Back to Basics: The Building Blocks of a Fab Wardrobe

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When I'm working with clients to get their wardrobe in shape, the question that I'm asked the most is:

"What are some key pieces I should ALWAYS have in my closet?"

The following is a list of some all-season workhorse items that you should absolutely have in your style arsenal. These are wardrobe essentials that will outlive trends and can easily multitask. Use these as your base and add personality and interest with trendier pieces that speak to your style. These pieces can also be the start to your wardrobe clusters and open up a world of outfit options.

  • White T-shirt and a Black T-shirt: Because white tees tend to yellow after a while don't worry about investing too much on this basic.
  • White button-down shirt: Your shirt should be fitted, not tight. If the buttons are pulling go a size up. You could also have a loose fitting shirt tailored for the perfect fit.
  • A thin sweater: A thin knit can be layered over a button down or other item. Choose the best neckline for your shape and style.
  • Cardigan: One of my wardrobe faves (I won't even talk about how many I have). Choose neutral shades that you can quickly throw on over just about anything.
  • Blazer: Instantly add polish to jeans and a tee or pull together a pencil skirt and pumps.
  • Pencil skirt: This style is flattering on almost everyone and the knee length and figure grazing fit give off a professional but sexy vibe.
  • Black dress: We've all heard that every woman should own a little black dress. Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be little, but a basic black dress can be a style lifesaver in a pinch.
  • Jeans: The most basic of basics. Jeans can be dressed up (a dark rinse flare) or down (destructed boyfriend style) and only get more comfortable with time. It's best to invest in a pair (or 2, or 10) with a little stretch. Extend the life of your denim by washing them properly.
  • Black pants: Black pants can go with just about anything else in your wardrobe.
  • Black pumps: This is one of the areas where it's better to splurge than to save. Black pumps work with jeans or skirts, dressy or casual. Think of a good black pump as an investment piece.

Shop key pieces here:

What say you?

What are your wardrobe must haves?

Any other wardrobe essentials you would add to the list? 


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T. Espinoza is CEO at The Style Medic. She's the Diva next door, the girlfriend who always looks Fab but doesn’t spend a bundle. She works with the active, focused Diva who wants to look fly, save time and most of all, save money. T. can help you streamline your wardrobe, maximize your budget and take your style from flat-lined to FABULOUS!


  1. Camille


    Do you have any favorite brands for blazers? What color would you pick if you could only buy one? Thanks! 🙂

  2. I am here for this list, I'm a sucker for 2-10 pair of jeans. Each style adds a little something different to my look. I'm in the cardigan shame club, I must own every one Target makes. They are a year around staple, that make the work to evening look much smoother.

    • Chile… Target has voodoo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

  3. Janelle


    Oohh AMEN!!! This list is totally a MUST HAVE in my closet. Especially mentioning the light thin sweather!!

    • Thanks Janelle! I have to layer even in the summer because the AC in some places make me feel like it’s winter LOL 

  4. Holly


    Good list! I don't think you missed anything. I need to add some new stuff to my wardrobe. 

  5. THANK YOU! I'm in the process of updating/upgrading my wardrobe and this list of essentials is perfect. I'm in need of new demin jeans, what brand would you recommend as the best quality and decent price. Thanks.

    • I pretty much love denim anything LOL I buy jeans almost exclusively at Old Navy/Gap but that’s because I’ve got these crazy long legs and they sell talls (note: tall jeans/pants are at least 2″ longer than the long inseams). Old Navy/Gap jeans are great quality (I still wear them after years), there are many different fits and the prices won’t send you to the poor house. 

  6. I think you got it all, and I'm proud to say that I believe I actually have everything on this list. I could definitely use some more plain white tees. Thanks for this! 

  7. Adanna


    Awesome list Te! I'm here for white tee pumps and boyfriend jeans for the spring. I would add a simple pair of ballet flats to this list.

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