With a new fashion trend entering the vernacular almost every week, it can be tempting to try to keep up with them all.
But history's most enduring fashion icons—Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana—all eschewed trends in favor of chic wardrobe staples that never go out of style. Following in the footsteps of her mother-in-law, Meghan Markle adheres to a similar fashion philosophy. Whether she's jetting around South Africa donning a black-and-white printed summer dress and summery espadrilles or running through an airport in a white button-down, jeans, and fedora hat, her wardrobe choices focus on trustworthy, timeless pieces.
A closet stocked with investment pieces won't just elevate your style—it will make your outfit selection much simpler. And by investing in quality, well-made clothing that you can wear over and over, it'll also reduce your cost-per-wear and your impact on the environment. Need we say more?
The good news is that you may already have some of these items in your closet. Here are 10 of the best fashion investment pieces every woman needs in her wardrobe.
1. The cashmere sweater
Cashmere sweaters in bold colors enliven pretty much any outfit you're wearing. Look for high-quality, lightweight versions in your most flattering hues, such as bright pink, emerald green, or cobalt blue, as well as a neutral like white, black, or grey. Wear them under a blazer with jeans, tailored pants, and skirts, or drape them over your shoulders as a cozy layering piece. To keep your sweater looking its best, be sure to follow the care instructions on the label. If you start to notice holes that can't be mended or significant pilling, it might be time to replace it.
2. The statement blazer
Scroll through a street-style gallery and you'll undoubtedly see photos of women sporting slouchy oversized and tailored blazers. And for good reason. This is one item you can wear everywhere, with almost everything from jeans and leggings to dresses and skirts. The menswear-inspired garment can also double as a fall coat when temperatures are mild. More tailored styles with pronounced shoulders and nipped-in waistlines can provide feminine shape and look extremely polished. For date night, just add heels.
3. The midi dress
If you own one dress, make it a midi. This fashion faithful will easily take you from your office day to your post-work social soirees—and you can dress it up or down with just a few well-chosen accessories. The midi comes in a variety of colors, prints, and silhouettes (from the iconic wrap dress to a simple sundress), so choose a style you can imagine wearing in a variety of settings. As the temperatures dip, you can layer the dress with a cardigan or statement blazer, tights, and boots.
4. The printed blouse
Every wardrobe needs a statement blouse in a bold print, whether leopard, snakeskin, geometric, or graphic floral. This particular wardrobe staple is key to a polished, striking ensemble—look for a 100% silk blouse and the piece will last for years. Treat your blouse carefully and remove any jewelry that could snag the fabric when getting dressed (even a chipped manicure can snag a silk blouse).
5. The perfect jeans
Every wardrobe needs at least one pair of jeans that fits you perfectly. A relaxed, straight-leg style will look chic with everything from flats and heels to sneakers. Choose a mid-tone dark blue for the most versatility. For the best fit, opt for a style with about 2% stretch, or elastane, woven into the fabric. But when do you know when it's time to retire your beloved denim? If considerable pilling appears, or if any area—such as the inner thigh—begins to look thread-bare, relegate them to knock-about status.
6. The great pair of flats
Whether you choose ballerinas or pointy-toe loafers, a dressy pair of flats looks fabulous with everything from denim to maxi dresses. Invest in a well-made pair and they'll last for years, possibly even decades, if you take care of them—just book them in for some R 'n' R at a repair shop each season to treat any scuff marks.
7. The well-designed heels
Looking for the one shoe that's sophisticated and versatile? A pair of designer heels is the answer for work, cocktails, special events, a fancy dinner, or a date. Since you're aiming to get a lot of wear out of them, choose a style that feels comfortable from the minute you try them on. Pro tip: To ensure they fit, try them on at the end of the day when your feet are their biggest. Spend as much as you can afford on a pair of stylish, well-made shoes that you know you'll wear endlessly.
8. The everyday tote bag
Besides looking good, this structured leather bag should meet a list of criteria. So ask yourself some questions before splurging on one. If the goal is to carry it every day, is it lightweight? Is it truly versatile? Does it look fabulous and feel comfortable on your arm? Can it comfortably carry a laptop and work files, and perhaps lunch and some gym clothes? An investment bag like this should last years, so make sure you choose one with quality construction. You can keep it looking sharp by getting it maintained at a high-end leather goods or shoe repair shop—even ripped seams and worn corners can be refurbished.
9. The chic shoulder bag
Bags are like jewelry, and your shoulder bag should be something you love to wear on your arm all the time. While your tote will be your everyday go-to, this bag is for when you need to amplify the sophistication. Styles with chain-link straps look edgy and timeless, while leather straps can be more comfortable on the shoulder. Sizes range from dinner-size clutch shapes to roomy styles that fit more than you'd expect. The best part about shoulder bags is their adaptability—they look cool with everything from an athleisure outfit and sneakers to a tailored dress for a networking event.
10. The camel coat
We'll let you in on a secret: No matter what's underneath it, the iconic camel coat always looks elegant. Splurge on the highest-quality camel coat you can afford and you will cherish it for decades. Wool or wool-cashmere blends are usually the most flattering, and a classic single-breasted front and notched lapel will get you the most mileage. If you plan to layer your coat over a sweater, consider choosing one size up to provide ample room.