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(Stock photo | Thinkstock/Stock photo | Thinkstock)

Is there one piece of clothing every woman should own? Add to ...

The question

Is there one piece of clothing every woman should own?

The answer

My instinct was immediately LBD: little black dress. A simple, fitted black dress that goes to just over or just under the knees can take you anywhere (particularly to dress-up events) and can be businessified with a jacket or tarted up with jewellery.

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Expert female advice confirmed my instinct. Loretta Chin, a well-known fashion stylist, said, “A great black dress can get you through any occasion, day or night. Whether it’s a business meeting, a date, a luncheon or a funeral, a simple change of accessories can change the dynamic when it comes to this wardrobe must-have.” Okay, but that one’s kind of obvious.

What, I asked her, would be the second-most-essential item? “A well-fitting bra,” Chin replied without hesitation. Other answers from female sources: a pair of comfortable, well-balanced, high-heeled shoes (because they can make a casual outfit magically dressy) and a good pair of jeans – meaning ones that fit fairly snugly and flatteringly without discomfort. I would add a proper (i.e., wool, non-parka) winter overcoat.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided , is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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