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The Blog

Approachable inspiration for a stylish life. 


Seven Easy Pieces (That Make You Look Instantly Put-Together)

Kristen Berry

You may have heard the news that the legendary Donna Karan is stepping down as chief designer of her namesake company. Karan developed an approach to womenswear early in her career that put her on the map as a proponent of modern professional women. The concept was known as “Seven Easy Pieces,” a small collection of clothing that women could mix and max to create a number of looks for just about any occasion.

In honor of Ms. Karan’s illustrious career, here are seven easy pieces that can serve as the foundation for today’s modern wardrobe, and take the guesswork out of getting dressed for the office. We’re not talking about a strict uniform for every woman here -- each item offers opportunity to find pieces that are uniquely you.

1) Good Jeans

From left to right: Zara, $26; H&M, $40; Old Navy, $25.

Blue or black, loose and distressed or polished and pegged, a solid pair of jeans creates a fantastic foundation for any wardrobe. Before you opt for a pair with too many holes, however, make sure that it’s an appropriate style for your workplace.

2) A Print Pencil Skirt

From left to right: Ann Taylor, $89; Sam & Lavi at Nordstrom Rack, $60; GUESS at Bloomingdales, $59.

The shape is presentation-perfect, and the print is weekend-ideal. Which makes the boldly printed skirt a fantastic choice for both occasions.

3) A Statement Lip

Clockwise from left: Maybelline® Color Sensational® Vivids Lipcolor in Vibrant Mandarin, $6 at Target; NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Yu, $26 at Sephora; Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, $13 at Sephora.

I know, I know … lip color isn’t clothes. But trust me, a bold lip immediately makes you look like you put a little effort into your look, and can add a chic statement to even the simplest of outfits. Whether you prefer brick red, fierce fuschia or another sick shade, find one (or three), stash a few in your purse, and you can instantly elevate any look.

4) A Badass Blazer

Clockwise from top left: Textured Collarless Jacket, $28 at Forever21; Short Jacket With Faux-Leather Detail, $50 at H&M; Zipped Striped Blazer, $50 at Zara; Jacket with Shawl Collar, $50 at H&M.

Pop it over a tee and jeans, and you’re ready for work. Toss it over a tank and mini skirt, and your going-out outfit gets a bit more chic. Throw it on over your not-too-little dress, and your just-right-for-the-office ensemble is major meeting ready.

5) A Not-Too-Little Dress

From left: Fit and Flare Dress in black, $30 at Old Navy; Sleeveless Dress in Cornflower Blue, $13 at H&M.

Shop for this dress with Goldilocks in mind: not too short/tight/revealing for work, not too matronly for Friday night dinner. That’s right, you’re looking for a dress that’s just right. Sure, that might make it a bit tougher to find, but when you do find it, you can dress it up, dress it down, and wear it pretty much anywhere.

6) A Button Down

Clockwise from top left: Women’s Vacation-Scene Shirt, $16 at Old Navy; Women’s Patterned Oxford Shirt, $25 at Old Navy; Printed Boyfriend Shirt, $50 at Gap; Poplin Press-Stud Shirt, $40 at Zara; Stretch Classic Button-Down Shirt, $30 at J.Crew Factory.

The classic button-down is endlessly versatile: tuck it into a pencil skirt, pair it with jeans with one panel tucked in, throw it over a tank and cutoffs on vacation, toss it over a dress instead of a jacket . . .

I could go on, but you get the point.

7) A Pretty Top

Clockwise from top left: Top with lace, $10 at H&M; Kimchi Blue Canyon Popover Top, $54 at Urban Outfitters; Lace Peplum Top, $40 at H&M; Tri-Cut Blouse, $78 at Anthropologie.

A pretty top is also super versatile. Look for options that would be adorable at date night with a little skirt, as well as appropriate for the office peeking from beneath a jacket.

Any alternates in your top seven?

- Kristen