10 closet essentials for a killer wardrobe

While staring at your wardrobe, how many times has the phrase "I have nothing to wear" come to mind? No matter how many clothes a person owns, the act of putting together an outfit can make them feel like they have virtually nothing in their closet. The chief design officer for California Closets told The Wall Street Journal that the average person only wears about 20 percent of their clothes on a regular basis. So, while you may technically see garments in your wardrobe, they're likely ones you've decided to ignore.

With the rise of minimalism, many are starting to realize the benefits of slimming down the number of items they own — especially when it comes to clothes. In 2010, Courtney Carver came up with a revolutionary idea called "Project 333." Essentially, she challenges people to dress with just 33 items (or less) for three months. As it turns out, you don't need much to create a stunning collection.

According to fashion experts, here are the absolute essentials you need to begin building a killer wardrobe.

One of these menswear-inspired shirts

If you're looking for a shirt that can be worn with, well, everything, then you'll want to look in your man's closet. Yes, you read that correctly. A white button-down shirt is an essential for a great wardrobe, celebrity stylist Andria Bush told Who What Wear. And she doesn't care how you get it: "Steal your dad's or your man's, but you need to find one somewhere."

In 2017, style icon Meghan Markle was photographed wearing the versatile style while on her first public date with Prince Harry. Markle chose the "The Husband Shirt" by Misha Nonoo. According to the brand's description of the menswear-inspired top, "The metal button closures are specifically designed to easily transition from day to play. Button them all the way up for work then unfasten three or four and you're ready to hit the town." It's easy to see why fashion experts are all about this wardrobe staple.

Tops with some color

Wendy Mak, stylist and author of The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits From 30 Pieces, doesn't think you need very many tops to create the perfect wardrobe. When speaking with news.com.au, Mak advised introducing a few tops with a bit of color in addition to owning a basic white tank, a black tank, and a black long-sleeve top.

According to the expert, you should keep two colorful blouses in your wardrobe: one that "makes you look and feel good" while also coordinating with black, tan, and off-white and a second blouse in an "on-trend" color. 

Mak also advised in investing in a solid-colored — but not black or white — long-sleeved top as that will "add interest to your wardrobe." Just because you may want to create a wardrobe that can be worn tons and tons of times, that doesn't mean your clothes have to be boring or all neutrals. 

This edgy jacket

If you are going to significantly pair down the number of clothes you own, you would do well to keep your most versatile pieces. This way, you can come up with a wide array of outfits by simply mixing and matching. Andria Bush, celebrity stylist from the office of Cristina Ehrlich, revealed to Who What Wear, one of her top ten essentials: a leather jacket. "It can be fitted, oversize, black green, tan, etc. I don't care about the style or color — everyone needs their perfect leather," she explained.

Sarah Nearis, assistant stylist at Jamie Mizrahi Styling, agreed that owning a leather jacket is a must, though she prefers a particular color. "A little black leather jacket is one of my favorite pieces to own because it adds a hint of edge to any outfit and is so versatile," she told WWW. "You can throw it over a slip dress or pair with a tee and jeans and be on your way."

A "sharp blazer"

While a classic leather jacket is a must-have for sure, it's not the only outerwear experts recommend owning. Thank goodness, right? Chief executive and fashion director of Tank Magazine, Caroline Issa, called a "sharp blazer" the "best investment your wardrobe could ask for" when speaking with The Telegraph.

The "It Brit" continued, saying, "It's so versatile — wear as a suit, wear with jeans and a white t-shirt, on your shoulders on top of your evening dress … It works on pretty much every outfit variation you could want!" Issa advised finding a blazer made with high-quality fabric and one that best compliments your body type. That is to, as Issa put it, "show your waist while keeping your shoulders small." 

Blazers can truly be timeless as long as they are sewn to last and fit well. After all, looking good never goes out of style, now does it?

A "go-to pair" of jeans

By the year 2011, jeans had become an industry that earned $91 billion — per year. Although the denim pants were originally invented for miners back in the late 1800s, jeans have since turned into an everyday item for many Americans. Naturally, fashion experts recommend owning a pair of these all-purpose pants.

"You can't go wrong with skinny black jeans. A good pair of black jeans is a great way to achieve a more elevated look while staying comfortable," celebrity stylist Alyssa Sutter told Who What Wear. But what if you prefer good old-fashioned blue jeans? That works too.

"High-waist, skinny, boyfriend, cheap or expensive, everyone needs that go-to pair — the pair that you will forever continue to repair until they've been repaired so many times they're now a totally different jean but still your fave," celebrity stylist Andria Bush told the publication. Like diamonds, jeans are forever. 

A "high-quality pair of black pants"

Even if you own a pair of black jeans, you're going to also want a pair of non-denim dark pants in your wardrobe.

"Black pants are timeless," Mary Lou Andre, a wardrobe consultant and the author of Ready to Wear: An Expert's Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe, expressed to Real Simple. But, rather than just buying any ol' pair of black pants, Andre advised "investing in a good pair."

Kendall Farr, stylist and author of The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look, similarly advised purchasing a pair. She specified getting "well-tailored tropical-wool black pants." While they will cost you a little more at the outset, they will last longer than your average pair of trousers. And, as they are quality-made, you'll probably end up saving money since they won't get worn out and require replacing.

A skirt more versatile than the maxi

It's not just pants that should have a place in your closet, as a great skirt can be a versatile item to own as well. Fashion stylist Martha Ward told The Telegraph: "A full skirt that's not full length is the perfect solution for that betwixt mood when you don't feel like wearing a trouser or a dress." When setting out to find the perfect mid-length skirt, you'll want to search for one that falls just below the knee or one that reaches mid-calf.

Although maxi skirts can certainly be versatile, midis may actually be even more so. While you could assume they're a summer staple, mid-length skirts are actually great year round. In colder weather, Who What Wear recommends pairing them with tights or ankle boots. You can even wear them over other dresses or jeans if you so desire. They pretty much work with anything.

Pumps with "pizzazz"

What good are tops and bottoms without a decent pair of shoes? Fashion stylist and author of The Capsule Wardrobe Wendy Mak is all about working in patent leather shoes to "add pizzazz" to your wardrobe. In an interview with news.com.au, the expert said "patent leather is your friend" — especially when it comes to pumps. While these heels come in all different colors and styles, black ones can easily transition an outfit from day to night, and thus come highly recommended by Mak. 

As far as style goes, the stylist explained, "A rounded toe is more versatile and easier to match with opaque tights than a pointed toe." There's a good chance you already own a pair of black patent leather pumps, but, if not, they're easy to find and well worth adding to your wardrobe … as if you actually needed an excuse to go shoe shopping.

Brogues, bro

If your only pair of shoes were rounded-toe pumps, your feet would be pretty angry on the reg. Styling consultant and author of Styletini: Shake Up Your Style, Stir Up Your Confidence, Ashley Martini revealed what basics she recommends when speaking to Shape. In addition to pumps, Martini revealed ballet flats to be equally important.

However, wearing flats too often can be pretty bad for your feet — even if they do feel more comfortable than heels when you first slide them on. Podiatrist Saoirse Waldron of Spectrum Foot Clinics in Ireland told Irish Examiner: "Flat shoes … can cause a range of different problems. They have no arch support, no fastening strap or laces and no shock-absorbing material." Nichola Dunne, director of Douglas Orthotics Clinic, told the publication that "a low, broad-based heel with support can be ten times better." Enter: brogues.

Hannah Rochelle, fashion features editor for InStyle, explained to The Telegraph that the slightly heeled, comfortable shoes "will have you sorted for years."

How many bags?

While a bag may be considered an "accessory," it's probably the most useful fashion accessory one can own. Nevertheless, you don't need very many in your wardrobe. According to fashion expert Wendy Mak, you really only need three. No, we're not making this up. She really said only three.

Mak listed a black "everyday tote bag" as essential when speaking with news.com.au. "Patent leather will make this tote easy to dress up or down, as the shine adds depth and formality to the bag," she explained. Surprisingly, Mak advocates for two types of everyday totes. She also suggested that people own "a tan everyday tote bag." "For maximum versatility," the stylist explained, "don't go overboard with detailing and hardware on your bags." The key is to make sure this bag can be worn with everything you wear and every day. 

Lastly, Mak said you'll want to choose between two not-everyday bags: either a "small black clutch" or a "small shoulder bag." Whichever one works best for you is which one you should pick.