Wardrobe basics: 14 items of clothing every woman should own

The secret to good style every single day.

Wardrobe basics
(Image credit: Getty)

Whether you’re one for investing in the latest fashion trends or prefer timeless outfits built from classic pieces, there are a few wardrobe basics that form the building blocks of good - and durable - style. These interchangeable garments are the answer to making getting dressed each morning a hassle-free experience.

From the perfect white t-shirt to a fail-safe blazer, I'm talking about the staples that last from season to season. These are the kinds of pieces that’ll go with almost anything in your wardrobe, and complement every trend-led item you decided to invest in. 

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. Keep scrolling for our 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.

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.

Wardrobe Basics: Straight leg 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. For more options, shop our best jeans edit here.

Wardrobe Basics: 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. For more styles, shop my edit of the best trainers and sustainable trainers here. 

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 beige cashmere sweater is always elegant.

Wardrobe basics

(Image credit: Getty)

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.

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 where-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 knit and denim 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 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.

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.

Wardrobe Basics: Ankle boots

A good pair of ankle boots is a must. I’d suggest investing in a flat or mid-height heel so that you can dress them up or down. Perfect for wearing with dresses, leggings or jeans, classic black will always be a staple, though tan is a great option too. 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.

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