Wardrobe essentials are foundational items in your closet.
They transcend seasons and are the starting point of all your outfits. Having a closet rich in important wardrobe essentials is the number one way to dress better, which is rather obvious. How do you know if an item of clothing is an essential? Quite simply, they make your life easier. Whether it’s dressing to go to an interview, work or travel, they are the items in your closet that you wear regularly and can make special by building on each season with different colours, trends or accessories. Creating a closet that has all the right essentials is absolutely key to flexible and adaptable dressing that makes you feel great. If you struggle to put outfits together, it might be because you don’t have the right essentials.
In this third post in our Wardrobe Rehab Series, we’re once again partnering with our friends from the fashion marketplace app Shedd to help you create the perfect wardrobe. Make sure you download the app if you haven’t already – it’s a great way to build your closet without breaking the bank.
Choosing Your Essentials
The main reason for developing an essentials list for your closet is to understand where the gaps lie, as a means of informing your future shopping choices with the end goal being a perfect closet. The key thing is understanding what you have and what you need. To develop this list, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHAT YOU NEED
What could you never live without?
If someone told you could only have 30 items in your closet, what would they be? Much like the selectiveness we have to utilise when we pack for travel, understanding those key, can’t live without items is a great process for developing your essentials list. Be brutal!
Which pieces in your closet get worn the most currently?
This is more about understanding what you have now, and those pieces that you get the most wear out of are the starting point of your essentials list, whether it’s a maxi skirt or a Breton striped top.
What base colours do you wear?
Your essentials list is about shapes and styles, and it’s also about colours. Naturally you want the essentials you buy to be versatile and create as many outfits as possible, and therefore it’s useful to develop a palette for your essentials. In the next step we’ll talk about this more but for now, go with colours that compliment each other and can also be worn with a large range of other highlight colours – black, white, beige, khaki, tan and navy are great options.
What occasions do you find hard to dress for?
If there are particular times you struggle to decide what to wear, chances are it’s because you’re missing key pieces that could cater to those occasions. Struggle to dress for a night out with the girls? Maybe a LBD or something similar would be useful to add? Never feel pulled together when it’s cold out? Maybe a chic overcoat or leather jacket is something you desperately need. List out the times you struggle most and try to understand what key pieces would fix that.
What pieces do you wish you had but feel you can’t afford?
Don’t avoid including key pieces in your essentials list just because you think you can’t afford them – a leather jacket is a great example of an expensive piece that is worth budgeting for. And shopping on a fashion market place app like Shedd is a great way to snag great essentials at a fraction of the retail cost. Above I have shared with you my essentials. This list I have refined over the last few years, and they are now the most worn pieces that I own.
FILLING THE GAPS IN YOUR ESSENTIALS LIST
Once you’ve developed your list of essentials, we suggest you start the process of researching/shopping for the items that are currently ‘gaps’ – pieces that would make your wardrobe significantly more wearable. We’ll talk about shopping in more detail later on in this series, but a few tips to consider for now are listed below.
When it comes to essentials, it’s a good idea to spend as much as you can afford (within reason obviously). That’s because you want your essentials to be investments that last a long time and are great quality. A little tip from me, I’ve been using Shedd a lot to research and invest in essentials that I really need. Buying second hand often allows you to get much better value, and thus better quality, which is a complete win win.
We will talk a lot about colours in the next step, but in the meantime we would suggest that when buying your essentials, you select colours that are foundational in your wardrobe. This will ensure they are wearable for a significant period of time and also versatile for pairing with other colours.
Pair it up
When you’re shopping, it’s important to make sure that you’re buying items that build multiple outfits. Which is why you should make sure that you are mentally pairing outfits in your head when you are investing in essentials. 4 outfits with any new essential is a great start.
Illustrations by Annie Huang.