8 clothing brands we count on for affordable women's basics

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  • Every wardrobe needs some great basics that can lay the foundation for plenty of outfits.
  • Brands like Everlane, Pact, and Universal Standard have taught us that high-quality basics don't have to cost so much.
  • Here are five companies we come back to again and again when we need to add new T-shirts, jeans, and more versatile staples to our wardrobes.

We've all had those moments, standing in front of a closet full of perfectly good clothing, but still unable to find an outfit we like. In those "I-have-nothing-to-wear" moments, you pull out the basics — classic, reliable pieces you can always count on to look and feel great. The super-soft, plain-white T-shirt. The jeans that hug you in all the right places. The tailored blazer that makes it look like you put a lot more thought into your outfit. 

Great basics are — or, should be — the foundation of your wardrobe. When you have a few simple pieces you love, getting dressed in the morning is much easier. Just about every brand offers its own take on the basics, but these are the ones we always come back to. Combining high-quality materials, affordability, and flattering styles, these companies make the better basics you'll want to wear every day.

Keep reading for seven brands that make great, everyday basics you need in your closet:

Everlane

Shop modern, minimalist basics at Everlane

Best for: Minimalist, modern pieces that go with every budget and style

Why you'll love it: There's a lot of hype around Everlane, and we think it's well worth it. Prior to working at Business Insider, I had never bought a piece from the brand, but after hearing my teammates' consistently rave reviews, I bought two pieces that quickly became outfit go-tos.

One of my colleagues recently shared a similar sentiment after trying his first Everlane pieces, and for good reason. Everlane is strongly focused on transparency, giving consumers the cost breakdown of every item, down to the factory where the piece is made and where materials are sourced. Beyond the brand's sustainable, ethical practices, its clothes and accessories really deliver on quality and style. You'll find simple T-shirts, sweaters, work pants, and more in universally flattering fits and a wide range of colors — there's really something for everyone. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Everlane clothes and shoes:

  • Cashmere Crew sweater review
  • Everlane Perform Legging review
  • Authentic Stretch Denim jeans review
  • Day Glove ballet flat review

Universal Standard

Shop size-inclusive basics at Universal Standard

Best for: Modern essentials that are universally flattering on all body types

Why you'll love it: Universal Standard was born out of two women's frustration with the lack of stylish clothing options out there for plus-size women. That's why they set out to make amazing basics that look great on all women and, more importantly, make every woman feel great in her skin.

Overall, the site boasts a modern, stylish collection full of what we'd consider staples, but if you're really looking for the basics, head to the "Foundation" section — it's full of a range of simple tanks and tees that make great base layers for any outfit. If you're not sure what you want, Universal Standard also offers the option to purchase a capsule — it's a curated collection of some of its bestselling pieces catered to your lifestyle, like workwear and activewear.

Learn more about some of our favorite Universal Standard pieces:

  • Universal Standard brand overview
  • Universal Standard T-Rex T-shirt review
  • Universal Standard denim review
  • Universal Standard Foundation Kit review

Pact

Shop soft staples at Pact

Best for: Cost-conscious and environmentally friendly basics that are soft, lightweight, and simple

Why you'll love it: Pact doesn't think being cost-conscious and environmentally conscious should be mutually exclusive. That's why the brand is committed to making super-soft, comfortable products using organic cotton in Fair Trade factories. While organic is usually synonymous with expensive, Pact's products are very affordable — leggings cost $20, T-shirts go for $25, and hoodies for $50, to give you a sense of pricing.

Pact has a wide range of products for men, women, and kids — you'll find clothing, undergarments, and even bedding — though within each category, the selection is small. For example, men can choose from three T-shirt styles and there are just four dress styles for women, all offered in a few colors and patterns. If you have trouble making decisions, you'll appreciate Pact's thoughtful selection of just the basics. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Pact pieces:

  • Lightweight Eco-Blend Wrap Cardigan review
  • Wrap Dress review

DSTLD

Shop trendy basics at DSTLD

Best for: Premium basics and trendy essentials at surprisingly affordable prices

Why you'll love it: If your dream capsule wardrobe draws up thoughts of effortlessly chic leather jackets, premium denim, slouchy tees, and other pieces that are as cool as they are timeless, you'll love DSTLD. The direct-to-consumer model has allowed the brand to bring down prices pretty significantly, without sacrificing quality along the way. That means you can get a beautiful wool coat for $180, not far off from a price you would pay at a fast-fashion store like Zara, and a real leather jacket for $400 that would probably cost more than double if you bought it retail. All of the pieces sit in a neutral palette, making them easy to mix and match, so you can perfect that "I-just-woke-up-and-threw-this-on" vibe.

Learn more about some of our favorite DSTLD pieces:

  • DSTLD mid-rise leather leggings review
  • DSTLD leather moto jacket review
  • DSTLD denim jeans review

Cuyana

Shop timeless basics at Cuyana

Best for: Timeless, modern, and feminine pieces made with quality materials and craftsmanship

Why you'll love it: For simple pieces with chic, feminine touches, Cuyana is a no-brainer. The brand embodies a "less is more" ethos, advocating for a closet that's full of fewer, but better pieces.

If you're wondering what better means — think beautiful pieces that are thoughtfully made every step of the way, from where the materials are sourced, to the factory where everything is put together, to what smart features are included on the product itself.

Other than clothing, we're fond of the brand's simple leather bags. While pricier than many of the other brands on this list, Cuyana prides itself on the idea that these will really be all you need (remember: fewer, better). Timeless silhouettes, beautiful colors, and simple but elegant touches make Cuyana's pieces ones you'll want to put on, especially when you're craving the chic-with-minimal-effort look. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Cuyana pieces:

  • Cuyana Work Satchel review
  • Cuyana Body Collection review

Uniqlo

Shop affordable basics at Uniqlo

Best for: Minimal, contemporary basics at a great price

Why you'll love it: Japanese brand Uniqlo is one of our favorite destinations for affordable basics. The brand has a huge selection of simple and sleek pieces that work for most occasions. From performance workout apparel to modern workwear, denim, and more, Uniqlo has pretty much everything you need to fill your wardrobe — and, it won't break the bank. 

Uniqlo makes it easy to stock up on wardrobe essentials with its affordable prices. T-shirts start at $10, denim starts at $40, and you can even pick up a warm winter jacket for less than $100. Uniqlo also frequently collaborates with fashion designers and other brands to make limited-edition collections. Right now, you can shop Uniqlo's collection with JW Anderson, which is filled with spring-ready pieces.

Learn more about some of our favorite Uniqlo pieces:

  • Uniqlo Heattech review
  • Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket review

Richer Poorer

Shop comfortable basics at Richer Poorer

Best for: Cozy, high-quality loungewear and undergarments

Why you'll love it: There was a time when Richer Poorer was almost bankrupt. Now, the brand has a cult-like following with products that garner thousand-person waitlists. Richer Poorer's success lies in this fact: everything is seriously comfortable. We think its some of the comfiest clothing we've ever worn. 

From cotton bralettes to fleece sweatshirts, it's all supremely soft. And, you can tell from just one wear that the pieces are high quality. Richer Poorer actually prewashes many of its pieces with silicone to give everything a comfortable, broken-in feel. The T-shirts and undergarments tend to be pretty affordable, with most in the $30-40 range. The fleece sweats are on the pricier side (about $70 apiece), but they cost far less than other high-end athleisure pieces while still having a luxurious loungewear feel. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Richer Poorer pieces:

  • Richer Poorer brand overview
  • Richer Poorer Classic Bralette review
  • Richer Poorer Fleece Sweatshirt review

Madewell

Shop comfortable basics at Madewell

Best for: Simple, timeless basics and great denim

Why you'll love it: Madewell is J.Crew's cool younger sister. The brand is loved for its timeless essentials, great denim, and simple pieces with modern twists. If you're looking for a one-stop-shop for your casual, but still stylish uniform, Madewell should be your go-to. Tuck one of the brand's boxy T-shirts into a pair of jeans and throw on a cozy cardigan and a pair of their leather boots. Madewell has it all.

The denim is some of our favorite, and it goes on sale often. Madewell offers most jeans in three lengths: petite, regular, and tall. This makes it easy to find a perfect fit for your body. There's always a great selection of silhouettes and washes, from everyday options like skinny jeans to more trendy styles like flares and ripped pairs. The T-shirts, another basic we love, tend to be around $20 and are simple, last a long time for the price, and go with everything.

If you're looking for some more exciting pieces, Madewell has those too. You can expect lots of cool blouses, sweaters, and dresses. Madewell also frequently collaborates with other iconic style brands. Right now, you can shop a limited-edition collection made with Kule, an NYC brand with a French-chic aesthetic.

Learn more about some of our favorite Madewell pieces:

  • Best place to buy petite jeans review
  • Madewell men's collection review
  • Favorite jeans of all time review

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