personally love a relaxed look so I'd always size up, unless it's already an oversized fit.

Wardrobe Basics: Straight leg jeans

Denim trends come and go. At the moment it's all about horseshoe jeans and super wide legs, but straight-leg jeans are perhaps the most enduring and versatile of denim investments. The most important factor here is the fit. I would always opt for a high or mid-rise style that falls at the ankle (you can fold it up for a cropped look), in a mid-blue wash. For more options, shop our best jeans edit here.

Wardrobe Basics: White trainers

A pair of plain white fashion trainers (the kind you can't exercise in) can come to the rescue on those days when you just can’t face heels or boots. Perfect for teaming with dresses or jeans and a t-shirt on the weekend, but equally great for modernising an office suiting. For more styles, shop my edit of the best trainers and sustainable trainers here. 

Wardrobe Basics: A cashmere jumper

Cashmere jumpers are the most versatile and durable kind of knitwear, making them an investment worth every penny. Team them with tailored trousers, skirts and blazers, or use it to smarten up weekend denim. A beige or navy cashmere sweater is always elegant.

Wardrobe basics

(Image credit: Getty)

Wardrobe Basics: Neutral flat shoes

Black, nude and navy all make for great investment shades when it comes to wear-anywhere flat shoes. Whether you prefer ballet flats (which happen to be having a moment right now), loafers or mules, look for styles that offer comfort and versatility.

Wardrobe Basics: A simple white shirt

Once again, the fit is the most important thing here. Look for a crisp, loose-fit white shirt that flatters and skims your figure, without bulging at the buttons. Incredible teamed with denim jeans and a blazer, this is one hero piece that’ll work for both work and play.

Wardrobe Basics: A midi dress

A modern classic, the midi dress is a hardworking garment in all seasons. Opt for a knitted style in winter and swap for lighter fabrics such as silk and linen for summer. Shirt dress styles and wrap dresses are always flattering.

Wardrobe Basics: Black heels

The saviour of all evening outfits, a pair of comfortable black heels will become your best friend. Court shoes or heeled pumps are the ultimate in wear-anywhere footwear, while black strappy sandals will finish any night out ensemble.

Wardrobe Basics: A classic trench coat

A between-season staple and, let’s be honest, a great rainy day option throughout the British summer too, a classic trench coat fills all manner of wardrobe gaps. Belt it over workwear for office chic, or wear it open over a sweatshirt and jeans come the weekend.

Wardrobe Basics: A leather handbag

The perfect finisher for all occasions, a good quality leather handbag (it doesn’t have to be designer) adds polish while remaining super practical. Look for handbags with detachable crossbody straps to score two bag styles in one. If you fancy a splurge, check out my best designer handbags gallery here.

Wardrobe Basics: Breton stripes

Another classic, you can’t go wrong with a Breton top. Whether you opt for classic navy on white or red stripes, keep to simple shapes like a long-sleeved crew neck or a boxy t-shirt to make sure your stripes remain timeless.

Wardrobe Basics: A black slip dress

We all know the power of a good little black dress, but if I were to pick a forever style, it would be the slip dress, a '90s classic that made itself a modern mainstay a few years ago. Layer it with blouses, t-shirts or knits, and opt for an ankle-grazing or midi length so you can wear it with trainers and sandals in the summer, then tights and boots come winter.

Wardrobe Basics: Ankle boots

A good pair of ankle boots is a must. I’d suggest investing in a flat or mid-height heel that is comfortable to walk in but that is also easy to style up or down. Shop my edit of the best ankle boots here. 

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.