The Secret Wardrobe Staples You Need to Create Perfectly Put Together Outfits

The Secret Staples to Create Perfectly Put Together Outfits

The Essential Wardrobe Staples Every Woman Needs

Wardrobe Staples are the secret ingredient

“I am so frustrated by my closet! It’s packed so tightly I can hardly get to what I have…but I have nothing to wear. How do I create outfits with what I have?”

I get emails, messages, DMs, and comments in my Facebook group like this all the time, and the messages are full of frustration, shame, and overwhelm. I know exactly how they are feeling because I’ve been there! 

There is a secret to putting together outfits, and it might sound basic, it might sound obvious, it might sound boring, but the best tips and secrets usually are, and that’s why they get overlooked (and being totally honest? So are the best jokes!).

Let’s talk about the unsung heroes of the closet, the behind-the-scenes wardrobe warriors, the foundations upon which we build our fashion, the wardrobe staples that every woman needs. They get no credit, no love, no accolades, but they should! 

April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.
April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.
April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.

Two Types of Wardrobe Items

If I had to divide my wardrobe into two sections, it would be these: basic staple pieces and special pieces. Both have an important role in creating a wardrobe and an outfit, but one is usually overlooked. 

Just like a fine meal or an inspiring piece of music, the key is balancing the foundation with the special parts. Not every ingredient can be as special as truffles, and not every note can be the high B in Nessun Dorma, or all the specialness gets lost.

Each of these outfits is a combination of basic and special in varying degrees, but they all need that staple element.

April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.
April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.
April from Stunning Style wearing wardrobe staples for classic style outfits.

Basic Staple Wardrobe Items

What is a staple wardrobe item? They tend to be neutral, or your favorite color (that’s blue for me). Styles and silhouettes that suit your personal style (for me that’s classic style), solids or patterns that suit your style (give me stripes!), and really unremarkable…or so they seem.

Items like jeans, basic tees or tops, pencil skirts, flats, a jacket, ankle pants, etc., in solid neutrals or colors that feel neutral to you are the items you wear over and over, your go-tos, your wardrobe work horses, they go with everything, and yet they rarely get the compliments, the attention, or the love.

But without them you wouldn’t have a wardrobe. Wardrobe staples are the foundation of your outfits, just like a house has a foundation. Without the proper structure in place, the beautiful home you build will fall apart because there is no stability. The foundation pieces support the special items and allow them to shine.

If you’ve ever mastered a skill like music, sports, or dance, what do you spend a lot of time doing? Working on the basics. You practice your scales, your dribbling, or your barre work, and that is how you master the concertos, the impossible shot, and the Grande Jete. 

Basics are boring. No one wants to practice them or talk about them, but they are the foundation for success, and it’s the same with your outfits. They start with the basics.

April from Stunning Style wearing a red and navy houndstooth sweater and blue jeans.

Special Wardrobe Items

Special wardrobe items get all the love because, well, they’re special! They’re fun! We get compliments when we wear them. But how many special pieces can you wear in one outfit before you look like a Ringling Brothers runaway? Besides, when everything is special, nothing is. 

Have you ever texted your best friend when you bought a basic black sweater? Probably never, but what if you found it in this incredible punch-you-in-the-face pink? A rare find indeed because the color is unique.

April from Stunning Style wearing a black turtleneck sweater and light wash jeans.
April from Stunning Style wearing a pink knit top and dark wash jeans.

Have you ever gone up to another woman and complimented her on her navy and white striped tee? Not likely, but what if it was this striped tee?

April from Stunning Style wearing a black and white striped top.
April from Stunning Style wearing a bright colored striped top.

Have you ever made a bee-line across the store to ask someone where she got those awesome black ankle pants? Did you even notice her ankle pants? I doubt it. Might you muster the courage if they were this fabulous blue?

capsule wardrobe essentials

Black ankle pants never get a compliment, a question, or a text. The blue ones have, they do, and they will.

Special items get all the attention, but if you had to guess which items in my wardrobe get the most wear, which would it be? You got it – the staples. And yet we don’t get excited about finding them or buying them, but we SHOULD.

Do I love the blue ankle pants with all my heart? Oh I do. But do I wear them as often as the black ankle pants? No. Because they aren’t as versatile. The black go with everything. The blue don’t. I need a neutral basic top to go with the blue ankle pants unless I’m in an extraordinarily bold mood.

The black pants get a ton of wear, but none of the love. 

In order to be able to wear these pieces, we need something to wear them with so we need to have a foundation of…staple pieces! They are what hold your outfit together.

I’m far more comfortable pairing this purple sweater with other neutrals (you got it, staples), thank with bold turquoise pants. Occasionally I can, but I usually prefer the combination on the left.

April from Stunning Style wearing a black leather jacket with a purple top.
April from Stunning Style wearing a purple top with blue pants and purple flats.

Unsung Heroes

It’s not fun to go in search of the perfect jeans. Being totally honest it ranks right below swim suit shopping. But the value of a pair of perfect jeans – the ones that fit you like a glove, stretch but don’t stretch out, lift and separate your bum (no more mooshy mommy bottom!), in the perfect color – is priceless. They make all of your special tops look that much better.

Compare that to jeans that lose their shape by lunch time, smash your tush into an unidentifiable mass, and squeeze your belly out and over the waistband like a tube of toothpaste? How great will your awesome top look now? Not that great. 

Because I’m a Minimal Classic, many of my favorite outfits are made up entirely of foundation pieces, and if I had to choose one category or the other to keep, I’d keep only my staples and part with the specials.

April from Stunning Style wearing a black leather jacket with black pants and a black leather bag.
April from Stunning Style wearing a long blue cardigan with black pants.
April from Stunning Style wearing a navy top with dark wash jeans and a light blue bag.

Every outfit Starts with the Staples

Shopping for staples isn’t sexy, fun, or Insta-worthy, but you need them. It’s worth the time to figure out what you are missing and find the right ones because it will open up so many more outfits when you find the staples that support your special pieces.

If you are struggling to create outfits, reconsider your wardrobe staples. Do you have the foundation pieces you need? Or do you have a closet full of special items and nothing to wear? 

Perfectly Put Together Student of the WEek

“Just when I think I’ve learned everything there possibly is to know about style and getting dressed, you teach me something new! Thanks, April!

I posted my struggle with this cardigan last week and am happy to have found a look that I love. It’s amazing how small changes can make a big difference. Instead of jeans and an untucked shirt, I’m wearing a dress that better defines my waist and better skims my figure. I also added a longer, more substantial necklace.”

Jill F.

Jill looks fabulous, and I love being part of her style journey as she figures out all little details that make wardrobe items and outfits work perfectly for her. 

Get a head start on finding your style

I have a free masterclass called 5 Steps to Find the Right Clothes for You that will get you started on understanding your style, not what the powers that be say your style should be, not the latest trends. This class is all about learning what you do and don’t love.

Join the free masterclass today!

This masterclass is a must attend if you...

Attend now to receive a workbook to guide you through the exercises!

Join the conversation

Discuss capsule wardrobes and classic style with a fun community of like-minded women in the Capsule Wardrobes for Classic StyleFacebook group

4 thoughts on “The Secret Wardrobe Staples You Need to Create Perfectly Put Together Outfits”

  1. I am a little confused with the different courses offered. I just paid $199. Could you please tell me what this amount includes?

    Kathy R

    1. Hi Kathy, great question. The Stunning Style Society provides access to seasonal Wardrobe Guides with a curated wardrobe and outfits. The Guides are meant to be a template that you adapt to suit your style. The Perfectly Put Together course dives into the HOW and the WHY of creating outfits that are perfect for you so you can shop your closet for outfits you love. It will help you refine your style and get the best results from the Guides.

  2. I know my style and I know my colors, I am looking for places to purchase. It is very difficult to get winter colors this season. Which program is best to get the links of where to purchase?

    1. Hi Verna, the Stunning Style Wardrobe Guides provide all the links to purchase items in winter colors, along with a curated seasonal wardrobe, 100 outfit ideas, and a monthly wardrobe calendar. You can join the waiting list here: stunningstyle.com/society. The Summer Guide is coming soon!

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