Ask A Woman: Finding inspiration for classic style
If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. Beth is our source for the answers. From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday. And don’t worry, your identity will be protected too. Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: email@example.com
I am a 19-soon-to-be-20 university student from Melbourne (Greetings from Australia!), and over the past year and a half, I have steadily become more interested in classic/sartorial-inspired style as opposed to the trend-based fashion that is worn by most of the other guys in my age group.
As a whole I would like my wardrobe to generally consist of items that are eternally stylish, with a few ‘trend-esque’ bits and pieces. I am wondering whether I could pull off this look at all to begin with, or would I just appear pretentious wearing this attire at this age? And secondly, if I can delve into the realm of classic style, where should I start in assembling my wardrobe? Also, it is in the beginning of winter here “Downunder”, so shorts are definitely out of the question.
Wow. I’m feeling very special and very international right now. Next step–syndication! Kick ass, Arden, thanks for reading.
I love this question. You’re never too young to wear classic clothing. Turn a blind eye to Ed Hardy shirts and the distressed denim that looks like someone bleached and then urinated on it, and own your good taste. Where to start assembling your classic wardrobe? Figure out what YOU mean by classic style. I know what I mean, and the guys reading this know what they mean, and my neighbor who goes about his business with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth and his t-shirt down to his knees knows what he means. I take that back. He has no idea what classic style is. He also looks too much like my ex-boyfriend, so every time I see him, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” starts playing in my head. I digress.
Who are your style icons? What movie wardrobe do you wish you could steal? Figure out what you love about that particular look. Is it the prevalence of well-made suits? The shape of the shoe? Fabrics? If I had to make my own list of classic men’s style it would include: single-breasted suits (favoring two buttons over three), medium-width ties, pointed-toe dress shoes, boat shoes, pullovers with flipped collars, silk/cotton/rayon neck scarves/ascots in masculine prints and colors, Oxford shirts with stiff collars, French cuffs, straight-leg jeans in a medium to dark wash, sleek sweaters.
Inevitably, though, someone will disagree with one of my items (silk scarves for men? what?) or be horrified that I left off something crucial (where are my beloved fedoras?). But this is what classic men’s style means to me–silk neck scarves, while not favored by the typical contemporary man, still look stylish and beautiful to me, and fedoras, while gaining popularity in recent years, still look goofy and dated to me.
I’ve seen old movies with Cary Grant wearing the items on my list; I saw my father wearing these items twenty years ago; these items would look good on men right now. There it is. Classic style.
Several weeks ago I asked readers how style evolves, and the comments that resonated most with me had to do with confidence. Style changes because as you age, you gain the confidence to wear what you really want to wear. When you’re 15, you wear a lot of hemp because that’s what everyone is wearing, and you’d rather die than stick out. When you turn 25, you realize you love pearls, have always loved them, and don’t give a damn if someone else thinks you look like their grandma when you wear them. So I say to you, Arden, figure out what you love about classic style, pick items that flatter you, and then have the cojones to pull it off with fearless elegance.
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