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12 Basics for Women’s Wardrobe

If you can read it in Vogue, it must be true; classic style staples are having a moment. 

But if you ask me, basics have been “in” for much longer than just a moment. Really, what’s not to love? 

When you use basics to curate your wardrobe, you don’t have to worry about following trends to look stylish and well-dressed.

Your outfits just work!

Over the years, I’ve learned that building a foundation of basic and timeless pieces allows you to mix and match and build outfits for a variety of different occasions. 

With so much versatility, the right basics not only flatter all body types but can be worn all year long.

As you take a closer look at your wardrobe and how easily you can put an outfit together, you’ll soon realize that basics streamline the process. 

Because if you’re like me, you’re ready to say a huge buh-bye to the frustration and stress that come along with curating a perfect and easy OOTD. 

This is why I’m sharing a round-up of essential wardrobe items that every woman needs in her closet; the basics edition. 

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

12 Basics for Women’s Wardrobe

Slim Leg Jeans

Every woman’s wardrobe needs to include a reliable, sharp-looking pair of jeans. I recommend opting for a pair of slim-leg jeans from J.Crew

They’re flattering on every body shape and can be worn with just about anything in your closet. 

And I’m not just talking about tops; you can wear these jeans with just about any kind of shoe as well–from ankle boots to sandals–and still look fabulous. 

These jeans are available in classic, petite, and tall. 

Crisp White Button Down

A crisp white button-down is an absolute wardrobe essential. 

Like the other basics on this list, a button-down shirt is versatile enough to wear with several other pieces in your closet and can be worn year-round. 

For one that will stand the test of time, invest in a good-quality button-down like the White Long Sleeve Essentials Shirt from Tuckernuck. Available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. 

Black Pants

Sleek, slim-fit pants, like The Perfect Pant from Spanx, are the new everyday pants for stylish women. For optimal versatility, snag a pair in black. 

These pants are my go-to everyday pair of pants because I can dress them up or down depending on the occasion. Plus, a good pair of black pants effortlessly transitions from day to night and I love that.

For the most flattering fit, choose a slim, straight silhouette.

These pants fit true to size, and are available in regular, petite, and tall in sizes XS – 3X. Although they’re normally $148, they’re currently on sale for $20 off! 

Tees

You can’t beat the versatility of a crisp white tee. I recommend investing in a few tees, including a couple in white. 

A good-quality white t-shirt is a must-have basic for any woman’s wardrobe purely because of its remarkable versatility. 

Whether you’re putting together a more professional look with tailored trousers or keeping it casual with jeans, a white tee is always the perfect addition.

I recently discovered these crew-neck t-shirts from GAP Factory and can’t believe the value for the price. They’re available in sizes XS-XL and there are so many colors to choose from! 

For other options in a range of sizes and prices check out our round-up of the best white t-shirts for women.

Layering Tank

It doesn’t get more timeless than a good-quality layering tank. You’ll want to have a couple in your wardrobe, given that they’re perfect for layering under several other pieces. 

When you need an extra layer for warmth or more coverage, reach for a comfortable layering tank in a classic, neutral color.

These reader favorite tanks from Amazon are machine washable, come in a variety of color options, and are available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. 

Go-To Black Dress

Every woman needs a trusty LBD. 

When picking out your go-to black dress, find one that you can wear year-round. 

This way, all you have to do is switch up your shoes and accessories, and maybe add a blazer, to create a different look every time you put it on. 

My go-to black dress is a classic, sleek faux-wrap dress from Anne Klein. The three-quarter sleeves and faux-wrap style are incredibly flattering and the length ensures that it’s just as appropriate for a work event as it is for drinks with friends. 

You can find a similar style in plus size here.

This dress is currently on sale for $69 (previously $99!) and available in sizes S – XL.

Classic Sweater

A classic crew-neck sweater is another piece worth investing in. I consider it a wardrobe essential because it can be worn year-round with a variety of different pieces, including under jackets, coats, and even blazers in the colder months or with shorts in the warmer months. 

To ensure it holds up to regular wear without looking too worn after just a few washes, choose a high-quality cashmere sweater like this classic cashmere crew-neck sweater from J.Crew.

Available in sizes XXX-S to 3XL. (Select colors are on sale!)  

Knit Cardigan Or Blazer

Chic outerwear is a must-have basic for your wardrobe. Depending on where you live, you might want to invest in a thick, insulated winter coat. But for all-season layering, I recommend investing in a good knit cardigan or blazer. 

I love this organic cotton knit blazer from Quince. If you’re feeling more casual, you can throw it on over a tank or tee, or you can dress it up by wearing it over a sweater or button-down. There’s no wrong way to style a basic piece like this. 

This blazer is a steal at $69 and available in sizes XS-XL. 

For a wider range of sizes, try J.Crew, their relaxed sweater blazer comes in sizes up to a 3X.

Tailored Blazer

A tailored blazer is another wardrobe essential that can instantly transform or elevate any outfit. Pair it with a white tee and jeans for a more casual look, or style it with trousers and a sweater for a chic, dressier look. 

My favorite tailored blazer is the Captain’s Blazer from Banana Republic. It’s available in navy, black, and camel, so you might be tempted to grab one in every color. I wouldn’t blame you if you did! 

With a flattering silhouette and elegant gold crest buttons, this wool-blend blazer is a must-have for any stylish woman’s wardrobe. It’s available in both regular and tall. 

Black Heels

Ladies, you don’t have to reach for sky-high stilettos to achieve a feminine, elegant look! 

These reader favorite pointed-toe pumps from Sam Edelman are the perfect example of just how chic and elevated a pair of black kitten heels can be. 

When shopping for a pair of black heels, pay attention to how comfortable you feel in them. If you’re investing in a single pair of black heels, you don’t want to get stuck with a pair that feels like torture every time you put them on. 

Tan Flats

Ballet flats are back in style, but to me, they never went out of style. A classic pair of tan flats like The Pointe shoes from Margaux are a bit of a splurge but a must-have basic for a woman’s wardrobe. 

The right pair of flats create a sleek silhouette. This pair, in particular, was named the “most comfortable flats” by Forbes

Available in medium, narrow, and wide. 

Neutral Low-Profile Sneakers

Everyone needs a pair of clean white sneakers!

My go-to trainers are currrenlty these TRETORN Women’s White Nylite Canvas Sneakers. They are, in my opinion, the best white sneakers for women. They’re practical, stylish, and, of course, versatile.

Who would’ve thought a simple pair of white sneakers could look so sophisticated?

I also have two pairs of Veja’s, one with black accents and in neutral tones.

With these basics, putting together a stylish outfit is easy, no matter the occasion or time of year.

With so many different types of clothing to choose from, curating a timeless capsule wardrobe can be an intimidating task.

Fortunately, by sticking with basic pieces like the 12 items in this post, creating a stylish wardrobe has never been easier! 

Which items do you consider must-haves? Is there a basic item that you would include on this list? Share in the comments below!

Then, head over to the blog for more classic fashion, style, and beauty advice and inspiration.

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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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Debra

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Hi Megan. I see you have items from Quince here but show other items for plus sizes. I have noticed now on several items at Quince that they offer 1X-3X. I’m happy to see they’re offering more inclusive sizing

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Quince is definitely getting better with size inclusion, but the sweater blazer we featured only goes up to an XXL and the J.Crew version is similar and more inclusive. Hopefully they'll continue to build out their size options.

Diana

Tuesday 28th of November 2023

Hello Megan and friends, I would share the 32 DEGREES Ladies' Heat Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Tee 2-Pack from Amazon. They are thin long sleeve thermals to wear as a layering tee. I think I have six of them. Thanks for the great ideas Megan!