I feel like I’ve spent quite a few posts lately discussing wardrobe essentials. There’s just something about the season that’s primed for this topic. Fall always makes me want to do an epic closet clean-out and focus on honing my uniform, adding in timeless pieces and refreshing the basics. It sounds easy enough but the truth is finding the best basics takes work. Whether that’s a go-to black blazer, the best white t-shirt, or the go-with-everything button-down shirt, landing on the perfect ones takes a lot of trial and error.
Good news: I’ve put in a lot of R&D on this topic. While I’m always on the hunt (I’m a shopper, after all!) for the next best thing, I’ve managed to come up with a solid roster of designers and brands that I consider my go-to sources for the best essentials. Below, the hit list – along with my favorite buys from each one.
Want more? Be sure to check out the ESSENTIALS EDIT, where you’ll find a running list of my favorite wardrobe staples.
I can’t remember what my closet looked like before COS. It’s a game-changer when it comes to tracking down quality basics that don’t break the bank. I always find great everyday dresses there (see: here and here) and their outerwear options are excellent, too. The brand’s cashmere collection (this sweater!) is not to be missed either. The quality is great (not itchy!) and the majority of the pieces ring in at under $350.
With a fashion director and an emerging designer at the helm, Wardrobe.NYC is essentially a child that is a combination of its parents’ best qualities: equal parts old-school editor and up-and-coming cool kid. The collection uses a capsule collection model, focusing on clean, minimalist options that are meant to be styled cohesively and worn season after season. Their denim shirt is truly the best ever, and I have been living in this button-down as it’s the perfect thing thrown over a pair of leggings.
If you’ve been following me for a little while then you no doubt know that my very favorite t-shirt is Uniqlo’s U Crew Neck. With the perfect fit and the ideal sleeve length, it’s the perfect white t-shirt. And it’s $15. I buy the white and the black in bulk.
I have a solid collection of favorite button-down shirts and AYR’s “Deep End” style is amongst the top ones. It has that perfect borrowed-from-your-boyfriend look without being too oversized. It comes in a variety of fabrics, thankfully, because you’ll definitely want more than one.
Do I even need to mention J.Crew? It goes without saying that J.Crew is and always has been a go-to for great basics. While I wouldn’t say that every category hits the mark all the time, there’s a short list of items that keep me coming back, including the cashmere (the under-$100 cashmere tees, specifically) and the outerwear. The latter of those is really a shiny star for them. They nail it with their mix of oldies-but-goodies (see: here and here) and newcomer coats like this one.
Founded by husband and wife duo Erin Kling and Karl Lindman, this Stockholm label is all about uniform dressing. The collection offers pieces that are understated, yet elevated – think: borrowed-from-your-boyfriend button-downs, the perfect camel coat, super-chic knitwear (love this), and really great denim (their crop-flare is truly one of the best ever).
When it comes to the best blazers, Blazé Milano takes the cake. The tailored-to-a-T design is the signature item of the brand, rendered in new fabrics and materials each season. (The most recent addition is this sequin style which I am happy to report is en route to me.) A timeless, elevated essential, their blazers are investments and worth every pretty penny.
All it took was one cashmere sweater from Katie and I was totally hooked. The label is the epitome of effortlessly-cool dressing – yet with a certain elegance that you don’t find anywhere else. The cashmere is still my favorite part of the collection… along with everything else (!) too, including the denim (love these), gorgeous dresses, and, as of recently, handbags.
If you’re looking for pared-down essentials that won’t break the bank (the majority of the items are under $150), Everlane is the brand to know. It’s all about thoughtfully-designed, straightforward (and sustainable!) basics here – think: perfectly-fitting tees, great knitwear (the half-zip is one of my favorites!), and timeless outerwear. My most recent buy: this under-$100 fleece that is sure to be one of my most-worn items this year.
The knitwear is really the star of the show here – from cardigans and pullovers to polos and cable-knits. What sets their knits apart is the details – think: quirky color combinations, interesting buttons down the back, and more. With items like sherpa jackets ringing in at under $200, the prices are hard to beat, too.
La Ligne is – in a nutshell – a collection of not-so-basic basics. My obsession started with their knitwear, most notably the Marin sweater – a decidedly chic, wool-cashmere knit that comes in a million different color options and is not the slightest bit itchy. I now consider the label a go-to of mine for a number of wear-on-repeat essentials – from t-shirts and pants to the best everyday dresses (this one) you’ll wear a million times over.