Kwanchai_Khammuean/iStockphoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Story highlights

You don't need to buy a lot of pieces to change up your wardrobe

These five wardrobe essentials can spice up your closet fast

(CNN) —  

In an ideal world, we’d be able to stock our closets with every trending piece we want without having to worry about a) how much it costs or b) if we actually have enough closet space. A person can dream, right?

But for the realists out there, spicing up your seasonal wardrobe is a tough business. You’ll have to consider whether you’ll get great use out of the clothing you’re purchasing, how affordable it is, and how it can complement the clothes already in your closet.

The name of the game, when shopping for clothing staples, is quality over quantity. In essence, you really only need five core pieces in your closet to spice up any of your outfits. These pieces can look casual or classy, and can turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into something more polished and fashion-forward.

To prove our point, we’ve rounded up five essential clothing items you should have in your wardrobe right now, along with companion pieces that can dress them up or down. When choosing our items, we kept in mind the versatility of the piece, as well as its lifespan. These five staples can work far beyond spring, so no matter what you wear with them, you’ll be able to wear them season after season.

Note: The prices below reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.


Blazers are so much more than just a workwear essential. Pair them with slacks or jeans, a fun minimalist sneaker and the right accessories, and they’ll be your new casual-wear favorite. Of course, they’ll also be there for you when duty calls at your office for interviews, board meetings and presentations.


1. Topman Skinny Fit Suit Jacket ($195;

2. H&M Easy Iron Shirt ($14.99;

3. AE Core Flex Slim Selvedge Jean ($79.95;

4. AE Extreme Flex Slim Straight Khaki Pant ($49.95;

5. Timex Weekender Watch ($30.55;

6. Cole Haan Howland Penny Loafer ($89.90;


1.J. Crew Women’s Parke Blazer ($115.99;

2. Topshop Spot Print Dress ($52;

3. Madewell Whisper Cotton V-Neck Pocket Tee ($19.50;

4. AE NE(X)T Level High-Waisted Jegging Crop (49.95;

5. CC Corso Como Beeata ($98.95;

6. Kenneth Jay Lane Gold-Tone Earrings ($24;

Statement shoes

Shoes can be one of the more powerful parts of an outfit. If you have the right statement shoe, an otherwise normal outfit like a T-shirt and jeans can be completely elevated. Currently, we’re fans of more minimalist designs with playful prints and embroidery for a subtle pop of color.


1. Soludos Waves Smoking Slippers ($65;

2. Express Extra Slim Floral Dress Shirt ($29.90;

3. Dickies Young Men’s Classic Fit Flat Front Shorts ($15.99;

4. Komono Winston Watch ($44.81;

5. Herschel Hank RFID Wallet ($35;


1. Comme des Garcons PLAY x Converse Chuck Taylor Hidden Heart Low Top Sneaker ($135;

2. Everlane The Linen Relaxed Long-Sleeve Tee ($38;

3. H&M Culottes ($17;

4. Urban Outfitters Corduroy Fisherman’s Hat ($29;

5. Aldo Chatfield Bag ($65;

Essential work bag

You have to carry your laptop, phone, headphones and notebooks with you to work anyway, so you might as well stow it all in a sleek work bag that can make your overall look more polished, both in and out of the office. When shopping, you’ll want to ensure the bag is big enough for your everyday essentials and can pair with a number of your outfits. You’ll be sporting it Monday through Friday, after all.


1. Kenneth Cole Reaction Show Business Computer Case ($104.99;

2. Nautica Men’s Long Sleeve Sweater (starting at $27.99;

3. Club Monaco Connor Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Twill Chinos ($100;

4.Warby Parker Baker Glasses ($95;

5. Sperry Gamefish Slip-On ($109.95;


1. Everlane Day Market Tote ($165;

2. Topshop Geometric High Neck Blouse ($55;

3. AE High Waisted Festival Skirt ($44.95;

4. Skagen Freja Crystal Accent Mesh Strap Watch ($75.72;

5. Women’s Lois Open Toe Slide Sandals ($24.99;

Bold T-shirt

A bold T-shirt is one of the more versatile pieces you can own – not to mention one of the most comfortable. It can be dressed up, by pairing it with an A-line skirt and colorful mules, or down with a bomber jacket, baseball hat and comfy denim. Sky’s the limit.


1. Stussy Striped Cotton Jersey T-Shirt ($50;

2. Topman Black Bomber Jacket ($55;

3. H&M Straight Jeans ($39.99;

4. Goorin Brothers For the Win Baseball Cap ($40;

5. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High Top ($70;


1. Topshop 3D Cluster Embellished Shirt ($85;

2. Face N Face Women’s High-Waisted A-Line Street Skirt ($19.99;

3. Botkier Women’s Paley Suede Kitten Mule Heels ($128;

4. Massimo Catelli Clutch ($74.99;

5. Catbird Big Hoop Dream Earrings ($48;

Dark Denim

Last, but certainly not least, is a pair of black jeans. This will probably be your most-used staple of the five we’ve laid out. Since black denim is highly versatile, we’re willing to bet these will be your new go-to for casual Fridays, nights out and dinner dates.


1. Uniqlo Stretch Skinny Fit Color Jeans ($39.90;

2. AE Button Down Shirt ($34.95;

3. Kenneth Cole Toor Low-Top Sneakers ($89.95;

4. Hissimo Mens Slim Front Pocket Wallet ($9.99;

5. Fossil The Commuter Leather Strap Watch ($71.25;


1. Vintage High Ankle Jeans ($29.99;

2. Romwe Women’s Grid Shirt Knot Front Blouse ($16.99;

3. Kenneth Cole Joey 5.2 Sneaker ($99;

4. Kate Spade Do the Twist Hinged Bangle ($58;

5. Simply Midnight Black Backpack ($69.99;