Ever since I started editing my wardrobe, I've been giving more thought to my wardrobe basics. These items serve as my go-to pieces and the foundation for everything else I add to my closet. As I mentioned last month, I'm doing the 5 Piece French Wardrobe; basics don't count towards the five items I purchase per season until I've checked off all of the items on my list.
So what's on the list of basics? You can see an example here, but your list will depend on your location, lifestyle and personal preferences. I think of basics as the pieces required to have a functional, comfortable wardrobe. Usually, it's ideal to choose your basics in neutral colors (gray, black, white, beige). As for how many of each basic you need, the numbers will vary by individual, so set a quota based on what you need each season and then stick to a one-in, one-out policy. This will ensure you don't overbuy basics, just because they're basics (guilty!).
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for basics:
- Shape: Do you prefer fitted pieces or a slightly less structured look? What cuts and necklines are most flattering and practical? Does the shape of each basic work with the other items in your wardrobe?
- Versatility: Can you wear each basic with multiple outfits? Can the basic work as a layering piece with other items in your wardrobe?
- Comfort: Are the fabric and fit comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time? If you feel at all self-conscious or fidgety wearing the basic, it's probably best to pass on it.
- Longevity: Will the fabric hold up to frequent wearings and washings? Is the item truly basic enough to wear for months?
- Care Instructions: Before purchasing any item of clothing, I always check the washing instructions on the tag. I usually avoid dry-clean only pieces unless they're things like coats that don't need to be washed frequently. Note that some "dry-clean only" items can be hand washed.
The point of 5 Piece Wardrobe-ing is to have fewer, but higher quality, items in your closet. The same goal applies to choosing basics: they are the most essential part of my wardrobe, so when possible, I choose quality over quantity. Every once in a blue moon, I splurge on a pair of dark-wash skinny jeans that last for years without stretching or fading. My favorite shop for tees and sweaters is Aritzia, but I've also found great basics at H&M, J. Crew and Zara.
At the moment, my typical uniform involves denim, tees and sweaters. Along with those, I toss on a black jacket that I can dress up or down and my favorite black ankle boots. I plan to share a more in-depth list of my basics soon.
What's on your list of wardrobe basics?