Wardrobe Essentials: Ten Things That Should Be in Every Woman’s Closet

How many times have you looked into your closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear?” If you hear yourself uttering this statement, it’s a sign you have a dysfunctional closet. In other words, your wardrobe is probably missing several key essentials that allow you to transition easily from one outfit to the next. It’s time to stop the insanity and get a functional closet.

The Perfect Ten is a collection of wardrobe essentials. That is, ten classic pieces that should be in every woman’s wardrobe. This is the best remedy to a dysfunctional closet. It’s truly amazing the number of outfits that can be made when these ten items rest in your wardrobe: count ’em up and you’ll find at least 32 different combinations. Along with your signature item, the majority of your shopping dollars should be spent on classic, well-made versions of these items that fit your personal style.

10 Wardrobe Essentials Needed for a Functional Closet

1. Black Suit

All Season Stretch Open Jacket

Purchase at least one basic black jacket with either matching black skirt or black pants. Make sure it’s made of a lightweight, seasonless material like gabardine or rayon and contains a small amount (no more than 5%) of spandex/lycra to ensure a quality fit.

2. White Dress Shirt

Tailored Shirt

This is an important closet staple and can be both trendy (wear underneath your favorite t-shirt) and classic (wear with a business suit). Head to stores like the Gap for high quality, basic cotton shirts well under $50.

3. Plain Black Pumps

Cole Haan Chelsea Pump

Make sure your closet has at least one pair of 1- to 2-inch plain black pumps that takes you from the office to dinner. Use shoe jewelry from stores like Torrid to change the appearance of your shoes without breaking the bank.

4. A Pair of Great Fitting Jeans

Lucky Brand Jeans Sweet 'N Straight Straight-Leg Jeans, Ol Sunflower Wash

Every closet must have at least one pair of great fitting denim jeans. Two are even better. Discount leader Target.com offers a custom jean service.

5. Black Dress

Elementz Side-Ruched B-Slim Dress

A closet staple, the “little black dress” should be made of a sturdy but lightweight fabric like a cotton/rayon blend. Avoid heavy wool fabrics that counteract the slimming effects of the color and limit wear during the warmer seasons.

6. Three Spandex T-shirts

Essential Short-Sleeve Crew Tee

Purchase three cotton/spandex shirts in the following colors: black, white, and another, brighter color (that suits you well). These shirts help stretch your closet and are perfect for layering as well as wearing alone. We suggest Gap t-shirts which are great quality AND well priced (usually under $15).

7. Tote Bag

FENDI Black Leather '3Jours' Engraved Logo Plate Tote

One of these bags serves double duty as a briefcase during the week and a shopping bag on the weekend.

8. Sneakers

ASICS GEL-Noosa Tri 9

You’ll need one pair of sneakers that can be worn both for workouts and casual activities like shopping.

9. Trench Coat/All-Weather Coat

Calvin Klein Khaki Double Breasted Belted Trench

A classic trench coat can be worn as an all-weather coat and a dress (make sure the buttons of the coat extend to at least 3 inches above your knee). Look for coats with a removable lining to increase usage.

10. An Extra Pair of Pants/Denim Skirt

Levi's Pencil Skirt

A weekend staple, an extra pair of pants/denim skirt add diversity to your outfits.


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Catherine Brock

Catherine Brock is a writer, editor and marketer who's been sharing wisdom online since 2002. She's been featured on DrLaura.com, Wellness.com and ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis and KCAL9 Los Angeles. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. Learn more about Catherine.
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