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

    • Emily Ratajkowski Cheers on the L.A. Dodgers in a Midriff-Baring Crop Top, Smooches Her Boyfriend in the Stands

      Who says you have to rock a billowing jersey to show your sportsmanship? Not Emily Ratajkowski, who showcased her toned physique as she cheered on the Los Angeles Dodgers at a baseball game in L.A. on Thursday. The model and actress took a minimalist approach to dressing for the sidelines and rocked a black pair of high-waist jeans with a long-sleeve white crop top that showcased her abs. She proudly put forth her support of the hometown team with a black cap that simply read "LA"

    • Saturday Night Live: Tom Hanks Exposes a Surprising Truth About Trump Supporters

      The final debate sketch wasn’t the only time Tom Hanks and Saturday Night Live decided to roast Donald Trump. S.N.L. hasn’t exactly been gentle on Trump supporters this election season. Or did you miss that fake ad last year where the show unflinchingly compared them to Nazis? So, knowing some biting political commentary is coming, it’s surprising to see Tom Hanks—who, earlier in the night, leaned into his gentle, “America’s Dad” persona—put on that red “Make America Great Again” cap for a “Black Jeopardy!” sketch. But, either way, it was good to see Hanks behind the old Jeopardy! podium where he made such a splash playing a dumbed down version of himself opposite Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek back

      HWD q
    • ESPN anchor uses unfortunate metaphor to explain Charlie Strong's job status at Texas

      When ESPN’s Adnan Virk used an ill-advised metaphor to talk about coach Charlie Strong’s situation at Texas, the Twitter backlash was swift.

      Yahoo Sports
    • Women Are Boycotting Ivanka Trump’s Fashion Line — and the Stores That Sell It

      Despite her father’s uncanny ability to offend and alienate women more with each passing day, Ivanka Trump has managed to maintain a relatively high level of respect throughout Donald Trump’s turbulent presidential campaign. Some would say Ivanka has even been the one saving grace for a candidate who is increasingly being viewed as little more than a misogynistic narcissist by many Americans — particularly women.

      Yahoo Style
    • Rae Carruth will be greeted by son he tried to have murdered

      The former Panthers receiver is serving a sentence of nearly 19 years in prison for conspiring to have his pregnant girlfriend murdered.

      Sporting News
    • Paul Ryan Could Be Ousted In 4 Weeks, Lame Duck Would Be In Chaos

      I may have been way too optimistic a week ago when I posted that it was “hard to come up with a realistic scenario that ends with Paul Ryan (R-WI) as speaker of the House of Representatives in the next Congress.” Never mind the next Congress: It now looks like Ryan could be deposed or forced to resign this Congress in the lame duck session that begins a week after Election Day. In other words, Ryan may no longer be speaker about four weeks from now. I say this after hearing from several highly reliable sources that the House Freedom Caucus is seriously considering doing to Ryan what it did to former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) by threatening him with a privileged motion to vacate the chair. If

      Forbes q
    • 11 Things You Probably Didnt Know About Airplanes (11 photos)

      Planes have changed a lot since the days of the Wright Brothers (or, perhaps more accurately, Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos ). Those first wood-and-cloth contraptionsarean entirely different species thanthesleek Boeing Dreamliners of today. With the continual advancements in aerospace technology, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing things planes today are capable of doing (and withstanding). Below,11 things you didnt know about airplanes and air travel.

    • Dear Abby: Crestfallen she'll never be a grandma

      DEAR ABBY: I have two wonderful children (28 and 30). Both are married and have great spouses. Ever since I was a girl, I have dreamed of being a mother and a grandmother. My heartbreak is that neither of my children wants kids. Every time I hear that my sister or brother is becoming a grandparent again, my heart aches so bad I sit down and cry. My husband says I need to accept it and move on. I have tried, but I’m so depressed right now I don’t know what to do. I’m thankful my children found their soul mates and are doing very well. I just don’t know how to get past this missing part of me. — UNHAPPY IN COLORADO DEAR UNHAPPY: Have you considered going online and researching volunteer opportunities

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • SNL Featuring Tom Hanks, Lady Gaga: Watch Video of the Best Sketches

      No, that wasn’t just a perfect illusion: Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga actually presided over a near-perfect 90 minutes of Saturday Night Live. Hanks, who has previously hosted SNL eight times, returned to Studio 8H in support of new film Inferno. And though he hasn’t hosted since May 2006, the versatile actor was at the top of his game, thanks […]

    • Ariel Winter finally explains why she wore that swimsuit on the red carpet

      Modern Family star Ariel Winter has a great track record as a body-positive role model. She is so outspoken about her journey to feeling happy in her own skin and knows how to handle bullies without dimming her shine. That’s why we love this explanation of why she wore a swimsuit, shorts, and heels on the red carpet over the summer. Ariel debuted this look at the Just Jared 4th Annual Summer Bash hosted by Uno in Los Angeles in July. Some fans loved the look and some people hated it, but it definitely got people talking. It’s true, this is a real outfit she rocked on the red carpet! In a recent interview with People about her most controversial outfits, Ariel talked about the look. She said:

      HelloGiggles q
    • Michigan lined up in a 10-man centipede formation again

      Jim Harbaugh is unique. Michigan’s coaches don’t call it that -- they call it “trains” — but we’re not Michigan’s coaches. Needing two yards, Michigan came out with five linemen, three tight ends, a fullback, and a running back.

      SB Nation q
    • Ivanka Trump backs her father but doesn't want to fall with him

      Ivanka, soon to turn 35, is still clearly her father's protegee. Having grown up in the spotlight from an early age, at a time when her father's extramarital affairs filled the tabloid press, Ivanka knows how to tend to her own image -- and that of the clothing line that bears her name.

    • Two Children Shot and Killed in Georgia Home Invasion

      A 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl were shot to death in a suspected home invasion in Georgia

    • MarketWatch q
    • Check out Chris Brown's ex Karrueche Tran rock racy bralette amid alleged row with Cydney Christine

      Chris Brown's ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran grabbed major eyeballs during her latest outing with a pair of silk trousers and a skimpy bra-top. Tran, who is known for her svelte figure, left little to the imagination on Friday night as she stepped out in her matching outfit in Hollywood. If rumours are to be believed, the actress-cum-model's appearance came soon after Brown's current fling Cydney Christine, seemingly threw shade at Tran while replying to a fan's cheeky comment.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Duterte: Filipinos may be able to return to disputed shoal

      MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the Chinese-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders, but he did not provide details, including whether China imposed conditions.

      Associated Press
    • Anna Kendrick looked like a boho Disney Princess at the Euro premiere of “The Accountant”

      It’s no secret we’ve had a crush on Anna Kendrick for a long time now. We not only love her acting, but…

      Hello Giggles
    • The Best All-Inclusive Packages at Adults-Only Resorts (7 photos)

      Hear that? Its not the sound of a baby on an airplane , or an argument between two kids. Its the roar of waves crashing on rocks, tree frogs chirping from the canopy, and of complete, grown-up silence. You dont have to be a parent to value the absence of potentially noisychildren. Everyone can appreciate the absolute tranquility of a kids-free hotel. Thats not to say adults cant get rowdybut adults-only properties tend to foster a relaxed, laid-back vibe. Guests are typically seeking a low-key (and yes, quiet) reprieve from life; especially if that life has three kids between the ages of 1 and 7. Resorts such as these know theres only one thing more calming than an escape from the myriadday-to-day tasks ofparenthood (or a romantic getaway that isnt stifled by shrieking infants or toddlers peeing in the pool ): an all-inclusive package. Forget about nitpicking every cocktail or excursionall-inclusive packages make a resort stay a totally worry-free experience. You already know what the bill will look like when you get return home. Even your tips are included. If all this sounds like just what you need, read on for a few of our favorite all-inclusive packages at the top adults-only resorts.