Kate's Picks: The 22 Pieces That Are the Base of My Wardrobe

Fashion & Style

My favorite pair of jeans, from Madewell.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You have a closet full of clothing but only wear one-third of what you own. You often feel like you’re wearing the same things over and over again. You feel like you don’t have anything to wear, even after you went shopping last month.

After having two babies and wearing a very wide range of sizes, I took a really critical eye to what sat in my closet recently. Instead of looking at what sparked joy for me, I thought about the type of experience I’d like to have getting dressed in the morning. I wanted staples that could be combined easily and required minimal effort to look like “me”—an individual, and one who is able to get dressed up or down depending on the occasion. 

When I looked at my closet, I realized I was shopping for clothes the same way I shop for antiques or furniture—they were stand-alone pieces that had a lot of personalities but they didn’t really make putting together outfits easier. 

After having two babies and wearing a very wide range of sizes, I took a really critical eye to what sat in my closet recently. Instead of looking at what sparked joy for me, I thought about the type of experience I’d like to have getting dressed in the morning.

So I cleared out my entire closet, got rid of anything that didn’t fit, repaired what could be mended, and recycled or donated what couldn’t be salvaged or what I knew I wouldn’t wear. A lot of pieces I loved at one time were shipped off to The RealReal for a new, happy home. It left me with a bare-bones closet.

What surprised me about this process is I actually enjoyed getting dressed with fewer things in my closet. When I was just looking at my basics, I had a much clearer vision for the types of interesting and weird pieces I could curate to spice up the baseline of my wardrobe. But that’s a post for another day. Today is all about what exactly makes up the baseline of my closet.


These are the tops in my closet I reach for most often. Two classic button-downs—one silk and one in a lighter, gauze fabric—one striped long-sleeve top, a turtleneck (I have this in multiple colors and wear it all winter long!!), and a classic short-sleeve t-shirt.

Bottoms (And More!)

I cannot emphasize enough how often I’ve been wearing these classic straight-leg jeans from Madewell—they’ve been my go-to denim since I got them. Other than those, my staples in this arena include black skinny jeans, a slim-leg crop pant, a wide-leg pant, and a classic jumpsuit and pair of overalls for when I want to wear something a little more unique.


When it comes to outerwear, these are the two pieces that have been keeping me warm these past few months. The parka is from local retailer Askov Finlayson and is made to keep you warm in temperatures down to -20 below (and I can attest that it does just that!), and the denim jacket is perfect for fall or spring.


These shoes can get me through any everyday occasion I encounter, from sneakers for a casual outing to black ankle boots or mules for a day of meetings to slingbacks or ballet flats (I got mine secondhand on TheRealReal!) for date night. And, of course, my trusty Blundstone boots that I’ve relied on for years.


A croissant ring and fan earrings to accessorize and add a little bit of whimsy to any outfit (I wear one of these almost every day at the moment!), and a well-made black backpack to carry essentials to and from the studio.

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BY Kate Arends - January 23, 2020


add a comment

  1. Les jolies tulipes

    January 24th, 2020 at 4:17 am

    The Twill jumpsuit is incredible, even if it’s still cold here in Toulouse, I think I’ll buy it ! 🙂
    Thank you for the selection !
    Tiphaine – Les jolies tulipes

  2. Kate Arends

    January 24th, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    It’s such a good piece (and so comfortable!). Thanks for reading, Tiphaine!

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