Ask the Edit: Where to Find Simple Basics

Jun 27, 2018

Hi Belle,

Where do you shop for simple, classic items that don’t break the bank? I want to build a capsule work wardrobe but it seems the cheaper the price, the more embellished the items (why is that?!). In particular, I am looking a simple white shell or short-sleeved blouse to wear under some of my colorful blazers.
Thank you!

– Marissa 

I’ve had good luck at a few of the smaller retailers, Cuyana and Everlane in particular.

My Cuyana favorites are this short-sleeve blouse (that I usually order one size up and tailor) and this great drape-front blouse.  My favorite thing right now at Everlane is the high neck tank pictured above.

You have to hunt pretty hard for quality pieces these days.  You also have to know what you’re looking for.  I don’t mind synthetic fabrics as long as they have good weight and tight, quality stitching.  When looking at natural materials (silk, cotton, etc.), you have to be willing to compromise a bit on weight (typically).  Cuyana’s silk is a decent thickness.  Everlane’s quality can be hit or miss, but when it’s good, it’s really good.

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  1. anna says:

    With what would you pair the high-neck blouse? I love that cut but don’t know how to make it office appropriate.

    • Belle says:

      I never wear it without a crewneck cardigan or a blazer. I tried it once with a shirt underneath. I didn’t look bad, but it also didn’t really work.

  2. Amy says:

    NYDJ has a basic pleat-neck sleeveless blouse (https://www.nordstromrack.com/shop/product/1816254/nydj-pleat-back-sleeveless-split-neck-blouse?color=TAMARIND) and a 3/4 sleeve blouse (https://www.nordstromrack.com/shop/product/1272500/nydj-henley-3-4-length-sleeve-print-blouse?color=TURQUOISE) that come in black, white, and lots of prints. They’re available full-price at Nordstrom, but I’ve had good luck finding them at Nordstrom Rack for a much better price.

  3. Maria says:

    I would add COS to this list.

  4. SC says:

    The armholes on the high-neck tank look really low — do they show bra or too much skin?

  5. Jenn says:

    I second Everlane and Cuyana for quality pieces. I have a couple of silk shirts, along with a handful of thicker silk camis and work tank tops from J.Crew for the summer. Since I’m in DC and my tops can easily get ruined by sweat, I also rotate in basics from H&M and Ann Taylor/Loft that I buy on sale/off season ($40 at most for tops that look nice with pencil skirts & jeans and under $30 for the rest). Good luck with your search!

  6. Vidya says:

    I like Grana for silk – decent weight, haven’t had problems with bras showing through except in lightest color, running a sale most of the time.

  7. Caitlin says:

    I’ve had pretty decent luck with LOFT & Ann Taylor – some of their patterns are wild, but they have shells and other items that are more minimalist. They also run 40%+ sales multiple times a month, so if you like an item just save it for a sale.

    Some of the less expensive Nordstrom brands are OK too, if you want to take a dive.

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