As I read the perceptions of our forum members, hear the thoughts of my own clients, and browse through the musings of fashion bloggers, I realize that very few ladies aspire to a classic sense of style. In fact, many regard classic style as boring, conventional, uninspiring, frumpy and no fun. Some even apologize for having a classic style, wishing that they dressed in a more edgy and arty way. And when ladies happen to describe their style as classic, there is almost always a qualifying “with a twist or edge” because that addition seems more stylish and aspirational. The fear is that they will be viewed as uninteresting, conservative and old fashioned if they have a classic style.
Well, I’m sticking up for classic style big time because it’s hard to beat when well executed. It’s chic, flattering, elegant, strong, attractive, eye-catching and always in style. It’s important to add a touch of MODERN to classic style in order to keep things current and fresh. Even classic items need to be refreshed every five to ten years. This is why I prefer to call an effective classic style, “Modern Classic”. In this way you’re taking the stuffy, staid and traditional components out of the concept and making it killer.
Appreciating the power of classic wardrobe pieces was hands down the most important style lesson that I learned last year. I truly enjoy the simplicity and crispness of classic items, and the more luxurious the fabrication and simpler the cut, the more I love the piece. It’s these characteristics that make the items extremely versatile and therefore powerful. Classic items can be worn together to achieve a modern classic vibe from head to toe. OR they can be mixed together with trendy, arty, urban, bohemian, tomboy, punk, mod or any other type of non-classic style, to give it a more grounded look. At the end of the day, classic wardrobe pieces are called timeless and ageless staples for good reason. Choose them wisely and their versatility and longevity is beyond compare.
Here is a list of items that are the backbone of Modern Classic style. In all instances the clothing pieces are tailored. Nothing is oversized or slouchy, because classic style is very much about impeccable fit.
- White Button Down Shirt: My basic white button downs function like T-shirts, that is, as basics, while my Anne Fontaine button downs are statement pieces.
- Tailored Blazer: A single breasted style with one to three buttons in a cool wool or wool blend.
- Tweed Jacket: Think equestrian or Chanel-esque.
- Trousers: A sleek boot cut, straight leg or wide leg style with a mid rise in a cool wool or rayon-wool blend.
- Pencil Skirt: Waist defining and knee-length is best.
- Striped T-Shirt: Think Breton striped tee.
- Black Turtleneck: If you like to wear fitted high quality turtlenecks, I truly believe that they work with everything.
- Cashmere Pullover and Cardigan: Either V-neck or crew.
- Bootcut Jeans: Wearing them with a pair of killer ankle boots is such a great look.
- Sheath Dress: How can an item be classic, retro and modern all at once? A sheath dress is all these things and that’s why it stands the test of time.
- Peacoat: Double breasted and your choice of self-colour or metallic buttons.
- Trench Coat: Single breasted styles tend to be more universally flattering and hang better when left open. But double breasted styles are just as great when the fit is spot on.
- Single Breasted Wool Coat: Think revere collar, side entry pockets and knee-length.
- Loafers: Although these are a trendy item at the moment, they are classic for sure. The more refined and dressy the style, the more timeless the look.
- Ballet Flats: Chanel introduced them to the world and never looked back. Once again, the dressier the style, the more timeless the look.
- Basic Pumps: Round or pointy toed with a regular shaped heel.
- Flat Riding Boots: Snug on the calf and with little embellishment, if at all. Classic Ralph Lauren to a tee.
- Pearl necklace: Think choker or opera length strands.
- Diamond studs, pearl studs and hoop earrings: They speak for themselves.
You will increase the classic quotient of these items if you choose them in neutral colours. You will decrease the classic quotient by purchasing them in unexpected colours (like wearing a citron peacoat instead of a navy one). Patterns like glen plaids, houndstooth, animal print and pinstripes are timeless too.
Apart from the earrings, loafers, cashmere pullovers and cardigans, I have every item on this list and often multiples of them. Some of the items are in safe neutral colours, while the others are in the loudest of brights. Sometimes I wear classic items from head to toe. At other times I mix classic pieces into edgier and trendier outfits. My style would not function without these key classic items because they’re the magic glue that sticks my ensemble pieces together. All my outfits look and feel better when there is at least one classic item in the mix. Each of the outfits below contains at least one classic item, and in some cases there are several classic pieces.
The aim here is not to convert you to classic style. The point is to drive home that classic items are so very versatile, and can be transformed into YOUR look when mixed and matched YOUR way. That’s what makes them powerful.