Women’s Classic Clothing Styles

Women's Classic Clothing Styles



Women’s classic clothing styles are those that look good on just about everyone and have been popular for years.

Like chicken that can be fried for a casual picnic or simmered with vegetables into Coq Au Vin for a formal affair, classic clothing can be dressed up or dressed down for any occasion. So invest in these wardrobe staples and wear them in a variety of ways for years to come.

Women's Classic Clothing Styles

Fashion For Real Women may be compensated and/or receive an affiliate commission if you buy through our links.

Women’s classic clothing styles include:

Business Attire

These styles are perfect for work today and will be for years to come.

Crisp white shirtA Crisp White Shirt

A crisp, white, button-down shirt can be worn under suit jackets, with a skirt or pants, under a vest, over a tank top, or whatever you want. Dress it up with a silk scarf or a strand of pearls for work, or tuck it into jeans for a more laid-back look.


Single Breasted JacketA Dark, Single-Breasted Jacket

Want to command respect and immediately set a more formal tone? Put on a dark, single-breasted jacket. It’s appropriate for meetings, speaking, funerals, church – you name it – and will immediately upgrade any outfit you wear, including jeans. If you can only afford one jacket, make sure it’s this simple, classic style.


Straight Leg PantsStraight Leg Dark Pants

Dark, straight-legged pants in a simple style have a variety of uses.  You can wear them to work with a blouse and jacket, pair them with a sparkly top for evening events, or throw on a sweater for casual weekend errands.  Dress them up or down with various tops and accessories.


Knee Length SkirtA Knee Length Skirt

When choosing a skirt, opt for a simple style that suits your body shape (A-line, pencil, wrap, etc.), is knee-length, and in a dark or neutral color.  This offers you the maximum options, as you can wear it for work, evening, or casual events, depending on what you pair with it.


Women’s Classic Clothing:  Casual Attire

There are classic casual wardrobe pieces that you should invest in as well, including:

Form-fitting tee shirtA Form-Fitting T-Shirt

A form-fitting t-shirt in a simple style can take you to all sorts of places.  Wear it under a jacket for meetings, to a picnic with jeans, or let it help keep you warm when layered under a shirt or sweater. Forget the logos, cute sayings, or goofy details – just stick with plain and fitted for maximum versatility.


Classic clothing: turtleneckA Turtleneck

Turtlenecks look great on everybody except women with very large busts (they look better in v or u neck sweaters).  That said, get them in long, short, or sleeveless styles, and wear them often with other pieces listed here for a clean, classic look.


Straight leg JeansStraight Leg Jeans

A simple style, straight-leg dark denim pair of jeans can see you through LOTS of casual activities. Wear them with a silk top and heels for date night, for example, or with a t-shirt and tennis shoes for casual outings.


Classic clothing: khaki pantsKhaki Pants or Skirt

Want another classic alternative to jeans?  Try khaki pants or a khaki skirt.  Whether olive green, beige, or taupe, this classic staple looks great year-round with the other classics on this list.  


Walking shorts

Walking Shorts

A dark, white, or neutral-colored, flat front, straight-leg walking short is a summer staple. It should fit you properly without gaping, pinching, or riding up, and the hem should hit just a few inches above the knee. Wear them with tennis shoes for a very casual look, or upgrade a bit with strappy sandals or cute flats.


Day and Evening Wear

Because life isn’t just split between work and downtime, there are a few other classic pieces you should have for various occasions, including:

Day dressA Day Dress

A day dress in a simple style can take you just about anywhere, from church and teas to funerals and bridal showers. You can dress it up with heels and jewelry for an elegant restaurant, or dress it down with flats and trendy jewelry for a casual brunch.


Cocktail DressA Cocktail Dress

Even if you don’t go out that often, you should have a classic cocktail dress in your closet “just in case.”  It can be a traditional LBD (little black dress), or any color, so long as it’s in evening style and fabric. Wear it for cocktail parties, semi-formal dinners, drinks with friends, or the theater.

Women’s Classic Clothing:  Outerwear

While where you live dictates what type of outerwear you need, these classic pieces can see you through a variety of weather situations for years to come:

Cardigan SweaterA Cardigan

Whether you need an extra layer on a cold winter’s day or a way to fend off the morning chill the rest of the year, snuggle into a classic cardigan.


Classic Trench CoatA Trench Coat

A classic belted trench with a zip-out liner can take you anywhere in the world three seasons a year. It repels rain, sleet, and snow in style, and folds up compactly when not in use. Originally designed as an all-weather coat by Thomas Burberry for use by British soldiers “in the trenches” during World War I, the trench does exactly as intended – keeps you warm in all sorts of weather.


PeacoatA Pea Coat

Another coat with military origins, the classic pea coat can be worn with both work clothes and casual clothes for a tidy, cool-weather look.  Choose a dark color that works well with most of your wardrobe, like black, navy, or gray.


Wool OvercoatAn Overcoat

If winter means low temperatures and lots of snow where you live, invest in a long knee-length or calf-length wool overcoat.  Why?  Because the extra material will help keep you warm on cold days, and the coat can be worn with work, casual, or evening attire, offering maximum versatility.


Evening WrapAn Evening Wrap

When the sun goes down, temperatures drop.  So use a stylish evening wrap to ward off the chill instead of your husband’s dinner jacket.  Opt for lightweight silk or chiffon wraps in warm weather, and wool or faux fur wraps in cold weather.



Why You Need Women’s Classic Clothing Styles

Now I have to admit that if I’d seen this list at the height of my “fashionista” days back in my 20s, I would have shouted, “boring!” and immediately dismissed it as not being trendy enough.  But take a closer look at these clothes. They look great all by themselves, but they also offer an elegant background to more interesting pieces.

Have a stunning top you want everyone to see? Pair it with your black pants or a dark skirt. Have a gorgeous new necklace? Put it with your classic day dress and show it off properly.

It’s like the difference between walking into a white room with a light blue carpet and being asked to set it for an elegant dinner party on a $500 budget, and walking into a lime green room with orange carpet and being asked to do the same thing. The first one allows you to focus on the table; the other forces you to cover up the backdrop before taxing your imagination (and what’s left of your budget) on the table. See the difference?

Yes, trends are fun and certainly have their place, but classic clothing pieces are VERSATILE and allow you to do more with less. Dress them up, dress them down, wear them out – and they’ll still look good.

That’s the power of classic pieces, and that’s why you should have plenty of them in your wardrobe.

Need other great fashion tips?

This resource can help.


Diana PembertonDiana Pemberton is a blogger, stylist, and author of Wardrobe Magic.  Ready to create a wardrobe that will take you anywhere you want to go?  Wardrobe Magic can help.


  • Debbie

    Reply Reply July 23, 2009

    I agree, you need to have the basics covered and then add “of the moment” touches as they may apply to your life style. I did notice that you suggested putting the jeans with heels on one occasion and tennis shoes on another. I think the difference in length would make this hard to do. I know if I want to wear the same pants with both flats and heels, I have to buy two identical pairs and have them hemmed accordingly.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 28, 2009

      Hi Debbie,

      You’re right — I should have qualified that comment. I do have two lengths of jeans, one for heels, one for flats, but I can also flip up the (very) wide hem of the longer pair to create a cuff and wear them with flats. Thanks for the note!


  • Kristine

    Reply Reply July 23, 2009

    Thank you, I really enjoy your tips. I’ve searched for over a year for the perfect white shirt, but still haven’t found it. The shirt you show is very close, but sold out! You could probably write an entire article on what makes the perfect white shirt (realizing that this will be slightly different for different women) and where to find it!

    • Anonymous

      Reply Reply November 22, 2009

      I had the same problem – finding the perfect white shirt. However, I recently attend a “CABI” home show and found what I’ve been looking for. The front and sleeves are crisp but the sides and back are knit. It fits wonderfully and can be worn alone or under a jacket with no bulkiness. The price was approx. $85.


  • Cheryl

    Reply Reply July 23, 2009

    Great list! I agree except for one thing- I just can’t stand the look of walking shorts on me. I own them, but never end up wearing them- I tend to have a ‘formal’ looking build, and they just look too sporty. I’ve substituted a pair of black cotton flood pants, which look casual but not suggestive of sport, and can be worn with sandals or tennis shoes. Any other alternatives?

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 28, 2009

      Hi Cheryl,

      This is just a general list. If you don’t like the way shorts look on you, then by all means, opt for Capris. I know a lot of women who prefer longer lengths because they don’t like how they look in shorts. Do what makes the most sense for you.


  • bolatito

    Reply Reply July 25, 2009

    hi diana, i just want to say a huge thank you for changing my fashion sense.u are the best!i must confess that your note on the 10 classic pieces is an eye opener for me.don’t have an idea of what a cocktail gown should look like because i have never attended one.i know what to get now and will definitely do before my next invitation..thanx a bunch!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 28, 2009

      Hi Bolatito,

      Obviously, you need to get the pieces that suit your lifestyle best, but a classic cocktail dress will take you to so many after-five functions in style that if you do typically attend evening events, you should have at least one in your closet. If you don’t, then don’t worry about it. Spend your money on the clothes you wear the most.


  • Julia

    Reply Reply March 14, 2010

    I should love a pair of shorts or capri’s that I look good in – I am a pear shape with heavy legs, dreadful knees 5’9″ but possibly a bit overwieght (not excessively so). I find anything above the knees makes my legs look dreadful and capri’s make my legs look short. All the mums on the playground wear them and look fab I’d love to joing them – any suggestions please? Why don’t they suit me?

    On an alternative note – I’ve finally acquired a crisp white shirt – bought 2nd from ebay after quite a search – fitted with a formal cuffed sleeve – its nice too 🙂

  • FG

    Reply Reply August 28, 2010

    Great tips! I got some shopping to do. Thanks.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field

Security Code: