This post was written by Dia Style Adviser Reah Norman.
The perfect wardrobe is built on a collection of well-fitting, versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched into endless outfit combinations. When you’re just starting out building your wardrobe, it’s difficult to discern which are the necessary items, so I have put together my top must-haves that will create endless ensembles without cluttering your closet. Clients that come to me to be styled are looking to fill their closets with styles that they can wear over and over again, so our first step is to make sure they have these essentials.
1. Proper Undergarments
Undergarments are the first on the list because they are the most important building block of every single outfit. Bras, panties, shapewear, and hosiery create a smooth canvas to best display our beautiful outfits.
A few essentials to start with include:
- A Smooth Full Coverage Bra
- A Multi-Way Strapless Bra
- Seamless Panties
- A High-Waisted Brief Shaper
- A High-Waisted Mid-Thigh Shaper
Invest in undergarments in both nude and black and get fitted for a bra every 6 months, especially when weight fluctuates. An ill-fitting bra distracts from an otherwise beautiful outfit.
There are two key dresses to have in your closet:
- Little Black Dress
Otherwise known as the LBD, the little black dress is ubiquitous for good reason—it works for every important occasion. Make sure you have at least one LBD that is your tried-and-true go-to. It should fit like a glove, showcase your personal style, and makes you feel like a million bucks.
- Wow Dress
A wow dress is one that turns heads, demands attention, and makes your loved ones say, “Wow!” Look for a dress in a vibrant color, rich texture, or bold print that makes a statement without you having to say a word.
These are the key tops to have in your wardrobe:
- White Button-Up Shirt
A white button-up is a timeless classic that can be used as a base for a layered look, paired with a blazer for work, or dressed up with jewelry and a skirt for a chic night out.
- Denim or Chambray Button-Up Shirt
Tie it, tuck it, layer it, wear it over a dress, add it to a jacket for a layered look, or pair it with your favorite jeans. There are so many ways to wear this casual top!
- Layering Tees And Tanks
Solid colored tees and tanks in neutrals (and your favorite color, too, of course!) offer an everyday style solution.
These everyday bottoms should be on constant rotation:
Every wardrobe should be equipped with multiple pairs of jeans that fit like a glove in your favorite washes and silhouettes.
- Knee-Length Skirt
Find a knee-length skirt in whatever style suits you best—be it pencil or A-line. It’s great for any season and is a modest enough length to wear to any event, from a party to an interview.
- Sleek Black Pant
A sleek black pant will take you anywhere. It pairs with any top from a tee to a blouse and blazer. Get a length that you like that works with both heels and flats for ultimate versatility.
5. Layering Pieces
Those outfit toppers are the most functional part of our wardrobes and work hard to keep us warm and dry. They also happen to be the pieces that best create a polished look for day or night, work or play.These are the kinds of layering pieces you should have in your closet, no matter the climate where you live:
- Layering Sweaters
- Casual Denim Jacket
- Fitted Blazer in a Neutral Color
- Faux Leather Moto Jacket
- Classic Trench Coat
If you live somewhere with a colder climate, add both a puffer coat and a wool coat to your list for added protection.
6. Everyday Jewelry
Statement jewelry may not be necessary in every closet, but those special pieces of classic jewelry add polish to your everyday look. Feel free to layer on the sentimental pieces that are close to your heart and delicates in your favorite silver, gold, or rose gold finish that can be layered and stacked to perfection.
You don’t need hundreds of pairs of shoes to create incredible looks. Here are the key styles to look for:
- Nude Heels or Flats
Heels or flats in a color close to your skin tone can be paired with any look and will optically elongate so you’ll have legs for days.
- Chic Sneakers
A pair of sneakers that are sleek but have a vintage nod or a fun fashion element will be perfect for the days that you need to be on your feet but still look stylish.
- Statement Heels and Flats
A pair of heels or flats in playful color or print adds a touch of personality to a neutral look, and pairs with a bold look for a big statement.
Once you have the building blocks of your wardrobe, you can continue to experiment with your personal style and add the statement pieces that are special to you. Having the necessary pieces nearby gives you the freedom to mix and match, layer, and get playful with fashion. It’s not about having the most clothing, it’s about having the clothing that will get worn time and time again and that makes getting dressed in the morning easier and feel less like a chore.
is Dia&Co's Style Adviser. She's based in Los Angeles.