I am always wary of anything labelled ‘must buy’, as it is usually nothing more than an item with a huge mark-up for the retailer, or a product from a key sponsor.

I will not therefore tell you any of these are ‘must buys’, but rather they are things which I have noticed I pull out of my wardrobe / make-up tray time and again. Some cost a lot, some cost buttons, but they all work with everything else I own, which makes them worth a lot.

A blue scarf

Living in the UK, and having a fairly normal active life, jeans are the standard for anything outside work. Having a blue scarf on standby means that you can pull an outfit together instantly. Marks is selling a smashing one on sale at the moment – get it here.  Otherwise, ebay or somewhere like Primark is bound to have something. You’re looking for something plain, or with texture (not patterned).

Red lipstick

In the right shade for your skin tone (see my post on Warm Red Lipstick), a great red lipstick makes you look properly made up, even if you’re not. New shades I recommend for people with warm skin tones are:

  • Rouge Dior 941 Rouge Cannage
  • Rouge Dior 999 No 999
  • Rouge Dior 844 Trafalgar
  • Diorific Haute Couture 014 Dolce Vita
  • Chanel Rouge Allure 98 Coromandel
  • Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm 240 Striking
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush 500 The Redder The Better

All these resist turning pink, the balms obviously don’t last nearly as long as the lipsticks, but they are a quarter of the price, so a good idea if you’re watching the pennies or not sure about the shade.

A handbag which matches your favourite boots

An easy way to make any outfit work, neither bag nor boots needs to be expensive, but the simpler the better. For people for whom money is no object, I recommend Hobbs boots and Radley handbags – no annoying tassels or prints, quality leather and generally swoonsome shapes. Seriously, look at this thing:


A grey slouch beanie

All of us have days when the hair is an embarrassment, and a hat is the answer. Find one of these in jersey or other fine knit so it’s not too bulky, and has some room at the back for you to stuff your hair if it’s long. This is the kind of shape you want:

grey beanie

Pair of effective sunglasses

The perfect shape depends on your face shape. I can only tell you that my long thin face with a wide nose and small mouth looks pretty good in cats eye glasses – the kind you can get from Retro Peepers and also Collectif. The point is, try on all kinds of shapes and sizes until you find a pair that is effective at concealing your lack of sleep / hideous hangover, and that you can wear with your red lippy and look like you’ve just stepped off the red carpet.

Good jeans that complement your shape

I know some people are just not ‘jeans people’, of course, that’s fine. However, as a hardwearing wardrobe staple, they are hard to beat, provided you find the right fit. I am a size 16, pear-shaped, tall, with a hollow back. Most jeans are too short and gape at the waist. The only shop I can buy jeans from where I don’t even bother to try them on, is Hobbs. I wait until they have a sale, then swoop on their size 16 bootcut lovelies, reduced from £80 to £40. I have also been lucky with M&S bootcut Roma jeans in the past. If you’re not sure what to go for, get yourself to Gap or Levis, you don’t have to buy anything, but they are experts in helping people find the right thing. And don’t stop at the ‘normal’ jeans cuts either – try dungarees, cropped styles, or ankle grazers.

An apron

I know, it’s so old-fashioned to own, let alone wear an apron, but trust me, you will save hundreds of pounds in ruined clothes if you have a good one. It needs to be a proper one that ties round your neck and waist, made of something durable which is also washable. For utility, try Muji on ebay (they don’t seem to be selling them in the UK at the moment), for lovely colours and patterns, try Cath Kidston or Barbara Jones Retro.

A (fake) fur collar

Great for jazzing up a collarless coat, plain cardigan, or long sleeved tee, a furry collar can look really quite expensive, provided you steer clear of light. long haired versions. Something like this from ASOS:


There you go, my recommendations for things that can be used winter and summer, good weather and bad, to help you feel and look amazing.