Classic/ on trend classic

It seems the classic dressers amongst us have the most trouble distinguishing what I'll call "deep classic" from what might be called "on trend version of classic" or "classic with a twist." So I'm going to try this with my own closet. Anyone want to join? The first set of Finds will be the ones in my wardrobe I identify as true classics. By virtue of cut and colour. 

The second set will be "on trend classics" or "classics with a twist." 

This will not include my purely on trend or avant garde or otherwise "different" items. 

My first set: 

1. Cole Haan oxfords. These are a "maybe" because in a knit fabric, and white. But the shape is classic. 

2. J. Crew straight pants. 

3. Club Monaco merino mock-neck

4. Talbot's white bermudas. 

5. Boden white tee. 

6. BR slim straight wool pants. (Maybe with a twist, since ankle length.) 

7. Armour Luxe Breton tee

8. Bernardo midi coat, princess lines. 

9. J. Crew navy merino sweater. 

10. J. Crew red merino sweater. 

11. J. Crew plaid scarf. 

12. Armour Luxe Mariner tee

13. Lord & Taylor charcoal t-neck

14. Boden navy t-neck

15. BR silk/ cashmere crew neck

16. J. Crew denim western shirt

17. Aquatalia riding boot

18. London Fog black trench (why couldn't it be navy??? waaaaaaa)

19. Le Pliage tote

20. Salt cashmere toque

21. J. Crew cabled cashmere crewneck sweater, navy. 

22. Navy moto jacket (navy may make it less classic, but cut is classic)

STYLE OBSERVATIONS:  very little footwear, very few bottoms here. Mostly tops, and most of those tops are knitwear for winter/ cooler temps. Some outerwear, but not a lot. 

This confirms what Angie has told me about my style—that I'm "trendy on the bottom." Also what I knew -- that my footwear tends to be on trend (to a degree at least). Also, my jackets and outerwear tend to be "with a twist." Not truly trendy but also not purely classic. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

19 Comments

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    "With a twist" or more modern/ on trend interpretations of classics in my closet. 

    1. Navy pants -- but wide leg. 

    2. Waistcoat -- but knitted and cropped

    3. Striped menswear shirt -- but slightly oversized

    4. Oxford -- but knitted with silver accents and a white sole

    5. Flatform oxford in blue. 

    6. Breton tee but cropped and drop shouldered/ slightly oversized

    7. Striped blue and white linen camp shirt -- but oversized.

    8. Charcoal trousers -- but wide leg. 

    9. Sneakers -- but flatform and metallic

    10. Faded jeans -- but wide legs, exaggerated cut. 

    11. Tweed jacket, but cropped and wide shouldered. 

    12. Gingham jacket, but lavender and cropped, wide shouldered. 

    13. Dark wash denim but exaggerated A-line wide leg. 

    14. Linen shirt but oversized and lavender. 

    15. Jeans but cropped, wide, and acid washed. 

    16. Roll neck sweater in navy, but cropped. 

    17. Denim jacket but cropped, oversized, acid wash. 

    18. Denim but wide leg. 

    19.  Checked grey wool pants -- but cropped. 

    20. Striped menswear shirt -- but wacky pattern mix. 

    21. Ecru jean -- but barrel leg. 

    22. Cardigan -- but short, boxy, lavender. 

    23. Knife pleat skirt but patterned, mid-axi length. 

    24. Grey merino sweater, but oversized. 

    25. Chelsea boot but white, square toed, lug soled. 

    26. Navy pea coat, but oversized. 

    27. Classic cut trench coat but cobalt blue. 

    28. Lace shirt in classic cut but cobalt. 

    29. Cocoon coat -- but lilac. 

    30. Striped tee -- but oversized, blouson shape. 

    I probably have more of these...in fact I do have more of these, but they no longer read as "on trend" classics and so they are more completer pieces in my closet now. 


  • DonnaF replied 8 months ago

    As I went through page after page of my Finds, it occurred to me that some things looked more -- or less -- classic depending on how they fit me vs. how they look in the stock photo. The black blazer and the white poplin shirt are most definitely Classic Classic, as the cuts are fluidly tailored but not at all oversized. Cropped pants tend to be full length on me, but I didn't include any here.

    I think a number of my current Ts and turtlenecks are too bodycon to be considered classics. I consider Lands End fits to be classic (at least when I owned them!).  And my jeans skirts other than the one shown here have raw edges instead of hems so they're not fully classic. 

    I think I wear my classic pieces less than my non-classic ones. I seem to have collected a lot of cashmere crew neck sweaters in the last year or two, so I AM wearing them. I rarely/never wear sleeveless tops/tanks because I still get cold even with a layer on top. I keep them around for occasions when I travel to a warmer climate or micro-climate.

  • Runcarla replied 8 months ago

    Most of my closet is old-school classic in silouhette and neutral colours.  However, I would also include some of my red items - red sweater, red beret.  I have very little ‘with a twist’ and the ‘twist’ is mostly with colour.

    1. Classic belted trench silouhette - in lilac!
    2. This style of pant in black (Audrey Hepburn) or tan (Grace Kelly) would be OG classic - but in green pleather - not so much!
    3. Classic long sleeve t-shirt silouhette - but silver foil
    4. this blue and white button down is an example of trying modern classic oversized, but not getting it quite right.  It’s more fluid fit than truly oversized, but not full-on classic either - though being a button down and blue and white striped cotton kind of fits…
    5. classic point toe slingback - timeless in black, but yellow!?!
    6. Levis cotton jean with a high waist - but wider, cropped leg

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    It's so interesting! Donna, you're definitely not a classic dresser but you do include many, many funkier interpretations of classic items. I'm actually surprised to see how many true classics you have lurking in your closet. It looks like you are more trendy on the bottom and with the "3rd piece" and/or footwear, rather like me. 

    Carla, your examples show that it's a continuum, right? What would be "a twist" and a significant difference in one closet might just be as close to classic as it ever gets in another person's wardrobe. I agree that all your examples here are on trend classics. And they are workhorses for you. if you are very picky about your on trend items, those will inevitably get a lot of wear if your goal is modern classic. 

  • lyn67 replied 8 months ago

    I cannot do my work to this thread myself as I don't have my own clothes in the finds here -but wanted to say I am learning a lot through your examples  given to them  descriptions here. Thank you for the post!:-)

  • Helena replied 8 months ago

    Suz this is excellent!! If I was going to be devils advocate I might say that the Breton tee and gray vneck strike me as true classics ... Although as you say they have subtle details that differentiate them, I would have trouble dating either of these ... I think they would be quite at home in any era ...? But that's just me musing. I love your wardrobe and your use of classics and classics with a twist is masterful and inspiring!

    Eta: it occurs to me too, the 'twist' being in the fit, it might be harder to see in a product shot vs if you had them on ...

  • Dee replied 8 months ago

    Interesting when you boil it all down most of my wardrobe would be considered mostly “on trend” classics with very few true classic items (I think these are my true classic finds below)
    These classic items have a timeless quality to them and can be adaptable to the current trends, but I find that if you combine only true classics together, the vibe tends to feel a bit dated or boring.
    The bulk of my wardrobe tends to be classic based but with modifications to the original classic silhouette that allow it be on trend at one point but not so much after the trend has fallen out of favour like chunky loafers, oversized bretons  or wide leg crops
    So I guess I’m predominantly a trendy classic dresser

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    Great thread!

    Suz, my quick response, but will be back:

    We differ slightly on the assessment of SET#2 ;)

    My 2 cents:

    Many of your second set of “on trend classics” are ON TREND, full stop - not classics having a fashion moment, or "classics with a twist"! Like all the pants and jeans, waistcoat, chunky loafers, chunky boots, chunky sneakers, hybrid Cole Haan sneakers, and BIG shirts are trendy. Hope that makes sense :)

    The pleated skirt and cropped tweed jackets are on trendy classics having a fashion moment - so that's dead right! On trend classics as you call them.

    Scotch & Soda Denim jacket - on trend - even fashion forward! 

    Lilac coat and Hobbs trench coat - classic. 

    Lace shirt - classic.

    You are 100% a TRENDY CLASSIC! 

  • Ginger replied 8 months ago

    I don't think I qualify very much! Either for classic or trendy classics. I've listed some representative items that might qualify. But I don't choose them with an eye for being classic or being trendy so it's hard for me to tell.

    1. Fitted t-shirts (blue/light blue stripe) - People keep saying that fitted isn't classic. And this is an atypical stripe color.
    2. Less fitted t-shirt (coral pink) - It's less fitted on me than on the model, so I guess this is classic. Unless the color rules it out.
    3. Waist-length fitted cardigans. So "classic" they're thoroughly passé.
    4. Fair Isle version of above. Classic design at least.
    5. Moccasins. These should be pretty classic at least.
    6. Cowboy boots. Classic, but not in light cream suede. (I do have a vintage pair in a warm whisky color that are quite traditional.)
    7. Flared skirts in wool, cotton, and linen. Made at home from vintage patterns so they don't count.
    8. Boot cut jeans. Maybe classic? Though this front seam is definitely trendy.
    9. Fair Isle fitted dress. A unicorn these days. Can a unicorn be classic?
    10. Keds. I don't have a picture of the white canvas ones but surely those are classics.
    11. Pointy-toe flats. Classic idea, not sure about silver snakeskin.
    12. Navy wool coat with brass buttons. Classic idea. It's not so obvious that the skirt of this coat is a full circle. Not classic!
    13. Western/Victorian lace up boots. No idea! So old school classic they're hard to wear!

  • Dee replied 8 months ago

    Heck this is getting confusing, maybe we just need to consider whether Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn would have worn it, maybe that would help us define some of the true classics.

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Dee, so true!! That would be an excellent way to parse it. What Would Audrey Wear? Hmmmm. 

    Ginger, I hope Angie chimes back in here to weigh in about your closet. Your style is so strongly retro and retro with a strongly feminine slant that it does appear not much could be considered classic. But why, I wonder. I mean, those are iconic and recognizable shapes in your closet. As someone mentioned in one of the other threads, classic items often derive from styles that originated in menswear. So maybe that is it? Hmmmm. 

    Angie, ok. I see I am thoroughly confused! So most of what is in my second set is trendy, with a few classics (so you don't distinguish by colour) and a few on trend classics. 

    I think maybe it's that my terminology is all messed up in this post. If I understand your distinctions here, a trendy classic would be one having a fashion moment. And that is actually different from a "classic with a twist" -- which might be a lilac cocoon coat or a cobalt trench in a traditional cut. 

    If that's the case, I think I've got it sorted now. I would change my categories, leaving the first set pretty much as is, but maybe sorting the second into the "on trend" classics, "with a twist" classics, and purely trendy items. 

    Dee, I agree that a closet of all traditional classics doesn't feel contemporary (to me) and I think especially for those of us who tend toward classic style, keeping the classics current is especially important. 

    Helena, yes -- it's the cut of those tops that take them out of traditional classic category. The grey v -neck is very oversized, with dropped shoulders, a deep cuff, and it fits quite loose. The Breton tee is much wider and more cropped and boxy than would be truly classic. 

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    Suz, yes! You got it! Your first set is  classic - and you got that dead right :) 

    "Classic-Adjacent" sounds better than "Classic-With-A-Twist" ;) 

    Lilac coat and Hobbs trench are absolutely classic. MODERN and current, of course! And classic. Their unexpected colour makes them LESS classic, and more unique, yet they are still classics, IYKWIM

    My reponse on Helena's thread:

    Here are the main points before I drill down:

    • If we take cardigans and jeans as an example - it’s a specific type of cardigan and specific silhouette of jeans that is modern classic. Other types of jeans and cardigans can be on trend and fashion forward.
    • More examples: a simple knee-length pencil skirt is a classic. A maxi or midaxi pencil skirt with a long front slit in on trend. A cabled or non-cabled long sleeved pullover – with any neckline – in a fluidly tailored fit that is hip length is a classic. A cropped version in a body con fit is on trend. An oversized version in any length is on trend too.
    • What muddies the waters is when a classic has a fashion moment and becomes trendy for a while! Birkenstocks and black Docs are a great example. Wayfarers and Aviators too. Very on trend, and so, sooooooo classic  
    • The list I mentioned in the nugget post today is very short. There are MANY more classics.

    So to Irina's point, the cut, and silhouette makes something a classic. Fabric and colour contribute too. Neutrals are MORE classic.

    I vehemently believe that a non-neutral makes a classic item look LESS classic. For example, my old citron peacoat and tomato red pencil skirt from J.Crew looked far less classic than my navy peacoat from Burberry and black pencil skirt from Club Monaco. Even though the blinding brights are STILL classics. Simply more playful ones!

    To cat2's point, a toffee pencil skirt in an impeccable cool wool looks MORE classic than the same silhouette in lavender sequins.


    Ginger, you have a a lot of classics! Your cowboy boots, tees, ballet flats, moccasins, Keds, are all classics! A lot of your fit & flare dresses too. Your BIG swooshy skirts and cropped sweaters are trendy! 

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    Carla, your teal pleather pants, pointy slingbacks, and relaxed straight jeans  are ON TREND :)

  • Cardiff girl replied 8 months ago

    I am confused but l quite like the feeling and am enjoying reading this thread.

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Consider me confused, too, Cardiff Girl! 

    Angie, thank you for all your work trying to straighten us out! I might be getting the idea....

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    Laughing @ Cardiff Girl ;)

    Suz, my pleasure! Sounds like you have it sorted - good job! 

    Opinions will differ, OF COURSE.  I call items classics that others don't, and vice versa.  It's all highly debatable. My mind is very clear on it though - since it's my job to know and guide others. These are my opinions, FWIW ;) 

  • Carol replied 8 months ago

    Hmm, I don't know how much I have to add to this, because my closet is kind of scattered. But thinking about it, there are certain "classic" items that give designers a lot of leeway. For example: the little black dress. How should it look? Knee-length? Sleeveless? There aren't many rules.

    I love mine, though I only wear it once a year or so at holidays, because I'd be too self-conscious to take it out. It is a super-young one: 
    cap sleeves, rosettes on front, and mini-length. 

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Carol, your dress looks nice! And definitely falls into the LBD category. 
    Maybe a bit short to be a true classic but still a LBD. 

    Thanks, Angie! Still puzzling it out a bit in my mind. In the end it sounds like it comes down largely to cut and somewhat to colour, ha! 

  • Jaime replied 8 months ago

    Perhaps not the best thread to read before I finish my first cup of coffee! The part that most resonates with me is Angie's list of true classics: Birkenstocks, Wayfarers, Doc Martens - I have all of these in my closet and they look the same forever and always right. A basic Equipment silk shirt might also fit here. Levi's 501s. So all these classics are actually very specific brand items. Almost every other iteration has some sort of trend led detail. Need to give this more (caffeinated) thought.

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