What are your wardrobe essentials?

Your closet goes on fire, and all your clothes are lost. Which wardrobe essentials would you buy to replace them in a hurry?

bare closet with empty hangers

Imagine your closet went on fire. It’s OK: no one gets hurt, and the closet itself escapes pretty much unscathed, but… your clothes are all gone. Yes, all of them. You now find yourself in the unusual position of having to buy yourself an entire new wardrobe – or at least enough to get by on for a few weeks – in a hurry. The question is, what would you buy? We all love to drool over pretty dresses and beautiful shoes, and to indulge in the fashion trends we love (while completely ignoring the ones we DON’T obviously), but when it comes right down to it, which items could you REALLY not live without?

Because everyone’s lives and tastes are so different, we’ve never thought lists of so-called “wardrobe” essentials were particularly useful when it comes to working out what we should fill our OWN closets with. That doesn’t mean they’re not INTERESTING, though, and you can tell a lot about a person by the items they’d rush out and buy in a hurry, so, purely out of curiosity, we want you to tell us what you’d buy if you had to completely rebuild your closet from scratch (Because we’re generous, we’re going to let you assume all your underwear, shoes, and outerwear survived so you don’t need to worry about those.).

In the spirit of sharing, here’s Fashion Police editor Amber’s list…

wardrobe essentials: blue jeans

1. Skinny jeans in mid-wash blue

My personal style revolves mostly around dresses and skirts, and I generally have a fairly “dressed up” kind of look. Oddly enough, though, in the situation described above, the very first thing I’d rush out and buy would be a pair of blue skinny jeans, in a mid-wash. Although they’re not something that’s really associated with my style, I couldn’t live without them: they’re warm, they’re practical, and  they’re always the item I reach for first on days when I just want to be comfortable and casual. They can also be dressed-up too, though, and while jeans wouldn’t ordinarily be what I’d wear to a party, say, they would be what I’d wear if my closet had just burnt to the ground…

2. As many cardigans and tank tops as I could afford

I’ve lumped these together because I can’t wear one without the other: as a permanently freezing person, cardigans are an absolute essential for me, because it’s rarely warm enough for me to want to bare my arms, and they allow me to still wear a nice dress or top without getting goosebumps. To go underneath them on non-dress days, I favour basics like t-shirts or tank tops, in a variety of different colours.

3. A Breton stripe top

An all-time classic, to go with the jeans.

4. A fitted blazer

I’m cheating slightly here by assuming that my closet goes on fire in Spring/Summer and I don’t need to budget for an winter coat. Even with outerwear accounted for, though, I’d want a good-quality fitted blazer to dress-up my jeans or throw over dresses. Because it would have to go with everything else, I’d choose a neutral colour like off-white or beige, rather than a dark one like black (I’m not fond of wearing black with other dark colours, although it often looks good on other people.)

5. A full, 50s-style skirt

With all of those basics taken care of, it’s really only at this point that I’d start to think about injecting a bit of my own personal style into the mix. I’d probably do it with some kind of circle-skirt, probably in red, or some other bright colour, to wear with the various tops listed above, and to dress up 0r down as required.

6. A simple, block colour pencil dress

For those times when it’s necessary to look a little more formal/dressed up, a pencil dress in my favourite colour would be my go-to item.

7. A warm, snuggly sweater

Or maybe two, actually. You just can’t have enough chunky sweaters when you live in a cold climate…

8.  A pair of cropped trousers

A little more formal than the jeans, but still with the ability to be dressed up or down: perfect.

In an ideal world I could think of a few extras to add (some more dressy tops would be nice, for instance), but I reckon I could get by pretty comfortably on this lot for a few weeks, if I was re-building my wardrobe from scratch. That’s just me, however, and my list will probably be very different from yours. I’m curious to see just HOW different, though, so tell me:

What would you run out and buy if all of your clothes were destroyed in a fire?

[Images: © Morchella7  and Micha360| Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images]


  • July 5, 2013

    Dayhanna via Facebook

    black pants, dark blue jeans, white shirt, black shirt, black pumps, a black blazer, black bag, black pencil skirt….. and a tissue to cry :S meanwhile the insurance makes an estimate of my damage. than wait for money to shop the triple I had in my closet 😀 <3

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  • July 5, 2013


    1. Jeans, because… well, because it’s jeans. 2. Navy trouser suit with fitted blazer – as a suit it’s great for formal occasions, if split it would give me several more outfits and it can very easily be dressed up or down. 3. Simple pencil or A-line dress that sits just below the knee (quite likely in subtle animal print) 4. Maxi shirt dress – very comfy and easy to wear, 5. Floral chiffon blouse to add a bit of colour 6. Couple of cardigans in various colours 7. Middle heeled court shoes (comfortable yet versatile) 8. Tights 9. Coat – let’s be frank, we DO live in Britain and for at least 6 months a year a good coat is what we mostly wear…

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  • July 5, 2013


    I can perfectly survive without any trousers, so I’d definitely say 50s style dresses and cardigans. And belts. It’s pretty much what I wear every single day. And a nice quality winter coat and a nice denim jacket for summer.

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  • July 5, 2013

    Cait via Facebook

    Sorry but my onesie and slippers.

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  • July 5, 2013


    Since it’s now summer here in Texas, my absolute basics would be underthings, capris, loose shirts, and tennis shoes. That’s what I need for my job. So I get 3 or 4 changes of clothing and I would be good for several weeks (as long as I had access to laundry facilities). For any longer than that, I would get some long trousers, long-sleeved blouses, camisoles, a knee length dress or two, a cardigan, a light coat, and shoes. That tends to be what I wear year-round here. I don’t have a lot of variety in clothing; however, my jewelry and scarf collections are quite impressive.

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  • July 5, 2013


    Assuming it happens right now, no winter things need apply. !) Dark wash bootcut jeans- I live in these when I’m not at work. 2) Jean shorts- Yes, I need both, I live in Texas. 3) V- neck t-shirts in a minimum of 2 colors. 4) lace trim camis in a minimum of 6 colors- I wear them under everything. 5) Work appropriate blouses, both short and long sleeve, in white, blue, black, red, and purple- self explanatory. 6) Work slacks in white, navy, black, and grey- again, self explanatory 7) 1 black blazer, just in case. 8) 1 black pencil skirt. 9) 1 ankle length, cami strap sundress. The correct dress will be designed where I can wear a fitted blouse over it and make it work appropriate. 7) Shoes- 1 pair vibrams (tennis shoes for me), 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair heeled sandals, 1 pair black pumps, 1 pair knee high black heeled boots, 1 pair navy heels, 1 pair red heels. With that minimum I can survive the week.

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  • July 5, 2013

    Liz via Facebook

    Yeah, work from home, need comfys all day. But for appearing in public: black jeans, graphic print tops, black capris, black shorts, and a cardigan sweater.

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  • July 6, 2013


    Jeans, 3 or 4 pencil skirts in varying colours, 50s and 60s style knee length dresses, my corsets (an absolute must), my high heels and boots, two blouses, some casual formal tops, my yoga pants and sports bras for exercising, and my peasant tops and peasant skirts. Since most of my shoes aren’t in my closet, I can save them, but my heels are in my closet.

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  • July 6, 2013

    Annette Tirette

    Full-skirted or a-line dresses in fun prints, for both winter and summer. Tights in a few different colours for winter. A cropped jean jacket and a few cardigans. Full skirts and basic t-shirts or tank tops for casual days. One pair of vintage US Navy trousers (very specific but they are awesome and the only trousers I’ll wear) for the coldest of cold days. A very good winter coat, preferably one that makes me feel like a pirate.

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    • July 6, 2013


      Annette, I would love to hear more about the Navy trousers. What year do they date to, where do you find them, and why are they so perfect for you?

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  • July 7, 2013


    1. Jeans – Boyfriend cropped distressed wash blue jeans. I’m wearing Marc by Marc Jacobs Jessie at the moment and I love them so, I’d probably trawl the sales to find another pair. Black skinny Jeans, Lot78 brand, hate to sound boring but its because they keep their colour. 2 Activewear – When did gym stuff get designer? I’d replace my 10 year old boring gym pants/tops with the funky Stella McCartney in a flash. 3. Tees – classic and long-sleeved crew neck tees in white/black and another colour from Petit Bateau. They get softer and better every time they’re washed. 4. Navy cropped cigarette trousers. Mine are from Mary Portas, UK made and cut beautifully. I don’t think there is a version in her collection this year, so these would be the hardest item to replace. Raoul usually have beautifully tailored trousers, so I might start there. 5. Silk shirt. I wear Tucker but I don’t fancy the prints this year, so I’d replace with a Hermoine de Paula silk vest, If money was no object then it would be the Belstaff silk blouse, but I can’t even afford one in the sale, even at 70% off, so, yeah, time to move on..6. A mini kilt – I know, weird, but I love them. 7. Dresses – Jersey Twist short sleeved from Helmut Lang. Particularly partial to the oxide print. Silk summer dress, my current one is from Draw in Light and quite short, so I might go all Issa and maxi for a change. 8. Finally a grey short sleeved cashmere crew-neck jumper from Gap, because I’m British and programmed to believe that the current glorious weather is not set to last!

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  • July 8, 2013


    Dark wash skinny jeans, 3 basic tank tops in white, black and red – I wear them almost all year long under everything, brown large (fake) leather bag, several t-shirts, an oxford shirt, couple of cardigans in different colours, navy blazer, one pair of closed toe wedges and a pair of tennis shoes (presuming my underwear dresser escaped unharmed, that is). I guess I could live with these for up to 1-2 months before the paycheck arrives!

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  • July 9, 2013


    A few pencil skirts, basic tops to go with those, and some cardigans and I’d survive until the weekends, some nice tights too if it’s cold. After that I’d get some more dressed up dresses for more formal parties, and perhaps a blazer. Last, because my job demands it (and because I love them!), I’d buy a ball gown. Once that’s done I’d shop for more non-essential things such as jeans.

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  • July 10, 2013


    A suit in thin wool with a fitted blazer and pants to be able to visit my customers. Two button-down shirts (one striped, one white) and some good t-shirts which go with the suit blazer. A colourfull silk scarf. A fitted woolen sweater. A pair of dark-wash trouser jeans and one pair of skinnies, same colour. A good leather belt and a tote. One set of outdoor exercise gear, like a thin anorak, athletic shirt, sports bra and tights. Thongs and 2 padded underwire bras.

    My shoes would not be burnt because I keep them on racks in the cellar. But if strangely the fire had had a branch there: One pair of leather sneakers, one pair of high-heeled ankle booties and one pair of cross trainers (I *will* go walking, fire or no fire, that’s what you live for in rural Swabia).

    This is sooo boring… this is what I actually wear with all the clothes in my wardrobe, and I wonder why I do not go the minimalist way and actually only have these clothes in my wardrobe.

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  • July 10, 2013


    Essentials for Work:
    1. Black, navy or charcoal grey straight cut pants;
    2. White Wing tip collared shirts with long sleeves and cuffs; and
    3. Black, navy or charcoal grey formal blazer.

    Work Extras (depending on budget):
    1. Straight Cut Pants (different dark colours); and
    2. crisp shirts (short sleeves, pastles/neutral colours).

    1. Boot Cut jeans to hide skinny legs (black and blue);
    2. Tshirts in various colours (slim cut)
    3. A black Cardigan (for air-conditioned places, live near the equator)
    4. a pair of linen pants for really hot days;
    5. a couple of scarfs;

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  • July 24, 2013

    Fashion Bad Gal

    My staples are:
    – leggings
    – skinny jeans
    -1 black blazer (Theory)
    -1 white blazer
    -a million tanks
    -a couple of pencil / mini skirts
    & a million maxi dresses…

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