Wardrobes cannot thrive on basics alone, but building a closet that truly reflects your style can be overwhelming. I used to be an impulse shopper, but put the brakes on that when I ended up with a bunch of “stuff” that I rarely wore. What a waste of time and money. In Part One of my fashion essentials blog, I highlighted five must-haves, including the perfect t-shirt, jeans, and animal patterns. In Part Two, I round up my top ten with these versatile picks:

Photo by Tara West.
  1. A lightweight trench. There’s a reason why a timeless trench coat will never go out of style – it’s so practical and chic around the clock. Travelling extensively for work in Canada, I value a wardrobe of coats. An expertly tailored light wool trench coat (mine is a jaw-dropping sale find by Lanvin) is my all-star. I toss it on over everything from jeans to a cocktail dress – and wear it every season, except winter. Style tip: get to know a key personal stylist or salesperson in your favourite store. When designer sales start, you’ll be the first person they will call. 
Photographed at The Hazelton Hotel.

2. A denim jacket. Possibly one of the oldest – and most loved items in my closet – is a denim jacket from GAP. It’s so simple and worn soft in all of the right places. I wear it all the time with everything and pack it for every vacation. It dresses down a long black jersey tank at night, and tops my yoga gear the following day. It’s perfect. Last season, I treated myself to a stepped-up version by Dries van Noten. Denim flowers, a cropped shape and wide sleeves give the old classic a fashion forward spin – but my old GAP is still my favourite. 

Photo by George Pimentel

3. A shift dress. I’m of average height and build so a shift dress is my most figure-flattering choice. It skims my body and gives that chic Robin Wright (House of Cards) vibe. Black is always a fool-proof bet, but I prefer mine in colour – such as red or deep blue like this Lanvin design (another amazing sale find). You can’t see it here but the best part of this neoprene dress is the bias ruffle that runs down my back. I wore it so much for a few years that I tucked it away. It’s coming back out now to go into regular rotation. 

4.  Basic three piece suit. You’ll never ever go wrong with a basic tailored blazer, pencil skirt and slim trousers. Buy the best quality you can afford and get it tailored to fit perfectly. I dress mine up or down for work or cocktails, and then wear the pieces separately. It’s the essential foundation of every smart wardrobe. Style tip: I never wear my pieces like a traditional suit. To make them look fresh, I’ll pair the jacket and trousers with a t-shirt and metallic boots. 

Photographed by Tara West at the Hazelton Hotel

5. Your personal signature. And finally, every wardrobe should have a signature style that expresses your personality, whether that’s a vintage-inspired dress, leather jacket or statement coat like my collection of Dries van Noten toppers. Mine are so different that they are fad-proof. I wear them year after year and change the styling to suit the season. 

Photographed by Tara West in the Presidential Suite at the Hazelton Hotel

Here’s another way I styled my most recent purchase: When I bought it last summer, I wondered if the gold shade and offbeat mix of photography and graphic prints would be too limiting. It’s been anything but. I’ve found so many ways to style it – two are shown here – and I also wear it with a cream sweater, navy skirt and studded booties. 

The key to picking your statement piece: Be adventurous and have fun. Choose colours and prints that reflect your personality. They don’t have to be loud or vibrant – mine are more eclectic and artistic. Pick what suits your mood and then find ways to mix and match them into the rest of your closet. If you can wear your piece three different ways – wine, work, weekend – then it’s worth the investment.