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10 essential pieces to base wardrobe around

(42 Posts)
puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 10:10:45

I would like to get 10 high quality essentials that I can build my daily look around using the rest of my wardrobe. I am aiming to buy these pieces in the next few months and then stop buying clothes for as long as possible so quality is essential. I am also unsure as to what really is ‘essential’.

So far I was thinking:
LBD from Coast or alike
Pair of jeans from Hiut Denim
A couple of blouses maybe Zara?

What else do I absolutely need and where should I be buying from? I am happy for the total items to amount to roughly £400-500. I don’t need a coat or a bag.

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
SebandAlice Fri 06-Mar-20 10:16:23

Leather jacket
Black suede hes

puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 10:20:08

Does a leather jacket make you sweat? I’ve never worn one blush But I am going somewhere today where they make leather jackets so maybe worth a look.

OP’s posts: |
SpongeBobJudgeyPants Fri 06-Mar-20 10:23:18

I've read several articles on this over the years. I may even have a book somewhere. The most sensible one built it up from your life, rather than some generic woman. I had always been confused by the part that said, get a good smart coat for work/everyday. I just wouldn't wear something like this regularly. I only wear a smart coat for funerals. So it needs to work for you, and I think if you give a couple of (non-outing) details of your lifestyle, people could tailor it for you more iuswim.

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Fri 06-Mar-20 10:25:41

A good leather jacket shouldn't make you sweat. Have you ever seen a sweaty cow?! smile

puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 10:31:54

@SpongeBod sweaty cows grin

Ok, a few details that may help. I go to the gym quite a lot, my job is based outdoors in the summer and involves scrambling through brambles/climbing fences etc. I have a baby. We go out to eat quite a bit and would like things I can dress up easily/ minimal effort.

OP’s posts: |
BlairWaldorfLovesShopping Fri 06-Mar-20 10:50:34

I think you'll struggle to get 10 high quality items for £500 (and a decent leather jacket is about £300 alone) but I'd say...

Trainers (ones that would look good with both jeans and leggings)
Leggings (either leather look, or high end gym wear like lululemon or sweaty betty)
A printed midi dress of whatever style suits you
Smart ankle boots with a walkable heel
A nice blouse/top of whatever style suits you
A nice sweatshirt (the type you get at hush/whistles for eg)
Jeans of whatever style suits you
A plain jumpsuit in whatever style suits you (dress up or down)
Leather/faux leather A-line midi skirt
Printed or slogan short sleeve t-shirt (whatever you like/suits you).

Then you can make outfits like:
- Trainers, leggings, sweatshirt
- T-shirt, leather mini, trainers
- Midi dress, boots
- Jumpsuit, trainers
- Jeans, blouse, boots
Etc etc smile

Why do you need a LBD? I have no idea where I'd wear one of those these days.

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Fri 06-Mar-20 10:57:25

As Blair says, do you need a LBD, this is the same as the ubiquitous coat, IMHO smile There is an American website called Adore Your Wardrobe, which really made me rethink my stuff. She has free podcasts, and may stop you buying stuff you don't need. Have you already got a work jacket etc, are we dressing you for going out out?

puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 10:57:42

Well not necessarily little, it would be knee length. Black is my most versatile colour. And I was thinking it could be dressed up or down depending? I don’t know, I have no idea shock

I already have good trainers and a ridiculously extensive collection of Sweaty Betty leggings- my husband went a bit overboard grin

I also have printed mid length dresses and jumpsuits.

You’re right about the cost though. I hadn’t considered a leather jacket initially, but if it’s an item that is worth having then I’ll re evaluate costs to incorporate it.

OP’s posts: |
puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 10:58:55

Thanks @SpongeBobJudgeyPants I’ll have a look at that. It’s more for if I need to go to meetings, weekend days, so maybe out for lunch and then evenings out.

OP’s posts: |
Sexnotgender Fri 06-Mar-20 11:03:06

Cashmere/nice wool jumper
Nice jeans
White tees
Slim fit trousers
Leather jacket

I just got nice brogues in the Ecco sale. My jeans are from Boden.

Johnsonsfiat Fri 06-Mar-20 11:07:40
Get this in every single colour they have. It looks neat, is warm code it's fitted and it goes under a blazer and looks good. I've got it in black and a sort of light skin colour.

Floisme Fri 06-Mar-20 11:24:56

If you want high quality and your budget is £400-£500 - and noting you still have other clothes - then I would personally start with 3 or 4 pieces. Mine would be:
Trousers and jacket that would work both separately and together. I'd go for tailored but low key. I know Toast is Marmite on here but I think they do that kind of look very well. Zara tailoring can also be very good for the price.
A men's chunky, V-neck cardigan in wool or cashmere. Or a women's in a mannish style but menswear is often better quality.
A silk shirt.
That's just my taste and my lifestyle but those items would get me through most occasions, in and out of work.

If you have the time to look for second hand then you could eke out your budget a lot further.

itallwentwrongat30 Fri 06-Mar-20 11:32:13

A decent blazer can be a godsend! Goes with so many outfits

BookMeOnTheSudExpress Fri 06-Mar-20 13:31:53

Black polo neck.
A good white shirt - no point in a white shirt if it fits wrong, has breast pockets which flatter no human woman ever, or is the kind of pure cotton that you can iron for hours and still looks a crumpled mess.
Boden Richmond are my HG trouser. Can be dressed up for work or down for play.

IdblowJonSnow Fri 06-Mar-20 13:40:08

I would never wear a blazer, would feel ridiculous. It's all very subjective.
Just lots of things that go with other things which therefore might need to be quite plain? I like the idea of a silk blouse.
I love prints, my wardrobe is full of them and nothing matches! blushgrin

ForeverRedSkinhead Fri 06-Mar-20 13:55:55

I've recently been working on a capsule wardrobe and have been buying the best I can afford.

I've bought some brown leather ankle boots , plain t shirts from Oasis in 4 colours , a black tea dress from topshop , an olive parker (parka?) Coat , multiple pairs of thick sports leggings , a pair of check pattern trousers , a mock neck jumper from Oasis , black havaina slim flip flops and a pair of khaki coloured trainers. I've also invested in some really good bras and bamboo socks. I'm a sahp and this all suits my lifestyle. I could get dressed in the dark now because it all goes together, I'm very pleased.

ForeverRedSkinhead Fri 06-Mar-20 14:06:29

Just to add , I think the best advice I ever read was to lay out the stuff you wear most often on your bed , these things represent your style. Make sure everything you buy works with those items.

puds11 Fri 06-Mar-20 14:14:10

Thanks everyone! Lots to consider. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’m wondering if a personal shopper might be worth trying?

I’ve never worn a blazer but do like the look of them. Just always thought I was a bit to shabby to wear one.

OP’s posts: |
winterisstillcoming Fri 06-Mar-20 14:23:37

Jeans, blazer, 1 casual top, 1more tailored, a skirt, a dress, a pair of toms, boots, a large scarf, and something else.

Annasgirl Fri 06-Mar-20 14:37:50


I think you have mistaken the generic capsule wardrobe spiel for an actual working wardrobe for you.

If I worked outdoors, I would have a Barbour or other brand quality jacket, skinny jeans (no need to buy expensive) and great boots by Dubarry or Hunter or Timberland or one of the other good country brands.

That is your work go-to wardrobe.

Then your workout wardrobe (which I call my school-run wardrobe, as I workout straight after) is great leggings, great sweatshirts and a good waterproof running jacket (or a throw on lightweight parka that you can get from Decathlon or Uniqlo).

Then your other wardrobe, which is for dress up occasions - you really should only spend in proportion to the amount of time you will use these. So, if you will only wear once per year, do not pass £50 of spend, if you will wear it weekly, then invest.

Decide whether you want dresses or trousers. I have 2 pairs of wide-leg trousers which I wear with a leather jacket (12 years old now) and trainers and a silky top. If I need to dress up further, I wear a black boucle jacket and heeled boots. I would say I have done this once in 12 months, most places now are more informal and so I never need to ditch the trainers.

I also have 3 midi dresses from Zara which I wear with a denim or leather jacket and trainers.

Finally, I invest every 4-5 years in a dress which works for all occasions and is now a pleated midi dress (8 years ago it was a shift dress).

I don't think anyone, except people who look to Audrey Hepburn as their style icon, needs or uses a LBD anymore (and I say this as someone who had one in my wardrobe as my evening staple for a decade).

I would also forget about a blazer - I bought one (expensive) three years ago and I have worn it three times!!!

thisenglishlife Fri 06-Mar-20 14:45:59

Apart from the very obvious stuff (eg. smart shirt or nice white t-shirt), I'd recommend:

Shirt dress (probably Ralph Lauren, wait for a sale to get them for less than £100. Warehouse and Oasis can be good sometimes.)

Wrap dress (Hobbs are normally good)

V neck dress (more flattering than other styles)

Stripey top (Kettlewell have some nice ones at the moment)

Cotton top in a bright colour that suits you

Nice skirt (pleated or pencil style)

Cotton trench coat (M&S have a great one at the moment for £55, Hobbs is also good)

Nice trouser suit to dress up or down (in a flattering and versatile colour, but not boring)

Leather court shoe (I'd recommend round toe to pointy - Clarks, Hobbs, LK Bennett, M&S)

Nice pair of sandals (a small block heel is dressy but comfortable)

Leather trainers for walking (Reebok Classic)

Canvas shoes (Superga, Converse, Vans)

Tights (Wolford are the best quality, they are often on sale)

Doobigetta Fri 06-Mar-20 15:34:38

This is going to be different for everyone because it’s very dependent on what you do all day. I work full time but with a casual dress code, and my list of ten would be:

Print blouse- currently I like the loose floaty kind, to be tucked in or half tucked
Tshirt- long sleeved in winter, short in summer
Plain chambray shirt
V-neck jumper
Oxford type shoes
Boots for winter, trainers for spring- autumn

And of course you have to consider what the capsule wardrobe tips never do, which is that you need multiples of these: a fresh shirt or tshirt every day, and a fresh pair of jeans every two or three days. You can’t actually manage with ten items of clothing. And even if you do manage with not many more than that, you’ll end up having to replace them more quickly because the more often they’re washed, the faster they’ll fall apart.

Tableclothing Fri 06-Mar-20 15:36:48

What else do I absolutely need

Tableclothing Fri 06-Mar-20 15:44:34

Aagh posted too soon:

What you need depends on what you do in your life.

If you work outside the home, what kind of work is it? (And if you work 2 days a week you obvs need fewer work outfits than if you do 6)

Are you rural/urban/suburban?

Do you exercise a lot?

How often and where do you socialise?

Is being able to chuck everything in the machine on the same wash important to you?

For some people, a rainbow sequin jumpsuit would be a cornerstone of their capsule wardrobe. Others would get no use whatsoever out of the sainted All Saints biker.

That said, I got a perfect LBD from Cos a few years back. It's been worn to work, funerals, job interviews and gigs. Might be worth a look there.

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