Elements of Style

Real Simple

The Principle: Mix the Masculine and the Feminine

View gallery

.

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883 to 1971)
Then: Yes, Coco Chanel is famous for fostering the little black dress. But an even more revolutionary concept sprang from the French designer: that women's clothing should be as easy to wear as men's. "Chanel felt a woman needed to look like a woman but live like a man," says Eddie Bledsoe, an associate professor at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. Rebelling against corset-bound fashions, she devised simple tailored garments, adapting menswear to the female body and introducing pants to the fairer sex. Balancing the masculine feel with something soft, like a silk blouse, she would layer on jewelry of delicate opulence. The result: a pared-down elegance that offered women a new way of dressing — and freedom.

Now: Menswear-influenced pieces, like wide-leg trousers, gain a distinctly feminine aspect when teamed with a frilly blouse. And don't hesitate to pile on the pearls — quintessential Chanel.

The Principle: Define an Hourglass Silhouette

View gallery

.

More from RealSimple.com

The Classic Updated: 7 Fabulous Tunics

Essentials for a Well-Balanced Wardrobe

Modern Style Do's and Don'ts

Christian Dior (1905 to 1957)
Then: After the severe restrictions of World War II, Christian Dior single-handedly brought sexy back with extravagant, ultrafeminine designs. Using yards of silk and taffeta in boned and corseted bodices and voluminous skirts, the Frenchman maximized the curves of women, hidden for so long under somber, conservative dresses. Christened "the New Look" by Harper's Bazaar in 1947, the silhouette was controversial for confining women to corsets again. Yet women were captivated by the voluptuous fashion. "His style was very ladylike," says George Simonton, a professor of fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York City. "He put women on pedestals."

Now: Anything belted, cinched, or nipped at the waist over a dramatically full skirt will echo the Dior look, a style that is surprisingly slimming. "The silhouette fools the eye with its shaping and construction," notes Simonton. Try a fitted jacket paired with a flouncy skirt or even a 50s-style dress.

 

The Principle: Make a Statement

View gallery

.

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890 to 1973)
Then: Elsa Schiaparelli worked mere blocks from Coco Chanel in Paris, but their fashion approaches were miles apart. Where Chanel believed in the soft and the real, the Italian-born Schiaparelli promoted fantasy. Elaborately beaded, appliquéd, and embroidered, her work was often created in collaboration with surrealists, like Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. She felt it "was comparable to the things her friends were producing on canvas," says Emma Baxter Wright, author of "Vintage Fashion: Collecting and Wearing Designer Classics." Schiaparelli's legacy: exaggerated style (she popularized shoulder pads), exuberant color (including what she dubbed "shocking pink"), and the sense that fashion could be an adventure.

Now: Stand out in a vividly colored piece that dazzles with ornate details. While this lavish cardigan is a natural for evening, it works in the daytime, too. Just tone it down with a pair of jeans.


The Principle: Simplify Shapes for Easy Sophistication

View gallery

.

Oleg Cassini (1913 to 2006)
Then: Debonair Oleg Cassini had a thriving career in film costumes, but his creations reached their widest audience when Jacqueline Kennedy chose him to mastermind her White House wardrobe. The French-born émigré shunned elaborate designs for sleek, tailored shapes — A-line sheaths, boxy jackets — that didn't distract from the woman who wore them. "Cassini's style was structured and tasteful," says Pamella Roland, a designer based in New York City. This classic simplicity made Cassini a star — and Jackie Kennedy a paradigm of chic.

Now: A sleeveless sheath dress epitomizes Cassini at his minimalist best. Belted or skimming the waist, the straightforward shape works on all body types. Top it with a boxy jacket with lady-like three-quarter-length sleeves when you want a more pulled-together look.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Dozens fired after skipping work to participate in 'A Day Without Immigrants' protests

      Across the U.S. employers fired hundreds of protestors who skipped work to participate in rallies.

      CNBC
    • Trump's Russia scandal takes an unexpected turn

      On Friday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey delivered a classified, hour-long briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russia scandal, and soon after, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent "formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to the committee's investigation" into the controversy. Reading between the lines, this makes it sound as if the Republican-led panel is trying to knock down the idea that a special select committee is necessary to investigate the scandal without political interference. A day later, Reuters reported that the FBI is pursuing "at least three separate probes" related to Russian intervention in American politics, "according to five current and former government officials with direct knowledge of the situation." Two of three, according to the report, relate to alleged cyber-crimes, while the third is the ongoing counter-espionage probe.

      MSNBC q
    • All 23 TV Shows That Have Been Renewed or Canceled This Season (Updating Photos)

      RENEWED: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)The seminal Shondaland drama will return in the fall for Season 14.

      The Wrap
    • What I learned from filing my own taxes for the first time

      Filing wasn’t as problem-free as I expected, though. TurboTax provides you with real-time updates that estimate how much you’ll owe or receive from the government and state as you progress through the filing process. If TurboTax offered an option for ‘blacks out when they look at financial documents’ I would have felt way better.

      Yahoo Finance
    • ‘Not My President’s Day’ protests in the U.S. (64 photos)

      Thousands of people in cities around the country turned out to demonstrate against the policies of President Trump on Monday in a protest that organizers called “Not My President’s Day.” Yahoo News dispatched reporters to cover the major demonstrations in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Follow our LIVE BLOG throughout the day for the latest updates. See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Elderly Woman Stuck in Chair for Months Found `Molded` to Chair

      Residents in a Springfield Township neighborhood had no idea one of their neighbors was living in squalor until emergency vehicles lit up their typically quiet street, the Toledo Blade reported.

      Tribune
    • When a Pimp's "Bottom Girl" Does the Dirty Work, She's Often the One Who Ends Up Punished

      A particularly poignant example comes from a 2012 case Melton tried as a San Antonio prosecutor. Melton went after a pimp who had sold a 16-year-old girl for sex over two years. The girl suffered horrific abuse at his hands—she was raped, impregnated, and forced to have an abortion. When she tried to run away, the pimp carved his initials into her forearm. The pimp got a 20-year sentence. A year later, the same girl was 19 and headed to prison herself. A federal judge sentenced her to three years for helping her new pimp recruit a San Antonio high school student. Melton said what happened to the girl, who never received treatment, broke her heart. "It's a great example of the cyclical nature

      ELLE q
    • Melania Trump's sister shows rare behind-the-scenes look

      (CNN)Melania Trump is beginning to forge her own path as America's first lady, assembling a team of aides and advisers. But the name of one longtime confidante, and perhaps her most trusted friend, won't be announced with a news release or statement or a new title: her sister, Ines Knauss. Knauss, Trump's older sister, lives just blocks from Trump Tower in the Trump Park Avenue property, public records confirm. She was Trump's maid of honor at her 2005 Palm Beach wedding, People magazine reported at the time. And the first lady called Knauss "an incredible woman and a friend" in her July speech at the Republican National Convention. And the sister of the famously private Slovenian-born first

      CNN q
    • Fox News Host Brenda Buttner Dead at 55

      Brenda Buttner, host of the Fox News show Bulls and Bears, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 55.

      People
    • SB Nation q
    • Dear Abby: He keeps insulting wife about her past

      DEAR ABBY: Because I had a promiscuous past prior to getting married, it was understandable that my husband and I have gone through some rough patches. It’s been three years since our wedding, and he still can’t let it go sometimes. A recent argument just escalated into his calling me a whore and stupid. We have a beautiful little girl together, so it’s not like I can just up and go whenever I want. When is enough, enough? Where is the point that I can give in to the thought that I can’t do it anymore? Or is this just what marriage is? We have already done counseling, and it just made it worse. I feel really alone, so can you please give me some feedback? — ROUGH PATCH DEAR ROUGH PATCH: If your

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • First-Grade Teacher Suspended Over 'Illegal Aliens' Post: School District

      The elementary school teacher advocated reporting undocumented immigrants, according to school district officials, who suspended her.

      Inside Edition
    • You Have To See How Beyonce Brought Fashion (and Blue Ivy) To The NBA All-Star Game

      Homepage image: @beyonce As if you didn’t already know from her epic performance at the recent Grammy awards (or that mindblowing birth announcement, or her VMAs look with Blue Ivy, but we digress) Beyonce is woman who makes any appearance a full-on fashion moment, so we wouldn’t expect anything less than a showstopping ensemble, even for […]

      The Zoe Report
    • Le Pen refuses headscarf, nixes talks with Lebanon cleric

      BEIRUT (AP) — France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused to don a headscarf for a meeting with Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim cleric on Tuesday and walked away from the scheduled appointment after a brief squabble at the entrance.

      Associated Press
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • 5 Things to Know: The Case of Slain Indiana Teens Abigail Williams and Liberty German

      When Liberty German and Abigail Williams were reported missing last Monday, authorities initially did not suspect foul play. Since their alleged murders, state police have announced that a man photographed on the hiking trail near where the girls were last seen alive is now “the main suspect” in the case. Here are five things to know about the homicide case of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.

      People
    • Injured McIlroy plays 18 holes with Trump: report

      Irish golf superstar Rory McIlroy played 18 holes with US President Donald Trump on Sunday, despite his fractured rib, it was widely reported on Monday. No Laying Up golf website said McIlroy played Sunday morning at Trump International Golf Club after receiving the invitation Saturday night to play alongside Trump, who took office last month. "He probably shot around 80," McIlroy told the website.

      AFP
    • Journalist Paid By Alt-Right YouTuber To Investigate 'Crime Ridden' Malmo Speaks Out

      After watching President Donald Trump make flawed comments about a fictitious terrorist attack in the Nordic country over the weekend, Pool launched a fundraising effort to finance a full investigation into Sweden’s supposed immigrant crime wave. Within minutes, and in an apparently unconnected move, British ‘alt-right’ conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson issued an offer to fund the work of any journalists who believe Sweden is safe.

      The Huffington Post UK q
    • Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

      There may not be much drama when the March 1 franchise tag deadline comes around. It appears that a Kirk Cousins tag is inevitable.

      CSN Mid-Atlantic q
    • 10 of the Biggest Turn-Offs for Your Partner

      Relationships are a lot of work. If you are feeling distant from your partner, here are ways you might be turning them off without even realizing it.

      The Cheat Sheet q