March 1, 2011

Three Ways to Keep a Classic Style Youthful

Classic style.  It conjures up images of Jackie O's shift dresses, Katherine Hepburn's wide-leg trousers, Audrey's iconic black turtleneck, Ralph Lauren's blazers.  If your personal style is classic, you're in good company. 

However, keeping a classic style both comfortable to meet the everyday demands of motherhood, and youthful can sometimes be a challenge.  Reader Jacci left this comment on our Personal Style Definition article:

"I do think it's awfully challenging to keep classic looking young when you're getting less young (we don't need to say 'old', right?) by the minute…Add classic and cozy together and it can all start looking a little too 50yo English teacher real fast." 

Ummm…no offense to any of my old high-school English teachers…but Jacci makes a great point.  So here are three easy ways busy moms can keep a classic style youthful:

1.  Show Some Skin

I'm not saying one should swap their classic white tee for a belly shirt, but one of the easiest ways to keep a classic style youthful is to show a bit of skin.  A little cleavage is always nice, but wrists and ankles count, too.  So roll your sleeves, crop your pants, or try a lower-cut top, as illustrated below.

2.  Mix Casual and Tailored Pieces

Outfits in general look more interesting and effortless if there is one unexpected element, one thing that doesn't quite "go."  Try one of the following ideas:

  • Pair traditionally classic pieces with light wash (or destroyed) denim.  It gives the whole look a casual-cool vibe. (My favorite is the classic black turtleneck, ballet flats and destroyed denim.  I profiled it here.)
  • Instead of the traditional blazer, find one in a knit or sweatshirt material (a couple options pictured below).  Roll the sleeves.  To find such items, google "knit blazer," "sweatshirt blazer" or "fleece blazer".  As a bonus, these are infinitely more comfortable.
  • Pair wide-legged trousers with a t-shirt and cute sneaks.
  • Wear your shirt-dress with unexpected, casual footwear – sneakers, rugged short boots, mocs, flip-flops instead of the traditional ballet flats or tall boots.  I found a good example from J.Crew (below).

3.  Look to the Men

Menswear is inherently classic, so take a page from the men.  Don an over-sized men's watch, use his tie as a belt, slip his Hanes v-neck undershirts under a blazer.  These little tweaks will keep a classic look effortlessly cool, in an I-just-threw-this-on kind of way.

Here's a few classic mom-uniform possibilities, keeping the above in mind:

Look 1 – Cropped Denim, Knit Blazer (with rolled sleeves), Low V-Neck, Men's Watch


Look 2 – Lightwash Denim, Knit Blazer, Men's Tee


Look 3 – Shirt-dress, Short Boots

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 9.56.12 PM

 (photo credit: J.Crew)

BTW – This whole mom-i-form of low v-neck tees, soft blazers and big watches?  PERFECT for tired, nursing moms.



  • Amy (BiblioMOMia)
    March 2, 2011

    This is my style, nail-on-the-head. I don’t know what I’d do without my knit blazers as a young academic, and as a mom. They’re comfortable enough to wear for 14 hours, look polished and professional, and can be thrown in the laundry when smashed banana makes an appearance. I actually did a whole post on them a couple of weeks ago–absolute wardrobe staple.
    Other things to add to a fun and classic style: Stripes. Ballet flats. Big sunglasses. Scarves as headwraps. Classic pumps. The cashmere crewneck. The pencil skirt….the list goes on and on!

  • kris
    March 3, 2011

    Great post! Love this style as well! I wanted to mention that H&M has an awesome grey knit blazer with cute brown suede elbow patches in stores right now. Super comfy and affordable at $40! It’s even lined. I love it!
    p.s. this is my first time commenting but I have been a follower for 6 months now. love your blog! :)

  • Megan
    March 3, 2011

    I get that it’s good to show a little skin, but what about us big busted moms? I feel like I have cleavage up to my eyeballs in these pregnancy/nursing years and I’m not sure how to handle it. I went from a C to a G and feel like my only option is wearing crew necks to keep my clothing from being so revealing. Any tips?

  • Anitra
    March 3, 2011

    Megan, I feel the same way! With as much chest as I have now, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground between no cleavage and way too much. I’d love to hear someone else’s thoughts on this.

  • S
    March 6, 2011

    Amy – Thanks for the comment! I need to go back through your posts – somehow I missed that one! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your 30 for 30.
    Kris – Thanks for the kind words! And if only an H&M were here. Sigh. You H&M gals are so lucky.
    Megan & Anita – Ok. So I’ve been discussing your question with one of my good friends, one who happens to have a nice set of large knockers. Her secret weapons are cowl-necks (shows enough skin to be flattering, but not so much that she’s uncomfortable), and layering tight camis under flowy tops. Any of these options would look amazing under a knit blazer. Does this help?

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    April 26, 2011

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  • StagingWorks
    November 19, 2011

    Dress up according to the style that suits you and don’t follow fashions that make you look stupid.

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    March 1, 2012

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