Back to School: the fashion basics everyone needs in their wardrobe

Whether you're a vintage lover, a magpie for a brand name or a minimalist, there are certain fashion basics that everyone should have in their wardrobe.


There is something so lovely about September, it feels like a fresh start, January take-two. Heralding the beginning of a new school year no matter what age you are, there is a desire for newness. That feeling of a fresh and shiny pair of school shoes, the thickness of a new jumper, the crisp whiteness of a shirt.

Despite being in my late 20's, and most definitely not sporting a school uniform anymore. Something about this time of year makes me gravitate towards these styles. It is a subliminal thing? Or have I just not shaken off the idea of a uniform?

As the seasons also change, it's a chance to re-assess the pieces you have in your wardrobe. You'll be putting your summer pieces away for next year and bringing out all your knits and coats. Once you've done this, step back and look at any gaps you may have; are their some essential pieces you're missing?

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For me, there are a few pieces I couldn't live without and they are very reminiscent of a school uniform. A blazer (although everyone in my school avoided these at all costs), a good quality jumper, black/navy trousers, a pair of brogues, and of course a white shirt.

Ideally, it is great to own these in their plainest forms as you will get the most wear out of them. But for some, you may be a more eclectic dresser, so a bright pink blazer could be argued as a neutral.

Despite this, black, navy, beige and even deep greens make a great base to build any outfit around. If you own these pieces, almost any other colour or print popular this season will work perfectly with them.

The options for what to style with them are endless. Go full work-wear with a shirt and jumper combo. Or pair with your sneakers and an over-sized white shirt or stripy breton tee loosely tucked in. Trust us, you will have these in your wardrobe forever.

Blazers

Although we may have shirked blazers back in our school days, now it seems we can't get enough of them. We would highly recommend having one in black, beige or navy as a classic staple you can wear with anything.

Chuck it on over a white t-shirt and jeans to elevate an outfit, worn with a white shirt and you're ready for an interview, but our personal favourite? Throw on over a mini-dress for a night out for a look that's instantly sexy and cool.

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With a blazer it is best to invest a little more and go for a mid-range high-street or above. You can also find amazing blazers in vintage or charity shops, don't gorget to check the men's section too!

What do you want to look out for? Real pockets (fake pockets should be banned and are usually a feature of something cheaper), it will look twice the price if it's lined and ideally choose a material that every piece of dirt and fluff won't stick to.

Personally, I like a more over-sized fit as it looks more modern and is a bit younger than something really tailored. You'll also find you get more wear out of it this way as it is a little more casual.

fashion basics

Wool Blend Oversized Blazer; €179 at stories.com

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Pinstripe Double-Breasted Blazer; €89.95 at zara.com 

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Slim-Fit Wool Flannel Blazer; €169 at massimodutti.com

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Black Double-Breasted Blazer; €199 at uterque.com

Trousers

Personally, I love the look of tailored trousers with unexpected combinations. Yes, all of the below can be worn with loafers or brogues for a classic look or alternatively they look great paired with white trainers. This sportiness mixed with something so classic is a fresh way of styling them, and stops the look becoming too stuffy.

With trousers, it can be worth investing in a good pair, we're not suggesting you spend hundreds but find a pair made from decent quality fabric that you don't have to dry-clean. We'd also recommend if you find a pair you really love the fit of (a rare thing) to see if they have them in other colour-ways. Thank us later.

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It's worth noting that trousers on the high-street are designed to suit the masses, which is why they can be the hardest thing to shop for. Depending on your body shape it can be a nightmare to find the right fit; they may sit perfectly on the bum/waist but be miles too long on the leg. Or they're perfect on the bum and hanging off your waist.

Don't give up. Try on loads and when all else fails you may have to get a pair altered, it's rarely that expensive and is an investment worth making.

fashion basics

Wool Blend Tailored Trousers; €185 at reiss.com

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Plain Slim Fit Trousers; €59.95 at massimodutti.com

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Straight Wool-Mix Trousers; €89 at cosstores.com

Belted Casual Crop Trouser; €95.20 at whistles.com

The White Shirt

I would argue that no-one does a white shirt as well as the Swedish brands. COS, & Other Stories, Arket are all part of the same group and produce the most amazing white shirts every season. You can go for something simple and classic like the COS shirt below, this will work layered underneath almost any jumper or dress and they have been making it since the brand's inception ten years ago.

Alternatively, you may want something with a little more personality like the options from & Other Stories and Arket. If these more oversized options aren't your thing Zara and M&S also stock a great range of both basic and more interesting shirts.

My main advice when buying white shirts? This is not an item to splurge on. Try and choose silk, linen, or the easiest to maintain, cotton. No matter how much you spend a white shirt will not stay white for ever. You will inevitably spill red wine on it (or in my case it's frequently pasta) or it will lose it's brightness in the wash.

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Anything ranging from €40-80 should get you a great quality shirt that won't last forever but won't break the bank either. Also when it's does eventually lose it's magic? Stick it in the machine with some Dylon and you'll have a brand new shirt in a new colour of your choice.

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Oversized Organic Cotton Shirt; €69 at stories.com

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Slim-Fit Cotton Shirt; €49 at cosstores.com

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Cotton Oxford Shirt; €25.99 at mango.com

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Oversized Poplin Shirt; €69 at arket.com

Brogues

No we're not suggesting you purchase school shoes. But brogues or loafers are a great thing to have in your wardrobe. I own far too many pairs and wear them on rotation with tights in the winter months, favouring anything with a platform.

We would suggest purchasing leather as you will have them forever, all that you'll ever need to do is give them an occasional polish and perhaps re-sole them every couple of years. If you really feel like splurging on a forever-pair, Churches make the most amazing leather brogues, pricey but worth it.

They're also not just for the winter months. As much as I love to wear them with a skirt and tights, they also look effortlessly cool with bare legs and a dress. Our style crush, Lizzie Hadfield, aka Shot from the Street spent all summer in her pair from Churches and made us re-think keeping them just for AW.

fashion basics

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Croc Embossed Leather Oxfords; €129 at stories.com

fashion basicsShannon 2; €590 at church-footwear.com

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Leather Flat Shoes With Pointed Metal Toe; €59.95 at zara.com 

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Wrap-Over Leather Brogues; €135 at cosstores.com

A Classic Jumper

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A classic jumper is a piece that will never go out of fashion. Tuck into jeans, skirts, work trousers and layer up over plain shirts or printed blouses. There is very little they don't go with.

If you're on the hunt for one, try to choose natural fibres as it will last longer and look more expensive if you care for it properly. Wool, cashmere, mohair and alpaca all over different textures that can make and all-black outfit look decidedly more interesting.

Just make sure you always check the washing instructions before you throw into the machine, as they can be notorious for shrinking.

fashion basics

Alpaca Blend Relaxed Sweater; €79 at stories.com

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Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater; €180.00 at whistles.com

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fashion basics

Mohair-blend jumper; €49.99 at hm.com

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Cashmere Crew-Neck Jumper; €135 at arket.com


Read more: & Other Stories latest collection is all our AW dreams come true

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