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inexpensive wardrobe basics

The Inexpensive Wardrobe Essentials Our Staffers Can’t Live Without

Think Target tank tops, Amazon swimsuits, and more!

By: Camille Freestone

From the outside looking in, it can often seem like everyone in fashion is dripping in luxury—CHANEL bags, Gucci loafers, Loewe sweaters, you name it. While it might appear that high-end designers are the only acceptable attire, underneath those fancy labels, most editors, influencers, and buyers have a core collection of inexpensive basics. These staple pieces are what connects those standout fashion items and make them even more versatile (without breaking the bank). Whether it's an Amazon muscle tank or a pair of Soffe shorts, here are the 18 affordable wardrobe essentials our staffers swear by.

 

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Jessica Teves, Head of Content

Fruit of the Loom EverSoft Fleece Elastic Bottom Sweatpants

$9 $7

Elastic waist and bottom, pockets, and ultra-thick, cozy fleece lining? HECK YES! Guys, these are the best sweatpants ever—I highly encourage you to order a pair in every color. You will not be disappointed.

Buy

Aerie No BS Henley Tank Top

$23

I have several of these tanks, mostly in white, and love them for so many reasons, including the price point. Also, the henley material and slight scallop detail on the neckline add a hint of style to this otherwise classic tank, which will quickly become your go-to WFH essential.

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Meladyan Solid Cotton Padded Shoulder Sleeveless Tee

$19

Truth: This boxy top is a full knockoff of The Frankie Shop’s version, but it’s also only $19, and my justification is that I needed to tip-toe financially into the muscle-tee trend. Anyhow, this shirt is good—really good. Order several, and thank me later.

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Camille Freestone, Writer

Hanes Premium 3pk Xtemp Crew Neck T-Shirt Undershirt

$21

An oversize white t-shirt is truly the hero of my wardrobe. I wear them with everything from jeans and a blazer to a silk skirt and sandals. For that reason I like to have multiple so I don’t have to wait for laundry day to wear one. My secret is the 3-pack of Hanes t-shirts from Target. I like to get the men’s ones so they have that super boxy cut, and I always size up!

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DixPerfect Retro Inspired High Cut Low Back One Piece Bathing Suit

$20 - $27

While I absolutely love an on-trend swimsuit, sometimes you crave a no-frills, classic silhouette. I bought this one years ago and pull it out year after year because a black one-piece never goes out of style. I love that it is so simple—no ruffles, laces, or cutouts.

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J.Crew Swedish Stockings Stella Shimmery Socks

$20

When optimizing your WFH ‘fit, it’s all in the accessories. A sweet pair of socks can sometimes give me that extra mood boost I need for the day. Come fall, I plan to pair these with my favorite loafers.

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Leya Kaufman, Head of Sales & Brand Partnerships

H&M Embrace High Bermuda Shorts

$30

Every season I discover another style staple—like these classic high-waisted Bermuda shorts. They’re insanely flattering and a total steal. These shorts are also made from partly recycled materials as part of H&M’s Conscious collection.

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A New Day Tank Top

$8

This is without a doubt my favorite tank top, so I always keep a few in my closet to pair with jeans, leggings, and skirts. The high crewneck is easy to dress up or down, and this particular tank is comfortable but still tight enough to pass for a bodysuit.

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Goody Ouchless Painfree Hair Scrunchies

$5

Whether I’m channeling the ’80s or just pulling my hair back, I always come back to these. They’re the easiest, most versatile hair accessory. I wear them to work out, lounge around at home, or fake an updo on Zoom.

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Abby Miller, Head of Production

Fruit of the Loom Woven Boxer Shorts Boxers Underwear

$17

Hear me out people—these cotton boxer shorts are perfect for the “I stole my boyfriends boxers” lounge-around-the-house look. I recently did a tie-dye session with my friends and made them so colorful and fun. I basically live in them now. I’m not sure if this is a quarantine guilty pleasure or a fashion hack that needs to be shared… I’ll let you be the judge.

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Mosaiz 26 Color Tie Dye Kit

$40

As I mentioned, a DIY tie-dye is the best way to take a cheap basic and make it feel fashion-forward and trendy. Invest immediately, and people will be asking if those old tube socks you tie-dyed are the new Off-White style.

Buy

No Nonsense Soft & Breathable Cushioned Mini Crew Socks

$12

I have spent more time, effort, and money than I would ever like to admit on my quest for the perfect Princess Diana lookalike white ankle socks. They need to be high enough to peak out from a sneaker, but low enough to still make your leg look long and not cut you off in that awkward low calf spot. These are the closest I have ever gotten to the royal jackpot.

Buy

Kelsey Dobbs, Senior Marketing Manager

All in Motion Mid-rise Run Shorts in 3”

$18

I am a workout clothing junkie. I promise that I have tried every brand out there, from the luxe to the super affordable. These running shorts from Target have been my go-to this summer as they are lightweight, breathable, and ultra flattering. At $18 a piece, the price cannot be beat. So obviously I purchased four pairs.

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Aerie Offline Burnout Cropped Tank Top

$25 $17

I am always on the hunt for multi-purpose pieces. I love these tank tops because they are great for lounging or at-home workouts, and they also look great paired with a bralette and jeans. I'm currently eyeing all the fun colors to add to my collection. Plus, Aerie always has fantastic sales, which makes the price even better.

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Nike Everyday Lightweight Crew 3-Pair

$14

Does everyone mysteriously lose socks while doing laundry in their own apartment, or is it just me? As a result, I am constantly re-purchasing this three-pack from Nike. I have been meaning to tie-dye a few pairs this summer to add some flair to my sock collection.

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Jacquelyn Greenfield, Editorial Production Fellow

Urban Outfitters Out From Under Markie Seamless Bra Top

$18

If I’m being honest, I’ve probably worn a bra once a week over the course of the pandemic because I live in these bra tops. They’re oh-so-comfortable and offer great support.

Buy

Brandy Melville Griffin Shorts

$16

Biker shorts will most likely be my go-to bottoms for the rest of the year. These are by far my favorite pair—I have at least five now. They’re super stretchy and get even more comfortable over time, and at $16 a pair, you truly can’t beat that.

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Soffe Authentic Classic Shorts

$9

I’ve been wearing Soffe shorts since my high school dance team days, and let me tell you, they're still one of the most comfortable pairs of shorts I own. They’re perfect for lounging around the house, sleeping, physical activities—you name it.

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