The Denim Sleeveless Jacket

No you won’t look like you are about to hop on a Harley. But, you will be shocked how many different ways this can be worn and that it injects that perfect degree of “toughness” into outfits already in your closet. Layer over a sweet polka-dotted dress with brogues or flats. Layer on top of a thin open cardigan, t-shirt and skinny jeans with flats. Button it all the way up and layer under a blazer with jeans. Go sleeveless when it gets warmer and  add a fun, lightweight scarf. Great options can be found at Topshop and J.Crew.

Sorbet-Color Flats

Love your neutrals? I always have clients who resist color. Too complicated. Too much coordination required. Well, the simplest way to add a little color is in your shoes, which always feels fun and unexpected. So, this season, access that pastel trend in your shoe. Loving this J. Crew patent-leather peach pair. You can even try a patterned pastel like the Lucky Brand Emmie, a great affordable option if you like the Missoni ballet flat.

Loose-Fitting Blazer in Coral Shade

Coral is a universally flattering color. People often think they can’t wear coral because of it’s orange-y tint, but give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how good it looks on and how many other colors and patterns it can be paired with as well.  I’m thinking  distressed jeans and tee for weekend, over a cobalt blue shift dress for work, with skinny black pants and white silk shell top for weekend night out. Tobi has a great option as does the Olsen Twins’ Elizabeth and James line.

A Red-Stripe Breton Tee

If you don’t already own this nautical essential, it’s time. There is simply no other piece that will give you that shot of French insouciance in an easier more versatile way. Dressed up or down, it’s the ticket. Can’t go wrong with Saint James, but  this MiH one on with its slouchy shape, is a great modern take on the classic.

Floral Blazer

Yes, I’m in a blazer state of mind. I’ve been in a cardigan state of mind for years, but there are just way too many wonderful blazer options nowadays. Just. Can’t. Ignore. As for the floral, I love the idea of taking a print that can be, well, matronly and making it vibrant, fun and modern. My picks are this Risch blazer,  a Pim & Larkin number, and this bold Alice + Olivia jacket. Wear with slim-fit jeans, skinny trousers, wide-leg trousers or a pencil skirt. Avoid pairing with anything bootcut, particularly a classic bootcut dress trouser. You want to keep the bottom part of your look streamlined and a bit edgy to temper the sweetness of floral print. Keep the blossoms in proportion to your stature as well. So, for instance, if you taller, you can do a bolder, bigger print. Petites — choose smaller buds.

Midi Dress

As a petite woman myself, a mid-length dress (hits a couple inches below the knee in the dreaded calf zone) is — ack! — terrifying. am always preaching, “Above the knee!” or “At the knee!”  or “No longer than the knee!” And, truth be told, that is the most flattering spot for all women. However, sometimes it’s nice to experiment. So, if you want to try out the midi dress, make sure you are prepared to pair it with some major heels to give you height. We’re talking at least 3 1/2 inches. I recommend a heel that is neutral or nude in tone to lengthen your leg as much as possible. That mid-length dress, as gorgeous and chic and ladylike pretty as it is, will shorten your legs no matter how tall you are (ok, maybe not if you are actually 6 ‘ or above in which case, i think we could safely say you could do a kitten heel). By no means should you pair with flats unless you are a fashionista doing it a purposeful way.

So now that you have the rules down, what midi should you wear? So many options. You can go body-con with this

ASOS aztec print dress. Demure (but with an unexpected edgy print) with this Vince Camuto option. Sunny and bright and playful with Tracy Reese’s Phoenix Sunrise dress. Or, classic and elegant with J. Crew (please avoid doing it with flats like model).

A Green Bag

Lots of folks are screaming “Tangerine!” from the rooftops. I, personally, would like to add green. Not just any green. A bright, grassy green. In a purse. Like the coral blazer, you’ll be surprised how this shot of color goes with a ton of things in your closet. Beige neutrals, navy blue, eggplant, grey, forest green, melon, etc.  And by the way, it’s not an easy color to find in a purse. Drooling over this Botkier one on Last Call.  There’s also Marc Jacobs’ hobo. For something smaller, not much more adorable than ASOS’s flip lock cross-body purse. Finally, ASOS’s clutch with the metal detailing is great for spring evenings out.

Mid-Heel Sandal

Officially retiring those tired, tired strappy gladiator-style sandals and going with a simple double-strap sandal this season. It appeals to my ladylike senses (and the ladylike trend this Spring). Plus they’re comfy. This Chloe pair is calling to me (like in the middle of the night) as are these patent leather Sonia Rykels, but if 500 bucks is not in your Spring shoe budget, there are many, many other options.

You can even go completely flat with this Madewell pair. And, Diane Von Furstenburg incorporates pastel and animal print in her Janee sandal. This J.Crew pair is effortless…and will go with everything, literally everything, in your closet.

Color-Block Sandals (Heel or Wedge)

I am jonesing over these and these and these. ‘Nuff said.

White Buttondown Shirt

Kinda obsessed with this 10 Ways to Wear a White Buttondown Shirt on Fab Sugar. Yup it’s a classic, but the white buttondown shirt was done a number of different ways on the runway for Spring 2012. And you just can’t go wrong with one in your closet. As you can see in the video, it may be a simple staple, but it is anything, but one-note.

J. Crew’s Blythe blouse is available on Net-a-Porter. Ann Taylor has a classic cotton version online. And my personal favorite…Equipment’s silk option on

Now, this list is not exhaustive. There are those essentials that are timeless, not trend-driven. We’re talking the trench coat, the dark straight-leg slim-fit jeans, the nude leg-lengthening pumps…If your basics need refreshing this spring, add those to your list as well. And prioritize! You don’t need to do it all in one shopping trip. Pick the ones you need right away and then ones that can wait until a mid-season sale.