One of the smartest ways to develop an effective style is to have a core wardrobe of classic garments. This is the little-black-dress approach to dressing. Here's how it works: The little black dress is that one go-to dressy dress you know looks great on you. (We all pretty much know when we look great, right?) If turquoise is in this year, wear the black dress, but enhance it with a turquoise shawl and maybe a coral bracelet or evening bag (complementary colors on the color wheel usually work together well).
The little black dress takes the stress out of dressing up. Because it's so basic, it never looks trendy (that's what the accessories are for), but it still always looks good on you. It's a classic. Your little black dress can be short if you have great legs or long with a V-neck if your legs are just OK but your upper body is nicely proportioned. It can be sleeveless or belted, and made from any of a variety of materials. Because it'll probably be a keeper over a number of years, you can invest a little more money in it than you would a one season wonder, too.
It turns out there are lots of garments that work like the little black dress in your wardrobe. Most fashion experts have their own lists of must-have essentials. After you've found a few quality pieces that work for your lifestyle, use them as building blocks to enhance your look.