I was skeptical of being too committed to one style in my twenties. Preppy? Bohemian? Vintage? Sporty (Ginger Spice, Scary Spice?) Moving back and forth between the northern Rockies and Virginia as much as I did, I had a schizophrenic wardrobe either of utilitarian stay-warm play-outside gear or cocktail dresses for various fancy East Coast weddings.
I realized that the split-personality wardrobe thing wasn't going to work when I showed up in Richmond for my cousin's baby shower and my mother was so horrified that I was wearing jeans (they were really dressy jeans!.....in Jackson Hole), that she sent me to J. McLoughlin with her credit card literally to buy fancy pants. Call it my Garth Brooks moment.
I read an article in Real Simple that convinced me to start building a wardrobe of a few classic pieces that would work anywhere. I started out with one really good white dress shirt and a black cashmere turtleneck. I still have both, but life with toddlers is a guaranteed mess and I am lazy about hand washing, so less cashmere of late. Incidentally, "I have on a nice sweater!" is a very good way to get out of changing a dirty diaper.
Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange convinced me to add a few other timeless pieces: a Burberry-styled trench coat (although mine is J. Crew Factory), a Saint James sailor tee and black Wayfarers.
But winter in Montana is a sartorial challenge, forcing me back to the utilitarian, despite my undying love of cropped skinny pants and flats.
If a dress or skirt is required (although nothing in Montana is really required per se) it's something like this: