If you have ever Googled ‘wardrobe basics’ or ‘wardrobe essentials‘ it’s likely you will end up with multiple sites that list trench coats, roll neck sweaters, and crisp white pants as classic wardrobe ‘must haves’.

I don’t know about you but these ‘classic‘ or ‘essentials‘ do not feature on high rotation in my wardrobe.

I had a few lovely trench coats in my wardrobe when I lived in Melbourne, some of which joined me on my move to Queensland. Three years into my life in sunny Queensland I attempted to wear one of my lightweight trench coats on an overcast winter day. About twenty minutes into my day I realised what a huge climatic mistake I had made and ended up carrying it around for the rest of the day.

As for roll neck sweaters and crisp white pants, I might wait until I am fifty and over before I venture down that avenue.

So which much contemplation and the help of College Fashions wonderful 15 ‘must haves’ lists I have assessed my own wardrobe and now list my 15 ‘must haves’ (AKA. the shit in my wardrobe I actually wear).

1. Skinny Jeans:


L to R: Levis Water< Less  Classic Rise Straight Jean, Hiut Denim Organic Slim Fit Jean, Nudie Jeans Co. High Kai Organic Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans never go out of style. My wardrobe is filled with different colours and cuts, some of which I have had for over ten years (starting to show my age now). Skinny jeans work well with printed tees and a leather jacket. You can also wear them with a cute crochet tank in summer.

2. Talismanic Jewellery:



Clockwise from top left: Cynthialopezjoyera ‘Mickey mouse’ recycled silver ring,  Jess Kay Designs ‘Recycled Silver Geometric Necklace’, Blue Hour Designs Recycled Silver ‘Geometric Earrings’,  Emmy Bean Conflict Free ‘Raw Diamond ring’,  DDFemme ‘Recycled Silver and Brass Crescent Moon Ring’, Rustic Rock Jewelry ‘Wax Seal recycled Silver Pendant’.

Jewellery was something that I never had interest in growing up, then I started working for a company that sold jewellery I liked. Ever since I have felt naked without my jewels. Most of my pieces have been given to me for special occasions and I love the memories wearing them evokes.

3. Basic tees:

teesL to R: Gorman ‘Basic Organic Tee’, Bassike ‘Heritage Stripe Tee’, Kowtow ‘Organic Fair Trade Crop Tee’

These are the foundations of my wardrobe. I think that once you have these sorted you can dress the basics up and down especially by accessorising with scarves, jewellery, and a signature bag.

4. Boots and Sneakers:


Clockwise from top left: Ethletic Fair Trade Sneakers, TOMS ‘Black Jacquard Wedge’, Modern Vice ‘Jett Studded’ Handcrafted Boot, Dr Martens ‘Patent Heritage’ Boots

My man recently pointed out my penchant for wearing black boots and sneakers. So they are definitely up there with the most important things in my wardrobe. The footwear section of this ‘top 15’ list would have included flat sandals up until 6 months ago, but the acquisition of some custom orthodics requires me to be a ‘sensible‘ shoe wearer now days.

This is handy actually because my job requires me to wear closed toe shoes. The shopping list above has some fair trade options but I shop for quality shoes, and have had my Dr Marten boots for 13 years now!

5. Denim Cut-Offs:


Clockwise from top left: Nobody Denim ‘High Boy Short’ Made in Melbourne,  One Teaspoon ‘Starstruck Bonitas’, Fashion Catalogue ‘Vintage Custom Levis’

These are mandatory for living in a subtropical Queensland. The pretty much hand you a pair the moment you step over the boarder into the state (please don’t be disappointed if this doesn’t really happen). It is really difficult to find eco friendly cut offs so the moral of the story is to buy for love (hence the One Teaspoon Bonitas), locally made, or just wear out your favourite jeans then cut them off into shorts yourself.

6. Printed Tees:


Image: Best Cost designed tee for the Yellow Bird Project  raising fund for LA animal rescue

The printed tee is a nice way to support your favourite charities, tell the world about the bands you love, or shout out a statement without saying a word. I really love the print that Best Coast did for the ‘Yellow Bird Project’ in the image above.

7. Crochet:

CrochetL to R:  MHTheil Handmade ‘Ferragamo Dress’, Lecrochet Art ‘Made to Order’ Coverup 

Crochet jumpers and accessories are a cute and comfy way to stay warm on chilly subtropical nights. A crochet dress of top is a great way to cover up after the beach without getting too warm. The best places to buy crochet are local tourist markets, or better still learn to crochet for yourself! If you don’t have time for DIY crochet you can always pay someone to do a custom job for you on ETSY, check out the LecrochetArt link above!

8. Leather Jacket 


L to R: Better Stay Together ‘Vintage Leather Jacket’, Astonique Hand made ‘Stripe Leather Jacket’  

Its up to you and your personal values as to whether you choose a faux or real leather jacket.  I love real leather because it breathes, gets better with age, and can last decades. Vintage styles are a great buy, or if you feel like investing in a new jacket make sure you get a style that will outlast  the current ‘trends’. Animals have died for your jacket so you want to get it right the first time! A faux or real leather jacket is perfect for winter evening and for layering with dresses and shorts in trans-seasonal weather.

9. Scarves 


Clockwise from top left: Stella McCartney ‘Animal Print’ Charity Scarf, Cloth and Ink Organic ‘Two Tone Infinity Circle Scarf’, Snoozer Loser Handprintec ‘Elephant Armor’ Scarf, Petalstopicots ‘Mobius Infinity Cowl Scarf’ Pattern. 

A scarf is the most versatile accessory to have in your wardrobe. You can use one as a picnic rug, beach towel, hair accessory. They make any ordinary outfit something extraordinary by giving the illusion of layering without any of the bulk. Perfect for warm weather. Like most accessories there are LOADS of eco friendly or ethical choices out there so its a buyers market. Shop around for one that fits all your purchasing requirements and wear it with pride.

10. Beach Dress


L to R: Mesop ‘Boardwalk Maxi Dress’,  Bhalo Ethically Manufactured ‘Sherbet Dress’, Bassike ‘Stripe Linen Dress’

A throw on dress is essential for hot humid summer days. If you get the right dress it can be a fantastic layering tool; throw a tee over the top and wear it as a skirt, team it with some cute wedge boots and a clutch purse to head out, or wear it over your bikinis to the beach.

 11. Signature bag 

Signature-BagsL to R: RSPCA ‘Eco Bag”, Spell Designs ‘Dreamweaver Bag’,  Mt Hagen Handicraft Group ‘Bilum Bag’ 

A small selection of signature bags is definitely one of my essentials. Its good to have an eco shopper for trips to the market or carrying important documents, a great ‘compliment’ attracting bag (I have an amazing vintage version of this spell bag that is a conversation starter everywhere I go), and a good sturdy colourful beach bag.

12. Racer Back Tanks

tankL to R: WildFang ‘Eco Ringer Racer Tank’, Betty Browne ‘Racer Back Tank’, Bassike ‘Cutaway Tank’

A loose-fitting tank is perfect for warm summer days, a racer back style is comfortable for every day and is sporty enough for impromptu mountain climbs or beach trips (which are regular occurrences here). A racer back tanks best friend is denim cut-offs.

13. Wetsuits 


L to R: Billabong ‘Shorty Jane’ Spring Suit, Patagonia ‘R1 Juanita’ Spring Suit

My man and I’s spare room stores a library of wetsuits for all temperatures and activities. We  spend a lot of time in the ocean so these wetsuits get more wear time than my going out dresses and deserved a mention in my top 15. The Billabong one above is just super cute (investment purchase: wetsuits last forever) while the Patagonia one is not only cute, but is made from 88% recycled polyester.

14. Quality Sunglasses 


Clockwise from top left: Panda ‘Jackson’ Bamboo Frames, SHWOOD ‘Eugene’ Dark Walnut Frames, SOLO ‘Goose’ Recycled Bamboo Frames, WestWard Learning ‘Wintermute’ Frames. 

These babies will protect your eyes and transform an outfit. Best to invest in a quality pair with good UV protection and cut down the glare and strain on your eyes. As with scarves the market for ‘eco’ sunglasses is massive. You can browse for hours!

15. Bikinis


L to R: Odina ‘Bombora’ Recycled Fabric Bikini, Hive ‘Granite Bay’ Bee-Licious Bikini

Another essential for subtropical living. It can be difficult to find the right fit in a bikini, add the near impossible feat of said bikini being ‘eco’ friendly and you have made shopping for swimwear into a horror story. Best bet is to find a swimsuit to fit your activity requirements. If you select the right fabric and fit from the beginning you will be less likely to stockpile ill fitting bikinis in the quest for the right one. Swim at the pool? Buy chlorine resistant. Active girl? Try the Odina bikini above for a eco choice. A favourite of mine is Sunshine Coast Brand Hive, that create swimwear to suit active girls, and its all very pretty!

I hope you have enjoyed my ‘top 15’ list.

Now its over to you for your closet essentials!

Fire away with the comments below.