15 Essentials You Need To Become Fashion Forward

Fashion is on its way towards throwing out gatekeeping — well, let’s say it’s a bit more open now than ever. And while you dive into social media for inspiration, you may get stuck figuring out the staples. Putting together looks are great, but having those fundamental essentials can expand those looks past one good photo for Instagram. 

We all have that one piece that looked cute when we tried it on in the store or as soon as it arrived online, but we need something to spice it up. That’s when the basics are helpful, especially to those unfamiliar with styling. Need a jacket? Throw on a blazer. Want a more upscale look? Buy a pair of printed jeans. Not a fan of heels? Ditch them for mules. The best part about fashion is there’s always an article somewhere that’s the perfect swap. 

Need help building your essential arsenal? We’ve got your checklist. Scroll ahead to learn about the top 15 essentials you need to become a fashion girl. 


Instead of grabbing a sweater for those dressy days, aim for a blazer. Available in a wide range of colors and lengths, It’ll easily give your outfit a sophisticated boost. Try the faux leather cut out by Forever 21 or a simplistic snazzy pattern like H&M’s classic plaid for a more fashion-forward look.  

White Tee

A plain white tee goes with everything and is probably the most essential item in your closet. From loose fit to snug, this monochrome shirt can be worn with jeans or skirts or as a base for the layered effect. The trendy cotton jersey fit by Skims or the artist shirt from Levi’s will give the comfort and sleek look you’re going for. 

Black Dress

The famous Little Black Dress has historically been a staple in womenswear, or at the very least, a sultry saying. These dresses can be worn for date night, as a symbol for “moved on,” or for those nights when you have nothing to wear. For a cozy yet straightforward option, try Reformation’s Alden Dress or IAMGia’s Hilton Dress, that’s stretchy yet sexy. 

Leather Jacket

One of the easiest ways to pull off an edgier look is to throw on a leather jacket. They’re great for those days when a cardigan or denim jacket might clash with your outfit. Beyond traditional biker wear, leather jackets have evolved to various cuts and designs, such as a color block version from ASOS and an olive fur sleeve by Camila Coelho. Still, this oversized crop version by Lord & Taylor is an excellent choice if you want to stay to basics or splurge for the Nanushka version.

Straight Leg Jeans

Its official skinny jeans are dead and straight legs are in. These trendy pants are the perfect mix of fitted yet relaxed making them the ideal cut. On those days when you want to be casual for a night out or run errands during the day, H&M’s regular jeans not only complete the look but are a personal favorite. 

Printed Jeans

When it comes to fashion, it’s important to be expressive and fun, and what better way t flaunt the two than with printed jeans? While it may be challenging to style, printed bottoms can enhance a look from simple to striking, like River Islands Black Graffiti jeans or this vintage print from Guess that’s a bit toned down. 

Knit Dress

You need a knit dress in your arsenal for your inner cozy girl, especially for the fall and winter seasons. Flexible and comfortable, a knit dress can dress up or down with a switch of shoes, especially if it’s maxi length. The ribbed sweater dress by Future Collective or Iggy Mini knit by Hanifa should be your top choice. 


Loafers have officially broken out of its fall trope and into an essential for the year. The timeless shoe can turn any outfit into a preppy look, especially when paired with tights and anything plaid. For a traditional design, the Makira by Steve Madden features a chain detail, but for a nontraditional look, try Coach’s logo mania version. 

Chain Belt

Chain belts had their prime in the early 2000s and have made a glorious return. Whether on your waist or through the belt loop, chain belts add a vintage yet vixen vibe to any look. If you’re not afraid to spend some cash, Anthropologie’s two-toned belt is worth the price, or Amazon has a cheaper dupe for a quick buy. 


One of my favorite types of heels is mules. They’re easy to style and walk around all day, and they’re a rebrand of the kitten heel. The Margot Sandal by Coach is for the Y2K girl, while Zara’s clean leather heel is for every day.

Vintage Bag

Are you a fashion girl if your bag isn’t vintage? Investing is a good idea, with pre-loved pieces becoming an essential staple in any closet. Shop in your mom’s closet first to see what goodies she still has in stock, or head to Rebag and Vestiaire Collective for great rare finds from Dior to Chanel.  


Every fashion girl needs boots, especially heeled boots. They’re the BFF to jeans, skirts, and dresses, no matter the season. The Mikki Up boots by Schutz are a match made for fall, or for the trendy grunge look, Steve Madden’s Limit stompers will do the trick. 

Mini Skirt

The mini skirt has risen on the trendy board and in length, and we may have Miu Miu to thank for that. From mini to micro, these skirts can give several vibes, from Y2K to preppy and modern. The Retro mini skirt by Poster Girl combines the pleat cut with denim, or Revice’s Cassie micro is a must for a shorter hem. 

Men’s Button Down

Instead of opting for a jacket or sweater, a men’s button-down can give you the boyfriend look. For the TikTok errand outfit, pair the shirt with a tank, shorts, or jeans, and you’re ready for the day. Try Aeropostale’s oxford shirt or Amazon Essentials for a cheaper option. 

Cargo Cut

Cargos have been raving this year, from maxi skirts to pants and jeans. For the pocket lover in you, cargos are an easy way to emulate the streetwear look while being fashion-forward. Diesel has a classic silver design in a skirt, but Urban Outfitters offers a low-rise edition in an array of colors for a pants version. 

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