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The Best Wardrobe Basics for Women

Welcome to your closet-essentials HQ — we’ve got more basics than Gap. Photo: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

These days, basic has become something of an insult, but we’ve never used it that way. To us, basics are a good thing — wardrobe building blocks, like the flattering white T-shirts, the leg-lengthening jeans, or the white sneakers that kick up everything. Below, the very best of your closet fundamentals.

Best white T-shirt

After Elizabeth Rose, a server at Café Gitane, recommended the Everlane Cotton V-Neck as one of the best white T-shirts for women, it became a quick favorite among Strategist readers. Rose said that this lightweight shirt works well with her everyday style: “I wear a lot of necklaces, so the depth of this V shows them.” However, if you’re looking for a classic cut crewneck or a more heavyweight white tee, we’ve got 16 other options here.

Best black T-shirt

When we went on a hunt to find the best black T-shirts, this cotton box-cut tee from Everlane came up twice. First, from black tee expert and fabricator Chelsea Scott, who named the Cotton Box-Cut Tee among her two favorite black tees. Scott said the boxy fit lives up to its name, and the fabric is in line with Everlane’s promise of high quality materials: “The Everlane is more of a square fit and feels like it’ll last forever.” Strategist writers also vouch for its perfect fit and reasonable price. Writer Liza Corsillo said she loves the “slightly cropped but still modest cut.”

Best white button-down

Among the various linen, Oxford, and moisture-wicking shirts that stylish women named as the best white button downs for women, one shirt reigns supreme (or at least, comes highly recommended across the Strategist): this silk button-down from Equipment. Celebrity stylist Jasmine Caccamo — who has “scoured every inch of the internet, department stores, and boutiques looking for the perfect white button-down” — says that the cut of this chic, silky shirt “perfectly flatters the bodice.” In fact, writer Jen Doll loves the slim-cut version of this shirt so much that she owns it in four colors.

Best jeans

According to Of a Kind founder Erica Cerulo, the Re/Done High-Rise Ankle Crop Jeans deserve the title of best women’s jeans. “The fit and rise are just right for me (no waistband-gapping or super-tight calves), and the frayed edge is appropriately chill—but not skin-exposing,” said Cerulo. Re/Done is all about well fitting denim; in addition to their original label, the brand alters handpicked, vintage jeans for one-of-a-kind fits, which New York fashion-editor-at-large Amy Larocca told the Strategist are “as close to perfect as I’d ever allow myself to imagine.” If you prefer wide-leg or ripped jeans, we have recommendations for those styles too.

Best petite jeans

Five-foot-tall fashion blogger Kileen Valunzuela writes that these Madewell jeans boast a “petite-friendly” 26 ½ inseam, and super stretchy-soft material, making them one of the best petite jeans for women. “The woven Tencel lyocell fabric not only stretches to accommodate that food baby but also sucks you in to make those legs look super slim,” she writes. This fit is a part of Madewell’s petite denim line (called “Short”), but the High-Rise Skinny Jeans also come in a wide range of sizes, and are a favorite pair of denim for lingerie addict Cora Harrington, along with veteran fashion writer Plum Sykes.

Best plus-size jeans

The Lane Bryant Super Stretch Skinny Ankle Jeans with Power Pockets are such a popular pair of plus-size jeans that two women recommended them to the Strategist as the best plus-size jeans. Lifestyle blogger Annette Richmond vouches for the Super Skinny’s superior fit, explaining, “They have just enough stretch to be comfortable and supportive without being restrictive or so stretchy that they lose shape easily.” Other popular styles include bootcut and high-waisted.

Best sweatpants

Co-founder of cookware brand Great Jones (and former Grub Street senior editor) Sierra Tishgart used to think sweatpants were strictly for lounging, but her outlook changed after purchasing Outdoor Voices CloudKnit sweatpants. These slim-fit, tapered sweatpants are “as flattering as they are comfortable” and make her feel “outrageously confident.” In fact, she once strutted around the West Village in the pants and a sports bra, and wore them the night before launching her company. (And these pants have since been perennial Strategist best-sellers.)

Best petite pants

4-foot-11 Strategist senior writer Karen Adelson has avoided the complications of petite pants shopping (read: hemming) thanks to Aritzia’s Babaton Cohen Pant Terado — and seven other pairs that she nominated as the best petite pants for women. With a pull-on waist, and shoe-skimming length, Adelson recommends these chic, pleated Babaton Cohen pants as the best petite pants for work. She writes, “they’re secretly super comfy and they come in a variety of colors and fabrics.”