Trends aren't for everyone. If you find the autumn/winter catwalk-influenced looks taking over the high street right now too faddy and fleeting, go back to basics.

Every wardrobe needs good foundations with hard-working staples that go the distance, whatever the season.

"Staples are the solution to take away those stressful morning wardrobe decisions," says Charlotte Pettican, buying director for Dorothy Perkins, which has just launched a Style Essentials capsule collection.

"These pieces should work with your current wardrobe to make you feel like you have a whole new outfit."

Versatility is paramount: the beauty of wardrobe staples is that they can be dressed up or down effortlessly.

Take the short cut to a closet with long life by making sure it contains these eight essential items:


Every wardrobe needs the perfect white tee, whether you're rock chick, prim 'n' proper or somewhere in between.

The first thing to consider is your body shape when you're surrounded by a sea of white T-shirts that all look the same. Those with bigger busts can benefit from a fitted V-neck T-shirt, while those with tummy concerns should opt for looser-fitting styles in longer lengths.

Change up the look of your tee by wearing it tucked in for a smarter take or loose for casual nonchalance. For evening, a chunky bib necklace will instantly give any white tee a touch of glamour.


There are countless variations on the biker jacket available right now, from Aztec textured to Crayola brights, but the safe option is always classic black leather. It will go with just about everything in your wardrobe, from pretty dresses to casual jeans. If you feel black is too harsh, dark grey is just as versatile.

The fit of your biker is all-important to ensure it has pride of place in your wardrobe for years to come. Try on different styles to find the most flattering silhouette for your figure. This season's longer length biker is ideal for those who want some coverage around the bottom and hips.


Let's fact facts, UK heatwaves and Indian summers are pretty infrequent so a knit that keeps you cosy from autumn to spring is a must.

Reserve the zany prints for Christmas parties. If you're going for an investment jumper, look for a plain knit that washes easily to add texture to your outfit. Bear in mind that the more textured you go with fuzzy mohair or cable knits, the more it can add bulk to your frame if you're conscious of your curves.

Team with leather for a stark contrast in textures and to give your woolly some instant sex appeal.


Forget the concept of dividing your dresses between daywear and evening. The best dresses work for both.

A multi-tasking dress will look smart by day but become instantly after-dark-appropriate with a quick switchover of statement accessories.

Avoid too much detailing like frills, pockets, peplums or collars that might date it after a couple of seasons. A simple but elegant frock that's streamlined with subtle panelling will outlive any trends and work way beyond the 9-5 shift.


They started out as a fad but now even men have adopted skinny jeans as a wardrobe staple.

Many denim brands are placing an emphasis on the skinny offering 'magic' jeans with in-built shapewear, high-tech fabrics and eye-tricking designs that create the illusion of slimmer bottoms and thighs.

For the most flattering skinny, opt for a classic dark blue, or try jet black if you want your jeans to look more like trousers.

The transition from day to night in skinny jeans is a cinch. Kick off your ballet pumps or loafer flats and switch to towering heels for killer pins.


Blouses and shirts shouldn't be confined to officewear. They work equally as well with a pair of trusty jeans as with a pencil skirt.

If you prefer a smart look, seek out chiffon or silk blouses in soft tonal colours like cream or blush pink. Design details like pussy bow necklines and billowing sleeves will up the feminine factor.

For a more androgynous feel, you can't go wrong with a white shirt in crisp cotton for a more structured aesthetic. Switch things up by wearing it buttoned up to the collar and layer a statement necklace over the top for some unexpected sparkle.


No matter what you're wearing (dungarees, overalls and PJs aside), a blazer thrown over the top will instantly make an outfit chic and smart.

A dark blazer in black or navy has effortless French sophistication written all over it.

Avoid fancy lapel details and keep the look clean, classic and timeless. If you want a slight quirky variation, try a tuxedo with contrast silk lapels that will add a luxe element to eveningwear.

Give your blazer serious fashion kudos with some 'shoulder robing' - skipping the arms and wearing slung over shoulders like a cape.


It's the new kid on the block when it comes to staples but leather skirts have untold wardrobe potential.

A leather skirt is an investment piece so choose a neutral colour that mixes in with the rest of your wardrobe effortlessly; black, brown, navy and burgundy are no-brainer classic hues. If you're not convinced, experiment with a leather-look skirt before taking the plunge.

Pick a skirt style that you know works for you, whether it's a minimalist A-line number or sophisticated pencil shape.