I'll be the first to admit that I can be picky about a lot of things, including butter (it's all about the quality), facial cleansers (not all are created equal!), and—back to the point of this story—basics. When it comes to the staples I wear every day, I am unquestionably finicky about what pieces I will and won't wear. Quality is important, but that doesn't necessarily equate to expensive. Sure, investing in a cashmere sweater is an excellent idea, but I've found plenty of affordable fashion staples everywhere from Zara to COS that fit great, feel good, and have lasted me years.
Luckily, I've had the opportunity to try and test a lot of basics working as a fashion editor, and below, I wanted to share some of the items I highly recommend along with a few that are currently on my wish list. These items not only fit beautifully and feel good on your skin, but they also exude a fashion-forward touch. Most importantly, they're versatile pieces that will become the foundation of your year-round wardrobe.
Essential Knit Sweater
& Other Stories excels when it comes to knit sweaters, and I turn to a small handful in my year-round wardrobe. This relaxed crew-neck is one of my new favorites. I love the slightly oversize silhouette and longer arm length, which gives it designer vibes. The color goes with everything.
If you're looking for a more fitted basic sweater that you can layer or wear alone, then I highly recommend Zara's basic knit turtleneck and basic knit crew-neck sweater that the brand seems to carry year-round. It's soft, versatile, and very reasonably priced. I own it in black, navy, and taupe.
So I don't own this sweater (yet!), but I have tried it on, and I'm utterly obsessed. Striped sweaters will never go out of style, and they're having a major moment this year. This Khaite one made of 100% cashmere is probably one of the best investments you'll make that will last you a lifetime.
Every time I wear this ridiculously soft Zara sweater, everyone asks me where it's from. It's the perfect loose silhouette and could pass for designer.
Ref's trend-foward knitwear selection is always on point, and this oversize cardigan is basically like wearing a big, soft blanket. You're welcome.
I'm very particular about jeans (I wear them nearly every day), and Citizens of Humanity remains my number one brand when it comes to quality, fit, and classic silhouettes. The Charlotte High Rise is a style I wear on repeat because it goes so well with literally everything.
Agolde Pinch Waist jeans are a favorite among our editors, and I wear the style on heavy rotation. They come in all washes, but I own them in this slightly darker wash, which I wear a lot for work or a night out.
My 501s are my holy-grail basic straight-leg jeans. They add such a cool touch to every outfit, and I love the fact that they're under $100.
Oversize Button-Down Shirt
Ref's Will Oversize Shirt is a silhouette I reach for year-round, as it's cool, relaxed, and comfortable.
You can do no wrong with J.Crew's button-downs. This relaxed poplin is one of those forever items you'll always hold on to. This one comes in a variety of versatile hues.
Alex Mill's button-downs are classic and timeless. They're such nice quality, and they survive the washing machine really well.
I've raved about it before, and I'll rave about it again. You simply can't go wrong with this $8 Hanes tee from Amazon. It's classic, isn't see-through, is made from 100% cotton, and has an easy, comfortable fit.
I recently purchased this, and I can't stop wearing it. Made from cotton jersey, it's effortless and easy to wear with everything from tailored trousers to long denim skirts.
I own way too many Madewell tees. This one is perfect for layering.
I've always had great luck with Zara's blazers. The brand is always on top of it when it comes to chic, trend-forward silhouettes.
The perfect relaxed silhouette, this is another editor favorite. I love the versatile color.
This COS blazer has become the foundation of my capsule wardrobe. "Effortless" and "chic" are the two words that come to mind.
I would like to own Aritzia's Effortless Pants in every color! I have them in black, and they're one of the most versatile pairs I own. The quality is excellent, and they fit beautifully—they're the perfect length you can wear with flats and heels alike.
I reach for Ref's Mason Pants a lot. They look luxe and drape beautifully. They are longer in length, so I'll usually wear these with heels.
A favorite among the fashion set, The Frankie Shop's tailored trousers are a solid investment.
Fashion's of-the-moment It sneakers are also one of the most versatile. They're comfy, cool, and easy to wear with dresses and jeans alike.
Yep, these are the kind of sneakers that never go out of style.
I've been recommending these go-with-everything boots to everyone this season. They're made of soft leather and have a manageable height heel. Not to mention, they're super chic.
After reading a ton of reviews on these lug-sole boots, I finally bought them, and honestly, I am so glad I did. They're classic yet cool and don't feel too clunky.
Classic Wool Coat
When I'm looking for tailored coats at relatively affordable prices, I'll head straight to Mango. This silhouette is classic and timeless.
Judith is the senior fashion market editor at Who What Wear and has worked in fashion for nearly a decade. Judith started on the Shop Who What Wear team, creating content and managing a team of merchandisers for the Who What Wear shopping app. She later crossed over to the editorial team, where she shares the coolest, most desirable fashion market finds and brands in her shopping-focused stories and social takeovers. She has become one of the top affiliate earners during her six plus years at Who What Wear. Before working in fashion, Judith was a TV host on the PBS travel show Globe Trekker (airing on Netflix and Amazon Prime) and shared her passion for travel and food. She studied at the prestigious London Academy of Dramatic Arts as well as Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York. She later studied fashion merchandising and design, which laid the foundation for her career in fashion.