Wardrobe Essentials: How To Find Your Unique, Core Basics For A Timeless Closet

I love to talk about wardrobe essentials and have about 10 that make up the base of my year-round closet. These are the pieces I use to create a canvas for accessories, shoes and outerwear, and I think they're the key to both great style and a closet that works for you rather than against you.

Today, I want to take things back to the basics though (bun intended lol) and discuss what makes a wardrobe staple, why they're so important for a well-rounded closet and how to identify your own unique wardrobe essentials that will stand the test of time. Remember, these essentials may look different for everyone and the important thing to remember is that they should be used to create a clean canvas or a base for accessories, shoes, outerwear, makeup and hair that all come together to allow your personal style to shine. 



Wardrobe essentials or staples are the building blocks of any great wardrobe, and serve as the base for a multitude of looks. These pieces stand the test of time, skew more classic than trendy and can be mixed and matched effortlessly for endless outfits. Plus, when chosen carefully they can and should be last for years. 


Now let's review why these essentials are so important for a wardrobe you truly love. Much like building a house that starts with a strong foundation, wardrobe essentials are the foundation of great style and serve as the canvas to display your personal touches. If you think of women with great style, and then break down their looks piece by piece, you'll notice that they all start with a strong foundation of essentials that they then build upon. These pieces make getting dressed easier so that you can spend more time styling and accessorizing in a memorable way that feels like you.

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Now that we know what makes a wardrobe staple, lets go over how to identify your own wardrobe essentials in 5 easy steps. Much like honing in on your personal style, this may take you a little bit of time but it will be worth it in the end. Also, remember that these essentials may look different for everyone and my essentials may not be your essentials. That said though, the goal here to find a core base of pieces that can be layered and mixed and matched for a variety of looks.

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In order to find your wardrobe essentials, inspiration is key. I recommend starting this process with a simple google search. Take stock of the items different websites, magazines, stylists and bloggers recommend and then combine them all into one concise list that you think will work for you.

For the sake of example, let's use my own list as a starting point. You can see my own top 10 wardrobe essentials to the right.


Once you have your list in a good place, go to your closet and pull out the essentials that you have on your list. If you're missing some of the items on your list, don't go out and buy anything just yet. Instead, work with what you have to ensure you end up with a cohesive list of items that will work for you. 


Now you're going to want to test out the essentials that you've set aside, and see how they fare in your every day life. This part of the process is essential to understanding not only the pieces that will serve as your base, but also the fabrics, shapes and silhouettes they should be in to suit your tastes and  lifestyle. If you're starting from scratch, this may be a lengthy process but you shouldn't feel discouraged if it takes you a few weeks or even months. To keep this part from feeling overwhelming I recommend you plan out your outfits at least a few days in advance and try to start each look with at least one of these basics. 


Once you've gathered your list of essentials and planned out some outfits with these pieces, it's time to wear them and honestly evaluate how each piece works for your lifestyle, personality and individual tastes. Try to have fun with this part and every time you get dressed and love an outfit take note of it - it may even help to snap a picture with your phone and save it in a folder for later.

During this part of the process it's important that you're as clear and honest with yourself as possible so that you end up with the most well-rounded list of essentials, and aren't keeping things just because you think you should have them in your closet. For example, let's say you think a black skirt will be one of your wardrobe essentials but you don't know if that black skirt will be a pencil style or a-line style. If you have both in your closet then try both and evaluate how each makes you feel. How does each one compliment the other silhouettes in your closet and your lifestyle. Are pencil skirts too difficult to walk in? Do you prefer the movement of an a-line style? Or, do you love both? All of these things are essential to finding your core pieces and every time you think you can eliminate a piece, remove it from your closet and place it in a bag or box to come back to later. 

As you're going through this process you'll start to notice certain pieces that work really well for you and others that don't. Anything that works well gets added to your final list of essentials and gets a permanent spot in your closet. Anything that doesn't should be re-evaluated, personalized and tweaked to work for you. So for example, lets say you have a white shirt on your list and you think that shirt will be a tailored, collared, button down but as you wear that, it doesn't work for you. Maybe you feel too formal in the button down or a sharp collar feels too angular for you. If that's the case then explore other silhouettes. Remember, the key with these basics is to create a blank canvas so a white shirt only needs to be white (or ivory etc). Everything else about it can be tweaked to suit you. So for you, the perfect basic white shirt may be collarless with no buttons. The more honestly you evaluate each piece throughout this process, the better your results will be and the happier you'll be with your wardrobe in the long run. 


Last but not least, all that's left is to always be re-evaluating your closet and have fun! Our lifestyles change over the years and our wardrobes should evolve with us so don't be afraid to constantly take stock of your closet and tweak things as necessary. Also, I'm a firm believer that fashion should be fun so try not to take the whole thing too seriously and always remember that style should compliment your lifestyle - not control it. The less time you have to spend worrying about what to wear, the more time you can spend cultivating personal hobbies, interestest and other things that make you the best version of yourself.