Classics: Styles Here to Stay
tapestry, issue no. 3
Classics: Style Here to Stay
With the rise in popularity of the capsule wardrobe and Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism, women are paring back their wardrobes in an attempt to simplify their lives. They're crafting uniforms for themselves with pieces they return to over and over again-helping eliminate the dread of putting together an outfit each morning because there are fewer pieces from which to choose and one's entire closet is more cohesive.
When doing this, it's important to invest in some timeless staples that will anchor the rest of your wardrobe—pieces that have been part of the fashion narrative for decades, pieces that have a sense of legacy woven into their very fibers. They transcend the look of the month, the year, the decade, creating a look that never goes out of style.
When you have a small arsenal of such garments, you can not only wear all those pieces together to create a no-fail look, but you can also mix and match them with bolder pieces from your wardrobe—that floral skirt or that coral blazer—and you have an au courant look that still manages to look grounded. With these pieces as your guide, you're able to interpret current fashions through the lens of history and apply them to your own wardrobe in a way that is uniquely you.
And just what are those pieces that build the foundation of any good wardrobe? A Breton striped shirt, a trench coat, a little black dress, ankle-crop pants, a plain white tee, and a non-branded carryall tote.
The trench coat as it is known today was first designed for the British army in the early 1900s. Reserved for officers, the coat was cut below the knees in a slight A-line shape to allow for easy movement and to avoid muddy hemlines when in the trenches; the epaulettes at the shoulders existed to display military rank; the small cape across the shoulders shed precipitation; the collar buttons at the neck, not only protecting from weather, but offering an airtight seal when wearing gas masks; and the belt, often hung with D-rings, allowed officers easy access to their gear. Though it is widely debated whether Burberry or Aquascutum originated this coat, both design houses helped make it what it is today.
Though the trench coat was first designed for men, it didn't take long for cutting-edge women like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn to adopt the style. And it was Audrey Hepburn in the final scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's that made this coat the style icon that it is today. Made to keep out the rain while promoting breathability, it's the perfect three-season coat. A knee-length cut offers optimal versatility, as it will look just as chic with a cocktail dress and heels as it will with jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. And khaki coloring? Well, it just matches everything.
The ankle-crop pant
Think: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. A chic alternative to jeans, black or navy ankle-crop pants are perfect for occasions where you aren't sure of the dress code. They're the ideal in-between piece, something that can be ultra-sleek when paired with a cashmere sweater, but can be quite low-key when paired with a t-shirt. And the exposed ankle? It's surprisingly leg-lengthening.
THE PLAIN WHITE TEE
James Dean made the plain white tee an all-American classic, and it's been an essential basic ever since. It makes for an ideal light layer under a blazer and creates a laid-back look when paired with denim cut-offs. From linen, to lightweight cotton and slub knits, it's worth spending a little more for a tee that will keep its shape and flatter yours. Prone to spilling? You can't go wrong with a light grey t-shirt either.
THE BRETON STRIPE
This shirt is the ultimate multi-tasker. Dress up your stripes with a pencil skirt or blazer, and dress them down with denim and some leather sandals—they're suitable for any occasion. Feeling blue? Put on your favorite striped shirt. Celebrating a promotion? Striped shirt. First date? Striped shirt, of course. No other top can emanate that casual sophistication, that ease and confidence, that tried and true sensibility. Nothing but the Breton Stripe.
It first hit the scene as a uniform in the French Navy in the mid-1800s. With a precise 21 stripes, each one signified one of Napoleon's naval victories. But it was Coco Chanel who brought it to the masses when she introduced a nautical-inspired striped shirt in her 1917 resort-wear collection. From there, the likes of Jean Seberg, Edie Sedgwick, and Lauren Hutton made it an absolute classic. And Breton? It refers to Brittany, the region in France where these striped shirts originated.
There's a reason the little black dress is on every woman's must-have list. More of a theory than a precise style, the LBD is simply a black dress that is affordable, that flatters the wearer, and is of a cut and material that can easily be dressed up or down. Paired with slip-on sneakers and an unbuttoned denim shirt, you exude casual cool. But when donned with a statement necklace and a pair of avant-garde heels? You're all elegance and high fashion. Pair it with flats, and you have a no-brainer office outfit. Basically, it can take you anywhere, and you will always look good.
Though black was long considered the color of mourning, it was once again Coco Chanel, whose 1926 sketch published in Vogue made the black dress a womenswear staple. Vogue called it the Model T Dress-created to be an affordable wardrobe workhorse that takes you everywhere you need to go with ease and grace.
THE CARRY-ALL TOTE
The bag that does it all. From a visit to the Farmer's Market to daily trips to the office, the perfect carryall tote is non-branded, large enough for all of your essentials (including a laptop or tablet), and sturdy enough for everyday use. A cognac or black leather tote will truly go with anything, but a sturdy canvas tote can be equally as versatile.