Have you ever stared at your closet—crammed to the brim with clothes you’ve rarely worn—and thought, “I have nothing to wear!”
Style isn’t about owning a lot of clothes. It’s about always having the right outfit, for the right occasion. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to achieve that. Here are the eight wardrobe essentials that every woman should own. With these, you can always pull together the perfect ensemble… and look impeccably dressed, every time.
1. Two pairs of dark pants
One of those pants should have a simple cut that skims over your legs and shows off your silhouette. Choose a fabric that’s crisp and suitable for the day time. Pick a neutral color (like black or dark gray) that complements most shirts. Wear this with a tailored top for the office, or with a softer and more feminine blouse for a matinee with your friends.
The other pair has a softer, more drapey fabric. It’s dressier, and can be worn in the evening but still be suitable for more formal daytime functions (like a lunch date). This is perfect for busy days when you need to rush to cocktails or a concert after work.
2. Two pairs of jeans
You need one pair that’s been cut so you can wear these with flats, and a longer pair that you can wear with heels.
The shorter pair is great for running errands. Pair it with a white shirt and flipflops when you’re doing the groceries or passing by the dry cleaners. The longer pair can be dressed up with the right accessories. Wear it with the same white shirt, but add a jacket, sexy heels, and accessories, and you have an outfit for casual Fridays or drinks with your friends.
3. Three skirts
Your first skirt should have thin lines, like a “pencil cut” or an “A-line.” Choose a versatile fabric like wool, and a neutral color like black. Your second skirt should be in a softer fabric that drapes over your curves. You can wear this during daytime and night time. The more feminine vibe also makes it a great alternative to a little black dress. Pair with a sexy top, and you’re ready to party. Your third skirt is in a neutral color and a fabric with a neutral pattern. It’s easy to match with other tops. You can go for tweed, or chalk stripes.
4. A white button down shirt
Invest in a white shirt that has a cut and fabric that shows off your shape. IF you find one perfect shirt, buy three—just in case it gets stained beyond salvaging. Plus, white shirts are easy to transform. Use under a suit, fold up the sleeves for a more casual look, wear alone with a powerful accessory, leave it loose and pair with leggings and flats, or cinch it with a sexy belt and match with a pencil skirt to show off your silhouette.
5. Black and white t-shirts and tanks
One of the simplest, cheapest and chicest items you’ll ever own. Wear with jeans and a funky necklace or bangle, or with shorts for a casual romp at the beach. Dress it up with slacks and a shawl for casual Friday at the office, or pair with a bohemian skirt for carefree weekend wear.
6. Three sweaters
Please, none of those shapeless knits with giant reindeer patterns on the front! Look for classy, seasonless sweaters in a feminine and stylish fabric. You can try lightweight merino or cashmere. One of these must be black, to match everything. The second should be in a neutral color that flatters your skin tone. The third should be a deep, rich color—like a deep red wine, or a jewel tone.
7. Two jackets
One of the jackets should be tailored that perfectly matches your dark pants. Voila, you have a suit. The other should have a more sporty vibe, like a bomber or motorcycle jacket, or even a windbreaker in soft wool or cotton twill.
8. Three coats
It’s no use being fashionable if you’re cold and drenched. True style is comfortable and practical—but that doesn’t mean buying an ugly housecoat that completely hides your shape and makes only one fashion statement: “Blah.”
Your first coat should be a trench coat, a classic style that’s great for rainy days and can also be worn between seasons. Look for one that flatters your shape and is in a neutral color like black. Your second coat should be knee-length, and best for cold but dry days. Good choices are suede, leather or tropical-weight wool. If you live in a cold country or city, you also need a winter coat. Pick the best fabric and style you can afford.
9. A little black dress
Of course, we use the term lightly. What we mean is a dress that you can wear on a date, or a cocktail, or a formal event, and look absolutely fabulous. It can be red or charcoal gray, or even white. The point, however, is that the dress can be worn several times and look different simply because of a change in accessories. So, avoid very bold patterns or trendy cuts. Your dress should be classic—so it can take you from season to season, trend to trend, and just be updated with particular accessories.