The blazer. This could be the jacket from a business suit or a tweedy number from the thrift store. It's a key piece for the season, so don't be without.
Turtlenecks. Somehow, they always look just right—not too dressy and not too casual. Wear them with jeans, business suits and everything in between. Look for cashmere or a lighter-weight cotton/silk blend if you live in the South or are going through "the change." Have them in navy, charcoal and black, and you will be fine. Of course, if the budget allows, try other colors!
Silk camisole or blouse. The texture and sheen make these great layering pieces. You only need one or two, and they are basic enough to be found in discount stores like Marshall's or T.J. Maxx or mall stores like New York & Company.
A great coat. Ladies, you wear this nearly every day, all season long, so this is where you should invest in a piece that you love. Certainly black, navy, charcoal or other "neutrals" make the most sense. Make sure it is long enough to wear with a skirt or dress. If you get bored with it midseason, just add a sparkly brooch or pin to the lapel, a faux-fur scarf or colored leather gloves!
Denim. So important in everyone's wardrobe. It really is the iconic American staple. A denim jacket in the classic cropped silhouette is great for layering or on its own on warmer days. And of course jeans rule, so make sure you have a great pair or two. I like a dark wash because it is more figure-flattering and can go more places—dinner, a ball game, maybe even the office depending on the dress code. Tip: Choose a boot cut. The flare at the ankle will help to balance the hips and thighs! Also, if you find a pair you love in a dark wash and a flattering silhouette, buy two or three pairs. You will thank me later.
A basic dress. This can be a wrap dress, a knit/sweater dress or any other that is basic and without any crazy prints. For example, a great black knit dress can be worn dressed up with some nice bangles and a silk scarf for a night out or it can be worn with boots and leggings for a more casual look.
Cardigans. Again, you will get most use out of neutrals, but they can be relatively inexpensive "accessory" pieces to liven up what you already have. Remember those old pals the white blouse and the little black dress? Try them topped with a fuchsia (or another fun color that you love) cardigan!
Black pants. This is a no-brainer. They are dressier than jeans and go with everything.
Pencil skirt. Despite what you may think, this silhouette looks really flattering on most body types. And now thanks to Mad Men, they happen to be really "on trend." Stick with dark colors or rich tweeds, and you can pair them with almost any top you already own.
T-shirts. Save them for cleaning your basement and instead use stretchy cotton jersey tanks, halters and embellished fashion tees to use as layering pieces during the work week or to make a statement on the weekend. J.Crew and New York & Company have a great selection of these.
Accessories. This is really key to making the basics I have described above look fresh, fun and fashionable. Oversized but not huge bags in colored leathers, stackable bangles, silk scarves and statement shoes will all do the trick. Don't forget thrift and consignment stores for great accessories.
Get Carson's fall basics for men