10 Wardrobe Essential for Women
1. Basic black dress. Don’t necessarily think little black dress here, especially if it’s critical that you put together a good career or interview wardrobe; what works well as a good wardrobe essential is a basic black shell dress that can be worn with a cardigan or blazer, dressed up with a scarf, or just worn by itself with a simple strand of pearls.
2. Trench Coat. This is a wildly popular piece right now, with budget-minded places such as Target and Old Navy selling them in a range of bright colors and patterns; those are certainly fun, but make sure you have a good basic trench in a neutral color before you go nuts with all the colorful options. Look for one that’s lined, includes a belt, and has a good, classic fit (single- or double-breasted is up to you and should be whichever looks best on you).
3. Classic dress pants. This is one piece where fit is critical. You need to know which styles look best on you, but a good mid-rise with a slightly wide, flared leg is flattering on just about everyone. Look for quality construction, because you’ll want these to last, and you should also go for a good fabric like a lightweight worsted wool or poly blend. Darks or neutrals are best for color, because they’ll be the most versatile with other pieces.
4. Classic white shirt. This may be a recommended “piece” for your wardrobe, but I’d recommend having 2 or 3 of these, perhaps in a color or two in addition to white (off white or blue work well). Places like the Gap have these as a year-round staple, so they’re easy to find. On days where you’re running late and can’t decide what to wear, grab this, a cardigan and your dress pants, and you’re set.
5. Skirt. Think knee-length or slightly (but not too much) above the knee. A-line, straight or pencil skirt are all flattering on almost everyone, and can be paired endlessly with other items. As with the pants, you’re best served to go with a dark or neutral for greater versatility.
6. Blazer. Nipped-in profiles with 3/4 sleevess are all the rage now, but don’t think that means you have to overlook a classically tailored blazer. Those never go out of style, and will probably have greater wardrobe longevity than the shrunken variety that dominates right now. That said, the more fitted, smaller silhouette can be extremely flattering, and is a knockout combo with a pencil skirt (or paired with jeans). Again, know what looks best on you.
7. Day Dress. This can be something as simple and basic as a shirtdress, or something trendier, like a kimono-style dress. Try to choose something that works well with the rest of your wardrobe, especially if you’re on the interview trail. A blazer over a shirtdress, for example, is a workable alternative to the more traditional business suit uniform.
8. Cashmere sweater. Gunn has this on the list because it’s a classic, and because they wear well with good care. You can throw this together with a skirt or pants for an easy, elegant work outfit, and feel good about yourself with the luxurious touch of that soft knit against the skin. Feeling good about ourselves is as important as looking good, and having a piece like this in your wardrobe is a functional indulgence.
9. Jeans. Good jeans, specifically–not ratty, torn or acid-washed jeans. Not faded jeans. Look for a good dark jean that fits you as a good pair of dress pants would–in other words, do not buy jeans so tight they look like they’re painted on. The same rule for fit with dress pants applies here, too–a mid-rise with a slightly wide, flared leg (or boot-cut, in jeans) is a great look. They’re most flattering paired with heels, but if you’re just not in the mood to wear heels with your jeans, at least go for a modest heel–my go-to is a good pair of cowboy boots with a 2-inch heel. It gives a longer, slimmer look.
10. A comfortable alternative to a sweat suit. This is the only item on which I differ from Uncle Tim; I’ve just never liked sweat suits, even the “dressier” French velour sets that are so popular now, but that’s me. There are some darling matched sweat suits out there, so if that’s what you feel comfy in on weekends, go for it. I’ll make no. 10 “jeans, part 2,” and keep a spare pair around.