You know those lists of the 5 pieces every woman needs to own? I never relate to them, and never come away with anything I can use for myself. I don't want a white shirt! I hate white shirts! I don't want an LBD! I have no-where to wear one!

Now , of course I know these lists are to be taken with a grain of salt, and are absolutely tailored to one's lifestyle but it's the theme behind my current malaise: I have nothing to wear and have a closet full of one-offs. I've been on the forum now since the summer, and vowed to get my wardrobe under control when I started participating and reading. I'm not sure I've achieved anything other than knowledge, which hasn't translated into acquiring the pieces that make up a working weekday/daytime wardrobe.

I now know many of you, and I know there are quite a few of us who share a similar lifestyle: full-time career, but work from a home office, lots of casual activities on weekends, and little call for suits/dresses and other formal wear. So tell me: what are the , say, 5 or 7 or 8 pieces that form the backbone of your closet. That are essential to mixing and matching. That you would absolutely repeat if you had to start fresh. That you replace often because they get worn that much.

I honestly feel I am a bit clueless here. Intellectually I know what to do but I know I'm defensive and resistant to certain things because I'm afraid of them. I'm also the most impatient and hurried shopper there is. I hate browsing and trying on. So I end up buying and rebuying the same things - and they are all stand-alone statement=y things that I rarely wear. For example, I recently bought the most beautiful lilac cashmere oversized sweater . Gorgeous, and a colour I know looks great on me. I've worn it once. Why? Because all I have to wear it with are black pants . Bored already. And it seems intimidating to have to continue to buy more things to go with other things - the cycle doesn't seem to end. But I know I need to start somewhere, and i would love your help.

If you have a small budget to use for a select number of pieces, what has worked best for you that I might learn from?