Let’s face it…. closet organization can be intimidating! You may be hesitant on deciding what to keep or toss because you are afraid you’ll need a whole new wardrobe.
This month, I teamed up with wardrobe expert, Renée Johnson who shared some tips with me for creating a staple wardrobe for all seasons. Renée is a stylist for Stitch Fix and loves helping others find their style! She assured me that all of us ladies are faced with trying to figure out this wardrobe thing. To keep things as simple as possible, Renée compiled her top 11 recommendations of essential pieces that work for every season!
So take this article into your closet and make note of how many of these essential pieces you already have and clear out the rest!
- JEANS- No matter your preference, every staple wardrobe should have a pair of basic straight-fit denim, or what I like to call dressy jeans. Growing up in Texas, there was a common expression to have “church” jeans. These days, I recommend that you have a pair of regular or darker wash denim that can easily be dressed up for dressy casual occasions like date night or meeting up with friends at the local pub. I also suggest adding a couple other cuts and washes, like skinnies, boyfriend, or boot-cut. P.S. Please don’t wear any jeans other than boot-cut with your cowboy boots if you ever wanna consider yourself a true Texan.
- PANTS/SLACKS/TROUSERS- Move over khakis, the new must-have pants in your year-round wardrobe is a pair of fitted black pants. Go for a poly blend with added spandex for easy care and travel-ready-style. A classic navy pant is a must-have, too. These are perfect for any occasion that requires a business or business casual attire. They’re just the thing for girls’ night out, date night, teacher’s meetings, church, and any event where jeans just won’t do.
- DENIM BUTTON-DOWN- A denim/chambray long-sleeved button-down shirt is a versatile workhorse that never goes out of style. It can be worn as a simple top over leggings. Layer it jacket-style over a basic tank or graphic tee to stave off either cold a/c (think about the last time you went to the movies…brrrr) or the evening chill. Wear it under a classic crew-neck sweater for a charming casual vibe in colder months. Wear it with the sleeves rolled up over a maxi dress for a little urban exploration. My favorite is to wear it with black jeans and a statement necklace for a casual-cool-girl style. Try unbuttoning the bottom button or two and knotting the pieces together for a retro look. Check out this demonstration on how to cuff-it like a cool-girl!
- BASIC SOLID TANKS- Another wardrobe essential is a classic set of tank tops (preferably with a built-in bra) in white, black, navy, nude, and your signature color, too. Spend a little more to get the ones with a thick fabric and added spandex. These style staples are multi-purpose must-haves for layering, smoothing your bulges, hiding cleavage and more! Remember that adorable boutique blouse you loved, but then got it home only to realize it was completely see-through and the neckline when down to your navel? You’ll never have to worry about it as long as you have these wardrobe wonders on hand! They also go with anything from a printed maxi skirt to jeans to a lace pencil skirt for your anniversary dinner. I always bring these along when I travel, too, because they take up so little room and can replace just about any top in case of emergency stains, tears, or missing buttons. I even use them in lieu of pajamas if my suitcase gets too full.
- DENIM OR CARGO JACKET- Either look is perfect to keep on hand as a layer over a casual dress, jeans, or even workout gear for that necessary trip to the grocery when your-sweat soaked self shouldn’t be seen in public. Why is it that I always seem to run into people I know when I look my worst? There’s some kind of Murphy’s Law of inferiority—when you look bad, you will run into people you know! This also applies to weather. You need a jacket most when you don’t seem to have it. Trust Mom’s advice: when in doubt, bring a jacket.
- BLACK LEGGINGS- Don’t mistake this one for workout gear. These should be high-quality leggings that hold in all the jiggle and don’t pill when you wash them. They’re prefect with an extra-long tee and sneakers for movie night and can just as easily be dressed up with a sequined tank for a holiday party and heels. Leggings are also a great way to transition from summer to fall or winter to spring. Layer them with a boho tunic post Labor Day or under a long lightweight sweater at the first sign of spring!
- DRESSY BLOUSE- A print or solid blouse is where you can really immerse your penchant for style. If you like a more boho style, then choose something light and flowy. If you’re more of any edgy gal, then choose a bold print or solid asymmetrical cut. The point of this one is that it’s a perfectly polished style for either work or play that’s also easily dressed up for a night out. Pair it with pants for work or your favorite jeans and heels or wedges for weekend wear. It should be light enough to wear in spring and summer and then can be layered with a blazer, jacket, cardigan, or sweater in fall and winter. Choose a couple styles and sleeve lengths. I also recommend having one in your signature go-to color.
- TEE SHIRT- This kinda goes without saying, but you’ve got to have at least one go-to knit shirt in your closet. My favorite is a v-neck stripe (black or navy and white) as well as a solid in my signature color (turquoise). What’s your signature color? If you don’t know. Go see what color you have the most of in your closet, that’s probably it. Maybe it’s your favorite color or the color you wear and always get complimented on. Or maybe it’s just a graphic tee with your favorite sentiment…e.g. “Don’t Mess with Texas,” “But First, Coffee,” etc. The point of the tee shirt is to give you something that will go with just about anything and will let you feel your most casually comfortable while still exuding a little personal style.
- LBD (LITTLE BLACK DRESS)- You didn’t think I’d forget, did ya? Pick one in your style with a bit of a conservative cut. The purpose of the LBD, is that you want to be able to dress it for any occasion from a special date night, to dinner with the boss, to a fundraising gala, to the unexpected funeral, to a Broadway show. Yep, it needs to cover all the bases, so make sure it also covers all your parts. In this case, skimpier isn’t better. You can even opt for a maxi dress as long as it’s not too casual. You’ll accessorize for the occasion, so think of this as a blank slate on which to paint your masterpiece. We’ll have to save the low-down on jewelry and accessories for another post, but add jewelry, shoes and accessories as appropriate to the occasion.
- CARDIGAN- Choose a neutral color like tan, black, navy or white to layer over a tank top, tee, or blouse. This will turn any of the above items into a fall or winter look to expand on your options without having to expand your closet! If you’re more of a boho gal, choose a longer flowy, fringed, or trench style. If you consider yourself more of a Kate Middleton-classic then choose a crew neck button-up. If you exude an edgier vibe, go for something with an unexpected material, cut, or print.
- MAXI- Choose either a skirt or dress. The choice is yours, as is the print. This once summer-only trend has turned into a year-round mainstay. Choose one with a minimal print and year-round color, like navy, black, red, or teal and let your accessories determine the season! If you love the maxi, go ahead and have one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter.
So how do you utilize these pieces year-round?
Renée says, you’ll need to supplement with a few items for each season, like swimwear and shorts for summer, a sweater or two for winter, and of course appropriate shoes and accessories to add your own personal style and taste to each look. Invest in a few staple jewelry pieces, bags, a clutch, heels, sandals and sneakers and you’re set for a year-round look. Sprinkle in an on-trend item or two, like jewelry or shoes, each season but keep coming right back to your wardrobe basics season after season, year after year!
How does your wardrobe rate? Leave us a comment below.
About Renée: Renée Johnson is a mom of two very active gifted and talented teenage boys and a step-mom to three remarkable young adults. When she’s not busy taking care of her family, she tries to balance her time between three jobs as a Corporate Trainer, a Chloe + Isabel Jewelry Merchandiser, and a Stylist for Stitch Fix. And if that doesn’t sound busy enough, she’s also the Vice President of her neighborhood’s POA, the Vice President of Education for her local Toastmaster’s International Club, and is an active member of a few other community and professional organizations. She earned her bachelor of arts and secondary teacher certification from Texas A&M University, College Station, as a proud Fightin’ Texas Aggie of the class of 1994.