Not too long ago, oversized knits were completely inappropriate for work, black leather pants were the butt of a Friends joke, and cardigans were only something your grandfather wore. (Nobody could’ve seen the resurgence of the homely open-front sweater Katie Holmes singlehandedly ushered in.) But now, elevated, cozy winter basics like wool blazers, long-line coats, suede skirts, and mock-neck jumpers are par for the course whether you’re headed to the office or away for a weekend. And when it comes to the best ones, I don’t mind investing a bit more in premium fabrics and thoughtfully designed silhouettes that feel special.
Depending on your budget, that could mean spending mid-three-figures on a cashmere sweater from a brand like Totême or Acne — or it could mean stocking up on the best layering tissue turtleneck from a store like Oak + Fort or COS.
Budget aside, there’s a few things to look for in a winter staple: substantial fabrics like wool, cashmere, or mohair; a silhouette you’ve already established as a favorite; and the ability to wash it the way you prefer. (Dry-clean only sweaters are great and all, but if you’re not the type to get them cleaned promptly, they won’t serve much use from your hamper.)
How trend-forward or timeless you want to go is up to you: On the Fall 2019 runways, Max Mara showed a more of-the-moment suede mini-skirt with a matching slouchy blazer in a burnt orange hue; Proenza Schouler showed a few second-skin turtlenecks that flowed into pleated knit dresses. On the other hand, Loewe, Fendi, and Ferragamo favored more cozy, clean silhouettes like a roll-neck sweater in cream wool.
No matter which end of the spectrum you turn to, now’s the time to stock up. Ahead, 12 places I make sure to shop before winter starts, along with the exact pieces on my wishlist.
The H&M off-shoot has perfected easy, timeless staples. I’m particularly obsessed with its wool turtlenecks, which act as my go-to layering pieces from October thru March.
The Stockholm-based brand was founded by Elin Kling and Karl Lindman in 2014 and has been perfecting Scandi-minimalism with every piece since.
Iris & Ink
The Outnet’s in-house line is a genius trove of minimalist essentials. The sweaters are my favorite, but midi dresses and simple tees deserve your attention, too.
The Frankie Shop
This Lower East Side shop has a Parisian counterpart — and both stores have become a must-visit to the in-the-know. Not only does founder Gaelle Drevet stock the shop with emerging brands before they become household names, but each piece feels uniquely elevated.
Stockholm-based Acne Studios basically invented the luxury minimalist movement.
The designers at AYR, which stands for All Year Round, know the value of a simple, easy-to-wear staple.
Looking for a perfectly tailored staple? Israeli-born and New York-based designer Nili Lotan knows a thing or two about that.
Founded just two years ago by Catherine Holstein, her namesake brand (it's pronounced "Kate") has become the new minimalist darling on the scene. Take a peek at her lineup of easy, luxe separates and it's not hard to see why.
London-based contemporary label Whistles made its stateside debut last year. Its lineup includes separates that toe the line between trendy and timeless.
Oak + Fort
Looking to spend a little less on cozy basics but don't want the same sweater everyone else has? Enter: Oak + Fort, the Canada-based brand for minimalists everywhere.
Frances de Lourdes
What started in 2017 as a collection of refined tanks and tees later evolved into a brand that's mastered the luxe cold-weather layering piece.
Ask a group of fashion editors their favorite place for year-round staples, and more than half is likely to say Aritzia. Some prefer the easy tanks for summer, but I think the brand really shines in winter with its lineup of throw-and-go sweaters and hoodies.