Maybe it’s just because of the search bubble I’m in. But I’ve got the impression that almost every fashion blogger, Instagrammer, or YouTuber at some point speaks about these 5 (or more) wardrobe staples. The question is, do they actually work? Is it worth it to invest in these wardrobe essentials? Moreover, are they really timeless pieces – or just a matter of the past?
I know there are fans and haters of those classic pieces. And some who always wanted to add them to their closet but never got around it. So if you’re still wondering if they are a wise investment, this overview is for you.
The Top 5 Wardrobe Staples
- White button-down shirt
- A pair of tailored trousers
- A (fitted) blazer
- The LBD, little black dress
- A trench coat
White Button-Down Shirt
A white button-down shirt, either the one you steal from your boyfriend or a fitted blouse, can take you from day to night. Roll up the sleeves and wear it over trousers for a relaxed brunch, or button up and tuck it into a high-waisted skirt for an afternoon drink. In winter, you can wear the shirt underneath your sweaters or dresses to keep you warm. In summer, it can replace a cardigan. Worn over your bathing suit, it will even protect you from the sun. A white button-down shirt can surely be one of the most versatile and hardest working items in your closet.
A (Fitted) Blazer
One thing I’ve learned from fashion pros and stylists, it always takes ‘a third piece’ to complete any outfit. A fitted or, nowadays, an oversized blazer can be this perfect third piece of clothing that elevates your look. The great thing about it is that you can easily dress it up or down. Worn with tailored trousers or a skirt, it’s a safe choice for the office. Or wear it with jeans and a T for the most versatile look you can get.
The LBD, Little Black Dress
Since the 1920s, when Coco Chanel first introduced the LBD, it certainly has become a staple. A LBD – which neither has to be ‘little’ nor black – is a go-to for everyone. It works for any occasion. Just think of all the dinner parties, work meetings, and family gatherings. You no longer need to worry about what to wear. It will take some time, though, to find the perfect one. But when you finally have it in your closet, you’re all set. Play with shoes and accessories, so your outfit will never look the same.
A Trench Coat
Naturally, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be the good ol’ Burberry. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this specific style, either. But a mid-weight coat that protects you from wind and rain throughout the year is definitely a good investment. It’s also a great styling piece. Very similar to a blazer, a trench coat can complete and elevate an outfit. You don’t have to go for a classic beige. Trench coats and coats in other styles come in a variety of colors. Choose one that’s within your personal color palette and works with your existing wardrobe. And if a Burberry really is your thing but not your budget, check the second-hand stores to get hold of this true classic.
Are These Wardrobe Staples Really Timeless?
These five wardrobe essentials have been around for ages. Fashion icons like Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly brought them to life. But does this mean they’re also a matter of the past? I don’t think so, as every decade has a fresh take on these staples. Moreover, I noticed that the time between these ‘makeovers’ gets even shorter. But what does this exactly mean?
I believe these wardrobe staples are timeless because we see them year after year. However, they also have their time and won’t be in your wardrobe forever. Unless you don’t mind that they may look outdated one day. Silhouettes, details, and fabrics are changing over time. Still, compared to trendy pieces, they certainly have a much longer lifespan.
What Makes Them Staples?
The major advantage of these wardrobe essentials is that they can be easily dressed up and dressed down, just by adding a different type of shoe, another handbag, or accessories. Thus, they work for (almost) all occasions. They always do a great job, especially in those situations when you’re unsure what to wear.
How to Dress Your Wardrobe Staples Up or Down
- The shoes you select, just think pumps or sneakers
- Type and style of your handbag
- What accessories you add, e.g., belt, scarf, or hat
- The style (and amount) of jewelry you wear
Do They Work for Everyone?
We’re in the lucky situation that we have so many different silhouettes, colors, and styles to choose from. This has been very different in the past. Every decade had its preferred body shape. Think of curvy, size 12 Marilyn Monroe, or size 0 Twiggy. Moreover, the common style was much more prominent. There wasn’t a lot to choose from. Everyone, for instance, wore the same adorably ugly clothes in the eighties. But today, if we want to add these five staples, we can be sure to find a version that fits our body type, color palette, and style. The only thing we may have to do is invest enough time to find the pieces perfect for us.
Do I Have to Buy Exact These 5 Pieces?
As you probably want these essentials to work for you, your lifestyle, and blend in with your existing wardrobe, you have to adjust them to your needs. It doesn’t have to be a crisp white fitted button-down shirt. Maybe a cream flowy tunic works better for you. What I want to say is, it’s not so much about buying exactly these pieces. But to get an idea of why they work so well – and choose items accordingly.
The white shirt always looks fresh and put together. Unlike jeans, a good pair of trousers also work for a more formal (business) environment. The LBD is suitable for almost every event. The blazer is ‘the third piece’ that completes an outfit. And the trench coat is just a lifesaver for cooler temperatures that never looks too casual or too dressed up. I could go on like this, but I think you get the point.
Make Them Yours
Once you know why these staples work, make them yours. Adjust them to fit your personal style and color palette. Choose them in a silhouette that flatters you and a fabric you love. Make them yours. Go even so far that no one else but you recognize them as wardrobe staples. But for you, they’re hard-wearing, long-lasting essentials.
As I wrote above, these five wardrobe staples need to be replaced from time to time if you don’t want them to be totally out of fashion. However, as they aren’t trendy pieces, they will surely be with you for a lot longer than only one season. Moreover, as they work for so many occasions, you’ll probably wear them a lot. Hence, they have to stay in perfect shape. The way to achieve this is to invest in quality pieces and to take good care of them.
More Staples to Add to Your Wardrobe
Once you own the top five wardrobe staples, add a few more pieces that will take you from day to night and season to season.
- Cashmere sweater or cardigan
- Classic T
- The perfect pair of jeans
Cashmere Sweater or Cardigan
Wear it solo, over your button-down, or just thrown over your shoulder – a cashmere sweater or cardigan will always keep you warm and cozy. You can’t go wrong with such a quality piece. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be cashmere. A light-weight wool or easy-care wool mix will also work. The only important thing is that it’s well-made and matches your existing wardrobe in color and style.
It goes without saying that if you want to keep a piece of clothing for a long time, you have to invest in high-quality materials. This rule also applies to a simple t-shirt. Try to find the best quality and be prepared to pay a little bit more. Go for organic cotton, quality viscose, or silk. Ts usually need to be replaced more often than other items in your wardrobe. A good reason to look for ones that are ethically and environmentally friendly sourced. Once you know your brand and supplier, stock up on t-shirts in a range of colors and styles. Or just stick to a classic white t, and buy more than one.
The Perfect Pair of Jeans
Skinny, classic straight or wide-legged, low- or high-rise, long or cropped – the options are endless. Try various fits to find the one that’s right for you. This can take a bit of time. However, it’s so much worth it to wait until you get the one that truly suits your body. Because a great fitting pair of jeans can simply make you feel fabulous.
And there you have it – my personal view on the top five wardrobe staples.
More Tips and Inspirations
Searching for and deciding on the right essentials become much easier when you exactly know what you’re looking for. Meaning, you need a plan!
Investing in high-quality essentials also supports slow fashion. I’ve listed some attainable steps to create a ‘slow wardrobe’ in this post:
Choosing quality over quantity is always a good idea – not only when purchasing clothes. However, trying to buy quality pieces often feels like finding a needle in a haystack:
- How to Spot Quality When Shopping For Clothes – 3 Things to Check
- How to Shop for Quality Shoes You’ll Love to Wear
- 7 Reasons Why Choosing Quality over Quantity Is Always a Good Idea
I’m sure you want your carefully selected wardrobe staples to last longer. Here you can access my best tips on how to take good care of your clothes:
All about Wardrobe Maintenance
Like the idea of less, but luxe! …? Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspiration. Plus, join my email list to receive regular updates and content exclusively available to my readers!
Do you think these wardrobe essentials (still) work? Or are they a matter of the past? Do you have them in your closet? How often do you wear these staples? Share your thoughts in the comments below!