It's no longer enough for a garment to be so appealing that you can't resist buying it and wearing it immediately.
With the high cost of clothing today (and it's not likely to get better), it's essential to buy something that you can wear now and for many seasons to come. The best clothes are seasonless pieces that can be layered to suit both warm and cold temperatures.
That's the appeal of many heavy cotton and silk items. Turtlenecks, shirts, even double skirts or pants underneath make them appropriate to wear now under a warm coat; and later they can be pared down to the essential parts.
Clockwise from upper left: A basic, soft, easy cotton dress with drawstring waist by kay Unger for St. Gillian, layered for now - under with a silk shirt and over with a boxy vest. (Dress at Woodward & Lothrop. $78)
Jacques Molko's big shirt of nubby silk, shown for colder days with a woolen cowl neck, and drawstring pants with paperbag waist. (Saks/Jandel. Shirt $185)
One of the best early spring suits around - Willi Wear's tweedy cotton soft skirt and unconstructed blazer, here with dotted silk shirt. (Ann Taylor, Jacket $32, skirt $44).
A great big smock in a plaid shot with gold can be layered up for warmth now, and maybe be worn over a bathing suit later. (Ann Taylor. $42)