What would you name as the most enduring, classic looks in fashion since the 60s? What are the timeless pieces in style over the years? Certainly, we’ve seen pastel polyester leisure suits, topless bikinis, hot pants, and killer shoulder pads come and go.
I wondered how women might answer this question, so I ran a survey via Facebook friends. Here are the results gathered from 489 women of all ages, from across America. Perhaps there is a surprise or two in the list? Here are the top seven responses.
* little black dress
* white shirt
* twin set
* trench coat
Little black dress
Far and away number one, the little black dress is cited by almost everyone as the most enduring style across the decades. Celebrities never get tired of wearing an LBD. It can be dressed up or down and there’s a style for every shape and size. Think Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Truly timeless, a white dress shirt or blouse has its place in absolutely any setting from bedroom to boardroom, breakfast to banquet. What would a tuxedo be without one? Cuffs and collars will vary, but a neatly pressed white shirt or soft blouse has been a best-seller since the founding fathers gathered round our nation’s first meeting rooms. See George Washington on the dollar bill.
A casual, unisex substitute is the classic white T-shirt. Although it began its fashion life as 19th century underwear, Marlon Brando showed us how to be cool in both senses of the word, wearing a white cotton T-shirt as an outer garment.
The pastel twin set in cashmere or wool made its debut in the 40s and proceeded to be a staunch favorite for stars such as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. It softly says “ladylike”, although Marilyn wore hers rather tighter than the princess. These tops could never be called dated. Just add accessories (pearls and a good silk scarf are the classic complements) and a bit of attitude.
Simply put, jeans are an American essential. Levi Strauss began selling them to California miners in the 1850s. Once banned in certain places for being too informal, there is nowhere these days where jeans cannot be worn. Jeans, it seems, are re-invented every season since James Dean famously rebelled in his on the big screen in 1955. Silhouettes range from straight leg to flares and from bell-bottoms to skinny. Occupational-themed jeans include sailor, carpenter, cargo, cowboy. Waistlines shift from higher to mid to low to ultra-low and surely they’ll shift again. Denim finishes are stonewashed, ripped, faded, black, even rhinestone studded. Jeans can be pastel, jewel-colored, floral. Blue jeans need not be blue anymore.
A blazer finishes any look nicely on both men and women, and manages to communicate that the wearer belongs. Long a staple in uniforms from schools to sports, and clubs, the blazer first made its appearance in red at a rowing club along the River Cam at the University of Cambridge. From Chanel to Walmart, pair a blazer with jeans, trousers, skirts, bermuda shorts, or even a dress, and one is instantly well-dressed.
The word “classic” unquestionably defines the trench coat, a wardrobe staple since World War I. Both British fashion houses, Burberry and Aquascutum, claim to have introduced the trench. From army officer to Hollywood leading men and women, they have never lost their unisex appeal. No supermodel will be caught without one exiting a nightclub in the wee hours. Single or double-breasted, it is interesting how little this classic has changed over a century.