9 Outfit-Elevating Basics That Are Well Worth Investing in This Winter

Best designer basics: The Row Ballet Flats



As fashion editor at Who What Wear, I'd like to think I know a thing or two about searching out a great new piece or a timeless classic, but it's only recently that I learnt the trick to piecing together a truly great outfit. Let's face it: We're all guilty of spending valuable time agonising over what to wear in the morning, and no matter how many statement dresses or exciting new pairs of shoes I find, everything has a time and a place, and I invariably end up turning to the same forever pieces to dress up my day-to-day look. A case in point, the "basic".

Calling anything "basic" gives it a bad rap, but rest assured in this case I don't use basic to mean boring; instead I'm referring to simple, understated, well-thought-out pieces that can be worn time and again, and end up being the hardest-working things in your wardrobe. Often these are the best investments you can make (and well worth spending a little extra money on for their sheer cost per wear), as these core pieces can be building blocks in creating the perfect capsule wardrobe

As a staunch advocate for high-low dressing and someone you'll always find in a high street jumper and a reliable designer bag, I've made the decision to shop in a way that favours buying less but better, and getting my wardrobe into good shape means shaping up its foundation. So I began the quest to find the very best designer pieces you can count on for exceptional quality, timeless design and versatility, eschewing all flash-in-the-pan trends that will fall out of fashion as quickly as they come in.

Sarah wears The Frankie Shop blazer.

After hours of research, I've put together a list of the luxury pieces that I think are really worth the investment. Think forever buys that aren't tied to a trending hashtag, just quality wardrobe essentials like a good quality jacket, the perfect pair of jeans or the attention-grabbing handbag that you'll be happy to wear on rotation.

Not only do these pieces seamlessly weave into your current wardrobe, but they've got the outfit-elevating power of any other designer buy, so the next time you're putting on a simple T-shirt and jeans, you can upgrade the look with a key blazer or smart pair of shoes. Wondering what makes the cut for best of the best? Well, on this list you'll find old favourites like Frankie Shop tailoring, elevated classics from Toteme and luxe offerings like the perfect flat shoes courtesy of The Row. Sound good? 

Best designer basics: @monikh carries a Loewe puzzle bag



Monikh with the Loewe puzzle hobo.

Keep scrolling for the best designer basics, including simple coats, jeans, blazers, dresses and accessories, to invest in now but wear for years to come. These are pieces that will never go out of style. 

Best designer basics: Max Mara coat



Aïda wearing a camel Max Mara coat.


The Frankie Shop's boxy fit set the standard for the oversized tailoring we now know and love. 


Yes, the cardigan Katie Holmes made famous looks just as good three years later—and in new colourways.

Knitwear like this will be a staple for the next six months.

Anine Bing knits are everywhere right now, but you'll get more wear out of a classic turtleneck than a logo sweatshirt.

Bored of Breton? Neither are we. But this is a fresh new take on stripes. 


If you haven't already tried Khaite denim, I can promise you won't be disappointed.

Flare and skinny trends may come and go, but the flattering straight-leg is eternal.

Black denim doesn't get enough credit for just how chic it really is. 


Size up and wear oversized with a pair of straight-leg jeans. 

Strike the perfect balance of cosy, cool and chic in this knitted tank top. 

I still haven't bought a silky camisole top, yet every time I wonder what to wear with a jacket in the evening, I know exactly what the answer is. 

The easiest top to dress up (or down) this winter. Wear under knits with jeans or leather trousers and heels. Well, if it's good enough for Rosie Huntingdon Whiteley...

You can't beat all white for versatility. 

A stretchy, dressy, easy-to-wear top that suits every body? Sign us up.


Whether you're wearing a casual jumper or a structured blazer, a denim skirt immediately makes your look cooler.

I don't know if it's the cut or beautiful draped details, but I haven't stopped thinking about this skirt since I first saw it.

For gloomy days, you'll need something light and airy to keep you feeling fresh and upbeat.

According to Instagram's most stylish, the trousers to invest in now are the ultra-slim cigarette pants, the perfect accompaniment to ballet pumps. 

For winter, ensure you have a pair of leather (faux or real) trousers in your arsenal. 


Pull-on-and-go dresses don't come any chicer than Ninety Percent's maxi dress.

The ideal dress for wearing with knee-high boots and a trench coat.

If ever there were a dress that could go seamlessly from work to weekend, it's this one. 

You can build 100 outfits with a simple knitted dress.

The ultimate all-in-one outfit for downtime days.

Every wardrobe should include a black slip dress.


Ballet flats are back, but the truth is they never left.

Loafers are one of the only styles of shoe you can comfortably wear all year round, so with that much pavement time, you're going to want a pair that goes the distance.

The Row's boots are set to be a hit for another winter. 

If you aren't already familiar with Burberry loafers, consider this the perfect introduction. 


It's so difficult to choose between the raffia basket, the Flamenco pouch, the Gate crossbody and even the Luna, but our money is on the Puzzle bag for Loewe's best-selling bag of all time.

With fans such as Harry Styles and Cate Blanchett, the Jackie is reclaiming its status as an iconic bag for the ages.

Need a bag big enough to carry all of your essentials (and then some)? You just found it in this stylish shopper. 

You can spot The Row from a mile away. The sleek, minimalist designs are a sure sign that the wearer has serious taste. 

I'm sorry. It's back to the Puzzle. Did you catch this mini version too?


The khaki green was an instant hit, but there's a lot to love about the sleek black version.

Just when we thought it couldn't beat the scarf jacket, Toteme is back at it with another best seller in the making.  

This classic coat will be your go-to layer for many winters to come.

The coat deserves a spot in the style-staples hall of fame for its sheer longevity.

The leather jacket has undergone a luxe makeover in recent seasons.

This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

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