I am definitely someone who can be loosely classified as a “shopaholic”—I’ve always loved shopping for clothes and accessories, and as fun as that is, it can sometimes get to be a little too much. I often find myself overwhelmed with options when I’m trying to put together an outfit or feel like I have too many pieces that don’t go together or are hard to style. So when 2022 began, I set myself the goal to shop intentionally throughout the year.
I really wanted to build out a collection of comfortable, high-quality, and easy-to-wear staples that I could effortlessly style in countless different ways. Instead of immediately adding something to my cart just because I like it, I now take the time to really think it over and decide if it will be an asset to my closet. I like to think about the ways I’ll be able to style it, how often I might wear it, and the occasions it would be appropriate for.
More often than not, I end up forgetting about the piece I thought I wanted altogether. By allowing myself to ruminate on my shopping decisions for a little bit longer, I find myself spending less and curating a wardrobe that brings me joy (rather than stressing me out). When it comes to building a well-rounded wardrobe that you actually enjoy picking from, you have to think about the types of pieces that make up the foundation. Once you have that strong foundation, you can add in trendier pieces like statement coats or unique accessories as you see fit.
If you’re also trying to shop more intentionally this year but aren’t sure where to start, this list is for you. These 10 categories of wardrobe essentials are perfect for building a strong foundation—so that getting dressed can actually be fun, not stressful.
1. A couple of ultra-cozy knits
There is something incredibly chic about a cozy knit—something that says, “that girl has it together.” Luckily, we’re living in an era in which chunky sweaters, unique knitwear silhouettes, and sweater vests are reigning supreme. If you have a selection of knits that are actually comfortable (i.e. not itchy) and fit well, they can be an ideal layering piece or the perfect finishing touch to any outfit.
2. A well-fitting pair of jeans in blue and black
I would call what’s happened over the past few years in jean trends a “denim revolution.” Wearing jeans constantly is cool again, and the key to being able to do that without hating your life is having a few pairs that are both comfortable and flattering. Long gone are the days of suffering in too-tight skinny jeans or waistbands that dig in—in 2022, well-fitting denim can be your best friend.
3. A few dressy tops
While we’re all about the basics, every woman needs a few dressy tops that they love and feel confident in. These are the tops you wear out with the girls, to a nice dinner, to a weekend brunch, and everything in between. I would recommend picking a few styles and textures that you really love and sticking to them.
4. The perfect pair of black leggings
Obviously, black leggings are a wardrobe staple that can provide a great foundation to any outfit. But if you’re thinking that all black leggings are created equal, you might not have found your pair that literally forces you to do laundry so that you can wear them again. Trust us: Finding a pair of black leggings that fits you well, is comfortable, and stays put in all of the right places is life changing. Below are some of editor tried-and-trues.
5. Workwear-inspired staples
While you might not be going to an office regularly or feel like you have an occasion to wear a blazer, workwear-inspired staples are a great addition to any wardrobe. A blazer can be dressed down with jeans, a hoodie, and sneakers, and a classic white button-up can work as everything from a swimsuit coverup to an essential layering piece. Plus, everyone needs a pant option, like trousers, for when you’re not in the mood for jeans or leggings.
6. High-quality basics
Gone are the days of a $5 white tee from a random store that only lasts one season. In 2022, we’re finding and investing in the right basics that actually work for us. When you have a basic T-shirt, long-sleeve tee, or bodysuit that makes you feel confident and looks nice, it’s no longer boring—it’s the foundation for your next incredible outfit.
7. Elevated loungewear
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that loungewear doesn’t have to be boring (or unflattering). The Cool Girls took hoodies and sweatpants and made them a look, and we all get to reap the benefits of the loungewear revolution. If your loungewear collection still mostly consists of old college sweatshirts and your ex’s sweatpants, it might be time for an upgrade. We promise you won’t regret it.
8. A dress you feel confident in
Every woman needs *the* dress. You know the one: It makes you feel sexy and confident, it works for tons of different occasions, and everyone always asks where you got it from. The best part about a simple dress is the countless number of ways it can be styled: dress it down with sneakers and a jacket or dress it up with heels and elegant jewelry.
9. Timeless accessories
So if you’ve done all the work in building a well-rounded wardrobe full of closet staples that can be styled in lots of different ways, you might find yourself wondering how to take those relatively basic outfits to the next level. The answer? A great accessories collection. The only things stopping a matching sweat set from becoming a look you wear outside your home are a pair of gold hoops and some chic sunnies.
10. A versatile shoe collection
Shoes can very easily become the thing we overbuy (Carrie Bradshaw and I both can attest to this). But the truth is, even in a huge shoe collection, you probably have less than 10 pairs that you actually wear regularly. The key is building a selection of neutral, high-quality shoes in a few different styles—that way, no matter where you’re going, you have a pair that is the perfect finishing touch to any outfit.