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Wardrobe Essentials for Women

Updated on May 21, 2012

Here are twelve essential wardrobe items that every woman should have. These are basic items that will take you from boardroom to a night out to Sunday brunch. This list seems incredibly boring, but the genius of it is that pieces can be mixed, matched, and accessorized for countless outfits.

These items are the base of your wardrobe. They will never go out of style, so spend a little more money on these to get high-quality pieces. It is better to spend less on colorful and trendy items since you probably will not use them as long. When you do add trendier items to your closet, you'll wear them with your trusty wardrobe essentials.

Little Black Dress
Little Black Dress | Source

Little Black Dress

A little black dress (or LBD for short) is one of the most basic wardrobe items out there. However, it can also be one of the most versatile. A well-chosen LBD should be able to take you to work, a wedding or a night of clubbing. For more conservative events, add a cashmere cardigan and tights. Opt for flats or conservative pumps. One a night out you can glam it up with flashy jewelry and strappy heels. And remember, just because you're wearing a black dress doesn't mean you can't have an exciting or colorful outfit. Accessories can change your look drastically.

White T-shirt

There's nothing more classic than a plain white t-shirt. Get a good one in a nice fabric that is flattering on your figure. This can be the backdrop for countless looks and is a must-have when building a wardrobe. Add jewelry, blazers, scarves, belts, or sweaters to mix things up.

White Button-Down Shirt

Just as classic and versatile as your trusty white t-shirt, but a bit more elegant. Use this for business or make it a bit more fun with colorful accessories. Get one that has a feminine cut and a luxurious fabric. This is a closet basic that every woman should have!

Tailored Blazer

A good blazer can pull together an outfit with very little effort. Throw one on over a dress, t-shirt, or blouse to look a little be more sophisticated. This is a piece you may want to take to the tailor. The fit can make the difference between elegant and frumpy. Choose a blazer in a neutral color like black, white, gray, or tan. I would start with a black one and expand your wardrobe into other colors later.

Trench Coat

A classic trench coat will make you look stylish even in foul weather. Get one that's well-tailored to your body and that has a little extra room for layering when the weather gets cold. Choose one in a neutral color that will work with the majority of your wardrobe. Black, gray, or tan is best.



A good pair of jeans are a must-have for any basic wardrobe. Get a pair that is flattering on your body. Bootcuts tend to work on most women. Consider taking your new jeans to the tailor if they don't fit perfectly. Opting for dark-wash jeans is also a good idea. They look a bit dressier and the dark color helps hide extra curves.

Dress Slacks

Slacks make a good base to an outfit. They look put-together and sophisticated. Play them up with fun blouses, sweaters, and shoes. Keeping things simple on the bottom will make it easier to put together an outfit. Again, choose neutral colors, probably black to start.

Classic Skirt

A classic skirt is another simple, classic piece for the bottom. Choose a flattering cut. Pencil skirts and A-line skirts are a good choice. Keep them at knee-level or just above. Any shorter and you risk showing too much skin, while any longer can look frumpy. Go for neutrals that will work with your other pieces.


Black Pumps

A good pair of black pumps can be used for nearly any outfit and any occasion. Wear them with jeans, slacks, or dresses. They can be work appropriate and night-on-the-town ready. Getting pumps in black is a good idea since they can worn with a wide variety of colors.

Another option is a nude pump. These are also very versatile and can be worn with a lot of other colors. These will be better for light-colored outfits, but won't be good for dark-colored suits, pants, and skirts. I would buy them in black first, and then add a pair in nude when your budget allows.


These are a wardrobe necessity for a long day on your feet. They still look dressy, even without a heel. Shop around for a comfortable pair with a little bit of cushioning. Black is probably your most versatile option.

Tall Boots

When the weather turns cold, a good pair of boots will keep your feet dry and warm. Make sure they still look dressy. Last thing you need is a pair of work boots. A tall heel will look dressier and more feminine, but a lower heel will probably do better in the weather. Choose what fits your lifestyle best. Again, black will be your best option for dressy or professional affairs.. Brown is also a good option, but is a bit more casual. Go for something that will work with the rest of you basic wardrobe.

Black Handbag

Splurge on a high-quality leather handbag in black. It will last for years and never go out of style. Choose one that is big enough to hold all your daily necessities. Black is versatile, and it can be dressed up or dressed down. This is one wardrobe essential that's worth splurging on.



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    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks Ruchira!

    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      jennyinfrance, these are also fantastic essentials for a woman's wardrobe. Unfortunately every list has to have a limit, but these are also great things to include.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      well said indeed, modern lady.

      The above are the BASIC essentials for every modern lady 'cause they are used in our day to day lives now and then...

      voted up and sharing it across!

    • profile image

      jennyinfrance 5 years ago

      This is a good list, but as a brit who has lived in France all her adult life, I would suggest a few simple additions. The first is a classic Breton top. Since Chanel famously adopted it, it has never gone out of style. I wear mine with jeans and my basic black blazer (even a tuxedo jacket), or under my oversize basic white shirt, open to bust level, and knotted at the waist (perennially chic)and usually worn again with jeans. Next, and for true Gallic chic I cannot over-emphasize this one, a truly beautiful classic Hermès foulard in heavy silk twill. Yes, it will cost you £300 or more, but it will last forever, and transform that same white shirt, this time worn under a v-neck cashmere sweater, with the cuffs rolled nonchalently over the sleeves of your sweater. A few pieces of really good jewellery. A truly elegant Frenchwoman will never compromise with costume jewellery, it must be discreet gold (preferably) or silver, and pearl stud earrings, if possible with a pair of diamond ones too, to glam up the LBD. And finally, pearls, pearls, and yet more pearls, à la Chanel. Hope this helps. It's born out of long experience of looking chic with a minimalist wardrobe. The cardinal rule: with clothes, as with hair and make-up, less is always more.

    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Paige, I hit my turning point at the end of grad school--I was tired of jeans and sweatshirts and generally looking like a college student. I think lot of women hit a point where they decided they need to look more grown up.

      caramellatte, I love the look of nice jeans with black pumps. It makes me feel super sexy, but is still fairly casual.

      Dolores, you are too kind.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Great tips for wearing a classic wardrobe, worthy of Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy!

    • caramellatte profile image

      caramellatte 5 years ago

      I like my jeans and black pumps. Cool hub! I don't have a trench coat, though.:)

    • Paige Ronchetti profile image

      Paige Ronchetti 5 years ago from Chicago

      I agree about all of these! After I graduated from college a few years ago, I decided it was time to stop wearing t-shirts everyday and I started curating a lot of these staples. Tall boots and blazers are my favorites. Great hub!