Behind every immaculate outfit or fabulous wardrobe is an arsenal of reliable basics. It's all well and good having the latest It bag or trend piece, but getting dressed will always be difficult if you don't have the foundations right too. Once you find the perfect black blazer, pair of jeans or pair of ankle boots, you never need to find another one again. So it's worth putting in the time to find the best versions of these staples—when you own the perfect jumper or white shirt, there's no need for mediocre duplicates that won't ever make you feel as good. This only-go-for-the-very-best approach to shopping leads to not only a tighter wardrobe that is made to last but also a more polished look overall.
Together, our Who What Wear editors have over 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, and so we have learned first-hand the best places to find all of these basics. And it's not just a case of spending more money on things—our list includes investment pieces by Gucci, Joseph and Burberry, but many of the items we are championing are also under £100. This list will also help you to identify the gaps in your own wardrobe, as we believe that these 33 items make up the complete capsule.
I have been guilty of buying lots of different hoops in the search for the perfect pair. But buying cheap versions that I don't look after properly rather than investing in a quality pair just wasn't cutting it. Jennifer Fisher is my favourite designer for hoops, as she creates simple mini hoops or more sculptural designs.
A.P.C. creates its iconic moon-shaped crossbody bag in every colour you could hope for, but the classic brown and black leather versions will always remain chic. They're simple enough to go with every single outfit and practical too thanks to the size and compact shape.
It can be difficult to find the perfect white T-shirt, as they are often a little too sheer, tight or have a neckline that doesn't sit quite right. Hannah Almassi says without question the best white T-shirt that exists is by Sunspel. Although a more purse-friendly runner-up has to be this one from Arket.
A cashmere jumper is a wardrobe classic, and while there are numerous beautiful knitwear brands working in higher price points, we don't think you can top M&S for value. It creates quality, durable cashmere that—if you look after it properly—will last for years.
Although a relatively young brand (having launched in 2017), With Nothing Underneath has easily taken the top spot as the best destination to buy shirts, from linen to silk styles and, of course, the classic poplin in every colour and print you could want.
A camisole can be worn on its own, and it's the perfect partner for a suit, but it's also really useful for layering under knitwear. Cami NYC founder Samantha Steen launched her label after trying to find the perfect silk camisole.
Sandal trends come and go, but Ancient Greeks Sandals are always classic. Whether you want a leather slider or a pair of gladiator sandals, it's probably created the perfect pair. My feet are like tissue paper, and so I am very fussy when it comes to shoes, but these sandals always pass the no-blister test for me.
There are many amazing pairs of black heels out there—here at Who What Wear UK, we are fans of Prada, Casadei and Christian Louboutin. However, on the high street, we think you can't beat Kurt Geiger for comfortable shoes that last more than one season. This Bond style has been in the brand's collection for many years, which only proves how timeless it is.
When it comes to classic leather Chelsea and ankle boots, you really can't beat Aeydē. Whether you're after a rounded toe, Western style or suede pair, Aeydē has them all, and they aren't ruled by trends. For more boots, see our edit of the best ankle boots.
Vejas have a lot going for them. These trainers are French and sustainable. They are made using fish leather, which would normally be thrown away, and the brand works on projects to help protect the Amazon rainforest. Plus, they are really stylish, too. Everyone from Emma Watson to Meghan Markle has been seen in Vejas.
Gucci's horsebit loafers were first launched in 1953 and are a classic piece worth investing in because they will last for decades. According to a feature on the loafers on Mr Porter, "All of the artisans involved in making Gucci loafers are located in a single workshop in Florence. They wear traditional leather aprons over white lab coats and use a personalised tool kit to handmake each shoe."
All our editors are in agreement that Weekday does the best affordable denim. It's all organic cotton and increasingly recycled. There's a huge range of styles, each one coming in every shade of blue you could imagine. Plus, the size range is brilliant with different length options too.
For those days when you need a discreet layer underneath your outfit, Uniqlo is the go-to. The seamless style cami top is made to go unnoticed but will also keep you warmer on cooler British days. It's my hidden secret I'm willing to share.
Who What Wear's editor in chief, Hannah Almassi, thinks everyone should own a Wolford bodysuit because the fabric is just perfect. It is the same jersey the brand uses in its tube dresses and so is sculpting and really flattering but still comfortable.
When it comes to pants, Hanky Panky boy shorts are considered the best with Who What Wear editors. They are designed to last, as each pair is made of over 30 yards of thread, making them worth the investment. For more editor-approved lingerie, see the seven types of knickers every lingerie collection needs.
London-based brand Heist claims to have created the perfect pair of tights, and I am inclined to agree with them. I tried on 23 tights pairs of tights, and these were my favourite. They are really soft, as they have a high thread count (5000 yarns of nylon compared to the average 500), and the stretchy waistband and removal of the gusset mean they keep their shape and don't droop. You also don't realise quite how annoying the centre seam and seams on the toes are until they are gone—the only seams on Heist tights are at the base of your foot so they don't snag against your toenails.
Joseph coats certainly aren't cheap, but they are all beautiful quality and have an unbeatable fit. The standard is always high across the entire collection, as Joseph is loved for its camel coats, shearling jackets, leather trenches and classic wool belted coats.
The original Burberry trench was designed for soldiers for the first world war and uses the gabardine fabric, which was created by Thomas Burberry in 1879. According to the Burberry website, the fabric is now created at a textile mill near Keighley, England, and there are 127 stages in producing one Burberry trench coat. It is quite simply timeless.
A classic tailored blazer is a wardrobe essential, and you can call off your search for the perfect one with Isabel Marant. The French label is perhaps best known for its single and double-breasted blazers, and each collection features these in pinstripe, checks and grey wools.