A way to keep clothing from cluttering up your life and taking over your bedroom is to have only a basic wardrobe. Stocking your closet with essential pieces limits frustration and saves you time and energy. A previous post focused on the elements of the basic wardrobe for a man. This post, to conclude the brief series, targets items for a woman’s closet.
The basic wardrobe is a tricky discussion piece because what is basic for a 20-something woman who works in a corporate environment is very different from what is basic for a 60-something retiree. Mix in varied climates, social demands, and fashion preferences, and basic is even harder to determine. I’ve tried my best to construct a list for the widest audience, but keep in mind that your specific needs might be different. Consider this post as a “big picture” look at building a basic wardrobe.
The basic wardrobe for a woman should contain:
- Two heavy white t-shirts/knit tops, a short-sleeve white blouse, a long-sleeve white dress shirt, and a white cardigan sweater set.
- A black cardigan sweater set and a black lace-weight shawl.
- A complete black suit with every piece made out of the same four-season wool fabric. A complete suit for a woman in a corporate office should include an ankle length skirt, knee length skirt, tea length pencil skirt, knee length tank dress, two slacks in different waistband styles, and two suit coats in different styles. A complete suit for a woman who works in a casual environment or from home should include one skirt, one pair of slacks, and one suit coat.
- A black dress that works well with the black suit coat, but can be worn on its own to a cocktail party or an evening wedding.
- A summer suit in a light color. Women in corporate and casual offices, as well as women who don’t work outside the home, should have a summer suit with a skirt, slacks, and suit coat.
- Two solid color shells to wear in combination with both the black suit and the summer suit. Slate blue usually fills one of these niches.
- One pair of dress khakis and one pair of khaki shorts, a tea length khaki skirt, or a pair of khaki capris.
- A neutral, solid color sports coat that wears well with jeans, khakis, and your black suit slacks.
- Two/four pair of jeans as described in my fewer clothes post.
- One formal ankle-length gown in black.
- One colorful dress that is appropriate to wear to a cousin’s day wedding your mother will be attending.
- A heavy sweater in a solid color.
- A pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt you wouldn’t mind if paint were spilled on it.
- A nightgown or pajama set.
- A swimsuit.
- Fourteen pair of underwear, seven bras, one strapless bra, one camisole that matches your skin color, one short slip, and one tea length slip.
Any additional clothing is beyond the limits of a basic wardrobe. If you build up around the basic wardrobe, make sure that what you buy can be worn with many of the pieces in the basic set. It can be good, too, to set a number of how many items above the basic wardrobe you will own. The fewer additional items, the less cluttered your wardrobe will be.