House of French

November 26, 2008

Fashion Classics

Filed under: Building Your Perfect Wardrobe — xfrenchx @ 4:11 pm

A classic is an article of clothing, that never goes out of style, season after season, era after era. Although the classics will change slightly to accomodate the current trends and silhouettes, they will always rely on the same principle: timeless appeal. The classics are the basic fundamentals of a wardrobe, so every woman should try to have at least one of each piece, or more if your budget alllows. Once you have the classics, then you start incorporating more unique statement pieces. Usually, you should get these pieces in a neutral palette, which will guarantee many options because all your clothes will compliment each other. If you’re a conservative type of person, instead of buying trendy pieces to add to your classics, you can buy more classics in brighter colours.

Below you will find a list of the classics, with a brief explanation to why the piece is a fundemental staple in your wardrobe. I will go further into detail on each of the classics, in their own posts. There you can read about how to find the right style of classics to flatter your silhouette.

Nanette Lepore; found at Saks Fifth Avenue

Nanette Lepore; found at Saks Fifth Avenue

1. The Fitted Jacket – one of the most important pieces in your fall and spring wardrobes, a fitted jacket can do wonders for your figure. The right jacket can dress up a pair of jeans, or dress down your work outfit when you don’t have time to change. They hide flaws and create curves for those who don’t have any. Every woman should own a great, fitted jacket.

2. A White Blouse – It may seem boring, but a classic white blouse is the building block of any wardrobe. The options are endless with a wide variety of styles in every detail such as collar variations, sleeve lengths, button detailing and fabrics of every kind. A white blouse works with everything, from wearing them under cardigans and jackets, to pairing them with trousers or jeans. They make great layering pieces, and can be worn with any colour in your wardrobe. Doesn’t sound so boring any more …

3. A Black Pantsuit – Not only do do suits work for almost any occupation, but they have recently moved their way into evening attire when paired with the right pieces, such as silk camisoles or flashy jewelry. The black suit is a favourite due to it’s timeless sophistication. Monochromatic black is the most flattering to all body types, but also consider the black pinstripe suit as well. An all black suit with very thin white or silver lines is a great option for slimming your figure, because the thin lines will give the illusion of a leaner body, not to mention what we all know black does for our figure.

Pencil skirt by Milly; $335 at nordstrom.com

Pencil skirt by Milly; $335 at nordstrom.com

4. Turtleneck Sweater – I know so many women who absolutely hate turtlenecks, and refuse to believe that they are actually a closet staple. What I try to tell my friends is that despite all the “old woman” aura that turtleneck’s have, they are more flattering than any other type of sweater and this is why: A turtleneck brings the focus to your face immediately, and then once there, it creates a long lean silhouette that begins all the way at the top of your body. You may not realize it, but any shirt that begins below your collarbone (with the exception of the v-neck), visually cuts off over a foot of your body. If you happen to be short, this is going to make you look much shorter and in turn, stumpier than you actually are. There are many stylish options available now as well, so I urge everyone to search for at least one they really like and try it out.

5. Jeans – I thought I would take a break to talk about a classic that I know every woman loves. A perfect pair of jeans. This staple was actually most recently added to the list of classics, after insider’s realized that jeans were more rampant in people’s closets than any other classic. I guess the fact that jeans have only gotten more and more popular as time moves on, it became clear that they had earned their right to make the list. I don’t need to tell anyone why they’re on their list, because we all know, but I will say that it is crucial that every woman has at least 1 pair of high quality jeans in their life. Check out the feature on Jeans themselves for more info on finding a great pair.

6. Pencil Skirt – One of my personal favourites, the pencil skirt it heralded by some, but feared by most. Due to it’s pencil shape that reveals all your below the belt imperfections, the majority of women refuse to even try a pencil skirt on. You do not need to be thin to wear this skirt, and if you can get over all your preconceived notions, you will learn that finding the right one for your body shape will in fact flatter you as well. The pencil skirt adds a bit of sophisticated glamour to any wardrobe, especially for work. While pantsuits can feel boring or masculine, the pencil skirt is appropriate yet sexy attire for work, and you can still wear them on regular occasions too!

7. Pumps – The most reliable and feminine shoe, the pump is a must have for any female! There are so many varieties offered, from peep toes, slingbacks, round toes, pointed toes, stiletto heel, kitten heel .. the list goes on and on. The pump is perhaps the single most important thing you can own as a woman. Putting on a pair of perfect heels can entirely change a woman’s appearance. When you’re wearing heels, your whole body is lifted, your shoulders and hips go back, and your chest goes up, creating proper posture. Proper posture exudes confidence, which is always hot. All in all, everything just looks better when you’re in heels.

Structured Bag by Longchamp; $845 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Structured Bag by Longchamp; $845 at Saks Fifth Avenue

8. Structured Bag – It’s very important that a woman has a great, timeless bag, that will last many seasons, compliment everything in your closet, and carry everything you need on a daily basis. It should be your go to bag when you’re in a hurry because you know it will work. It’s very wise to splurge on a well made, simple bag to get you through everything, but will last you longer than any of your clothes (provided you take good, proper care of it). As a rule, the bag should be a neutral, black and beige hues are the most popular and versatile options, but nuetrals match anything so whichever you perfer will work. Another great option is a what can be called a colour-neutral. This Longchamp bag is a deep burgandy brown – and it’s likely to be just as timeless as any other neutral.

9. Cardigan – A cardigan, whether on it’s own or as a set is a great investment, and you should aim to have more than one. There are so many options when it comes to cardigans, but they all do the same thing: add warmth and chic sophistication to any outfit, whether it be jeans or a skirt. A well fitted cardigan in a great fabric can make all the difference in making your outfit look great. You could wear $30 jeans, a $5 tank top and hand-me-down “vintage” shoes, then throw on a cashmere cardigan and you will look chic, TRUST ME! Speaking of cashmere, that’s the material you should aim for in a cardigan. While pure 100% cashmere will cost you at least $200, you can always find a cashmere blend, or a lower quality of cashmere. The sweater will still look good, but for a smaller cost.

10. Trenchcoat – Who doesn’t love the smart but sexy way you look in a trenchcoat? It just works, with almost everything! The only rule to a trenchcoat is that if you’re not tall you HAVE to wear heels, or get a short trenchcoat (but that isn’t really the same). Trenchcoats are a great item to have, because they look great with a skirt (and of any length that isn’t to the floor!), they look great with a suit, and instantly dress up jeans. If you pay for a good quality one, it should also be waterproof and keep you warm through late fall. Again, it’s best to choose one in a neutral hue, but if you like to be bold they come in many rich hues that probably wouldn’t look out of place the next year.

11. Trousers – Every woman should own a great pair of trousers, that fit well. A trouser is a great item to have because they are great as work pants, and paired well with blouses, jackets and cardigans. Aside from work, they are also great as seperates for your personal wardobe when pairing with flashy tops or maybe tucked into a pair of boots. There are many wonderful styles and fabrics to choose from, with tweed being a long favourite, as well as reliable black and sophisticated pinstripes. More casual options include light greys and browns.

Smi-fitted Sheath by Banana Republic; $150

Semi-fitted Sheath by Banana Republic; $150

12. Sheath Dress –The sheath is not only a timeless dress, but one that is very much in style right now. The sheath is similar to a shift dress (which is this fall’s most trendy dress), but a sheath follows the natural lines of the body and is usually fitted, whereas a shift has an A-Line silhouette. A sheath always looks prim and classy, looks great under a trench or cardigan, and is a sophisticated and girly option for work.

13. Pea Coat – Pea Coats are a great option for those women whose silhouette doesn’t work with a trench, or if you just prefer a shorter style of coat. This is a very basic piece of a wardobe, with limits to styles, so if you’re looking for a stand-out jacket you should look for it in a bright colour. Otherwise, a neutral is a good option because it will last you forever. Try to choose a silhouette that is timeless, one that fits well, so it will never look dated.

14. Camisole – Another great layering piece, camisoles can be used under everything in the winter, or worn on its own in the summer. Camisoles come in so many styles, from plain cotton to silky, lacy styles. You can wear them under your suits for a girly twist on your work clothes, or pair one with your jeans for a night out. The camisole is a building block, and you should stock up on more than one in several styles, fabrics and colours, since they are an inexpensive way to incorporate colour and trends into your wardrobe.

15. Pearls – They might say Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but fashion begs to differ. Pearls are the accessory to have, no matter what the jewelry trends are. Pearls have a timeless appeal because they are delicate, ladylike, and make any outfit look elegant. Most of the time, the only thing that changes about pearls year after year is their size, but once in a while colourful pearls will emerge. For staying power, simple white pearls, not too big but not too small, are your best choice. Big pearls tend to be in style less often than small pearls, but too small ones can look matronly so right in the middle is the string you’ll want to last you for years. If you like to be bold and trendy, go for a colourful string, but try a light, muted colour.

Strapless Dress by Betsey Johnson; $255 at bluefly.com

Strapless Dress by Betsey Johnson; $255 at bluefly.com

16. Little Black Dress – Any good stylist will tell you, that every woman should have a Little Black Dress in their closet. There are so many different styles and cuts, there is definately more than one good black dress out there for every girl. Since your black dress is in a forever-stylish hue, and a properly fitted item can never go out of style, you’re pretty much guranteed to use this dress for years. A good idea is to buy one or two classic styles that are timeless, then purchase a trendy black dress every year or so, when the trends change. This way, not only will your little black dresses be reliable, but you’ll have a fun style as well.

17. Boots – Although the overall style of boots changes, a basic boot is likely to last you for a very long time. Even investing in a trendy pair of boots is likely to give you a few seasons, since boots are limited in variety of styles, and even this seasons ankle boots and booties are likely to stay in for a quite a few years. The most timeless, reliable type of boot to buy? A mid-calf leather boot with little detailing, and a stiletto heel. The toe shouldn’t be too distinct, not completely round, but not extremely pointy. Just in the middle is likely to have more timeless appeal than the others. A neutral shade is the best choice, obviously black being the most reliable. If you’d prefer to buy updated boots every couple of years, go ahead for something slightly trendy, but still keep in mind that you may want to save them for years down the road, they may end up being vintage quality.

Basic White Tee by Splendid; $42 at Nieman Marcus

Basic White Tee by Splendid; $42 at Nieman Marcus

18. A-Line Skirt – Widely loved by all, the A-Line skirt is the most flattering skirt, and a very feminine addition to your wardrobe. The A-Line can come in different lengths, although the most popular and flattering is definately just below the knee. The A-Line is a great piece to have, because it’s very comfortable, chic and can be dressed up or down with just a switch of pieces. Layering over stockings, worn with a sweater in rich Christmas colours can be cheerful for winter, and in florals or neutrals with sandals and a tank top can be beachy for summer. There are so many ways to wear this skirt, you’ll find yourself stocking up on these soon enough!

19. Basic Tee – A simple tee, most often suggested in white or black, is a great layering piece, as well as a comfortable option for the weekend, just hanging out or for other casual affairs. With so many options to choose from, there is a perfect tee for every size, shape and personality. The possibilities really are endless, from the styles you can choose from to the versatility it will have in your wardrobe.

20. Wrap Dress – One of the most flaterring pieces you could possibly own, the wrap dress has been a favourite ever since it made it’s debut in 1975, a la Diane von Furstenberg. The dress is universally flattering for women of all sizes and ages, and can come in many different styles, prints and fabrics. If there is ever a need for a great, reliable dress, you should definately consider buying a wrap style. Finding one in a solid hue is your best bet, since – providing it’s good quality and well cared for – it should last you the rest of your life. Then, if you’re ever stuck for something to wear, you’ll have the perfect dress.

**To get a better idea of how to work the classics and find the ones for you, check back for my upcoming, individual posts on each and every classic.

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