Behind every immaculate outfit or fabulous wardrobe, is an arsenal of reliable basics. It's all well and good having the latest It bag or trend piece, but getting dressed will always be difficult if you don't have the foundations right too. Once you find the perfect black blazer, pair of jeans or pair of ankle boots, you never need to find another one again. So it's worth putting in the time to find the best versions of these staples—when you own the perfect jumper or white shirt, there's no need for mediocre duplicates that won't ever make you feel as good. This only-go-for-the-very-best approach to shopping not only leads to a tighter wardrobe that is made to last, but also a more polished look overall.
Together, our Who What Wear editors have over 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, and so we have learned first hand where are the best places to find all of these basics. And it's not just a case of spending more money on things—our list includes investment pieces by Gucci, Joseph and Burberry, but many of the items we are championing are also under £100. This list will also help you to identify the gaps in your own wardrobe, as we believe that these 33 items make up the complete capsule.
Hoop Earrings: Jennifer Fisher
Jennifer Fisher Mini Kevin Gold-Plated Hoop Earrings (£295)
I have been guilty of buying lots of different hoops in the search for the perfect pair. But buying cheap versions that I don't look after properly rather than investing in a quality pair just wasn't cutting it. Jennifer Fisher is my favourite designer for hoops, as she creates simple mini hoops or more sculptural designs.
Alighieri Gemini Gold-Plated Necklace (£195)
A gold pendant is the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. Alighieri's gold-plated coin necklaces feel really personal, as each one is slightly unique.
Andersons Textured-Leather Belt (£93)
Buy a good belt, and you never need to buy another one again. Andersons's leather belts are made in Italy and are a true luxury item as there are 100 steps to the production. Loop over jackets and coats to make your outfit look more put together.
Tote Bag: Mansur Gavriel
Mansur Gavriel Large leather tote bag (£475)
A leather tote is an item that everyone needs for carrying papers, laptops or heavy makeup bags. Mansur Gavriel's are discreet but elegant.
Crossbody Bag: A.P.C.
A.P.C. Half-Moon Leather Crossbody Bag (£310)
A.P.C. creates its iconic moon-shaped crossbody bag in every colour you could hope for, but the classic brown leather version will always remain chic. It's simple enough to go with every single outfit and is practical too thanks to the size and compact shape.
Longines Dolcevita Watch (£1050)
With a company history that dates back to 1832, there is no doubt that Longines knows how to make a timeless watch. The brand is world-renowned for its timepieces and offers the kind of investment watch you'll wear for the rest of your life.
Ray-Ban The Wayfarer Acetate Sunglasses (£125)
Ray-Bans are flattering on almost everyone. Whether you're an aviator or wayfarer girl, there is bound to be a silhouette to suit your face shape.
Acne Canada Narrow Wool Scarf (£320)
Acne is the ultimate label for luxury basics, and the wool and cashmere scarves are close to perfect. The brand makes the classic scarf with a fringed hem in every colour you could want, from grey to the brand's signature dusty pink.
Silk Scarf: Liberty
Liberty Daydream 90 x 90 Silk Scarf (£97)
Yes, this is printed, but a silk square scarf is a classic wardrobe item. We recommend you go straight to Liberty.
Best T-Shirt: Sunspel
Sunspel Classic Crew-Neck Cotton T-Shirt (£70)
It can be difficult to find the perfect white T-shirt, as they are often a little too sheer, tight or have a neckline that doesn't sit quite right. Hannah Almassi said without question the best white T-shirt that exists is by Sunspel. For other close contenders, see our guide to the other white tees fashion girls can't live without.
Denim Shirt: Gap
Gap Denim Fitted Boyfriend Shirt (£35)
A denim shirt is another useful wardrobe basic, and we think you can't beat this £35 one from Gap which has that oversized fit that's flattering at all times of the month.
Breton Top: Petit Bateau
Petit Bateau T-Shirt (£24)
French brand Petit Bateau was originally created for children, but in the '00s expanded into adult basics too. Kate Middleton wore one of the breton tops in her Vogue photoshoot.
Cashmere Jumper: Marks and Spencer
Autograph Pure Cashmere Round Neck Jumper (£79)
A cashmere jumper is a wardrobe classic, and while there are numerous beautiful knitwear brands working in higher price points, we don't think you can top M&S for value. It creates quality, durable cashmere that—if you look after it properly—will last for a year.
Equipment Signature Washed-Silk Shirt (£205)
Parisian label Equipment is known as the gold standard of shirting, for good reason. It creates classic, menswear-style shirts in luxury fabrics—and we don't think you'll find a better white shirt than these.
Camisole: Cami NYC
Cami NYC The Charlie Black Silk and Lace Top (£165)
A camisole can be worn on its own but is also really useful for layering under knitwear or those slightly-too-sheer shirts. Founder Samantha Steen launched her label after trying to find the perfect silk camisole.
Sandals: Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek Sandals Desmos Leather Slides (£140)
Whether you want a classic leather slider or a pair of gladiator sandals, Ancient Greeks are certain to have created the perfect pair. My feet are like tissue paper and so I am very fussy when it comes to shoes, but these sandals always pass the no-blister test for me.
Office Heighton Point Court Heels (£59)
There are many amazing pairs of black heels out there—here at Who What Wear UK, we are fans of Prada, Casadei and Christian Louboutin. However, on the high street, we think you can't beat Office for comfortable shoes that last more than one season. Hannah Almassi has owned her pair for four years and they are still going strong.
Classic Ankle Boots: R.M. Williams
RM Williams Lady Yearling (£375)
When it comes to classic leather Chelsea and ankle boots you really can't beat Australian brand R.M. Williams. They are made from one piece of leather in a factory in Adelaide and are created to order, and so take six to eight weeks to arrive. For more boots, see our edit of the best ankle boots.
Veja V-10 Low-Top Leather Trainers (£115)
Vejas have a lot going for them. These trainers are French and sustainable. They are made using fish leather, which would normally be thrown away, and the brand works on projects to help protect the Amazon rainforest. Plus, they are really stylish too. Everyone from Emma Watson to Meghan Markle has been seen in Vejas.
Gucci Jordaan Leather Loafers (£540)
Gucci's horsebit loafers were first launched in 1953 and are a classic piece worth investing in because they will last for decades. According to a feature on the loafers on Mr Porter: "All of the artisans involved in making Gucci loafers are located in a single workshop in Florence. They wear traditional leather aprons over white lab coats and use a personalised tool kit to handmake each shoe."
Designer Jeans: Mother Denim
Mother Denim The Weekender High-Rise Flared Jeans (£240)
We all agreed that Mother is the best for designer jeans, as it has really flattering cuts and uses very soft, comfortable denim.
High-Street Jeans: Topshop
Topshop Mid Blue Orson Slim Leg Jeans (£42)
Topshop once revealed that it sells a pair of jeans every 10 seconds, and it really does have the most varied and reliable denim offering on the high street. So which are the best Topshop jeans? The skinny Joni has long been a key seller, but we also love the Orson, Jamie and Dree.
Midi Skirts: Whistles
Whistles Marissa Button Through Skirt (£199)
An A-line or simple midi skirt might not be the most exciting purchase but they are really useful, especially for your working wardrobe. Whistles always has an amazing selection that lasts. I have one that I have owned for nearly seven years.
Trousers: Me & Em
Me & Em Patch-Pocket Woven Trousers (£149)
Trousers are always tricky to find, but we think the best place to start is at Me & Em. Whether you're looking for a classic black cigarette pant or a wide-leg tracksuit, you're likely to find what the perfect pair here.
Hidden Layers: Uniqlo
Uniqlo Womens Airism Seamless V Neck Camisole Bra Top (£20)
For those days when you need a discreet layer underneath your outfit, Uniqlo is the go-to. The seamless style cami top is made to go unnoticed but will also keep you warmer on cooler British days. It's my hidden secret I'm willing to share.
Wolford Colorado Lax-Fit Bodysuit (£195)
Who What Wear's creative director Hannah Almassi thinks everyone should own a Wolford bodysuit because the fabric is just perfect. It is the same jersey the brand uses in its tube dresses, and so is sculpting and really flattering, but still comfortable.
Arket Pima Cotton Rib Socks (£3)
Arket is our winner for socks, as it has each style in a rainbow of colours and will stay looking new for longer than other pairs I've tried.
Best Pants: Hanky Panky
Hanky Panky Signature Set of Three Stretch-Lace Boy Shorts (£106)
When it comes to pants, Hanky Panky boy shorts are considered the best with Who What Wear editors. They are designed to last, as each pair is made of over 30 yards of thread, making them worth the investment. For more editor-approved lingerie, see the seven types of knickers every lingerie collection needs.
Opaque Tights: Heist
Heist The Fifty (£20)
London-based brand Heist claims to have created the perfect pair of tights, and I am inclined to agree with them. I tried on 23 tights pairs of tights and these were my favourite. They are really soft as they have a high thread count (5000 yarns of nylon compared to the average 500) and the stretchy waistband and removal of the gusset mean they keep their shape and don't droop. You also don't realise quite how annoying the centre seam and seams on the toes are until they are gone—the only seams on Heist tights are at the base of your foot so they don't snag against your toenails.
Joseph Lima Double Face Cashmere Coat (£795)
Joseph coats certainly aren't cheap, but they are all beautiful quality and have an unbeatable fit. The standard is always high across the entire collection, as Joseph is loved for its camel coats, shearling jackets, leather trenches and classic wool belted coats.
Burberry Deighton Bicolour Cotton-Gabardine Trench Coat (£1690)
The original Burberry trench was designed for soldiers for the first world war and uses the gabardine fabric which was created by Thomas Burberry in 1879. According to the Burberry website, the fabric is now created at a textile mill near Keighley, England, and there are 127 stages in producing one Burberry trench coat. It is quite simply timeless.
Blazer: Isabel Marant
Étoile Isabel Marant Charly Single-Breasted Wool Blazer (£385)
A classic tailored blazer is a wardrobe essential, and you can call off your search for the perfect one with Isabel Marant. The French label is perhaps best known for its single and double-breasted blazers, and each collection features these in pinstripe, checks and grey wools.
Leather Jacket: All Saints
All Saints Leather Biker Jacket (£318)
Our editors have tried a lot of leather jackets in our time, and season after season All Saints always has the perfect biker. I have had my All Saints biker for eleven years, and it is still in good condition.
Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring/summer 2020.
Opening Image: @sylviemus
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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