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

    • Grown-up Paris Jackson hits her namesake city for Givenchy

      PARIS (AP) — Colorful fall-winter menswear shows in Paris mixed high culture, androgyny and streetwear, as Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late pop icon Michael Jackson, stepped out for the cameras at Givenchy's library show— fittingly in the City of Light.

      Associated Press
    • Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut

      The contentious cut would have saved the average borrower about $500 per year and cushioned the market against rising rates. The post Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut appeared first on Real Estate News & Advice | realtor.com®.

      Realtor.com
    • Kansas City College Student Sent Cryptic Text Just Before Disappearance: ‘OMG Just Got Pulled Over Again’

      A 20-year-old Kansas City woman mysteriously vanished early Sunday morning after being pulled over by police after work — and her family is growing increasingly worried and confused. “None of it makes sense,” Toni Anderson’s mother, Liz Anderson, says of her disappearance. Toni left work at the Chrome Club shortly after 4 a.m. to meet up with a friend, Kansas City police tell PEOPLE.

      People
    • Julie Bowen Faces Criticism for Joking About Barron Trump During Inauguration

      Julie Bowen has come under fire for her comments about Barron Trump. Julie Bowen made Donald Trump’s inauguration more fun to watch, but not everyone appreciated her witty banter. The Modern Family star, who often details the funny antics of her own three sons, posted a few Instagram photos during the ceremony focusing on Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of the new president and his wife, Melania.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn't

      While everyone's been gearing up for President Trump's inauguration, the Clinton Foundation made a major announcement this week that went by with almost no notice: For all intents and purposes, it's closing its doors. In a tax filing, the Clinton Global Initiative said it's firing 22 staffers and closing its offices, a result of the gusher of foreign money that kept the foundation afloat suddenly drying up after Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. It proves what we've said all along: The Clinton Foundation was little more than an influence-peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons, and had little if anything to do with "charity," either overseas or in the U.S. That sound you heard starting in November was checkbooks being snapped shut in offices around the world by people who had hoped their donations would buy access to the next president of the United States. There was a strong precedent for it in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

      Investor's Business Daily q
    • 'I literally wanted to die': Woman claims she was bitten by hundreds of bed bugs at Atlantis resort

      A Florida woman filed a lawsuit against the Atlantis Paradise Resort in the Bahamas alleging that she woke up covered with crawling bed bugs. The Miami Herald reported Thursday that Cindi Avila was staying in a room at the Royal Towers during a January 2016 vacation at the resort. At the last night of her stay she said she woke up to “hundreds of painful, swollen bites from her forehead to her thighs.” “It was like something out of a horror movie,” she told the Herald. “I pulled up the mattress and I was shocked at what I saw.” Avila said she took pictures and video of the bites and the dozens of tiny insects crawling on the bed skirt. The paper reported that tiny black excrement can also be

      Fox News q
    • It’s Not Okay For You To Pass Judgment On How Many Kids I Have

      Whenever my family goes out in public, we get attention. We’re not your typical American family, for one simple reason. My husband and I have four children, so for a lot of people we’re a walking freak show. Families our size are rare these days, and people tend to think the parents are either religious freaks, welfare queens, or irresponsible people who need to get sterilized. Having “too many” children is frowned upon, and large families are frequently the subject of a wide variety of opinions, judgment, mockery, and scorn. Evidently, having “too” many kids means that everything about your life is now open season for other people. If I take my kids out anywhere, there will always be at least

      The Federalist q
    • ESPN drops commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • Paris Jackson Goes Braless For Modeling Debut In France

      Paris Jackson has officially step into the spotlight as she made her high-fashion modeling debut in Paris, France.

      International Business Times
    • MMA Star Mayhem Miller's 'Golden Showers' Take Center Stage In Dom. Violence Case (VIDEO)

      1 1/20/2017 12:40 AM PST Jason "Mayhem" Miller's domestic violence case just took a weird turn -- his lawyer brought up his penchant for "golden showers" and freaky sex acts in open court. The MMA star and ex-MTV host is accused of beating up and stalking an ex-girlfriend in 2013 ... and he appeared in court Thursday in Orange County, CA for day 1 of his trial. During the proceeding, Miller's lawyer explained that his client and the accuser had a pretty twisted sex life complete with threesomes, sex parties, choking and golden showers (peeing on each other). Unclear how Miller's lawyer plans on using this information in the case ... but damn. (Note: the woman in the video is NOT the accuser).

      TMZ q
    • Here's how much debt the US government added under President Obama

      As part of the broader economic legacy of President Barack Obama, from jobs to the stock market...

      Business Insider
    • Celebrities react to Trump inauguration on Twitter

      Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, but not everyone will be tuning in. Celebrities took to social media Friday morning to share their thoughts on the inauguration, and in some cases, suggested alternative viewing. Trump, who has not been particularly popular among the celebrity circuit, inspired a #Brownout from George Lopez.

      Entertainment Weekly
    • Here’s what “Big Bang Theory’s” Johnny Galecki was doing during the inauguration (LOL)

      Well, it happened. Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States. While many people watched the inauguration live on TV, others…

      Hello Giggles
    • 8 Celebrities Who Worked at Fast Food Restaurants Before They Were Famous (8 photos)

      Even Hollywood's biggest stars had to start somewhere!

      People
    • With Donald Trump as President, Here's What Will Happen to the U.S. Economy

      Donald Trump has had a lot of success in business, but how will he be for the economy as president? Here's how his economic policies will play out.

      The Street q
    • Suspect in officer's slaying spews expletives at judge

      ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Hours after a fugitive in the slaying of a police officer told a judge he was brutalized during his arrest, Orlando's police chief released a video of his surrender and described the suspect as "extremely violent, dangerous and very unpredictable."

      Associated Press
    • Ronda Rousey's 'ego' one of the reasons for 48-second TKO, says Amanda Nunes

      Amanda Nunes believes Ronda Rousey's "ego" had a major part to play during her 48-second knockout when the duo faced off for the bantamweight title at UFC 207 in Las Vegas on 30 December. Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) longest reigning bantamweight women's champion was making a comeback after over a year on the sidelines following her first career loss against Holly Holm, but her return lasted less than a minute as Nunes punched her out of contention. Rousey, a Judo bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is not known for her striking abilities, but still chose to stand toe-to-toe with the Brazilian, who is known for her striking abilities.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Cuba Gooding Jr. Files for Divorce From Wife Sara Kapfer After 22 Years of Marriage: Report

      Cuba Gooding Jr. has responded to his wife Sara Kapfer’s separation filing two years later — details

      Us Weekly
    • Victim Claimes He Asked Target Security for Help Before Brutal Parking Lot Attack

      Security at a Target in Texas is being called into question after a man suffered a fractured skull when he was attacked in the store`s parking lot.

      Tribune