Now that we've already established the need to invest in a higher quality wardrobe, you're probably wondering where to start. Basics are the essential building blocks on which you create a wardrobe, and finding ones that fit well, look good, will last, and preferably cost less than your rent sometimes seems impossible. Aside from convenience, one of the best results of the e-commerce shopping boom is that brands are no longer solely beholden to the whims of boutiques and larger retailers; by selling direct-to-consumer, brands can avoid the traditional retail mark-up, passing on better prices to the buyers. Another benefit of selling direct-to-consumer is greater transparency in the production process. With that in mind, there seem to be more e-commerce brands creating high-quality basics and selling to consumers for half the price.
As a young 20-something in the workforce, finding high quality basics is a crucial step towards dressing like an adult. Basics are great transitional pieces from work, to play, to lounging, and you should be able to wear them for years to come. But usually, high quality basics run towards the more contemporary price point (think Vince, Rag & Bone, Theory, etc.), and waiting for the huge sales isn't always a viable strategy. But thankfully, more brands in a mid-range price point are popping up, offering investment-worthy pieces from $50-$200. Here are the best brands right now to shop for basics!
Promising radical transparency through their direct-to-consumer model, Everlane has managed to do what fashion has almost always considered impossible: sell quality clothing at affordable prices with a focus on sustainability and ethical practices. Demonstrating how to practice what one preaches, they clearly lay out how each piece was made, how much it cost to make it, what their mark-up is, even down to details on the factory that created each piece. Since they deliver their clothes direct-to-consumer, they forgot the traditional ridiculous mark-up for one that is much smaller, which is where the affordability comes in. Tees and cami dresses start off at a reasonable $35, while they're extremely popular accessories (like the cult-status Modern Loafer and versatile Petra Tote) tend towards higher-end prices.
Though Aritzia used to be known for more boutique-y, indie wares, they've upped their e-commerce game with cool, minimalist looks and LOTS of knits. They satisfy that tricky middle ground between fast fashion and contemporary designer with ease, matching quality with affordability. And whenever they have a big sale, the prices are fantastic!
Though AYR's quality sweaters and coats can run into contemporary designer prices, their jeans are some of my absolute favorites. They're incredibly comfortable, fit perfectly, flatter my shape, and I love the wash. Even if you can't splurge on the rest, we highly suggest utilizing their convenient Home Try-On program to fulfill your denim needs.
Made for women on-the-go, Aella creates workwear separates that are machine-washable, wrinkle resistant, produced in LA, and without an extra mark-up. From a distance, they may look like regular blazers and pants, but up close, they're actually made from ultra-comfy workout materials. So for those of us that like to live in leggings, think of these as the grown-up work legging.
Grana began with a mission to provide premium knitwear made from Peruvian cotton directly to consumers, allowing them to cut out the middle man and produce high quality clothing at guilt-free prices. The Hong-Kong based brand started with a small line of tees and has since grown to include my favorite cashmere sweaters (which are beautiful and less than $100!), dresses, button-downs, and even denim. Like Everlane, the brand strives for transparency, including the details of their production practices, how they source their fabrics, and even what their mark-up entails. With free shipping on orders over $75, they are quickly becoming one of my favorite e-retailers.
Update: I recently removed Massimo Dutti after finding out that they are owned by Inditex.