If you have ever subscribed to any women’s magazine (or read one while waiting in the grocery check-out line), I imagine you have already read “hundreds” of articles listing the season’s “must-have’s.” If you are like me, you’ve probably dismissed some of these must-have’s (read: acid-wash jeans), while searching high and low for the perfect interpretation of another style of the season. While these seasonal must-have lists generally (thankfully) have an expiration date, there are several wardrobe essentials that should have a place in every woman’s wardrobe, regardless of the decade or era. If you are missing an item on the list, do not feel like you have to run out to the store this second to find that item, but take your time perusing the racks until you find the perfectly timeless combination of style, fit, and price. These pieces should serve as your flawless blank palette, upon which you add color and personality through accessories and the many other garments you will find to accompany them in the future.
1.) Dark wash denim jeans: The unintentional trendsetters of the late nineteenth century who wore jeans primarily for their sturdy and durable design would probably stand in awe at the selection of jeans available today. While the skinny, acid-washed, and distressed denim looks come and go out of fashion, the dark denim boot-cut jean has stood the test of time and can be dressed up or down depending on one’s desired look. If I were going to buy one pair of expensive designer jeans, I would purchase the classic-boot cut style. Local boutiques are a great place for purchasing designer denim jeans, as they usually have a very nice selection. If you are petite, be prepared to have your jeans hemmed, but, otherwise, the perfect-for-you jeans should make you feel like a Calvin Klein model.
2.) Black Trouser Pants: In transitioning from the intellectual grunge look of college to the pristine suit corporate world, this a great first purchase for your career wardrobe. If you are low on funds and business-appropriate attire, a single pair of black trouser pants can help you put together a wide variety of outfits, when paired with pretty blouses and sweaters. One can find well-fitting black trousers from many stores including Express, Gap, Banana Republic, and Theory. Different stores tend to design clothing for different body types, so try on pants from several stores until you find the pair that fits you best. Once you find your store, you will likely find that many of the other pairs of pants fit quite nicely, as well.
3.) Cardigan: Miley Cyrus knows not to leave the house without her “dream and [her] cardigan,” so neither should you! While a basic black or white cardigan will likely go with more outfits, a sweater in a more vibrant hue may provide just that extra pop of color to take an outfit from nice to fabulous. J.Crew’s Jackie Cardigan is a great example of a classically styled cardigan available in several gorgeous shades of color, which change seasonally. In addition to style points, a great cardigan can also help you stay warm against the bitter cold of your office, after you venture in from the swelteringly hot summer day.
4.) Black pencil skirt: Like black trouser pants, a well-fitting black pencil skirt is excellent for when one is just building a work wardrobe. This will look great with a fitted blazer, cardigan, or blouse. Paired with a stellar set of heels, you will exude confidence, as you give a presentation or meet with those important clients. Again, like the black pants, finding that perfect black pencil skirt will involve trying on a lot skirts from several different stores.
5.) La Petite Robe Noire: For those who took Spanish in school, that is French for “the little black dress.” Simple design & classic style help set apart a black dress from the little black dress. In searching for a classically-styled black dress, one’s best bet is to first shop classic stores like ever-preppy J.Crew and Banana Republic, which offer a wide selection of LBDs in a myriad of styles sure to flatter any body type.
6.) T-shirts in dozens of colors: T-shirts come in many styles these days, including v-neck, scoop-neck, cap-sleeve, and crew-neck styles. If you find a t-shirt that fits particularly well, you may consider buying it in every color. Gap, Express, Victoria’s Secret, and Forever 21 are great places to begin looking for basic t-shirts.
7.) Simple White Blouse: The perfectly fitting blouse should look neither boxy, nor like the buttons will split open at any moment. Rather, it should be fitted without appearing too tight. J.Crew has a great selection of blouses available in both petite, regular, and tall sizes to improve your chances of achieving that desired fit, which will look stylish paired alone with your pencil skirt or layered under a sweater or vest.
8.) Perfectly-fitted Blazer: Like the simple white blouse, fit is everything when it comes to finding that perfect blazer. The proper fit makes the difference between looking like you played dress-up in your mother’s closet and looking like the sophisticated woman that you are. Great blazers can be found at any price. For less expensive blazers, check stores like Forever 21 or H&M. For “investment pieces,” look at J.Crew, Express, and Nordstrom. The blazer can be paired with just about anything-from dresses to jeans to pencil skirts-for either a smart casual look or work-appropriate ensemble.
With these 8 wardrobe essentials in your fashion repertoire, you will no longer be saying, “I have nothing to wear.” Rather, you will be asking, “how many more ways can I wear this?”