Basic Wardrobe Essentials. My Experience

One day, I noticed that the same situation kept happening to me again and again. I have some amount of money, and of course I go shopping just to buy something. Then, I purchase an amazing blouse or a gorgeous skirt and wear those items just a couple of times. And then those things simply sit in my closet. As a result, money is spent, but I still have nothing to wear. If that sounds familiar to you and you want to know how to minimize those situations, I will share my experience. The main goal of my article is not to tell you what clothes to buy but to show you how to chose the right garments and teach you the principles of the basic wardrobe.

My first rule is that when I go shopping, I always have a list of things that I want to buy. I do not purchase anything that is not on my list even if I love it. My second rule is that I need to have basic wardrobe essentials that I can pair with other garments. In this article, I am sharing this list. My basic wardrobe consists of good quality clothing that I will definitely wear for a couple of years. I love natural fibers—such as cotton, wool, and silk—and prefer to have them instead of polyester in my basic wardrobe. On the other hand, my goal is to find inexpensive clothes that will not bankrupt me. Now, I will calculate the price of essentials and share the best places to shop for them.

My basic wardrobe is in casual style, which is good for those who do not have a strict dress code at work. It is designed for spring, cool summer, and fall. First of all, you need to have many fundmental items so that you can match them with anything you want. Secondly, the main idea of wardrobe essentials is that they are supposed to have a simple, laconic design and be of neutral colors. Garments should not have details such as ruche that attract attention and associate them with romantic or boho styles. Here is a list of colors which will be best for this wardrobe: white, gray, black, navy blue, beige, burgundy, dark green, and dusty pink.

The following picture represents all wardrobe basics that I like. The majority of clothes from the picture was found by me in stores such as Zara and H&M, so all are relatively cheap. End-of-the-season sales and outlets are also great ways to pay less.

basic wardrobe essentials

Basic T-Shirts

basic wardrobe essentials

Basic wardrobe is supposed to have many t-shirts. I have 8. Choose t-shirts of neutral colors: gray, white, black, dusty pink, beige. In my opinion, the best colors are white and gray. I also like a t-shirt with blue and white stripes.

Two things that a t-shirt absolutely has to have is the right fit and the right fabric. It should not fit you too tightly. Really, it ought to flow around your body leaving some room for imagination. And the fabric must be soft and flowing. Often the fabric will be rayon, lyocell, and modal. It may have silk, but the price will then be higher.

basic wardrobe essentials

Where to buy: H&M and Zara are the perfect places to shop for a t-shirt. At H&M, it will cost $10-$12. A Banana Republic one will run you around $15-$20. Since they are so cheap, you can buy them every season.

Calculating the price, if we have four tees in the basic wardrobe, it will cost $45.

It is important to have the right bra underneath a t-shirt. Usually, t-shirts are made of thin fabrics, and you can see bright bras underneath them. So a nude bra with no lace will be the best choice. There are many places to shop for a bra. Victoria’s Secret is the best known. Macy’s also offers Calvin Klein and DKNY bras. H&M, however, has the cheaper options. In general, two bras will be around $60.

A silk cami with lace will add some glamour to the basic wardrobe and will look good with jeans, pants, jackets, and skirts—literally with everything! You can buy it from H&M for $25, but it will be made of polyester. But J Crew and The Outnet have tops from real silk.


basic wardrobe essentials

Button-up shirts are a great item to have. They will always make your outfit more sophisticated. For the basic wardrobe, choose shirts of a simple design. It is better if they are loose or oversized. There are many different shirts to choose from, but I recommend the following:

  • Cotton shirt of neutral color—$30 at H&M.

  • Jeans shirt (light blue denim)—$30 at H&M.

A silk blouse is another wonderful garment; it will make your look chic. It is better if the blouse is made of real silk because it feels great and not staticy. Wash the silk blouse in lukewarm water and dry on a towel. Make sure not to stretch it because silk is a vulnerable fabric.

Where to buy: H&M has silk blouses in their premium quality line. Other places to check out are Zara, J Crew, Banana Republic, and The Outnet. You can buy a blouse for approximately $70.

A plaid shirt is ideal for everyday. I like to shop for them in Hollister on sale and H&M—$25.


basic wardrobe essentials

It is necessary to have a warm sweater for cold weather. A good cozy sweater always makes me happy when it is chilly. I recommend choosing one that has at least 50% wool. A polyester sweater starts pilling almost right away and builds up static easily. So for me it is a waste of money. Choose an oversized sweater of a neutral color such as gray or beige. It may be cable-knit or plain. A chunky cardigan is another great option. If you are ready to invest a little more money, then buy a cashmere sweater. This soft fuzzy material adds texture to your outfit, making it more interesting.

Where to buy: H&M and Zara have nice wool sweaters for $50, but those ones might itch, something I myself have unfortunately experienced! Other places to check out are J Crew, Banana Republic, Uniqlo, and Last Call.

For the basic wardrobe, we need at least two sweaters and a cardigan for $50 each. So the total will be about $150.

In the last couple of years, sweatshirts have become quite trendy. I must admit that I really love them, as well. They are great for casual activities, and I like to pair them with lace or sequin skirts. There are nice sweatshirts in H&M for $25.

If you are bored with sweaters, a sweater dress may be a nice idea for a cold day. It looks especially good with moto boots.


basic wardrobe essentials

Jackets are amazing. They make any outfit more structured and chic. Everyone has to have a jacket. My favorite way to wear one is to pair it with a t-shirt and jeans.

I suggest having two blazers in your basic wardrobe. Let one be tailored and the other one be more loose and long; it may even be a boyfriend one. Let them have different colors such as dusty pink and navy blue. The quality of a blazer is important as the cheap variety is much less likely to look good. So a good blazer will be made out of cotton with the addition of wool or rayon. In Zara and Banana Republic Factory, one can find a jacket for $50-$70 on sale.

I cannot imagine my basic wardrobe without jeans and bomber jackets. If I do not know what to put on, I grab my jean jacket. I pair it with everything and wear it all year round. A light blue denim jacket will work best. You can find a good one in H&M for $40.

A bomber jacket is very trendy and easy to match with many other garments. Of course, you can always wear it with jeans and a t-shirt, but if you want to try something new, then pair it with a romantic dress and sneakers. Buy it at H&M for $40 and at Zara for $50 on sale.


In my opinion, having one or two dresses in the basic wardrobe is enough. Of course, if you are a big dress fan, you will have more of them. One should definitely be an A-line dress of neutral color. And the other option ought really to be a slip-style dress with lace. Wear it with a biker leather jacket, cardigan, or bomber.

Where to buy: H&M has cute dresses for $40-$50.


basic wardrobe essentials

A biker leather jacket is one of my favorite outerwear garments; it is great for cool summer nights and chilly fall days. In Forever21 and H&M, you will find inexpensive vegan leather jackets for $30 and $50, respectively.

I suggest being original and instead of a traditional trenchcoat choosing a duster coat. It may be beige, light gray, or dusty pink. It will be made of a flowing fabric and will make your outfuit more elevated. Zara and Asos have duster coats for around $70. For inspiration, check out this cool article:

Nothing can be more elegant and practical than a masculine wool coat. Choose one with a simple design with clean lines. Make sure that your coat is at least 50% wool, otherwise it will pill. Asos has coats for a hundred and up, and Zara for $100-$130 on sale.

One other essential piece is a parka. It is very comfortable and warm, so it will be great for cold weather. I like dark green ones, but there are other interesting colors, such as blue and burgundy. Zara, Asos, H&M have many parkas for about $100.

According to my calculations, tops and outwear will cost approximately $1100. In the second part of my article, I will explore bottoms, shoes, and accessories. Please share in the comments your favorite essential pieces and the places where you shop for them. If you have any articles about a similar topic on your website, leave a link. I will be happy to check them out.

Spread the love