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20 Spring Wardrobe Basics

Last week, I broke down all of the wearable trends we will see in 2024.

So today, let’s talk about spring wardrobe basics.

Basics are important, they provide the structure for your wardrobe and allow you to wear trends and pieces that show your personality.

When I worked with personal styling clients, one of the main reasons they had “nothing to wear” was because they didn’t have enough or the right basics.

And basics by nature, have to be neutral, otherwise they are not basics.

Forecasts show us that 2024 will bring colors like rich green and pretty pink, along with preppy hues and lots of metallics.

But you need the neutrals to anchor your outfits.

Having the right spring wardrobe basics will make getting dressed this season so much easier.

Below is a comprehensive list of spring wardrobe basics to consider this season, selected from your favorite stores and brands, in a wide range of inclusive sizes.

This post is long, it took two days to pull together, and includes several recommendations in each category to meet your personal needs.

20 Spring Wardrobe Basics

For this post, I’m sharing several recommendations in most categories. The featured image is my top pick, I also include other options keeping different needs and preferences in mind. I image this being the kind of article we constantly update, so save it for reference when you are ready to shop.

Ecru Jeans

Instead of a stark white jean, consider ecru (also called ivory or off-white), they are a more chic and sophisticated option.

Of course, you can wear these with your go-to black and off-white tops, and any print or pattern you like, but also consider navy, navy stripe, and shades of brown, gray, and green will look beautfiul.

Additionally, we’re seeing a rise in monochromatic looks mixing all shades of white, so mix white, ivory, cream, and ecru for a look filled with depth and interest.

Madewell Jean, $128

I love The 90s Straight Jean from Madewell, available in regular, plus, petite, tall and taller – seriously. I have a version of these from a few seasons ago and adore the fit. I’m picking these up for a fresh pair.

Below you’ll find even more options, in a range of prices from some of your favorite brands, with inclusive sizing throughout. Click the image below to shop.

Left to Right: Madewell, The 90’s Straight Leg, $128 |Banana Republic Factory, High Rise Straight Jean, $54 | Levi’s 501, 90s Jeans, $68.60 | Gap, High Rise Stride Wide-Leg Jeans, $63 | Talbots, Slim Ankle Jean, $99.50 | NYDJ, Marilyn Straight Jean, $119

Medium Wash Jeans

You do not have to get rid of your dark wash jeans, but a medium wash is going to be the key to making your casual denim looks feel modern.

They look lived-in which creates that sort of effortless, put-together style.

Granted, I have a lot of jeans, but my current favorite 5-pocket style is the 9″ Vintage Slim Leg from J.Crew in their Lakeshore Wash.

Totally classic, works with everything, runs true to size and currently on sale for under $100. Available in sizes 23 – 37 with classic, petite and tall options.

See How to Wear these in our Outfit Formula: Slim-Straight Jeans Styled Three Ways for Inspiration

9″ Vintage Slim-Straight Jean, $94.50 

Other options from brands you love, click the image below to shop.

Left to Right: J.Crew, 9″ Vintage Slim-Straight Jean, $89 | Gap, High Rise 90s Straight Jean, $71 | Good American, Always Fits Good Straight, $159 | NYDJ, Marilyn Straight, $100 | Mother, Mid Rise Ankle, $248 | Levi 501, Original Fit, $75 |

Tees

To start, you need a black and white tee.

Look for something that feels substantial, and isn’t skin tights. You want a polished cut with a thicker hand.

I tried the COS Regular Fit for $35 and it is definitely worth the online buzz. The white is not see-through. I also picked it up in black.

You’re wearing this on its own with any bottom, or adding a pop of something bright, like these pink pull on pants we shared from Old Navy last weekend.

These will also work as layers under blazers, sweaters and cardigans in the cold weather.

COS Regular Fit Tee, $35

In addition to COS, the Eileen Fisher tee in Organic Pima Cotton is another option worthy of spending a little more on. Click the image below to shop.

From Left to Right: COS, Regular Fit Tee in Black, $35 | COS, Regular Fit Tee in White, $35 | Eileen Fisher, Black Organic Pima Cotton Tee, $59 | Eileen Fisher, White Organic Pima Cotton Tee, $59

Gray Sweater

If you only buy one new sweater this year, consider picking one up in gray. You can pair it with anything, and it instantly elevates your look.

A gray sweater, in either a crew or v-neck (depending on your preference), goes with so many things. Paired with black trousers, you can add a better heel and statement metallic accessories for an understated and elegant outfit.

Take the same sweater and pair it with jeans and sneakers. Or wear them with ecru jeans and loafers. It’s just super versatile and sophisticated.

Look for one in a better fabric, below I have a several options from some of our best selling brands.

The Cashmere Crew, $158

My recommendation is The Cashmere Crew from Everlane priced at a reasonable $158 for lightweight cashmere. Available in XXS – XXXL, this is a slim cut so I sized up one for a looser, more comfortable fit.

Other options you might like. Click the image below to shop.

From Left to Right: Everlane, The Cashmere Crew, $158 | Old Navy, SoSoft Lite Sweater, $24.99 | J.Crew, Classic Fit Cashmere Crew Sweater, $128 | Banana Republic Factory, Forever Sweater, $36

Stripe Long Sleeve

A Striped Long Sleeve or Breton Top is a timeless spring wardrobe piece.

This year, it sits in the basic and trend category since “preppy” is currently having it spike in popularity, which is all the more reason to have a few on hand.

Old Navy Slub-Knit T-Shirt, $13.50

There are a ton of options from our go-to stores, including this inexpensive Slub-Knit T-Shirt for only $13.50.

Featured above in your standard navy and white stripe, it is also available in red – which I also picked up. Available in sizes XS – 4X in regular, tall and petite.

Below, I have a couple more options in different cuts and fits. Click the image below to shop.

Old Navy, Slub-Knit T-Shirt, $13.50 | Banana Republic Factory, Perfect Tee, $15 | J.Crew, Striped Top, $29.50

Straight Black Ankle Pants

If an updated black pants is on your shopping list for spring, look for a straight leg that skims the ankle.

Remember, THIS IS FOR SPRING so you can wear ankle-length pants; worry about full-lengths in the fall.

Wide-leg trousers are trending pretty aggressively, but from what I’m hearing from readers, they aren’t flattering. And, personally, I agree. Every time I try them, I look like a giant box.

Note: A wide-leg linen pant is a bit different, but in a trouser, they feel too full and overwhelming.

Instead, opt for a true straight leg and you’ll get the same look with better proportions.

Sculpted Straight Pants, $54

The Banana Republic Factory Sculpted Straight pant, are on sale for $54 plus 20% off.

Available in regular and petite sizes in 0 – 20. They look and feel like they should cost so much more.

Below are a few other options, all under $100. Click the image below to shop.

Banana Republic Factory, Sculpted Straight Pants, $54 | J.Crew, Kate Straight Pants, $94.50 | Quince, Ponte Straight Pant, $35 | Madewell, The Fairbanks Pant, $69.99

Cool Sneaker

Next up you’ll want a “cool sneaker.” Something different to work back to your athlesuire and casual outfits.

For these to work, you want them to still be a neutral.

A great example are the Nike Waffle Sneakers. They are what I am currently wearing with black leggings and sweatpants. They work with black, gray or cream or tan bottoms.

They make me look like that effortless, sporty, put together mom even though I am the furthest from that.

Nike Waffle Debut Sneaker, $75

Have fun here, this were you can add some personality into your basics. Click the image below to shop.

From Left to Right: Nike, Waffle Debut Sneaker, $75 | Anthropologie, New Balance, $100 | Cole Haan, GrandPro Topspin Sneaker, $150 | Vionic, Winny Sneaker, 119.

Athlesiure Set

Gap Oversized Sweatshirt, $36.99

And if you have cool sneakers you’ll want at least one sweatsuit or athleisure set.

There are so many options in this category, but my advice is to stick with something straightforward and affordable like the mix and match pieces from Old Navy. Between the price, quality and size range, you can’t go wrong.

I have this sweatshirt in gray, and these sweatpants, I sized down in both.

Wear them together, break them apart, layer under a trench coat, vest or denim jacket, you’ll have lots of outfit options.

Dress

A black dress is still a lovely go-to for any occasion, but this spring, instead of a sheath consider something like a shirt or day dress.

And just because it’s black doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

Add straw or wicker accessories, pops of metallic or pink, or make it extra elegant but working with in cognac and tan.

Ralph Lauren Cotton Shirt Dress, $145

I love this simple Cotton Shirt Dress from Ralph Lauren. You can wear it practically anywhere available in sizes 0 – 18 for $145.

Kitten Heel

Both kitten heels and slingbacks are everywhere, so how about a slingback kitten heel?

These are a sweet, ladylike shoe in a heel most of us can manage.

I like the Sam Edelman Bianka Slingback Pump, $140. I featured black but you have a choice of over a dozen colors and prints in medium or wide with sizes going up to a 14!

Sam Edelman Bianka Slingback Pump, $140

Currently, these are the only ones I like enough to recommend, but I’ll add more as I come across them.

White Button Down

If a white button down works for you, you probably need a few fresh ones to start the season.

And you have a lot of options here.

I really like the J. Crew Wren Slim Shirt, $54.50, designed slim so it stays tucked in and lays well underneath various layers. However, if you want something similar but with a fuller cut, try their Garcon Classic Shirt in Cotton Poplin, $69.50

Both available in classic, petite and tall in sizes 00 – 24.

J. Crew Wren Slim Shirt, $54.50

Other options below starting at $25. Click the image below to shop.

J. Crew, Wren Slim Shirt, $54.50 |J.Crew, Garcon Classic Shirt, $69.50 | Everlane, Relaxed Oxford Shirt, $88 | Banana Republic, The Perfect Shirt, $80 | Amazon, Essentials White Button Down, $25

Chambray Shirt

A Chambray Shirt, like this one from Nordstrom’s private label is a wonderful wardrobe building option. Our featured piece in currently on sale for $30, and comes in sizes up to XXL.

Pair with your ecru or black bottoms, and it’s cute over a pair of shorts with the sleeve rolled up.

Chambray Shirt, $29.50

You can wear this on it’s own, your as a layer under a blazer or sweater.

Below are a few more options, with inclusive sizing available at Old Navy. There is no reason to spend here, all of these are nice quality and under $50. Click the image below to shop.

Nordstrom, Chambray Shirt, $29.50 | Old Navy, Chambray Oversized Boyfriend Shirt, $23.99 | Gap, Organic Cotton Denim Shirt, $47

Satin Blouse

For a basic you can dress up or down, an satin blouse is an unexpected basic. Pair it with jeans, or your black trousers. Wear on its own, or as a layer.

This Polo Ralph Lauren blouse is expensive, but it’s 100% silk and really gorgeous. Also in black, in sizes 00 -18.

Polo Ralph Lauren, $298

Polo Ralph Lauren, Silk Blouse, $298 | Quince, Washable Silk Blouse, $69.90 |

Blazer

It’s challenging to recommend a blazer because styles are all over the place, AND the world has changed so much that everyone’s needs are different.

For spring of 2024, I’m encouraging you to look for a blazer (if that is a category you wear) in a neutral color and a classic cut with an added twist. So it’s versatile but unique.

Going into the season, I LOVE the Vegan Leather Double Breasted Blazer, from Banana Republic Factory. for $108 plus and extra 20% off in XXS – XXL.

Banana Republic Vegan Double Breasted Blazer, $108

Trench

A classic trench is the quintessential spring jacket. You can spend or save here; that’s up to you and your budget.

Gap Factory Trench Coat, $95.99

Happily, a trench is becoming an everyday piece. Of course, I love seeing them paired with jeans or black bottoms, but it’s fun to see them styled over leggings with a hoodie or a sweatsuit and baseball hat.

I like the Gap Factory Trench Coat, $95.99. For under $100 it’s a great find, in XS – XXL.

Below, I kept our recommendation to wearable, mid-length styles. Click the image below to shop.

From Left to Right: Gap Factory, Trench Coat, $95.99 | Land’s End, Classic Trench, $140 |J.Crew, New Icon Trench, $384 | Mango, Classic Trench, $140

Loafers

Ballet flats are trending, and while we could call them a classic, people have strong opinions about them.

I do like a ballet flat, but, I recommend picking up a pair of loafers as your spring staple. You will likely get more wear out of them.

You can have as much fun with these as you like and show your personality with some color.

For this list, we’re keeping them go-with-anything neutral.

I live in Rothy’s in the mild weather, and one of their newer styles, The Driver, is fantastic. They look current and modern and are super comfy and washable. You can’t beat them.

Rothy’s Driving Loafers, $189

We’ll add on to this as they we try other styles, but right now the Rothy’s or M.Gemi Loafers are at the top of our list. Just depends on your preference. Click the image below to shop.

From Left to Right: Rothy’s, Driving Loafers, $189 | M.Gemi, The Felize Suede Loafer, $198 |

Accessories: Slim Bag, Hoops, Layering Necklace

Coach Bag, $220 | Hoops, $14 | Layering Necklace, $14

Finally, let’s break down staple accessories for spring.

For the most part, this is the category to go crazy in, have fun, play with trends, and show your personality.

But if you’re more low key, all you need to do is pick up a few clean-lined pieces that will go with everything.

I love this Coach bag called The Swinger 20, it’s the smaller version of their original Swinger. The Original Swinger in black is currently sold out, but I am watching it like a hawk because I want one. 🙂

And if I had to pick jewelry styles to focus on, an everyday hoop and simple layering necklace will take you far. Both of these are only $14 – I have them, and give them two happy thumbs up.

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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kim

Thursday 22nd of February 2024

This is such a great post with great options. Alas, I look awful in white...what should I do instead? I love the look of a white shirt or T and think it looks classic, but it does nothing for me! Stripes on white are just as bad. I try to put something more colorful near my face, but a tanzanite necklace isn't enough and a scarf is often too fussy. Would love some advice!

Carolyn Butzer McMahon

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Great work Megan! I was able to buy the trench coat and can’t wait to wear it. Thank you for such helpful information.

Penny Smith

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

I love all your basics and am delighted I already have a lot of these pieces in my closet. I was all ready to buy the chambray shirt from Nordstrom at that great price, but alas...all they have are smalls & extra smalls. Boo. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for another deal. I really liked that one though. I'm headed down to my Banana Republic Factory store tonight to see if they have the faux leather blazer to try on. That one looks wonderful and I don't have anything like it. I'm hoping you will use these basics for some outfit ideas for us in the next few months. I love those posts the best, and helps me go shopping in my closet.

Thanks for a great post (and the ideas of what you can wear some of the pieces with)!

Judy

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

I just want to say thank you for providing this content! I've been following you for years and you haven't steered me wrong. Always classic, with an updated edge.

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

You made my DAY with this comment - thank you so much, and thank you for being part of the community! xx

Kim

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Would you please do a feature on belts? I have no idea what basics I should have or how much I should spend. Thank you!

Alvina Cheng

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

I love this article! We are traveling this year to SD in June and Greece in October. I need this neutral capsule to be my basic for packing!! How can i add color to this formula for both trips?