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In the fashion world ‘classic style’ refers to a look which goes beyond trends and usually starts with simple concepts. Silhouettes are refined, colors are classic and luxurious fabrics reign supreme. Classic style is timeless and never out of fashion.
I’m sure I am not alone in my quest for the perfect black lace bra, screen siren 1940’s glamour robe and perfect fitting full-brief knickers. Whatever your ‘classics’ may be, we all need items to anchor our seasonal wardrobe and act as perfect foundations for the purchases along the way.
Grace of Monaco has been released at the cinema and inspires reflection on one of my favourite style icons: Grace Kelly. The hollywood starlet who became a princess, appeared in only 11 films yet remains one of the most enduring style icons of all time.
Grace’s style was renowned for its simplicity. Cinched-in waists, full skirts, crisp cotton shirts and floaty chiffon. Pearls and lipstick were a staple. Grace had an identifiable colour palette which suited her and flowed throughout the seasons, regardless of fashion. There are key looks within Grace Kelly’s film wardrobe which we can consider and emulate into our own classic lingerie wardrobe.
In Rear Window 1954, Grace Kelly wears a sheer black silk organza dress by famed costume designer Edith Head. The clean lines of the pleating, cinched-in waist, sheer sleeves and dark lighting all create an air of film noir elegance and glamour. Take inspiration from this and look for lingerie robes and nightgowns in sheer fabrics such as silk chiffon, silk with lace appliqué or just lace. Channel your inner femme fatale.
Grace Kelly wore white so well. In High Society 1956, Grace wears a white halter neck bikini. The top is skirted with gold clasps at the front and sides and is worn with full bottoms. There is also another photo of Grace from the set of High Society shot by Howell Conant in a two-piece white bikini. While most women opt to wear black or a print at the beach, consider white for a fresh look. When shopping for white swimwear, go for classic shapes such as a bandeau and hipster or full brief, rather than a triangle and tie-side brazilian to maintain a timeless look.
The red dress in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder 1954 designed by Edward Carrere is a perfect example of 1950’s ‘new look’ fashion. Pay attention to the beautiful lace cropped bolero. This is a classic piece of lingerie. Wear a cropped lace bolero for glamorous ‘lounging around’ or consider wearing it as an outerwear piece like Grace did 60 years ago.
Grace wears a stunning floor length silk nightgown and sheer robe with kimono sleeves in Rear Window. Whilst the film is made in 1954, the nightgown is reminiscent of gowns from the 40’s. A wonderful detail of this gown is the pleated underbust. This design feature creates more fullness in the bust which is perfect for a fuller bust and also flattering for a smaller bust. The nightgown is finished with a ribbon bow, which creates a visually smaller waist. This is an easy addition to add to any nightgown. A silk nightgown and sheer robe is simply a wonderful ensemble…one which would be easily worn today
A few final notes on Colour, Fabric, Workmanship and Fit
When choosing classic lingerie and swimwear pieces, look for items which are refined in silhouette, style and keep decoration to a minimum. Color should be neutral, which is always in style despite the changing seasonal palette. Consider colors which you wear often. Just as a little black dress is never out of style, black lingerie is essential. Fabric in classic lingerie should be mostly natural fibres. Look for garments which are mostly silk and cotton. In loungewear avoid polyester. Always check the contents labels if you are unsure.
When buying garments with lace do your research. There are many machine-made laces out there. Some of them are lovelier than others. High quality laces used in lingerie are leavers, chantilly, embroidery and guipure. I would suggest purchasing garments with rigid lace instead of stretch lace where possible for a more classic look. Rigid laces do not stretch and seem to hold shape longer than stretch laces.
A well-made garment is key to its longevity. Do the seams ripple? Is there unsightly stitching? Understanding good quality is something that comes with time. Sometimes price does not denote good quality. Thoroughly check inside the garment and understand what the differences are between a high quality garment and an inferior product. Once you have experienced high quality garments, it is difficult to go back!
Fit is the most important element when purchasing a classic item. The reason Grace Kelly always looked immaculate is due to the fit of her garments. If you have a bra with straps too long, they need to be shortened. Pulling at straps all day is not a good look. If you have a robe which is too long at the hem, it needs to be taken up. In our world of ‘fast fashion’ we often dismiss items which may need a few small alterations to fit perfectly or we accept an imperfect fit. While occasionally we may overlook a not-so-perfect fit in a fashion item, in a classic item, demand perfection. However, if it really doesn’t fit or too many alterations need to be made it may be best to walk away from the purchase.
What are your favourite Grace Kelly looks? How would you incorporate classic looks into your lingerie wardrobe?