Build Your Basic Closet - Essential Tees and Tops


It has taken me almost two years of blogging and really working on my wardrobe to feel ready to launch a series like this. I was so hesitant to even start a style blog before ONE little MOMMA because I really didn't think I was an authority on fashion. I knew I could dress myself in a style that I liked, but the idea of teaching it to other people really scared me. It still does actually, but I am beginning to understand in a more conscious way why I wear what I do and what my sense of style really boils down to. I really do want to provide useful information to you and help you get dressed every day in outfits that you love, and I'm learning that starts with having the right basics in your closet. 

For the next few weeks I'm going to be sharing my closet staples. These are items that I would put on your must-have list if you want to replicate outfits that you see here and if you want to build an inter-mixable casual chic wardrobe. The idea is not to buy a specific item that I recommend, but a very similar one that does the same job. These recommended items are mostly year-round wardrobe items and today we are starting with BASIC TEES & TOPS. 

1. Striped Tee. A striped tee is a must have. I recommend a basic black and white thin striped 3/4 length sleeve or long sleeve tee above all others. I have many striped tees in varying sleeve lengths for different seasons - but a basic 3/4 length sleeve is preferable. Other striped tee colors to consider are gray/white, navy/white, and red/white.

2. Chambray Shirt. A chambray shirt is a new wardrobe staple. It pairs perfectly with dark denim, colored denim, black pants, printed pants and skirts. I love a lighter Western wash for Spring/Summer. You can decide on snaps or buttons - I own both. I also own and love a chambray/denim tee and wear it in the same situations as the shirt. A medium wash shirt will work year-round as well.

3. Graphic Tee. A good graphic tee is a great way to add the casual to a casual chic outfit. Graphic tees add interest to an outfit and are comfortable. I love white, gray and black graphic tees. A solid color tee with white graphics is also works, but multiples colors or bright graphics can sometimes look juvenile. I try to stick to white, black and gray.

4. V-Neck White Tees. A white tee is definitely an essential and the more you own of your favorite kind, the better. My favorite affordable white tees are Men's Hanes Premium White V-Neck Tees. They are loose-ish and the v doesn't dip super low. These tees work will with bright or printed pants, under cardigans or just with blue jeans.

5. Loose Gray Tee. A great gray tee is just as important as a white tee. I love to wear them slightly loose fitting and they just add another option to mix and match with prints and colors in my wardrobe.

6. Solid 3/4 length Sleeve Black Tee. And, yes, another solid. I love having the option of a solid, especially boat neck, black 3/4 length tee. I prefer it to fit a little slimmer and it works great with so many of my trendier pieces. Other solid 3/4 length tee colors to consider are gray, mint, and white.

Are there any other basic tops you would include? Which ones are you missing?


  1. I love the way you did this, so we don't have to scroll back and forth to see what you are talking about. Thank you!
    And thanks for putting this together. I have started thinking about my style, trying to figure out what I like in my closet. It sure is a lot harder than you think!

  2. Thanks for these tips. I'll have to grab some of those men's Hanes t-shirts!

  3. thanks, I really like your tips!

  4. Totally agree with all of these and I have them all, plus some! I really love the idea of the mens t-shirts.

  5. Love this! Thank you for this series. I do have a question about your tees. Do the Mens Hanes hold up well? I love the way Target tees fit but I find that after a few months (just when they are reaching soft perfection) they start to pill.

  6. I love that you are so honest and straight-forward! This list is great! I was turned on to the Target Hanes Men's V-Neck tees a few years ago and love them.

    Will you be doing a shoes version of essentials? I'd like to see what your picks would be!

  7. This is great! I don't feel like I have a strong grasp on my personal style, but yours really resonates with me, so I'll basically be stalking your blog to stay up to speed on your closet essentials. :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. This is awesome... all of these are necessities for sure. I so admire your style and I can't wait to see more posts in this series!

    xo Always, Abby

  9. This is wonderfully laid out and so helpful!
    I need a chambray Tee!
    Thanks so much :) :) You are great!

  10. This is great! I actually went a couple of weeks ago a bought a package of the mens v-neck tees, they are great and you can beat the price for 4 or 5 shirts!

  11. It's especially thrilling for me to realize I own most of these basics - just don't have a 3/4 black shirt!

    aka Bailey


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