In this episode, we answer a question from a listener who wants to know what must have pieces she should have in her wardrobe.

My answer, like always, is, it depends! I share how to know if something is a “must have” for you, and 3 things to focus on to find your personal must have list.

Links & Resources from the show:

Take the quiz and discover your Wardrobe Personality now!

Thanks to the Fancy Free poddcast for sponsoring today’s show. Go give them a listen, especially episode 42, where I share all my harrowing bird stories!

Grab your FREE Mini Capsule Wardrobe Guide, and make 30 outfits out of just 10 pieces.

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Read the full transcript below:

Today’s episode of Office Hours is sponsored by the Fancy Free Podcast. Have you ever made a fool of yourself? Yeah, I knew i couldn’t be the the only one! Join Joanne Jarrett and her friends on the Fancy Free Podcast where they tell their embarrassing, funny, and always true stories so we all feel less alone in our imperfection. 

Come laugh with them as they peel back the filter of social media and show their real, vulnerable,selves. You’ll love their crazy stories, and I guarantee by the end of each episode, you’ll have had some good girl time and a good belly laugh. And I bet you’ll be reminded of an embarrassing story that you’ll want to share with a friend. I spill of my most embarrassing stories on episode 42 of the show, and You will NOT want to miss that! Head to to listen to me, and other women share their not so fancy moments.

Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by one of you gorgeous listeners, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.

Today’s question comes from one of our brand new All-Access Members who said:

I love the idea of Capsule Wardrobes, but I don’t want a new wardrobe each season. Is there a list of wardrobe must-haves to start with?

This is a great question that covers a couple of different things. First of all, Capsule Wardrobe, and second, wardrobe must haves.

I don’t want to turn this into a Capsule question, because I’m going to be covering some common questions I get in a couple of weeks, but I will say this. My Capsules never ever require you, or ask you, or encourage you to buy a new wardrobe each season. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know one of my goals is to help women have more style and more confidence with less stress and less stuff. We are committed to reusing as many pieces as we can in our Capsule Guides, so over time, you’re buying less and less. We also encourage our members to shop their closets, swap pieces out, and get close to the capsule so that you’re NOT buying 30 some pieces every season. I just wanted get that out there in case anyone thought Capsule guides were a gateway to more clothes–they’re not. I can step down from the soapbox now.

What I really want to talk about is wardrobe must-haves, and why I can’t stand those lists of 23 pieces every wardrobe needs. 10 items no woman can live without. I even saw one called 100 closet basics. 100 basics? What? No one needs 100 basics.

Here’s what I shared in the All-Access group. For the most part, any general wardrobe must have list that you find on the internet is a waste of time on the creator’s part, and completely unhelpful to the recipient.

On every wardrobe must have list, you will find the classic white shirt. You know, the button up, wear with a suit or a pair of jeans workhorse you can do a million things with. That’s great, but I don’t own one of those. They don’t fit me well, I don’t feel comfortable in them, and I hear from women all the time who have a really hard time finding a great white shirt–and they don’t own one either. That shirt has never been in a Capsule Guide–so many times I’ve wanted to put one in, but then I remember how many women struggle with them, and I always take it out. Maybe next spring–we’ll see. But my point is, this is one of the top must have pieces, and yet, I know hundreds of women who don’t have one, won’t wear one, and dress themselves just fine.

I’ve found this in my work with women as well. A few years ago, I was on a kick to get women to start wearing cute sneakers. To leave their gym shoes in their gym bags and invest in some stylish sneaks, as the women’s sneaker market was really taking off and sneakers were becoming a super wearable trend for the women I serve. I might have actually said every woman needs a pair of cute sneakers in her wardrobe. The next weekend I had a client who went on and on about how she’d never wear sneakers casually, or with a dress, they were for the gym only, etc, etc… She wasn’t a sneaker woman..great, fine, But in an instant, she’d rendered my “every woman must have” statement totally false. 

Every woman needs to know her own must haves, and today I’m going to share a few ways to create your own list

The first thing you need to consider when putting together your Must Have list is, which pieces in my wardrobe make it easier to get dressed, and what am I missing that makes it harder to get dressed? These are must haves from a practical point of view, which is really the point of a must-have list. Let’s talk about jeans for a minute. I’m not saying every woman needs jeans, because I know there are those listening who don’t wear them, but I think we can agree that jeans are a staple of most women’s wardrobes. Here’s why they’re typically a must have. Everything goes with them, you can dress them up, you can dress them down. When you have great jeans, it is easier to get dressed. When you don’t have great jeans, it’s harder. Same with basic bottoms, same with neutral shoes. 

So, you can get a list of pieces you need, like basic bottoms, neutral shoes, shirts, that’s not a helpful list. That’s just listing clothing items. You’ve got to personalize your list, based on these three things:First, your unique characteristics, like body shape and coloring. We’ve already talked about that classic white shirt.  It’s a difficult fit for a lot of women, myself included-and besides, white is not a great color for me. So based on what is physically BEST for me, I don’t own a button up white shirt, but I do own a couple of ivory flowy blouses which are kind of my version, and as close as I’m going to get.  If you’re looking at ANY must have list, you’re going to have to do a little tweaking to the silhouette, color, or function of the piece to get what’s best for you. When it comes to this one, must have items are those you feel best in. Every woman should have clothes she feels great in. I could end my conversation right here, and say you must have clothes that make you feel beautiful. But I’ve got more.

Second, your must haves need to reflect your lifestyle. I’m thinking of all the stay at home moms with little kids I’ve worked with over the years. They didn’t need a white button up shirt. Likewise, my sneaker suggestion didn’t land for a woman who didn’t live a super casual lifestyle. There weren’t many opportunities she needed shoes that casual, and if she did, she could get by with her gym shoes. Another piece I see cropping up on must have lists all the time is a black suit. I literally haven’t needed a traditional suit in 20 years, and I’m guessing a lot of you don’t have that need either. It’s just something that theoretically sounds like it would be a good idea to have in your wardrobe, IN CASE the need arises, but your closet should not be filled with in case pieces, because in all likelihood those scenarios aren’t going to happen, and they waste your resources. In this case, must have items are those pieces that go the places you actually go. You need clothes that work for the life you live.

Third, you have to consider your personal style. That white shirt might be a must have for a woman who loves a classic style, but it’s probably not for a woman who favors a laid back, relaxed look. A black moto jacket is a must have for women with edgy style, but maybe not for women who love feminine ruffles and floral patterns. When it comes to your style, must-have items are those that tie your clothes together to create a cohesive wardrobe, that reflects your authentic style. 

Speaking of this one, I have a brand new, fun quiz to help you determine your Wardrobe personality, which is a great place to start finding your personal style. Head to the shownotes at to take the quiz. What you’re going to find is that after you get your results you can sign up to get a free guide to 10 Wardrobe Must Haves, but these are 10 pieces that were hand picked, by me, to make that Wardrobe personality come to life, and to make getting dressed easier–for that specific style. Not just here are 10 things you should probably have in your closet just in case and and also because I said so. I had fun putting it together, and I hope you have fun with it too. Head to my website and check it out.

Let’s recap: 

There is no generic must have list that is of any value to you. It needs to be personal. Must have items are those in your wardrobe that make it easier to get dressed, or pieces that would make it easier to get dressed, but you’re lacking

Then, If you want a wardrobe you love, and will actually wear, what you MUST HAVE are pieces that work with your unique characteristics, fit your lifestyle and reflect your personal style. 

I’m guessing if you go into your closet and you look for the items that fit those 3 requirements, you’re discovering the must have pieces in your own wardrobe already.

That’s it for today!

If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to Head to the show notes  at for links and resources from today’s episode.

While you’re there, take the style quiz–it will get you started on identifying some of those must-have pieces in your own wardrobe. And there’s not a black suit on any of the lists. I promise.

Our All-Access Membership is opening up in just a couple of weeks, and if you’d like the opportunity to ask me your style questions anytime, and get personal advice, come join us!  If you get my emails, you’re on the list for when the doors open. If you don’t get my emails, take the style quiz, and you’re in. 

Once again, I’d like to thank The Fancy Free Podcast for sponsoring this episode. Head to to listen–and laugh–with Joanne

That’s all for today–see you next week. Until then, stay safe and stylish!

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