Basic Wardrobe Essentials for Moms *Updated Fall 2015*

This post on Basic Wardrobe Essentials for Moms is always a popular one, so I’m updating it again for fall 2015. This list will vary somewhat depending on your lifestyle and career choice, but I’ll assume that we’re talking about a non-professional wardrobe here. These are the basics that most women need. Once you have these, you can build around them and incorporate a few new trendy items each season.

I recommend making these essentials investment pieces. I spend more money for classic wardrobe essentials that I hope to last many years. Then each season, I add a few trendy items to round out my wardrobe. Those are my budget buys because I know they’ll only stay in my closet for a couple of seasons.

wardrobe essentials

13 Basic Wardrobe Essentials for Moms

1. A Pair of Great Fitting Jeans

I’m going to be super predictable here and start by recommending that every woman have at least one pair of great fitting jeans. Jeans are an item for which I recommend making an investment if it is at all in your budget. Even if you’re on a tight budget, if you’re patient, you can find great designer jeans at off-price stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx or even at your local consignment store.

A great pair of jeans is appropriate for {almost} any occasion. You can dress them up or down. I wrote a post a while back on How To Find the Perfect Jeans if this is something that challenges you. If you can only have one pair, go for a dark wash in a straight leg style. That is the most versatile and the most universally flattering. If you’re slender, you may want to go with a skinny jean. If you’re heavier or carry your weight in your hips, you might want a straighter leg to help keep the proper proportions. Flares are coming back in style this year, but I would recommend making those a secondary pair. They’re more of a fashion statement than a wardrobe essential at the moment. Straight leg jeans are still the classic.

Paige Skyline Straight Leg Jeans


Paige Denim ‘Skyline’ Straight Leg Stretch Denim Jeans (Stream Wash), $158

Other options:

DL1961 ‘Florence’ Instasculpt Skinny Jeans (Warner), $178

KUT from the Koth ‘Diana’ Stretch Skinny Jeans, $89.50

KUT from the Kloth ‘Stevie’ Straight Leg Jeans (Benevolent), $89

LOFT Modern Straight Leg Jeans, $69.50

 2. Cardigan

The drapey sweater trend is still going strong. It’s comfortable, flattering, and easy to wear. In recent years, the boyfriend sweater has also been super popular. And I still see plenty of the traditional cardigan style pictured below. No matter what style cardigan you prefer, it’s a must-have in your fall/winter wardrobe because you can easily throw it on over your favorite tank or tee or button-down blouse and it changes up your look and adds warmth when the weather is cooler. LOFT has tons of great cardigans to choose from.


 3. Layering Tees and Tanks

With the cardigan trend, it is essential to have a few basic tees and tanks. You can also wear them under a pullover sweater that is a bit too short to add interest and also to help balance out your proportions. I am a huge fan of Banana Republic’s Essential Tank. I also like the J.Crew Perfect-Fit Tank.

essential tank

Relaxed-style t-shirts are the trend of the moment. LOFT currently has a ton of different variations on their Vintage Tee. I like to wear these with a “front tuck” and a belt.

vintage tee

4. A white button-down shirt.

This is one piece that I do not own and probably never will. I’ve tried, and I just do not like collars, and I don’t like the feeling of a blouse layered under a sweater. However, this is one piece that most fashion mavens would determine an essential, so I will dutifully include it. This is the Foxcroft  Fitted Shirt ($76).

white button down

5. Structured Blazer

Blazers are no longer just for suits. Wear one over a dress for added interest (and warmth) or with your favorite t-shirt and blue jeans for a fun juxtaposition of dressy and casual. White House Black Market is a great place to go for blazers. I love that they have a lot to choose from, and they often have really cute detailing so they’re not too businessy. HINT: it does not have to be black!

moto jacket

Another option is a denim jacket. I probably should have listed this as a separate item because I think both a blazer and a denim jacket have a place in most women’s wardrobes. I absolutely love my denim jacket and wear it 3 out of the 4 seasons of the year.

Classic Denim Jacket

6. Versatile Dress

Every woman needs at least one go-to dress that she feels good in for date nights, events, church, or whatever curveball life might throw your way. I don’t wear a lot of dresses, but I do have two or three that I can rely on when I have the occasion to dress up.

a-line sheath

7. Black Leggings

Leggings are another versatile piece, and they’re more popular than ever. Wear them with tunics or long sweaters or oversized blouses. You can wear them under skirts or dresses, and they look great with a poncho (another wearable trend right now.) Dress them up or down. My favorites are the Ultra-Wide Waistband Leggings, only $36 at Nordstrom. These are great quality for a great price.


Just please remember. LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Cover your tushies, ladies.

8. A basic pencil skirt.

Believe it or not, I do not have a go-to pencil skirt, but it is something I should probably add to my shopping list! You can dress a pencil skirt up or down, wear it with a blazer, jean jacket, or cardigan…. ankle boots, tall boots, ballet flats…. even Converse sneakers with a t-shirt and denim jacket on top. The sky’s the limit. Okay, I’m adding this to my fall shopping list right now.

pencil skirt

Another option… and one that I DO have… a denim pencil skirt. If you live a casual lifestyle as I do, you may not need a dressier style, but a denim skirt is always a great piece to have in your closet year-round.

denim skirt

9. Flats

Ballet flats are very much on trend this year, but they’re also a classic that never goes out of style. Every woman should have at least one go-to pair of ballet flats or loafers. A “nude” color is great because it goes with everything, but you can also go with black or brown. Or, go for leopard! Leopard is a neutral that can be work with almost anything, including most patterns and prints.

Sam Edelman Alaine


Sam Edelman ‘Alaine’ Topline Ballet Flat in grey patent (also available in various colors), $99.96

Other Suggestions:

Payless ‘Caroline’ String Tie Flat in various colors, $15-25

Merona ‘Drew’ Ballet Flats in leopard and various solid colors, $24.99

Nine West ‘Speakup’ Flats in Nude or Black, $68.95

Sam Edelman ‘Alaine’ Topline Ballet Flat in Leopard, $109.95

ABEO ‘Taylin’ Ballet Flat with built-in orthotics, $119.95

Tory Burch ‘Caroline’ Ballerina Flat in various colors, $225

10. Ankle Boots

There is still a place for a knee-high boot, but ankle boots have DEFINITELY won the popularity contest as of late. There are so many styles to choose from. You know I love my Toms Desert Wedge Ankle Booties ($88.95). They’re fabulous for casual wear.

toms desert booties

The BP. ‘Trolley’ Ankle Bootie ($99.95) is classic. These would work with skirts, trousers, skinny jeans, and even under flares or bootcut jeans.

B.P. Trolley Ankle Boot

The Umberto Raffini Kyra is another style that is best suited for skinny jeans or skirts and tights. I have these and love them. Pardon the itt-bitty picture.

Umberto Raffini Kyra

There are so many other styles and colors available, from this slouchy suede to these sophisticated heels. Definitely peruse your favorite shoe store for the style that is best for you. Of course, you may want several, but everyone will want to have at least one pair.

11. A pair of classic pumps.

While booties and ballet flats are taking center stage this fall, sometimes you need a classic pump. Pumps are another item I would advise investing in because they will last a very long time, and if you’re going to wear heels, they should be comfortable. Rather than the expected black pump, a more current look is to go with a “nude” or flesh tone.

Ivanka Trump 'Boni' Pointy Toe Pump

Pictured above: Ivanka Trump ‘Boni’ Pointy Toe Pump, $109.95

Other options:

Payless Comfort Plus Karmen Pump, $29.99

Nine West Ispy Wedge Pump in Leopard or Black, $88.95

Cole Haan ‘Bethany’ Leather Pump in black and maple, $158 (SALE PRICE!)

12. A Great Bag

No, really. Ditch the faded mom bag. I don’t mind investing in a great handbag, but you really don’t have to spend a lot. Or, you can. It’s totally up to you! This Rebecca Minkoff ‘Mini Avery’ Tote is definitely an investment piece at $325, but it’s such a classic. It goes with everything, and you would carry it for years.

Rebecca Minkoff 'Mini Avery' Tote

But then, this Faux Leather Shopper by Poverty Flats is adorable and budget- friendly. It comes in tons of colors as well.

POVERTY FLATS by rian 'Colorful' Faux Leather Shopper

And then of course, there is something at every price point in between. Shop all handbags under $250 at Nordstrom.

13. Accessories

This is where you can have fun and experiment. You don’t have to spend a lot either. Places like Target and T.J. Maxx have lots of affordable options for costume jewelry and scarves. Try some fun, colorful bracelets or a wide bangle to add interest to your outfits. And of course scarves are still going strong. You know I’m going to tout my Stella & Dot boutique. Since I love their products so much, I signed on to be a stylist. Here’s a link to their current best sellers.

stella and dot best sellers

What pieces are you adding to YOUR Fall 2015 Shopping List!?!