Sometimes the simplest pieces are the most difficult to find.
The perfect nude pumps - not too pink, not too camel, right height - or the black jacket that can be worn with jeans, or a designer dress are the items that make a wardrobe.
Elizabeth Burke ( Tiffani Thiessen) of USA Network's "White Collar" has that streamlined perfection down. As a New York party planner who is also working in an art gallery, Burke needs to present herself in a chic and polished way.
"If I had to give her one word, it would be classic, not trendy," Thiessen says. "I find her to be very straightforward. We wanted to make sure she was definitely a New York girl."
Though Thiessen is a Californian, she says, "Elizabeth is the closest to my true self to any character I have played in my life; she is very career-driven and extremely passionate. One of the things that drew me to the show was actually seeing a marriage on TV that works, and you see why it works."
Thiessen and costume designer Karen Malecki meet at Saks and Bergdorf's to shop for Elizabeth's wardrobe.
"It makes it a fun day and makes it a little easier for Karen as well," Thiessen says. "It is her first season, and she doesn't know my body. I can go and say I just know my body and if something doesn't work for me."
Thiessen's other favorite store in Manhattan is Barneys.
Like any sophisticated New Yorker, she has a few little black dresses, and Malecki's favorites are a Roland Mouret, a French designer, and Yigal Azrouel, an Israeli designer.
The character intentionally doesn't wear suits, which the show reserves for FBI agents. Elizabeth does, however, wear jackets, including DVF, Theory, and Rag & Bone. Her blouses are Hugo Boss, Joie, Michael Kors, Theory and Club Monaco.
If Elizabeth has a signature look, it would be a white trench coat from Joseph.
Her shoes are also high end: Manolo, Prada and Gucci. Her jewelry is in keeping with her honed style of simple elegance. She wears pieces from Wendy Mink, Me & Ro, Helen Ficalora, and a small shop in Manhattan's SoHo district, Item.
Though some of these dresses cost what many people spend in a couple of years on clothes, those who want to create Elizabeth's look for less can do so by shopping at Club Monaco and Zara.
"They have very clean, basic lines," Malecki says, "and the fit is good."