Q What happened to good taste? The styles today are reminiscent of Frederick's of Hollywood catalogs.

-- Tamara Mayfield, Fairfax

A Good taste is out there -- you just have to look beyond the windows of Bebe (or the cover of Us Weekly) to find it. Tilda Swinton, Sofia Coppola, Blair Underwood, Jude Law: Sure, these celebs have major clothing budgets, but the reason they look great isn't purely a matter of money. (Paris Hilton stands as proof that chic cannot be purchased.) It's that they choose clothes with an eye for style, not trendiness, opting for polished pieces that can be worn in a number of different ways. While you may not be able to afford their luxe labels, you can co-opt the basic concept. The following classics have a place in any closet.

5 MUST-HAVES FOR WOMEN

1. A long tiered skirt. An ankle-skimming version with an elastic waist can double as a strapless dress. It's a great way to add a hippie-chic vibe to your wardrobe without going on a buying binge at Anthropologie.

2. A colorful tank. Layer it under a low-cut dress, show off the straps with a boatneck sweater, or wear it on its own. The only rule? The brighter, the better.

3. A cropped trench. Choose one that hits at low-hip, and you'll be able to pair it with pants or a skirt. A tip: Navy and black dress up easier than standard-issue khaki.

4. A little black dress -- emphasis on the "little." Look for one crafted from lightweight cotton, and you can wear it on its own or as a tunic over jeans.

5. Ballet slippers. They can go boho or black tie, and are the rare breed of flats that won't make legs look stumpy.

5 MUST-HAVES FOR MEN

1. Straight-leg jeans. Denim goes everywhere these days -- and in blues that are stylish enough for a date, yet traditional enough for brunch with the folks, so can you.

2. A plain tee. Now that shirts with ironic sayings have hit critical mass, clean and simple never looked so good.

3. A track jacket. Choose one in a non-flashy color, and you can sub it in for a blazer at many places.

4. A collared shirt in a punchy pattern. Look for a spread collar, no french cuffs (too high-maintenance) and enough personality that it can be worn sans tie -- but not so much that you'll be That Guy in the Patterned Shirt.

5. Sneakers that aren't your running shoes. There's a time and a place for well-worn trainers -- it just isn't Friday night.

Suzanne D'Amato

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