The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Seven Essentials for Your Wardrobe

Wardrobe staples need not be boring. []

I am 19-years-old [and] I want to know some essentials that I should have in my closet. When ever I google this question I get the "7 Essentials for Women" which normally include good jeans, a little black dress, and khaki slacks. I want more than that! So my questions are: Do these "basic essentials" apply to my age group? And if so, how can I spice them up? —Sammy

Pinning down seven wardrobe essentials for any age group is a tricky question as so much depends on your body type, fashion persona and lifestyle...but they can lay the foundation for a polished wardrobe AND help you stick to your budget. Here are some common must-haves that I think definitely work well for your age group...with my own little twist (khakis not included!):

1. White Short Sleeve V Neck: Usually, those "essentials" lists include a collared, button-down white shirt but I never wore one when I was 19. Too fussy, too hard to keep clean and ironed. Opt for the perfect tee instead, like this one from American Apparel. Be sure to wear the perfect, nude bra underneath.
2. Dark Wash Jeans: Yes, every woman needs a perfect pair of jeans. They should be a dark wash, nice long inseam, with a little stretch. Bootcut looks good on everyone. Go for skinnies if the style suits you.
3. Fab Cardigan: Some "essentials" lists include a twinset but those can be too stuffy for girls your age. A modern dolman, wrap cardigan or boyfriend style cardi looks especially young and fashionable.
4. Little Black Dress: Cliche? Yes, but they really are essential and perfect for any occasion that may come up.
5. Pencil Skirt: A-lines are great, too, but I find the black pencil skirt is more versatile. And sexier.
6. Blazer: I could have said "pantsuit" but honestly, I haven't worn black slacks since the '90s. And while you might need a suit for interviews, if we're talking daily wardrobe essentials, then I think a feminine, fitted blazer is all you need.
7. Trench: Figure-flattering and suitable for any event.

Now, for the spice: The obvious answer is it's all in your accessories! Strive for individuality, beginning with your glasses (if you wear them), your haircut (a great 'do speaks volumes), and if you like, a chic watch. Next, you'll need amazing shoes--they can make or break your whole look--and a great handbag, which doesn't have to cost a lot at all. Finally, think about jewelry. Go for a statement necklace, bracelet, ring OR earrings, don't wear all at once.

What's on your list of wardrobe essentials?

Sage advice, especially for a younger woman! Everything on your list is on mine, too. I might swap out the trench for a jean jacket, just because I find I wear mine almost daily in fall and spring. And if i could stretch the list to 8, I'd add knee-high leather boots - a three-season staple.
#1 Sal (Homepage) on 2008-08-18 08:19 (Reply)
Great list! On mine, I would still include the white shirt (as I wrote about today, as a matter of fact) but shake it up a bit with a tunic style or a fitted and cropped short sleeve, with a tank underneath.
#2 Real Style Real People (Homepage) on 2008-08-18 11:45 (Reply)
These are great suggestions!

I second the suggestion of a denim jacket too, and I think a nice denim skirt (mid-thigh or knee-length) might also be a great wardrobe addition for a teen transitioning into adulthood.
#3 Anusha on 2008-08-18 12:55 (Reply)
Thanks Budget Babe! I appreciate the advice.

All seven essentials are young and affordable. As you said accessories are key - and always fun to shop for. Now that my shopping list is complete I cannot wait to actually shop!

Thanks again!
#4 Sammy on 2008-08-18 12:56 (Reply)
Blazers and cardigans are definite musts for me! I'd like to have them in every colour! Dark wash jeans and black dresses are also wardrobe essentials. I'm a huge accessories buff - they're just perfect for adding that something extra special to an outfit. Great post!
#5 danz (Homepage) on 2008-08-18 12:58 (Reply)
I agree with the pencil skirt, but a Tshirt in more than white, and also a nice pair of slacks that fit you well.

and everything can be spiced up with tights or scarves.
#6 sarah (Homepage) on 2008-08-26 19:12 (Reply)
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