Leggings? Long gone. Tube top? Ta-ta. Black suit? A classic. No matter what the latest trend, a woman needs pieces she can rely on. They are the staples, and they always keep us looking fresh and fab.
1. Black dress
Ever since Audrey Hepburn dazzled in Breakfast at Tiffany's, we've searched for the same magical little black dress. Whatever style you choose, make sure it fits your shape and allows for a variety of accessory combinations.
A black suit can take you anywhere -- just change your shoes, top and accessories. A single-breasted jacket with slim-fitting pants flatters most shapes. If you need a second suit, “tweed is absolutely classic,” says fashion consultant Linda Gaylard. “A tweed suit or just a tweed jacket with a little bit of navy in it or some other colour that goes with anything.”
Right now we're seeing jean jackets, shirts, skirts, even handbags. They're fun, but they're trends. Stick with a classic pair of Levi's, or whatever your favourite brand. And don't be discouraged by having to try a dozen pairs before finding the perfect fit. Once you slip into them, you'll never want to take them off.
With foundation-piece colours black, navy and camel in mind, pick out two pairs of nice pants, one straight-legged, the other flared. “Everyone should have a pair of pants with a flare at the bottom,” says Gaylard. “They really do lengthen the leg.”
Just like pants, you should have two staple skirts, one short and one long. For the long one, go for an A-line, says Gaylard, “with a trumpeting hemline that falls anywhere from three inches below the knee to the ankle bone.”
6. Sweater set
Sweater sets are diverse and inexpensive. If you can, buy a few different colours, including basic black and navy, and a pop colour like red. Then mix and match -- use the tank under a suit or the sweater with a dress.
A couple of great close-fitting ribbed turtlenecks in various colours are essential. Go for black, grey and magenta, and wear them with everything.
There is nothing more crisp than a white button-down shirt. When you don't want white's formal look, try a warmer colour like cream.
You only need two pairs. Really. For day, “A loafer-style shoe with a stacked heel and square toe looks good with pants and with a skirt and tights,” says Gaylard. For evening, choose something with an elongated toe, like a pump, with a four-inch heel, but not spiked.
For winter, select a basic boot -- one that rises to just below the knee and can be worn with pants and skirts. And make it a PVC material so you don't have to worry about slush and snow.
Now that you have the foundation pieces, you can indulge in a few trends for a contemporary flair. “It's always best to interpret the basics into the current day,” says Gaylard. “Look for a current style that also has classic, subtle features to it. Even if the slight flare in your sleeve or pant does go out of style, it's just a quick trip to the alterationist.”
Feature Photo: Clockwise from left: Dark stretch boot-cut jean, Banana Republic; Essential button-down shirt, Gap; Contrast-stitch loafer, Banana Republic. Images courtesy of Banana Republic and Gap.