Over the years, I have helped hundreds of women transform their wardrobes
into perfectly functional, fabulous collections of outfit options. There
is a common thread to all great wardrobes: a balance between basics and
statement pieces. After trying to remember all the things (and reasonswhy) that make up a great wardrobe, I have compiled a list. This list isn’t intended to be a “run out to the mall now and buy all these things”, but rather it should be viewed as a “work- in-progress checklist”.
Jeans – something a little sassy, boot cut or flared. I suggest finding something with a bold contrast stitch on the inside of the leg.
Dark basic skinny jeans – these are an essential regardless of your age or personal style. The perfect skinny jean will do double duty as leggings and can be dressed up with a great jacket and heels.
Leggings – need I say more? I honestly think you should have several pairs of basic black leggings in your wardrobe: ankle length thicker fabric, knee length and one with something different (like leather or embellishment).
Trouser – call this your basic pant. Even for those of us who don’t wear pants very often, there is always an occasion we need a good pant that isn’t a jean. I suggest something in black.
Denim Shirt – the denim shirt has made a strong comeback in fashion, and I am thrilled! The denim shirt should be a thinner fabric, and a long sleeve you can easily roll up. The denim shirt can dress down a very dressed up skirt, and is simply something that looks good on everyone.
White Blouse – another basic and something I searched a long time for. It is a good idea to have two white blouses: one that is a little longer (tunic length) that you can wear with leggings, and one that is a slimmer fit that would be perfect under a jacket or sweater.
White tee – when the white blouse is too much, try the white tee! Find something that is made of a good fabric (spend a little money on this) that fits you well (i.e. don’t buy it oversized).
Embellished Tee – for some this might be a striped tee, for others it might be something with some kind of sparkle on the front. Whatever your style personality, the embellished tee will be a favorite in your closet.
Cardigan – what color do you know looks amazing on you? Blue? Pink? THAT is the color you will need to find in a cardigan. Use as a layering piece to break up monochromatic looks.
Tunic – the tunic is something that you might be able to wear with leggings and flats, or with tights and boots. In the summer months, your tunic might be a great bathing suit cover up!
Chunky Sweater – Ya know those cold weekends when a warm sweater, boots and skinny jeans are perfect? THAT is the sweater you need in your closet.
Cami – If I am being honest, you probably need several camis. I wear one just about every day. Wear under those tops with plunging necklines (that might be a bit much for work) and of course, use as a layering piece.
Jean jacket – basic, no embellishment, looks chic with a pencil skirt and a crisp white blouse (of course with oodles of jewelry)
Basic Jacket – the basic jacket should be in your signature neutral color (brown, black or navy for example), and about hip length.
Leather Jacket – the great thing about leather is it has become very affordable. The faux-leather options are plentiful! Find a jacket that has some rugged details, maybe in a motorcycle style.
Chanel-esque Jacket – You know the style. This is something you could add in as an afterthought to your wardrobe, or be a key signature piece in your closet. It can be the thing that you wear when you need to look like a million bucks (with a pencil skirt), or be something you wear with jeans when your mood is a little sophisticated sassy.
Spa jacket – This is the thing I see missing from most wardrobes. A sporty jacket that you can wear when everything else seems to be too formal.
LBD – or LRD or LBD (you get the picture). A basic no frills dress that looks amazing on you. Something in a color that is perfect for your skin tone, which is easily dressed up or down.
Day Dress – I suggest a wrap dress. This style looks great on everyone and is very easy to find.
“Look At Me” Dress – A party dress (that isn’t black) with some kind of glitz and shine on it. This might be the thing you wear to a cocktail party or holiday party
Pencil Skirt – the workhorse of your wardrobe. I suggest black. If a pencil skirt isn’t a style you are fond of, try an A-Line style
Patterned Skirt – maybe a tweed or floral, whatever your style dictates this is a skirt you love to live in.
Little Knit Skirt – or 2, or 3! This is the little black skirt you pull on with a tee and flip flops in the summer, or pair with tights and a sweater in the winter. It is what you want to wear when it is in the laundry.
Bra wardrobe – A wise investment is to have a few great fitting bras. Skip the white ones (really…no need for them). Be sure you have at least 2 nude and 1 black bra. Convertible straps are a must!
Undies wardrobe – Everyone needs some undies that will eliminate panty lines…need I say more?
Compression garment – This is a fancy word for Spanx.
Black skinny belt – Make sure this key piece in your accessory arsenal has a buckle that can be worn over things.
Brown braided thick belt – I love wearing my braided belt buckled and looped through (looks like I tied it around my waist).
Trendy Sunglasses – In today’s sunglass world, that might be the aviator or the Jackie-O
Scarf (or pashmina) – I suggest you have 2 of these in your treasure chest. One in a pop color, and a basic neutral (like black)
Dark opaque tights – They key is opaque, a thick tight that you can’t see your skin through. I like the Spanx version (serves double duty!)
Statement necklace – Something that is neutral, but ‘wow’ enough that people notice. Look for something that is a ‘collar’ style
Long necklace – I like one that has a few charms.
Bangle bracelets – Stack them on your wrist, and your outfit gets at least 5 style points!
Everyday pendant necklace – This is the necklace you wear just about every day, that you can layer with other things
Right Hand ring – Something big, bold that tells your style story. It might be a big flower, or a cluster of diamonds.
Stud earrings – Diamond, yes I am giving you permission to get a pair of diamond earrings (or glass that just looks like diamond studs). When you have no idea what earrings to wear, pull these out of your jewelry box. Trust me. I wear mine every single day (even to the gym).
Hoop earrings – When you want to make your outfit a little more casual, or you feel like your look just need a little something more, in walks the hoop earring.
Signet ring – I believe that this classic ‘initial ring’ is something every woman should have…and if you don’t, it would make a great gift. (hint, hint.)
Basic every day handbag – Something that is big enough that you can shove a bottle of water and a snack inside, but not so big that it could be mistaken for a gym bag.
Weekend clutch – This is something you can use with your LBD or jeans, white tee and sassy heels.
Power color purse – What is the dominant color in your wardrobe? Red? Blue? This is the color you need in a handbag. When you are in one of those “I am wearing all black” moods, use this to perk up your mood.
Black pump – basic, timeless.
Boot in your signature neutral – Riding boots are something you will wear time and time again.
Non-athletic tennis shoe – Ya know those cute little flats that kinda look like tennis shoes but they really are more of a ballet flat? That is what you need.
Sassy heel – Something that makes you fees sexy and alive. And, it’s OK if you can only stand for 10 minutes and take 15 steps in them. You should be sitting in these shoes to show them off (wink!).
Stiletto with sparkle – I will admit I am a sparkly shoe addict. I have far too many. But I do wear them with everything! Wear with your sassy jeans and a basic tee on the weekend, and of course with your ‘Look At Me’ dress.
Neutral wedge – When you don’t know what shoes to wear, go for the neutral wedge!
Shoe-Bootie – This shoe is one of the season’s biggest style stories. Wear with everything, yes EVERYTHING (including skirts!)
Flip Flop – Make sure your flips are of a grown-up variety, something you can wear all day without worrying about the damage they might cause your feet.