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Ladies I’m sure you have all been there. Minutes before a cocktail party standing in front of the closet “without a thing to wear!” And this age of fast fashion hasn’t helped. Sure, that $50 party dress ripped from the runway seems like a bargain find, but if you only wear it once, is it really a steal? Plus, how long are those fast and fleeting fashions, well, fashionable? “You will find yourself getting 10 times more use out of staple, investment pieces than cheaply made bargain finds,” says founder of the FEED Projects and Lauren Pierce designer Lauren Bush. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to build a wardrobe that’s forever in fashion–you just need to be aware of a few secrets of fashion insiders.

Start With A Couple Essentials and Build From There

Amy Smilovic, designer of the celebrity favorite fashion line Tibi, selects six favorite pieces–her closet essentials–and builds her wardrobe around them. “Everything I purchase should work with those items. It’s the failsafe way to make sure that everything in your closet can be layered in some form.” Starting with that perfectly tailored pair of black pants, a trench coat, an office ready blazer, a go-to cocktail dress, a great cashmere sweater and a crisp white button-down shirt can serve as a great foundation from which to build.

After you select that edited collection of basics you’ll be in the good position to carefully add to your wardrobe. Just be sure you don’t clutter your wardrobe with impulse purchases.

Your Wardrobe: A Top 10 Checklist

Skip the Impulse Purchase

Supermodel Beverly Johnson, who was the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue in 1974, says that limiting the number of times a year she actually goes shopping helps her make better purchasing decisions. “For me shopping is not about quantity,” says Johnson. “I go shopping four times a year. I maybe buy two good pieces a season.” Perhaps that is why Johnson always looks classic on the red carpet in looks ranging from a black and white pinstripe suit to a black belted cocktail dress.

Cut and fit is crucial when building a wardrobe of great basics. Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, who has worked with everyone from Demi Moore to Cameron Diaz, says, “Women don’t often buy what’s best for their bodies, they buy what’s best on the model.” Go through your closet and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you properly. If you can, salvage ill-fitting items by taking them to the tailor, if they can’t be salvaged, donate them. When buying new clothes, spend some time in the dressing room to really assess if an item is right for your body. Zoe also adds, “Never buy shoes you love that don’t fit. Just because you love them, you’ll never wear them.” It sounds obvious, but how many times have you walked out of a store with one-size-too-small strappy sandals just because they were on sale. (If your answer is even once, that’s too many times!)

Keep Reading “Best Kept Secrets Of The World’s Most Fashionable Women” at ForbesWoman.com

See also: ForbesWoman’s Work In Progress blog

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