I’ve worked in retail for almost two years now, and I continuously have customers ask me to help them find “wardrobe essentials.” To tell you the truth, this differs for everyone. It totally depends on what you do for a living and what you do for fun. But it has nothing to do with age—the following wardrobe staples can cross generations.
- A pair of skinny jeans. This type of denim has been making a comeback over the past few years, and it’s definitely something you should pick up on your next trip to the mall. They’re perfect to tuck into boots and look great cuffed with a cute pair of flats.
- A great pair of everyday jeans. I don’t suggest going and dropping a ton of money on a pair of jeans, but find something that flatters your figure and that you feel great in. Finding the right jean is tough, but once you do, you’ll feel 1,000x better.
- The right length short. You definitely don’t want ones that are too short or too long—I suggest a mid-length Bermuda short. Fringe is also a great detail on a pair of shorts.
- Pants. Trouser leg dress pants are my personal fav, but high waisted ones are in too. Pick up a gray and a black for your closet on your next shopping trip.
- Striped long sleeve tee. Lots of people say vertical stripes aren’t flattering, but if done correctly, they can be. A form-fitting striped tee looks great paired with colored skinny jeans or a simple pencil skirt.
- The chambray button-up. These look great buttoned, open over a screen tee or tied over a cute summer dress. And they’re not just for the country girl.
- A white T-shirt. I suggest finding one you love and buying several of them. Stores change their T-shirt styles constantly, and white shirts show wear easiest.
- A chunky sweater. Winter wear for sure, but they look great with skinnies or leggings.
- A blazer. It doesn’t matter what color it is, but every girl should have a blazer for job interviews or for nights out on the town. Mine has 3/4 sleeves and a boyfriend cut with one button under the bust.
- A cardigan. My grandma is a huge fan of these, and so am I. Cardigans are great with dresses, skirts and jeans. I have several (navy, black, brown, red-and-cream-striped, coral) that I wear over plain T-shirts.
- Three words: little black dress. Look for one with an interesting detail (peplum, lace, cutout back, sequins) that will set it apart from everyone else’s.
- A great day dress. Even if you don’t attend afternoon tea on a regular basis, dresses are easy to throw on and look effortless. I love floral printed ones with empire waists, but shift dresses that you can belt are easy to go from summer to winter—just throw on a pair of tights or leggings.
- A go-to jacket. It doesn’t have to be leather, but if it is, it will make your wardrobe that much more kick-ass.
- A jean jacket. I had one in elementary school and haven’t worn one since. But I recently bought an acid wash one that I’m in love with. And don’t be afraid to pair it with denim bottoms!
- A pea coat. I’m a huge fan of brightly colored pea coats (mine is orange). Make sure to find one that has shape to it (I’ve seen some cute ones with bows in the back or belts).
- A patterned skirt. Chevron and floral look great on skirts of all lengths. Flowy or form-fitting doesn’t matter.
- A pencil skirt. Every girl needs one. It should hit at the knee or slightly above, and is great for work or a special event.
- A great bra. I know, no one wants to talk about the “girls.” But head over to Victoria’s Secret or department store and get measured because you’re probably wearing the wrong bra and don’t know it. And when you buy bras, make sure you always buy a nude one.
- A “fun” bra. When I say “fun,” I mean a bra you could wear with a see-through top. Maybe a little sparkle or lace, or both!
- No-show underwear. If you’re worried about a panty line, then you probably need different underwear. Seamless undies are great, and they don’t just come in nude anymore.
- Hose. I know no one likes wearing hose, but they make skirts and dresses look crisp and put together. And make sure to always have a back-up pair in your drawer in case you rip a massive hole in them putting them on (I speak from experience).
- Leggings. Some people say they’re not “pants,” but if you can get away with wearing them, then I say go for it. They’re perfect with long sweaters or T-shirts—I even sometimes wear mine with my blazer.
- A thin belt. These are great cinched at the waist of a shift dress or threaded through your favorite pair of pants.
- A big floppy hat. You never know when you’ll need one. They’re cute and they protect you from the sun.
- A great pair of gloves. Now, I only own cheap-o ones, but feel free to splurge a little. Pick out a cute color that complements your most-worn winter coat.
- Scarves. Did you notice the plural? Every girl should have more than one—solids and prints too! My favorite is the purple and brown floral one with fringe.
- A colored handbag. This wouldn’t be your everyday bag, but it will definitely be one of your wardrobe staples. A colored bag adds that extra “pop” some outfits need.
- A black tote. Find one that will fit your laptop, lunch and everyday essentials for you trek to work or class. You don’t want to have to carry three different bags on a daily basis because who has the hands for that?
- A crossbody bag. These are great for travel because only the bare minimum can fit (ID, money, camera, Chapstick, etc.) I love my Coach crossbody—it’s a bit bigger than some, but is still small enough to not make me feel lopsided.
- A clutch. For those times you just don’t want to be bothered with a bag on your shoulder or your boyfriend/fiance/husband won’t carry your ID, money or lip gloss.
- The perfect watch. Watches are the finishing touch to many outfits. I like big boyfriend watches with lots of bling and a pop of color, but the style is totally up to you.
- Stackable rings. They’re versatile—you can take them apart or wear them together.
- A set of pearl earrings. Great for any outfit. I have both costume pearls and real pearls (thanks hubby!)
- A pair of diamond studs. Just because they’re not real doesn’t mean they’re not sparkly. Again, I have both costume diamond studs and real studs. Even if they’re tiny, they’re still classy.
- Long necklaces. They’re perfect for pairing with a shorter necklace or with a scarf. Look for one (or two or three) with a cute charm. I have tons of necklaces of all lengths, but my owl and giraffe ones are in my top five.
- Layerable bracelets. Find a bunch of simple bracelets and stack them together for a new look. Don’t be afraid to mix cheap bangles with something a little fancier.
- Sunglasses. At the moment, I have three or four pairs lying around. Always keep a pair in your car and in your purse.
- A cocktail ring. The bigger the better! Hunt for the perfect bling ring at thrift stores or costume jewelry stores.
- A pair of black pumps. These are perfect for work or play. Job interview, first date, shopping with the girls. They go with everything.
- The chunky sandal. Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s almost time to break out the sandals and pedicures. Strappy sandals with a chunky heel are great with dresses, shorts and capris.
- Strappy sandals. And no, I don’t mean flip flops. I can’t stand that slapping sound they make! Find ones with cute detail, like gold hardware or braided straps. I have both black and brown ones that go with everything in the warmer months.
- An ankle bootie. I’m a sucker for boots—I have too many to count. Ones with studs or braids are super cute, and they go with absolutely everything.
- The riding boot. O.M.G. Best shoe ever. Riding boots are great with skinny jeans and leggings. And don’t be afraid to mix brown boots with black leggings, or vice versa.
- A good winter boot. Even if you don’t live in a cold climate, good winter boots are a must. They keep your feet warm, and they’re cute. Just try and steer away from UGGs—they’re hard to keep clean and for me, they’re too expensive to wear in the snow or wet muck in the street.
- Flats. There are so many colored flats out there, but make sure your closet includes nude and black ones at the least.
- A nude heel. Nude is the go-to color when you can’t decide what color shoes to wear. They go with everything, and they make your legs look loooong.
- A funky pair of sneakers. Everyone has your typical running shoe, but not everyone has bold colored sneakers to wear with jeans while out running errands. Find something unique that you’ll get a lot of use out of—I have leopard print Converse and some funky high-top Nikes.
Although I shop at these stores (and am employed by one), I am in no way compensated for writing about them. I just enjoy fashion and want to share some of my finds with you!