9 Closet Essentials Every Style Lover Needs

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Hi, I'm Chelsey

Welcome back to the closet rebuilding series! If you missed it, I previously talked about doing a complete overhaul of my wardrobe for the current year. For those of you looking to do the same, I thought sharing my journey might be helpful, from identifying closet essentials to styling versatile outfits. By the end of this year, my goal is to have a solid foundation in my closet along with a handful of trendier pieces that I consistently wear. I want my wardrobe to be filled with pieces ready to style and can be mixed together for any occasion. 

Wearing an Express body contour tank, Zara wide-leg trousers, and an Uncommon James chain necklace.

Today’s post is the starting point of the closet rebuild journey, where I’ll share the nine wardrobe essentials you need to build a strong foundation. Even if you want to add to your closet rather than completely rebuild it, this post may help you fill any missing gaps. I also encourage you to try the capsule wardrobe challenge as well, since that will help identify what you like to wear. Of course, you should use this list as a reference and adjust it to fit your needs. What I wanted from this list was a neutral foundation filled with pieces I can primarily wear to work that can also be styled for more casual weekend looks. It includes three tops, three bottoms, three layers, and one bonus item because I love wearing dresses.

The 9 Wardrobe Essentials for a Versatile Closet

Images from Abercrombie & Express
  1. Classic white shirt/button-down
  2. Vertical striped blouse
  3. Oversized pullover sweater
  4. Black pants in a slim or skinny fit
  5. Wide-leg trousers in black, navy, or beige
  6. Semi-fitted blazer (neutral or printed)
  7. Chunky cardigan
  8. A pair of medium-wash jeans in a straight or relaxed fit
  9. Cotton white t-shirt
  10. Bonus (not pictured): A maxi dress or maxi skirt in a solid color, ideally neutral

Breaking Down the Closet Essentials

The Tops

Two absolute must-have tops for every closet are a basic tee and a classic white button-down. A fitted or semi-fitted white cotton t-shirt is an easy piece to style on its own with jeans, or under a statement blazer. My favorite t-shirt for years is from Re/Done, but I am in the market to find a fresh new t-shirt as that one is definitely on the well-worn side now. You can opt for a v-neck, scoop neck, or square neck if you prefer. I like to keep it classic with more of a crewneck fit because I feel like that style has more versatility, and I’ve phased out of my v-neck t-shirt love over the years. 

The classic white button-down is essential for any working woman. Much like the cotton tee, the white shirt pairs well with any bottom. The best fit tends to be on the relaxed side so that you’re comfortable yet put together. 

My third top for the closet essentials list is flexible, so tailor it to mirror your style. I strongly recommend getting a neutral printed blouse. For me, I love polka dots and vertical stripes. Polka dots aren’t quite as timeless, so I put a vertical stripes blouse on my list instead. If you love checkered patterns, maybe swap to that print! The goal here is to pick a printed option so your wardrobe has a signature blouse with interest. Just because something has a print doesn’t mean it can’t be a staple. 

The Layers

When creating a shopping list of closet essentials, I cannot stress enough how important it is to include layers. An added layer to your outfits can completely change the look and take it from day to night. If you live in a cooler climate, your three layers may include a heavy coat. Since I’m in Texas, my layers are primarily for indoor wear so I stuck with a cozy cardigan for the day, an oversized sweater for lounge-at-home days, and a blazer for the office. Whichever items you pick, be sure to have a variety of layers and pick them in different colors. 

The Bottoms

For the bottoms, it’s generally a good idea to have three classic fits: a slim/skinny fit, a straight/relaxed fit, and a wide leg. Whether you want to stick with all denim or add trousers, pick pants that cover an array of styles as I did. With a slim, straight, and wide-leg option, you’ll have all of your bases covered and can easily mix and match different tops to create unique looks. 

The bonus item I added is a maxi skirt or a maxi dress, depending on your preference. I recommend keeping it neutral either way because you can layer on accessories or a sweater to break up the style. 

Why This List isn’t All-Inclusive

Another thing to call out with this list is what is NOT included. So as not to overwhelm you or your wallet, I focused today’s post on the basics of what would complete an outfit. I didn’t want to specify accessories, basic tanks, or shoes yet. Those things are a bit easier to find after you’ve secured your wardrobe essentials. Basic tanks/bodysuits are widely available, but the cut and fabric that I need in my closet entirely depend on what clothes I buy. So for now, focusing on the clothes will make the add-ons much easier to identify. To recap, below is a snapshot of the nine closet essentials to start building your wardrobe:

Images above from Abercrombie.com and Express.com

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ve already made a bit of progress on my own personal journey and have plans to feature some of the “new in” pieces in my daily outfits on LiketoKnowIt. Be sure to follow me there (@ventifashion) as I post my daily outfits over there first!

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The Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

the capsule wardrobe challenge

This capsule wardrobe challenge will help you discover your personal style and hone in on what exactly is missing from your closet.



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