Wardrobe basics: 16 items of clothing every woman should own

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  • The secret to good style every single day.

    Words by Amy Lewis

    Whether you’re one for shopping the latest trends or prefer timeless outfits built from classic pieces, there are a few basic items that form the crux of every good wardrobe. These interchangeable garments are the heroes of good style, and are the answer to making getting dressed each morning a hassle-free experience.

    From the perfect white t-shirt to a fail-safe blazer, we’re talking about the staples that last from season to season. The kinds of pieces that’ll go with almost anything in your wardrobe, and compliment every trend-led piece you decided to splash the cash on.

    These wardrobe basics are the true investment pieces that’ll keep you looking good all year round—no matter the occasion, and form the building blocks of your day-to-day style.

    If you’ve always dreamed of being able to get ready in mere minutes, or wish those ‘nothing to wear’ days were a thing of the past, here’s what you need to own ASAP.

    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.


    Shop now: Madewell ‘Whisper’ T-shirt, £45 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    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 work separates and dresses during the day, then pair with jeans or smart leggings and heels come evening.

    Shop now: Essential Structured Blazer, £69.99 at Mango.

    Wardrobe Basics: Flattering denim jeans

    While skinny or straight-leg jeans are perhaps the most versatile denim investments, the most important factor here is the fit. Find a pair that are comfortable and flattering so you can dress them up or down for years to come.

    Shop now: M.I.H Jeans High-Rise Skinny Jeans, £195 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: Comfy ankle boots

    A good pair of ankle boots is a must. We’d suggest investing in a mid-height heel so that you can dress them up or down, while block heels will be comfier than stilettos. Perfect for wearing with dresses, leggings or jeans, classic black will always be a staple, though red, metallics or leopard print are a timeless way to jazz up otherwise plain outfits.

    Shop now: Sculpted Heel Suede Boots, £125 at & Other Stories.

    Wardrobe Basics: Smart white trainers

    A pair of plain white fashion trainers 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 adding a modern touch to office suiting.

    Shop now: Adidas Originals Gazelle Leather Sneakers, £75 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: Flattering black leggings

    A good pair of black leggings will serve your wardrobe endlessly. Look for structured fabrics that offer stretch and support—they’ll be far more flattering this way,  and steer away from sporty logos to keep them classic. Team them with trainers or ankle boots and layer up a chunky knit.

    Shop now: Joseph Nitro Stretch-Twill Leggings, £185 at MatchesFashion.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: A cashmere jumper

    Cashmere is the most versatile of knitwear, making it an investment worth every penny. Team it with work trousers, skirts and blazers, or use it to smarten up weekend denim. A grey cashmere sweater is always elegant.

    Shop now: Equipment Desi Cashmere Blend Sweater, £240 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: Neutral flat shoes

    Black, nude, navy and metallics all make for great investment shades when it comes to wear-anywhere flat shoes. Whether you prefer ballet flats, loafers or mules, look for styles that offer comfort and versatility.

    Shop now: Dwiarwen Flat Shoes, £45 at Aldo.

    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.

    Shop now: Jil Sander Cotton-Poplin Shirt, £390 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: A midi dress

    A modern classic, the midi dress is a hardworking garment in all seasons. Wearing it over jeans is currently a street style favourite for chillier weather, though you’ll get extra wear out of this by layering it under blazers and chunky knits too. Shirt dress styles are always flattering, while wrap dresses can be worn open for a kimono effect.

    Shop now: Floral Print Midi Dress, £29.99 at Zara.

    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 where-anywhere footwear, while black strappy sandals will finish any night out ensemble.

    Shop now: Suede Heeled Pumps, £59.99 at Mango.

    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 knit and denim jeans come the weekend.

    Shop now: Limited Edition Gingham Trench Coat, £89 at Marks & Spencer.

    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.

    Shop now: Chloé Faye Day Bag, £1,415 at Net-a-Porter.com.

    Wardrobe Basics: Breton stripes

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

    Shop now: Long Sleeve Breton Top, £28 at Boden.

    Wardrobe Basics: A leather jacket

    Whether you’re throwing it on over a pretty dress or teaming it with jeans or leggings, a soft leather biker jacket is a timeless piece you’ll wear for years. Opting for one size up from your normal fit will give extra room for layering over knitwear when it’s chilly.

    Shop now: Stand ‘Item Jacket II’ Leather Biker Jacket, £370 at Harvey Nichols.

    Wardrobe Basics: A black slip dress

    The slip has dress returned from the 90s archives and made itself a modern mainstay. Layer it with blouses, t-shirts or knits, and opt for a knee-skimming or midi length so you can wear it with trainers and sandals in the summer, then tights and boots come winter.

    Shop now: Square Neck Slip Dress, £26 at Topshop.

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