When I think of the word “classic,” I think of simple things that remain timelessly appealing — not in spite of their simplicity, but because of it: Cheese pizza. Mahogany bed frames. Red lipstick. Tulips. Anything that is uncomplicated and excellent at the same time. Anything I know I’ll never get bored of because it delights so easily and so consistently.
Clothes are the single exception to this definition of “classic” — the one glaring category in which ease and consistency are exactly what does tend to bore me. I derive immense satisfaction from wading my way through particularly tricky sartorial challenges: How can I make these silver sequined trousers look daytime-appropriate? What pair of shoes should I wear with a crochet dressed layered over a jean skirt and tank top? How many animal prints can I thoughtfully incorporate into a single ensemble? When it comes to fashion, I get endless pleasure out of being inconsistent and switching things up — experimenting with ideas that make me slightly uncomfortable or stretch me in new directions.
That thirst for sartorial discomfort is precisely what led me to volunteer to style myself for the first of a three-part series with YOOX, wherein Man Repeller will attempt to reimagine popular style profiles through an individual lens. Up first was “classic” — and who better to redefine that than an antsy maximalist like myself? I decided to treat the endeavor like any other sartorial challenge and find a way to make it mine. However, to rein in my penchant for serial over-accessorizing, pattern-clashing and color-obsessing, I established the following “classic dressing” guidelines:
1) No jewelry except a simple pair of gold hoops
2) Only one pattern per outfit
3) Only neutral colors (navy, white, gray, black, etc.)
Having fashioned a mold, I gave myself freedom to fill it in as I saw fit. If I had to wear head-to-toe white, I would incorporate distinctive pieces and silhouettes (a knee-length blazer, a crocheted top); if I was considering a staple item like a striped turtleneck sweater, I would find an oversized one and pair it with a midi-length cocktail dress; if I was channeling a timeless equestrian vibe, I would make sure my jacket was plaid and my boots were glossy.
The final outfits weren’t necessarily the epitome of my personal style, but because of that, they felt like an iteration I was previously afraid to tap into, an iteration in which my clothes weren’t a distraction or a shield, but a mirror instead — a mirror held up to reflect me, just as I am.
Is there anything more classic?
Photos by Edith Young.