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Got style? Columnist offers advice on building your identity through clothing

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for a reason to go shopping, and what a better reason to buy new clothes than a new year! For 2012, fashion guru Tim Gunn picked 10 pieces that every woman should have in their wardrobe.

Of his 10 items, I think nine are very necessary, and I added my own 10th piece. These clothes are a great place to start developing your style and after these are in your closet, you can add more style when you put outfits together!

Here are the 10 essentials to add to your wardrobe:

1. The little black dress

This classic can work for date night, cocktail parties and anything in between. It should fit you well and because black is so basic, the style of the dress will help reflect your personality. If you go for a trendy dress, you may have to switch up the style every few years to avoid looking dated. If you’re looking to invest, choose classic lines.

2. A day dress

This dress could be worn for work or a fancier occasion. Make sure it’s long enough to be professional!

3. White shirt

A well-fitted white button-down can fin­ish any professional outfit, but it can also add a little class to a casual outfit. Don’t be afraid to mix more professional pieces into your everyday look.

4. Blazer

I have a few blazers and they are my fa­vorite pieces. Dressing up a shirt and jeans with a blazer is a great look. Wearing it over pants or a skirt is a great way to finish a professional look too.

5. Dress pants

We all need these! As we enter our pro­fessional careers, we will either wear these daily or need them for interviews. Invest in a great pair or two!

6. Trench coat

I know we all love our Northfaces, but it’s almost time for our looks to grow up. Replacing your coat with a trench brings a clean, professional look to your entire outfit. You can wear it daily, and you can even wear it to fancier occasions. You can add more style to this piece by choosing a colored trench.

7. Jeans

Finding that pair of jeans that makes you feel great is very difficult, but jeans are necessary. Try as many pairs on as you have to until you find that great fit. Go for a dark wash—it’s the most flattering.

8. Skirt

This is yet another professional piece to wear, but I think here you can get a little more edgy in color, structure or pattern. Picking out a skirt that reflects your style will still remain professional when you add a button-down and blazer.

9. Sweater

Tim said we should invest in a cashmere sweater. Sorry, Tim. Some of us have to buy books and eat this semester. I think a well-made sweater—to pair with pants, skirt or jeans—will suffice until we earn the big bucks.

10. Your signature piece

This is where you can add personal­ity to any outfit. This could be any piece, but most versatile are accessories. If you find a style of shirt, dress or skirt that you really like, stick with that style in differ­ent patterns or colors and make that yours. Maybe you love scarves or a certain style of sneakers. Find what you love and corpo­rate it into multiple looks. Soon people will know your style by this piece!

Now it's time to shop! If you have any style questions, don't forget to send them my way at

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