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15 Basic Wardrobe Essentials for Women in 2024

Statement pieces are fun, but the basics are forever. A cashmere sweater. A pair of jeans that are so comfy that you forget you’re wearing them. A classic dress that you turn to when you’re unsure about the dress code. These wardrobe essentials are the foundation of your closet. 

The best basics for women broaden your style horizons instead of restricting them. These wardrobe staples provide a canvas to mix and match different outfits depending on the season (and your mood).

If you often feel like you have tons of clothes but nothing to wear, that’s the tell-tale sign that you could probably use a few more high-quality closet staples.  

Foundational pieces like tailored pants or classic sneakers can also help you create a capsule wardrobe. What is a capsule wardrobe, you ask? It’s a minimal yet intentional selection of clothes that can be combined to create various looks for various occasions. The benefit? Life gets a whole lot simpler when you have a closet perfectly curated to you, your style, and your lifestyle – without the clutter.

In that sense, the right basics give you an opportunity to make conscious fashion choices. Brands like Frank and Oak have made it their mission to design intentional closet staples made of mindfully sourced fabrics and materials

To help you shop for items that will stand the test of time and work with a wide array of outfits, here are 15 basic wardrobe essentials for women to add to their capsule wardrobe. 

Basic T-Shirts

Basic t-shirts are the unsung heroes of any wardrobe. They help you strike the right balance between dressy and casual. When shopping for the perfect tee, look for high-quality breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. If it fits well and gets softer with each wash, you’ve chosen the right one. And, if you’re wondering how to elevate a basic tee don’t overthink it! The options are endless: Wear it under a blazer at the office, pair it with jeans for a laid-back weekend look, or tuck it into a skirt for an effortlessly chic vibe.

Get your hands on Frank And Oak’s Fluid Linen T-Shirt, part of the brand’s women’s basic t-shirt collection, for a pick that you’ll want to wear over and over again. It’s pre-shrunk, so you shouldn’t get bad surprises in the wash as long as you follow care instructions. 

The Fluid Linen T-Shirt

Basic Tanks

The basic tank is a wardrobe essential and layering powerhouse, but it also works well as a standalone top in warmer weather.

Rock a sleek tank top with high-waisted pants and black heels on a night out – the streamlined silhouette will turn heads. Or, on a cozy fall day, you can layer a tank under a cardigan before heading to your favourite coffee shop. Once you find a style that works well on your body, stock up in several colours. You’ll thank us later.

For example, the Old Navy Rib-Knit First Layer Tank Top looks good tucked into jeans or under a sweater. While it doesn’t feel as elevated as a high-quality T-shirt, It’s affordable enough that you can grab it in a few different colours. 

Rib-Knit First Layer Tank Top

Sweaters

Sweaters are indispensable for adding warmth and texture to your wardrobe. They can balance out a sequin skirt or be worn with simple pants or jeans. They look great under all sorts of outerwear, from a leather jacket to a trench coat. 

Whether you prefer bold statement pieces or classic neutrals and cuts, you can count on a quality sweater to elevate your look. 

Made of breathable cotton and luxuriously soft silk, the Banana Republic Cotton-Silk Cardigan is an all-season find. 

Demi Cotton-Silk Cardigan

Black Pants

Every woman should own a pair of well-fitted black pants. Their versatility is suitable for a wide range of occasions, from office meetings to dinner dates. Throw on a bomber jacket or a silk blouse, and pair your tailored trousers with edgy boots, classic flats or even sneakers. The choice is truly yours – just look for a well-tailored fit and a high-quality material.  

For example, the Frank And Oak Jane Straight Flex Pant is made of four-way stretch Japanese technology that offers a 91% recovery rate for ease of wear and durability all day long. Yes, you read that right: These pants feel as good as second skin, but you won’t experience the dreaded sag after a few hours (or after a few washes). 

The Jane Straight Flex Pant

Denim Jeans

When you think of wardrobe essentials, you probably think of denim. Jeans are a timeless wardrobe staple that can help you express your individuality with just about any outfit. A great pair of jeans fits well, flatters your figure, and provides comfort throughout the day.

When choosing your next pair, consider a darker wash in a straight cut for jeans that work well with polished outfits. To add an edge to your casual looks, you might also want to pick up a vintage-inspired, relaxed style.

The Levi’s 80’s Mom Jeans are great if you like the idea of a just-relaxed-enough fit that hugs your curves without feeling restrictive. However, as a conscious shopper, there are more responsibly-sourced denim options there, like Frank And Oak’s Cyndi Straight Jean, which is produced using 95% less water than traditional methods. 

80’s Mom Jeans

Skirts

Skirts are key wardrobe essentials, especially since they come in various lengths and styles. Long and sleek, mini and playful, structured wool or flowy silk…the possibilities are endless depending on your personal style.

Pair a skirt with a blouse and heels for a formal event or wear it with sneakers and a t-shirt for brunch with friends. When shopping, look for timeless silhouettes and colours that complement your wardrobe for maximum versatility. 

The Zara Long Straight Skirt is the perfect skirt for different occasions—you can wear it to a professional event as much as a romantic date. 

Long Straight Skirt

Shorts

Whether you’re running errands or heading to the beach, a good pair of shorts blends fashion and function during warmer months. From high-waisted jean shorts to sporty bike shorts, it’s important that you find a pair that you feel good in!

Build an outfit around your favourite pair of shorts by throwing on a t-shirt or tank on warmer days, or layering on a sweatshirt or hoodie when temperatures drop. Tie your look together with utilitarian sandals or statement sneakers. 

The American Eagle Strigid Super High-Waisted 6" Relaxed Denim Short is a solid denim option with just the right amount of stretch not to dig into your waist. 

Strigid Super High-Wasted 6” Relaxed Denim Short

Lightweight Jacket

A lightweight jacket is a must for transitional spring and fall weather. It provides just the right amount of coverage without being too heavy. 

From bomber jackets to windbreakers, choose a piece that works with your personal style and is versatile enough to be worn with various outfits. Prioritize high-performance fabrics that resist the elements to stay warm and dry without bulk. 

For example, the Aritzia Wilde Jacket features water-repellent twill with a slick feel and matte finish.

Wilde Jacket

Winter Jacket

If you live in a colder climate, no wardrobe staple is quite as essential as a winter jacket. It keeps you warm with fabrics like down or water-resistant nylon.

Details like deep pockets or a detachable hood help you stay comfortable while you’re out and about. But, just because a winter jacket has a very important function doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice style for comfort. The right winter jacket should be a joy to wear daily – and it should marry beautiful design choices with practical ones. 

Look for a longer parka for extra-harsh winter conditions — there are now warm vegan fabrics that outperform down — or a short but mighty windbreaker like the Paracutie Anorak Windbreaker for milder temperatures. 

Paracutie™ Anorak Windbreaker

Dresses

The LBD (aka the Little Black Dress) is an enduring wardrobe essential – and a testament to the versatility of a timeless dress.

Dresses provide a one-piece solution for those moments when you want to look elegant but don’t want to spend hours figuring out what to wear. Pairing a dress with the right accessories is key to making the outfit your own. Quality fabrics ensure longevity while providing a luxurious feel. 

The Banana Republic Silk-Linen Maxi Dress features a flattering, strappy A-line silhouette and a square neck – these details catch your interest without disrupting the classic appeal of the dress. 

Silk-Linen Maxi Dress

Jewelry

Jewelry adds the perfect finishing touch to your looks. From delicate pieces such as stackable rings and dainty necklaces to bold accessories like chunky hoops, having a selection of jewelry curated to your personal style is key.

Consider investing in fine jewelry and proudly wear those pieces that hold sentimental value regardless of trends. When you’re feeling experimental, don’t be afraid to mix and match various pieces!

The Simons Jaseron Link Chain is a good urban-chic option that elevates your other basics and makes a statement. 

Jaseron Link Chain

Purses

Do you carry a large tote to hold your laptop and other essentials? Do you prefer compact cross-body bags that don’t weigh you down? Whatever you choose, a stylish purse can be a finishing touch to a variety of outfits.

Consider the type of bag that you always gravitate towards and look for an option made of durable materials such as leather or vegan leather. Features like convertible straps and convenient compartments are key. 

The Aldo Legoirii Satchel Bag, for instance, has a spacious interior that is split into three distinct sections to organize all your essentials. 

Legoirii Satchel Bag

Belts

Belts are a small but essential accessory that can bring your whole look together. A versatile belt can be worn with dresses, pants, or skirts, making it a practical addition to your wardrobe. Use them to add definition to your waistline and enhance your overall silhouette. 

When shopping for a basic belt, look for classic designs and durable construction. Take into account details like the type of buckle or the width of the belt. 

The Banana Republic Andi Leather Belt is a wide belt with a square buckle that will subtly spruce up your outfits – and it’s made of high-quality soft and sturdy leather. 

Andi Leather Belt

Flats

Whether you’re a ballet flat or chunky loafer kind of woman, flats are comfy and chic wardrobe staples that can be paired with jeans, dresses, skirts, pants and more to create different outfits. Basic flat shoes don’t have to be boring though!

Metallic ballet flats, for example, are a fun way to enhance your outfits and they’re just as versatile as black ones. Go for a classic cut and a comfortable construction to ensure all-day wear and practicality.  

The Sam Edelman Meadow Ballet Flat is a classic ballerina flat that comes in a variety of colour options to suit your wardrobe. 

Meadow Ballet Flat

Sneakers

A good pair of sneakers is essential for everyday activities, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Sneakers are versatile and comfy enough to work with both activewear and casual outfits. From white sneakers to sleek black ones, there are enough classic designs out there to find a pair that you love and that plays ball with the rest of your closet. 

You can’t go wrong with an iconic style like the Samba OG Sneakers – the retro silhouette will enhance your jeans and even add a more casual flair to your dresses. 

Investing In the Right Basics

The beautiful thing about style is that it's all yours! Use this list of 15 basic items to create a hardworking wardrobe from scratch or simply use this list as inspiration to round out your closet for more everyday wear.

Remember that a woman's wardrobe is only as strong as its foundations. Focus on quality, fit, and timeless appeal to ensure each piece complements your lifestyle and personal taste. 

Invest a little more in these must-haves if you have to, and you'll find getting dressed each day becomes a breeze. Don’t be surprised if people start complimenting you on your effortless style. 

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