I’m working on my wardrobe right now. I need a compact, minimal but practical power set that can cover all situations and allow me to travel light. I’m not fashionista but some of the items do need a nit of updating and a lot of stuff does have to go.
There are always essentials that you should have and in this post I hope to cover the 15 must have basics that I think you will need to have your perfect minimal but practical wardrobe set. The post is slanted towards men but i’ll give female equivalents where needed.
A 15 must-have basic pieces wardrobe
White or light shirt
This is the most basic shirt that you can have but white goes with almost any color and can be worn with jeans or smart trousers. I would choose a 100% cotton shirt that isn’t too formal. Obviously women can get something a little more tailored and cut to your shape.
Basic jeans, no fake rips or tears, simple blue
A good solid pair of jeans with no massive fashion statement added (ie fake bleaching and tears) will help you in a lot of situations. Worn with a shirt and jacket you can go semi casual to business events or parties, with a t-shirt it’s fine to go meet your friends for afternoon coffee or lunch. Blue is the standard but a nice black or any other flattering color can be ok.
I always try and have a pair of good condition beige chino style trousers. I find they go well with t’s, polo shirts or work well as a smart option if needed too.
Casual 3/4 length or knee length shorts
These are easy to find in most stores and come in men’s and women’s varieties. They look good in browns, greens, blues and black and personally I like the heavy cotton look and don’t mind a little worn look. You can wear these anywhere where you don’t need to be smart really with your everyday shoes or a pair of sandals / flip flops (depends on your climate!).
Black / grey suit
Technically this is 2 items I know but a suit is something worth spending a reasonable amount of cash on. I highly recommend you go to an established suit fitters and have them fit you up with a clean simple design. Tell them you may want to use the jacket with jeans and t’s and likewise the trousers alone too and they will find something that transcends between smart and casual. Men’s and Women’s suits can both be used like this and I suggest as a women you go for trousers and not a skirt with the suit. Along with the white shirt this is classic wedding, funeral and court (<–not had to do this one yet!) wear too!
You can’t go wrong by owning a simple non branded plain coloured t-shirt (or indeed a few). I know it does not exude fashion or make a grand statement but it’s practical and works in a variety of situations.
V-neck or similar sweater
Even if you live in a hot climate you need at least one sweater. V-necks are my favorite but you may have your preference. Choose a basic knit in a good colour like dark blue to bridge the smart / casual gap as usual.
This is obvious but you need to keep a pair of simple smart shoes. Women can go for good quality black shoes with a slight heel and men look good in black loafer styles. My shoes are nearing the end of their life and I need to find a vegan alternative which is proving quite hard! This kind of shoe can be worn with jeans or your suit or chino’s. Good all round.
By everyday sneakers I mean things like the classic Adidas Campus show or even the currently popular Converse All Stars. Of course there are great non-branded options too. Something that is again, simple and comfortable but can be thrown on for your general wear and tear.
Cross training shoe
If you vary your exercise but are not serious then a good quality cross training shoe should suffice. Great for aerobics style exercise and a little running. I like running so I tend to move towards running shoes. In any case go to a genuine sports store (not a huge box store) and at least talk with them. Often the workers are enthusiasts and they may even measure your feet and look at the way you walk and stand to determine what shoe you need.
Football (soccer) shorts
You will need to wear sports shorts at some point. I like to exercise very regular so have more than one pair but if you exercise every few days then one pair (hand washed if needed) can get you through. I recommend football shorts because they are simple and comfortable and work in a multitude of situations.
You could exercise topless but it pays to have a decent sweat dispersing basic t-shirt. Most brands do them now and even the own brand sports store offerings work well and can be picked up at a budget. I also find these kinds of t’s great for doing manual work like mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges.
You need something that will keep you dry. I like the light weight jackets that can be stored in a back pack without taking too much space but you may go for a more trendy bigger style too. It’s just important to be able to travel from A to B without getting soaked! I’ll admit I don’t have one here in Cairo. Considering it rained about 3 times last year I didn’t see the need for one!
This is an obvious and i’ll only count it as one item but you need to make sure you have the range. For women you may need various colour’s (including bra’s) so you don’t get show through with light and dark clothes. As a man I go for sports boxers as they are comfortable and work as support for exercise too. Socks have to be varied too. I have running socks, normal white sports socks and black dress socks. My rule is I must have enough underwear for at least 9 days of use, just gives a slight overlap on once a week washing.
Number 15, Your input
I have not put a 15th item here are I want that to be your choice. What do you think of my “15 must-have basic pieces wardrobe” and what would you change up. I think this works for men and women and maybe a woman would throw the odd skirt as they offer even more flexibility.
I also didn’t count accessories either. Things like jewelry, hats, sunglasses and the use of layering can help a fairly minimal (and sometimes a little boring) wardrobe come to life.
Looking forward to your input.