Timeless Closet Basics That Won’t Go Out of Style
I was asked by a few of you to write a post on timeless closet basics that will never go out of style, so I’m tackling that topic today!
At first I was tempted to say that everything goes out of style eventually — even trends that come back around in 10 years will be tweaked JUST ENOUGH that the old ones don’t quite work the 2nd time around. I’m sure it’s a ploy by the fashion industry to keep us buying new things!
But as I thought about it, I do have a few classic pieces in my closet that I love and have had for many years and have no intention of getting rid of. And I can remember a few things that I have purchased that I did get rid of and now wish I still had. Also, as I’m getting older and more confident in my personal style, and I’m selectively making a few quality purchases each season that I hope to have for a very long time.
EDITED TO ADD: This is not a “must have list” — rather a list of things that are worth investing in if you do choose to purchase them because they should last you a long time and never go out of style. As always, be sure to take into account your lifestyle, personal style, climate, etc. when making purchasing decisions, and calculate cost per wear when deciding what to budget for each item.
Because we’re talking about timeless closet basics, I’m going to include some of the iconic designer styles that made some of these wardrobe pieces classics, but with that said, I’m not telling you to go out and invest in super expensive items for each of these categories. I think you can find timeless closet basics to suit any budget if you’re discerning and patient, and I’ll try to find examples at several different price points.
Closet Basics That Stand The Test Of Time
#1. cashmere sweater
I’m sure it won’t surprise any of you that I list this one first. I often say that I think every woman should have at least one classic cashmere sweater in her closet. Nothing feels and looks quite the same, and it is so versatile.
Above you can see 5 outfits with one camel cashmere sweater, and they aren’t even that creative. You could also layer it over a button-down shirt, under a blazer or denim jacket for work, with a skirt or dress pants… the possibilities are virtually endless.
The good news is, these days you don’t have to break the bank for cashmere. Like anything else, you get what you pay for, and there are definitely different levels of quality, but even a “cheaper” cashmere sweater will still feel and look wonderful, and if properly cared for, should last for years. For this purchase, I would go for a neutral that is super versatile like camel, grey, or black. I would also choose a classic style like a turtleneck, crewneck, or v-neck with clean lines, and of course make sure the fit is on point.
CASHMERE CARE TIP: A sweater stone reduces pilling and helps prolong the life of your sweaters.
Also, I know some people hate to buy clothing that has to be dry-cleaned, but part of investing in timeless pieces means caring for them properly, so I do recommend dry-cleaning your cashmere unless it specifically says it is washable. I stand corrected on the dry cleaning issue. I enjoy the convenience of it personally, but several have said they hand wash their cashmere sweaters with no issues, to that is good to know!
Shop cashmere sweaters:
#2. suede or leather pumps
I’ve had a pair of Stuart Weitzman pumps for well over 10 years, and I still look forward to pulling them out of their box every winter. If you buy a quality, classic style, a good pair of pumps will be on trend for a good many years.
I realize not every woman has a need for pumps in her wardrobe, and some of you have said you can’t wear heels, but they’re definitely a great piece to have if you work in a professional environment or have events to attend with any regularity. (They make some great looking lower heeled styles now too!)
Jimmy Choos and Louboutins are iconic of course, but I’m a huge fan of Stuart Weitzman for comfort and style, and they’re not quite as pricey. Good mid-price brands include Sam Edelman (LOVE their Hazel pumps), Ivanka Trump, and Michael Kors.
I wear mine with everything from skirts and dresses to jeans and… okay I don’t wear them with shorts, but you can if you have the personality to pull it off!
For this purchase, I recommend nude and/or black. Shop classic pumps:
#3. ballet flats or loafers
Ballet flats and loafers are both timeless, I would make a case for having some of each, but most women should probably have at least one or the other.
I’ve loved a good ballet flat for as long as I can remember. They’re classy, feminine, and practical. Thank you, Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn, for making them chic.
Right now loafers are having a moment, and I’m getting on board with this more tailored, menswear-inspired look as well. Both are classics that have stood the test of time, and it’s worth investing in a good pair if you wear them often.
Gucci loafers are a huge trend right now, and Channel ballet flats are an iconic wardrobe piece if you’re a collector, but you can find good quality styles for much less. I definitely recommend buying leather, no matter what your budget. A few of my favorite go-to mid-price brands are Sam Edelman, Frye, and Tory Burch. You can also find good prices on leather styles by Naturalizer and Lucky Brand.
Here are some of my favorites:
#4. classic trench
Worn by British Army Officers in World War I and made popular by Hollywood’s hottest leading men in the 40s and 50s, the trench coat has become an iconic wardrobe basic for both men and women.
The easiest way to elevate a simple outfit is to throw a classic trench on top. In fact, I don’t do this often enough. Camel and black are the traditional colors, but don’t rule out grey or brown or even a fun color. I love a bright red trench coat in springtime especially!
I purchased a silver single-breasted Michael Kors trench a few years ago, and I don’t expect it to ever go out of style, although I do dream of some day adding a Burberry to my closet. (The keyword there is dream. LOL! I had no idea they were that pricey.) That said, this is definitely a piece with a lot of budget-friendly options so I’ll include a range.
#5. denim jacket
A jean jacket is a rugged all-American classic, inspired more by working America than the streets of Paris or a Hollywood icon, but it’s a wardrobe classic nonetheless. The Levi’s trucker jacket made it famous, and many have since copied it. Since the trucker style denim jacket doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, I decided to include it in this post.
I wear my denim jacket over t-shirts with black jeans and sneakers for casual daytime looks, over silk shells with white jeans and pumps for church, and even over dresses and skirt outfits. You can see many of my denim jacket looks in this post: How to Wear a Denim Jacket.
My personal favorite is the Kut from the Kloth Helena. I have the white and the dark wash shown above, but I also really like it in this lighter wash. This jacket will be in style for many years, and I can attest to how well it fits and holds up over time.
#6. wool peacoat or car coat
Another military-inspired wardrobe classic, a wool peacoat in a traditional fit will never be out of style. The original peacoats were worn by British naval officers, but where the name came from seems to be up for debate. Nevertheless, it’s a wardrobe staple worn by both men and women. And while navy is the original color and still the most classic, they now come in every color under the sun.
A similar style is the car coat, and both are classics that never truly go out of style. Car coats were designed to keep drivers warm from the wind while driving old-fashioned open cars. They’re usually thigh-length and button up the front, although they sometimes zip.
A 100% wool coat will always be the warmest and best quality, but there are many wool blends that are great quality at much lower price points.
A word about peacoats and trench coats — be wary of the double breasted styles when you’re bosomy on top, as they can add visual weight. I clearly ignored my own advice with the red one above, and I think it works, but I’ve never loved the tan trench in the picture above, and I think that’s why. My silver one that I love is the single breasted style, and I also love my single-breasted reefer coat. (It’s pretty much a car coat.)
I had a hard time finding styles that are still well stocked, given the time of year we’re in, but here are some of the best I found. I’m also including some longer single-breasted styles commonly referred to as car coats.
#7. quality leather tote or satchel
You knew I couldn’t make a list of wardrobe essentials without a handbag, didn’t you??? I’m a handbag girl through and through. I don’t know why I have such an obsession, but I always have. The nice thing about a quality handbag is you can gain weight, lose weight, or even get pregnant and have a baby, and it always fits!
Seriously, though, our needs do change over the years, and I find it hard to keep a handbag in rotation more than a year or two, but as I’ve added higher quality pieces to my closet, I can see myself keeping them longer than that. When you buy quality bags and take good care of them, they really do last, and if you get tired of your old bags and want to sell a few to fund your next purchase, it’s pretty easy to do so on Poshmark or Ebay.
I always advise buying handbags on sale, unless of course you’re going for an iconic designer bag that never goes on sale, and even then, there’s a huge market for pre-owned designer bags if you’re open to that.
This could easily be a post unto itself, in fact, I did a Splurge/Spend/Save posts for handbags not too long ago. Feel free to reference that if you’d like! It also has information on updating your handbag and what makes a handbag frumpy (or not.)
If you’re making a big purchase that you intend to carry with everything, I recommend sticking with cognac, grey, or taupe because they’re the most versatile. Of course, black is good to have as well, but I’d make that one secondary to a lighter neutral.
#8. classic crossbody or clutch
While totes and satchels make great carryalls, there are times when it’s more appropriate to carry a smaller bag. A crossbody or convertible clutch (a clutch with an optional shoulder strap) are also essential wardrobe pieces, and many styles are timeless. The Chanel boy bag is probably the most iconic, but at the moment the Gucci Marmont bags are taking center stage. (Beware: the prices on the Chanel are staggering.)
I have to admit, that Gucci Marmont camera bag does tug at my heartstrings just a bit, but the Tory Burch Chelsea crossbody has a similar look for half the price, and my Rebecca Minkoff Love crossbody is a great bag at a much more budget-friendly price point.
A classic black dress that is timeless will serve you well for years. The trick is not to gain or lose any weight. Ha!
A sheath or A-line are both timeless styles. I prefer a dress without much embellishment, and then I can add accessories to achieve the look I’m going for each time I wear it.
I’ve worn the dress pictured above to church, to a funeral, and on a date with my husband. It’s so flattering and versatile, AND it is still available. Even though my three looks are fairly similar, I could also add a leather jacket for an edgier look, a blazer for a professional look, or a trench for a classy event. I will link mine along with some other good options below.
#10. seasonless black pants
It was hard to decide on this last category. I almost listed jeans, but I just feel like their styles come and go too quickly to be considered timeless, even if you go for a good dark wash straight leg pair. And even the silhouette of black pants tends to evolve with the decades, but they’re certainly a timeless closet essential.
I know an ankle length pant is all the rage right now, but I believe a trouser style is more timeless so that’s what I chose to feature below. For a truly classic pair, look for “seasonless” wool blends that are designed to work for you all year ’round.
In conclusion . . .
Because I’m fond of even numbers, I decided to cap this list at 10, but I definitely could go on. I didn’t even tackle jewelry or accessories other than handbags.
Pearl and diamond stud earrings never go out of style, and I daresay even my David Yurman pieces fall into this category. They’re a bit trendy, but they’ve been popular for years and they’re still going strong. The quality is fantastic. I’ve had my oval link bracelet for 10 years, and I wear it almost daily. I take it into their store every so often for them to clean it up, and it still looks pretty much like new.
I hope this is helpful, or at least a fun post to read. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. Anything you’d add to (or subtract from) this list???
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