Timeless Wardrobe

I was recently interviewed by Lesley Sauls. She wanted to know "What is a timeless wardrobe, and is it possible to have one?"

A timeless wardrobe is one that never goes out of style. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a particular style to it – all wardrobes do – it’s just that the style of a timeless wardrobe is always considered appealing. It’s very possible to create a timeless wardrobe, and in these tough economic times it might actually be the best way to spend money on clothes.

Does timeless equate with dowdy?
Americans could actually learn a lot by following the example of the Europeans – French women in particular. If you look at the example of (now former) French Justice Minister Rachida Dati, she is often regarded as being very stylish but has had to avoid being trendy because it can imply that she’s flighty and not serious. The Europeans have such a strong sense of fashion history ingrained in their culture that it’s easier for them to create a timeless wardrobe. Americans often make the mistake of thinking timeless means styleless, and if you do this you won’t offend anyone, but you will end up looking dowdy or just boring. For women who want to be taken seriously, especially in their profession, this is a mistake because it doesn’t reflect their strong personality. A lot of American women, especially older women, latch on to the 80s as their inspiration and end up looking like a cast member of Dallas! This actually works for some circles, but it also dates you, so it’s not actually timeless.

Is a "Classic" wardrobe a better choice and what does it entail?  
A "classic" wardrobe is more neutral, and does work better for those who in particular work in environments where any hint of fashion implies frivilousness. Sometime the best strategy is really to make your wardrobe disappear, so people are concentrating on you as a person. You do run the risk, though of looking incredibly boring, like you have no imagination.

It seems there’s a scale that pits trendy on one end and timeless on the other with vast ranges in between.  Does that seem accurate?

Yes, the scale is about how often you change your look. For some environments keeping up with the trends make you seem in the know, in touch with current culture so it’s good, but in others it makes you seem flighty because you’re changing your image, which is your message to people telling them what you’re all about. Choosing the right mix between the 2 extremes is a matter of understanding those around you, and who you are as well.

What pieces are essential to a timeless/classic wardrobe?

The little black dress, cashmere cardigan, suit (skirt or trousers), a white blouse, neutral coloured coat, a handbag, shoes and boots, and finally a few pieces of great jewellery – but they need not be expensive to have style.

How do you start a timeless/classic wardrobe?
You start by buying a few high-quality pieces that can be worn in a lot of combinations.

Do some designers or labels trend toward timelessness?
There are so many designers who have "timeless" pieces in their collection – Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Lanvin, Chanel, even Vivianne Westwood – her pieces never go out of style.

Does price tag reflect timelessness?

Yes, because you have to get a certain quality for the piece to last physically after several cleanings, but it doesn’t have to be the highest priced item – just not the lowest.

Where does a person begin to recreate their wardrobe?
Throw out (or just pack away) whatever you’re not wearing. A lot of us have pieces we "love" but haven’t worn for ages – get those out of your closet to make room for things you’ll wear.

Make sure your "foundation garments" – bras and underwear – fit perfectly.
What’s the point of putting a beautiful sweater over a 5 year old saggy bra with no elasticity left?

Are some colors better for creating a timeless look?
Black – it’s hip but also formal and classic.

Should people trend toward a particular colour group, or are they better looking for the right colour for them (ala Color Me Beautiful).

I find that most people naturally tend toward colors that suit them. Choose a base colour and then start to add accent colours.

Can confidence be gained through a timeless wardrobe?
Yes! It’s hard to believe but we can be influenced from the outside in – if you dress well and love what you’re wearing you’ll feel more confident about yourself and that will reflect in your daily life.

Can global issues and "buying green" play into fashion at all?

Buying at a certain price point gives you more assurance that the garment was created ethically without exploiting workers, and buying a certain quality of garment means it will last instead of being worn a few times and tossed out.

Are there tricks for finding quality items in this economic climate?
Check the designer outlets, shop online and check the sales regularly.

Can "timeless" still be "trendy"?
Yes – it’s all about accessories – it can be more than trendy it can be fashion forward. You can adjust the trendiness of a timeless wardrobe just by changing your accessories.

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