21 Wardrobe Essentials, According to Style Editors 2024

Call them wardrobe essentials, closet staples, hero items—a few foundational styles form the basis of nearly every outfit. These are the white T-shirts, black leggings, straight-leg jeans, and leather loafers of the world—the bones of any great capsule wardrobe. Sure, they might not be as exciting as the statement pieces, but that’s the point: They’re the perfect backdrop for the more eye-catching stuff.

There’s a difference between relying on hardworking items and dressing in a uniform. Wearing and rewearing iterations of the same outfit isn’t for everyone, and that is 100% okay. But there is something to be said about surrounding yourself with reliable pieces that stand the test of time. Not only will you set the tone for your daily looks, but you’ll also make getting dressed as effortless as possible (most of the time).

Though we love updating our closet with the latest fashion trends, if you’re looking to invest in the right wardrobe essentials—and not just the stuff you’ll forget after a few seasons—we turned to style editors to curate tried-and-true pieces. (And for the record, “basic” doesn’t have to mean “boring”; you can still push the envelope in these picks.) From hardworking button-down shirts to timeless sunglasses, these are the basics you need to make the most of your wardrobe.

1. The white T-shirt

First order of business: securing the perfect T-shirt. If you like a shorter, boxier fit, Everlane has a great one made from organic cotton. Hanes T-shirts, meanwhile, are mid-weight and slightly longer, ideal for tucking into high-rise pants. Either way, your pick will get softer with each wash and fit in with everything else in your closet.

Everlane The Organic Cotton Box-Cut Tee

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2. The slim sneakers

Comfort and versatility make white sneakers our go-to footwear for most situations. Adidas Sambas still reign supreme, especially with denim, but Glamour editors and shoppers alike are also obsessed with Reebok’s retro trainers.

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3. The straight-leg jeans

Looking for truly trend-proof denim? Go with straight-leg jeans, which look great with nearly any tops and shoes in your collection. The exact wash is up to you, but we love these mid-blue options (both of which are inspired by the ’90s) that look vintage in the best way.

Madewell The ‘90s Straight Jean

Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra-High-Rise ’90s Straight Jeans

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4. The everything bag

There’s a time and a place for smaller accessories, but your capsule wardrobe isn’t complete without at least one tote bag to carry everything you’ll need in a day. These designer totes can handle laptops, books, shoe changes, umbrellas, and anything else you might need to lug around.

Kate Spade Essential Large Work Tote

Tory Burch McGraw Leather Tote

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5. The crew socks

All the cool girls are wearing crew socks with everything—loafers, sneakers, heels, you name it—right now (Hailey Bieber’s influence!). And for less than $20, you can pick up enough soft, low-key pairs to last you between laundry loads.

Magiarte Mini Crew Ankle Socks, 6-Pack

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6. The black leggings

Black leggings need no introduction. Like Aphrodite emerging from the sea, Lululemon’s best-selling leggings—available in short, regular, and tall inseams—rise above the rest. Equally beloved (and more affordable) are Colorfulkoala’s viral Amazon leggings, which have a thick waistband and are available in 7/8 and full-length inseams, plus tons of colors.

Colorfulkoala Buttery-Soft High-Waist Yoga Pants

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7. The just-right blazer

Neither too tight nor too loose, these sharp blazers will punch up any regular outfit. Try styling them with a button-down shirt and a sequin skirt when you want to look dressed up; on more casual days, they look great with a tank top and light-wash jeans. Layering has never been so easy.

Banana Republic Siena Relaxed Italian Wool Blazer

Zara Tailored Double-Breasted Blazer

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8. The ballet flats

Whether you opt for a classic bow style or bold Mary Janes, the ballet flat is back and cooler than ever. Madewell’s lipstick-red pair pops with denim or black trousers (just ask Dakota Johnson), while Jeffrey Campbell’s neutral option fits in nearly everywhere else.

Madewell The Greta Ballet Flats

Jeffrey Campbell Dancerina Flat

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9. The tank top

The humble ribbed tank top is a style chameleon. Pair it with anything—tailored suits, wide-leg jeans, full skirts, running shorts—and it blends in effortlessly. Give your usual white tees a rest (especially when it’s too hot to even think about sleeves) and swap in these relaxed yet elegant tanks with your next ’fit.

Uniqlo Soft Ribbed Tank Top

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10. The trench coat

Save for the hottest and coldest extremes, a proper trench coat should get you through the vast majority of the year. Err on the lightweight side, which makes season-appropriate layering so much easier to ace. Banana Republic’s unlined option is a minimalist take on the classic, while Dolan’s shortens it and adds pearls, turning a basic into a statement in itself.

Banana Republic Cotton Trench Coat

Dolan Pearl-Embellished Cropped Trench Coat

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11. The little white dress

We figure you already have your LBD figured out—but what about a white dress? During the warmer months, nothing is quite as simple and classic as a white number paired with your favorite jewelry and shoes (plus, maybe, a designer bag for good measure). Classic silhouettes like cotton shirtdresses and linen A-line dresses make the most versatile picks.

J.Crew Amelia Maxi Shirtdress

Reformation Magnolia Linen Dress

12. The updated huggies

The finishing touch to most outfits is usually a piece of jewelry, and it’s hard to miss with a pair of chubby huggies. These puffed-up styles hug the ear just so and go with everything from sweats to formalwear.

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13. The cashmere sweater

While we have nothing against merino or cotton, super-soft cashmere makes the best investment; it’s a high-quality material you’ll find yourself reaching for year after year. There are so many great places to shop for cashmere knits, but J.Crew and Naadam are two of our favorite resources for great wool that won’t blow a hole in your budget.

J.Crew Cashmere Shrunken Crewneck Sweater

Naadam Cashmere Boatneck Sweater

14. The button-down shirt

The differences in button-downs are subtle—collar, length, material, cut—and finding the right one for you comes down to personal preference. These middle-of-the-road picks from Boden and Banana Republic are a few of our favorites with endless styling potential.

Boden Sienna Cotton Shirt

Banana Republic The Perfect Shirt

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15. The everyday sunglasses

A great pair of sunglasses can make a bare-bones look feel complete. Shield your eyes—and add some intrigue to your outfit—with these classic picks. We’ve noticed everyone wearing slim oval sunglasses in 2024; on the other hand, you can never go wrong with Ray-Ban’s most iconic frames.

Le Specs Work It Sunglasses

Ray-Ban Wayfarer Way Oval Sunglasses

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16. The denim skirt

The skirt you’ll want to base all your off-duty outfits around is undoubtedly a denim one. Longer is better here; we much prefer a preppy, all-season midi to a mini. Try styling these picks with a white tank top, fisherman sandals, retro shades, and a messy bun to look like the girl of your Pinterest board fantasies.

Madewell The Rilee Denim Midi Skirt

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17. The wedding guest dress

Whether you’re prepping for a wedding or another black-tie event, it never hurts to have a go-to wedding guest dress on hand. (We’re firmly pro-repeat dresses here at Glamour—who has the time and money to buy something new for every occasion?) These popular picks from Reformation and Anthropologie will have you covered for any dress code and season.

Reformation Frankie Silk Dress

Ted Baker Mincia Puff-Sleeve Dress

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18. The slim loafers

Not every pair of loafers ascends to god-tier status, but these do. Why? They’re completely trend-proof; this trim, preppy silhouette has been around for decades, and it’ll stick around for many more to come. While chunky loafers come and go, slim styles are forever.

G.H. Bass Whitney Easy Weejuns Loafers

J.Crew Winona Penny Loafers

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19. The relaxed trousers

Loose-fitting trousers look just as stylish with a T-shirt and sneakers as they do with a blazer and slingback heels. Look beyond their formal roots and style them in ways more unexpected, contrasting the menswear vibe with feminine picks like shrunken tops or ballet flats.

Everlane The Linen Way-High Drape Pants

Wilfred The Effortless Pants

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20. The lightweight cardigan

A good layer will get plenty of mileage any time of year, especially during transitional seasons. And cardigans were made for easy layering; throw either of these relatively lightweight pieces over a T-shirt, tank top, or bralette whenever you need a bit more weight. (Or go full downtown girl and wear them solo with loafers and a pair of worn-in jeans.)

Abercrombie & Fitch Merino Wool-Blend Slim Crew Cardigan

COS Waisted Knitted Cardigan

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21. The claw clip

The finishing touch to any casual outfit (and saving grace for uncooperative hair) is a classic claw clip, preferably in tortoiseshell. Wardrobe essentials work the most magic when you’re rushing out the door—and nothing is more effortlessly chic than hair that’s just the right kind of messy. (No one has to know it’s because you overslept.)

Lele Sadoughi Imitation Pearl Tortoise Hair Clip

Aileam Tortoise Hair Claws

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