I have been in fashion for over 15 years, that is to say, I have been shopping professionally for 15 years. Even though this isn’t a tax deduction situation (can you imagine?), it’s undeniable that the two go hand in hand: my personal shopping list provides story ideas, and brands and the creators I buy act as de facto searches.
My budget grew as my career got older, and I also honed my skills on the used market. While I’m certainly not in the designer studios or in a textual relationship with personal shoppers in the tony retail enclaves of the city, I do have a few top-notch pieces in my closet. This does not mean being a lowly boaster, but rather references in a way. I bought the best and wore clothes whose second-hand price tags would still shock my mother and horrify my grandfather. But while I will argue that there are plenty of times when more expensive fabrics or hand stitches are absolutely, without a doubt, deliciously worth it, I also won’t deny that there are some very good basics and everyday staples out there that don’t rattle your bank account.
Like all of us, I shop on Amazon at least once a week for small and miscellaneous items that pop up on my mental list from brushing my teeth, doing the dishes, sitting down with my daughter, etc. But I also bought my fair share of clothes from her various house labels. After organizing my closet earlier this season, I’ve realized that a few pieces have proven themselves more than others – and these are the five I’m sharing below. All are things that I would recommend to a best friend and repurchase if somehow lacking.
1. This reversible jacket
Honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who lives in warmer climates and doesn’t have a full wardrobe of jackets and coats. The smallest temperature inflections as well as factors like wind or rain can cause me to look for a very specific outerwear item. The latest to join my arsenal is this reversible style from the Amazon Daily Ritual brand.
The weight alone tells you it’s not cheap (it slips off the back of my dining chair if it’s not placed properly; in a ball, you’d still have to put it in a stuff sack -all canvas). The boxy cut gives it a fashion feel, not fitness. Fuzzy, nubby sherpa fabric, like what’s on the reverse of this reversible style, is a delight this time of year, and most of the other options in my closet tend to be really sporty.
Worn with either side facing out – woolly fabric or quilted nylon – this new favorite goes with literally anything and everything I’ve worn it, from jeans and trainers to high heel boots and a skirt.
2. This white dress
There’s an over-representation of white dresses in my closet, and this 100% cotton piece was among the most rocked all spring and summer. It’s super simple, with a scoop neckline and a single ruffle at the bottom. The roomy shape is comfortable (I wore it before, during and after my recent pregnancy) and gives the laid-back vibe I prefer from my LWDs.
The absence of darts, seams or a banded waistband means it’s also perfect for layering. When there’s a lot going on with a garment, construction-wise, it’s a mad rush to try and slip a blouse underneath or a sweater over it (it almost always looks wrinkled, lumpy and bumpy). Conversely, the open nature of this find allowed me to wear it over my favorite silky long-sleeved tops and under knits – I’ll be making lots of these in the next couple of months.
As a finishing kick, it’s also lined, which surprisingly isn’t always the case with dresses from contemporary brands that can cost hundreds of dollars more.
3. This striped shirt
I have too manyway too) striped shirts, but it’s a practical addiction in my mind: there’s no wardrobe situation or need that can’t be solved. Along with the heavier options that traditional stripe brands tend to offer, a good lightweight style like this is always needed. It fills a different role since its softer, more supple construction fits better into jeans or high-waisted skirts.
This long-sleeved pick from Amazon Essentials nails it on the stripe waist (chunky but not too chunky), shade of blue (more fun than traditional navy, but not too aqua to read as cheap), and small details (the white collar shows you that someone has thought about the design – it’s a very useful choice). I normally buy small but size medium for just a little extra length in the sleeves and bodice.
4. These mid-weight sweatpants
Universally, we all emerged from the peak of the pandemic with a deeper knowledge of sweatpant fits and weights and an awareness of what we individually needed. I went high and low in this category and never really landed on my perfect option until this Daily Ritual pair came into play.
They are the absolute perfect weight for beginners. I’d even go so far as to say that I abhor sweatpants that are too thin (think the ones that cling to your kneecaps and seem to be fluffy the minute you put them on). These don’t turn out that way, nor do they fall into the beefy fleece category of yesteryear. I also like the pockets, a thicker waistband and banded ankles, which are all present here. They’re so good in fact, that I had to remind myself regularly that I don’t, in fact, need another pair of sweatpants.
5. This underwear that stays in place
If thongs were the underwear of choice a decade ago, both personally and in fashionable pop culture at large, there has been a sea change in women who seek out briefs. New cuts and fabrics have proven that the maligned style can be just as comfortable and undetectable under clothing, leading many women to go big. I slowly weeded my own lingerie drawer and decided to try this two-pack from Amazon Aware, the fashion, beauty and home essentials retailer’s brand conscious.
They’re made with certified organic cotton and made in a carbon-neutral way, two factors that gave me a feel-good factor when ordering. This classic bikini cut was exactly what I was hoping for, comfortable with jeans and dresses. The fabric is soft and has worn well and honestly feels just as nice as the more expensive pairs I’ve snuck next to them. All in all, it’s a 10/10 redemption situation.
Leah Melby Clinton is a serious writer, editor, and shopper who loves discovering new labels, detailing the best ways to build a wardrobe, and interviewing interesting people.