Just over three decades ago, Donna Karan launched her own eponymous brand, Donna Karan New York. Her debut collection titled Seven Easy Pieces, marked the first time anyone within the high fashion industry had addressed the concept of a capsule wardrobe. Consisting of a bodysuit, classic white shirt, cashmere sweater, tailored jacket, fitted skirt and a pair of tights and trousers, the collection revolutionised the way women thought about their wardrobes.
Combining sophistication and simplicity, her approach to style highlighted the importance of timeless and versatile separates that could easily be mixed and matched together, and went on to become the foundation for her label. The past 30 years have seen a paradigm shift in the way we dress from the austerity of Nineties grunge to the slick jet-set luxe propelled forward by Tom Ford in the early 2000s, to Alessandro Michele’s whimsical eclectic excess today, as well as innumerable other movements in-between.
At the beginning of each fashion season we are inundated with the latest trends, the next It bags and the newest must have items, which can cause us to lose sight of what the core components of our wardrobes should be. While clothing requirements are undoubtedly different for every woman, investing in a collective of staples that can be easily interchanged and worn with trend-based and pre-existing items form the foundation of effortless, easy and well put together styling. 32 years on, the concept of the Seven Easy Pieces is just as relevant, if not more crucial to today’s woman living a multi-faceted, busy life while juggling a family, career and social commitments.
We’ve scoured the runways and compiled a tight edit of new season offerings that will take you through from day to night with ease. Classic, yet contemporary, versatile and refined, these items offer a nuanced take on power dressing, constituting today’s Seven Easy Pieces.
Further cementing fashion’s gravitation towards conservative style, full length blouses have been pioneered by the likes of Balenciaga, Marni, Alexander McQueen, Sies Marjan, Mulberry, Antonio Berardi and Monse. Look for versions made from fabrics with a slight sheen that feature unique details such as voluminous sleeves, asymmetric cuts, folds, gathers or ruffles and wear with skirts, jeans and trousers.
Pants take on narrower proportions appearing in no nonsense, slim line, straight leg cuts. Pairs constructed from crepe or silk lend themselves well to the region’s climate as well as business travel, while wool-blend varieties provide additional structure. For those self-conscious about tighter fits, utilise oversized cashmere knits, longer length crisp shirts or rigid belted jackets in ponte-knit or scuba fabrics.
The midi skirt’s moment continues with a medley of styles populated across the season’s collections. Key silhouettes include sharp pencil cuts, flowing asymmetric and pleated skirts. Asymmetric options afford flexibility in terms of both movement and styling – pieces crafted from silks, georgettes and chiffons bode well with fitted long-sleeved tops and knitwear and provide a fantastic opportunity to show off a pair of statement boots.
An effortlessly cool essential, the humble T-shirt poses countless sartorial possibilities, from acting as a functional, fuss-free base for reverse layering, to a tongue-in-cheek talking point courtesy of witty slogans. Elegant silk, satin or cotton-poplin options wear well with everything right through from suits to denim, while short sleeve knit varieties sit well over high-waisted trousers and skirts.
Approach knitwear with a bigger is better ethos. Slouchy jumpers and cardigans provide endless options for work and play. Oversized jumpers wear well with jeans, trousers and skirts – consider ones with side split seams to bring fluidity and movement to an ensemble. Ribbed or cable finishes add much needed texture to tonal outfits as do zip or button details.
A key fixture on the autumn/winter runways, a tailored blazer with an accurate fit offers versatility and sophistication in spades. Structure is essential, so pick versions with a defined shape to emulate power and poise. Pair with trousers of any cut, drape over a dress for instant chic or take inspiration straight from the runway and wear with a pleated midi skirt.
In line with the fashion industry’s incline towards modest dressing, full-length gowns and dresses celebrate demure style in colours and prints that are far from dull. Embodying a distinct Victoriana vibe complete with full sleeves, pussy bows and frothy collars, seek out versions with gathered bodices and ruche detailing to emphasise the waist. Wear with heeled ankle boots for evening or embellished sandals and slippers by day.