A few weeks ago I shared 5 tips for building a great wardrobe, and mentioned in that post that I was working on an updated closet staples series. Well, here we are. Part one of a Closet Essentials series. To be honest I’m not sure how many parts this series will have…maybe ten, maybe twenty. But I want to share my most worn, most loved, and most versatile pieces in my closet. The things I cannot live without. 

And along the way, I’ll share how I style them, how you can style them, and a few places to find similar or identical items. Also, I should mention that these are no particular order.


These have been something I’ve been on the hunt for for the last two years, at least, and although I’ve purchased and been sent a few pairs that were nice, they weren’t real leather, and weren’t a really classic pair. So it wasn’t until I ran across these gorgeous leather ones at Nordstrom Rack a few weeks ago that the hunt was finally over.

photos by jylare smith

top: c/o lulu*s
jeans: c/o dittos
boots: nordstrom rack (similar)
sunglasses: c/o lulu*s
necklaces: c/o bip and bop, here and here (don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!!)
watch: michael kors
bag: similar
Which Ones To Choose:
  • The most classic pairs are a normal shaft height, no embellishments, and a block heel. 
  • Choose black or brown, depending on your preference. Both are very classic and incredibly versatile
  • If your legs and ankles are thin, low-cut, medium, and high shafts are great on you. If your legs and ankles are thicker, go for just the medium height, like mine. 
  • Recognize these as an investment piece. If you can’t afford real leather at this stage of your life and you really, really want a pair, look for pairs that have nice and realistic faux leather or faux suede. But for this particular item, it’s worth it to save for a few months and then splurge on a nice pair because if you take care of them, they’ll last you for years. 
How to wear them:
  • I just wrote a post over at Babble about this very thing — the Dos and Don’ts of Cuffing Your Jeans with Ankle Boots. Check it out and learn how to wear them with your jeans. 
  • Wear them with dresses, skirts, jeans, shorts…you name it. These are one of the most versatile pairs of shoes you will own. And if they are a classic, unembellished pair, you will be able to wear them forever!

Where to Buy Them:
I’ve found some fantastic pairs of all shaft heights, heel heights, and materials, but all very classic and versatile.

Are you convinced to buy a pair yet? Trust me, you need them in your closet. They are an essential. 

Stay tuned for Closet Essentials, Part 2 coming up soon!
. . . . . . . . . . . 
And now for a fantastic giveaway from one of my amazing sponsors, Bip and Bop. It’s a darling little etsy shop with the prettiest and most delicate jewelry. They’re giving away $100 to their shop so you can pick yourself up a few pretty things to add to your closet! My favorite is her love letter necklaces, like the one she made for Philip and me, but I’m also obsessed with this gold feather necklace and the infinity bracelet
Enter with the Rafflecopter widget below! 
The giveaway will be open for one week — good luck, and Happy Wednesday!!
  • Gorgeous photos! Love those booties!

    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

  • My favorite closet essential are my everyday gold tennis shoes! I love them.

  • Les

    I am newly obsessed with booties! So versatile.

  • one of my closet staples is just a basic long t-shirt in a variety of colors, but start with black and white!!

  • Love the initials necklace! My top closet essential is absolutely a pair of skinny jeans. I wear them most of the week, and love how they can be dressed up or down and give different silhouettes depending on what i do with them.

  • Thanks for this post! I spent most of the winter (unsuccessfully) looking for ankle boots that are flattering on my short legs and I'll have to give some of these a try!

    πŸ™‚ Anne
    Rays of Rossi

  • Closet essential…probably black skinny jeans! But would love to have some ankle boots to pair with them!

  • My most basic closet essentials are tanks, cardigans, and scarves. I pretty much live in them! But, I love your idea of the ankle boots. I might have to work towards that in the future!

  • One of mine is a colored, fitted jacket. It dresses a plain outfit up or is fun paired with a dress!

  • My closet essentials are scarves and ankle boots!

  • Super cute! I've been a bit apprehensive about wearing my ankle boots but this post helps!

  • I love wearing my ankle boots with colored tights and skirts. I wear those boots all the time!

  • One of my fave closet staples is a striped, long-sleeve tee. Mine is slowly but surely getting too old to wear, and it's giving me slight palpatations, if I'm being honest.. should've bought two when I had the chance!

  • I think my grey skinny jeans are a versatile staple!

  • slouchy tees (i especially like Madewell) are my #1 closet essential!

  • I'm loving these ankle boots! I'm the epitome of always wearing them wrong and not rolling my pants! I'll have to try that way and see if I look any better πŸ˜‰


  • I think it's my skinny jeans – I finally feel comfortable wearing them and want to wear them all the time.

  • My closet essential would be my classic converse in black. I wear mine with everything and are my go to shoes for a long day on my feet. Always in my suitcase. Next I need to purchase the classic white pair!

  • K

    Love this post. I struggle with how to wear my boots, especially at work. This is a cute way to take them from work to after work!

    I LOVE the bridesmaid gold leaf and emerald gemstone earrings. So gorgeous!

  • Great post, thanks for the tips! AND Bip and Bop has some great jewelry pieces!

  • I'm obsessed with ankle boots, I completely agree they are necessary! And also the love letter necklace is adorable, I noticed it right away.

  • Love the foreground of flowers in a lot of these pictures!

  • I mostly wear my ankle boots with jeans but I love them with skirts/dresses too!

    The Tiny Heart

  • Love your ankle boots…. hmmmm, my favorite closet essential would have to be my pointy flats. Versatile and comfy!

  • Gorgeous boots! I agree with you 100%, ankle boots are definitely an essential in my closet. I have a faux leather pair that I have worn to death, and I'm on the hunt for a replacement pair. You've provided some really great options πŸ™‚


  • I find myself always wearing my leather jacket all year minus the summer. Love it!

  • I'm always on the hunt for ankle boots! The pair from Target I got a looong time again is giving out and I'm so disappointed! I love an ankle boot with demin (cuffed of course) and with a tee shirt and neutral cardigan. I'm a creature of habit so I can wear this look many many times a week!

  • Booties have been my new obsession as of late. I recently invested in a leather pair in black, and it goes with everything!

  • My favorite closet essential is my striped dress. I've worn it so many different ways!

  • I never thought my curvier legs could handle ankle boots, but it was all about finding the right pair and figuring out how to style them. I saw your post at Babble and passed it along to some of my friends – definitely a helpful do/don't list for styling the booties!

  • I didn't know about the pant over boot combo… haha oopsies! Won't do that again, thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

  • I think the one thing my closet has to have is jeans. I practically live in them.

  • Great boots! This is a versatile item, but hard to find in a timeless style. Thanks for the tips.

  • My black Sam Edelman booties have become something I wear almost daily! Its ridiculous! Just try to stop me from wearing them at least 3 times a week! LOL! πŸ™‚ Great giveaway!! I've been drooling over initial necklaces, I would love one with my hubby's initials! πŸ™‚

  • Awesome post, my favourite closet essential is comfy V neck tees, not deep V necks but just a flattering non revealing neckline. My favourite right now is my uber comfy grey V neck (bought on clearance for $2) paired with skinny jeans and paired with either some gorg ankle boots or some simple ballet flats. I so hope I win this – I was wanting to buy my mum a necklace (the gretchen I think it is) for Mother's Day but can't afford it right now πŸ™ finger crossed! Awesome post as always Merrick! xo

  • I LOVE delicate jewelry- there are so many great pieces here, thank you for the chance to win!

  • My tall, tan riding boots are my closet essential. It took me forever to find a pair that worked for me!

  • Oh, I love that love letter necklace!! My essential (at the moment) is my black jeans – I find myself wearing them all the time!

  • One of my closet essentials is a striped top! I wear stripes all the time with everything (jeans, skirts, dressed up and dressed down), and they are so versatile. Timeless and classic!

  • A pair of black jeans!

  • awesome post! I think you convinced me to get some ankle boots. If I win I would get the anchor necklace πŸ™‚

  • my closet essential is a denim blazer/jacket.

  • My ankle boots are a staple and work horse from my closet! I wear them with skinny jeans, dresses, skirts… and they work pretty much year round!

  • a closet staple for me is definitely my skinny jeans – won't go anywhere without them!

  • Meg

    My favorite closet essential is a black cardigan. Yes, I know that sounds boring, but you can multitask the junk out of one. Dresses, jeans, business apparel… the possibilities are endless. I end up buying a new one every fall, simply because the current one has gotten faded from so much wear. Also, as a person who runs cold, it's important to have layers hanging around. πŸ™‚

  • I realize I've been wearing my ankle boots all wrong! I can't wait to cuff my jeans from now on. Thank you! My wardrobe essential would probably a pair of really good, quality skinny jeans. I love J Brand and Rag and Bone. Pricy, but they hold your legs in amazingly.

  • Probably a black blazer!

  • One of my closet essentials is my nude wedges!

  • Thank you for clarifying how to wear these cute boots! I now will be cuffing my jeans πŸ™‚ My wardrobe essential is def the jacket- a good jacket always completes my outfit. I also adore my local made IOWA (don't forget your roots) bracelet which I wear with every outfit πŸ™‚

  • I have been wanting a great pair of ankle boots, but I would probably have to get some flats. I am not as talented as you are with running after my boys with heels, even comfortable ones.

  • Skinny jeans and loose t-shirts are my go to. I love ankle boots, I need to find a cute pair! I would wear them with dresses and skirts for a fun spring look!

  • As much as I love ankle boots, I am not classy enough to cuff my jeans. But maybe that would keep me from having blue ankles from dye transfer at the end of the day.

  • I am in love with those boots!! I love your whole outfit!

  • I love ankle boots with a cute, short dress.
    Erika W.

  • My Minnetonka Moccasins have become an essential for me! I picked them up on a whim and now can't get enough. They seem to match with everything!

  • I love ankle boots, but I've been a little intimidated by them. I would wear them, somehow they just didn't look right. But, I love your suggestion for how to wear them. That's what I was doing wrong! Thanks.

  • Definitely my skinny jeans and my favourite denim blue wedges!

  • Love your style! Love those necklaces!

  • Can't wait to read the rest of the bootie styling tips!

  • My new staple has to be my new BF jeans paired with a t-shirt and cardi….then with my booties. Love the look. I also love Bip and Bop…She does some amazing work πŸ™‚ Love the Jessica necklaces. So pretty

  • SZ

    love those delicate jewelry! especially the P&M necklace πŸ™‚

  • Lia

    I have just started reading your blog- love your style and DIY projects! I have been looking for a tan pair of booties since I love my black ones (which will need to be replaced soon too).

  • Distressed skinny jeans, worn in black v-neck tee and ankle boots… three ideal closet essentials for sure! Have a great day!

  • My favorite closet essential right now is a white fitted blazer because it makes almost any top or dress office appropriate! It really increases my work wardrobe options.

  • My favorite closet essential is a plain white t-shirt. It can be dressed up or down, goes with everything, is classic but can look new and fresh so easily. Can't live without one!

  • I have a pair of ankle boots that I love wearing with dresses. I got the inspiration for wearing them together after I read your post, 10 Ways to Wear Ankle Boots This Fall. Thank you for the wonderful posts!

  • I'd pair them weigh a flowy maxi!

  • My favorite closet essential would have to be my white poplin shirt. It's extremely versatile, no matter what event, season or time of day you can dress it up or down.

  • A definite essential for me are skinny jeans in a variety of colors/shades. You can wear them anytime!

  • I love wearing them with dresses!

  • I definitely agree that these are a must have. I really have a hard time wearing any other shoe. Also, I'm just hearing about Bip and Bop and would LOVE to get some money to use in the shop! Adorable accessories!

  • I have an old pair of ankle boots that I don't think are quite the right style, gonna try them out though or try to find some ankle boots. They would be perfect for spring (and summer) here in AK where it doesn't get terribly warm!

  • That bow necklace is ADORABLE.

    And I have a pair of ankle booties that I wear probably three times per week – dresses, skinnies, tights, they go with everything.

  • I would wear the boots with a summer, lacy, high-lo dress! A cream colored dress would be perfect!

  • I love this post! Merrick- I really like the direction that you've taken with your blog- the photos are stunning, and I love all your informative styling tips that you've been sharing. πŸ™‚

    One question though- what brand are your boots? Thanks!

  • I've been looking for a pair of leather booties! I love yours and they really are a staple!

  • I would pair the ankle boots with a white shorter flowy dress and a blazer

    jessicarwarfield at gmail dot com

  • You've convinced me I need these boots! I had no idea they were so versatile!

  • Love your necklaces!

  • My closet essential are camis for layering!

  • Scarves are my essential item. They can dress up even a plain t-shirt!

  • I love wearing my ankle boots with dresses & skirts – something about the juxtaposition of a girly dress and not-so-dainty shoes that I love!

  • I am newly obessed with the jeans rolled up! Love the look! Super cute booties!!!

  • I love wearing my ankle boots with dresses in the spring. I love how you've paired them with cuffed skinny jeans! Cute!

  • Love ankle boots with dresses!

  • I love the ankle boots with cuffed jeans like you have here!

  • Ankle Boots are my absolute favorite! I love how well they transition to spring. I love wearing them with skirts!

  • I love my black leather jacket!

  • Beautiful photos. Loving these posts.

    X x

  • I love a great pair of skinny jeans, essential!

  • I love your blog! You have a style that is so realistic and relatable! Thanks for another fun giveaway!

  • CP

    I'd wear it with jeans, skinny or any kind.

  • I love these styled for spring! I was thinking I'd have to put them away but no…

  • My favorite closet staple are ballet or pointy flats. They're comfortable but look more pulled together than some other shoes. Love these ankle boots too!

  • I love the necklaces you got! I really love big statement necklaces but I prefer small and delicate pieces for every day wear. πŸ™‚

  • I don't have ankle boots yet, but I've been dying to get some soon! Thank you for this post, because I was not certain how to wear them. My closet staple is skinny jeans!

  • I love a good utility jacket! And pearls, pearls are a must for me. Hope I win!!

  • I love a good utility jacket! And pearls, pearls are a must for me. Hope I win!!

  • I guess my ankle boots don't fit your requirements for a closet essential since they have embellishments on them, but I am SO in love and wear them all the time with skinny jeans and a cute top or a blazer!


  • I would wear the ankle boots with my skinny jeans that have ankle zippers! It'd be so cute with the zippers popping out of the top of the ankle boots!

  • I love this outfit! I agree. I bought ankle boots from Michael Kors Reaction in December and have worn them in! They look great with everything, especially cuffed jeans like you wore in this post.


  • My favourite closet staples are cardigans! I even use them in the summer for movie trips or some supermarkets(they can get very cold)

  • Thanks for the give away! Absolutely love your blog!

  • I have a utility vest that I absolutely love to wear and is a main staple in my closet! It gives a little edge to an outfit.

  • A closet essential for me, is a fun, colorful cardigan.

  • My closet staple is so cliche, but I have to say jeans. I absolutely love a pair of dark jeans that go with everything.

  • I have been dying to get a pair of ankle boots for the longest time! I love them and know that I would wear them all the time

  • skinny jeans with a sweater πŸ˜‰

  • I have faux suede boots that I love bit have been on a mad albeit futile hunt for grey leather ones. I agree definitely a staple.

  • I love the boots but have difficulty finding jeans that are as tight in the ankles to wear them. They look great on you!

  • I love the boots! I also feel like my ankles look funny no matter how I wear them though… I guess I'll just have to play with it more. Where are those jeans from?!

  • My black or grey cardigan πŸ™‚

  • I love wearing leather ankle boots with high-low maxi skirts. They give the skirt a tough edge.

  • There's something different about these photos. I don't know what it is… but I LOVE it.

    My fav closet essential? A belt. I'm not a huge accessories person, and I feel like a belt pulls certain outfits together really well.

  • I'd wear them with skinnies!

  • kp

    My favorite closet essential is always changing. Right now I'd say it is a tie between ballet flats and my chambray shirts.

  • I just got a white eyelet dress from Old Navy, and I plan to wear it with some cute ankle boots!

  • Oh how I just adore the initial necklace! so dainty and perfect for everyday wear! Love the ankle boots too! I love wearing mine with skinny jeans…I found a fabulous pair at Old Navy of all places and just love the combo!

  • Love all of them!

  • Ankle boots are something that took me a while to digest, but now I want some so bad! I have narrow feet, so it is very challenging to find cute shoes that fit well. I'll be on the lookout. Love them with jeans!

  • Those boots are so perfect!

  • i have one pair of ankle boots…I need more!! My favorite closet essential is probably my strappy sandals

  • Mine would have to be my super comfy jeans and tee shirts.

  • I haven't found a pair that I like so far, I'm scared they'll make me look even shorter… I do have a pair that are a bit higher and have a higher heel.

  • My closet essential is definitely my boat neck black and white stripe shirt. I wear it 3 season out of the year, at least once a week. So versatile and great for easy pattern mixing!

  • I've always been a sucker for a button down, thats my closet essential- layered under or over pretty much anything!

  • I love your camo jeans, I'm hoping to add this new "neutral" to my closet soon.

  • I'd wear them with a girly skirt! πŸ™‚

  • I can't live without my leather pants πŸ™‚


  • I love nice jean jacket! That's an essential for me!

  • A motocycle jacket. It makes everything cool, and I love pairing it with girly things.

  • I like them with sheer tights!

  • I wear ankle boots with almost everything! And, for me, an essential is a jean jacket.

  • Skinny pants- denim, trouser, whatever are staples in my closet.

  • Cardigan. I wear them to work, on the weekends, and out on date night. I seriously own 25+.

  • My favorite closet essential is a pair of brown riding boots-go with everything most seasons here in the Midwest!

  • I've never been confident enough to wear these ankle boots but I love them on you!! My staple is a scarf. I wear them at least 3 times a week!

  • Cardigans. They go with everything!

  • My grey and white striped cardigan. It goes with everything!

  • I'm a cardigan girl and am always on the lookout for more!

  • One of my favorite closet essential is a cardigan. Thanks for the great giveaway! πŸ˜€

  • Hi,

    Lovely post! Your blog looks amazing! <3

    Check out my latest post :

    would you like to follow each other on GFC & Bloglovin?

    Follow me & I'll follow you back.. x


  • I love my brown leather booties – they are so versatile!

  • My black blazer.

  • my fav closet essential is my blazer

  • Tall brown leather boots for the fall.

  • Skinny jeans & tall boots! πŸ™‚

  • Why do I have a feeling I've been wearing my boots wrong?! :-/

  • Besides the LBD, my closet essential is a pair of black basic pumps.
    As for these boots, I would wear them with an over-sized sweater dress (winter) or a fun and colourful shift dress (summers)


  • My closet essential is an oversized black cotton sweater.

  • I love ankle boots and I'd love to win!!!!


  • Closet essential is a cute sweater. It can be dressed up or down!

  • my favorite closet assential is good black jacket, works great for both day and night!

  • Favorite closet essentials—JEANS!

  • Harem pants are now my favorite!!!

  • I too scored a pair of ankle boots from Nordstrom Rack that I just adore, but are suede. A good leather pair is next on my list!

  • those jeans are so cute with those boots – I wish I had skinny legs to pull those off!

  • Ankle boots? One of closet essentialsfor me too! I'd love to style them with almost everything. Jeans, midi skirt or dress, culottes, parka, and so on…:)

  • One of my closet essentials are my black flats πŸ™‚

  • I just bought some strappy ankle boots, this style is now my obsession.

  • My closet essential is a pair of to-the-knee high black boots. I like to get a pair that can be dressed up with dresses or dressed down with jeans. They must be loose enough to tuck my pants into – that's a must.

  • definitely with a nice pair of jeans! πŸ™‚ with that, anything goes on top! πŸ˜€

  • This is probably boring but my closet essential is a good pair of comfy jeans. I can't be myself if I'm not feeling comfortable!

  • What a great pair of ankle boots! I'd wear them with skinny cargo pants and an easy-fitting top.

  • I love my ankle boots. I feel like they really pull an outfit together and i feel like i look nicer. I might have to find a pair in brown leather!

  • Great Boots! My closet essential would be a plain white tee! Love mine to death. So many different ways to wear it!

  • I've turned into a scarf woman. One of my students even had his grandma crochet me a scarf for Christmas. =)

  • Those boots are great! My closet essential is a gray light sweater that you can wear in every occasions, i have tons of them it's kind of a uniform for me.

  • As a French, I'd like to say that my closet essential is the little black dress but I can't seem to find one that is suited for all the situations… So I'd say that my closet essential is a good pair of well fitted jeans, and I love to wear it with a simple tee, flat boots in witer or sandals in summer, a big comfy knitted cardigan or a blazer.

  • I love my cardigans.

  • This summer I'm going to add a pair of ankle boots to my closet, I'm sure. You just got me persuaded!
    Obsessed with your really nice outifts and blog! and that giveaway is so fine, I especially love their earrings!

  • I love ankle boots, my staple pair is silver with glittered backs.

  • I would totally have to agree! Ankle booties are def a staple closet piece and I love wearing them similar to how you do =)

  • Comfy flats are essential to me!

  • One of my favorite closet essentials is a black leather jacket. Thanks!

  • I would wear leather ankle boots with my new sundress!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  • Scarves!

  • Love the ankle boots!Thanks for the giveaway!

  • ER

    Love your boots! My favourite closet essential is a fresh white button down shirt, preferably linen. Can't go wrong with a classic!

  • i love my swaroski cristal necklace, i wear it in casual outfits, and in fancy ones. This piace is so basic that i could wear a very weird and funky print and it would bring the outfit together. Like i did yesterday, i wore a orange print sweater, with tiny small oranges, and a mint pencil skirt.
    Ps. I really love your blog and your simple tutorials. Thank you

  • Thanks so much for this post! LOVE it! I have been wearing my jeans/boots wrong! Ooops! Now I know:) My favorite closet essential: my statement necklaces because they make ANY shirt look so dressy!

  • I have one pair of black booties, the backside is studded with tiny black crystals. I wear it with jeans and dresses all through fall and summer. I am looking to invest in another pair for spring and summer.

    A random question: Do the letters on your necklace stay upright through out the day? I have something similar but the letters would flip around all the time, so my T is always upside down, I keep having to adjust them. If BipandBop's letter necklace stay put then that will be the first item I order when I win!!

    • No, they don't flip around during they day — they're really good about staying put. I highly recommend them!

  • Jeans would have to be my favorite item – they can be dressed up or down

  • My closet essential is my hat collection.


  • What brand is that purse in the photos? I'm obessed