the sunday brief | back to basics

last week, i shared a few opens in a new windowtips and tricks on how to purge your closet. now that your wardrobe has been pared down, you might be scratching your head wondering what the next step is. today, we’re going to talk about wardrobe essentials and staples that will carry you from season to season and make getting ready in the morning a breeze.

what are the core pieces needed to build your wardrobe’s foundation? well, the basics aren’t glamorous. they don’t grab your attention when you step into your favorite store. there are no ruffles, bows, or sequins attached. but i promise, if you want to be well dressed or look effortlessly chic you have to build your wardrobe with the basics. and you can never have too many wardrobe staples. these are the pieces that easily transition from outfit to outfit and span the seasons. the more basics you have on hand, the more outfit options available. remember, this is only a guideline as there are different styles and fits to choose with any wardrobe essential. 

when you take the time to invest in the basics, you are laying a foundation for a functional wardrobe that will prepare you for anything. and who doesn’t want that? off to work on Monday morning? headed to a charity luncheon? how about date night? or a quick weekend getaway? if you have the basics on hand, there will be no more struggles to put together a fabulous outfit for any occasion.  today, we’re going to talk tops that can easily pair with anything ranging from a statement skirt with a bold print. those tops are neutrals: nude, black, grey, white. (and for winter olive, navy and burgundy are great alternatives.)

are you ready to learn how to build your wardrobe foundation? 

wardrobe essentials and staples: the basic tee

there’s a variety of styles when it comes to tees. here are my favorites: opens in a new window henley, opens in a new windowcrew, opens in a new windowv-neck, opens in a new windowscoop, opens in a new windowlong sleeve. the opens in a new windowv-neck and opens in a new windowscoop are the most flattering tees for any figure.  yes, i consider stripes a neutral. (and so does Jenna Lyons.)

basic tanks and cami

opens in a new windowtanks have wide straps, and a opens in a new window cami has thin strips.  i suggest having both on hand, as these are the essential pieces that can layer underneath tops that might bare too much… information. like a wrap dress or shirt. they also allow you to rotate your favorite jackets, blazers, and cardigans with ease. a opens in a new windownude cami is a perfect solution for sheer blouses. a opens in a new windowsilk cami is an elegant layer. 

dinner date

button ups and blouses

opens in a new windowbutton up shirts and opens in a new window blouses are that one item in your closet that easily transitions with ease from the office to date night or weekend casual. add a opens in a new windowsleeveless and opens in a new windowshort sleeve for summer. long sleeves work any time of year. there are a variety of styles available:  wrap blouse, pussy bow, trim, peplum all work.

winter blackout

chambray shirt

denim or opens in a new windowchambray has attitude but is typically considered a laid-back. it’s perfect for a day of errands, but don’t be afraid to dress it up for a night out.  there’s all kinds of washes: opens in a new windowdark wash, opens in a new windowmedium wash, opens in a new windowlight wash.  lots of choices!

fridays with oscar


opens in a new windowcrew necks, opens in a new windowv necks, and opens in a new windowcardigans are all hard working staples. choose cashmere for winter. cotton for summer. who doesn’t love year-round options? think outside the box with cardis: opens in a new windowchunky knits, opens in a new windowwaterfall, opens in a new window open, opens in a new windowgrandpa, and opens in a new windowdusters.

denim up

m is for monday

rockin' robin

next week we will take a look at basic bottoms:  skirts, pants, and of course denim. maybe a few extras. see you then!


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  1. Sharon wrote:

    Wonderful information Beth, and thank you as this will help me move in the right direction after my closet purge. Your style is classic, timeless, and elegant, just the way I want to dress!

    Posted 1.21.18
    • congrats on your closet purge! now it’s all about adding those basics into your wardrobe.

      Posted 1.21.18
  2. Nicole De Clercq wrote:

    As an English teacher, I just have to know. Why do you show absolutely no respect to our language. Why? What am I missing here? Is it no longer cool to appear educated in the language?

    Posted 1.21.18
    • what am i missing? a comma, semi-colon? or is it the lack of capitalization?

      Posted 1.21.18
      • Cheryl T wrote:

        All of the above.

        Posted 1.12.20
        • Kris wrote:

          Nicole and Cheryl; do you have sticks up your a___s?! It is the style of the blog. And who cares anyway? Is that why you read it? So you can mark it for grammar?
          BTW , Beth, love your blog!

          Posted 1.12.20
        • RobynFrance wrote:

          I find this remark to be unkind, rude and uncalled for. If it doesn’t suit you, don’t read it.

          Posted 1.13.20
      • actually, cheryl, there are zero grammatical errors other than capitalization. the post is always vetted by a grammarian. all i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed as we go the extra step.

        Posted 1.13.20
    • Sandy H. wrote:

      Nicole – shame on you for your rudeness. If it bothers you so much, don’t read Beth’s blog.

      Posted 1.12.20
  3. Esraa Bassiouny wrote:

    Okay, can I just say that your style is so chic. You are very inspiring btw. I keep telling my mom to do a blog (she has a very good sense of style and experience about fashion designing as well), because of your blog and inspiration.
    Blog :

    Posted 1.22.18
    • well how cute are you?! thanks so much for stopping by esraa. i think i might steal an outfit or two from you. loved the grey dress, coat and black boots. congrats on your YouTube channel and blog. you go girl! xo

      Posted 1.22.18
  4. JANET DOW wrote:

    Hi Beth, I’m an English teacher as well. Please capitalize the pronoun ‘I’. My grade 5s have trouble with thos too lol. Otherwise, this Canadian girl loves your posts.

    Posted 1.12.20
  5. Susan wrote:

    Thank you Beth, this is a great blog! I love so many of your outfits! The black suit with beige lace shell is my favorite! I will now focus on some basics, it is a great time to get some great buys!

    Posted 1.12.20
  6. Brenda wrote:

    Hi Beth, Thank you for the inspiration you have given me. I was feeling a little stale with ideas and you have helped reawaken a fresh perspective. I am new to your site (only been viewing it for the last 5 months) and was wondering if you have posted ideas for attending the symphony, opera, musicals, concerts and dinners out. I would love ideas – I seem to be stuck with new ideas. Again, thank you for all you do. Brenda
    PS – I love Fridays with Oscar. Will you be having something with Ollie? (I have a cat and was wondering.)

    Posted 1.12.20
  7. Jennifer A Shelton wrote:

    Love your blog and outfits! I am 52 and it’s refreshing to see outfits that are suited for my age group!!

    Posted 1.12.20
  8. Kimberly Dickhut wrote:

    When purchasing a chambray shirtdress last fall I asked about a jacket to wear with it as my building is very cold. I was going to wear my denim jacket, but was told I should never wear denim with denim. I LOVE the look you have of denim jacket, chambray shirt, and denim shorts. I will be taking your lead on design. Thanks!

    Posted 1.12.20
  9. Suzanne Smith wrote:

    Lots of good ideas here. I’ll have to go through my closet and play with some different looks. Always inspiring to look at what other folks put together.

    Posted 1.12.20
  10. Robin wrote:

    In the very first posting, you have a gorgeous black and gold tote bag. What brand is this? LOVE your blog!

    Posted 1.19.20
    • Jerrynell Guess wrote:

      you look so put together! People tell me that I do but I’m not as confident as you seem. Been wanting to let my hair go gray! Yours inspires me!

      Posted 1.26.20

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