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How do you spot a true style maven? When she shows her good taste by wearing some of the inimitable, chic fashion classics that deserve a spot in her walk-in closet. Here are some of the timeless pieces every luxury fashion lover should own.
1). Chanel Suit and Pumps | Nothing spells success like a Chanel suit – the status symbol to end all status symbols. Most Chanel suits feature trademarked, interlocking “C”-branded buttons – just so you know who you’re dealing with. Let’s face it – when you wear a Chanel suit – anywhere – heads turn. People admire. And strangers compliment. Chanel’s two-tone Spectator pumps also fly off the shelves. Mademoiselle Coco Chanel designed them in bone, to make legs look longer, and a black tip, to make feet look smaller. For many women, anything “Chanel” is an aspirational purchase, and that was certainly the case for travel agent extraordinaire Mary Jean Tully, whose company, Tully Luxury Travel, in Ontario, specializes in unabashed high-end travel offerings for well-heeled clients all over the world. Says Ms. Tully: “Chanel, to me, was a dream-of-a-lifetime purchase, and was always so out of reach from a financial standpoint. But I knew one day I would own Chanel, and then my goals would have been met!” http://www.chanel.com/en_US
2). A Little Black Dress | Coco Chanel also created the concept of the little black dress – LBD. Who can ever forget the photos of Elizabeth Hurley dressed in a Versace LBD enhanced with safety pins? It put her on the map. Or the film footage of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, eating her donut and drinking coffee while walking on Fifth Avenue, while wearing a gorgeous black Givenchy gown and a tiara? These iconic images have inspired women the world over. The great thing about a LBD is that you can dress it up or down – and it’s perfect to travel with.
3). Natori Nightgown | A bias-cut, spaghetti-strap Natori is the ne plus ultra of nightgowns. Made of high-end poly crepe de chine, the nightwear is classic with a sexy influence thrown in– and designed to seduce you with its shape and stitching that are designed to perfection. Natori gowns are also set apart by their Oriental-inspired embroidery and look great with matching kimono-wrap robes and satin slippers. Designer Josie Natori is a former investment banker, who creates elegant underthings that are truly wearable art. http://www.natori.com
4). Hermes Silk Scarf | In France, the Hermes silk scarf is ubiquitous, worn by chic French women who wish to add panache to their appearance. The Hermes scarf was first introduced in 1937. Since then, Hermes has produced their stunning silk scarves in thousands of designs. The scarves, which are available in different colors and sizes, come in three sizes, 70, 90 and 140. The number corresponds to the length of the scarf, and many have equestrian themes.
And you know how some women tie their Hermes scarves around their handbags? That trend started years ago by the late Baby Paley, the fashionable wife of the founder of the CBS Television Network. She started the trend one day when she became warm, took off her scarf, and wrapped it around her handbag. Voila! A trend was born. The initiated tie theirs around their neck in a wealth of ways – and many even buy Hermes scarves to use as a bracelet, belt, turban, shirt, sarong, or a clever shoulder sac. Some fashion mavens even make theirs into pillows – or simply frame one to display on a wall – they’re that gorgeous. That’s when a scarf is not just a scarf! www.Hermes.com
5). Dress White Shirt | I’ll never forget the image, years ago, of actress Sharon Stone, who attended the Oscars wearing her husband’s crisp white button-down shirt paired with a lovely skirt. A white shirt is an absolute classic, whether you wear it with jeans or a designer suit.
One of the best white shirts in the marketplace is made by New York designer Meredith Banzhoff. While working in fashion and deemed an expert tailor, Ms. Banzhoff noticed a void in the market for sophisticated shirting options for women. So in 2003, she re-worked the classic button-down to launch a line of expertly tailored button-down shirts that feature: a smooth fit that does not gape, heavier interlining in the placket to reduce pulling, sleeve-tailored lengths, strategically placed cuts in waist area to slim figures, princess seams to follow the curve of the body, sculpted armholes that are curved for full range of motion, high-quality luxe textiles, longer tails to avoid unsightly exposure.
Her collection is all about ‘the fit,’ delivering attention to all elements to ensure a proper, tailored look for every woman. Her classic ready-to-wear women’s line includes shirts and shirtdresses, made of high-quality materials that can be worn comfortably from desk to dinner.
The best seller from the Meredith Banzhoff line is the “ Isabella” shirt that retails for $198. Anchorwomen like Paula Faris from Good Morning America Weekend love this style!
6). Stripes | When you think of Stripes, you’re thinking of Saint James – the first company to provide stripes for the French Navy back in 1850.
Now, sailor-chic stripes have become so much more than just a uniform. They are a timeless, iconic French look, whether worn by Kate Middleton
or Taylor Swift, stripes are the most classic fashion piece in any closet.
Saint-James, a town in Normandy established by William the Conquerer in the 11th century and renowned for its extensive weaving and draping traditions, became home to the Legallais family’s spinning plant in 1850. Today, the Saint James company’s atelier and factory is still located in the small village next to
Mont-Saint Michel in France. It is there that the same tightly-woven fisherman sweaters that clothed the sailors and merchants of the 19th century are sewn. Saint James’ specially-trained seamstresses knit the highest-quality yarn made from locally-sourced wool into their nautical-inspired silhouettes worn officially by the French Navy and Army, as well as fashion-conscious consumers worldwide. The shirt is available at the store in New York on Bleecker St, and online. www.saintjamesboutique.com
7). Hermes Birkin Bag | Kim Kardashian has one. And so do a lot of other uber-wealthy people. The Birkin is such an iconic symbol of wealth – but since the handbag carries no logo, it takes an in-the-know individual to spot one. How did the bag come into existence? Back in 1981, actress Jane Birkin happened to sit in on airplane next to Jean-Louis Dumas of the house of Hermes, the luxury French brand. Birkin placed her straw bag in the overhead compartment, but all of its contents spilled out and she complained to Mr. Hermes about the difficulties of finding a good leather bag. Faster than you can say, “Expensive,” Mr. Hermes created a pocketbook just for her. Each Birkin bag takes about 48 hours to handmake, comes with a lock and key and is designed in a variety of colors. Prices start at around $7,200 for a Birkin bag – and easily can cost five figures, based on whether one is made in crocodile or ostrich. The bags also have a waiting list – which author Michael Tonello outlines in his hilarious book Bringing Home The Birkin, in which he recounts his adventures across Europe, as he manages to easily score Birkins using savvy tactics. Edie Rodriguez, the sophisticated and world-traveled President and CEO of the upscale cruise line Crystal Cruises, bought her Birkin in 2003. She says, “My custom Hermes Birkin bag embossed with my initials…is a classic that I love just as much today as the day I ordered it.” www.Hermes.com
OK, so you only want to spend about $6,000? In my opinion, you may desire the bestselling “Helen” in ostrich and crocodile, created by JAMAH, a luxury American design house whose handbags are shown by appointment only, in private atelier showcases and exclusive trunk shows. Celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Diane Lane and Courtney Cox all carry one. Its signature tag line: “JAMAH, for the moment you have arrived.” www.jamah.com
8). Patek Philippe Watch | In 1938, Polish watchmaker Antoine de Patek began crafting pocket watches, working with his colleague, another Polish man named Franciszek Czapek. However, they parted ways, and in 1856 Mr. Patek joined with French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, who had invented a winding mechanism that did not require a key. Patek Philippe was born, a company whose goal was to develop, manufacture and assemble the world’s best timepieces. The company’s outstanding watches were pioneers in the areas of the perpetual calendar, chronograph, and the minute repeater – attributes that watch connoisseurs crave to this day. Patek Philippe timepieces have recorded high prices in auctions worldwide. A large part of the demand for auction pieces is driven by Patek Philippe themselves, as they typically purchase at auction, to add to the collection of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. My personal favorite is the Calatrava – a classic timepiece that sells for thousands and thousands of dollars. Ms. Rodriguez of Crystal Cruises told me that she also owns a Patek Phillippe watch — a Gondolo model in gold. “I chose to buy a man’s version, for two reasons,” she told me. “One, because I love the look of it and two because as one does with Pateks, you pass them down to generations, and so it is a sentimental investment that I can pass on to my son Max.” http://www.patek.com/en/home
But do you really want to wear your collectible, investment-quality Patek to the gym – or to the beach? Parsonii watches solve that problem, with classic, stunning, wearable watches – not unlike the Patek Philippe Calatrava in appearance– with solid bars that let you swap straps effortlessly, to match any outfit and occasion. Parsonii allows you to change your watch as often as your change your clothes. It’s also a smart idea to wear your Patek while at home – but to stash your Parsonii in your vacation home, where it will complement any ensemble and is an ideal travel accessory.
Parsonii watches are unisex. Every purchase is in the form of a customizable box set: You first select a watch face (Rose Gold, Silver or Brushed Bronze) and then choose three straps (Merlot, Black, Cobalt, Amber, Olive or Slate). You receive three watches for the price of one, all for less than $130. www.theparsonii.com
9). A pair of jeans | May 20, 1873 commemorates an historic day: the birth of the blue jean. It was on that day that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained a U.S. patent for their method of putting rivets in men’s work pants for the very first time. The blue jean was born, and today, anyone who wants to look fashionable needs – and wants – a never-go-out-of-style pair of denim jeans.
Here’s a brand that may not be on your radar screen – but it should. Beija-Flor jeans are consistently touted as the best jeans to travel in, citing their comfortable and breathable wrinkle-resistant stretch memory fabric, no-gap waistbands and even a style that features compression technology.
It all started back in 2005 when Emilie Whitaker grew increasingly frustrated with not being able find a pair of designer jeans that fit her “normal” size-6 body shape. Shortly after, her mom, Kathy Moca, returned from a trip to Brazil and brought home a pair of jeans that fit perfectly. In April 2005, Kathy and Emilie launched Beija-Flor jeans, designing premium jeans made in Brazil that fit real women.
Today, Beija-Flor jeans are available at more than 400 retailers nationwide as well as in the company’s signature store located in Greenville, South Carolina. Each season Beija-Flor features four core styles- a classic bootcut, a skinny, a cigarette style, a butt lifter and a high-waist “tummy tuck” - each in a variety of washes and colors (that change each season). In addition, they always have a limited-edition capsule collection that features 3-5 styles in a few color options. All of the jeans feature memory stretch with no gap waist. The $178 “Jennifer” bootcut and skinny classic styles are the company’s best ellers and have been the signature style for more than a decade. www.beijaflorjeans.com
10). Repetto ballet slippers | Who wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Brigitte Bardot? In 1947, Rose Repetto created her first ballet shoes, in a tiny workshop near the National Opera of Paris. In 1956, French bombshell Brigitte Bardot – who had trained as a dancer – requested a pair, and Ms. Repetto crafted the “Cendrillon” ballerina flat for everyday use. Bardot – that femme fatale – wore hers during the filming of Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman. In 2005, the Dordogne factory created the one-millionth pair. Today, at the Repetto atelier in Paris, you can custom-design your own pair, from 252 varieties. Meticulously crafted, the French footwear label has been a favorite of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, model Karlie Kloss, Reese Witherspoon, Nicky Hilton, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Moss, Blake Lively, Miranda Kerr, Jessica Alba, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Oo la la! A pair of the shoes in pink patent leather costs about 225 Euros.