When you have a good wardrobe, you have something to wear every time you open your closet. A closet can have ten items or one hundred items, but if you don’t have the basics, you’ll find getting dressed everyday to be a frustrating ordeal. Your personal style will vary based on what colors flatter you, what look you prefer, and your body shape, but the basic items that make up the foundation of a functional wardrobe never change.
The very basics that every woman should have:
1. Pencil Skirt– Almost universally flattering, and appropriate for pretty much all occasions including work, church, and date night. The waist (high or low) may vary, as well as the length (above or below the knee), but this classic is a must have, preferably in black for the most versatility.
2. A great pair of dress pants, in a color, style and fabric that flatters you. It can be difficult to find a pair of pants that suit you, and it is worth investing in a good tailor to have your pair look terrific on you, because a classic pair of flattering pants is great for many occasions.
3. Colorful knit tops. Pick colors that you look great in, colors that make your skin glow and give you a look of health and radiance. You’ll notice people compliment you whenever you wear certain colors- buy tops in those color. A top that is fitted but not tight is usually most flattering.
Tops and sweaters should be in fabrics you feel comfortable in- cotton, cashmere, wool, etc. The neckline should be one that compliments your neck and shoulder area (v-neck, boat neck, scoop neck, turtleneck, etc), and the sleeve length should make your arms look great (to the elbow, 3/4-length, or wrist-length if your arms a not an asset, and short or cap sleeves if they are).
Do not ever wear a top in a color that doens’t flatter you. If you have unflattering clothes, donate them. If you find them on sale, pass them by. If someone says “Are you feeling ok?” whenever you wear a certain top, that color is wrong for you- stop buying it. Variety in tops should be in colors only (you will find a range of colors that suit you to pick from). Do not sacrifice beauty for the sake of variety…in other words, don’t buy a style that looks bad on you for the sake of something different. People are more likely to notice if you look bad then that your tops are similar in style.
4. A matching blazer (should match your pencil skirt or pants to create a suit). A suit is an asset if you go on interviews, for work or business meetings, if you need to look appropriately respectful for a wake, etc. I often read that a blazer on its own is a wardrobe necessity, but a blazer that does not coordinate with your skirt or pants wastes closet space and money, and the blazer/jeans/white shirt combo is a rather preppy, 80’s look that does not appeal to many women today.
5. A cocktail dress. Black is very versatile, but if you do not like black, get a neutral color so you can wear it to a variety of events without giving the appearance of always wearing the same thing. A simple style is better, for the same reason.
You can have some fun here, because there are many beautiful dresses to choose from that can really highlight your beauty at the same time as highlighting your own personal taste- anything from feminine to sexy. A cocktail dress can also be worn to more formal events if it’s elegant enough.
6. An everyday dress. You can’t wear a cocktail dress to a casual dinner, and you won’t feel as pretty in a pair of tailored slacks, so it’s always good to have a go-to, pretty dress available to grab in your closet. A sheath dress or a wrap dress are good choices if you prefer simple, but pick the one that makes you feel best.
You can definitely have fun here. Don’t pick a neutral color, pick a color you really love. After you have your basic items and expand on your wardrobe, this is also a great category to add to- a few lovely dresses in different colors and styles.
7. A beautiful handbag– another fun area you can get creative with. Like pink? Leopard? As long as it’s beautiful and of good quality, the most unique handbag can fit into any wardrobe that is built on a neutral color foundation (such as black, navy, or brown). Pick a really fun handbag to go with your neutral pants, pencil skirt, and blazer, one that suits your personality and personal style.
8. High-heeled pumps. Even if you don’t feel comfortable in them, there are times when not wearing heels just makes you look frumpy. Every woman should own a lovely pair of pretty high-heeled shoes in good condition, in a neutral color. I personally love high-heeled mary janes, but a classic pump without straps is more versatile.
9. A very flattering pair of jeans, in a darker wash. The most universally flattering style in jeans tends to be straight leg or boot cut, and a material with a bit of stretch (not more than 2%) will be comfortable for most women. This is an area women tend to go overboard in, having 5-15 pairs in their closet, and as a result living in jeans as their daily uniform, which is a mistake (and boring). Owning just a pair or two that fits great will keep your from going overboard.
10. A high-quality coat. You should pick a simple style that will be fashionable for years, because coats are expensive and trends change rapidly- the simpler the better, and that goes for the color too. Black, brown, gray, white, red- the color you like the best, that flatters you, and that will go with most of the rest of your wardrobe. A trench coat or a pea coat are safe choices.
From here, you can build on your basic wardrobe with trendier items and fun accessories. Make sure your top ten are always in top shape- have them repaired when needed, or replaced when they get old.