In this blog post, I will showcase 4 different women’s classic styles that have interesting origins and endured over long periods of time. In fact, I rounded up 12 timeless wardrobe staples this morning, but found the blog post to be a little too long. I found the history behind each piece fascinating, and thought you would too! I’ll save the other 8 for a later post.
When I think of classic, my mind jumps to classic cars. My grandpa has several different vehicles that would be considered classic cars, including a bright green Chevy truck and a cream and teal hot rod. Often, cars over 20 years old can be considered to be classic. In order to be shown at classic car shows, the vehicles have to represent a distinct era in car making or have a very distinctive style. Just like classic cars, classic fashion styles have endured over long periods of time and are historically memorable. In addition, the word classic (in fashion) has come to be characterized by simple tailored lines.
The 4 Styles Include:
- The Little Black Dress (or LBD for short)
- Classic Pumps
- Ballet Flats
The Little Black Dress
The LBD is the brainchild of Coco Chanel (we all know who that is!) and Jean Patou, designed in the 1920s. Chanel’s idea was to create an extremely versatile, affordable dress in a neutral color, so that it would appeal and be accessible to a wide market of people.
How to Wear It
I personally have more than five little black dresses, and each one has its own distinct style. One word that I would use to describe each dress is elegant (Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). You can dress it up for work, make it more casual for a daytime look, wear it out with girlfriends, or make it sexy for date night.
- Pair your LBD with an amazing pair of heels: neutral, colorful, or printed. You can’t go wrong! In the photo above, I am wearing burgundy cutout ankle boots.
- Wear your LBD plain with neutral accessories. Keep the focus on your dress by wearing nude strappy sandals or pumps.
- Use a clutch for your night out. It adds another little hint of glamour to your LBD, and you can choose a fun pattern, bright color, black on black, or sparkles.
Long ago, there were shoes called chopines, which resemble a type of platform shoe. Often, these shoes reached heights of up to 20 inches. I thought it was funny to learn that these shoes were worn by both the aristocracy and prostitutes. In the mid-1600s, men and women began to have different styles of shoes. Pumps (closed toe heels) began to emerge as solely a women’s shoe, while men’s shoes became more practical and supportive. In addition, women’s shoes became more impractical by the use of delicate materials and embellishments such as silk and velvet.
How to Wear Them
I love how pumps look, but I have to confess that I have trouble finding pairs that fit and feel great all day long during teaching. I would recommend getting pumps first in neutral colors such as nude or black, and then expanding out to prints (leopard, especially) and brighter colors. Anything is more classic in a neutral color, and pumps are no exception. Shoes are one portion of my wardrobe that I would splurge on; leather and more durable materials are so worth it! Pumps are so important to being comfortable and tying together your whole outfit.
- Wear your pumps with basic denim for a sexy yet casual look. In the photographs featured, I am wearing a two-tone ankle strap pump. They are very retro-looking, so they paired nicely with a geometric, Great Gatsby-esque top.
- Dress up a pair of shorts in the summertime with your pumps.
- Create an ultra feminine look by pairing a pleated midi skirt with pumps.
Classic ballet flats were first designed by Rose Repetto in 1956 for actress Brigitte Bardot. Bardot had requested shoes that were as flexible and light as real ballet slippers.
How to Wear Them
When I think of ballet flats, I think of the famous scene of “Funny Face” where Audrey Hepburn gets up and starts dancing in her black cigarette pants and flats. It’s no surprised that she is one of my favorite actresses. She was known for her simple yet exquisite style. In my mind, she was the definition of cool. Be careful when you buy your ballet flats, though. They should have some support on the bottom. If your shoes are too flat or curl upward, they will be terrible for your feet and your back.
- Wear slim-fit cropped pants with your flats for a Hepburn-esque vibe. I love these black cigarette pants with their white tuxedo stripe. I always have a pair of black flats in my wardrobe, no matter what!
- Leggings and skinny jeans also look adorable with ballet flats.
A Really, Really Great Pair of Jeans
You’ve probably heard the story about Levi Strauss and his partner Jacob Davis. Strauss began manufacturing denim fabric, which was originally used for many other things such as tarps. Then in 1873, Jacob Davis came to Strauss, asking for some of the material to make sturdy work pants. In addition, he placed copper rivets along the pockets and flies, which are the areas that rip most on pants. Strauss was so impressed with the idea that he began manufacturing the denim pants, and put Davis in charge of the factory. They also named the pants, “jeans,” after the city of Genoa in Italy, where the first denim trousers were made.
How to Wear Them
I’m pretty sure you don’t need any help knowing how to wear jeans. Jeans are one thing that fits with everyone’s personal style, no matter what. It seems like jeans will be always be in style. It’s just a matter of finding which kind you like best on your body type, and keeping up with the trends. There’s skinny fit, boyfriend, bootcut, flared, wide-leg, trouser-style, patchwork, and embroidered, just to name a few.
One tricky thing may be finding a pair of jeans that fits you best. You want to own at least one pair of jeans that just make you look and feel amazing. I used to have major issues finding jeans that fit my butt and thighs without leaving a huge gap at my waist. There is an article by an incredible fashion blogger, Daneisha Smith (Officially Chic), called, “Where’d You Get Those Jeans?” She shows 3 different pairs of jeans that she loves that are all under $40 each. Check it out here!
- Pair high-waisted jeans with a button-down shirt.
- Wear a more modern top (such as ruffles) with ripped jeans and mule heels.
- Make your look more casual chic by wearing boyfriend jeans, neutral tank or tee, and a trench coat. These jeans are from New York & Company, and I just love them. Any jeans that I’ve gotten from there, whether they are bootcut or boyfriend, fit like a glove!
This post will be the first of a series of posts about classic staples that every woman should own. I hope that even if you already own most of these classic styles, you learned something new and interesting about the history behind each piece. I would love to do a classic wardrobe capsule post after the remaining posts in the series have been published. Tell me about your favorite way to wear these classics in the comments!
Until next time…