Black & Beyond

One of the best things about being a-woman-of-a-certain-age, is that you’ve figured out your style.

You know what works for you; and what doesn’t. Just because Vogue says pink is the It colour of the season doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to adopt it. We’ve come to realise that being stylish is not the same as being, at least for a moment, fashionable. Style is about who you are; fashion is about what you’re wearing.

I have a wardrobe built on a backbone of black. Black may be basic, but it isn’t boring. Within the sphere of the darkest colour range are subtle variations like ebony, charcoal, slate, ink, and onyx. Black is beautiful.

Black is neutral, goes with everything, looks expensive, and is ultra-chic when paired with other black pieces. It is also the perfect base for anything you add: it makes a brilliant scarf pop; jewellery shimmer; and a killer handbag not go unnoticed. It also puts the focus on your face. And yes, it makes you look slimmer. Black never goes out of style.

Audrey Hepburn; Breakfast At Tiffany's
Audrey Hepburn; Breakfast At Tiffany’s

My style is simple, classic, and streamlined. I’ve collected many vintage pieces because I love the quality of construction (not made in China); the luxe fabrications (wool, silk, cotton, cashmere); not to mention the elegant silhouettes and impeccable tailoring.

Shopping vintage means you can have a designer wardrobe without great expense.

Burberry trench coat
Burberry trench coat

I am obsessed with coats (and furs, and capes, and jackets): which have their own closet (s) + a rack.

Vintage Jaeger wool cape
Vintage Jaeger wool cape

A flamboyant colour- and print- loving friend once opened my closet and was—albeit politely and silently—visibly under-whelmed by the rows upon rows of black. It may not look fabulous; but it is. The wow factor is in the wearing, not on the hanger.

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My idea of colour is white, beige, grey, navy, plus a few riotous reds—mainly in accessories like scarves and a couple of scarlet handbags.

Salvatore Ferragamo  silk sweater set
Salvatore Ferragamo  silk sweater set

My favourite colour combination is black & white. Prints are few, mostly modernist stripes, graphic geometrics, and retro polka dots. The upside of this highly-curated collection that has taken years, and ruthless editing over time, to build is that unlike my friend’s constant shopping quest for something to match, everything of mine does.

Amusingly, I have an extensive evening wear section, because I always fall for these kind of gorgeous pieces with their exquisite details. Opera, anyone?

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I’ve now come to the point with my wardrobe where I really don’t need anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t still add something new now and then, like a great white shirt—my theory being that you can never have too many.

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And I am never adverse to a great dress.

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I wore a vintage silk dress yesterday that I bought 7 years ago. It was made in the 1950’s, but it looks like new.

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I got effusive comments everywhere I went, from both women and men. It was remarkable.

It got me wondering:

Why have women stopped dressing up?

Photo: Nina Leen; 1958
Photo: Nina Leen; 1958

Why do they wear yoga pants when they aren’t in a yoga studio?

Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.

You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.

~ Karl Lagerfeld, Vogue, 2011

I’m dressing.

Are you?

 

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