I haven’t even read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up myself yet, but I feel like the KonMari method is all around me. It seems that I can’t turn a corner lately without hearing another discussion about how important it is to pare down your belongings and rid yourself of any possessions that don’t bring you joy. And it’s getting to me. I’m already a minimalist at heart, and I can’t stand clutter. But the one place I often let it get the best of me is in my closet. So this season, I decided to take a serious look at how I was shopping and what kind of pieces I was buying. I generally love buying on-trend pieces and I also love a good sale. So instead of shopping for pieces that would really last me, I was buying styles that I knew wouldn’t necessarily stand the test of time; donating them a couple seasons later when they were still in perfectly good shape; and then buying a bunch of new clothes all over again. Sure it made for a fun shopping experience, but I realized that it wasn’t doing my limited closet space (or my wallet) any good.
So the first step was a major closet cleanout. In all honesty, I’m pretty good about cleaning out my closet regularly. But I was still holding onto a ton of random stuff that I hadn’t worn in years. For someone who “has no problem getting rid of clothes,” I had a lot of outdated and ill-fitting pieces in my wardrobe. It was time to be honest with myself about what I really would and wouldn’t wear again.
The next step was reevaluating what I was going to spend my money on this season. I usually have a ton of fun trying out new trends and letting my own personal style evolve with the seasons. And it’s not that I wanted to change that about myself entirely—I’m glad that I’m not afraid to have fun with fashion and try new things. But I also wanted to focus on investing in pieces that would truly last. As cute as they are, I know culottes will come and go. Black cigarette pants, on the other hand, will last forever.
So, with some suggestions from personal stylist Amy B. Mizrahie of StyleLease, I sat down and made a list of the 10 things I knew my wardrobe really needed. Some of them I already had, in which case I just made sure they fit right and were still in good condition. As for the other ones, I’ll be shopping for them all this season. Here is my list of 10 wardrobe staples that every closet needs…
1. White Button-Down
I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have a single white button-down in my wardrobe. (I know, it’s practically criminal.) In shopping for one, I realized that a white button down doesn’t have to be boring in order to be versatile. Whether it’s a monogram or an interesting cut, you can opt to buy a white button-down with some type of interesting detail. You can also consider short-sleeve or tank top versions for warmer weather.
2. Striped Tee
This style suggestion comes courtesy of Amy. As Amy explains, whether you’re going for a long-sleeve bateau style, a tank, or a tee, stripes are simply nostalgic, classic and never go out of style. A striped tee is a little more exciting than a simple white tee and it takes a casual jeans-and-T-shirt combo to a whole new level without much effort. If you want to splurge on a truly timeless, high-quality piece, Amy loves this Isabel Marant Étoile Karon Striped Linen T-Shirt.
3. Cashmere Crewneck Sweater
A crewneck sweater always seemed so boring in comparison to all the other fun, fashion-forward pieces I could shop for. It took this cashmere Jenni Kayne number to change my mind. It’s the most versatile layering piece I own, taking me from chilly winter days through cool spring and summer nights.
4. Black Cigarette Pants
Chances are you already have a great pair of jeans in your wardrobe. But more versatile than denim, black cigarette pants can be worn with white sneakers and a tee for an off-duty look; made office-appropriate by pairing them with a blazer and heels; or finished off with black flats a la Audrey Hepburn.
5. Army Green Anorak
I was considering adding a moto jacket to my wardrobe until Amy suggested prioritizing an anorak. What I love about an army green anorak jacket for one, is the color,” says Amy. “And two, the cinched waist is extremely flattering on every body type because it creates a waist, so you are not lost in the jacket. Plus, it can be paired back to everything in your closet such as dresses or jeans.” Shop Amy’s Anorak pick HERE.
6. Trench Coat
If you need proof that the trench is a true style staple, J.Crew has been selling the same style of Icon Trench for a solid 10 years now. That definitely says something about how timeless this lightweight coat is. I have plenty of patterned and textured statement coats in my wardrobe already; it was time I purchased a coat that I could wear with almost anything in my wardrobe.
7. Black Ballet Flats
The very first pair of designer shoes I bought were classic black Chanel ballet flats to dance in at my wedding reception. Even for my wedding, I could just barely justify the $600 price tag. But I had a pretty good feeling that these flats would last me a lot longer than the sparkly silver or white satin shoes that many brides go for. And sure enough, I’ve been wearing those shoes for almost four years straight—and I know I’ll be wearing them for many years to come. So whether you decide to splurge on a pair of designer ballet flats or go for a less expensive pair, just make sure your wardrobe has a pair of black flats in it.
8. Nude Suede Pump
A less obvious choice than black leather, Amy recommends adding a nude suede pump to your shoe selection. “Nude pumps are a must in every woman’s closet,” Amy explains. “It’s a great go-to for those hard-to-match prints or colors that black pumps may not be right for. They’re understated and also make your legs look longer.” She also adds that this is a case where it might be worth investing a pair of Manolo Blahniks.
9. Black Suede Heeled Booties
This was another not-so-basic basic that Amy of StyleLease suggested. “One of the most versatile staples to own are black suede booties because you can pair them with jeans and be causal, or dress them up for a dinner or an event,” she says. “The suede gives more of rich and elevated feel than a leather bootie, and typically lasts longer too.”
10. Minimalist Handbag
It can be fun to mix things up every once in a while and match your handbag to your outfit. But for daily use, it pays to have one simple, minimalist handbag that goes with anything. Modern classics like Mansur Gavriel’s bucket bags are so popular because they don’t have any heavy branding, hardware or embellishments that could make them look dated in a few years. Consider this one an investment that is sure to pay off in the long-term.
Are there any other style staples you would add to my list?
Share your own shopping strategies below.