A well-curated wardrobe is all about versatility. A capsule of essential garments and accessories not only yields countless outfits on its own, but is also a great base to build from when experimenting with statement pieces.
So where do you start? We've put together the following guide to the basics for every woman's wardrobe. Check it against your wardrobe to see what must-haves you might be missing (or to see what might need refreshing).
Having an assortment of tops—which tend to be a focal point of an outfit—translates to flexibility according to the season and your mood. It also means fewer "I don't have anything to wear!" moments.
Perfect white tee: Aim for a relaxed but flattering fit and a high-quality material that will stand up to repeated washing. (After all, you'll probably wear this one a lot.)
Solid and striped tees: You really can't have enough of these. They're not just limited to wearing with jeans—layer one under a blazer or tuck one into your most glam midi skirt.
Silk shirt or blouse: For your dressier occasions. Try a neutral hue like black, cream, or blush pink so it pairs easily. (Here's how we styled one blouse five ways.)
White button-down: It's helpful to buy a size larger than you need and have it tailored for a streamlined fit and to prevent gaping buttons.
Turtleneck: This wardrobe essential will be a staple from fall through late winter because of all the ways a turtleneck can be worn. It's fun to accessorize as well.
Cashmere sweater: Invest in it once and you may never need to again. This luxury textile will last ages when properly cared for.
There's not quite as much variety required in this category, but these four women's wardrobe basics should serve you well.
Classic-fit blue jeans: If you're buying just one pair, opt for a medium wash with minimal detailing and an excellent fit from waist to ankle (of course, the best denim fit depends on your body type). If you're in the market for a few pairs, pick up light-wash and dark-wash options, too.
Neutral trousers: We love bold color, but beige, black, or gray will you give the most mileage when planning out your workweek looks.
Black leggings: Still not sure where you stand on whether or not leggings count as pants? Considering how many ways you can wear them, we're sold.
Midi skirt: A new classic. We just swoon over how it glams up anything from date night to Sunday brunch.
Jackets and Outerwear
Layers allow you to both elevate and transform your outfit. Check out this helpful layering guide for stylish tips and tricks.
Blazer: Not just for the office anymore, blazers can add fashion-forward flair to any outfit, including your favorite tee and jeans.
Topcoat: Camel is classic, but there's nothing like a bold color to cheer up the gloomiest of winter days.
Puffer: A bit warmer than its woolen counterparts, this sporty style is a must for withstanding the elements.
Raincoat: For blustery days when a heavy coat isn't required, a lightweight raincoat or windbreaker will shield you.
Moto jacket: Wonderful for weekends, of course, but also a legitimate alternative to the blazer for more relaxed workplaces. If you're investing in leather or suede, remember that the fewer trendy embellishments, the longer your moto will last.
Denim jacket: A three-season hero that layers easily with anything from sundresses to separates.
Cardigan: Consider it the wintertime version of a denim jacket. Go slim-fit for a polished look or oversized for some modern edge.
The ultimate one-and-done solution for so many occasions. Style them up or down depending on your destination.
Wrap dress: They look good on literally everyone, and they're a foolproof choice for pretty much any office. Consider adding both a long sleeve and a short sleeve option to your wardrobe so you're set for all seasons.
Summer maxi: Whether you're about-town or at the beach, a flowing floor-length maxi is a great go-to. This women's wardrobe essential fits in anywhere and is cool in even the balmiest temps.
Does anything complete a look quite like the perfect shoe? Keep these five styles ready for action.
Black or nude heels: Traditional pumps might pop into mind—and those are great—but today's more relaxed lifestyle allows for anything from block heels to embossed finishes.
Neutral flats: Something like a loafer or a mule is a stylish, comfortable option for any day of the week. And hear us out—we love leopard print as an unexpected neutral.
Versatile sneakers: For a casual shoe with a sporty flair, go for a clean, white sneaker.
Ankle boots: Transitional weather calls for boots, and an ankle bootie that perfect medium between dressed-up and casual.
Everyday sandals: Something easy, comfortable, and stylish that you can slip into day after day. We love the sleek look of leather, be it faux or genuine, for those moments you need to be a bit dressier.
We all know that accessories can go a long way in elevating any outfit. Here are the ones that'll level up your styling game.
Leather belt: We recommend a streamlined, medium-width belt in either black or brown for style flexibility. (Pro tip: Look at your other leather goods, like shoes and handbags, and choose belts that'll coordinate.) Not just to be worn with pants, try looping one around your favorite dress, blazer, or longline jacket.
Classic sunglasses: Pick a high-quality pair in a timeless style, such as aviators, cat-eye, or square. As far as finish, your options are endless.
Watch: For a sophisticated look, lean into either a minimalist design or a gold-chain bracelet. Hoop earrings: Whether you prefer silver or gold, pick them up in a few sizes to ornament any outfit.
At the end of the day, there are actually nine handbag styles we recommend for every woman. But if you're just building your collection, here are the three to start with.
Shoulder bag: Before you start shopping, collect all of the belongings that you like to carry around on a day-to-day basis. Then, go find a beautiful shoulder bag that's large enough to tote them all.
Crossbody: It provides a hands-free experience, though it's slightly smaller in size to a shoulder bag. Perfect for errand-running and travel.
Clutch: Have fun with this more glam piece. A bold color, pattern, or embellished fabrication feels special. And don't just reach for it on special occasions—we love how a clutch punches up more casual outfits.
Undergarments and nightwear
Yes, they are just as important as everything else. The right lingerie will help your clothes look their best, and the right PJs will help you sleep your best.
T-shirt bra: This streamlined style is designed to show zero lines or bulges, even under a thin material.
Sports bra: Whether you're enjoying a full-blown cardio session, walking around the neighborhood, or running around the house, a sports bra will keep you comfortable and contained.
Bralette: A soft bralette will provide comfortable support for casual moments spent around the house. Depending on your comfort level, they can even be visibly layered beneath dresses, camis, or blazers.
Hipster briefs: The full-coverage design delivers comfort, particularly under fuller dresses and skirts.
Thongs: They may have a sexy reputation, but they're also minimally visible underneath even the lightest fabrics and most form-fitting garments.
Pajama set: Every woman needs a few pairs of pajamas conducive to lounging and a great night of sleep. A cozy flannel set makes sense for winter, while a breathable short set, nightgown, or romper is ideal for warmer months.