Archive | December, 2009

Classic-ism

30 Dec

What is it to wear a classic or to be a classic woman? Often it’s synonymous with a classy look, a look that’s sophisticated, polished, simple, and timeless. But the timeless aspect really makes a piece classic. The design that can withstand the winds of change in the fashion world and come out just as popular as before, perhaps with a few tweaks. It is an item or an outfit that is considered essential in a woman’s wardrobe. Black. Black is a classic. Black and white. Black and white and red. A simple pump, a pointed pump, a little black dress, a pencil skirt, a fitted suit. These are classics when worn in a traditional way. But occasionally they are given a modern or trendy twist. The difference is the basic design can last through time and can just as easily be worn today as 50 years ago. These are classics.

Certain women exude the feeling of classic or classy. Back in the 50s and 60s, the star Audrey Hepburn set some pretty high standards that many women still follow today.

Audrey defines classic in Breakfast at Tiffany's

What makes this stunning black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s classic is its simple shape, the way it hugs her body, the elegance and class of the neckline, and of course the seductive matching gloves. This is a look that can be worn today exactly as it appears or with a modern adjustment like a shorter hemline, a bubble bottom, etc.

Kate Winslet and Anne Hathaway are always graceful on the red carpet. These are modern classic gowns – in black, elegant, etc. I love Kate’s dress here. This Yves St. Laurent strapless from this past year’s golden globes is so flattering. Bare shoulders are always sexy, and the rest is just elegant. It cinches her waist perfectly and adds a small bit of bling with the small adornment. What really makes this classic and classy, however, is her poise, her confidence, and the grace with which she carries herself. This is, after all, half the battle in what you wear.

Anne is everyone’s favorite princess. She is always classic and charming. This Valentino dress would be a very modern version of Audrey’s black dress. The sequins and plunging neckline are, of course, a modern flair but this lovely lady can still be considered classy if she wore a paper bag.

Here we have our favorite Brit Victoria Beckham. She clearly makes  her own decisions on fashion and doesn’t follow any of the rules. A  suit for a lady is a necessity, of course. The structure and sharp lines  in this one make it chic but it is still a classic ensemble. A blazer will  never go out of style, though the size and shape of it may change.  Black trousers and a great pair of pumps are essential. This deep v  neckline and shortened sleeves with fierce gloves is a very strong  look. Victoria pulls it off flawlessly, of course.

A classic look doesn’t have to be plain or old. But it has to have staying power that trends and modern tweaks do not. This requires a semblance of simplicity, a basic essential that can be worn by any woman at any time. It’s the reason the Audrey look is still strongly in style and the reason the LBD is still at the top of everyone’s list. Black is a classic color because it never goes out of style. Mixed with white, it appears even classier, and add red for a bold touch. Many pieces can be classic if they follow a timeless shape. But don’t forget that it’s the woman in the clothing that makes it classy and unforgettable. Carry yourself with grace and sophistication and maybe you’ll be a trendsetter like the ladies of Hollywood.

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Fashion…isms

29 Dec

Can you speak fashion? Is it a language, learned like any other? Is it a necessity? Is it an art? Is it all three? Do we define its laws and standards or does it define us?

An “ism” is a belief, principle, or movement, and can be the defining attribute of something or someone. Fashion is built on -isms – on beliefs, on movements, on “defining attributes” – that it hopes the world will follow. So what are these -isms of this beloved fashion world? How do they come to be and how do they change?

Stunning Kate at the opening of Nine

Taking it as a language, fashion can be difficult to speak. What does it mean to be “chic,” to be “trendy,” to be “flattering” or have the “perfect fit”? – No, what does it actually mean for the real, everyday woman who simply wants to show off her best side? For instance, do we know how commonplace items like those that end up in malls become such, being derived and simplified from the high designs appearing on our runways? Where is the connection between what we have available to us and what we see on that runway? What can we get from the magazines, from the celebrities, who seem to know the latest trends before they become such, who seemingly create the trends themselves? How could we have predicted that Uggs would become a huge craze, that the colors of the 80s would reappear, that heels of epic heights would be established as essential in the wardrobe of every female, and how do we stay on top of these movements? It is not expected for every woman – or every man – to become fluent in the language of fashion. My hope is that this will serve as a guide – the Rosetta Stone of fashion if you will – so that together we can take meaning from every new development and allow this form of expression to be discussed objectively and openly.

In all people, there is a small, yet catalytic thought that sparks in their minds as they open their closet doors or their dresser drawers, as they sift through the pile of clothes on their floors or the racks in the stores, seeking to find an item or two or three that follows that particular thought, that particular -ism they seek to live up to today. Be it comfort, function, trend, style, self-expression, warmth, or whatever the reason we dress ourselves each day, there is a thought – either a tiny nugget of consideration or an explosion of possibilities – that causes us to choose what we do. More often than not, it goes beyond simple function. We live in a world where doors are closed to us if we are not wearing the right type of clothing. You simply can’t show up to a wedding in shorts, or dine in a fine establishment with a baseball cap. We can’t even enter the simplest of public places without the proper garments. We need suits to interview, suits to swim, we need pajamas to sleep in and uniforms to play in. And beyond that, these need to be current, flattering, and unique. How did this come to be so? More imperatively, what -ism will we follow next?