I don't know about you, but if I showed up to work in a white button-down shirt, pearls, and khaki pants, my coworkers would think I'd been taken over by aliens. I'd like to propose the New Basic Wardrobe. Adjust to meet your particular needs.
12 Cotton Sundresses from the 1950s and 1960s: This should be enough dresses to get you to the next time you do laundry. These dresses have usually already been washed enough times to have a soft-as-silk hand, and they come in patterns that are hilarious and beautiful. One of my favorite is a wrap dress with pastel scenes from Montmartre.
4 Cocktail Dresses from the 1940s, 1950s, and/or 1960s, depending on your body type: O.K., some people might want to slip in a few poly 1970s dresses, too, with swishy skirts and halter-style tops. You'll need two each for cold weather and warm weather, and ideally one for each season should be form fitting, while the other allows for times when you can't bear to hold in your stomach.
7 wool skirts and 10 cashmere sweaters to wear with them: I like plaid Pendleton, but the Xtabay usually has a few classically cut Evan Picone skirts, too. Snap up Pringle, Braemar, or Dalton cashmere pieces whenever you see them--you can thank me later.
2 Nice-But-Not-Cocktail Dresses from the 1960s or 1950s: One for cold weather, one for warm. These dresses are perfect for weddings, graduations, and when you want to look nice but don't want to seem like you're trying too hard. I have a 1950s polished cotton dress with a criss-cross top that I wore with a Tortolani bracelet and 1940s-style red sandals to a private concert at Thomas Lauderdale's loft. From my vantage point on the pink vintage sectional sofa, I noted that my outfit reigned supreme over the crowd of Ann Taylor separates.
2 1940s or 1960s Suits: Depends on your body type. One for winter, one for summer. These suits will see you through job interviews, weddings, and big meetings and can easily be sexed up with tough shoes and a naked face but for red lipstick.
One Super Fancy Dress: Who knows when you'll need to nip off to a ball? Be sure to pick up some rhinestones to go along with it.
Two dressing gowns, a drawer of silk and rayon nighties, and a vintage Pendleton robe: Hey, a girl needs her underthings.
All the vintage coats your closet can hold: They're so cheap! And durable! And stylish! Get a few for daily wear, one 1970s fake fur chubby, a velvet evening coat, and a warm shearling or mouton coat for when it snows.
Two hostess gowns or Chinese silk pajamas: Lounge wear is what separates the ingénue from the woman of the world.
What have I missed?