Firstly, I’d like to state for the record that these are just the best basics from the things I actually own. I haven’t tried everything on the market, but these are the items that I have worn (and washed) endlessly and that have stood the test of time. They’re building blocks for any outfit. No, they aren’t very exciting and they often get overlooked as they’re not fun or flashy, but we would be lost without them.
I may have to do a ‘part 2’ to this post as I have only included six important basics this week. But these are the ones I turn to the most, jeans notwithstanding. I will do a full post on jeans again soon as there are too many styles to talk through here. Same goes for shoes and trainers. They need a full, dedicated article too.
So, today I’ve gone with:
- The plain white T shirt (short sleeved)
- The plain long-sleeved top
- Black trousers
- Black blazer
- White shirt
- Navy or grey jumper/sweatshirt (I lumped these in together as I ran out of time)
Let’s start with the most basic of basics…
PLAIN WHITE T SHIRT
I did a whole post on this last year, which you can see here. I still stand by all of those options and I have a few more to add to the list this time round: the Albaray roll-sleeve T‑shirt, the Jigsaw Supima cotton tee and the editbrandcollection plain white tee (which his the perfect slightly cropped length for those who don’t like to tuck) . I still think that the Arket heavyweight tee is my favourite, though as it’s the classic crew neck, slightly fitted, but not tight style.
I don’t think you need to spend a lot on white T‑shirts, as it’s almost inevitable that you’ll spill something down them before they actually wear out. When it comes to spillages and washing, I try to wash all my whites together with a sachet of Glowhite or a scoop of Vanish Oxi Action (sometimes I push the boat out and use both together). This helps them actually stay white for a little bit longer.
- Bless Stories cotton tapestry jacket
- Louise Sinclair gold and diamond heart necklace (use code KATE24 for 15% off)
- ME + EM cotton tapered khaki pleat trousers
- Arket heavyweight white T shirt
- M hulot Alec cognac leather cross body bag
- Nike blazer 77 hi top trainers
PLAIN LONG SLEEVE TOP
If I’m honest, I could have done this whole post just using things from Uniqlo as, for me, it’s THE best place for basics. But as I like to give everyone a chance, I’ve stuck with them for the long-sleeved tops only. I actually recommend three types from Uniqlo: the smooth stretch cotton crew neck, the soft ribbed crew neck and the fine knit merino wool jumper. All excellent quality, they wash really well and come in lots of different colours. I like to use the merino wool sweater as a secondary base layer over thermals in the bleak midwinter, and as a light sweater over a vest top in the summer. I’ve had some of their cotton crews for years – I think my oldest one is from 2011, and it’s still going strong.
- Uniqlo long sleeve crew neck top
- & Other Stories short stone bead necklace
- All Saints James check boucle coat
- KAFFE high waisted mini skirt
- Sezane Farrow leather bucket bag
- Sezane Amy leather tassel loafers
- ME + EM cashmere blend swing cardigan
The hardest-working trousers around. So many to choose from, but which ones are actually any good? My top choice for every season but summer will always be the COS wide-leg tailored wool trousers. Lightweight and non-itchy (even though they’re made from wool), they hang perfectly and fit like a dream. Special mention should be made for the adjustable waistband, which means you can wear them as high or as low as you like. A slightly cheaper option are the Sloane pants from Abercrombie. They can go in the washing machine AND the dryer and don’t lose their shape in the process. For summer I love the Lyla linen trousers from Free People. At the time of writing they are currently on sale for £30, but this may mean they’re discontinuing them, which would be a travesty.
- Sister Jane dream diamond bouquet jacket
- Wilhelmina Garcia Heart Recycled Gold-Plated earring
- COS wide leg tailored wool trousers
- Melie Bianco Larissa Woven Faux-Leather Shoulder Bag
- M&S Merino wool cashmere blend top
- By Anthropologie Floral Cutout Leather Flat Pumps
If you want to immediately look smarter, a black blazer is something you need in your wardrobe. Nothing too polyester and too fitted, as that’s a bit ‘Next Directory circa 1998’. I like mine to be wool-based and slightly oversized, but not massively oversized. I’ve tried some of those before and it just looks like I’m wearing a jacket made for Tyson Fury or something. My favourite is this one from & Other Stories. Not great for summer, but a perfect jacket/coat for now. For a lighter option, try this one from Massimo Dutti.
- Joanie Velma Satin Dagger Collar Blouse
- Kirstie Le Marque diamond & black enamel chunky lock necklace
- & Other Stories oversized black wool blazer
- River Island Blue high waisted wide leg jeans
- YSL leather June quilted leather bag
- Boden classic Mary Jane leopard flats
For many more ways to style your classic white shirt, have a look at this post. I’m hoping to wear a version of this outfit when I am away in (fingers crossed) sunnier climes next week. A white shirt and chinos is a perennial favourite that never goes out of style. In terms of some of the best white shirts out there, I really like the WNU boyfriend shirt, the Boden Connie shirt and the Sézane tomboy shirt.
- With Nothing Underneath The Boyfriend tencel shirt
- COS knitted blue cardigan
- Ralph Lauren cropped wid leg trousers
- Hopeful Soho navy embossed leather tote bag
- Massimo Dutti short khaki trench coat
- New Balance off white 2002r trainers
NAVY / GREY SWEATER / SWEATSHIRT
I’m lumping these two together as we don’t want to be here all day, do we? I think everyone needs a navy and a grey jumper and/or sweatshirt in their life. For knitwear, you can do a lot worse than COS. I have cashmere jumpers from there that I bought 14 years ago and they’re still in good, wearable condition. I have had to do a little mending of moth holes, which is getting harder and harder now that I’m getting the old lady eyesight. (Thank the lord for the Amazon job lot of reading glasses and a needle threader.) Along with COS, there is a small brand I love called Navygrey that makes really good-quality, timeless knitwear. As do &Daughter. Not cheap, but as long as you keep those moths at bay, good knitwear should last for many a year, so I think it’s worth spending a little more. Sweatshirts: you don’t need to push the boat out. Perfectly good sweatshirts come from Arket, Abercrombie (men’s dept) and Uniqlo, of course.
- COS navy pure cashmere jumper
- La Redoute Paris landmarks silk scarf
- Jigsaw supima cotton crew neck t shirt
- H&M wide high jeans
- Isabel Marant Charly herringbone wool jacket
- Adidas Samba green leather trainers
There will be a brief pause in proceedings next week, but I will be back with a post the week after.