Given that most women's wardrobes rely heavily on the basic pieces -- skirts, pants and tops in neutral colors -- the fashion industry's ceaseless cycling and recycling of trends can seem a little, ahem, capricious. And yet out of that hyped-up evolution comes the occasional mutation for the better: a sturdier fabric, a subtle refinement in shape, a splashy detail, a lower price. The clothes on these pages are classics, but with a few new twists. For store details, see page 22.

White stretch top, for economy and class, $12.99 at Target.

Simple black mules, lean and low to the ground, $130 at Nordstrom.

White cotton skirt with out-there details like a label on the hem and snaps at the waist, $99 at Diesel.

Dark gray fitted vest, an alternative to jackets and sweaters, $44 at the Gap.

Loden green back-slit wool skirt, flatteringly long, $185 at Betsy Fisher.

Roomy bag, a couture look at a down-home price, $48 at Bebe.

Black fleece tank top, as soft as a baby blankie, $39 from Club Monaco.

A pumped-up version of the messenger bag, in puffy red nylon, $48 at Guess.

A user-friendly pair of charcoal gray pants, to wear with you name it, $108 at French Connection.

Turtleneck, sleekly silver over jeans or at the office, $148 at Betsy Fisher.

A can-do casual shoe, somewhere between a boot and a flat, $145 at BCBG.

Black skirt with an of-the-moment front zip pocket, in invincible polyester, $136 at Diesel.