I asked my Instagram followers for blog content ideas, and one of them suggested I write a post on wardrobe staples that I’ve found work well for me.
Through trial and error, I have found what works for me!
It would be remiss of me not to mention that embarking on my simplicity journey has really helped me figure this out. You will soon find that I touch on this quite often.
What is a wardrobe staple?
A wardrobe staple is something that compliments a good chunk of the items in your wardrobe, and they are your go-to items that are on high rotation.
When choosing staple items for your wardrobe, you need to answer a few questions.
- How many days a week do you work, and what is your work dress code?
- What will work with most of the items in your wardrobe?
- Do you own more printed or plain coloured clothes?
- What do you feel most comfortable in? E.g. cotton, a certain cut?
Your work wardrobe
I’ve decided to start with this as most of my followers work full time, and therefore spend most of their life at work!
My first job out of university had a corporate dress code. Back then, I wasn’t earning much and had no option but to have weekend clothes and work clothes. I found this to be quite stressful as corporate clothes are more expensive than casual clothes. Furthermore, I realised I was buying too many clothes I actually felt comfortable in, but only got to wear 2 days a week. This is one reason why I ended up with too much.
Now I work in tech, an industry notorious for their smart casual dress code. My wardrobe is more fluid and this has helped me spend less on clothes and refine my wardrobe.
Most of the items I’ll share apply to my lifestyle, however I’ll share some suggestions for those of you who need to dress a little fancier. Let’s get started!
Do you own more prints or plain coloured clothes?
It’s really important to assess whether you own more prints or plain coloured clothes. If you’re like me and own a lot of prints, your outerwear staples are more likely to be plain, or in other words, one colour or shade because it’s hard to mix prints with prints.
Staple outer layers
A light and dark denim jacket are the perfect wardrobe outer layer for late spring, summer and early autumn, and are great for layering in the colder months. There are a few reasons why it’s good to have both.
Firstly, as they’ll be on high rotation, you don’t want to look like you own one jacket. Secondly, you may or may not have noticed, but some colours clash with either shade. For example, light denim can look too ‘matchy matchy’ with light blue and dark denim can clash with navy. Thirdly, they look great with prints or plain clothes!
Below are an example of each!
Biker Jackets are perfect for staying warm when it’s not freezing, but not warm enough to get away with a denim jacket. They are also one of those things that some people may not realise how versatile they are. They go with almost everything: skinny jeans and a t-shirt, a black pencil skirt and blouse, a casual dress of any length, over a hoody – the possibilities are endless! I really recommend you get one in black as this will compliment everything.
Here are some suggestions that feature in my blog post ‘Real leather jackets for every budget’.
Blazers are perfect for corporate attire, and they can amp up a casual outfit.
They’re great to have on hand for events like weddings, engagements, conferences and anything a little more formal.
Once again, you can’t go wrong with a black one, but white blazers are also good for the warmer months. Here are some suggestions on how you can wear a black or white one in a few different ways.
Please note, all these images are from Pinterest! I do know that the last blogger is Kat Tanita from With love from Kat
Black parka jacket
Ah winter, my least favourite season. It’s important to have something warm and cosy to wear during your winter commute to work, and for outdoor activities. Once again, black is the best and most versatile colour, so I highly recommend purchasing this colour to see you through the cold season. Bonus points if you can get something that’s water resistant as you’ll probably need it in winter, and it will save space in your wardrobe!
I’ve had a khaki one for 4 or 5 years and wish it was in black as I do wear a lot of green. I haven’t replaced it yet because it’s exceptional quality and still going strong. In saying this, the next one I buy will be black! Below are two examples.
I’ve owned a few coats in different colours over the years and have gotten the most wear out of my black ones. I can throw it on with anything to ‘amp’ up an outfit and don’t have to worry if it matches the rest of my outfit. If you do get a black coat, did buy it a size up so you can layer with chunky knits…I made the mistake of not doing this!
So I’ve discussed outerwear, now let’s get started on some clothes that I think are important to have on hand. You will see that all of the clothes I mention are black and this is because I think it’s the perfect blank canvas.
Black ‘dressy’ dress
I think it’s important to have a black dress you can wear to a formal occasion like a wedding or engagement party. I’ve had a Bec and Bridge halter mini dress for six years and I’ve worn it so many times! It is getting a little too short for my liking so I will replace it eventually, but I’m so glad I bought it!
Anyhow, it’s important to get a black dresses in a classic cut. To assess whether one is a classic cut or not, ask yourself “Will this go out of fashion quickly?” I’ve put together some examples below of classic dresses.
IRIS & INK Mariposa bow-detailed silk crepe de chine dress was $265 AUD, now $68 | DKNY Ruffled-trimmed stretch-crepe dress was $259 AUD now $90 | HALSTON Split-front ruched crepe gown was $595 AUD now $148 | HALSTON Wrap-effect satin-crepe gown was $835 AUD now $125
Casual black dress
It’s great to have a more casual black dress on hand that you can dress up for work or dinner with friends, or dress down with sneakers or sandals for brunch and the grocery run.
Pull&Bear 3/4 sleeve ribbed midi dress in black $20.00 | Big W Brilliant Basics Women’s Long Sleeve Swing Dress in black $15 (I own this dress and wear it at least once a week in winter) | The Fated Chandler Midi Dress on sale for $40 This probably looks ‘dressy’ in the photo but it’s linen, a material that exudes more casual vibes | Monki Robin poplin cotton smock dress in black $60
It’s so easy to team a colourful t-shirt, blouse, jumper, shirt etc. with a black skirt!
Slip skirts are all the rage at the moment, but I’ve never looked good in them, so I don’t own one and therefore haven’t included it here. But I do own a skirt from Dotti that’s very similar to the one on the left, and am on the look out for a black pencil skirt (they’ll be back – trust me!).
I think it’s worth having one or two black skirts that are different cuts and materials. For example, I couldn’t wear my faux leather skirt with my leather jacket, otherwise I’d fear I look like Sandy from Grease.
I’ve decided to mention a couple of items that are deceptively versatile and therefore, a great wardrobe staple!
The khaki duster
A duster jacket is basically a very light weight version of a long jacket. They can come in a variety of styles, for example they can come with a waterfall neckline or look like a trench coat.
I’ve realised that khaki compliments a lot of colours, so if you have a wardrobe full of colours that do compliment khaki, then it’s worth getting a duster as an outer layer. If you’re like me and dress more casual (mainly because I have to wear sneakers all the time because of my foot problems), then a light weight khaki parka or utility jacket is a less dressy alternative. I personally don’t own one yet, but am totally on the look out for one.
Below are some examples to illustrate the variety of options.
Left: This jacket isn’t available anymore (sorry!), but I thought I’d include it as it’s definitely an example of a traditional duster jacket.
Second from left: This jacket also isn’t available anymore (sorry, again) but it’s a great example of a duster jacket with a waterfall neckline.
Third from left: This is Kmart’s Raglan Anorak in ‘Sage’ and a steal for $30. Let me tell you – it came out when COVID hit, I had my eyes on it but now it’s not available to try on in store! Dammit. Oh well, there will be others.
Last pic: This is an example of a utility jacket that is available to purchase from Target! At $49, it’s pretty affordable!
The stripy dress
A stripy dress is another item of clothing that is incredibly versatile. They’re the perfect ‘throw on’ item that requires little thought as it compliments most of the outerwear I mentioned above. I own this Kmart one to the right and have worn it with both my denim jackets, my faux leather jacket, a maroon jacket and a black coat!
I hope I’ve done a good job showing what staple items work best for me. These days I don’t own much clothes (intentionally) and the above items help keep my wardrobe clutter free and make getting dressed in the morning a lot easier.
I’d love to know – what are your favourite wardrobe staples?