The following is a guest post from Erin DePew (this is Erin’s second guest post – read her first one here). Erin is a web developer and graphic designer who happens to love shoes almost as much as “hackathons.” Her blog, Pixel Perfect, is dedicated to musings on minimalism, client-side scripting, and the pursuit of the perfect pumps.
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Every woman knows that having a closet of classic pieces is the secret to a versatile wardrobe. Of course, actually finding classic pieces is a lot easier said than done. While top-ten lists and fashion blogs are a good place to start, it’s important to take the time to learn your own personal style and to find out what your classics are. Because at the end of the day, some of us are just never going to wear a white button-down.
Even if you know what your personal classics are, it can be overwhelming to wade through the myriad of options out there. Here are five simple ways to tell if a piece is a classic or a trend du jour.
1. The time machine test
An easy way to tell whether an item is a classic or just a trend is to see how it has held up over the years. Something like a trench coat has been worn by stylish ladies in the ‘30s, ‘50s, ‘70s, and today, and a trench coat from the ‘50s would not look out of place on the streets in 2013. Since a tan, double-breasted, belted trench has been in style for the past 80 years, I know that it will probably be popular for another thirty. Just remember that designers are constantly putting trendy twists on classic pieces, so just because black pumps in general are a classic, that doesn’t mean that bedazzled black pumps with a six-inch heel and a platform are classics, too.
2. Keep it clean
Classic clothes have very clean, minimalist lines. There’s a reason why there are not many embellished shift dresses on top-ten classics lists. Embellishments, patterns (with some exceptions), decorative buttons, ruffles, sequins and embroidery are usually “of the moment” and tied to a particular season, which means they make a piece of clothing appear dated very quickly. So when shopping for classics, steer clear of any sort of embellishments extras and patterns. Although it is worth noting that some patterns, such as leopard, stripes, and small dots, are classics.
3. Practice moderation
Trends usually swing from one extreme to another, such as padded shoulders, bell bottoms, and platform stilettos. A classic is very subdued and never really goes out of style because it was never in style to begin with. Classic pieces are neither over-sized nor body-con, but are simply tailored. A classic shoe shape is neither too pointy nor too round, but an almond shape. A classic pant leg is neither a jegging nor a flare, but a straight cut. Always look for a moderate shape when buying classics.
4. Color code
Most colors never go out of style (as much as Pantone would have you believe otherwise) as long as it’s flattering on you. However, every couple of years the trendy color just looks incredibly cheap (neons anyone?). It’s a good to keep in mind that jewel tones, dusky colors, and of course neutrals are always popular and look very luxe, while neons and Crayola colors are best kept to fun trendy pieces.
5. Quality counts
And of course, quality matters. As a rule of thumb, stores that carry quality merchandise tend to err on the side of classic. Another reason to search out quality is that once you go through the effort of finding that perfect classic piece, you want it to last a while! So before you buy, check the stitching, look for lining, make sure the materials are natural, and keep an eye out for all of those little extras that make for a quality piece of clothing.
As always, I am a big believer in moderation. A woman cannot live on classics alone! However, your closet should be at least 80% classics with just a few trendy pieces for fun. So when you’re out shopping for those wardrobe workhorses, just remember to look for timeless pieces with clean lines, moderate cuts, rich or neutral colors, and quality workmanship.