Wardrobe Essentials

I often get a questions about how to build a wardrobe, and clothing must-haves. Hopefully this list will help you out a little.. and like me, will give you more options when you’re shopping and don’t really *need* anything 😉

1. Dark-wash, perfect-fitting bootcut and skinny jeans

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A great pair of jeans is like a best friend. The best part is that you can dress them up or down and if you invest in a pair that’s well-made and fits you like a dream, they’ll last forever.

2. Blazers and boyfriend crops. For the blazers, choose one “fun” one (a unique texture, striped or color- my denim one is my fun one) and one black.

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To me, blazers dress up an outfit more than a basic cardigan and can be worn with pretty much anything- rompers, dresses, skirts, crops, skinny jeans, etc etc. I wear my boyfriend crops all the time- they work with wedges, flats or sandals.

3. Soft tees and button-up shirts in a variety of colors. They’re great layering pieces and match whatever- great casual comfy pieces.


Express has great tees, but I also love the ones at J. Crew and American Apparel.

4. Shift dresses and cotton dresses.


Easy to accessorize with belts and jewelry, and you can go casual by wearing flats or sandals with them.


5. A seksi coat or trenchcoat in a classic color.

image Burberry

Every winter I lust over a white belted coat from Victoria’s Secret, but never buy it because it’s way too hot here. Cold-climate friends, I envy your coat-wearing ability 😉

6. Flowy tops. Try not to go too crazy with the patterns or colors, so you can re-wear in the future. I prefer florals, solids or basic prints, to wear with dressy shorts, a pencil skirt, or skinny jeans.


Anything I’m missing? What’s your favorite wardrobe essential?

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  1. Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) on May 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Fave wardrobe essentials?
    My 16.99 sports bras from Target, I love em 🙂
    My Be Present yoga-meets-streetwear pants
    And a hoodie/sweatshirt/sweater b/c it can start off 50F and cloudy and turn out to be 80F and sunny in San Diego and layers are key!

    love your finds!

    • Erin on May 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      I love the Tarjay sports bras too. They are on sale this week and I had to buy another one 🙂

      • Julie S. on May 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        Me too!

  2. Erin on May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Being in a colder climate, cardigans/sweaters are a must have for me. I loved all the open front cardigans stores were selling this winter. I am also glad I won’t be wearing them much longer since summer is just around the corner!

    • Julie S. on May 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      These are a staple for me, too, but I actually wear them more in the summer due to all the restaurants, stores, offices, etc. blasting their A/C!

  3. Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life on May 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Don’t envy us cold climate friends TOO much…I’d kill for your weather during 95% of our cold months up here! I agree with Erin above though…cardigans are a must, along with my UGGS. That’s probably the one thing I look forward to most with cold weather…I finally get to wear my Ugglies. 😉

  4. Becky @ The Bex Factor on May 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    You’re forgetting the LBD!!

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      gah! how could i?!

  5. Jen on May 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Lululemon! I live in their stuff 🙂

    • Fitnessista on May 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

      me too 🙂

  6. Elizabeth @ the good life on May 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Accessories! Even if I wear similar outfits when I switch up the earrings or watch or purse it feels brand new!

  7. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food on May 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    A fashion necessity for me are fitted v-neck tees. I love them because you can take them from casual to dressy by adding just a sweater or a blazer. Aaaand….they are way comfy, which is the best part! 😉

  8. Katie @ Pop Culture Cuisine on May 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I second everything you said, including flats, which now that I am preggers have become my shoe of choice!

  9. Emmy on May 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I talked to my sister on the phone (she lives in CA), and she said, “It’s ALWAYS sunny here. It’s kind of annoying.” I live in MN, and I replied, “Are you kidding me?! It HAILED this weekend.” Hailed. And it’s practically June! I’m still wearing my North Face fleece… So don’t be too envious of us. 😉

  10. The Get In Shape Girl on May 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Wife beaters!! or just plain white tanks/ tees. pearl necklaces. brown riding boots. silver clutch.

  11. Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food on May 25, 2011 at 12:02 am

    ohh such great ideas! It will be wonderful when we’re done with our ‘life transition’ and I can do a bit of shoppin’!

    I am missing out on a lot of great essentials 😛

  12. Mac on May 25, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Please don’t be too jealous of our winter coat wearing ability, months upon months of nasty weather comes along with that… yuck! I love earrings, they add so much to an outfit I think.

  13. Tiffany K. on May 25, 2011 at 12:37 am

    If you want cold weather, feel free to come visit in Alaska ANYTIME 🙂 With such chilly temps pretty much year-round, scarves of all different weights, colors, textures, and patterns have become a necessity for me! I love them for their function and ability to mix things up!

  14. Colleen on May 25, 2011 at 6:37 am

    What a great post! I am very “shopping challenged” and have had a hard time transitioning my wardrobe from my hippy/sporty/funky college days to a more classic/classy look. This will definitely help me outline what I have and where I need to fill in.

  15. Katherine: Unemployed on May 25, 2011 at 6:44 am

    what I need is a better way to look like I’m wearing quality but this is great advice for building blocks. I need to start from zero basically

  16. Fallon on May 25, 2011 at 7:25 am

    A basic white shirt is always an essential!

  17. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on May 25, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Great choices! I agree with all of these. I would add cardigans to the list. They’re a staple for me in the fall and winter!

  18. Stacy @ Stacy Eats on May 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Fun post! I definitely agree with you on a good pair of jeans. I’ve been searching for the perfect fitting skinny jeans but can’t seem to find the “one” so for now I have a couple of stand-ins from Old Navy. They totally give me mom butt though. 🙂

  19. Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy & Healthy on May 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    These are all great pieces to have in your wardrobe and I looove those nude Steve Maddens. The only thing I would add is maybe a classic pencil skirt because I swear they are flattering on everyone!

  20. Julie S. on May 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I love the tanks from Victoria’s Secret w/ the built-in bras. Nice & cool on those really hot summer days.

  21. Lauren on May 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Cardigans are a must for me! I’m always cold no matter where I go so I keep on with me at all time, they are also great for wearing over tanks or strapless tops to quickly turn them into office appropriate attire 🙂 Also, I can’t live without my sundresses and black pencil skirt!

  22. Brittany on May 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I love this post, Gina–fun to see your staple pieces!! In addition to the awesome things on your list, I love gray and heathered beige lightweight long cardigans, paired with a tee and jeans or layered over a dress. I also have a ton of lightweight, longish racerback tanks, which are perfect for casual days with a colorful, fun scarf (another essential!) or for a dinner date with a statement necklace, skinnies, and sexy wedges.

    I always dream of having the funds to build the PERFECT wardrobe built on great essentials!!

  23. elle on May 26, 2011 at 9:08 am

    j crew tees are definitely a staple in my wardrobe! they are the most comfy and i love their colors – especially this season. i stalk them until they go on sale because i can’t rationalize spending $30 on one t-shirt given the rate i spill food on myself! where is that white dress from? i love it!

    • Fitnessista on May 26, 2011 at 10:17 am

      j crew 🙂

  24. Ari on May 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Gah! No boot cut jeans. So awful, please don’t 🙂 I agree with all of the others though, and would add cardigans, brown riding boots (which you can wear with black and grey, as well) and white shirts in a variety of styles – a crisp button up, a white v-neck, a crew neck, and a few tanks.

  25. Jessica on May 28, 2011 at 4:01 am

    You should do a shoe basics post!

    Good tips though.

  26. breakingsilence @ Freshman -15 on June 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I LOVE my dark wash boot cut jeans. 🙂 I have 2 pairs. They were on sale @ AE and last FOREVER. Flats are another essential in my wardrobe! I am curious as to what you’d recommend to a college senior trying to go for a more “classy/classic/adult but not boring” look on a budget! I’ve picked up a few basic t’s in fun colors that can be dressed up or down from stores like Gap and Ann Taylor Loft (on sale!) but I will always take other recommendations!

  27. Kasey on June 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    So funny story…I started reading your blog just a few weeks ago and was perusing this fashion post when I saw a familiar pair of awesome Aldo T-strap wedges next to your adorable white J. Crew dress, I just bought the same wedges a few weeks ago. A few days after reading your post I was in J. Crew and spotted the white dress and it was on sale(!!) and there were only two left and one just happened to fit perfectly…it was clearly a sign from above so I nabbed it up! I got so many comments on the outfit when I went out to a birthday party that night, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Fitnessista on June 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

      so cute!!!

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