Perhaps it’s being on the cusp of my 30s, or perhaps it’s the drain of the past two years, but I’ve entered a point in my life where I am really quite sick of fast fashion. I used to find myself shopping for trend after trend, but when I would look at my closet I drew blank — I couldn’t find a single thing to wear. These fast fashion purchases weren’t quality pieces, weren’t comfortable, and oftentimes weren’t authentic to my style. They just felt forced. In the end, I would always gravitate toward my tried and true wardrobe basics — the pieces I knew would be a sure win, that would make me feel good. From this consistent pattern I’ve come to appreciate the value in investing in those long-lasting, quality pieces that make you both look and feel like a ten.
It’s not that I’m anti-trend — I still love a great Zara find here and there — but I would say my closet is now an 80/20 split of trends/timeless pieces, which is also a closer reality to what my day-to-day style looks like. I recently did a little spring cleaning, which is not something I’ve ever been good at, but purging my closet of the trendy, fast fashion items I never wear has left me with a huge sense of relief. My wardrobe has been streamlined and cut down to the pieces I know I will actually wear, so I can do a quick scan and clearly find multiple outfits I’d happily walk out of the house in. Working with a pared down closet filled with pieces I’m excited about putting on makes all the difference. I’ve already saved so much time and mental energy not stressing out over picking outfits. At the end of the day, it’s important to have a curated closet of basics you can build a full look off of.
My biggest takeaway throughout this process is that basics don’t have to be boring. You can be incredibly stylish without being trendy all the time. In fact, so much of having style is feeling confident in the pieces you’re wearing, so having a set of elevated basics you’re comfortable in is key. You can also easily weave trendier, seasonal pieces into an outfit, or accentuate with accessories when the foundation is solid. And because these basics will stand the test of time, I don’t feel guilty splurging on high-quality, well-made separates.
While I could easily put together a list of 20 basics every stylish woman should own, I’ve personally found five particular ones to be non-negotiables — elevated basics if you will. They are versatile and easy additions to your closet (if you don’t already own them) that are guaranteed to improve your style. If you asked me to give up any one of these pieces, the answer would simply be no. I wear one of these almost daily for a variety of different occasions. Forget trends — throwing on any one of these pieces on will make you look more put together and effortlessly chic. Keep reading for the five elevated essentials sure to give your wardrobe and style an upgrade, plus my favorite ways to style them.
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The Oversized Button Down
If you don’t already own an oversized button down, now is the time. The epitome of effortless cool-girl, the oversized button-down may reign as the classic of the century. It’s been an elevated basic throughout the decades and never fails to look chic. Try a loose half-tuck with denim cutoffs and strappy sandals in the summer, or pairing it with fun trousers or denim when in need of more layers. For a 2022 twist, try a bold-colored iteration or a fun matching set. There are endless options on the market at a range of reasonable price points (or, I recommend stealing from your man’s closet). Whatever option you choose, your wardrobe will thank you.
The Fitted Long Sleeve
Do not be fooled — a fitted long sleeve shirt has a very different effect than a short sleeve tee. Something about a crisp, fitted, long sleeve just does it for me. Tight in all the right places without showing too much skin, it’s understatedly sexy and universally flattering. It can also be paired with pretty much any bottom and makes for an easy day-to-night transition, given its ability to be dressed up or dressed down (more so than a t-shirt). It’s also an incredibly comfortable piece, which in my book is a huge win.
If not already, blazers should quickly become your go-to essential. A sharp blazer is the wardrobe over-achiever that can pull together any outfit. It creates an instant effect of looking more sophisticated and stylish, no matter what you pair it with. I throw my blazers over mini dresses, jeans, skirts — even leggings — and boom, I’m upgraded.
The Black Leather Pant
Whether you’re sticking to your skinnies or prefer a wider leg silhouette, a leather pant is like your denim’s cooler older sister. It works in all the same ways as your blue jeans do, but gives off a more elevated vibe. I’ll dress down my leather trousers with a loose tucked-in tee and sneakers or slouchy boots during the day, but for a night out will pair them with a cutout top or fitted turtleneck and heels. They never fail to make me feel like a million bucks, and are an investment piece I’ll have for years to come.
The White Pump
Never underestimate the power of a classic white pump. It creates a bright, clean finish to any outfit, being neutral without feeling boring. It’s a piece I always get compliments on. For a versatile pair, I’d go with a lower or mid-height heel so you can comfortably wear them both during the day and at night. While I would wear my pumps around the clock, if you prefer a flat shoe, a clean white ballet flat or low-heeled slouchy boot will have the same effect. It simply ties everything together, upgrading your whole look.