From a Breton top to a camel coat and ballet pumps, the classics that every wardrobe should include
– By BibbySowray
1. Camel Coat
Put simply, the camel coat is the mother of all outerwear. The most iconic is, of course, MaxMara’s ‘101801’ coat – released in 1981, its double-breasted design hasn’t changed since and it still sells like hotcakes. Most recently, the simple, mannish wool camel coat was popularised by Phoebe Philo for Céline, when it was included in her first collection for the fashion house, Resort 2010. Its appeal is two-fold; it’s practical and enduring – it’s warm in winter but is equally as appropriate draped over the shoulders at a spring or cool summer’s day wedding thanks to its pale hue, something that sets it apart from its black and navy counterparts. Look for a classic, masculine cut that is straight as opposed to nipped in at the waist.
2. White shirt
So simple, yet so essential, the white shirt is the foundation of any wardrobe. It’s also the most multi-functional item, taking you from work to play with just the quick unfastening of a couple of buttons. It doesn’t matter what style – fitted, boyfriend etc – or even what fabric – from silk to heavy cotton – go with whatever suits your personal style best.
3. Ballet pumps
Gamine in shoe form, the ballet pump has never really gone away. The style has defied trends, fads and the on-slaught of the increasingly vertiginous heel. How? They’re simple, classic and elegant – the latter being a quality hard to come by in many a flat shoe. They are as fitting with a full midi skirt as they are with a pair of ankle-cropped jeans or a mini skirt, and they are comfortable to boot. In a dream world we’d go with Chanel’s classic toe-capped, ‘CC’-adorned pair, a stalwart product of the French fashion house, but a close second is French Sole’s multifarious offerings, our favourote being the low-cut ‘India’ style.
4. Cashmere crew neck
If you only have one jumper in your wardrobe, make it a cashmere crew neck . The style is a failsafe staple that goes with everything, and you’ll find yourself coming back to it year after year – simple really doesn’t go out of style. Keep colours classic, opting for go-with-everything grey, black, navy and camel. It’s essential that you care for it though, cashmere is expensive but it can be a life-long friend if you treat it well.
5. Leather Jacket
A leather jacket will see you through all four seasons, whether its layered under a wool overcoat during the chilly months, or draped over your shoulders in the summer. Loved for its ability to toughen up pretty dresses, dress down full-length pieces and give any outfit an edge, it’s worth investing in classic biker styles by the likes of Acne and Saint Laurent. The high street is catching up though, and you’ll find plenty of cheaper alternatives – just make sure you go for real leather and it will last a lifetime.
6. Breton stripe top
We have Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel to thank for the popularity of the Breton striped top, or marinière as it is traditionally called. The white and navy-striped style was originally worn by all French navy seamen in Brittany following the 1858 Act of France, but was later adopted more generally by working seamen in the region as the design made them easier to spot when out at sea. Chanel took to the style after holidaying on the French coast and made it a part of her nautical 1917 collection, where it was styled with wide-leg trousers. It has since become a symbol of Parisian chic that has never gone out of fashion, its iconic status further cemented by wearers including Brigitte Bardot, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso and Audrey Hepburn.
7. Dark-wash jeans
Jeans are the foundation to most of our wardrobes, and a simple way to stop yours dating is to opt for dark-wash denim. Where stonewashed, ripped and coloured denim go in and out of fashion season to season, dark denim is much more enduring, whatever cut you prefer for your shape.
Year after year, you’ll doubtless find yourself addressed with the same footwear dilemma as the seasons change. One shoe that will do its very hardest to banish such a trifle is the brogue. The classic lace-up shoe is a true go-with-all, whether it’s jeans, tailored trousers, tights or bare legs, like Diane Kruger above. Sturdy, smart and practical, a good quality pair will serve you well.
9. Tuxedo jacket
Ever since Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking rocked the world in 1966, the tuxedo has been a recurrent trend in women’s fashion. One of the most influential and iconic designs in history, while the look as a whole still maintains its allure, the jacket alone has become a breakaway hero item that works just as well as part of the total look as it does worn over a evening dress or paired with denim.
10. Tailored trousers
A simple, straight-leg tailored trouser with front pleat is a great alternative to jeans, and a staple piece to have in your wardrobe. Wonderfully, they go with every top but allow you to look smarter for those days when you’ve got a meeting, and with heels make an elegant evening look, especially when teamed with tuxedo jacket. A slightly cropped ankle makes the style most flattering.