Wardrobe Basics from Real Women

Right now, my closet looks like the wardrobe rack at an amateur theater company — bright, bedazzled, schizophrenic. As an avid thrift and vintage shopper, my dresser drawers overfloweth. Still, I seem to wear the same ten things again and again.

The clothes I buy on a whim always get the most play, and that got me wondering about other women’s wardrobe standbys. So I asked some stylish girlfriends about their basics.

Susan Wagner from The Working Closet

“My go-to item this summer has been the khaki City Mini from J. Crew.”

“It has an elastic “paperbag” waist that is perfect with a tank or tee and a skinny belt and a great A-line shape that makes my legs look thin (score!). I just bought the winter version, which is wool rather than cotton/linen, in bright dahlia, because it’s the perfect skirt and will go with everything I own and require no thought at all when I get dressed in the morning.”

Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo

“I’m obsessed with Emersonmade’s skinny jeans. They’re ridiculously flattering; honestly, they make me feel so sexy and shapely when I wear them.

“They’re super dark because they’re dyed with indigo. I wear them all the time, with T-shirts or blouses or sweaters.”

Katie Spence from Your New Favorite

“It is so very hot in Austin that mostly I wear skirts and dresses to keep things breezy. My favorite skirt this summer has been a chambray skirt that I got at Land’s End, but which is currently sold out.”

“However there is one on sale at Madewell that is almost identical. Lately I’ve been obsessed with natural fabrics, like cotton chambray and linen.”

Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day!

“These Gap slim crop pants in black. I can wear them with ballet flats or heels.”

“People dress up more here in Paris than in the US so these are my version of casual everyday pants.”

Rebecca Woolf from Girls’ Gone Child

Had to think about this because I don’t fit into any of my “usual” go tos (Ed note: Rebecca is currently 32 weeks pregnant with twins!), but last Fall it was this little corduroy half-jacket my friend Dani got for me at a thrift store:

(Ed note: If you want a crop jacket of your own, here are two to consider: 7 For Mankind Leather Crop, and a pattern for a simple cropped blazer.)

“My ‘go-to outfit’ is the dress + cardigan + booty + sock combo:”

Melissa Cotton from Poppy Cotton

“These are the most perfectly iconic ballet flats I have ever come across, and I have bought so many over the years looking for the perfect look and fit.”

“They are truly transformative to both my legs/feet and my outfit, quietly underscoring my entire fashion identity — classic and pulled together with a nod to the mid-century.”

Margaret Stewart from Fountly

“I have a dress I got this summer from Anthropologie that has proven to be the most versatile article of clothing I’ve ever owned. Seriously. I took it on a month long trip and wore it morning, noon, and (literally) night. Was great for sightseeing, casual or fancy meals, and (genius!) also an incredibly comfy nightgown.”

“Normally I shy from things without a waist; it’s my best feature! But in hot weather, it’s too binding to have a fitted anything! This thing was so damned comfy.”

Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom

“A scarf from J.Crew. It’s silk, but feels more like cotton, which I like.”

“It’s a warm pink and it has an almost florescent pink printed pattern. I picked it up on clearance last summer and I’ve worn it way too many days over the last year.”

(You can still find a couple of these babies on eBay, happy bidding.)

Interesting, right? Thanks, ladies!

Ok, team, now you. What’s your favorite item of clothing? If you have a link, all the better.

29 thoughts on “Wardrobe Basics from Real Women

  1. I have those croppedGap pants and they are truly a gift from god. In one week I wore them with a silky tank and leopard print heels on a date, with a blazer and wedges to work, and with a tee and sockless chuck taylors to the horse track. They’re perfect.


  2. I have something similar to the GAP pants in khaki from J. Crew and they are amazing. I wear them with sneakers, with heels, and everything in between. They’re so comfortable and they go with every occasion. The cropped pant is the way to go in the summertime!


  3. I don’t have a link, because it’s from last year, but this little navy shrunken blazer (it nips in right at the waist, single button), in a ponte fabric with just enough stretch, from Brooklyn Industries, has been my favorite since I bought it. It makes anything look pulled together. It adds polish to a white t-shirt and dark, skinny jeans. It’s awesome over a nautical stripe shirtdress with navy leggings and bright red flats. I love it so much that I just bought a black jacket in the same fabric (but different cut) from the Gap: http://gap.us/qzku72
    I have never owned a suit in my life, and love that these jackets add structure without stuffiness.


  4. Also, these Level 99 jeans, which somehow manage to be super-fitted but not look like they’re painted on. They make your butt look amazing, and they’re so soft, stretchy, and comfortable. Bonus: they’re very lightweight, so excellent for packing. (I feel like denim can really weigh a suitcase down, usually.) http://anthrpl.ge/qX7KtJ
    Tip: these are often sold new on ebay for about 1/3 of the Anthro price.


  5. I have this navy blue balloon skirt with an uneven hem that I love so much. It wasn’t something I thought I could wear, but it’s turned out to be a my default look when I want to wear a simple top (but not look generic):

    I also have a leopard-lined blazer that I got from Filene’s Basement in Chicago last fall. My problem is the opposite of yours – most of my clothes are plain and neutral, so stuff that adds personality is great! This blazer works with a cotton dress or pants and makes the plainest things look just a little bit vavoom.


  6. These are awesome and super cute staples! But I thrift because I totally can’t afford to do anything else, some of these fabulous pieces I wouldn’t be able to buy unless I saved for several months! That said, I am taking these ideas and searching out affordable alternatives!
    In that vein:
    The Gap “Always Skinny” jeans are at the very, very top end of my budget but they are cute with everything, flattering on everyone and I wear them till they’re threadbare (it takes a couple months!) so I justify it that way!


    thanks for the ideas! And the project!


  7. I just bought the perfect striped shirt at COS, I wear it all the time and it was only 25 pounds. My favourite outfit is some jeans (I usually just wear 10 euro skinny jeans from H&M), desert booties from Topshop which are over 2 years old but still perfect, a simple black tshirt (also from COS), and a grey tweed blazer from Zara to make it a little more put together.


  8. I bought a fitted tuxedo jacket with a cream collar at Gap last year just because it was Final Sale only 7.97….I wore that jacket at least 5 times a week. With tanks and jeans, corduroys, blouses, skirts, leather pants, on and on infinity. I am on the hunt for a pair of sequin pants to put with it for holiday parties. Hottt!


  9. I have worn the JCrew Jenny dress at least 2 times/week since I got it in June. I wear it with a belt and blazer or light sweater for work or by itself when I’m out & about on the weekend. http://bit.ly/pOmGQ5

    Admittedly, it took me 1.5 months of wearing it before I realized I should have bought a smaller size (super unflattering, especially for my rear section), but I can’t give up on it now. It’s too comfortable and versatile.


  10. This sounds random, but I don’t know where I would be without the simple work dresses from Target’s Merona line. I can’t find any links right now to the exact dresses that I have but I have two different shift styles in multiple colors each. They are so basic, no more than $30, fully lined, can each be accessorized a million different ways and work in all seasons with different layers. Merona for Target is amazing!


  11. I love mightygirl.com but have never posted a comment before. I feel compelled to add my praise for the Gap Slim Cropped Pant in black. These. Saved. My. Business/Business Casual. Life. Thanks for another helpful and fun post!


  12. I love the skinny jeans from the Gap OUTLET. They have to be the ones from the outlet. They are cheap (like $49 but always on some sort of sale) and they fit great – fitted but not tight. They’re also long enough for my long legs. I have them in blue and in grey. More expensive jeans might have a better color, but nothing fits me better than these babies.


  13. I have a gray and black printed v-neck tee from Ann Taylor loft that I wish I could wear every day. Unlike 90% of the other tees in my closet, the neckline is high enough for work, the sleeves hit in the right place, and the print is printy without being gawdy (where that line falls is a personal choice).

    Now that I work at a place where “business casual” is what my old workplace would call “don’t even wear that on Fridays,” I’m rebuilding my work/play wardrobe and LOOOVE posts like this. (I did give away half my clothes when I moved back to CA, so at least there’s room to grow…)


  14. My staples are tank top, cardigan, trouser/jean/long flowy (flowey? flowing? is this the hardest thing to spell) skirt. Birks. I recently started wearing giant flowered rings as accessories to promote my making of them! And heavy bang – which I talk about like they are a seperate entity. so that’s it, tank-jean-ring-bangs.


  15. I’ve had EmersonMade jeans on my wishlist for ages now, but haven’t pulled the trigger. Wondering if anyone can offer fit advice? Do they run true to the size chart? How do they compare to other brands of jeans?


  16. I was in Anthropologie on the mainland (danger zone) and I saw this dress on my way to the fitting room. It looked like nothing on the hanger, and honestly, I tried it on because the shirt that comes with it caught my eye – I was looking for a cropped top. So I tried it on. Mercy, mercy me.
    I got the shirt I wanted (and love) and this amazing, amazing dress. Part sexy slinky dinner out, part beach cover up with a big floppy-brimmed hat and, part nightgown, it is the single most useful travel piece I have ever purchased. True, true love.


  17. You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for much more passionate writers like you who aren?¯t scared to say how they believe. Always go best after your heart.


  18. I have a similar pair of slim cropped pants (but mine are navy and from j.crew.) They’re a couple years old and I’ve tried to find another pair on sale at J.Crew and haven’t been able to. I’ll have to give the GAP ones a try. I wear them at least two times a week and they are so comfortable and go with everything!!!


  19. I have the Anthropologie Dress and I can second that–it’s the MOST comfortable thing I have ever owned in my entire life. Soft, comfy, sooo pretty. I wear it with a white t under and an orange cardigan on cool mornings/nights. It’s perfect.


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