Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Style Philosophy

Originally posted on La Vie En Fifi in two parts, 7 and 13 October 2009

I would often scoff at those lists of ‘10 pieces’ espoused by fashion (or rather ‘style’) experts. But thinking now, I have most of the items on them. Beige cotton trench coat. Check. White cotton fitted shirt/blouse. Check (times many). Little black dress. Check. Check. (a long and a short one). Classic watch (Cartier Tank Francaise in stainless steel and gold. I will die wearing this watch – hopefully not before my nineties). Dark jeans, aged jeans. Plain white Converse All Stars. Simple jewellery that I wear every day. Striped Breton tops. So I am in fact that list, walking around.

I used to think I needed to try harder to understand fashion and update my look each season. Then when I read European women (and French women particularly) buy good quality pieces they wear for many years, sometimes twenty, I was thrilled. I had found my style sisters.

I actually find Vogue magazines not as appealing as I used to (the fashion pages anyway, I enjoy reading the beauty and lifestyle articles) and can’t remember when I last bought one.

And I often feel my best in simple, classic but chic clothes, with fresh, light makeup and unfussy hair. I can think better. On days when I have made an effort to try a different style or go for the tousled hair look, well the sooner that day is over the better. I get nothing done and feel horrid and frumpy all day.

I found an article I had torn from Cleo magazine over twenty years ago. Entitled ‘50 must-have classics’ numbered 1-50 (I always love a list) with photos to match. Sure some are dated, but surprisingly few.

50 must-have classics, dated May 1988

1. Filofax
2. Kilt (as good as this list is, I just can’t fathom this one, even though my family has Scottish heritage. Just where would you wear it?)
3. White t-shirt. An enduring classic, only the shape will change as you purchase new ones over the years. Then they used to be literally square shaped with sleeves, now lovely and fitted perhaps with a v-neck and a hint of lycra (not too much though) in the cotton.
4. Chambray shirt. This really takes me back to the 80s, but I have seen chambray shirts in the shops recently. Yes really.
5. Levis 501s. I think these were perhaps the first of the ‘it’jeans. Mind you, before these were Calvin Kleins and I remember fondly my Skin jeans, which looked a lot like today’s True Religion ones in dark denim, straight legs and thick white stitching. I coveted, and then loved once I had a pair of, Skin jeans because of their white bulldog clip hanging from one of the front belt loops!
6. Raincoat. Specifically a Burberry type trenchcoat and the example shown is a beige/bone colour. Yum.
7. Argyle socks.
8. Brogues.
9. Hermes scarf.
10. Kelly bag.
11. Fair isle sweater.
12. Denim jacket.
13. Lacoste polo. I have just bought two Ralph Lauren polos for summer, in white and pale pink.
14. Brown loafers.
15. Bandanna
16. Akubra hat. The magazine is Australian!
17. Sailor top. The word Breton was mentioned. Of course.
18. Clutch bag.
19. Leather gloves
20. White shirt
21. Leather belt. Medium width, neutral colour.
22. The watch. Simple is the key – a clear face with a sturdy band.
23. Terry toweling robe. Presumably for wearing at home!
24. Ray Ban sunglasses – both Wayfarers and Aviators are shown. Funny how both are back in fashion, but maybe they never really went away?
25. Twin-set
26. Leather skirt
27. Rolex
28. Blazer/jacket
29. Cowboy boots
30. Lacy underwear
31. Black turtleneck
32. Pearls
33. Perfecto leather jacket – the classic biker style in black as worn by James Dean and Elvis Presley.
34. Riding boots
35. Speedo swimming costume.
36. White lace handkerchief.
37. Tuxedo
38. The Little Black Dress
39. Pumps
40. Charm bracelet
41. Evening bag
42. Scarf in lambswool or cashmere
43. Man-style pyjamas
44. Hoop earrings
45. Cameo
46. Lacy blouse
47. Russian wedding ring, first created by Cartier
48. Beret
49. Plimsolls – ones shown look to be white canvas Bensimon or similar
50. Evening gloves

I knew I had kept this article so long for a reason. I just couldn't bear to part with it.

And of course, the visuals to complement the list. Forgive the low-res-ness. You can click on the images to see them slightly bigger.

Feast your eyes on 1988 folks. When I was photographing the pages my husband looked over and said 'wow, those are some 1993 fashions'. When I encouraged him to guess again, he guessed correctly on only the second go! That's my boy. The Universe really did listen to me when I asked to meet a nice boy 'just like me, only male' even down to the same Libran birthday.

I hadn't planned to keep this article for (gulp) 21 years; I found it when going through some things of mine I didn't even know still existed at Dad's place a year or two back. I was so tickled that I liked the same kind of style then, I filed it in my 'personal style' clear file (everyone has one of those, right?). Even at 17-18 I was drawn towards the same kind of classic Euro style.


  1. I think it is so cool that you kept this magazine/article. And you are right, many of the "classics" have endured. I don't have everything on the list but I have a lot of it. Funny about the Polo Lacoste shirts--I always wanted one in the 80s and never had one. I have found myself looking at them from time to time even though I don't really care for the "polo" look on me. Something about a pink shirt with a little green alligator--takes me right back to 1985. xxBliss

  2. I guess this is why they call the classics, well, classics! :D How fun to find that old magazine spread!

  3. Kilt! that's a new one for me too!
    I love a man in a kilt...
    my husband is from good Scottish stock and I have yet to see him wearing a kilt..

    it's an interesting list Fiona.

  4. This was so interesting!I like your blog!

    Check out mine :


  5. I think classics are amazing for a reason....they really do last a lifetime. And yes, chambray is everywhere right now.....which is a bit odd.

  6. I find it amusing how dated the men look. I like looking back at old tear sheets, my aesthetics really haven’t changed much either. Even a classics list today, would include many of these items. But as you say about the white shirts, the cuts change.

  7. Funny that you've still got the article. I carried the same pages with me over about 15 years through moves to 3 different countries but eventually recycled it. Seeing this was like seeing an old friend again!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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