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4 Things In Every Woman's Closet—And 4 Things That Should Be

Brandon Holley, fashion magazine veteran and CEO of Everywear, knows how to make the most of what you have and which must-haves you might want to get.

What’s Already in Your Closet

1. This Kind of Skinny Jeans
What’s inside most of our closets? Brandon Holley has a pretty good idea—she’s seen inside 62,000 of them, thanks to women who’ve shared their contents with Everywear. (The company partners with brands to make recommendations for new, stylish pieces based on what women already own.). It turns out that the most common item in women’s closets is a pair of skinny jeans: More than half of their clients, ranging from 20-somethings to 60-somethings, own a pair in blue, and about one-third have them in black. This came as a surprise to Holley, who was sure that more women would own boyfriend jeans than skinnies.

To make the most of this staple, Holley says, you want jeans, not leggings. “They should be a little loose around the ankle and fitted at the waist,” Holley says, “and close enough to your body to show off the skinny part of your leg just above your knee.”

2. Black and White T-Shirts
Tees come in right after blue and black skinnies on the list of items already in women’s closets, according to Everywear data. To keep your tees from looking like, well, a plain old white or black T-shirt, pay attention to details like fit (not baggy or skintight) and material (nicer fabrics like silk weave or a cotton mix make them a bit more sophisticated). Holley says that the neckline determines the best accessory. For a scoopneck, choose long necklaces that fall somewhere between the bottom of your rib cage to a couple of inches above your belly button (any lower looks sloppy). For V-necks, wear necklaces that fall an inch or more above the V. “A fresh, fitted white V-neck also looks great under a fitted short jacket,” Holley says. “Just make sure the jacket falls below the waistline of your pants, and tuck the T-shirt in.”

3. An Oversize Sweater
According to Holley, oversize sweaters not only are a staple of most women’s wardrobes but also pair well with Chelsea boots, an on-trend shoe for fall that is the second most bought item when recommended by Everywear’s experts. “Keep it from looking frumpy by pairing it with something tight on the bottom, like skinnies,” she says. Of course, not all oversize sweaters are created equal (looking at you, hand-me-down ski sweater from the ‘80s), so if yours has really lost its shape, has become very pilly or “just looks like it’s giving up,” Holley says, it’s time to replace it. V-neck and cable styles are the most versatile, she says, and cable sweaters were among the top five items women wanted after seeing how well the sweaters paired with basics they already owned.

4. The Albatross You Can’t Throw Out
“Nearly every woman has an item in her closet that she never wears but won’t get rid of,” says Holley, who heard this from countless women during her 13 years as editor-in-chief of Elle Girl, Jane, Yahoo! Shine and Lucky. No matter how you got it, the dress, blouse or skirt you’ve never worn needs to go. Holley says you may keep it only if the garment passes the following test: Invite your most stylish friend over and ask her to come up with a few different ways to wear the item with other pieces in your closet. If she immediately comes up with great ideas, you can keep it. Otherwise, toss it or donate it.

4 Things That Should Be in There

1. A Crisp White Button-Down
This classic is so obvious that everyone must have it, right? Not so. “When I looked at the data, I was really surprised more women didn’t have one,” Holley says. Once again, fit is a priority (especially no gaping fabric at the chest); it could be silk or cotton, but the most important thing is that it should always look like you just bought it. “Find [an affordable] one that you love and replace it every year,” Holley says. Wear it with jeans and a belt, or a pencil skirt; roll up the cuffs; add a wrist full of bracelets; unbutton it part way. “It’s a fail-safe. You walk out the door and know that you look great,” Holley says.

2. A Moto Jacket
“These jackets are the new blazer,” Holley says. “They look smart, and they’re chic at any age.” They’re one of the least owned items among women, but they’re one of the most purchased by those who shared their info with Everywear. While moto jackets are slightly boxy, they’re fitted in the midsection, which helps show off your waist. Because of that boxiness, you want to wear it with something more fitted on the bottom, Holley says, like a blouse, a pencil skirt and a low heel for work, or a sweater, skinnies and flats for the weekend.

If you’re in your 30s or 40s, you can play up the punk feel of the jacket just a little by choosing one with more pronounced zippers or going with black leather. In your 50s and 60s, choose a neutral color like camel or navy, and opt for less hardware.

3. Work-to-Weekend Sneakers
Trendy sneakers are another of the least owned basics, according to Everywear data, but they are the most versatile because they pair well with the four items most women already have: blue and black skinnies and black and white T-shirts. They’re also perfect with boyfriend jeans, the item that women were most likely to buy after seeing how many different ways they could wear them. Look for ones that have flat soles and are cut low, like a pair of Stan Smiths from Adidas, the style of the moment. White-based are best, and if you’re planning to wear them to work, go with more-neutral colors on top. Save colorful options, like the New Balance 574 Core Plus, for an off-duty shoe, Holley says. They look fresh with skirts, but you can’t get too dressy with it. “A more casual fabric is best,” she says. “Denim skirt rather than satin or tweed.”

4. Leather Skinnies
Considered a necessity by Everywear’s experts, leather skinnies were the least owned item among users, but Holley points to their versatility and slimming effect. With the right fit (same as with skinny jeans: slim enough to show your shape but loose around the ankles and not too snug around the stomach), “they work for women of all sizes,” Holley says. Stick with black, and remember that you don’t have to choose real leather if you’re loath to spend a ton of money. Holley says you can find great faux-leather skinnies for around $50.

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BEFORE YOU GO

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What a Really Organized Closet Looks Like
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