Whether you've simplified your look on account of quarantine or inherently choose uncomplicated pieces for their ease, classic wardrobe essentials are fashion requisites, no matter your aesthetic. Depending on your taste, the term "essential" will apply to a variety of items. Button-downs, crewneck knits, trench coats, and sharp blazers are staples for those who tend classic or polished. Minimalist mainstays include slip dresses, bodysuits, and sleek trousers, while connoisseurs of casual know the power of stylish jeans, T-shirts, and leggings. If you tend trendy or experimental, items like bike shorts, voluminous tops, chic sweatshirts, and utilitarian pants are no doubt among your current favorites.
Whatever your go-to basics are, the common denominator is that they're versatile and easy to throw on at a moment's notice. But with repeat styling, closet staples eventually show signs of wear, thus making it essential to update your assortment for elevated style (and to avoid that held-by-a-thread look). Niche brands that specialize in simplified, yet nuanced pieces are among the best for a fresh and fashion-forward collection of basics from everyday heroes like tees and jeans to sophisticated staples like blazers and trousers and modern athleisure essentials.
Keep scrolling to discover and shop nine labels that make so-chic wardrobe staples from brands worth knowing and supporting that you may not have on your radar yet. Plus, the ethos of each brand summed up in the designer's and founder's own words. Whether you're keen to stockpile elevated layering pieces, loungewear, and work staples or fine-tune your edit of dresses, tops, and bottoms, you're sure to discover a few new favorites ahead.
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Wardrobe Essentials Brand: RE ONA
Designed in Toronto, Canada, and ethically made in Bangladesh, RE ONA offers clean, functional, and transitional designs with soft fabrics and minimal silhouettes at the crux of every collection. "RE ONA is for the modern-day woman who loves a minimal, no-fuss but put-together look, whether it be casual or dressed up. She values quality and appreciates being able to wear staple pieces that easily transition from day-to-night," co-founder Christina Abayomi tells TZR. "Now more than ever, it's important to change the narrative in fashion and create modern essentials that are stylish but can also transcend between seasons and slow down fast fashion due to the negative impacts it can have."
Co-founder Philiscia Abayomi tells TZR, "Our pieces are made in neutral tones and provide a minimal and effortless look. We live in a heavy social media and trend-based time, so it's very easy to forget the value of an essential piece that truly adds value to your wardrobe. As a busy person, when looking at my wardrobe, I like to see staple pieces that I can easily wear in multiple ways. I find that neutral tones work best, so having an array of bodysuits and tops makes it easy to pull any look together. I love being able to pair them with my trousers, blazer, heels, or sandals, depending on how I'm feeling that day."
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Ven Store
With a luxury traveler in mind, the London-based label Ven focuses on a curated selection of considered essentials from cashmere sweaters, hoodies, and trousers to socks and blankets (that can be worn as outerwear), and even timeless beachwear. All of which makes for chic stay-at-home pieces when you're not traveling. "Considered simplicity is the backbone of Ven. Each piece is designed to be hard-working, easy to wear, and easy to pack," says founder Charlotte Lewis. "Ven is designed with travel in mind because if your staples are going to make you feel good on a long-haul flight, then they will definitely do the job anywhere else," says Lewis.
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Julie Josephine
Julie Josephine Blystad set out to create the fine wardrobe essentials she yearned to wear with her namesake Norwegian fashion brand, but ethically and from high-quality materials. "Julie Josephine is all about simplicity, quality, and attention to the perfect silhouette. We believe that long-lasting and timeless wardrobe essentials make the foundation of a solid, versatile wardrobe," Blystad tells TZR. "Our pieces work as hard as you, bridging the different needs and aspects of modern life while giving a contemporary spin to the classics." From comfy tees to timeless stripes and versatile pants, these wardrobe basics appeal to every aesthetic.
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Kotn
Kotn specializes in ethically made basics while prioritizing fair wages and working conditions to ensure honest pricing. "At Kotn, we're passionate about leveling up your basics because they are what you spend your life wearing," says co-founder and chief brand officer Mackenzie Yeates. "We focus on quality natural materials like Egyptian cotton that can make the difference between a good and a bad T-shirt. We also believe in putting a lot of energy into the process, making sure that the people involved in making our products are treated fairly and respectfully." To wit, Kotn has partnered with pro-literacy organizations in Egypt to help stop the cycle of child labor, fund education, and improve future generations' quality of life.
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Studio Nicholson
For directional basics with an architectural feel, look to Studio Nicholson for nuanced coats, structured dresses, tailored blazers, and more. "At Studio Nicholson, we create considered pieces that are carefully engineered to provide structure and elegance, forming the basis for the ultimate modular wardrobe," founder Nick Wakeman tells TZR. "Functionality, modernity, and playfulness are the inherent elements that we believe in as a brand, and they form the foundations of each collection."
Wakeman has long prioritized quality and versatility with her designs — two highly relevant features for any modern shopper. "Now more than ever before this is of high importance with everyone having a slightly slower pace of life, working from home more, and the desire to wear pieces that are comfortable yet stylish, easy to wear, and most importantly, timeless."
Wakeman has a knack for luxe-looking outfits rooted in basics, which she says relies heavily upon the perfect white T-shirt. "We love teaming laid-back high-end tailoring with a basic T-shirt for a modern look. White T-shirts are useful, practical, and straightforward; they should be seen as the backbone for any outfit. Special attention should always be paid to the fit ... get it right, and you've got a layer for life, so it pays to spend a little more than you'd anticipated on the highest quality cotton."
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: The Range
For The Range co-founders and sisters Brittney Sage Rothweiler and Mia Laine Rothweiler, the best basics are those that feel effortless while redefining the concept of cool. "The Range is based on elevated staple pieces that you can build your own style around," Brittany tells TZR. "Each collection is designed to be easy, timeless, and transitional while still being unique and stand out."
From tank tops to utility pants and knit dresses, nuanced details set The Range's offerings apart. "There's a design element built into each garment that is either more apparent or more subtle, making our basics not so basic," Mia says. "We love the ability to either dress up or dress down a piece, which makes every item the perfect investment to update your wardrobe and stay with you for years to come."
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Cold Laundry
Minimal tailoring combined with clean sportswear is the epitome of modern and precisely what the London-based brand Cold Laundry achieves in its assortment of suits, sweat sets, and oversized basics. The unisex line, founded by Cerise and Ola Alabi, caters to those craving modern, functional, considered design, all in a palette of soft tones and pastel shades for a whimsical touch.
According to label photographer Oghalé Alex's website, the brand's founding ethos is about "escaping the noise" — a premise based on shaking the roughness, grit, and monotonous routine of everyday life through peaceful and aesthetically pleasing designs. "Our clothes are meant to inspire, calm, and bring about happiness and pleasant thoughts," Alex's website states. "This philosophy is reflected through the tones, designs, and the locations we capture our imagery."
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: La Ligne
Former Vogue editors Valerie Macaulay and Meredith Melling teamed up with rag & bone's former head of business development, Molly Howard, to create a modern collection of wardrobe staples centered around the stripe, going far beyond Breton knits and maritime tees. "La Ligne is a clothing brand aimed at providing an elevated uniform for the modern woman through the power of the stripe," co-founder, Macaulay tells TZR. "We dress a woman who lives a full and busy life. She needs a wardrobe that will take her from one event to the next, from day to night, so comfort and quality are essential."
Uniquely striped sweaters and tees are at the forefront of this collection, but the assortment of chic dresses, stand-out trousers, and impeccable outerwear anchor it for a result that's fresh and forward. "Our clothes are meant to be worn as a uniform, easily mixed and matched, and will stand the test of time," Macaulay says. "This is the beauty of the stripe. Adding a small line detail, whether it is contrast stitching or a tuxedo stripe, is what modernizes and elevates closet staples."
Wardrobe Essentials Brand: Frances de Lourdes
For luxurious T-shirts, tanks, and knits, Frances de Lourdes is best in class. "Our tees are classic, easy pieces with a sensual feel. Elevating a simple piece like a T-shirt with luxury fabrics and attention to detail is, in itself, modern," says founder and creative director Alejandra Echeverria. More than decadent to the touch, this luxurious assortment boats incredible fits, too. "We pay a lot of attention to the cut and proportions of our tees, so they look and feel fresh."
Echeverria says to think beyond casual moments when reaching for a comfortable piece of clothing — it's why she designs well-made basics to work for various occasions. "Most women don't have so much time to spend thinking about what to wear every morning, so versatility is very important. Being able to wear these pieces in many ways has become essential in a woman's wardrobe. By elevating classic pieces that women already feel comfortable in, our updated wardrobe staples become the first thing you reach for when getting dressed."