Five easy pieces

I often get asked what essential pieces everyone should have in their wardrobes. There are lots of great books and lists out there, and lots of opinions, but several pieces always seem to rise to the top. Catch me on CTV Morning Live April 2 with my take on five essentials for every wardrobe.

Essential five for WOMEN


  • Suit – This is a charcoal grey pinstripe jacket and pants suit that is perfect for any business meeting. The jacket can be paired with black pants or pencil skirt to maximize wear.


  • Pencil skirt – A basic black pencil skirt is very slimming and the perfect foundation for any outfit. Because of the close fit, look for a skirt with stretch.
  • White/off-white blouse – A white classic button-up shirt, or the more feminine ruffle detail blouse is a basic that goes with anything. The colour brightens the skin and provides a great contrast when paired with a darker jacket.
  • Dark jeans – dark skinny jeans work on most body types and are a modern fit that pair well with riding boots, high heels or ballet flats.


  • Day dress – a classic wrap dress is an ideal daytime dress. The wrap-style is adjustable for comfort and enhance any silhouette. The v-neck is slimming and the tie-belt helps defines a waist.


  • EXTRA ESSENTIAL: Little Black Dress – I’ve added the LBD because, face it, every girl needs one. Little black dresses are ideal for cocktail parties and can easily shift from day to evening with the right statement jewelry or accessories. This black-lace-over-nude dress remains a strong trend. Although cocktail dresses certainly come in many colours, black is considered a more formal option.

Since we can’t forget about the men in our lives, here’s a bonus – Essential five for MEN

  • Charcoal grey suit – this is the one suit every man should own. Charcoal grey is a colour that can be worn year-round, to the greatest range of social events. Grey is a neutral that can be paired with any shirt and tie colour and/or pattern.
  • White dress shirt – again a classic that offers versatility. The crisp white shirt can really make a man look polished.
  • Dark jeans – dark jeans give men greater range of wear, suitable for work (with a sportcoat), business casual, family casual – even date night.
  • Polo shirt – Polos come in a wide variety of colours and are very easy to wear. Polos can be worn alone or under a sport coat or sweater.
  • Pullover sweater – a cashmere or flat knit pullover adds a little polish to a casual work outfit when worn with a dress shirt and pants. A pullover also works over jeans, golf pants or casual khakis.

With these essentials in your closets, you’ll be able to build a stylish, versatile wardrobe that can mix and match with ease.


What to wear, when

It’s party season and the invitations will be making their way to your mailboxes and in-boxes over the next few weeks.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s appropriate to wear for each occasion, here’s a brief guide.


Black tie – this is the most formal occasion and rules for attire must be strictly followed. This means tuxedos for gentlemen and long gowns for women. Cocktail dresses are not permitted.

Black tie optional – this includes the above, but allows for a dark suit for men and tea length (mid-calf) cocktail dresses for women. It’s a popular dress code for holiday parties and charity events.

Semi-formal or business attire – This event allows for business suits for men, and dresses for women, if the event is daytime. Evening events might require a dark suit for men and a cocktail dress for women, depending on the nature of the event.

Business casual or dressy casual – These events are more relaxed, where men can attend wearing an open-neck shirt and sport coat, and women can attend in a pant suit or blouse and skirt.

Casual – for picnics, barbeques or family events, feel free to wear jeans or khakis, shirts or blouses or even shorts (depending on the event). Mature adults should not wear graphic t-shirts or ripped jeans like teenagers.

If in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than under-dressed. Wear layers and accessories that you can remove if needed.