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.


It’s party season

December and January tend to be busy months for Christmas parties and year-end celebrations, not to mention New Year’s Eve.

If your social calendar is starting to fill up, you’re probably wondering what to wear. Many party dresses are sleeveless – which is great if you live in Arizona. In the frozen north, however, it’s tough to look dressy and keep warm.

Here are some ideas to sparkle-and-glow your way through party season:

  • The Little Black Dress (LBD) is a staple in any wardrobe. If your dress has sequins or other sparkly embellishments, but sure to keep jewelry to a tasteful minimum.
  • Colour is a great way to stand out in a sea of LBDs. Jewel tones work especially well at this time of year.


Lacy dress, David’s Bridal

  • Look for luxurious fabrics. Silk, cashmere, suede or leather lend an upscale feel to any outfit.
  • Hot this year are dresses, blouses and sweaters with built-in embellishments, such as faux necklaces sewn right on the garment. Be sure to strike the appropriate balance with jewelry: mustn’t overdo.
  • Make a statement. Choose a focal point for your outfit, such as a statement necklace, chandelier earrings or a sparkly cuff. Choose one only.
  • Classic and elegant are always in style. Avoid very trendy or deconstructed pieces that might appear to casual for the occasion.
  • Carry a wrap. This is a much more elegant way of keeping bare shoulders warm than a jacket or sweater.
  • Heels are always appropriate for dress-up parties. Choose pumps as they are much more in keeping with our winter climate. Slinky sandals can work if you wear boots to the event and change into your shoes. Carry a drawstring bag into which you can put your boots and check the bag with your coat.
  • Consider slimming shapewear to ensure a smooth silhouette.
  • Mature women should avoid miniskirts. At or just above the knee with a killer pair of heels is very sexy.
  • If you’re not comfortable in a dress or skirt, consider loose, wide-legged trousers paired with a tuxedo jacket. Very of-the-moment and perfectly appropriate if styled with a gorgeous piece of jewelry. When wearing trousers, heels are de rigeur in order to maintain the feel of elegance.

If you’re unsure what the dress code means for your next event, check out my previous post on navigating dress requirements:  https://styleonpurpose.ca/2013/10/17/what-to-wear-when/