Want timeless style? It's all about taking it slow
Published 23/08/2010 | 05:00
We have spent a decade flitting from one trend to the next and it now seems normal that what's hot, fierce and desirable in August is passé by January.
Over the last several years, fashion has become instantly disposable and has developed a serious emphasis on the new.
But the downturn has put paid to that. Consumerism has slowed down, we're giving our well-worn credit cards a break and it's no bad thing. Even the most dedicated fashionista was starting to suffer from accumulation fatigue anyway.
Welcome to the new era of 'slow fashion'. Vogue has hailed it as a 'seismic style shift'. But don't despair, you're not the only one who is tired of yet another 'key trend'. However, this one is markedly different.
The Autumn/Winter 2010 collections are full of timeless pieces. We're not talking new inventions that are being applauded as classics of the future. We're talking true, time-tested classics.
Phoebe Philo at Celine is leading the look. Think of it as clean, pared back and calm.
The only problem is that all this restraint might sound a little boring. It's all well and good if New York-style Upper East Side elegance and Parisian chic is your thing, but ladylike sophistication isn't everyone's cup of tea.
So, if refined glamour doesn't sit well in your wardrobe, make these pieces individual to you. Embrace the diversity of the past 10 years, just use it with consideration.
Mingle those muted shades with eye-popping prints. Go for a classic silhouette but combine with statement heels. Pair a razor-sharp piece of tailoring with something soft and vintage. The idea is to have a real fashion wish-list that you never tire of season after season. This can include anything from a pair of Converse trainers to a Celine coat.
The furiously fast pace of the high-street versus the considered designer buy is an integral part of slow fashion but they can work side by side.
If you add up the amount you spend on all those impulse high-street buys, you'd be surprised. So why not re-think your choices every now and then, and that means that you justify opting for one investment keeper that you will wear and wear and wear.
Instant gratification may be satisfying but it's horrifyingly short-lived.
Even if your purse strings are super tight, those shrewd high-street designers will pick up on this classics trend and have it available to the masses in a blink.
You may not be wearing that Oasis coat into your old age but you can certainly partake in acknowledging a pace of fashion that is less about constantly keeping up and more about wearability and versatility.
So which pieces make the grade?
The camel coat
Cropped, calf-length, belted or swing, a camel coat is the ultimate classic. Max Mara has excelled at creating this luxury garment year upon year and its cashmere version is a heavenly cocoon.
This season everyone from Alexander Wang with his camel cape to Chloe have given it their own signature twist.
As for the high street, Oasis has come up trumps with a three-quarter length, mannish cut for a mere €106, available from September.
Muted and subdued shades are key. Toffee, tan, marl grey, navy and black will stand the test of time. A discreet colour palette has unexpected charm.
Burberry is the king of this age-old piece of rainwear. It's had many incarnations, with a flashy, silver and black checkerboard leather version popping up back in 2008. For time-honoured wearability, opt for the complexion enhancing, honey coloured option available at Brown Thomas (€895).
Everywhere from Marks & Spencer to Oasis will happily offer you more affordable versions.
The sunglasses & the LBD
Think Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's and you have the pinnacle of sophistication. Ray-Ban Wayfarers and a little black shift dress define pared-back elegance.
The Wayfarer style is enjoying the limelight with plenty of candy-coloured options available in Topshop. A classic shape in a quirky colour makes the perfect compromise.
As for the ultimate LBD, the fitted hourglass curve of a shift is one of the most flattering silhouettes. Debenhams and M&S will never leave you short but with a style this minimal, it's worth investing in cut and fabric where possible. Victoria Beckham, Lanvin or Roland Mouret are ideal but LK Bennett would act as a happy medium.
Converse All Stars
Originally a basketball shoe produced by an American rubber company, this little lace-up has gone from strength to strength. Fabric or leather, you've got to love it when comfort, practicality and style collide.
The breton top
Think Coco Chanel back in the '30s with her palazzo pants and simple striped top. It has to be the most easily obtainable item within slow fashion. Stick to a combo of white with red, navy or black for authenticity.
Topshop's €24 tee is hard to beat but if you'd like to up the ante on this traditional French style, Sonia Rykiel is the undisputed queen of stripes.
Chloe's high-waisted trousers are seriously lust-worthy. Flattering in all the best ways, these will lengthen your legs and lift your bum like no other. Paired with a silk satin blouse for the catwalk, these have tasteful and timeless written all over them.
Inexpensive alternative? Gap is doing a big push on its 'premium pant collection'. The key is to find a cut that suits your shape so store up your patience and devote some time to this worthy pursuit. Tailored trousers are a wardrobe staple that will serve you well.
The satchel is certainly a contender, whether it's the Mulberry Alexa or Topshop's leather version in tan or black. But if it's luxury you're after, you'll want a bag so beautiful and well crafted that it's destined to become an heirloom. The YSL Muse is certainly an option but the Chanel 2.55 has to claim the crown. Love it or loathe it, it looks great on anyone from 17 to 70 and is steeped in more heritage than any other style icon.
The court shoe
Statement heels have been hogging the limelight and making us hobble for quite some time now. They have their place but not here. They are things of beauty but are certainly not effortless so in order to qualify for this list, there must be no jewel encrustation and no toweringly high platform.
There's a lot of hoo-ha about the kitten heel. It's sophisticated and comfortable but it must be said, not flattering to all. It makes the grade but the simple court shoe is the outright winner.