Interested in classic style? This guide will teach you all about the classic fashion style and how to achieve it.
I’ve heard many opinions regarding classic style these days. To many, it’s a timeless aesthetic that transcends the trends. Others may think it’s old fashioned and dated. While some believe its a style reserved for the wealthy.
While all styles tend to have their stereotypes, classic style is so much more than what you might have heard on the street (or from a highly opinionated friend).
Classic style is iconic. All you have to do is glimpse down memory lane of the beloved fashion icons of the past. Many of them were known for their undeniably classic style that still makes a statement in today’s fashion world. If you’re a veteran to this style type, you know exactly who I’m talking about (Grace Kelly, anyone?).
In this post, we’ll dive into what it means to have classic style, explore famous classic style celebrities, classic wardrobe essentials, and learn how to adopt the fashion style classic.
This post is all about classic style.
What Is Classic Style?
Classic style is an aesthetic that embodies tasteful wardrobe essentials meant to stand the test of time in both quality and appearance. To call something a classic means that it’s built to last. That’s the exact mentality of a classic wardrobe, as opposed to trendy items that go out style the same time the trend goes out.
You could say a classic wardrobe transcends the trends, focusing on quality over quantity. It’s the perfect style to create a capsule wardrobe with or lay the foundations of a wardrobe that mixes both timeless and trendy to create stylish outfits.
Classic style clothing has a tailored fit to the body. Clothes are not too loose, boxy, baggy, or tight. Fabrics are more likely natural or natural-synthetic blends. Accessories are versatile, elegant, and timeless. You can wear them today, tomorrow, five years from now, and even 10 years from now.
The shapes of classic pieces never technically go “out of style”. I mean, you’d never say a v-neck cashmere sweater was out of style, right? No, you’d say, “It’s a classic”. Classic style also maintains a modern aesthetic because designers incorporate slight changes to cuts and colors most aligned with current fashion trends, but without crossing the line of being trendy.
What Are The Characteristics Of Classic Style?
The following characteristics define classic style:
- Clean lines and hems
- Tailored styles
- Colors are tasteful, mostly neutral or natural
- Prints are timeless such as polka dots, paisley, animal print, or stripes
- High-quality fabrics and construction
- Ability to mix and match with other classic pieces
- Fit and hemlines are appropriate, but can also be tastefully playful (e.g. a button-down midi skirt left unbuttoned to showcase the lower thigh area)
- Details are designed impeccably well
- Not overly embellished
- Focused on elevated wardrobe essentials and timeless pieces
- Avoids trends
In a nutshell, classic style is classy and elegant. It’s a great aesthetic for a business casual dress code and just about any other activity where you want to look your best. Even casual wear takes an elevated approach when it comes to this traditional style.
Fashion Aesthetics Inspired By Classic Style
The following fashion types embody elements of classic style:
- Business casual
- Parisian chic
- Casual chic
- Coastal grandmother
- Quiet luxury
- Old money aesthetic
Classic Style Celebrities
Some of the most revered fashion icons of the past 100 years were known for their classic style dress. Let’s look at a few of my favorites.
A strand of pearls, a shoulder-bearing silk blouse, and a cinched waist create an elegant outfit on the Princess of Monaco.
The actress gives polka dots get a fresh update in a silk, lavallière blouse with a pair of denim and D’Orsay pumps. Whether it’s straight leg jeans or a beloved pair of skinnies, a medium rinse will always be the most versatile pair in your closet.
A long wool coat, a sheath dress, and a structured bag create a timeless look with a vintage flair. I love how the actress integrates a pair of sparkly heels to create contrast with the rest of her outfit, perfect for a evening event.
There’s nothing somber about this all-black funeral outfit the First Lady effortlessly pulls off. Stunning.
Who isn’t obsessed with the Duchess of Wales’ modern classic style? This midi skirt outfit looks chic in a natural leopard print with a fitted turtleneck and black boots. A perfect fall outfit, in my opinion.
The Golden Age film star shines in a beautifully tailored skirt suit. I love how both the double-breasted jacket and wrap skirt have never gone out of style. Oh, and did you notice her mini bag?
The Breakfast At Tiffany’s actress nails off-duty style with a striped top and a pair of slim trousers. This casual chic outfit is easily styled with a pair of ballet flats or loafers.
The elegance coach has praised the linen shirt dress as the perfect travel companion and a summer wardrobe essentials must-have.
How Do You Get A Classic Style?
1. Build Your Capsule
Classic style embodies a hard-working set of wardrobe essentials, which is the foundation of a capsule wardrobe. Rather than throwing out your entire closet and starting fresh, focus on curating the most important wardrobe staples for your current lifestyle. If you’ve always leaned towards classic fashion, you may already own most of these items.
Capsule items seamlessly mix and match together, making outfit creation a breeze. This approach gives you the freedom to release old clothing items and accessories that no longer resonate with your style, that don’t fit, or are outdated.
Related Post: How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe This Year
2. Purchase Quality Over Quantity
While there is no definitive answer to how many items are in a classic wardrobe, the most important paradigm is that each item is selected with an emphasis on quality. This means the cost of the item is worth it’s perceived quality, style, wearability, durability, and versatility.
This doesn’t mean you need to purchase designer items. Remain within your budget and allocate more money to the items that are most important for your lifestyle. For example, if you live in a warm climate year-round, it makes more sense to purchase a high-end pair of sandals than it would be to buy an expensive wool coat.
Related Post: How To Buy Clothes You’ll Actually Wear, Seriously
Resist the urge to impulse buy when clearances are announced. Instead, build your wishlist, carefully research, and shop around until you’ve found something amazing.
3. Focus On Fit
Classic clothes are typically tailored and meant to fit the body, so they complement your features. However, no body shape is the same, so you’ll need to put in some effort to find the cuts and necklines that work best for you. Learn and read about your body type, so you understand the dynamics of different materials, colors, and shapes for how to create outfits.
Related Post: These Fashion Tips For Body Types Actually Work
And, I always say this regardless of what style you’re looking to emulate: take your clothes to an alteration specialist and have them custom-fitted to your body. Expect to do this with purchases such as trousers, jeans, and jackets, especially. Include this in your budget.
4. Edit Your Colors
A neutral color palette is the basis for a classic wardrobe because neutrals easily mix and match. When planning your capsule, identify a main neutral to build upon and one or two supporting neutrals to go with.
For example, things such as outerwear, blazers, and a pair of trousers should be purchased in your main neutral. These items are typically more expensive, so you’ll need them to be the most versatile. Secondary items such as cardigans, sweaters, and shirts can be purchased in your main or secondary neutrals.
Now, I don’t believe that most of your capsule needs to be in neutrals, especially if you’re a fan of color. Some complexions look best in colors while neutrals wash them out. If that’s you, focus on neutral-leaning colors that match together. Black doesn’t have to be the star of the show; beige, camel, or taupe are just as chic!
Classic colors are defined as the natural colors found in nature (as opposed to synthetic colors like neons).
Classic Color Palette Neutrals
- Heather Gray
- Navy Blue
- Medium Denim
Supporting Colors & Prints
As long as the colors are naturally occurring, you should experiment. There are many options here if you think of the changing seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Flowers and sunsets, oceans and forests. Let nature be an inspiration to you.
Medium pink looks beautiful in a matching suit, while green is great for a sheath dress. You may find a chic tweed jacket in sky blue. Find colors that complement your complexion, making you look fresh with a more even skin tone.
The most important thing is that your core wardrobe essentials are rooted in neutral or neutral-leaning colors that mix and match. Additional colors are added in as accents or statement pieces.
If you’re into prints, the most classic ones are polka dots, stripes, paisley, plaids, houndstooth, natural-looking animal prints, and natural looking florals. These are great as accent pieces, whether it’s a scarf or blouse.
5. Go Easy On Trends
At this point you’ve probably realized that classic is the opposite of trendy. Trends are meant to come and go, while classics stand the test of time.
Your wardrobe should comprise mostly of classic pieces, which we’ll specifically cover below. However, there’s no hard and fast rule that says no trends allowed. Just as denim styles change with time (e.g. at one point you could only find skinny jeans in stores when shopping for denim), specific colors and cuts affect even classic pieces.
If purchasing trends, use them as accent pieces or lightly incorporate a trend into an outfit. Instead of a pointy-toe flat, opt for a Mary Jane flat that’s still timeless, but definitely comes and goes through trends.
6. Favor Natural Materials
Because classic style emphasizes quality over quantity, that also means with fabrics. Natural materials tend to look and feel nicer than synthetics. They’re often are at a higher price point, which means you’re getting better quality if you shop smart.
List Of Natural Fabrics
- Leather and suede
If you can’t afford certain natural fabrics such as cashmere, try a blend instead. If you’re vegan, shop through vegan designers, which are focused on offering high-quality faux leathers and other ethical fabrics as opposed to your typical fast fashion house.
7. Less Is More
Classic style is all about clean lines and simple details, including accessories. Nothing is overdone while the existing details are on-point. Think about the iPhone design. Simple, but every detail is taken care of. Flashy, gaudiness, logos, and maximalist themes are avoided.
Leather or high-quality vegan leather accessories for belts, shoes, gloves, and handbags is best. This is where you want to invest. A high end pair of shoes, belt, and a handbag can take an outfit purchased on the high street to the next level.
Fine jewelry is preferred such as gold, silver, pearls, or tasteful gemstones. An classic outfit may look great with just a set of pearl earrings and a thin, silver ring. Too many pieces can compete with each other for attention, which throws the whole dynamic of an outfit off.
Start by adding one piece of jewelry and then seeing if a second piece will enhance or detract from your look. For me, this always begins with earrings.
8. Don’t Be A Stickler
Last, but not least…don’t be a stickler for the fashion rules! I’ve seen videos online pushing people to abide to strict rules for their classic wardrobe (which serves the false stigmas about classic style to their detriment).
No style is meant to be kept in a box.
Rules in fashion are no fun! Guidelines for knowing what works best for your and your body are much better.
Have fun creating your classic wardrobe. Experiment with outfits, colors, and accessories. Incorporate trends you like. Mix vintage pieces with new items. Wear the baseball cap. Buy the faux-designer earrings from Amazon for $9.
Do what makes you feel good and what makes you feel like a classic, not what anyone else says.
Classic Wardrobe Essentials
These items are wardrobe staples for classic style and if you’re following any ladies that embody this fashion style, you’ll know them well. A few different pieces in each category would enable one to create many chic outfits throughout the year.
The Collared Shirt
- Lily Silk Seamless Silk-Cashmere Blend Turtleneck Sweater
- Banana Republic Nezha Sleeveless Sweater Shell
The Striped Shirt
The Trench Coat
The Shirt Dress
Classic style is so chic. I love to incorporate classic pieces into my wardrobe’s rotation. Classic outfits don’t have to be dressy or corporate and honestly? They’re one of my best-kept secrets for how to look good on the daily for running errands and casual outings. Happy styling ladies!
Take your wardrobe planning to the next level with the Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials List, completely free to download and use on your mobile device or print out.
This post was all about classic style