Wardrobe Basics | Starting from Scratch | Part 1

I'm asked all the time about creating the most perfect capsule wardrobe. Now I'm not a stylist but I recently read Donna's post on this link about starting from scratch. What if your entire wardrobe disappeared (let's not talk house fires in case we tempt fate 😱) and you had to start again? Would you buy the same things again or would you use it as an opportunity to create a whole new wardrobe?

Since I read that post, I've been wondering what things I'd immediately buy and as this tied in with the requests for a basics/capsule type blog post...I bring to you my Wardrobe Basics | Starting from Scratch list. It's long and exhausting to write (and to read) so I've split it into 2 parts. Let's commence Part 1 with my must have wardrobe staple. The one thing I couldn't live without...

1. Jeans
I don't think I need to explain this one. Jeans are such an important staple in my wardrobe and I think you should have at least 3 different types:
1 x skinny dark blue - Stradivarius is the source of my current favourites

1 x coated black - Topshop Joni's all the way for me and buy when you see them as they sell out constantly. For good reason.
1 x loose/relaxed lighter blue - something along the lines of these ones from Stradivarius

2. Cotton Vests
Primark all the way for these. I wear them under transparent tops, jackets and dresses. Buy 3 or 4 white ones (spaghetti strap and wider strap), 2 black and one nude/beige.

M&S and John Lewis do the best cashmere crew necks for the price. Every wardrobe should have a neat fitting black or grey one - perfect with looser jeans and midi skirts - and a looser one in grey or black for wearing with skinny jeans and over dresses.

4. Midi Skirt
Boring perhaps but my black midi skirt is the one I wear the most. It works with a biker jacket or a denim jacket, with trainers or ankle boots.  On top, you can have a close fitting t-shirt (further down the list) or a cashmere jumper. This one from Stradivarius is great this season. Size up - the S was tiny on me!
As is this one from ASOS, which has a perforated material that would work well in the summer and don't be put off by the brand on this one - it looks like a beautiful fabric and it's reduced really well (with most sizes available as I type)

5. Midi/Maxi Dress - Printed
A gorgeous printed maxi or midi dress will take you from day to night depending on your choice of jacket and footwear. Wear with a denim jacket and trainers for an understated day look or with a leather biker and pumps, sandals, heels or ankle boots for a night out.
Generally, I find a shirt dress style with buttons all the way down, the most wearable. As well as wearing it as a dress, you can wear it open with shorts or skinny jeans underneath (kimono style).
Print wise, I think a black or navy based floral or scarf print is going to be the most wearable. I tend to avoid large or overly bold prints as I tire of them too quickly.

This is my current favourite from the high street:
I bought it over the weekend & will do a blog post and review when I get some photos. But I wanted to put it on here now in case it sells out. The print is so easy to wear - not too in your face or too much of a statement. The only downside is that it's more lightweight and sheer than I was expecting so I will be layering mine with a slip & vest in the current weather.
A couple of New Look options too...the first a bit bolder than I'd usually go for but the black stripe tones it down and it's very on trend for this summer!
and this next one was first found by my blogging friend Michelle over at My Fashionable 40's - what an amazing find! Limited sizes left:

6. Biker Jacket
The all important 'wear over a dress' essential, don't be afraid of a biker jacket if you're over 40....though I will be controversial here and suggest that you DON'T wear it with blue jeans - that's where it starts to look a bit off in my view.
Additionally, look for something that's plain and not too embellished. Oh and suede finishes or soft leathers in muted shades will be more flattering on older skin. Here are a few good options starting with the one that is top of my own wishlist - from All Saints:
Also loving this lighter grey less expensive option from Next - selling out fast. It's nice because the zips & buttons etc are not too shiny and metallic.
This blush coloured one from HM looks like lovely quality....I've been hankering after a jacket this colour for a while. It's surprisingly versatile with darker colours as you can see on the model.
Another different option, this time from Zara one in light grey marl
And this Pepe one is well priced for real leather...but needs to be worn open - in fact, they ALL do!
But if you just want a classic black real leather one, you can't go wrong with this. The leather looks lovely and soft:

7. Denim Jacket
If you ask me about the best place to get a denim jacket, I'll always say H&M. The denim is nice and stretchy and you'll find the length is perfect for wearing with culottes and dresses - I never wear mine without a flowing bottom half of some sort. There are two on the website and neither of them are exactly the one I have but they both look very similar.
8. Black Blazer
This season, I've seen the best of these in Mango and in M&S.
For starting again, I would be looking 2 - a longer line one and a more cropped/fitted version. This longer one from Mango is great because it doesn't have metal buttons so you can wear it with gold, silver or rose gold accessories.
And this M&S one would be my first buy to fill the more fitted blazer gap. I bought this a while back and returned as it came up quite small. I've since tried on the 14 in-store and it wasn't really that big on me. So what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is - size up!
9. Plain Oversized Tops
These are my go to under jackets, coats and over skinny jeans. They require little thought, are easy to co-ordinate and cover a multitude...what's not to love? Mango is the first place I would go looking for these in:
and these short sleeved ones from Stradivarius are lovely too:

10. Cotton T-Shirts
Finishing Part 1 of my Wardrobe Basics with dead plain cotton t-shirts - long sleeved and short. I favour the boat necked or crew neck style as I'm not busty. If you're bigger on top, v-neck or scoop neck are a better option.
For these, I go to Primark or M&S. Can't link to Primark but here are the ones I buy in M&S

So I'll be back as soon as I can with Part 2. It all depends on how the week goes and if I survive my ascent of Slieve Donard on Wednesday....eek! I'm climbing with Jeff from Belfast Times to raise awareness of the Cancer Fund for Children's sponsored climb on the 27th May (on the link) and I'm utterly terrified. You can see all the fun on Instagram starting at the crack of dawn on Wednesday!!

In the meantime, do let me know what you think of my Starting from Scratch so far...

Avril x
Disclaimer - some (not all) of the links on this post are affiliate links which means the company knows you came to their website from here and they may pay me a tiny commission (typically 1-5%) if you buy something and keep it. This doesn't change the price of the item for you and the modest income I make from this helps to fund the upkeep of my website so thank you for every time you click through!


  1. Is #2 what we call a camisole in the U.S.?

    Good post!

  2. Really great post Avril! So helpful to know where to go for basics. Skirt already ordered.....and will be checking out the other items. Good luck with your climb this week!

  3. Thank you for doing this great post Avril - it is really helpful guidance. Congratulations also on reaching the peak of Slieve Donard yesterday.


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