March 16, 2015 01:00 PM

Welcome Allison McGevna, 31, of Inside Allie’s World, who is joining us as our resident curvy-girl style blogger. She was featured in the December/January issue of PEOPLE StyleWatch and contributes her thoughts on finding the perfect outfit to the site each week. This week, she dishes on what to look for in a no-fail closet essential. (And if her items are sold out, we’ve linked to similar styles below — happy shopping!)

Courtesy Allison McGevna

Every girl needs that one go-to dress in her closet. A dress she can reach for when she’s in a rush for work or a night out. A dress that works hard, works anywhere and works on ANYONE. This is that dress for me. It’s from City Chic and has literally everything I could ever ask for. First, it’s super affordable (in the $100 range) and the quality is amazing. The dress is a thick stretch ponte blend with a luxe silky lining. It looks and feels so much more expensive than it is. It’s definitely NOT one of those flimsy blends you can poke your finger through (that has actually happened to me before!). Trust — the dress is very well-made.

Second, the details are perfection. Let’s start with the peplum. Peplums are truly a curvy girl’s best friend. They’re a great way to accentuate your waist (or give you one). If you’re a little self conscious about your belly area, they’re the perfect solution. They hide your belly, and, generally, prevent you from having to wear shapewear. And, though the dress is fitted, it has an at-the-knee hemline, which feels modest. A longer hem is also great for curvy girls because fitted dresses tend to ride up a bit. If you start with something longer, you don’t have to worry about showing anything you don’t want people to see! The longer length sleeves were appealing to me as well. I totally embrace my shape, but my arms are probably my least favorite part so it’s nice when I don’t have to worry about showing them off. The shoulders on the dress are another wonderful detail. They have this exaggerated ruffle which makes them look really strong, glamorous and modern. Fun fact: Strong shoulders tend to make your waist look smaller!

Lastly, the neckline can be pulled up for a more conservative work look, or down for a pop of cleavage. It really shows off the collarbone on anyone, and is especially great for busty girls like me. And did I mention the color? It’s so sleek! Basically, this dress has everything and IS everything.

RELATED: See even more wardrobe tips from Allison here!

I wanted to add a pop of spring to the dress so I styled it with skinny yellow belt from Eloquii (similar style). It gives it a really nice splash of bright color. Skinny belts tend to work a lot better than thicker ones with a peplum, especially if you’re curvy like me. Thicker belts cut into the peplum and make it look more exaggerated. Plus, you don’t want a thick belt and poofy peplum running across your middle. That will make you look shorter. My hips are my widest part, so I try to go streamlined and elongate my frame as much as possible.

I added a little envelope clutch with yellow piping from Eloquii (similar style) to the look because, again, I felt like it was a fun, subtle nod to spring. But you can easily carry a chic black work tote with this dress for 9 to 5. Black heels like these from Kate Spade (similar style) are such a wardrobe staple and can work on the job or out to drinks. Wearing black and blue together is something my mother always told me never to do, but I think that’s a rule that’s long since been broken by fashion-lovers. The color combo looks so cool! Plus, the pointy toe of the pumps, as you know, is great for that legs-for-days look.

The next time you’re getting your shop on, really think about how much you can get out of one piece. Is it super versatile? Does it flatter you all over? Can you figure out how to style it? Is the quality up to par? Of course, it’s fine to buy some pieces that are more “fast fashion” and might not check all those boxes, but it’s also important to spend your money wisely on pieces that will become closet staples. Plus, it takes a lot off your mind just knowing you can grab that piece and go, go, go!

Do you have a wardrobe staple you always reach for? Why do you love it? What about it works for you? Sound off below!

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