Fashion Bomb 101: 10 Classic Wardrobe Basics for Work and for Play

When building a wardrobe you want to last from season to season, year after year, you’ll need to start out with basics. While trends are fun, having a closet filled with them does not make a wardrobe. Plus buying mostly trendy items—even if you get them from fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 and H&M–can get expensive since you’ll likely only wear the garments a few times. It’s all about the cost per wear—the more wear you can get from an item, the less it costs each time you wear it. For example, a well-tailored $500 Vivienne Westwood blazer that you can wear from now until the cows come home is better than that $70 strong shouldered body-con dress you bought 2 years ago and wore once.

Hopefully you have some of these basics in your closet, but if you don’t it’ll be fun shopping for them.

1. Dark denim boot-cut jeans.

Whether you’re a size 2 or 22, dark denim boot-cut jeans will suit your frame. Darker rinses are more flattering since darker colors tend to recede and make things look smaller and the wider leg opening helps to balance out hips and thighs. You can dress them up or dress them down making them the perfect wardrobe basic.

2. A well-tailored blazer.

Blazers add structure to your frame not to mention they instantly update almost any outfit. Invest in black or charcoal, then throw in a few funky colors just for fun.

3. A little black dress.

Let your LBD be your go-to for meetings at work, worship, and special events. You can rework it for just about any occasion with a blazer, sweater, shoes, and accessories. Your LBD need not be super simple–you can find some with interesting detailing from brands like Black Halo and Roland Mouret.

4. A statement coat.

In the spring and fall, a trench adds chic elements to your wardrobe. In the winter try a bright colored wool coat, fur (faux or real–your choice), or warm leather.

5. Black dress pants.

Even if you’re more of the creative type, a pair of black pants will take you through unexpected business casual moments. They can also be dressed up with heels or dressed down with laced oxfords or ballet flats.

6. A white button down blouse.

You can wear one with cutoffs, with the great fitting black dress pants we mentioned above, with a suit—I mean the possibilities are limitless. Have a little fun with your button down by choosing one with standout details like an asymmetrical neckline or cool buttons.

7. A plain cotton tee or tank.

V and U-necks are universally flattering, especially for those with larger busts. Cotton tees are perfect for summer and are great as a layering base in cooler temps.

8. A cardigan sweater.

Great for layering or worn on its own. Wear it time and time again with jeans, dress pants, over dresses, and to keep warm when it gets a little chilly.

9. Basic black or brown pumps.

These will go with just about any outfit. Get a classic pair, then throw in a few with platforms for extra flair.

10. A pair of flats in either a print or accent color.

Again, these will go with just about any outfit, and offer your feet much needed comfort on down days.

Once you’ve got your basics down, use your personality, lifestyle, and personal style to continue building your wardrobe with tons of accessories and stand-out pieces.

If you’re like Fashion Bomb reader Lindsey who wrote in asking… “Hi I’m a recent grad who has landed a great oppurtunity in finance with a well known company. I recently turned 29 and I need to deseperately revamp my closet. I want staple pieces that are classic yet fun. Please give me ideas that are chic, grown, sexy, and fun as well as transitional. Thanks” …and need to create a conservative work wardrobe capsule, you’ll also need the following:

* 5 suit jackets. Avoid buying suit jackets and pants together unless they can be interchanged with other work separates.

* 3 pairs of dress pants. Choose mostly solid colors and a few prints that can be mixed and matched with your suit jackets, pants, skirts, and dresses.

* 2 dress skirts. Below the knees for conservative work environments. Pencil skirts are universally flattering particularly on curvier frames. A-line skirts work best on boyish frames. For a more fashionable choice, look for peplum skirts.

* 2-3 sheath dresses. The dress shape Victoria Beckham made famous is a fun and chic way to be fashionable in the office. It’s also a way to show off your shape yet still be conservative. Channel your inner “Joan Clayton” and pair your sheath with a fitted blazer.

* Blouses and shells. Add some button down blouses and blousy tops my mom would call “shells”…lol. Here is where you can get a little creative with your work wardrobe. You can add a pop of color and even play around with different necklines. You can even sneak in a one-shoulder blouse as long as you wear a jacket.

Having these basics allows you to have an endless amount of outfit options as you’ll be able to mix and match to create a number of combinations (like the one above). Your suit jackets, dresses, skirts, and pants should be made in a seasonless fabric, typically synthetic materials like gabardine, twill, and polyester blends. Add in statement accessories like wood bangles, dangle earrings, pumps, comfy printed flats, and an oversized bag.

Check out more style ideas below:

Do you guys have anything to add?