Buying basics to create a seasonal uniform should be easy enough. In most cases, after a quick online search, you can buy everything you need in one click. Of course, that’s assuming you know where to start.
The internet is a rabbit hole, featuring countless articles about the season’s “fresh off the runway” pieces that are bound to be the next It items. (And yet, it’s often those same pieces that phase out of fashion as quickly as they emerge.) It’s easy to wonder: Which pieces will prove to be the most useful in a pinch? How do you filter out the noise to find the best wardrobe staples—the ones that will carry you through this season, the next, and for many years to come?
To mitigate the guesswork, we spoke to six fashion editors and stylists about their most versatile must-haves for spring. Their suggestions add up to a clearly focused edit of wardrobe staples, with tried-and-trusted options like a sharp, mid-weight blazer; cropped knit trousers; and a carryall bucket bag with an eco-friendly edge. You can perhaps think of them as an updated and extended version of Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces, a ready-made wardrobe of modular (or mix-and-match) garments that the designer launched in 1985. Additionally, we’ve included their exact recommendations and supplemented them with affordable and inclusive size options wherever necessary.
See and shop them ahead.
A Button-Up Shirt
When it comes to creating a capsule wardrobe for spring, “a good button-up is a must,” says fashion editor and stylist Anny Choi. “It can’t be too fitted or too oversize, for that matter, and it needs just the right amount of crisp for that effortlessly polished look.” With its boxy fit and distinct asymmetrical hemline, the Kayla Shirt from Citizens of Humanity strikes this balance and has been in her rotation for several years now. Choose from more than 10 neutral hues to wear on repeat.
For a wider range of sizes, we also love Gap’s 100% Organic Cotton Big Shirt.
A Mid-Weight Blazer
“I’ve been recommending this one from COS nonstop,” says Laurel Pantin, who is the editor-at-large of the Austin-based luxury boutique ByGeorge and the author of her newsletter, Earl Earl. “It’s a perfect navy and looks great dressed up or with jeans and a sweater and scarf.” We love that the roomy, double-breasted construction leaves room for layering when it’s still cold.
J.Crew’s Devon blazer is an alternate option we love with petite and tall sizes up to 24.
A Denim Midi Skirt
Celebrity fashion stylists Danielle and Alix usually aren’t big on skirts, but perhaps that stands to change. “This spring, we’re excited to change up our traditional denim jeans and opt for a denim midi skirt,” they say. The beauty of adding this piece to your spring closet is that it doesn’t take much to style. All you need is a simple white T-shirt, a belt, and a pair of loafers to re-create this It-girl look cosigned by models Elsa Hosk and Kendall Jenner.
Get the look more affordably and with a wider range of sizing from Universal Standard.
Pantin’s go-to bottoms for spring are a pair of kick-flare pants, specifically the knit pull-on ones from High Sport, which she describes as “super comfortable” and of incredible quality. She recommends the navy, no doubt for maximum versatility. However, you can’t go wrong with classic black for your spring capsule either.
Those who want a similar look for under $100 should check out The Margot Kick-Flare Cropped Pants in black, which come in standard, tall, petite, and plus sizing options.
A Carryall Bag
Every outfit requires a carryall bag, according to sustainable fashion expert Mary Fellowes. She especially loves this bag from Belo for its sustainable edge, as it’s crafted from decommissioned seatbelts and lined with fabric created from recycled plastic bottles.
A Pair of “Butt” Jeans
In the denim department, Choi’s must-have is a pair of jeans that subtly accentuates the butt thanks to an ultra-high rise. As a former market editor at Vogue, “I have tried countless pairs of jeans and rarely stray away from my favorites,” she says. “While I will always have a soft spot for my vintage Levi’s and Gap Barrel jeans, I have been reaching for Doên’s Lady jeans more and more. With an ultra-high waist and a full button fly, not only do these jeans suck me in [at] all the right places, but the dark wash also allows me to dress it up when I need to.”
A Pair of Loafers
If you could invest in one pair of shoes to carry you through spring, might we recommend loafers? “Wear them with thick, ribbed socks when it’s still cold [and without them] once it gets warmer,” Pantin says. Her top pick is G.H. Bass’ Whitney Weejun loafers in glossy black.
A Pair of Espadrille Flats
Saint Laurent offers flat espadrilles complete with sumptuous calfskin uppers that are embossed with the brand’s YSL logo. Celebrity fashion stylist Mickey Freeman says they’re essential for spring, as they can “add a bit of luxe to the simplicity of jeans and a T-shirt” but also be dressed up with wide-leg trousers, a simple tank top, and layered necklaces for the finishing touch.
For an under-$100 alternative, turn to Soludos Platform Smoking Slipper Espadrilles, which reviewers have rated highly for comfort and style.
A Cocktail Getup
The final touch to a fail-safe capsule wardrobe? A versatile cocktail look that you can style in various ways for different events, says Choi, who personally can’t wait to wear a floral two-piece set from upcycled label One/Of. Designer Patricia Voto uses deadstock fabrics sourced from mills all over the world to create these bespoke pieces. “What I love about having a two-piece set on rotation is the ability to style each piece on its own and therefore getting more wear out of what might otherwise be a one-time hit dress,” she explains.