Oh, the perfect classy and elegant woman! We all have our own ideas about what this woman is like. Perhaps in your head, she is so swan-like, can she even be from this world? Gliding gracefully down the street, her clothes just seem perfect on her. She’s natural and unbothered. We’ve all got an idea of who that elegant goddess is, but guess what? That woman exists in all of us, just in our own unique way.
You can be classy and elegant in every outfit and every day by following the basic principles of classy and elegant style. What do all these women have in common?
Naturalness- the clothes always look like the “right” fit for them.
Effortlessness- nothing too overpowering or trying too hard. No showing off or dressing for others’ approval. They dress for themselves.
Timelessness- they don’t look like they’re chasing the latest trends. Classic style comes from quality, basic pieces, & perfect fit.
So how to achieve this? First, be confident and unique in your own personal style. If you know your own style, your outfits will flow together easily. With that comes confidence. And confidence breeds class and elegance.
Today, not only do I want to help you find your own classy and elegant style, I want to help you get inspired about your own personal style (and refine it) as well as give some simple tips. And if you’re after some practical classy outfit ideas- you know I’ve got you covered too! Check out the posts below:
Also, can we talk about classy and elegant style without mentioning the French? Of course not! Make sure you check out the post below that covers some of the best French fashion tips to help you with your style:
Now let's talk about where your style comes from. Or where it can come from. Having references can be a strong foundation on which you can build an outfit. And it makes getting dressed every day so much fun.
For example, this morning, I think I'll be Audrey Hepburn from Sabrina or Breakfast at Tiffany's! (Go-to references for obvious reasons) 😉
Take a look at how to recreate Audrey Hepburn’s timeless outfits here:
The key is to identify fashions that you really love (i.e. Old Hollywood glamour, the women from Little House on the Prairie etc.). Then incorporate stereotypical pieces (i.e. a peasant blouse, satin slip dress) into your own style.
Pick one statement piece and style everything else around it, in a neutral way. It's not about trying to imitate someone else. You’re selecting items that resonate with you and wearing them in your everyday.
The TV/Breakfast at Tiffany's reference is just one example. Here are a few other places to go looking for your own unique references:
Looking at old photographs of family members is always a fun walk down memory lane, not to mention an exciting exercise! Everyone seemed to dress with so much dignity back then. Maybe it's a specific way that your grandmother tied a scarf around her neck? It can be anything.
Both Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were influenced by their mothers' way of dressing. In fact, one of the reasons why Karl wore his signature black fingerless gloves is thanks to his mother. It wasn't a positive example, but still...
Is there a particular scent your mother wore that you remember fondly? In the wise words of the pioneer of classy and elegant style, Coco Chanel said, "no elegance is possible without perfume."
2. Favorite Designers
Ok, so maybe we all can’t afford runway clothes! Do we max out our credit cards and blow our budgets anyway? Most definitely not! We recreate the basic concepts from the runway into our own wardrobes.
For example, wear a cropped tweed jacket with a simple t-shirt, jeans, and ballet flats. Every Chanel lover can pull off that look and look effortlessly chic while doing so. And I can guarantee you can get that look for hundreds, not thousands.
When real-life gets too dull...we go to the movies. There are so many iconic fashion moments to choose from. This book, "Fashion on Film", would fun to flip through for ideas. Especially if you are a movie buff and love fashion history.
Take a look at your favorite most stylish musicians and pay attention to their style. It’s as simple as that! The fashion of musicians is very dependant on attitude. And having the right attitude is half the battle when trying to dress classy and elegant.
Here, Jane Birkin, the 60s songstress, transforms a simple trench coat with an upturned high collar.
Take inspiration from the photo below. Simple details! A collared shirt + knit = elegance.
To finish off, here are a few examples of wardrobe staples. These are always classy and elegant and can be customized in various ways, depending on your own personal style.
1. The pant suit- all in one color
Worn by every classy and elegant woman ever. The foundations are solid. And the possibilities endless! Make sure to buy it in good quality fabric. Wool in winter. Linen/cotton for summer. Easily customize to your own style:
— make it more classy & elegant with a pleated trouser
— cropped jacket & high waist flared pant for more 70s style
— wide leg pant is flattering on any shape
— dress it down with a t-shirt
— add old-world glam with a scarf
— for a casual look, choose oversized blazer & pants in lightweight fabric
2. Midi dress
So versatile — it will become one of the most worn items in your wardrobe. Promise! If you have a midi dress then pretty much all of your wardrobe is sorted out. I'd recommend a relaxed silhouette because it suits everyone. Cinched waist & a-line is a classic shape. Customize with:
— long sleeves for winter (& warmer fabric) and sleeveless for summer — front button-down always looks chic
— pair with espadrilles or strappy flat sandals in summer
— boots or can even do sneakers in winter
3. Quality button down shirt
Preferably in silk or high quality cotton. Style it like a blazer. Unbuttoned.
Simply add jeans, a tucked in fitted t-shirt & statement belt.
Voila, classy and elegant.
For a twist on this classic piece, look for one with interesting details like this one. Great for when you still want to look classic but try something a little different.
For everyday life, you want elegance to look easy. You want to appear undone and like you didn't try too hard. A simple way to do this is by styling formal & informal pieces together in the same outfit. (i.e., wearing a silky dress with a woolen cardigan). You could take the midi dress we talked about and pair it with combat boots. Or take the pantsuit and wear it with sneakers.
Hopefully, by now you can see that achieving your goal of being a woman that is effortless, classy, and elegant is not as hard as you think! It comes down to attitude and the right pieces/outfits with some simple styling tweaks.
For more outfit help on the right pieces to look classy, keep reading!
Up Next: Capsule Outfits That Build a Timeless Wardrobe