You may think it’s impossible — and pricey — to whip together a complete wardrobe full of timeless fashion pieces, but it’s easier than you might think. A few classic designer pieces are all you need to mix and match looks that can become staples in your closet.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, investing in high-quality, timeless designer pieces that will last you for years — decades even — can be worthwhile and save you hundreds or even thousands in the long run.
Rather than replacing that delicate black dress from H&M once a year, what if you invested in a designer piece from Nordstrom? The good news is, you don’t have to invest in all of these staples at once. Build up your collection of timeless fashion pieces over time, and you might never again think, “I have nothing to wear!”
15 Must-have timeless fashion pieces
So are you ready to upscale your wardrobe and get more cost per wear? Here are the 15 must-have classic designer pieces to get you started!
1. Classic trench coat
The Burberry trench coat may be the most well-known of all timeless fashion pieces, but you don’t have to spring for a thousand-dollar jacket to enjoy this trend. A classic, well-tailored trench in classic tan or a moodier black is all you need to look chic and effortlessly pulled together.
2. Little black dress (The quintessential timeless fashion piece!)
This one may seem obvious, but the LBD is iconic for a reason. Perfect for date nights, evenings out, and formal events, a great little black dress should make you feel like a million bucks — but shouldn’t cost you as much!
Most stylists recommend shopping for a dress that hits you at your knees or slightly above to make it work for just about any occasion.
3. A white dress shirt
Crisp, cool, and easy to dress up or down, a white dress shirt is ideal in many situations. it's also the basis for a simple wardrobe. It’s perfect for work, important meetings, but also pairs well with blue jeans or a fun skirt. Buttoned up or slightly undone, this shirt looks great on all body shapes.
Though you don’t have to break the bank to invest in a great white button-down shirt, you do want to search for one that fits well and is durable.
4. A blazer
I love a good blazer to instantly complete an outfit that’s feeling a little lackluster. Blazers pair well with casual and professional outfits and even look great over dresses. I recommend opting for a neutral color — black, navy blue, or tan — to ensure it will go with most pieces in your closet.
5. Black pumps
This is an item you don’t want to skimp on — but you don’t have to blow your budget either. But there’s nothing worse than uncomfortable black pumps. I recommend finding a brand or style you want and carving out a bit in your budget to work towards a savings goal for these.
6. Brown loafers
Nothing says casual cool like a pair of brown loafers. These timeless fashion pieces slip-on, combining sophistication and comfort, and they look great with a good pair of jeans.
I also recommend investing in a good leather pair that will withstand wear and tear. Opting for a more affordable option is a great short-term solution.
7. A great pair of jeans (A forever timeless fashion piece)
Is there anything better than slipping into your favorite pair of jeans and knowing you look good? A classic pair of denim jeans should be well-fitted, in the style of your choosing, and easily go from day to night. Higher price points might be worthwhile, but you can find great denim at stores like Madewell for a little less cash.
8. Denim jacket
I'm not recommending a Canadian tuxedo here, but a denim jacket is a great staple. It works well over a dress and pairs nicely with a pair of black or gray jeans.
You can also opt for jackets with small embellishments to make your denim your own. This is one of the most affordable timeless fashion pieces that looks great no matter your age or personal style.
9. Casual Breton top
This classy, slightly nautical-themed top can compliment just about any wardrobe. This piece never seems to go out of style, and you can find versions in just about every price point for every body type. It can instantly add a touch of class to the most casual of outfits but isn't too dressy.
10. Wrap dress
First made famous by Diane von Furstenberg, the wrap dress is both flattering and comfortable. This style dress can be elevated with jewelry and a great pair of heels or taken down with flats or sandals.
This dress comes in a variety of styles and patterns and looks great on just about everyone. You can also find short or long versions, so you'll feel comfortable while looking on-trend.
11. Statement scarf
A great scarf can instantly improve any outfit. You can drape it loosely around your neck, tie it for a more retro feel, or even use it as a hair accessory. If you haven’t tried a statement scarf yet, you can find this piece without spending much money.
It's one of the simplest timeless fashion pieces to swap out too -- you never know, it may become your new favorite accessory.
12. Black dress pants
Even if you don’t have the occasion to wear them often, a nice pair of black dress pants will complete any wardrobe. It’s a great option for times when you don’t feel like wearing a dress or want to look more professional with minimum effort.
Plus, you never know when you might have to spruce up with no time to prepare -- just slip these on to look completely polished in seconds.
13. Simple v-neck tee shirts
Plain cotton, silk, or linen v-neck shirts are great pieces to mix and match throughout your wardrobe. I recommend buying a few different colors and using them with jeans, under a blazer, or nestled under your statement scarf.
You can buy more fitted v-necks or drape them loosely with a quick French tuck. Check out our list of minimal clothing brands that make the best tees.
14. Black (faux) leather jacket
Channel your inner bad girl with a leather or faux leather jacket. This item comes in a variety of styles, and you’re bound to find one that fits your wardrobe.
You can dress this up or wear it with a beat-up pair of jeans for an instant style cleanup. Not into black? Opt for a classic dark brown or go bold with a white or red option instead.
15. A classic handbag
So if you do opt for a higher price point, I recommend using it sparingly; otherwise, it might start seeing wear and tear sooner. Plus, taking it out for special occasions can make this item feel more precious.
How to save for timeless fashion pieces
Create savings goals for your timeless fashion pieces
First, decide on the item you want to save for and set a goal. For instance, let's say your goal is to save $1,000 on your classic designer pieces. Next, set a date that you want to save by and put a bit of money aside each paycheck until you reach your goal. You could pick a certain amount, such as $50 a week or a certain percentage of your pay.
Shop the sales
Note the regular price of the item you want and keep your eyes peeled for sales. You can also use price check apps like Honey to find the piece for the lowest price.
Also, check to see when your favorite store's seasonal or semi-annual sales are going on to save big bucks on timeless designer pieces.
Try a money-saving challenge
Save for your piece by participating in a money savings event, like the 52-week challenge. This challenge helps you save $1,378 in just a year. There are many other money-savings challenges to pick from too. Choose one that you find fun, so you will stick with it and save more money.
Find ways to earn extra income to pay for your timeless fashion pieces
A simple way to save for classic designer pieces is to increase your income. Look for a part-time job, gig work, or freelancing opportunities to save for extra wardrobe items. Starting a lucrative side-hustle can bring in more money faster.
Cut back your spending
Another way to save for your classic designer pieces is to cut your spending in other areas. Trim down some of your expenses by switching cell phone providers, not eating out as often, and getting rid of unneeded subscriptions.
Find ways to cut your budget so you can save more money for things you actually want. You'd be surprised at how much you can save with a few simple tweaks to your spending.
Add these timeless fashion pieces to your wardrobe
So creating an effortless, chic wardrobe isn’t something that has to happen overnight. Instead, invest in individual pieces and work towards the wardrobe of your dreams. Remember, it's important to save for your items and not rack up debt upgrading your personal style.
Learn how to create a budget with fashion money included with our completely free budgeting course! Also, follow Clever Girl Finance on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram for top tips on all things money!