Basic Wardrobe Planning

Clothing in a closet

Don't be frustrated if you are challenged by basic wardrobe planning - most women have a hard time pulling together a good working wardrobe. Shopping can be draining and frustrating with changing styles. However, with some forethought, a simple yet stylish wardrobe can be put together with ease.

Basic Wardrobe Planning Tips

Whether you've started a new job or everything you own is only good for fabric recycling and needs to be replaced, you need to take some time and consider your look before you begin shopping.

Choose Classic Clothing

shopping for basics

The bulk of your budget should be geared towards classic items of good quality that will last, rather than something trendy. Assess your budget from the outset and determine how much can go where before you hit the shops. Remember, a great wardrobe doesn't have to be huge. Once you have a few really great things that work from season to season, regardless of trends, you can mix and match easily, creating a lot of great, fresh looks.

Invest in Quality Basics

A wardrobe that works also contains items that serve you well for longer than just a few months. Items that you can rely on are important; therefore, it's helpful to shop for well-made pieces constructed of high-quality materials. These "forever" pieces are the ones you want to spend more money on, so don't be afraid to shop labels you might otherwise rule out.

Consider Color

When planning your wardrobe, it is useful to think about color. Most women don't want to be monochromatic, although it can look great and make shopping and even laundry a lot easier. However, when putting together the basics, it's good to focus on a simple color palette with items that work together. Some color tips to consider:

  • Invest in neutrals: Black is always a good choice, as are brown, gray, navy and beige.
  • Find a flattering color base : When choosing a color base, you want to focus on what practical color looks best on you. You don't have to pay a stylist or color consultant to find out. Honest friends will be able to give you the exact same information for free.
  • Choose color you love: If it turns out you look great in beige but you hate beige, then pick a color you love, even if it's not your most perfect. Much of your look is projected by how you feel. If you feel great and confident, that's how people will see you.

What to Shop For

Once you know your budget and base color, the next step to basic wardrobe planning is selecting the items of clothing themselves.

Basic Trousers

Although they can be some of the hardest items to shop for, every woman should have a good pair of wool or rayon black trousers. They go with everything and can be dressed up or down. Avoid a trendy cut -- you want these to be a straight leg, regular rise trouser so that you can wear them for a number of years.

Dress Suit

classic dress suit

Most women also need at least one good suit, either with a skirt or trousers. A simple suit in a flattering cut can also be dressed up and down, and blouses and accessories will liven it up through the week.

Essential Skirts

Unless you are absolutely not a skirt person, two or three plain skirts in different lengths are a must for every wardrobe. Make at least one skirt a knee-length style -- it makes the work-to-play transition flawless and pairs well with anything. Combine your skirts with two or three pairs of trousers, besides the black ones mentioned above, and you won't have to do any more shopping for a year or more.

White Blouses

white blouse

The skirts, suit and trousers all scream for a white, button-down blouse of good quality. You will certainly buy tops and blouses of other colors, but this classic look never goes out of style and is flattering to everyone. It's available in a number of styles, but the key is to find a tailored, crisp cut that doesn't err on the trendy side but does look feminine.

Sweater Sets

Two or three good sweater sets are also a must. Consisting of a shell and matching cardigan, a sweater set makes life especially easy when time is of the essence. Simply throw it on and go. In this instance, you should choose a color in your base color and then two other colors that look great on you.


pink tee and dark jeans

Believe it or not, t-shirts are emblematic of a wardrobe that really works. They work when that crisp white blouse doesn't, and they come in handy when you need something to slip under a sweater. Black, white and red shades are smart choices as are a few tees in the season's hottest shades. Avoid boxy styles and instead select those with a more fitted, feminine silhouette for a top that can easily be dressed up or down.


Every woman should own at least one pair of jeans that she feels great in. Opt for a pair with a little stretch for the most flattering fit. Dark washes look dressier than lighter ones and can be more slimming.

The Little Black Dress

Everyone needs at least one great evening dress. It doesn't have to be little, but a black dress is a wardrobe essential that can be counted on as foolproof. Whatever you may opt for lengthwise, ensure that the dress fits you properly. It should be slightly form-fitted for the most polished finish, with a slight A-line for bottom-heavy shapes. This dress can be worn for anything from work functions to formal events.

Must-Have Accessories

pretty scarf

Extras such as accessories can add exciting flashes of color that will peek through and add interest to your basic wardrobe. If you love pinks and reds, wear a colorful scarf against a simple sheath dress for the perfect pop of color. If you're a fan of turquoise, slip on a bold cocktail ring with a basic denim and white blouse combination. The result is low-key yet completely fashionable.

There are a few accessories that are a must for any wardrobe such as:

  • Pumps and flats: Your wardrobe will work whether you love to wear heels or not. If you do enjoy a little height, achieve it with a classic pump in a neutral color. If not, opt for a pair of stylish flats.
  • Handbag: Your handbag will bear your burden all day long, so make sure you choose something spacious enough to handle it. A handbag is definitely an investment piece, so consider one of a thick, sturdy leather.
  • Scarves: For a pop of color and an element of fun, add a few scarves to your closet. These can be worn with anything from a simple to tee to a business suit.

Mix and Match

Once you have all the essential pieces, mixing and matching will suddenly yield you a month's worth of different outfits. You really don't need to be a clotheshorse to look like one. The basic idea is to develop a system that allows you to mix and match with ease and create fabulous outfits with very little effort.

Basic Wardrobe Planning