Are you staring at your closet, day after day, and wondering what to wear? Let’s break it down to a core set of eight items around which you can really build multiple outfits every day of the week. These eight items work in every season and also make for a great core wardrobe for those weekend getaways when looking sharp is a necessity.

When you look at these items, you may say, “Where are the black shoes?” or “What about a white V-neck t-shirt?” Yes, we didn’t include EVERY item needed and made some assumptions that you likely have a few staples in your closet already. But the items below are ones that are true work horses and are sometimes overlooked in favor of something trendier … these items are the ones that make getting dressed so much easier. And, isn’t that what we all want?

8 Wardrobe Staples Every Woman Needs

1. Black-and-white horizontally striped shirt

A black-and-white striped shirt is a classic look that is always fresh — and it’s a wardrobe multiplier. What I mean is that it can give a whole new look to some other wardrobe items. Take any patterned pant or skirt — as long as it has black in it, it will likely work paired with this shirt. Tuck it in, wear a blazer over it, layer it under a chambray shirt or pair it with a long chiffon skirt and strappy sandals for a dressy/casual look. This shirt will be one you go for time and time again.

SB Tip: Consider having a sweater version for winter.

striped shirts
Blogger Miss Moss posted this to Instagram as an example of just some of the striped shirts she has. The point is that these shirts are super useful, and once you have one you’ll realize that you may want more with different necklines, wider or more narrow stripes, more black or more white as the background … but you’ll never regret the purchase of a black-and-white striped shirt! Image: Miss Moss
Striped shirt outfits
Here you can see how versatile this one type of shirt is. Pair with a patterned skirt (image), with an army green vest (image), with a pink tulle skirt for a dressy look (image), with a jean jacket and olive chinos (image) or with a long, black maxi skirt and leopard skinny belt (image). Plain and simple: you need one or two or three, but at least one! Images:

2. White button-down blouse

Untucked with jeans or shorts for a Saturday brunch, or tucked into a skirt for a workday outfit, nothing compares to the classic white blouse. Tie it, tuck it, untuck it or wear it over a cami unbuttoned … it always works. The key is to find one that fits you perfectly. It’s worth trying on many and finding the one that fits you just right across the shoulders and the bust. After that, make sure the sleeves are long enough and consider getting alterations if needed as the money spent is worth it — you will wear this shirt nonstop!

The white blouse works for casual, work and dressy looks.
The white button-down blouse is paried nicely, tied up, with a midi-skirt (image), at a casual Saturday at a game (image), dressed up with jeans and heels (image), tucked into a skirt for a look perfect for work (image) or even made into gala attire (image).

3. Chambray button-down

This shirt is my favorite go-to look. Pair it with white jeans, gray jeans, a dark denim skirt, a dressy skirt, a tulle skirt, with a suit, with grey dress pants … I’m not sure what this shirt doesn’t go with! Find one that isn’t too thick or too bulky. You may end up wanting a few as the different washes are fun to play with. And, yes, a good denim shirt can be used in the same way, just be careful it isn’t too ye-haw Western.

chambray: the best shirt ever
From a printed skirt (images here and here) to a pair of dark jeans (image) to leather leggings (image), a chambray button-down is your best friend. It’s immediately comfortable, and the color is flattering on all.

4. Camel blazer

Yes, a black blazer is amazing. But, we wear our black jeans so much in the winter and white jeans so much in the summer that the camel blazer is just perfect year-round as something to be worn with the aforementioned jeans as well as with a gray, navy or black dress without it looking too dark. The best of both worlds is to have black, camel and white blazers, but if I had to choose one that most women need, likely don’t have and will be worn time and time again, it’s the camel blazer.

camel blazer looks
Note that this collage brings in the black-and-white striped top, a white button-down, a chambray button-down and leopard shoes (our next must have item!). You can wear your camel blazer casually, professionally or even belted Images from top left clockwise: Stitch Fix, J Crew, J’s Everyday Fashion, StylePantryGlam Radar.

5. Leopard print shoes

If you’ve been looking closely, you’ve noted in the above photos some leopard shoes, bags and belts. This print works well with many outfits because it’s a classic look that’s modern as well. And, the print is made up of neutral colors making it an easy one to pair with many prints and solids. While we love a leopard print jacket and blouse, accessories like handbags, belts, scarves and shoes are easy to incorporate into many outfits. If you were to look through any of the above photo collages, pretty much any of the outfits could be paired with a pair of leopard shoes. They are super versatile, but if you simply don’t like leopard, think about snakeskin.

Now, you just need to decide if you need heels, flats, funky sneakers or booties … which leopard shoes will you get?

Ann Mashburn Leopard Shoes
Find a pair of leopard shoes that you love, and they will be favorites. These are from Southern brand Ann Mashburn.

6. Black pencil or A-line skirt

A black skirt is a must-have, hands down. It’s the go-to skirt that you can pair with a t-shirt and jean jacket on the weekends, or with a black blouse and heels for a night out, or with a white button-down (or chambray!) top depending on what your work dress code is. The pencil skirt is a classic look, but it can be hard for some women to wear as plenty of us (me included!) are simply wider across the thighs than the hips. If that is you, an A-line works well — and allows you to leave the Spanx in the drawer!

A black skirt that hits at the knee (or just above or just below, depending on your preference) is a MUST! Images: left, right.

7. A gray or navy dress that works for all seasons

You need a dark dress for many reasons, but here are a few: they work if you’re not quite sure what the dress code is for an event, they dress up or down with ease depending on your accessories, they are perfect for travel as they don’t show dirt easily, and the sad truth is that we attend many funerals and you really do always need that dress you can wear to a funeral in your closet ready to go. The reason I say gray or navy and not black is because many people don’t like wearing black to weddings and baptisms, and this is the dress that you want to be able to wear to EVERYTHING! If you are super casual and don’t really need a more structured dress, buy a more casual one, but keep it classic and select one that works for many occasions. When you need this dress, you will be so thankful it’s in your closet … and you’ll need it more than you may think.

A gray or navy dress works well for so many circumstances. Add a denim jacket, a camel blazer, a leather biker jacket … make it your style, but dress it up or down, and it will take you from a baptism to a wedding to a funeral to a work function and, with the right accessories, to a cocktail party. Images: left, center, right.

8. Dark rinse jeans

While ankle skinny jeans are still a favorite of many (we get it … you never need to worry about your hem length with skinny jeans!), a dark pair of bootcut jeans (with no whiskering and no holes) are flattering on everyone and round up this list as a must-have. You can wear them dressed up in a way that other jeans just can’t accomplish. Yes, you can have all the other jeans, but just make sure these must-haves are always on-hand. On those days that you can’t decide what to wear, consider these your default choice.

Darks jeans just polish you off in a way that lighter rinse or torn jeans just can’t do. Images: left, center, right

There you go. Nothing earth-shattering, but I promise that when you invest in key pieces like these eight, your morning routine and all future packing will be so much easier!

Here’s your shopping list. Now hit your local stores!:

  1. Black and white striped tops
  2. White button down
  3. Chambray button down
  4. Camel blazer
  5. Leopard shoes
  6. Gray or navy all-season dress
  7. Black pencil or A-line skirt
  8. Dark rinse jeans


For more style tips, check out our Southern Edition What to Wear archives, filled with our best fashion tips for any season!

About the Author
Liza Graves

As CEO of StyleBlueprint, Liza also regularly writes for SB. Most of her writing is now found in the recipe archives as cooking is her stress relief!