It's pretty safe to assume that we'd all rather buy an amazing, special fashion item than another boring basic. However, the fact of the matter is that truly the majority of what we wear are basics, and they rarely go out of style, so we keep them for ages. Sure, the latest Prada It shoes have a significantly stronger pull than, say, a pair of black pants, but how many times will you really wear the Prada shoes in comparison to the pants? Exactly. Curious as to which basics are essential and the most versatile, we consulted an expert on the matter: Raleigh, North Carolina–based personal stylist Alex Long.
Long's company, Alex Long Studio, specializes in personal styling and shopping, closet editing, and even packing. Since her clients are real women who lead busy lives, she's a trusted source when it comes to how women shop and build their wardrobes, and she had a lot of insight for us on the subject of basics everyone forgets to buy, whether intentionally or not. "It's a fact: No one wants to buy basics," she tells us. "It's the statement pieces people really get excited about. But classic, well-fitting pieces never go out of style and will serve you for years."
Keep scrolling to find out the nine items Long says everyone should own, and shop them for your own wardrobe.
Classic White Shirt
"A classic white button-up is a piece nobody really gets excited about, but it's a great layering piece and gives any outfit a crisp finish."
"A structured blazer is one of my favorite styling pieces. It can totally transform a simple outfit from casual to polished. Keep it simple in black, or go for a print or texture, like a check or plaid."
"A good pair of black pants are a must. They're a great foundation for any outfit. They can be a go-to for work with a blouse, or you can dress them up with a cami and heels for evening."
Black Suede or Calf-Hair Shoes
"Black suede or calf-hair shoes—these materials create texture, and suede has a more polished look, even with less expensive shoes."
"Don't forget the underpinnings! Lingerie is the stuff no one wants to spend money on, but the right bra and cami make your clothes look better. Even if you don't go sexy, a pretty set of underthings always makes you feel a little more special."
"Bodysuits are back in a big way. They're a great base layer that stays in place and keeps things from bunching up around the waistline. I like it as a layering piece. It creates a smooth silhouette for bodies of all shapes."
"Animal prints are a great neutral that can be thrown in the mix to create texture and visual interest. Leopard goes with pretty much anything."
Black Leather Shoulder Bag
"A good-quality, well-lined black leather shoulder or messenger bag is key. A great hands-free catchall will stay in style forever. Wear it all year, or put it away for a while and come back to it later. Adding a texture, like pebbled leather, will make your handbag more scratch-resistant and keep it from showing wear and tear."
Chunky Crew-Neck Sweater
"Finally, a long-sleeve, knit crew-neck sweater in black or taupe can be thrown on with a skirt or dress, or over pants for a more business-casual look. Find something in a chunky knit to add texture. And a simple top is a perfect complement for a statement skirt or pant."
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.
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