When it comes to fashion, all of us have too many clothes. Guilty as charged. We splurge on panic buys that sit at the back of wardrobes shame-faced and ignored. We buy things for weddings we would point and laugh at under any other circumstances. Having recently seen a gorgeous pair of silver metallic jeans on Elle Macpherson I went straight out and poured myself into a pair. Did I look like Elle? Did I heck. I looked like an extra from a Slade video, circa 1973. You see, it’s all about investment dressing in the end. Even when times are lean it still pays to buy the best you can afford, and classic doesn’t have to equal boring. Corine Roitfeld mixes classic items with nouveau looks for real rock chick glam. As you know, I am a list maker, so here are my Top Ten Buys that every woman should own, in no particular order……
First comes the belted trench and really, when it comes to trench coats, there is only one to go for – Burberry. They are updated every season and this year’s leather and butterscotch suede versions are to-die-for. So beautifully worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the belted trench looks just as good worn over a daytime dress as it does nonchalantly thrown over eveningwear. It is simply the coat that will last a lifetime, and whatever version you wear it will always earn you style kudos. For High Street buys you can’t beat Zara for a great trench. So, whatever your budget, it’s time to belt up!
Invented by Coco Chanel, and again worn elegantly by Audrey in Hubert de Givenchy, the Little Black Dress should always be playful, but never predictable. This one by Valentino Red is absolute perfection – knee length, with a sexy lace insert and belted waist. How you style it up is really up to you, but my way usually involves very chunky pearls, a classic black shoe and a ruby red lip. If you want to get your pick of the High Street LBD’s then Karen Millen is the label to beat. Every season they produce perfect black cocktail dresses that would give this number a run for its money. Just!
The white shirt never needs to be stuffy and traditional. This one, again by Valentino Red, has a real seventies feel to it and would look equally as fabulous with jeans as it would with a cocktail skirt, or under a black tux. The devil is in the detail. If you are going for a classic, crisp white shirt then go for one by Ralph Lauren. No-one can beat the Americans when it comes to great cotton pieces! On the High Street, Reiss and Thomas Pink make beautifully styled white shirts. Whatever your budget, make sure your white shirt is spotless and box fresh.
When it comes to scarves there really is one name to call on – Hermes. When it comes to the ultimate scarf appeal I always picture Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief, but the scarf is just as modern and relevant today and Hermes have a myriad to choose from. Whether worn traditionally at the neck, or as a bracelet, or a headband……or even round a Hermes Kelly bag, it screams of French style. When it comes to scarves I don’t think there is a High Street brand that does a great substitute. The solution? Try the Hermes Twilly scarf. At £95 it isn’t cheap, but is a small price to pay for a little piece of fashion history.
Nothing adds a touch of style to any outfit more then a tuxedo, and there is no better tuxedo than a YSL Le Smoking. When Yves Saint Laurent first introduced his eponymous tux it turned Christian Dior’s ladylike New Look on its head. Andrognyous, feminine and fearless all at the same time, a black tux is the ultimate fashion statement. The same version in cream is just as powerful – no-one rocked it better than Bianca Jagger when she married Mick. It screams glamour and Studio 54 in equal measure. On the High Street, Mango do a more casual tux – Kate Moss looks great in hers. Enough said.
A quilted bag never goes out of style and the Chanel 2.55 stands coiffed head and shoulders above the rest. Created by Coco herself, it is the bag that sets the standard in accessories, with the Hermes Kelly coming a close second. The Chanel 2.55 is literally the bag that every woman wants to own, whether she teams it with Converse or Manolo Blahniks. A true fashion luxury, it is the one item that every fashionista agrees on. For a great High Street quilted bag I go to Russell and Bromley every time, but really, there is nothing to match the original.
Maxmara make fashion’s most feted camel coat and their reign remains unbeaten. It is quite simply the best investment winter coat you could ever buy. It is restyled every season, remains modern and chic whilst ignoring the more flagrant vagaries of fashion. It is the mainstay of the Maxmara label, the Italian label that is best known for beautiful, chic pieces that real women want to invest in. It is a notorious coat for the High Street to match but both Reiss and Marks and Spencer do so with aplomb. If you can, though, invest in Maxmara, and you will have a fashion friend for life.
Jeans are the most notorious fashion buy to get right. With so many brands, cuts and styles to choose from it is a sartorial nightmare. There is a huge chance that a certain style or brand will make you look like a sack of spuds. So the key questions are – do they fit me? Do they flatter my shape? Is the length just right? If they measure up ,buy three pairs, and leave anything with bleach, chains or rips to Rihanna. It is hard to keep up with the who’s who in denim but J Brand never, ever fail to make great jeans. On the High Street head straight to Armani Exchange and River Island. This is one area where the High Street really deliver the goods!
What can I say about the perfect T? It has to fit well, be soft and comfortable, with a just-right neckline and flattering length. This one by Valentino Red is perfection – the bow just adds that touch which sets it apart as special. When you find the perfect T, buy several, and when in doubt champion plain over embellished. Again this is another area where the High Street comes up trumps and Gap and American Apparel are full of brilliant T’s!
And last, but not least, the shoes. Of course, every woman should own a pair of black shoes and these beauties by Jimmy Choo add a touch of colour and spice to any look. I think every woman should own a pair of Choos! Now that more ladylike style are making a comeback we are simply spoilt for choice. On the High Street the choice is fantastic, with LK Bennett doing more classic styles and Kurt Geiger producing more directional collections. But still, there is nothing quite like a pair of Choos!