Thanks to fashion's cyclical nature, trends come and go ... and come back again. But the ones that never leave are the fundamentals that make up the very foundation of our wardrobe (think no-nonsense tees, classic button-downs, slouchy knits, and pants, both casual and otherwise). In other words, these closet mainstays are the ones we rely on the most, season after season.
But not all basics are cut from the same cloth. Fabric, durability, fit, colors, and cost are all the factors that have to be taken into consideration. To find the best of the best, we picked the minds of InStyle editors who revealed their closet staples that have earned their keep over the years.
1. Tees: The perfect tee must meet a number of wishes—it has to pair well with anything, from skinnies to leather skirts, flatter all, and be comfortable. These four styles made the cut (two from J. Crew, one crew and one V-neck, because they're just that great). "J. Crew's shirts are super soft and light," says Leah Karp, InStyle accessories director. "I must own 20 of them."
Equally soft are Everlane's tees, and they come in muted colors—"and they're only $15!" says Lauren Ciaccia, InStyle fashion assistant. "Shipping is free and they always arrive within two days after I place an order."
2. Button-downs: They instantly deliver a degree of polish, they're incredibly versatile, and they're timeless (proof: the most iconic white shirt moments in fashion history). Looking for a classic fit? Head to Madewell for one that boasts the perfect fit for the perfect price. Want a fashion-forward spin on yours? Zara is your best bet, decrees Ali Pew, InStyle market editor.
3. Sweaters: So sweaters may not be a year-round staple, but once temps dip, they're pretty much in every outfit rotation. For chunky itch-free knits, we love Aritzia (specifically Wilfred) and Zara. For soft sweaters, InStyle Market Director Wendy Wallace is into Uniqlo's extra fine merino turtlenecks because they're "not too thick, not too thin. It can be layered or worn on its own, and at 30 bucks a pop you can get it in a number of colors." Speaking of the brand, InStyle Fashion Director Melissa Rubini's favorite is Uniqlo men's V-neck cashmere sweater in dark gray (at $90).
4. Bottoms: For classic denim that's cut straight through, Rubini names Gap as her go-to, though she prefers hers in white. For a pair of basic black pants to wear to work, or any occasion, really, the Banana Republic's slim-fit Sloan pants have just the right fit.
[instyle_shopping_module id="20869957" preview="yes"]5. Socks and Tights: Legwear must be addressed—they're essential for the winter. InStyle Senior Market Editor/Digital Correspondent Dana Avidan-Cohn swears by Gap socks, "These are the best high socks for boots, and they help keep my legs warm when it's freezing!" As for tights, we crossed the pond and found the perfect ones by English retailer Marks & Spencer—they boast the perfect opacity, they don't stretch out, and they last forever (a rarity in the hosiery arena!). If you're not into international shipping, we're obsessed with Wolford's matt opaque 80s.