How To Build a Wardrobe: Closet Essentials + Tips!

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Fashion trends evolve, and so does your wardrobe if you like to keep up with the latest fads. 

But apart from this, life events can also prompt you to learn how to build a wardrobe from scratch. 

A woman sitting on a bed full of clothes looking confused.

Your body may have changed, your lifestyle transformed, you moved to a place with a different climate, or you simply want to start anew.

Sure, it can be overwhelming, but this guide will simplify everything! Keep reading to learn all the nitty-gritty details of wardrobe building!

Things To Do When Building a New Wardrobe From Scratch

Your mind can be all over the place when you plan on filling your closet with new clothes and pieces. One way to get out of that scenario is by first focusing on the important areas and gradually moving forward.

To start, here are the primary things to know about how to build a new wardrobe:

1. Invest in Your Staple Pieces

Wardrobe staples are essential, timeless, and versatile clothing items that form the foundation of a well-rounded wardrobe. These pieces are classic and can be easily mixed and matched to create various outfits for different occasions. 

Wardrobe staples typically include items like the following:

  • White T-shirt: A simple, well-fitting white T-shirt can be dressed up or down and paired with various bottoms.
  • Blue jeans: A pair of classic, well-fitting blue jeans is versatile and can be worn in casual or more polished settings.
  • White button-down shirt: This versatile piece can be worn in professional or casual settings and is a classic wardrobe staple.
  • Blazer: A well-tailored blazer can elevate any outfit, whether you’re dressing up for work or a social event.
  • Little black dress: An elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
  • Classic trench coat: This outerwear piece is both stylish and practical, suitable for various weather conditions.
  • Comfortable flats: A pair of comfortable, stylish flats are essential for everyday wear.
  • White sneakers: Versatile and comfortable, white sneakers can be paired with a variety of outfits for a casual look.
  • Black heels: A classic pair of black heels can add sophistication to a variety of outfits, from casual to formal.
  • Neutral handbag: A neutral-colored handbag can complement a range of outfits and is a practical accessory.
Blue jeans, white knitted sweater, small black cross body bag, leather ankle boots and striped scarf on grey background.

2. Expand Your Casual Pieces

After you collect all your staple pieces, you should consider expanding your casual pieces. These everyday wear should cater to your fashion needs during winter, spring, summer, and fall. 

Here’s a simple list of examples of the casual pieces you’d need for the different seasons:

  • Winter coats: It should not be said that they are essential in keeping yourself from freezing during winter. 
  • Cardigans: Cardigans are perfect casual layers to maintain your body temperature during winter and spring shifts.  
  • Floral dresses: These light, flowy dresses are perfect for summer. 
  • Lightweight sweaters: Fitted or oversized, these sweaters will give you enough warmth when the chilly fall season starts. 

You must also allocate certain clothes for rainy days, such as a waterproof jacket, or occasions requiring casual vacation fits, such as a maxi dress. 

A woman holding a stack of sweaters and a pumpkin.

3. Add Dressy and Professional Clothes

Apart from investing in the clothes you wear on normal days, you should also give space for your dressy and professional attire. 

These would include clothes for nights out, business meetings, and formal events. 

Here are our wardrobe suggestions:

  • Cocktail dress: A knee-length or midi cocktail dress in a classic color or a stylish pattern is perfect for semi-formal occasions.
  • Evening gown: A long, elegant evening gown suits formal events.
  • Blouse or dressy top: A sophisticated blouse or dressy top can be paired with dressy pants or a skirt.
  • Dressy skirt: A well-tailored, knee-length or midi skirt complements your formal tops.
  • Heels or dressy flats: Elegant heels or dressy flats can match the formality of a special occasion.
  • Evening clutch: A small, stylish clutch complements your outfit.
  • Formal outerwear: A formal coat or shawl is suitable for events in colder weather.
  • Dressy jumpsuit: A chic and well-tailored jumpsuit can be an alternative to dresses for a modern and stylish look.
A woman standing in front of a closet full of clothes.

4. Incorporate Your Accessories

What makes the wardrobe even more complete is the addition of accessories. 

Think watches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, handbags, and other worn or carried accents. Scarves, caps, and hats can also help elevate your ensembles. 

A white table with jewelry on it and a picture frame.

Things Not To Do When Building a New Wardrobe

Wardrobe-building basics also involve a list of what not to do

While building a wardrobe involves filling your closet with garments, you don’t necessarily stuff your clothing space with things that are not well thought out. 

The subsequent sections will discuss them in detail to give you an idea of what you shouldn’t do.

Purchase Clothes You Won’t Wear Again

With the convenience of online shopping apps, it’s easy to get struck by the aesthetic of a certain accessory or garment. 

It’s even more the case if you see it in person in the mall or boutique!

However, before you add the piece to your shopping cart, ask yourself: “How often would I be able to wear this?”

If you find yourself wearing it only once or not that often, it could be best to let go of the thought of getting it, especially if you’re on a budget. 

A woman is looking at clothes in a clothing store.

Give In to Sales

Sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, and Super Saturday, among others, offer huge discounts to shoppers!

While you might think these sales events give your pockets a friendly wink, this isn’t always true. 

Large sales and discounts cause you to develop impulsive buying behavior, which may lead you to purchase things that don’t complement the wardrobe you’re building. 

Quick Tip

To flip the situation to your advantage, create a list of the things you need to buy and stick with it firmly.

And if the product is on sale and you were already planning on getting it anyway, there isn’t really a reason to hold you back from buying it, is there?

Image of young lady standing in clothes shop indoors choosing dresses

In Creating a New Wardrobe: Factors To Consider

In discovering how to build a good wardrobe, you must recognize that there are various factors you should consider in your decision-making. 

Without further ado, here are some factors you should seriously consider to ensure the clothes collection you build is perfect for you: 

Your Skin Tone

There are three common variations of skin tones: warm, neutral, and cool. Identifying which category you fall under will help you determine what colors suit you best. 

But how would you know your skin tone? Here are the indications to look for:

  • Warm: The wrists prominently show green veins with peachy, yellow, or golden undertones. 
  • Cool: The wrists prominently show blue or purple veins; they have rosy, bluish, or pinkish undertones. 
  • Neutral: The wrists show a fair amount of green and blue veins; they have a mixture of warm and cool undertones.
Portrait of women with different skin tones smiling at the camera in a studio.

Your Subseason

Next up, once you’ve determined your skin tone, you need to figure out your color palette. How do you do this? 

Well, you have to find out what subseason you are and find out what colors match you. 

We’re listing all of the subseasons below:

Meanwhile, here’s a table showing some of the suggested colors for these subseasons:

SubseasonBest Colors
Clear winterRuby, true red, cherry, fuschia, strawberry, hot pink, Lemon lime, lemon, marigold, jungle green, and teal
Cool winterCrimson, soft red, bright red, magenta, fuschia, icy pink, chiffon, jade, green, aqua, eggplant, violet, lavender, and cobalt
Deep winterSangria, wine, brick red, magenta, fuschia, boysen berry, mustard, honey, aegean, dark green, wasabi, jungle green, and royal purple
Clear springSunshine, lemon, sunflower, butter, honey, banana, grapefruit, punch, orange, salmon, bubblegum, French pink, sunset, and coral
Warm springWarm red, orange red, orange, melon, salmon, coral, apricot, pumpkin, butter, honey, daffodil, spring, mint, lime, and orchid
Light springSoft red, orange red, light red, apricot, watermelon, melon, taffy, grapefruit, chiffon, banana, honey, daffodil, marigold, and lime
Light summerPale yellow, chiffon, sky blue, cornflower, aqua, royal blue, seafoam green, teal, mint green, baby pink, rose pink, and cool pink
Cool summerTrue red, soft red, bubblegum pink, fuschia, carnation, mauve, ballet pink, lemon, chiffon, mint, seafoam, and jungle green
Soft summerRuby, soft red, deep rose, strawberry, garnet, mulberry, rouge, carnation, pale pink, maize, corn, blonde, chiffon, and emerald
Soft autumnMarzipan, flax, brass, cameo, squash, mauve, rose, rosewood, burgundy, gray violet, soft plum, thistle, deep teal, and opal
Warm autumnBrick, crimson, fire, carrot, salmon, garnet, mustard, honey, sunshine, army, juniper, emerald, seed pearl, and straw
Deep autumnButterscotch, mustard, dijon, copper, cinnamon, crimson, boysen berry, rust, sangria, eggplant, mulberry, midnight, and plum
A blonde woman in a hat and white pants standing on the beach.

Your Personal Style

Your taste and preferences will also largely dictate what you put inside your closet. 

There are plenty of fashion styles out there, and we are listing some of them below:

  • Y2K
  • Goth
  • Punk
  • Baddie 
  • Preppy 
  • Soft girl
  • Boho-chic
  • Athleisure
  • Techwear
  • Streetwear 
  • Cottagecore
  • Artsy fashion 
  • Hippie fashion 
  • Vintage fashion
  • Minimalist fashion

So how exactly do these fashion styles impact your wardrobe? 

If you lean more toward vintage fashion, for example, your closet will be mostly filled with old-school clothing and accessories. 

In building a wardrobe, you have to set a specific goal when it comes to your clothes and see if they actually suit your taste and preferences. 

A group of women in different colors posing in front of a colorful background.

Your Body Size

This is a given, yet despite this standard rule, many of us are still guilty of having clothes that poorly fit us. 

Even if the garment looks pretty, the fact that it’s ill-fitting won’t flatter your body. 

So if you’re a size 4, make sure you purchase clothing pieces in the same size. 

Full length photo of pretty lady showroom fashion collection choosing clothes wear trend yellow leather jacket long skirt shoes isolated pastel pink color background

The Ultimate Shopping List: How To Build a Wardrobe From Scratch

Now that you’ve learned how to build a wardrobe, the next step is to make your plans for building a wardrobe closet into reality! 

Ready your budget because it’s time to start filling up the space inside your armoire. The goal is to have several pieces of clothing to mix and match. 

Once you’re ready to build a basic wardrobe, here are the clothing staples you should invest in:


Top clothing can be casual to formal. Think about what you’d wear on daily errands and casual activities and the garments you need for your corporate attire. 

Since there are different types of tops in the market, we specifically list the ones you primarily need below:

  • Turtleneck — a great piece for your fall and winter outfits
  • Gray tee — a great top to appear smart, stylish, and casual 
  • White button-down — primarily worn in an office environment
  • Graphic tee — shirts with images or graphic designs
  • Sleeveless shirt — this can be used to stay cool during the warm months 
  • Black tee — can be dressed up or down depending on your ensemble 
  • White tee — can go with almost anything with its versatile color
  • Sports bra — the appropriate garment that gives you support while working out 
  • Light sweater — ideal for rainy season, air-conditioned environments, spring, or autumn
  • Chambray shirt an excellent standalone garment, can also be used for layering for casual attires


Your bottoms are considered a modern fashion staple, so your wardrobe must have several ready. 

Three pairs of jeans and a scarf on a wooden floor.

Still trying to decide what bottoms to get? Here’s a rundown of what you should include in your wardrobe:

  • Dress pants — a staple for any professional setting
  • White jeans — great for office work or casual activities
  • Cargo pants — excellent if you want a comfy, edgy look
  • Shorts — your alternative to longer bottoms during hot, humid days 
  • Skinny jeans — have a tight cut from the waist to the ankles 
  • Leggings — can be worn formally or informally
  • Straight pants — characterized by their straight cut from the waist to the ankles 
  • Skirt — can match most of your tops and can be worn for any season


When you build a basic wardrobe, you must have a few pieces of dresses to wear too.

By definition, a dress is practically a skirt with an attached bodice, and they come in various forms and styles. 

Here are some of the dress types you might want to include in your wardrobe:

  • Sweater dress — comes in full sleeves, ideal for cold or chilly days 
  • Bodycon dress — chic garment that’s great for casual to formal setups 
  • Slip dress — an extremely versatile closet addition that works well with any body type
  • Maxi dress — a great choice for women of any height and size with its flowy silhouette 
  • A-line dress — flatters any body type as it emphasizes the waist and showcases a broader structure on the hips 
  • Little black dress — ageless and classic; a must-have item in your wardrobe 
  • Shirt dress — the ultimate comfy and versatile wardrobe staple in the form of a dress; can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion 
A rack of pink and black clothes hanging on a rack.


Your outerwear refers to all clothes you put on over your garments, especially when you’re outdoors. 

These typically either protect you from the rain or give you warmth. That should hint that most outerwear is worn during rainy and cold seasons. 

Considering these things, your wardrobe has to be ready for these times of the year. 

Here are the types of outerwear you can add to your wardrobe:

  • Raincoat — protects you from the rain 
  • Check blazer — can be worn casually or formally 
  • Trench coat — a chic fall and spring staple
  • Thick sweater — provides warmth during the cold months
  • Anorak — ideal when the weather starts getting wetter and colder
  • Denim jacket — great outerwear for spring and a great layer for breezy nights 
  • Cardigan — a popular choice during cool weather; can be dressed up or down 
  • Camel coat — completes your fall or winter look while keeping you warm and cozy 
  • Fleece jacket — highly insulated garment that keeps you warm during a harsh cold season  
  • Peacoat — a double-breasted coat that protects you from heavy rain and cold temperatures 
  • Moto jacket — a stylish and edgy leather jacket 
  • Utility jacket — a versatile piece of outerwear worn during travel, outdoor activities, chilly nights, and breezy days
  • Windbreaker — perfect for a jog, hike, or cycle in variable weather conditions 
Row of women leather coat and jacket with sweater, fur coat and shoes boots,scarf on hangers isolated-wooden background


The shoes you wear can literally make or break your entire outfit, so you must have a few all-around pairs that work well with the clothes you have in your wardrobe. 

Apart from the fact that your shoes should match your pieces, these also shouldn’t compromise your comfort. 

Here are the types of shoes you can include as you build your wardrobe:

  • White sneakers — a great match for any casual OOTD
  • Black heels — essential for job interviews, office work, or other professional gatherings 
  • Black ballet flats — comfy shoes for any work outfit
  • Nude heels — chic and stylish shoes that create an excellent illusion of longer legs 
  • Knee-high boots — can suit any outfit for any occasion; can also be dressed up or down 
  • Combat boots — perfect for utilitarian uses and can be used for fall outfits and even winter if you want a waterproof pair
  • Snow boots — comfortable, durable, and slip-resistant; will keep your feet toasty during the cold season 
A drawer filled with shoes and other items.


Accessories add pops of interest to your outfits. They further reinforce your style and can create harmony in your whole ensemble. 

Wondering what the essential accessories are? We’re listing them below:

  • Hat or cap — the head covering you need that protects you against the sun
  • Crossbody bag — a casual bag for casual outfits
  • Oversized scarf — great for layering or keeping your neck warm when it’s cold outside
  • Necklace — offers a sense of femininity around your neck 
  • Belt — accentuates the waist of your dress or jeans
  • Earrings — great ornaments on your ears 
  • Handbag — holds your daily essentials 
  • Black sunglasses — a chic addition to your accessory collection; can be worn during travels or when it’s sunny outdoors 
  • Women’s watch — a sophisticated touch to your wrists

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Build a Wardrobe Capsule?

When building a wardrobe capsule, you have to remember that every staple piece you add inside your closet should be able to match your other items. That, as well as the fact that each piece should be timeless. 

If you’re looking for ways on how to build this basic wardrobe, we’ve got you! 

  1. Work on what you wear a lot. You don’t have to start from scratch when you build a wardrobe capsule. Instead, track the clothes you wear a lot and want to keep. 
  2. Divide your clothes into season. If you have an overflowing closet, divide your pieces according to seasons. Anything you don’t need or no longer fits should be tossed out or donated. 
  3. Find out what you’re missing. Are there items that you need but don’t have? List them down on your notes for your next shopping trip. 
  4. Choose your palette. Find out what colors look great on you. You can refer back to seasonal color analysis to find out your color palette. 
  5. Buy the clothes you need. It’s time to purchase certain pieces your capsule wardrobe needs. Also, choose quality over quantity so they last a long time!
A woman is putting clothes into a pink closet.

How Many Items Should You Have in a Wardrobe?

Despite the average American owning 103 items in their wardrobe, they consider 21% unwearable, 33% too tight, and 24% too loose. 

That explains the frustration of many women and their common complaints about “not having anything to wear.”

With this data in mind, the question “How many items should you have in a wardrobe?” is indeed curiosity-inducing.

Researchers suggest that a “sufficient wardrobe” typically consists of 74 garments, totaling 20 outfits, some of which should be for gym wear, outerwear, homewear, office wear, etc. 

Regardless, this doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to these numbers as long as each of your clothing pieces serves a purpose on top of giving you comfort and happiness by having several options.

Some like it that way, while some would find contentment in having just a few. It’s all about preferences! 

Woman choosing outfit from large wardrobe closet with stylish clothes and home stuff

Start Building Your Stylish Wardrobe!

After going through this in-depth guide, you’re now more than equipped to know how to build a wardrobe! 

Starting with your staple pieces and expanding them according to the seasons and occasions helps you have everything you need from your closet. 

That puts you in the position of always being on the go as long as you have the essential pieces for your tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, shoes, and accessories. 

With all that being said, there will be no more moments where you sit in front of your wardrobe, frustrated, because you have nothing to wear for the day!

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