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Design & Style

Classic Wardrobe Essentials: 11 Fashion Must-Haves

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 21, 2020 • 3 min read

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Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

You don't need an entire closet full of trendy pieces to look stylish. All you need are a few reliable wardrobe essentials that you can endlessly rework.

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Tan France Teaches Style for EveryoneTan France Teaches Style for Everyone

Queer Eye cohost Tan France breaks down the principles of great style, from building a capsule wardrobe to looking pulled together every day.

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11 Classic Wardrobe Essentials

With a foundation of classic pieces in neutral colors, you'll be able to create countless stylish looks. Not only do the pieces in this classic capsule wardrobe look great together, but they also lend themselves to easy layering with more daring clothes and accessories.

  1. A great piece of outerwear: Whether it’s a trench coat, an overcoat, a denim jacket, a leather jacket, or a faux fur coat, a great piece of outerwear is a must-have. The perfect jacket is easily layered with other pieces, and it effortlessly shows your personal style.
  2. Button-up shirts: Whether or not you’re dressing for an office environment, you should have at least one black and one white shirt. There's room to play around with materials and buttons, but keeping the color neutral makes it easy to mix and match. A white button-down is a great layering piece, as it can be worn under a cashmere sweater for a business casual look or over a bathing suit for an easy beach cover-up.
  3. A great-fitting suit: You can get something relatively inexpensive and have it tailored; what matters most is that it fits you to perfection. Again, choose a neutral color—either a darker neutral (like black or gray) or a lighter neutral (like beige or cream). If you have a black suit, you can break it up into a black blazer and black pants or a pencil skirt, each of which you can combine with other pieces for a different look.
  4. Knitwear: Stick with something relatively neutral that really flatters your body shape. Consider buying two pieces of knitwear: something like a cashmere cardigan and a merino turtleneck. If you are slightly shorter, go with a cropped sweater.
  5. A white T-shirt: A trusty white tee is a wardrobe staple that works with almost anything. You can layer it under a slip dress for a fun party look, or tuck it into a pair of high-rise pleated wool pants for the office.
  6. Denim: Decide on the shades of denim you like: light wash, dark wash, or black. Then choose how you like your jeans to fit by trying on multiple options: bootcut, skinny jeans, straight leg, high waist, and low rise. Once you've narrowed it down to a pair of jeans that you know that you will appreciate for years to come, get a couple pairs of those jeans in different colors, and learn how to properly care for them.
  7. A classic pair of white sneakers: A white leather lace-up sneaker will never go out of style because it goes with everything. If canvas is more your speed, go for that.
  8. A dress shoe: For work or special occasions, you might want something dressier. They don't have to be stilettos—ballet flats, oxfords, and loafers are more comfortable options that still give off a dressy vibe. Choose a dress shoe in a neutral color, like beige, brown, or black.
  9. Boots: A great pair of boots can take you from fall through winter and beyond. Choose something that works for your climate while still making a fashion statement, such as ankle boots with a low, chunky heel.
  10. A statement belt: The statement belt isn’t about function; it’s about fashion. If you need a belt to hold up your pants, consider buying pants in a different size or getting your pants tailored. When shopping for a statement belt, look for something that you know you'll wear for years.
  11. A midi dress: The little black dress is a timeless piece, but if you're not into black, choose a cocktail dress in another color that makes you feel confident. Look for a classic shape—like a sleeveless A-line dress—in a high-quality material, like satin.

Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.

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