Rites Of Fashion: The Basics Edition

You can publish this article on your website as long as you provide a link back to this page.

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

No matter your style (unless it’s way fringe, in which case — you go, girl!), there are three things you’ll probably wear to the grave: solid jeans, a white T-shirt, and a snuggly cashmere sweater. And, if you’re like us, you put a lot of thought into each of those buys, because a quality piece that’ll last you through the decade means something, helps define you, and, in turn, helps you define where you were in life when you wore it. 

But, as you get older, your go-to brands change, even if your style stays consistent; let’s face it, no matter how fashionable you and your grandma are, you probably aren’t buying your jeans at the same place. So, we polled the stylish women in our lives from ages 20 to 60 and found the basics that they swear by. From TSE’s cashmere to A.P.C.’s denim, these are the investment buys to make, switch-out, and upgrade to each decade.


20s: For most of us, our twenties are the time we’re learning how to survive on our own, and oftentimes that means choosing between paying off student loans and being able to spruce up our winter wardrobe. But start grooming good buying habits now — even if the few products you buy are more expensive than what you were used to spending in your teens, with good research, these quality buys will last you well into your 30s. Look for basics in versatile cuts, accentuating shapes, and durable, long-lasting fabrics. 

Cashmere sweater — Uniqlo’s cashmere is super-affordable, as far as cashmere goes, and relatively long-lasting. These won’t start pilling right away, but we suggest taking extra good care of them to extend the lifespan.
Uniqlo Cashmere Crew Neck, $69.90, available at Uniqlo

T-shirt — T by Alexander Wang’s T-shirts have the perfect blend of sheerness and slouch, making them the ideal shirt to wear for any occasion.
T By Alexander Wang Classic Tee, $98, available at My Theresa

Jeans — rag & bone’s classically cut denim will weather through a decade’s worth of trends. Plus, coming in a ton of washes, designs, and patterns, you’ll be able to find a pair that perfectly expresses your personality.
rag & bone Midrise Jean, $198, available at Intermix.


Jeans — Skinny jeans are still going to be your choice of denim, but you’re not-so-interested in trendy washes anymore. A slightly faded blue pair from indie brand Mother is one of our favorites.
MOTHER The Looker Mid-Rise Jeans, $363, available at My Theresa

Cashmere Sweater — Pricy? Yes. But this thick-knit, impossibly soft sweater won’t ever let you down. Plus, you’ll be graying before this sweater starts pilling.
TSE Classic Cashmere Crewneck, $395, available at TSE


40s: By now, you know what you like. Thick, substantial fabrics. Fits that won’t make you look like a kid (or a geriatric). Staples you can wear out during the weekend or to the office. For your basics, you’re looking for jeans, shirts, and sweaters that have class — and since you’ll be wearing yours with sky-high pumps and boss-lady jewels, make sure your fundamentals have good bones to start with. 

Cashmere Sweater — The color options and feel are impeccable, and the fit is not-too-snugly and not-too-loose, just how you like it. 
Equipment Crew-Neck Sweater, $407, available at Matches

T-shirt — James Perse makes high-quality, opaque white shirts that you won’t have to worry about peeking out from underneath. Plus, the longer lengths make them perfect for tucking in. 
James Perse T-Shirt, $50, available at Net-a-Porter

Jeans — For elongating, slimming jeans, Acne really can’t be beat. Plus, its thick denim will provide you the support you’re looking for in a pair of pants. 
Acne Marine Flex Jean, $270, available at La Garconne.  


50s: You don’t have patience for things that don’t work, and that also extends to your basics. Durable, extra-cozy, and super-versatile, the pieces you’re looking for aren’t that different than what you’ve been wearing for most of your life, but they do treat you with a little extra TLC. Some extra stretch in your denim and volume in your sweater will make you look modern, not juvenile. 

T-shirt — The Row is like the Rolls Royce of shirts. Sure, you may need to wear a slip underneath, but the super-fine cotton will feel like a dream next to your skin. You deserve it! 
The Row Sabeene Top, $135.95, available at Browns

Jeans — A.P.C.’s raw denim may take a bit to break in, but, like you already know, everything worth enjoying takes a little work. 
A.P.C. Shorter New Cure Denim, $280, available at A.P.C.  

Cashmere Sweater — The so, so soft sensation of your favorite sweater material is just as dreamy, especially now that you opt for Vince’s looser-cut shape that effortlessly flows and pairs great with any item from your stand-out accessories collection. 
Vince Wool Sweater, $364.37, available at My Wardrobe.  


60s: For women who’ve got your style experience, even basics aren’t really basics. Unconventional cuts and fabrics that tell a story are what you’re looking for — and why not? Your clothing should have as much spunk as you do. 

T-shirt — Made with sustainable, super-soft materials, Organic by John Patrick’s beautiful shirts fit as neatly as a blouse.
Organic by John Patrick Tee, $78, available at La Garconne  

Cashmere Sweater — We will live and die by Jil Sander’s super lightweight cashmere. In a cropped cut, you’ll find yourself wanting to match these sweaters not only with your weekend jeans, but with fancier skirts for your holiday parties, as well! 
Jil Sander Cashmere, $1,050, available at Net-a-Porter

Jeans — Burberry’s straight-legged denim is not-too-tight, but aren’t even close to mom jeans. A darker wash is just up your alley — not only does it go with everything, but it’s got that touch of French sophistication you crave.
Burberry Dark Indigo Jeans, $195, available at Burberry.

Designed by Naomi Abel

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

Share with friends

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.