Stylist Secrets: The 5 Must Have Pieces For Any Closet

Take Charge on 02.23.12
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Photo: Rene Syler

Without question I'm a jeans-and-t-shirt, buy-it-on-sale kind of girl. But every so often, I have to wiggle out of those comfy duds and into something with a little more polish. Yesterday was one of those days, as I had to run into the city for a television show taping and sadly, no sweats allowed.

Back when I had that big gig and was on TV everyday, I had a professional stylist, Ariel, who taught me some great tricks that I still use in my everyday life -- including the importance of having several key staples in my closet. So straight from a professional stylist, by way of a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of girl, here are the five key wardrobe items everyone should have.

1. Jeans. Do I have to say this again? I love, love, love jeans and they run the gamut of style and cost. But my stylist taught me to always have at least one pair that are nice enough to be dressed up or toned down. A pair of dark jeans that fit well will look great with a sequined top for a night on the town or with a tank top and suede jacket for something less formal. Use your really beat up ones for weekend trips to the pumpkin patch.

2. Tank tops. There are plenty to choose from here. I like the ones with spaghetti straps that cost next to nothing but can be worn under everything. Since my mastectomy, I don't wear bras so these are great, even just with a t-shirt. You can also layer these tanks for a little splash of color under jackets.

3.  Duster. I have several of these jackets and love them for their utility. I picked up the one pictured here  at a secondhand store and recently wore it for a taping of Anderson.  It looks good over jeans or a dress (like this floral one that I picked up on deep discount for less than 10 bucks -- for real!).

4. Little Black Dress. This is critical and doesn't have to cost a lot of money. I opt for something simple so that I can change the look by adding different piece. The same dress with pumps and pearls looks very different when it's paired with a big leather belt and boots.

5. Great accessory piece. Ariel used to tell me to think of your outfit as a canvas: The clothes were the base color and accessories, the texture. It's kind of like that in real life, isn't it? You wouldn't put on a full make-up and leave your lips bare, right? So make sure your look is finished with an accessory piece. My husband splurged one year and bought me a strand of real pearls that go with everything on this list. Of course, I leave them at home when we're headed to the pumpkin patch.

There are a few more I could add to the list -- a comfortable skirt among them -- but that's just icing on the couture cake. With these 5 in your wardrobe rotation, you have something for every occasion.

What are the go-to items in your closet? What's the one clothing item you can't live without?

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