Some items are perennially in-style and flatter every figure. These pieces really are non-negotiable, but I meet women every day who still have not managed to furnish their closets with the most basic necessities of a modern working-girl’s wardrobe. It may sound sexist, but let’s be real; every man should know how to change a tire, and every woman should have these items in her home.
Readers can find a selection of each of these items for the Shopper who likes to Splurge, the Responsible Shopper, and the Shopper who loves a Bargain, at our Pinterest Board “Closet Staples.”
1. A pair of beautiful versatile black pumps.
These are for work, for play, for a special event… the uses are endless. Even if you are not a fashionista, every woman needs a pair of black heels that are appropriate for both an interview and a night out, and that make her legs look AH-mazing. I must admit I have (eek!) 10 pairs- each valuable in their own way- but if you are aiming to find a pair that will suit almost any occasion, look for a pump with a closed toe, a classic silhouette, and a heel that is between 2 and 3 1/2 inches. Anything higher might not be appropriate for a conservative work place, and anything lower really doesn’t count as a heel. I don’t care that you don’t know how to walk in them, it’s a skill worth cultivating.
2. A flattering pair of dark jeans.
Skinny jeans are best, but not everyone feels comfortable in that cut. Straight and boot-cut styles can also be useful; find a pair that skims the top of your foot when you’re wearing a mid-height heel (so they can arguably be worn with every heel-height, low or high) and that make your badonk-a-donk look fantabulous. Dark wash jeans that make you feel amazing are an asset in any closet.
3. A fun patterned cardigan
This piece adds interest to any outfit, is safe for the office, and can dress different separates in your closet up or down. Try wearing it over a white button-town blouse and turning the cuffs of the shirt up, or experiment with belting it over a pencil skirt. Don’t you get cold in that frigid, air-conditioned office?
4. A fitted sweater in your favorite color
Wear it with jeans or wear it with a collared shirt underneath. It is a safe reliable piece that will take you through every season. You know your favorite color brings out your eyes and puts you in a great mood.
5. A pair of sophisticated nude pumps.
They go with everything and they make your legs look impossibly long. Why would you resist the urge to buy them? Believe it or not, black heels do not work perfectly under all circumstances; with lighter or brighter colored outfits they can look harsh. Nude heels solve that problem.
5. A white-button down blouse
I’m praying you already have one, since they can be worn all year round anywhere and everywhere. I’ve already described how well they work with a sweater- it’s all about the accessorizing.
6. An LFD
I call this a “Little Fabulous Dress,” most women think black, but as long as it hits slightly above the knee, would be appropriate at a funeral or a cocktail party (to be blunt), and makes you feel lovely and confident, it will get the job done.
7. A handbag that takes your breath away
Because you need a bag that is professional enough to double as a brief-case, feminine enough to be used as a regular purse, and that you absolutely love. Stick with solid leather in understated tones, but accept you may have to pay the most for this item. Suck it up, it’s an investment that will last you years!
8. A small and elegant evening bag
This is for special events or an evening out when a full-sized shoulder back is just too much. Try a black or neutral-toned leather clutch if you want something extremely versatile that can be used on casual occasions as well.
9 and 10. A perfectly fitted black, navy or charcoal grey suit.
I cannot stress this enough, if you are, or plan on being, a female professional, you need to take yourself seriously. If you have a big presentation or an interview in conservative office setting, do not mix and match pieces: buy a suit. Chances are, even if you cannot tell the difference between blacks and navys, someone on the hiring team can. It’s not that they’re hiring you for your fashion sense, but they do care about the way you present yourself and your attention to detail. Once you own a suit that fits you impeccably, you can mix and match separates.
The pencil skirt
Wear it with a sequined tank and strappy heels on a Saturday night, and with a button-up blouse to work on Monday morning.
The blazer really deserves its own heading, because it goes with everything. No, really it does! Lauren Conrad is the queen of mixing and matching closet staples, which may be why she is known for her classic and effortlessly chic style. She wears her blazer with skirts, dresses, jeans, heels; you name it. And it all looks fabulous.
So what essential item did I leave off the list? Let me know what I missed in the comments below, and follow us on Pinterest!