With The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials For You (Atria Books, $22.99), Lloyd Boston’s timing couldn’t have been better. In this back-to-classics fashion season, the idea is to build a lasting wardrobe based on the perfect essentials—exactly the message of this extremely readable, practical guide.

A fashion industry veteran, Lloyd Boston is a top TV style expert, television host, and author of three previous style books.  He’s also developed smartphone apps (for both iPhone and Android) to help you choose.

Boston’s approachable, entertaining tone makes this latest book, like his others, a delight to read. In categories ranging from work and travel to weekend and evening, he outlines exactly which pieces belong in a well-dressed woman’s wardrobe. In fact, for the practical-minded, this would be a great guide to bring along on shopping expeditions.

Even for the experienced fashionista, The Style Checklist serves as a reminder of the many ways to update a wardrobe without losing sight of what Boston calls our “closet classics,” the “icons of universal style.” Whether a trench, a black patent pump, or a sequined tank, each item in the book is examined in terms of functionality and versatility, all in an engaging fashion. For example, Boston describes the black turtleneck as “the Henry Clay of a fashionable wardrobe, the great compromiser, if you will.”

He goes on to outline 25 classic, foolproof outfit combinations built around it, from white jeans with red kitten heels to a black satin ball gown skirt with metallic heels (love that look!). And that’s only the beginning. With many of the showcased items, a feature at the bottom of the page called Perfect Partners adds five thumbnail photos of pieces that coordinate with that item, along with the page on which they can be found. This cross-referencing offers terrific insights on how to make fashionable combinations with wardrobe essentials.

Boston also emphasizes the importance of impeccable tailoring. Many people feel that clothes need to fit straight off the rack, but this is a fallacy—very few of us have perfect runway- proportioned bodies. (I for one frequently tailor my clothes because I know it’s the only way I’m going to get the flattering look I want.) As Boston explains, “tailored clothing can look more expensive, trim the figure to appear slimmer, and conceal anxiety areas that chip away at your self confidence on important days.” In terms of fit, he also talks about choosing the correct garment for your body type, as well as offering basic sartorial rules and suggestions. For example, when choosing a jacket or suit, he suggests opting for the single-button style over the two or three button model, because the jacket can then do double duty as a dressier piece in the evening. The book is full of these useful tips. And for all of us who love the “fabulous at every age” stories in popular fashion magazines, The Style Checklist sprinkles in a similar feature as well.

I’ve already read through this book several times and will go back to it again—it’s just that full of great information. If you prefer, you can follow Boston’s suggestions strictly “by the book.” Or you can play with the concepts and mold them to your own style and taste.

And when you’ve assembled enough of the book’s essential pieces and are comfortable with putting them together, you may want to move on to Lloyd Boston’s Before You Put That On: 365 Daily Style Tips For Her, a more advanced—and more fun—tome on how to assemble outfits day by day, season by season. You’ll be happy and confident walking into your closet every day.

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