10 Fall Wardrobe Staples You Absolutely Need
Getting dressed is a daily struggle—but it doesn’t have to be. Imagine you opened your closet door to find a complete capsule wardrobe of pieces you love, and that every item mixed and matched to create a seemingly endless combination of outfits.
That’s what the Real Simple fashion team has curated here: The 10 essential types of clothing every closet should have (think, a classic white shirt, the best jeans, a take-anywhere tote) that will not only carry you through the fall, but will become wardrobe staples for years to come.
For each of the 10 essentials, we’ve recommended multiple options with pretty details that make these basics feel far from boring. Invest in the must-haves your closet may be missing, or just pick a few versatile pieces— you’ll be surprised how much further your wardrobe rotation stretches. Getting ready for work (or the weekend) just got much easier.
The (New) White Shirt
- Take your workwear up a notch with one of this season’s fresh new spins on a tried-and-true classic—the white blouse. Whether you opt for a new silhouette or an updated design detail like a bell sleeve, these options make a white top look anything but basic.
- Oversized Shirt
- Tailored for an oversized fit, this menswear-inspired classic is a chic update on the standard white button-down.
- To buy: $85; stories.com.
- Vince Camuto Bell-Sleeve Shirt
- Voluminous bell sleeves add flair to a white shirt, so this workwear staple can now easily transition from day to night. This top fits in just as well in the office as it does on date night.
- To buy: $89; vincecamuto.com.
- Ravello Top, in Navy
- If you’re looking for a more casual take on the white shirt, opt for this pretty top with cap sleeves and a pleated neckline. And while you’re updating the old standards, why not rethink the color altogether and go with a modern, yet still-neutral navy?
- To buy: $80; bodenusa.com.
The Works-With-Everything Jacket
- Stick with a classic (whether biker, denim, or bomber) that you can mix and match for seasons—and years—to come.
- Jade Vegan Leather Biker Jacket
- Without a ton of bells and whistles, this sleek leather jacket has a timeless look that will never go out of style. Vegan leather makes this jacket animal-friendly—and more affordable.
- To buy: $80; boohoo.com.
- J Brand Fringed Distressed Denim Jacket
- A denim jacket is a must-have for fall, and the fringed details on this one turn a basic into a standout.
- To buy: $109; theoutnet.com.
- Bomber Jacket, in About Thyme
- For a casual layer you’ll want to reach for every day, you can’t go wrong with a lightweight bomber jacket. The green color is neutral enough to work with almost everything in your closet.
- To buy: $45; oldnavy.com.
The Elevated Tee
- Comfortable enough for lazy weekends (but cute enough to keep you looking pulled together when dashing to the grocery store or out to lunch), these are “hero” pieces in more ways than one.
- La Vie Cherie Dot Jersey Tee
- Ruffled sleeves and blush pink jersey join forces in this soft and sweet T-shirt. Jersey makes this top comfy enough to wear while lounging around the house, while the dotted pattern and sleeves make it feel special enough to tuck into your favorite skirt for a night out with friends.
- To buy: $125; rebeccataylor.com.
- Splendid Striped Bell-Sleeve Top
- A striped boatneck T-shirt transitions seamlessly from summer to fall. Trendy bell sleeves ensure this staple always looks stunning.
- To buy: $68; saksfifthavenue.com.
The Staple Sweater
- Knitwear has come a long way since the days of matchy-matchy sweater sets. Pick a piece with pretty elements, so you can swap it in for a blouse when the weather turns chilly.
- Sweater with Ruffled Sleeves, in Heather Pewter
- Leave it to ruffled sleeves to effortlessly turn a standard gray pullover into a party. This fun and trendy piece is sure to make an appearance at movie dates and wine nights throughout the season.
- To buy: $80; jcrew.com.
- AEO Strappy V-Neck Sweater, in Oatmeal
- All the coziness of your favorite sweater, plus an unexpectedly eye-catching neckline. This warm, yet subtly sexy top has the potential to become your favorite fall staple.
- To buy: $45; ae.com.
- Pointelle Detail Jumper
- Keep this sophisticated sweater by your desk at work and you’ll always have a stylish fix on hand when the conference room gets too chilly.
- To buy: $68; topshop.com.
The Take-Anywhere Tote
- A polished handbag that can go from desk to dinner and still hold all you need is an obvious winner. To maximize the bang for your buck, go for one in a neutral hue that will also work with any outfit.
- Under One Sky Three-in-One Tote, in Wine/Cognac
- Need a spot to store your makeup when you’re on the go? Want compartments for sunglasses, and a zippered pouch for cards and keys? And how about a phone charger for when your Instagram story drains your battery? This bag was designed to meet all of those demands and more, so you never have to slow down on busy days.
- To buy: $70; target.com.
The Every-Outfit Boots
- You know you’ve found your new favorite footwear when it works with everything in your closet, from jeans, to leggings, to flowy dresses and skirts.
- Toffee Suede Women’s Leila Boot, in Toffee
- Careful, you’ll want to wear these chic booties every single day. Luckily, they’re outfitted with a “funk-fighting sock liner,” so you can don these for days without the typical unpleasant odor.
- To buy: $119; toms.com.
- Born Trinculo
- These black ankle boots not only pair with everything, but they’re also remarkably durable thanks to the sturdy rubber outsole. The convenient side zips make it easy to slip these casual boots off after an apple picking excursion or a walk around town.
- To buy: $145; zappos.com.
- Kitten Heel Ankle Boot
- Pointy toe, plus kitten heel, plus faux suede is the secret formula for the ultimate dressy bootie. This is a must-buy for your work wardrobe, but don’t be surprised if you end up pulling them out for holiday parties, too.
- To buy: $79; urbanoutfitters.com.
The Go-To Jeans
- Whether your preferred fit is a trim and tailored skinny or an effortlessly stylish girlfriend cut, a favorite flattering pair is the foundation for an endless array of casual ensembles.
- Low-Rise Ankle Jeans
- This pair has built-in stretch, so you can feel free to run around with the kids at the playground.
- To buy: $39; abercrombie.com.
- Light Wash Fray-Hem Girlfriend Jean
- When you want to exude an effortlessly cool vibe, these jeans are your secret weapon. Subtle distressed details and a frayed hem lend these pants that coveted stylish-yet-laidback look.
- To buy: $74; bananarepublic.com.
- Asymmetric Hem Jeans
- Blue jeans look anything but basic when you add an unexpected asymmetrical hem and carefully-placed rips on the front. This is the perfect pair to wear with your favorite white shirt.
- To buy: $40; zara.com.
The Wear-Anywhere Skirt
- An option that you can wear to work with a silky top—or on the weekend with a laid-back tee and sneakers—makes easy work of pulling together an outfit in the morning.
- A.P.C. Cotton-Corduroy Skirt
- A timeless A-line skirt feels fresh in plum-colored corduroy. Wear it with your favorite white shirt at work, or pair it with an elevated T-shirt when you’re heading to brunch.
- To buy: $150; matchesfashion.com.
- Farrow Pleated Velvet Skirt in Olive
- This beautiful skirt combines two popular fall trends in one: accordion pleats and soft velvet. Plus, this shade of green will pair well with almost any color top.
- To Buy: $68; needsupply.com.
- Stripes Pleated Skirt
- For a bolder take on the pleated skirt trend, go with this colorful striped option. Every piece in a capsule wardrobe doesn’t need to be neutral, so be sure to incorporate at least a couple stunners.
- To buy: $80; mango.com.
The All-Occasions Dress
- The office? A party? Weekend brunch? Check, check, and check. With a power piece like this in your wardrobe, you’ll never be at a loss for what to wear.
- Cap-Sleeve Sheath Dress, in Dark Wine
- Sometimes you meet those items of clothing that are complete confidence-boosters, and this sleek wine-colored dress is bound to be one of them. You’ll find yourself reaching for this dress for meetings, presentations, or anytime you need to feel your best.
- To buy: $70; jcrew.com.
- Pocket Sheath Dress
- Your little black dress will soon become your little blue dress when you invest in this wear-anywhere wardrobe staple. The cut is figure-flattering, while the front pockets give you a spot to stash cards and keys.
- To buy: $90; loft.com.
- Fitted Dress
- Our very favorite capsule wardrobe pieces are those that reduce the process of getting ready down to two simple steps: Pull on this flattering dress, pair with your favorite heels, and you’re done. The fitted shape is ultra-flattering, while cap sleeves work well for those who want to cover their shoulders.
- To buy: $35; hm.com.
The Everyday Jewelry
- While statement pieces certainly have their place, make an investment in smaller-scale, personal feeling pieces you can slip on (and never take off) to create a signature look.
- Curved Stick Drop Earrings
- From work, to a museum, to a dinner party, these gracefully curved earrings will look great wherever you go.
- To buy: $30; whitehouseblackmarket.com.
- Delphine Necklace Set
- Make getting ready in the morning a little easier with this necklace set that combines three pretty chains in one. The piece nails the trendy layered necklace look, but it all loops on with a single clasp.
- To buy: $52; realsimplestyle.com.
- CZ Triple Roll Stackable Bangles
- This trio of bangles takes the guesswork out of accessorizing. Simply throw on one for a minimalist look, or all three for maximum style.
- To buy: $68; ahalife.com.