1. A pair of jeans that make your butt look amazing
Jeans are the singularly most frustrating item of clothing because no one cut is as magical as those four spunky Traveling Pants sisters would like us to believe. Still, it’s worth hunting down a pair that hugs you in all the places you want them to, has the right amount of stretch for your needs, and is the wash of your dreams. Because the minute you do find a pair that makes you feel like your lower half is the eighth world wonder, you’ll look in the mirror and just know. These are magic pants. Even if they’re expensive (though they don’t have to be) they’re a staple, a classic, and totally worth it for as many times as you can wear them without them stretching awkwardly or the seams giving out.
2. A pair of shoes that make you feel really powerful
There are pretty shoes, there are sexy shoes, there are practical heels and demure flats, there are the kinds of shoes you just sort of salivate over because that’s what they’re there for — there will always be the one shoe that teaches you what it really means to walk like a woman. These are the shoes that you don’t stomp around in, but give you a very deliberate sense of presence and power. And whether they’re flats or heels, brogues or stilettos, they’re your go-to when you want to give your outfit an edge. After all, shoes changed Dorothy and Cinderella’s lives. You should have a pair that does the same for you (and if a certain pair came to mind while you were reading this, more power to you).
3. A pair of sweatpants
Nobody is going to love you like your sweatpants love you. Keep these babies handy for when you just need to get home, shimmy into them, and plant your sweet behind on the couch for another hot date with Netflix. And whether these are of either the yoga or leggings variety — and even if they have rhinestones and a certain color-qua-lingerie-brand emblazoned across the back — hey, whatever works. You do you, honey. You deserve to lounge as you see fit.
4. A matching bra/underwear set that makes you feel like you’ve got a (pun sort of intended) secret
Even if nobody else is going to see it, the fact that you know you’re packing something that lifts and separates and supports in all the right places is sometimes enough to make you feel all kinds of badass, bodacious, and babely. It can be cotton, lace, black, red, heathered gray, whatever — if it makes you feel like anyone would be lucky to see those underpinnings (because yeah, they would be so lucky) then that bra is earning its keep.
5. A bathing suit you can pack at a minute’s notice
The concept of having a bikini body is so off the mark that it’s almost laughable — after all, if you have a body, and you put a bikini on it, then bam, you have a bikini body — but whether it’s a one piece, a tankini, or even board shorts and a tank, be sure you have something to pack if you were given the chance to go to a private island getaway tomorrow. Even if you’re not wearing it in the dead of winter, keeping a bathing suit around that you think serves you pretty well is enough to remind you that life should be less about cellulite and more about white sand beaches.
6. A signature piece of jewelry
It’s your signature, after all — something that transcends each outfit and goes with everything. It could be your engagement ring or a pair of pearl earrings or Joan Holloway’s pen necklace. Hell, it could be Blair Waldorf’s headband, in all of its iterations — but this is the one piece that will turn anything you wear from just another outfit to something that is uniquely yours.
7. An outfit that you think gives you the edge in an interview
It’s not the outfit, of course — though personal presentation is a small but important piece of the interview puzzle — but if you feel put together and capable, you’re going to act like it. Whether it’s a blazer and a nice pair of pants, a dress that never lets you down, or the kind of power suit Hillary Clinton would weep over, this is the outfit that would give you just that much confidence to go after your dream job. Because yeah, you deserve to nail that interview. And you deserve to look damn good while doing it.
8. A dress that makes you look presentable even on the mornings when you are riding the struggle bus to regret city
Not pointing fingers. Not saying it’s a hangover. Not saying you woke up late, or slammed hard on the snooze button one too many times this morning. Not saying you housed a sausage-egg-and-cheese and need to pull it together for your 12:30 presentation. All I am saying is that you should make sure you have this dress, and hold it tight because it is near and dear and imbued with magical powers.
9. Something that you keep around just for the memories alone
I wouldn’t normally advocate unnecessary pieces of clothing — like the crop top that’s two sizes too small but you’re keeping for the day when you have abs that could could cut glass — but have just one thing that means something to you. Your wedding dress, a sweatshirt that still smells like an ex, the technical tee from that marathon you ran, your high school uniform – whatever it is, this is the thing that ties you to a significant moment in your past. Don’t forget the girl who wore this. She had her own sensibilities, her own routines, and had some of the experiences that turned into your knowledge and wisdom. Keep her around if you can; she’ll still teach you something, whether it’s the kind of person you don’t want to date a second time around or that you’re capable of making it through something as hellish as high school in one piece.
10. One really nice thing you bought for yourself just because you wanted it
Save up for it. Squirrel away pennies and stray dollars and skip the morning coffee for this one thing — and even if you still have to buy it on sale, that is more than fine. But have one thing in your closet that is special and sacred to you, whether it’s a bag or a dress or a really luxe coat or, yes, even those really absurd shoes. Make it something you earned, something you really worked hard for. It doesn’t have to be designer, but as long as it’s made well and reminds you of everything you can do if you set your mind to it, then it deserves its hallowed place in your closet.