July 20, 2011

Today's Everyday Fashion: Wardrobe Staples Every Girl Needs

This may be one of my most-asked questions, but I'm vehemently opposed to "10 items every woman needs" lists. If you see one, please throw it away!!! I think that women are way too different and complex to be lumped into one category. For instance, they almost always contain three items - a black pencil skirt, a white button up and a trench coat - that I hardly ever wear and could most certainly live without. Staples vary so widely depending upon your personal style, occupation, age, body type  and the climate you live in. A lawyer and a nurse's wardrobes could not be more different, nor could a Minnesota woman and a Florida woman. There is only one thing every women needs at any age in my opinion and that's a great pair of jeans.

So what does this mean for you? This may be my most asked question, but unfortunately there is no easy answer. My hope is that by reading my blog and the how-to articles I post, that I can help you figure out exactly what "staples" means to you - and that I can help you develop your own list of 10 things you can't live without. Ultimately though it's about the journey and finding what you love, which requires some trail and error. Tell me - what are your wardrobe staples? Can you think of any other items (besides jeans) that every woman needs?

About the outfit: The blazer is PINK and the skirt is NAVY. (hard to tell in the photo) I dig this inspiration photo but it was a tad too rock-n-roll for my taste. I prefer the sweetness of the nude pumps and looser skirt with this look and while you can see the resemblance to my inspiration, I definitely made it my own!

Inspiration photo: Nasty Gal
Pink blazer: Banana Republic, $35
Shirt: Banana Republic, $18
Navy skirt: H&M, $30 (similar)
Shoes: Banana Republic, $22 (similar and similar)
Necklace: J's Stella & Dot website (similar)
Watch: Michael Kors, family gift
Bracelets: Forever 21, $8


  1. I love your version of the outfit! Looks like something I would totally wear :)

  2. Hi J!

    I love your fashion advice and reading your blog. I have a challenge that I am hoping you will be able to help me out with. In a couple of months I am leaving to work on a cruiseline as a fitness instructor for around 10 months. Now, that sounds like a lot of clothes right?! Well not really, they instructed us to pack like we are going on a three week vacation...a little bit of everything, not a lot of anything. We may be in hot weather, we may be in cold. So I know I that I need a lot of layering items, but if you have any specific ideas or helpful hints on how to pack efficiently without necessarily wrinkling your clothing and optimizing space that would be amazing! Thanks!

  3. I like your version way better :)

    I totally agree woman are so complex. The "what every woman needs" list definitely doesnt apply to all women :)


  4. I definitely like your version better. The skirt is just so cute and right on trend with the stripes!

    Some staples for me are colored belts and scarves. They can add a lot to an outfit, they are cheap, and belts and scarves can be worn by anyone no matter your size.  Also a cute denim or black vest is another staple.  And one really awesome dress that makes you feel like a million bucks!

    Heather/H&K Style Journey


  5. I think a short, neutral blazer type jacket (like the white one you're wearing here) is a must have staple. Something versatile that can be dressed up or down.

  6. Very cute!   Quick question, you wear a lot of cardigans, but almost never have them buttoned up.  I love cardigans, but I think they look odd on me if they aren't buttoned.  Is there a particular style of cardigan that you buy that looks best unbuttoned or do you buy them a size smaller? 

  7. I think, for me, dresses are the must have thing every woman should have. I have over 50 and I LOVE them. In summer a withe dress is the best thing you could wear :) maybe be i should start a dresses only blog. :) 

  8. Stephanie_walter0409July 20, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    Love this look!  Hope to replicate it this week...I have the navy and white striped skirt and gray under shirt...Now I need to find some type of light pink cardigan or blazer...Any suggestions where I can find one fairly cheap?

    Also, a staple item for me is a great pair of white shorts for the summer...for winter great dresses/long sweaters I can wear with leggings/tights...and fun, fun jewelry that can make an outfit!!

  9. Love your version - the shorts on the model look like pajamas to me. 

    For me - A good fitting pair of jeans, 2 solid go-to outfits for the times I'm staring at my closet blankly, 2 great dresses, a couple of printed skirts, black pants, grey pants, a whole mess of brightly colored tanks and cardis, a pair of black shoes (flats for me), a pair of nude shoes (open toed wedges),  and a pair of red heels.  Everything else I could probably toss.  =)

  10. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Thanks Gina! ps. The blazer is pink. ;-) 

  11. You are so right--what's essential for one woman is unnecessary for another, and innappropriate for a third's lifestyle. For me, staples are seasonless items like a dark wash denim knee-length skirt that is office-friendly and 3/4 sleeve tops in bright colors that I can wear alone in the spring/summer or under a sweater or jacket in the fall/winter. I keep a good pair of basic black pumps at work and I can slip them on anytime before a meeting for a little extra height and polish-they go with almost any outfit.

  12. I LOVE YOUR SHIRT!!! beautiful



  13. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Stephanie, white shorts in the summer are a must-have for me too! I have a couple blush pink cardigans and I got them for really cheap at NY & Co and LOFT. I would try Old Navy, too, they have a bunch of cardigans right now!

  14. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Amy, that is too funny, I barely have any dresses. I always feel like they are really expensive, plus I don't think they are nearly as versatile as tops and bottoms, which can be worn so many different ways. I like throwing a shirt over a dress, or a skirt over a dress to get more use out of it, but I will still probably always be a separates girl for life! :-)

  15. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Annie, I definitely buy cardigans by color, not by style or fit. Some wind up fitting differently - I have 3 of the same cardigan from H&M and they are more form-fitting and look great unbuttoned. I have some longer ones from Banana that are really loose on me though. You may notice that a lot of times when the cardigan is unbuttoned I put a belt over it. This does two things - 1. creates a waist that you can see through the cardigan 2. allows me to push some of the cardigan around to the back and "get rid" of some of the bulk. If I am wearing one open with no belt, then I am almost always wearing something slim-fitting so you can still see my shape under the cardigan. This video might help - the first half is me describing how I decide where to button and belt a cardigan that I'm wearing: http://www.jseverydayfashion.com/2010/11/video-how-to-belt-cardigan_12.html

  16. I definitely like your version better.  It's more realistic for the average woman to wear. 

  17. I love you so much right now! I hate those lists about what every woman needs in her wardrobe.  I will never need a trench coat!! I read a great book called Closet Confidential and the list of what women need in their wardrobe is so awesome. Instead of being specific (dark jeans, black pumps, white shirt, etc) it's more general and easier to fit to your wardrobe. I love that book so much - the author is hilarious!! Her name is Winona Dimeo-Ediger and she writes for The Frisky. PS, I love your skirt :)

  18. Penny Pincher FashionistaJuly 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    That skirt is adorable on you - I love it!! :)

  19. I agree that no one list of 10 items could apply to every woman across the board. I do think in addition to jeans every woman needs a great t-shirt in white or cream and a great pair of nude shoes - flat, platforms, wedges, sandals - whatever style fits you comfort level and lifestyle best.
    As for my staples - just cute, comfortable clothes in great colors AND statement jewelry. :) I just did the 30 for 30 and completely convinced myself that I love my wardrobe the way it is. For me at least, less is definitely not more. :)
    Also, love your version of the look. Much more ladylike. :) Navy and pink is such a classic, feminine color combo.

  20. Love your opinion on lists!  I agree.  Although I am wearing a (gray) pencil skirt and white button down as I type.  Being in the Northwest, a fleece jacket is essential to my casual wardrobe and you'll never EVER see those recommended!

  21. I need to have lots of dressy pants that are super-comfortable yet fit very well. I live in a northern climate, so I'm in pants most of the year. Victoria's Secret's pants in "seasonless stretch" are perfect. I buy a pair whenever they go on sale, then take them to a tailor. A former boss of mine who always looked fantastic taught me that strategy. :)

    J, I'm a newcomer here...thanks for so many fantastic, and totally usable, ideas!

  22. Love your take on the outfit!

    I think my staple is a really nice pair of black dress pants.  I bought them with a matching suit jacket, but I barely wear that with them.  Black dress pants go with almost anything I would need to wear to work!  They look nice with sweaters in the winter and pretty floral tops in the summer, so that's probably the thing I "must" have.

  23. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Welcome to the blog Karen! So glad you stopped by! :-)

  24. Just wanted to say that I love, love, love your blog! I made a resolution on my 32nd birthday to try to be more fashionable, since I've always had a hard time with it, and your blog has really helped! Thank you!

  25. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    You made my day, thank you Carol! So glad I could be helpful! :-)

  26. My staples are black dress slacks, black blazer, and black medium-heeled pumps. I have to work and this always gets me through client meetings, even in an early morning haze. For fun I have to have jeans, black low-heeled boots, and fleece pullovers.

  27. BrazenbeautyeditorJuly 20, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Adore this look!!


  28. I love this outfit of yours, your style really is amazing. You're right, you can't really tell that the blazer is pink, and I almost like that it looks white, I'm not sure how I would like it if I could tell it was pink. Anyway, it's a great outfit. And I agree with the point about must-have / essentials lists. I do like them because they give me a good idea of what things I might need, but like you said, all women are different. Besides a great pair of jeans, I believe that every woman needs to have a nice fitted, white pant (whether denim or linen, etc) and "basic" tees - nothing fancy, just plain tees. (Also, I honestly believe every woman should own a trench...that's just me though, I'm sort of obsessed. lol).



  29. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Jessica, it's really, really pale pink blazer. Love that it's not true white. I agree with you about plain tees - great for any woman!! I know TONS of women who wouldn't be caught dead in white pants (although they are a definite staple of mine) and a trench is pretty much useless in Florida because it's too hot. Proof that it's so hard to come up with a list that works for everyone! :-)

  30. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    CC, I agree that a pair of nude shoes in some form is a great staple for any woman! And I would definitely recommend statement jewelry to any woman, just not sure that everyone is comfortable wearing it (I would at least urge them to try it though!).

  31. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    I love you so much right now! :-) I will check that out Cathy, thank you!

  32. Yeah, I guess a trench would be hard to pull off in the Florida heat, but since I live in Michigan, they come in handy when the weather starts getting cold. But I still think that (if you live in the right climate-region) they are very fashionable during the fall and early spring. :)

  33. jseverydayfashionJuly 20, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    I still have my trench from when I lived in Boston! It's perfect to throw over a work look in the fall and spring!

  34. See! Even in Florida it comes in handy (just not nearly as much, because of the heat)! Plus, if you ever go back to Boston, or anywhere where it will be a tad chilly, you have something to wear so you don't freeze! AND, you're looking stylish while staying warm. :)

  35. When you live south of TX you certainly can't live without thanks, shorts and flip flops, cause the heat is just too much here.

  36. I never liked those lists either.

    Flattering cotton tee's. Mine is neutral v-neck tee's from Old Navy, white and grey are my fav!

  37. Just found your blog yesterday and I love it! As I was checking out your pictures I saw a few things that you used often in different outfits and I thought about all the pieces in my closet that I've had for years that always seem to work for me with new things I bring into my closet. So true about the lists! 
    Your blog is very inspiring, makes me want to go through my closet and find some new outfits. Thank You!

  38. Stephanie_walter0409July 20, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Thank you!  I will check those places out....I did find a white light weight (kinda linen) blazer with a cool pushed up sleeve at Charlotte Russe and went ahead and bought it and am going to try to replicate the outfit but with the white and maybe a neat necklace or something...I will still be on the lookout for light pink!!!

  39. I couldn't agree more about tossing the 10 items list.  That is why I love your blog because it has helped me focus on what works for me; an everyday mom.  My staples are jeans, flowy tops, jewelry and workout clothes.  I would add flat sandals and flat boots to what every woman needs when you take a break from the heels:-)

  40. haha, i love skirts too... oh, i can´t tell you how much i love this skirt frorm j crew from your last post. i love it soooo much. i think its my favorite thing in your closet.. i saw the matching shirt on a other post, and i m soo envy. stupid europe, no j crew ;(((((((((

  41. I love wardrobe staples and couldn't live without my seven jeans, a pair of black dress pants, a few classic fitted tees in multiple colors (for wearing with skirts, shorts, jeans and layered looks), and of course a pair of great black pumps that fit well.  The white button up shirt, is a must but I don't wear it hardly ever.  Still, it is nice to know I have it for the time I want to wear it.  Every woman is so different though, but I feel that these items are must haves, especially the fitted tees!  And, location is totally a factor with wardrobe staples.  

  42. love this skirt! xoxo

  43. Here Here!
    I totally agree
    I never worn a black pencil skirt or a trench coat in my entire life
    the jeans...#1 for sure

  44. I agree; I think it is more important to understand what styles work with your body type and buy those as your "staples," and then combine them with trendier (and less expensive) seasonal pieces. I just turned 30, and I'm finally learning what works for my body and what doesn't. For example, I have always loved the bohemian look but find that it works best on body types like Kate Hudson or Nicole Richie. Since I am not stick thin, I lean towards classic items that have clean lines and a more tailored look. Then I update these staples with fun accessories. I'll have to say that your blog has motivated me to try unexpected color combinations!

  45. Every woman needs a great pair of black heels and something that takes you out of your comfort zone.. My staples include the perfect black heels, great fitting black dress pants for when you are having one of those days, great fitting and not see through white pants, perfect jeans, bracelets (big into them lately), earings as I have short hair. These are pretty basic things but I can't live without them

  46. cute!  i love how u always use an inspiration pic...ur blog is one of my faves!

  47. jseverydayfashionJuly 21, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Danielle, thank you and welcome to the blog! :-) 

  48. I've been trying to find that skirt at H&M in Philadelphia forever and they don't have it online. I'm so upset :o( 

  49. love your blog :) found it about six months ago and it´s my daily friend :) and every woman neeeeeeeds a good bra!

  50. jseverydayfashionJuly 21, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Brittany, the skirt is from last summer so I doubt they have any left! I've seen similar skirts at Gap recently, and check the caption - there is an adorable one by BB Dakota that I linked to!

  51. First, I generally agree that one list does not fit all.  That said, if I was going to give another woman advice, I'd say black comfy dress pants, a black sheath dress (so sad mine doesn't fit anymore - it was perfect for unexpected events I needed to dress up for) and black dress shoes (again - helps avoid last minute shopping trips)

  52. I love your skirt! and your blog :) ( first time lurker saying hi!) 
    i HATE those "what every woman needs" lists too because at least 5 of them i never wear. 

    I don't think of myself as very fashion - capable if you will but i realize i definitely have my own "Style" based on what i like and what is comfortable. ( ie my list would be : anything nautical, belted dresses, sweetheart necklines, and racerback tanks) 

    But to go along with your what every woman needs list, this would be my thoughts:  
    1) a great pair of jeans 
    2) a dress that no matter where you're going, what mood you're in, you feel gorgeous and confident in 
    3) a pair of heels that make you feel sexy  - bonus points if you can dance in them! 
    4) a perfectly fitted bra ( seriously this is TOUGH)
    5) an outfit that makes you excited to wear it every.single.time 

  53. jseverydayfashionJuly 21, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    I love this list Melissa!! And thank you for de-lurking and saying hello! It's great having you on the blog. :-)

  54. Wow I absolutely love your outfit, and that skirt is to die for!  And yours is way better than the pic ;)

    I would say a definite staple besides jeans would have to be either a great pair of pumps, a blazer, or a pencil skirt :)

  55. Also living in Florida, I feel like 2 of my staples are cotton dresses that can be worn anywhere and shorts... It gets so warm here that sometimes its gotta be light and breezy.

    xo Teresa

  56. I think there should be a ten thing everyone woman needs depending on where you live and what your career is.  But every woman defiantly needs good underwear and bra, jeans, basic layering tanks, and a run too dress and accessories.  

  57. Hi J, just found your blog a few days ago and it has been a blessing. It has shown me how to work a look and make it my own without buying a tons of clothes, I have never come across a blog or magazine with this kind of information. Thank you!

  58. jseverydayfashionJuly 26, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Thank you Kemi! I feel the same way about blogs and magazines, which is exactly why I started J's Everyday Fashion. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  59. Hi J,

    Sent you some emails, did you get them?

  60. jseverydayfashionJuly 26, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Kemi, I answer all my emails it just often takes about a week. Has it been longer than that? I always check my spam folder, too! :-)

  61. Every woman needs a white/black/brightly colored solid shirt because theyre so interchangable. I think all women need one pair of good neutral colored boots because they spice up any outfit, and all women need long hanging necklaces because they make boring plain outfits into simple chic outfits. 

  62. I love love love your blog!!!  I spent 2 hours in my closet Sunday night putting outfits together and it was actually fun!!!  I look better and its my own clothes!  I did go buy some pink skinny jeans today with a black and white top, its soooo cute and i would have never thought to put that together.  you are my new best friend.

  63. Thank you so much!! :-) This is so sweet, thank you for sharing it with me. I'm so glad you like the blog and find it useful!

  64. I love wardrobe staples and couldn't live without my seven
    jeans, a pair of black dress pants, a few classic fitted tees in
    multiple colors (for wearing with skirts, shorts, jeans and layered
    looks), and of course a pair of great black pumps that fit well.  The
    white button up shirt, is a must but I don't wear it hardly ever.
     Still, it is nice to know I have it for the time I want to wear it.
     Every woman is so different though, but I feel that these items are
    must haves, especially the fitted tees!  And, location is totally a
    factor with wardrobe staples.

    free standing closet

  65. Must Haves for me:  Cardigans, a black suit that includes a skirt, jacket & pants, an LBD, & a classic coat

  66. Several years ago, I started watching "What Not to Wear" and realized I dressed like an old lady.  I started from ground zero.  I'm plus size so I had to find places to shop that I could try on the clothes.  I started at Lane Bryant...thankfully when there was a sale on dress pants.  I remember they were 2 for $59 for over a month.  Each pay period I bought something.  I started with brown and black pants. Then I bought jackets in the same color. I have been wearing these for years.  They were worth the investment.  The one thing I remember was Stacy and Clinton saying to "break up" the suit and I have gotten a lot of wear that way. It's taken about 10 years but I have a large wardrobe with items that I can wear until I die.  All this to say is that I think you need to have "investment" pieces.  Things that will last forever!

  67. Cardigans have become an obsession of mine lately!  =)

  68. I definitely don't take those lists literally as well; I tend to us them as a source of ideas for things that might tie my wardrobe together or be good accent pieces.

    My own staples are:
    nice winter coat
    nice spring jacket (like a leather jacket)
    bootcut jeans
    slightly flared black dress pants
    solid-colored tops that can be dressed up or down
    nice sweaters
    casual & dress earrings to brighten the face
    dress tops
    skirts & dresses that'd work for church in warmer weather
    cover-ups for tops at church that don't cover up enough otherwise (mine are thin crochet shrug sweaters)
    cocktail dresses for dress-up events
    black pumps
    black boots w/ gentle platform
    black flats
    dress flats
    black flip flops
    white flip flops
    pieces in accent colors (most of mine are red)
    nice black bag
    scarves to accent an otherwise plain outfit
    cute umbrella

    I live in the mid-Atlantic, so we get all four seasons.

  69. I'm personally one of those people who likes everything to go together. I'm dismayed when it turns out one cardigan is too short/long to go with an outfit, or if my blacks don't match.

     My staples make up my wardrobe, and include jeans, plain t-shirts, several cardigans in neutral tones, black/brown/gray slacks, pencil and a-line skirts in a variety of colors, black flats, and low heeled shoes. I accessorize with bright scarves and some jewelry. 

    Generally I try to make sure I have any blemished on my face covered because for the most part I'd rather people look at me than my outfit (thought I do like fashion!)

  70. I am the same way but I love color on weekends.  I am happy to find this blog and see how I can incorporate SUBTLE color to my corporate world wardrobe without them being  "bright or have loud colors" as the owner of my company said he doesn't like.  I have to be extra careful as I am the one of three women in an office of 300, mostly foreign, men.  Modestly is the best policy HOWEVER this blog has helped me come up with fantastic ideas to wear color in ways I never dreamed of.