The Only Wardrobe Checklist You'll Ever Need
Our wardrobes kind of become the centers of our universes for a few moments each day — picking out our outfits for big meetings, first dates, friends' wedding. And for all those moments you've ever uttered "I have nothing to wear" in response to that looming interview, party, or big night out, we hear you — and we're here to help.
The best way to make sense of the stuff in your closet is to clean out the unworn and ill-fitting and make room for the essential pieces that'll make it easy to pull together an outfit, whatever the occasion. We've outlined all the key items — from shoes to tops and jewels — so just scroll through for the complete guide to the clothes every woman should own.
— Additional reporting by Hannah Weil McKinley
The Silk Blouse
Silk blouses are endlessly versatile as the piece that lends easy sophistication to Summer shorts or Fall denim. Take them to work, and wear them breezily and not so buttoned up on weekends. In any color and nearly any cut, the silky blouse has modern femininity written all over it.
The Lace Top
Lace and eyelet tops have solidified their place in our wardrobe for Spring and Summer — and even Fall and Winter with the right warm contrasts. These are the blouses that you can throw on with minimal jewels since they do all the work for you. Their vibe works especially well as a pretty Summer work blouse, but this is a look we love just as much with denim cutoffs as we do under a suit jacket.
Joie Margette Blouse ($298)
The White Tee
As far as essentials go, this may be king. The white shirt is insanely versatile, so don't relegate its use to casual looks only. Find a version in a great cut that you can wear with everything from jeans to silky pants and sequined skirts.
Rag & Bone The Tee ($90)
The Striped Tee
The striped tee has been a fashion mainstay since Coco Chanel first popularized the classic pattern. Now, it's cropping up in endless color schemes and cuts, though if you're looking for one you'll keep for years, we'd recommend a long-sleeved style to outfit every which way, from workwear with a blazer to beachwear with silky shorts. Consider this the best of your basics, right next to your white t-shirt.
The Layering Tank
The secret to wearing sheer tops with total confidence is having one of these handy camisoles in your closet. Opt for a nude or black tank, depending on what hues you gravitate toward the most. These will help camouflage and cover and will make your lacy, sheer, and revealing necklines appropriate for any occasion.
1.State Chiffon Inset Camisole ($35, originally $59)
The Going Out Top
No woman should be without a decadent statement top for her special occasions, whether it's a fancy dinner party or date night. In a wash of delicate sequins or adorned with pretty embellished details, these tops are the ones you'll slip into when you need something glamorous.
Reformation Simi Top ($148)
Consider this your alternative to worn-out college tees and hoodies. A slouchy sweatshirt is the casual basic you can knock around in on weekends (without feeling disheveled) or add to more polished bottoms for a cool juxtaposition.
The Crisp White Button-Down
The crisp button-down is a borrowed-from-the-boys staple that now has a womanly identity all its own. It's just about the easiest way to pull off a pulled-together look in one easy move, whether you're using yours to top denim or a pencil skirt. Plus, we love that every woman has her own unique way to make this essential all her own.
J.Crew Slim Stretch Perfect Shirt ($42, originally $70)
The Versatile Shell
Whether your 9-to-5 requires that you dress up or not, a silk shell isn't just the perfect piece to tie together a suit or tuck into a pencil skirt. It's also a step up from a t-shirt but a step down from your dressier blouses, making denim look a lot more chic.
Flats are a no-fuss solution to feeling polished and pulled together while on the go. They're equal parts ladylike and casual, meaning we can wear them with pretty pleated skirts, shift dresses, or even cutoffs.
Sam Edelman Rodney Pointy Toe d'Orsay Flat ($100-$120)
The Classic Pump
A pair of polished pumps will never let you down. From the office to your evenings out, they're a classically chic finish to every outfit.
Think of these as your much cooler alternative to flip-flops. Since we gravitate toward flat sandals all Summer long, make sure you opt for a pair you'll be happy to slip into on a daily basis. Even something with a color or studded finish can up the ante on your everyday dress.
Every girl needs a pair of seriously sexy heels in her arsenal. Whether you opt for vibrant color, a statement print, or ultrasexy detailing, this pair should be the one you throw on with everything from jeans to your evening dresses to feel instantly sexy.
Beige heels are a no-brainer for completing our evening looks as well as our dressier day ensembles. They are seasonless, go with everything, and are often the pair to rock if you're looking for a leg-lengthening trick.
Sam Edelman Ariella Sandals ($100)
The Work Dress
Even if your office doesn't have a "dress code" in place, you'll be happy you have a polished sheath dress in your closet for everything from interviews to a big presentation at work. Choose one that's versatile enough to change up with a blazer or tights and your footwear of choice.
Theory Pleated Cap Dress ($385)
The Day Dress
There are days when your jeans and t-shirts just won't cut it; that's when a perfect day dress comes into play. You won't feel overdressed if you wear it to brunch with friends, and you'll certainly feel more polished for dinners out. It's not a special-occasion dress, but it's an elevated alternative to your basics that you'll rely on weekly, if not daily.
Veronica Beard Nora Dress ($495)
The Formal Dress
For wedding season, formal dinners, and special events, it becomes pretty essential to have an appropriate dress. That means something formal and full length. Opt for one in a color or print that flatters your complexion and can be reinvented each time you wear it just by switching out the accessories.
The Cocktail Dress
For those special occasions that don't call for a totally formal dress, you need a pretty cocktail dress that can go from dinner and drinks to a party, if need be. Choose one with details that will work all year to get the most for your money.
Opt Hera Sequin Dress ($158)
Every woman's closet should come equipped with this staple. It's an iteration you can dress up or down and wear to both celebratory and somber occasions.
The Delicate Necklace
A lady needs at least one pretty, delicate necklace that she can slip on every day and that will look equally as chic with a slouchy gray tee as it will with a cocktail dress. We love how this piece offers just enough sparkle.
The Statement Earrings
To add that extra wow factor to an LBD, opt for a pair of standout jeweled earrings. It keeps focus up top, and in most cases, you won't have to worry about wearing any other jewelry.
The Boyfriend Watch
It's safe to say that a watch has turned into a jewelry piece in its own right, and nothing helps you look like the picture of punctuality better than a sleek, menswear-inspired gold watch. The best way to wear it is as you would any other bracelet, so feel free to stack bangles, friendship bracelets, and even cuffs with it.
The official grown-up always has a practical bag ready in case her weekend takes a turn that involves a quick, last-minute trip. Whether yours involves sliding something into an overhead bin or simply tossing it into the trunk, a pliable style with straps that can be worn over the shoulder is a smart way to go.
The Everyday Tote
The most basic building block of your bag collection should be a simple style smart enough for work but chic enough to make your most fashionable friend grin with approval. Before investing in one, consider your daily load, and make sure you pick a style that can accommodate it. If you hardly ever need to bring your laptop to and from work, then don't stress about finding one that'll fit it. Too large is an invitation for overstuffing.
The Crossbody Bag
For weekends and off-duty events, it's a treat to store the work bag in favor of something lighter. The crossbody style is perfect, and whether worn over the shoulder or across the trunk, it leaves hands blissfully free for more important things (like browsing the sale rack).
The most practical style in your arsenal should be a roomy tote. The open-top shape comes in handy more than you'd think, from tagging along to the office every now and then to doubling as the smartest carry-on ever. Avoid prints or bold colors in favor of a neutral, and you'll have found a style that'll just keep getting better with use.
The Evening Clutch
There's something undeniably off about trying to carry a big bag when you're dressed to the nines. Pick a simple box-like style that fits only the necessities, and use it as an accent to any after-dark look.
The Bucket Bag
Whether you're going out at night or running errands on the weekend, grab a bucket bag. It's so easy to grab and go, and looks adorable with both jeans or a ladylike midi dress.
The Trench Coat
No closet is complete without this key transitional coat, which can take wearers from crisp Fall nights to cool Winter mornings. Loose and belted, it's often waterproof.
The Leather Jacket
Going out at night? Grab a leather jacket. Running errands? Grab a leather jacket. Going to work? Grab a leather jacket. You get the gist.