As a 20-something mom in the beginning stage of adulthood, I’m still stockpiling the basics in my life — kitchen tools, household appliances, furniture, etc. And one area I’ve been especially focused on is my wardrobe.
I love a good trend as much as the next girl, but I still needed the very basic wardrobe staples to mix-and-match in a cohesive, organized, well-edited closet. Out went the well-worn rejects, the college stragglers, the clothes that defined a person I used to be. And then instead of buying more of the same (striped shirts and polka-dotted dresses, in my case), I made a list of everything I was lacking. If I came across an item on that list, I’d buy it. If not, I waited it out.
And I had one very specific rule: It had to be something that I could mix into at least three different looks.
So in that spirit, I put together a guide of versatile Fall basics that can serve as the basis of an entire wardrobe. Although it’s generally believed that fashion basics should be of the best quality you can afford — they’re supposed to last! — I know $175 on jeans and $200 on a dress isn’t exactly reasonable for a lot us (myself included). That’s why everything on this list is under $100, with most being under $50.
Take a look at the Fall wardrobe basics that you should have in your closet:
Fall Basics for a Well-Edited Closet 1 of 24
You'll get plenty of use out of these Fall wardrobe staples...
Chambray Shirts 2 of 24
This is one of the most versatile pieces for Fall: wear it open like a jacket, tied over a dress, layered under a sweater, or buttoned up with jeans, trousers, or a skirt. And you'll continue to wear it in the winter and then the Spring.
(Not a fan of the denim shirt look? A flannel button-up has some serious Fall-weather versatility, as well.)
Buy from H&M, $24.95
Essential White Button-Up 3 of 24
Cardigan 4 of 24
One or two cardigans, for me, is a wardrobe staple — one neutral, one color. They can be worn over pretty much anything, anywhere.
Buy from H&M, $34.95
Fitted Blazer 5 of 24
I especially love the fitted blazers at J.Crew, but H&M offers some affordable alternatives.
Buy from H&M, $49.95
Basic T-Shirts 6 of 24
A building block for any wardrobe — one white tee and one dark tee, at least. Stripes are also an exceptionally versatile t-shirt option that always looks put-together, and a baseball tee is a cute addition to any wardrobe.
Black Turtleneck 7 of 24
It's like a blank canvas.
Buy from J.Crew, $19.99
Versatile All-Season Day Dress 8 of 24
Having one or two basic day dresses ensures you'll always have something pretty to wear that's also comfortable and versatile. A solid, neutral color is best — like that mint number on the right, which is literally called "Fresh Foundation Dress." And that's exactly what it is — a fresh foundation to layer in the colder months or accessorize in the warmer months.
Solid Skirt 9 of 24
The same goes for skirts: We should all have one or two neutral skirts that we can layer over and under, dress up or dress down. A pencil skirt (#2) is generally regarded as a classic must-have for any body shape, but A-line (#1) and midi (#3) skirts are equally versatile.
Patterned Skirt 10 of 24
But it's also fun to have one patterned skirt to build an outfit around.
Buy from ModCloth, $39.99
Black Tank 11 of 24
If you don't have one, get one. (Bonus points if it's shapewear!)
Buy from ModCloth, $12.99
Trench 12 of 24
While you might want to invest in a high-quality all-season trench coat, you can get the same basic style in Target.
Buy from Target, $34.98
Fall Jacket 13 of 24
Dark-Wash Bootcut 14 of 24
I also have skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, and colored skinnies on my "must-have" list, but if you have to choose just one style to invest in? Definitely the dark-washed flare.
Buy from Madewell, $98.50
Black Pants 15 of 24
A wardrobe staple, for sure. Take your time to find one that really fits well, or consider having a pair tailored.
Buy from GAP, $49.95
Black Leggings 16 of 24
While there are plenty of funky patterned leggings out there, a basic black pair is essential. (To layer under dresses and skirts, not to wear in lieu of pants.)
Buy from Forever 21, $9
Skinny Belt 17 of 24
A colorful skinny belt adds a pop of color to your neutral basics — and it can be worn with jeans or skirts, or used to cinch your waist over cardigans and dresses. (Brown is probably the most functional "basic," but I just love the pink.)
Buy from ModCloth, $21.99
Nude Pumps 18 of 24
Nude is the new black — elongating your legs and matching any color outfit.
Buy from Piperlime, $59
Black Booties 19 of 24
Riding Boots 20 of 24
Because they make me so darn happy. Boot season! YES!
Buy from Piperlime, $59
Ballet Flats 21 of 24
Or flat loafers, or small wedges — whatever fits your style. I prefer the ballet flat, myself.
Again, flat shoes will go with pretty much any outfit.
Buy from ModCloth, $29.99
LBD 22 of 24
Investing in a couple of special-occasion dresses has been one of the best decisions — no more panicked shopping for last-minute events, weddings, or parties. And don't just limit yourself to black! Navy blue, dark green, and deep purple are equally classic and elegant.
(P.S.: If I can't shop at Kate Spade for dresses, I'm shopping at ModCloth.)
Opaque Black Tights 23 of 24
Buy from H&M, $9.95
Your Turn 24 of 24
It's still an ongoing project, so let me know what else you think is a wardrobe basic!