What I’m Wearing – Blouse: Loft (similar) c/o | Vest: Talbots via thredup c/o | Jeans: J.Crew (similar) | Shoes: Superga c/o J. Jill | Necklace: Lace & Pearls Jewelry | Ring: Nordstrom BP (similar) | Earrings: Ann Taylor (almost identical) c/o | Tote: Cuyana c/o | Lipstick: Burberry Bright Plum No.49 c/o
The biggest challenge to shopping your closet—outside of getting things organized —is having the RIGHT closet staples, including high-quality jeans, work pants, the perfect T-shirt, blouses, blazers and jackets, skirts, and dresses. Having these key items available will prevent you from scrambling the next time you’re celebrating a special occasion, attending an event, or getting ready in the morning.
I was inspired to write this post for two reasons—I’m attending two weddings this summer (and seemingly have nothing to wear), and I struggle to get ready in the morning because I feel I don’t have the right closet staples. So this list is as much for me as it is for you!
I have included shopping options throughout this post (size inclusive) to help streamline this journey and provide you with some actual examples.
Closet Staples – Dressing Up
This is where things get tricky. It’s important to have a little black dress, of course, and if you’re someone who attends a lot of events, you may want to have a handful of cocktail and party dresses. If I had a few fun, festive options, I probably wouldn’t have to figure out a last-minute dress option this summer. I also recommend having a few day dresses for casual outings!
Cocktail / Party / Little Black Dress
Casual / Day Dress
One year, I attended three weddings and wore the same dress to each one. It was amazing! You can also get away with this if you’re not in the wedding (obviously) and if the audience is different. I think I might wear this dress for both a day and evening wedding—crossing my fingers!
My favorite tops are button-downs, silk blouses, or flowy tops. All are easy to dress up or down and work well in the office. For a more casual option, I recommend having a few striped tees, in addition to T-shirts in white, gray, and black. My favorite T-shirt right now is this one from Peach. It is currently available in both white and black, though I’m hoping they add a gray option soon. Another place to find high-quality shirts is Everlane. They are the holy grail for timeless and ethically made closet staples. You could have your entire wardrobe from Everlane if you love a minimal and classic aesthetic.
This one is big! You need several options when it comes to looking put together. I recommend having one for everyday, and another for casual and formal dresses. I love denim jackets and have several in my closet. They look great with casual outfits, dresses, and skirts. For a formal look, I would look for something more traditional. Another great option is a faux leather or fur jacket.
This category may depend on your lifestyle. If you work in a business-casual environment, you’ll want to have several pant options. I like these from J.Crew Factory, and at one point, I had them in every color. I also recommend purchasing pants from Everlane.
Leggings are a wardrobe stable—great for layering in the fall and winter months—and I love these Ponte pants for work and every day. They’re beyond comfortable, with a stretchy waistband; you look polished without feeling constricted.
Owning a comfortable, reliable pair of jeans is critical. My office recently changed their policy, allowing staff to wear blue denim. Prior to that, we were allowed to wear colored denim, which I wore in black, gray, white, and prints. Now that we are allowed to wear the traditional blue, I proudly wear my favorites from J.Crew. I’m obsessed with this high-waist style (shown in today’s post) that is flattering and slimming through my midsection. The price point is a bit high but these are beyond worth it! I have this cut in a dark and light wash, charcoal, and gray (mid-rise).
My other favorite brand is AG Jeans, but they’re typically distressed and may not work in an office environment. They also make some non-distressed options. I also love Loft’s colorful denim. If you’re looking for high-quality (and long-lasting) denim, I recommend Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Everlane. Other budget-friendly favorites include maurices and American Eagle. I haven’t shopped at American Eagle in several years, but my friends have found adorable options!
I greatly appreciate skirts with an elastic waistband. They have become increasingly common and are great to wear for a busy day in the office. This linen skirt is great for summer, in addition to these shorts.
If you’re someone who enjoys wearing skirts, be sure to pick up varying colors and fabrics to wear as the season changes. Bonus point: when the fabric and print double for the office and when you’re “off duty.”
The Finishing Touch
You can’t go wrong with a classic nude pump or wedge. They work for most, if not all, occasions. I also recommend picking up a black pair and even a navy. My favorite colors (outside of nude) are gold, silver, and metallic. If I’m wearing gold jewelry then I’ll opt for my gold shoes and silver if I’m wearing silver.
For my everyday shoes, I like to wear brown or beige, and black when I’m wearing a black pant or ponte. But I highly recommend picking up multiple colors of booties, tall boot, and sneakers. I love the navy sneakers in today’s post, and they’re beyond comfortable, requiring no break-in time. They also come in a plethora of colors.
I know that this post is focused on closet staples, but I think it’s equally important to consider your accessories. After all, your outfit is not complete without them!
For handbags, I always love a nude/beige/camel option like the Cuyana tote featured in this post. I also like to have a black purse and a colorful option for days when you need a little something “more” to elevate your look. Cuyana is my favorite handbag retailer—I highly recommend checking there for a quality, long-lasting bag. If you’re someone who prefers prints, pick up a couple options in neutral prints and then one or two that are more flamboyant. It’s also important to have a few solid options, too.
For jewelry, I recommend keeping it simple with classic stud earrings and a necklace or bracelet you can wear regularly. I have a few great minimal necklaces in my collection like the Jess, Ana, Michaela, Becca (shown in this post), and Mini Stefanie, that will eliminate stress when adding the final touches to your look.
There you have it—these are my top closet staples. I hope this comprehensive list helps you build a well-rounded wardrobe. If you have other tips or retail recommendations, please share in the comments so everyone can check out, myself included!
Shop the Post
Blouse: Loft (similar) c/o | Vest: Talbots via thredup c/o | Jeans: J.Crew (similar) | Shoes: Superga c/o J. Jill | Necklace: Lace & Pearls Jewelry | Ring: Nordstrom BP (similar) | Earrings: Ann Taylor (almost identical) c/o | Tote: Cuyana c/o | Lipstick: Burberry Bright Plum No.49 c/o
*c/o: courtesy of or gifted
Photography: Nicholas Mercado
I couldn’t agree more! This is a great list and you covered all the essentials. I love Cuyana bags – so classic!
Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com