10 Wardrobe Essentials You Don't Really Need in Your Closet

  • 01 of 11

    10 Wardrobe "Essentials" You Don't Really Need

    woman wearing white button down shirt

    Organizing your closet? Trying to delcutter but not sure what to get rid of?

    Are you having trouble deciding what to clean out, what to keep, and what to buy? It’s tempting to rely on those ubiquitous lists of clothing “basics” that every woman supposedly needs to own, but they can be misleading. Here are ten wardrobe “essentials” you probably don’t need in your closet.

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  • 02 of 11

    White Dress Shirt

    White Dress Shirt
    White Dress Shirt. Getty

    White dress shirt. 

    Whether it's a traditional oxford button down or a silk blouse, white dress shirts are on practically every list of “must-haves.”

    They also wrinkle easily, have about a one-month window when they can be comfortably worn on their own (unless you live in Souther California, then go at it every day), are difficult to fit properly for many women, are usually slightly see-through, and can’t be trusted around coffee, kids, animals, rain, or ballpoint pens.

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  • 03 of 11

    Skinny Jeans

    Store Jeans
    Store Jeans. Minimograpy

    Skinny jeans. 

    Or any other clothing item with a very specific cut. People come in all shapes and sizes, and nothing that only flatters some can be considered “essential” to all. A good pair of jeans, a versatile skirt, and a dress that makes you feel great are essentials; any list that claims you specifically need skinny jeans, a pencil skirt, or a shift dress is lying to you.

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  • 04 of 11

    Skirt Suit

    Suits. Getty

    A skirt suit. 

    You might work in an industry where suits are part of the dress code. If you don’t, however, you can almost certainly get through life without one. A nice dress and fitted jacket, tailored pants and a silk blouse, or a skirt and twin set will almost always convey whatever sort of feminine professionalism list-makers ascribe to a suit.

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  • 05 of 11


    Leggings as pants
    Leggings as pants. Getty


    These might be your choice for lounging at home or working out, but no one over six should count leggings as the building block of their wardrobe. Whether you like being comfortable, flaunting your shape, or both, there are plenty of clothing options that don’t make other people cringe.

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  • 06 of 11

    A Leather Jacket

    Leather Jacket
    Leather Jacket. Getty

    A leather jacket. 

    These turn up often on lists of wardrobe “staples.” But given their cost and how quickly fashions in leather jackets change (bomber? moto? trench?), they’re less necessity than luxury. Unless you’re a born leather-jacket lover who really wears hers daily, invest instead in something classic and versatile, like a quality leather handbag.

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  • 07 of 11

    A Statement Necklace

    A Statement Necklace
    A Statement Necklace. Getty

    A statement necklace. 

    Your statement necklace is making a statement, but probably not the one you think. And storing your jewelry is easier without these plastic behemoths taking up space.

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  • 08 of 11

    A Striped Tee Shirt

    A Striped Tee in an Empty Closet
    A Striped Tee in an Empty Closet. Getty

    A striped t-shirt. 

    Like many so-called basics, a striped t-shirt is great if you particularly love and look good in them, but not necessarily flattering for every woman in the world. And contra fashion magazines, slipping one on will not make you look French.

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  • 09 of 11

    Cashmere Sweater

    A Pile of Sweaters
    A Pile of Sweaters. Getty

    A cashmere sweater. 

    Cashmere sweaters are nice, but they’re not magic. Finding a sweater that’s the right weight, the right color, and a good fit for you - whether cotton, silk, merino, or otherwise – is more important than making sure it’s cashmere. And any sweater will stay in good shape if you care for it, including using the right clothes storage products.

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  • 10 of 11

    Animal Print

    Animal Print Shoes
    Animal Print Shoes. Getty


    Or any look that’s currently having a moment. Many lists of “classics” or will include at least one piece that’s on-trend at the time the list is published but looks dated about five minutes later. Buying a trendy item now and then is fine; pretending you’ll wear it for years is silly. And beware of the argument that trends always come back around. They do, but usually not so exactly that you can just pull out your old clothes from ten or twenty years ago and look modern.

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  • 11 of 11

    Khaki Pants

    Khaki Pants
    Khaki Pants. Getty


    Khaki pants are a fine thing to have in your closet (I’ve owned more pairs in my lifetime than I can count) but they’re not quite the multitaskers that lists of fashion “basics” make them out to be. At the wrong place and time they can easily look boring, dowdy, casual, or sporty when you’re going for anything but. Do you need mid-weight pants that aren’t jeans? Probably. Do they have to be khakis? No.