Cultivating a closet of great basics is essential now that the rules about what to wear have relaxed. Once, our wardrobes were strictly segmented – there was ‘workwear’; going-out outfits; and stuff you wore at the weekend. But as most workplaces have become more casual and athleisure got more glam, the boundaries have blurred – which means every item you own has to work a whole lot harder.
We asked five of the most stylish women we know about the basics they can’t live without.
Lill Jenner on white shirts and black slips
Lill is a stylist and fashion editor, whose work has appeared in marie claire and InStyle among others
“White or khaki button-down shirts are on high rotation in my wardrobe and I have a few different styles and fabrics to swap between. They’re often slightly oversized and mannish, and I wear them open over a slip dress, tucked into jeans with a jacket over the top, and thrown over swimmers as a cover up.
I also have a few long, black slip dresses – not the light silk ones, but heavier slips in a poly blend. I don’t love non-natural fibres, but these are just practical – you can throw them in the washing machine and they still look great. I wear mine for work, evening, on relaxed weekends, vacation… They’re comfortable and easy for me to move around in, which is key in my line of work.
Finally, I love a good shirt dress! And I have about five of them, because they’re one outfit you don’t have to think about. Throw on a shirt dress and walk out the door.”
Aileen Marr on her favourite blazer and boots
Aileen is a fashion director at Grazia, and her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, US Glamour and more
“My hardest-working item? That would be my YSL double-breasted black blazer. It was truly a huge investment at a time when no one in fashion was really wearing blazers, let alone double-breasted ones. But as soon as I tried it on, I knew it was the perfectly tailored, sharply cut blazer that could dress up or down as an everyday look for me. I wear it constantly, with a white tee, leather slouch pants or jeans. Every time I pack for a trip, for work or pleasure, it’s always my key item to build looks with.
It’s equivalent to a leather jacket that you’ve had for years, with plenty of wear and history – and it’s definitely earned its cost-per-wear.
My other favourites are my Celine cream boots. When I bought them, I figured they’d be hopelessly impractical but they work with everything – particularly since the majority of my wardrobe these days is neutral. The leather is super soft, I can wear them all day without feeling the need to change up and they’re very stylish. Every pair of Phoebe-era Celine shoes that I own are comfortable yet elegant (and yes, I own quite a few…).”
Danika Murphy is the founder of Wellington Factory – you’ll see her bucket hats everywhere this summer
“My cowboy boots work so hard! I love these babies so much. They were a limited-edition release on Net-A-Porter about five years back and I can’t tell you much about them as the brand name has rubbed off the soles! I’ve worn them so much they look vintage.
My favourite way to style the boots is with a super-feminine maxi skirt or maxi dress, as I like the contrast of prettiness with that dishevelled tomboy look.”
Tara is a stylist at The Iconic, and her work has appeared in fashion magazines such as marie claire
“My Levi’s 501s are definitely the most hard-working in my wardrobe. I bought them at a flea market in Paris, and, in fact, all my jeans are vintage. I just find that the fit is better.
“My Proenza Schouler jacket is another staple at the moment. I bought it in the Net-A-Porter sale, and, because it’s not blue denim, I love it because you can wear it with jeans without it looking ‘too double-denim’.
“I wear high-waisted jeans with everything (at least, I did before pregnancy!) and easily three-to-four times a week. The high-waisted style creates a waist and extends the leg; in fact, a straight leg hides everything and if they’re cropped to show a bit of ankle, they’re perfect! I wear them with a tee and a blazer if it’s a little cool, or a ribbed top, tucked in, or a button-down shirt.
“During my pregnancy a black bias slip dress has also been a life saver. I’ve obviously worn them on repeat before becoming pregnant, but when my wardrobe options got slimmer and slimmer I knew I could rely on the bias of the slip dress to fit the growing up. Paris Georgia does a great one that’s quite long, and because the bump makes everything shorter its been a favourite.”