The 10 closet essentials (under $20) to help you spring forward

Hello all,

Daylight savings is around the corner, and as not-really compensation for losing a whole hour at the end of the week, we've started a new feature on the site called "The Lunch Break." Every couple of weeks, we'll talk about some of our favorite things and maybe dish out a little advice.

Today we're going through our ten closet essentials to help you out for the next few months. Why the essentials? Because you can wear them in a lot of different situations, you can mix-and-match them with other essentials, and you don't have to worry about not being able to wear them come the next big trend. Versatility, affordability, and beauty? Sounds like a true recessionista-wardrobe to me.

1. A big belt: Ok, it doesn't have to be a huge belt with a lot of clasps and textures. But a great, neutral colored belt that will sit around your waist without belt-loops can do wonders for your clothes. It'll jazz up your shirt dresses, your tunics, your ex-boyfriend's button downs that you kept to burn but then started to wear, your skirts with cardigans.

Try this Carrie waist belt from Delia's ($18.99)

2. A denim skirt: The denim skirt is one of those things that can easily become the most un-versatile thing ever. Too short and you can really only wear it out. Too long and you start to get a little frumpy. I recommend an almost knee-length skirt in a dark denim wash. Perfect for days at work with a fantastic boot and a collared shirt, but still gorgeous enough to head off to drinks after 5 pm.

This Mossimo black denim pencil skirt from Target ($19.99) might do the trick.

3. A classic, comfortable cardigan: Confession time - S and I both own the same cardigan in about four neutral colors and we wear them all the time. When we visit each other we have to make sure we don't walk out in the same color (people already think we're sisters as it is). But the cardigan is seriously one of my favorite articles of clothing - it's the right amount of fabric draped around you when the air conditioning is blasting in your office. They work with pants, with skirts, with jeans, with collared shirts, tank tops and tee shirts. It's a beautiful thing and if you find an affordable one that works for you, I highly suggest purchasing it in more than one color.

This cardigan from Mango ($12.99, marked down from $39) is beautiful and comes in a great selection of colors.

4. Flats: Our regular readers have figured out that we love a good pair of flats. Your feet will thank you for wearing a comfortable pair, especially if you're pounding pavement all day. They're a beautiful spring shoe and in a brown or black, can be both elegant and fun. Find a pair that has a little extra something to it, something that speaks to your personal style: patent, stitching, or buttons, for example.

These pleated knot flats are pretty cute! From Charlotte Russe ($18.99).

5. A tote: Don't just invest in one for the beach. Buy yourself a bag that looks professional, and is big enough for your files, even your laptop. It will be stylish and will go with everything and that means you don't have to frantically transfer your wallet, keys, etc. from one purse to another every morning. Use the extra time to prepare for that "ask-for-a-raise" speech you've been meaning to give.

Check out this City-Style chain-link tote from New York & Co. ($18.47)

6. A crisp white shirt: The truth is, I don't own a crisp white shirt. I own white shirts with little pin stripes and colorful collared shirts, but I don't own a plain white button-down. Blasphemy? Perhaps. I don't think a crisp white shirt needs to be completely plain and white. I think a subtle stitching or an elegant pale pinstripe can be just as stunning and equally as versatile.

The Associate LS Shirt from Forever 21 ($9.80) will work for most.

(This Charlotte Russe striped blouse ($14.99) might be for the potential risk takers out there)

7. A blazer: Oh, a beautiful blazer. You can wear it with jeans on your night out with the girls, and you can wear it to your job interviews. What other kind of outerwear can do that for you? A tailor-fit blazer can be dressed up or down, professionally or casually, with the right attitude and accessories.

How about this khaki blazer from Newport News? ($14.99 marked down from $74!)

8. A big scarf: The key to a scarf that will help you cruise through the next six months is choosing a non-wool blend that can be wrapped around you in several ways. Wrapped a couple of times around your neck, it will keep you warm through seasonally cool days. Draped once around you and it doubles as a light shawl for casual nights out. Feeling crazy? Try this. Take the scarf and wrap it around you like a halter (consider wearing a cute camisole underneath, especially if the scarf is super sheer). Bind around your chest, cross the ends around your front and tie behind your neck. No need to abandon your favorite accessory during the summer, right?

Here's a great unisex fine jersey scarf ($17) from American Apparel.

9. A day dress: You were waiting for this to say 'the LBD' but it doesn't because it's possible you already own a little black dress and it's also possible that you aren't living the kind of life where you use your LBD every other week. A day dress can get a lot of wear, especially if you look for a bright color that complements other basics (your cardigans, flats and scarfs, for example). A day dress can take you from the beach to drinks and all you have to do is add a sweater or jacket and maybe your everyday earrings. And, as S has pointed out before, the great advantage to having a dress is that it's a top and bottom rolled into one outfit. Two-for-one: brilliant.

This empire waist twist bra dress is like the LBD meets day dress. From Wet Seal ($14.90).

Looking for colors? Try the cross front jersey dress at Old Navy ($15)

10. Simple silver earrings: In other words, the earrings you wear for every occasion every single day. Maybe you don't have those weeks, the weeks where you just can't spend time picking out earrings that match your outfit. But if you're like me or S, you have this week a lot and for those seven days you stick the same silver earrings into your ears without thinking twice because you know it will work with whatever you're wearing. Doesn't matter where you're going. Doesn't matter what time it is.

Opt for simple studs, small hoops, or these oval hoops from Target ($13.99).

Share your favorite essentials with us!

And enjoy the rest of your lunch break,

N + S


  1. what a quality post! thanks for the tips.

  2. Great post. I really like the expanded format. Good work!

  3. great post but why do you have the dress from oldnavy marked at $5.50 but on the website it is $15.00

  4. this list is perfect! time for me to start looking for a denim skirt...

  5. Thanks for the heads up, anon! We've corrected the price in the post.

    N + S


Thanks for commenting on our blog! We really love hearing your thoughts on our products and hope you like what you see.