Like Shar, I've found that the White Shirt is one of those items that sounds good on paper, looks very chic on other women, but just doesn't work for me. My combination of large bust and short waist have not yet found a white shirt that is compatible. I don't like to tuck things in; it's just an uncomfortable feeling for me, and I've found few white blouses that don't look sloppy when left untucked. Add to the fact that they tend to wrinkle around the waist after a few hours sitting at my desk, and the overall effect is anything but classic.
T-shirts have become my must-have tops under a jacket or sweater. I love the Banana Republic "Timeless Tee" in black and white, and the Talbot's 3/4 sleeve boatneck tee for cooler weather or worn alone. When the chill really sets in, add a v-neck cashmere pullover (another of my non-negotiables).
The Little Black Dress has achieved mythic status among stylistas, but it's an item that I've managed to make it this far in life without acquiring. (Though not for lack of trying; I'm always on the lookout, but have yet to find one that works for me.) A black suit or a pair of black trousers, on the other hand, are items I can't live without. They've become the backbone of my wardrobe for work, travel and evenings out, and when in doubt I grab my Banana Republic basic black suit, as it's easy to dress up or down with accessories.
I'm still on the fence about trenchcoats. I love the look, but most I've found tend to have too much bulk in the waist, and tying the belt renders the "sack of potatoes" effect. So I tend to wear them open, if at all.Truly indispensable for me is a black leather walking length jacket, like this one. Worn over a cashmere sweater, it's warm enough for Southern California winters, and doubles as a raincoat in all but the heaviest downpours.
Accessories: keeping the silhouette simple allows me to play more with scarves and other accessories. Still, there's a less-is-more factor at work, and with my lack of height it's easy to look swamped when there are too many focal points. Indispensables include a good watch, a simple pair of gold hoops, scarves (bien sur) and a favorite fragrance.
Later this week: shoes and bags!