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Does your wardrobe cover the basics, or is it basically just the culmination of seasonal, impulsive buys over the course of years and years? For many women, shopping is something we do when we need something (or when we just can't say no), yet we still end up with serious holes in our closet when it comes to the necessities.
There are certain wardrobe classics that every woman can benefit from owning, no matter where she lives or what she does for work. These are pieces that have stood the test of time, survived the tide of trends and come out on top decade after decade. From the little black dress to classic blue jeans, we've gathered 10 essentials to add to your closet — if you haven't already!
1. A Little Black Dress
Eliza J crepe sheath dress, $89, Nordstrom
This sheath from Eliza J is one of the best-reviewed little black dresses from Nordstrom's site. The timeless silhouette and conservative length mean it can work for a variety of occasions from work to weddings, requiring just a few well-chosen accessories and a shoe switch to take it from traditionally elegant to totally cocktail party-worthy.
Drape A-line sleeveless dress, $2, Uniqlo
Uniqlo is one of our go-to shops for affordable basics and wardrobe essentials. This $40 dress has a flattering A-line cut and just a bit of flounce, making it a playful, modern twist on a classic silhouette. Plus, we love the pretty bow belt.
Japanese GoWeave zip tee dress, $66, Everlane
If you haven't yet heard of Everlane — consider this your induction into their world. This direct-to-customer brand makes high quality clothes without the markup. Plus, their transparent pricing model means you know where each item is made and what goes into the labor and production processes.
2. Classic Blue Jeans
Articles of Society 'Mya' skinny jeans, $35, Nordstrom Rack
These midrise skinny jeans from Articles of Society are some of the best-reviewed jeans on Nordstrom's website, with 100 reviews that amount to an almost 5-star rating across the board. A fabric composition of cotton, Lycra and spandex means these jeans have just the right amount of stretch in an ultrawearable cut.
Straight high waist ankle jeans, $20, H&M
We love the current styles of retro denim looks from the '80s and '90s. These H&M jeans with an undone hem are on the trendier side right now, but their faded blue wash and straight-leg cut give them an easy wearability that will last for seasons to come.
Ultra-stretch high-rise ankle jeans, $6, Uniqlo
These ankle-length blue jeans from Uniqlo have a nearly perfect five-star rating online, with many reviewers calling them the best and most comfortable jeans they own. We love an ankle-length jean because it can easily be dressed up with heels or down with sneakers while still flattering the legs.
3. A White T-Shirt
Hanes women's nano T-shirt, $5, Amazon
You can't beat the price and quality of a simple white crew neck T-shirt from Hanes — a classic piece from a classic brand. And The "Nano" shirt is cut to flatter; plus it's preshrunk to maintain its size and fit after plenty of wash and wear. Tuck this T-shirt into your favorite skirt and add a statement necklace for work, or pair it with casual jeans and sneakers on the weekend — you can't go wrong!
Perfect V-neck tee for women, $10, Old Navy
For bustier women, a V-neck silhouette makes a great go-to white T-shirt. It cuts a more flattering shape, and for curvier women, the neckline directs the eye in all the right directions. Old Navy is one of our favorite sources for cotton essentials, and this T-shirt has a 4.6-star rating from more than 250 reviews.
Cotton blend tee, $38, Nordstrom
For something slightly more feminine and fashion forward, we love this relaxed T-shirt in a slub cotton that's slightly transparent with shorter, not-quite-cap sleeves.
4. Cropped Black Pants
Sloan-fit solid pant, $88, Banana Republic
We rely on Banana Republic to supply us with stylish, modern takes on office-ready essentials, and these cropped black pants are no exception. These "Sloan-fit" pants have a mid rise and just the right amount of stretch, plus they come in sizes 00 to 16. (Additionally, 360 customers have given them a five-star rating!)
T Tahari "Marlena" ankle pants, $62, Nordstrom
These T Tahari pants are on the longer side of an ankle pant, which is perfect if you're in need of a more conservative, traditional cut. Made from a crisp suiting fabric, they'll pair perfectly with all your blouses and jackets for endless outfit options from Monday through Friday.
Wide-leg crop pant, $68, Everlane
Who says cropped black pants are only for weekdays at work? These stylish cropped wide-leg pants from Everlane offer a casual option that has a bit more of a trend-forward look. Tuck a T-shirt or silk tank into these high-waisted pants for a playful take on a classic wardrobe essential.
5. A Button-Down Shirt
J. Crew perfect cotton shirt, $70, Nordstrom
Leave it to J. Crew to create a timeless button-down shirt that's been part of many women's closets for more than a decade. We love the classic blue stripes of this shirt, which will work as well for the office with black pants or on the weekends with denim shorts and sandals. The fit is feminine but relaxed enough not to feel confining.
New fitted boyfriend Oxford shirt, $40, Gap
This Gap shirt comes in three easy colors — light pink, white and blue — that will add an array of versatility to your wardrobe. While these shirts obviously play well with your favorite skirts and pants for office hours, don't forget to try layering yours under a shift dress or over a turtleneck in the winter for a refreshed look.
Rails "Ingrid" chambray shirt, $148, Nordstrom
For weekends and casual days, having a soft shirt in your arsenal is a must. With just the right amount of slouch and perfectly soft fabric, you'll have a hard time finding occasions not to wear this Rails shirt.
6. A Layering Sweater
Cashmere crew neck sweater, $100, Everlane
If you're looking for luxury at an amazing price, it doesn't get much better than this Everlane cashmere sweater that's just $100. Reviewers on the brand's website rave about the fit and quality, and this essential layering piece comes in more than 10 colors. We love navy for its timeless wearability.
Rib-knit sweater, $25, H&M
Whether you want to wear it with jeans and ankle boots for a night out in the fall or with a button-down shirt and mini skirt for dressier occasions, you can't really beat the $25 price tag of this cozy, ribbed sweater from H&M.
Extra-fine merino V-neck cardigan, $35, Uniqlo
No longer relegated to the category of "grandpa chic," cardigans are an essential layering piece for any modern woman's wardrobe. We love that this classic design from Uniqlo comes in an array of colors and is made from 100 percent merino wool. At just $35, this deal is so good you might as well buy more than one!
7. A Denim Jacket
Levi's ex-boyfriend trucker denim jacket, $90, Bloomingdales
Nobody does denim quite like Levi's, and we love their whole array of denim jackets. At the moment, our favorite silhouette has a slightly longer and more relaxed fit through the shoulders, giving it a more modern and less restrictive fit.
Madewell jean jacket, $118, Nordstrom
In a mildly distressed cotton denim, this versatile Madewell jean jacket is detailed with traditional felled seams and coppery metallic buttons. Its relaxed yet feminine silhouette makes this jacket a go-to for layering over all your wardrobe essentials — especially dresses.
Denim jacket, $40, H&M
Further proof that great denim doesn't have to cost a fortune, this 100 percent cotton denim jacket from H&M is only $40. We love how it looks as part of a "denim tuxedo" with jeans or layered over blouses and dresses all summer. When colder seasons arrive, it's got just enough extra room to wear with your favorite chunky sweaters, too.
8. A Trench Coat
Classic trench coat, $80, Gap
This trench coat from Gap is a timeless example of outerwear you'll have for years to come. Cut in a slightly shorter length, this double-breasted coat will keep you looking stylish no matter what the weather may bring your way.
Trench coat, $145, And Other Stories
If you're looking for outerwear that feels classic with just a little something different, try this modern-looking trench coat from H&M's sister store, & Other Stories. This version has a long and narrow silhouette in less-crisp fabric, no buttons and a fabric belt for adding an ultra feminine shape.
London Fog hooded trench coat, $130, Nordstrom Rack
Getting your hands on a high-quality coat doesn't have to cost a fortune if you know where to look. Past season styles are always available at a huge discount from stores like Nordstrom Rack, including this timeless London Fog trench with a detachable hood.
9. A Wrap Dress
Betsey Johnson wrap dress, $128, Bloomingdale's
While there really is no hard-and-fast rule for a "universally flattering" dress, a wrap style is about as close as you can get. The V-neck accentuates your décolletage while the tie waist creates a feminine hourglass silhouette that flows into the skirt. We love the print and high-low look of this Betsey Johnson dress, which translates easily from work to weddings and special occasions.
Wrap dress, $85, & Other Stories
An LBD that's also a wrap dress? What more could you ask for! This mini-length wrap is the ultimate fashion chameleon; you can easily transform it from a casual beach day cover-up to a special occasion dress with the right shoes and some dramatic earrings.
Madewell denim wrap dress, $118, Shopbop
There's an effortless quality about this flattering Madewell denim wrap dress. It's great for summer with sneakers and necklaces, but can easily be worn into the colder months by layering tights and a turtleneck underneath and throwing a cozy faux fur coat on top.
10. A Knee-Length Skirt
Vince Camuto "Animal Whispers" skirt, $99, Nordstrom
Whether it's brunch with the girls, dinner with your hubby or a business meeting, there's no shortage of occasions to wear a pretty knee-length skirt. This high-waisted version from Karen Kane has an elaborate pattern print that will work well for those who don't want the constriction of a pencil skirt.
Pleated midi skirt, $85, & Other Stories
Another great alternative to the pencil skirt, a knee or midi-length pleated skirt retains all the formality and elegance of a simpler silhouette — but with more movement and versatility. This navy version from & Other Stories will look perfect with a tucked-in white T-shirt and heels for date night or a blazer and pumps for the office.