My love for Phoebe Philo’s tailored, idiosyncratic and elegant collections has made me slightly nervous about the forthcoming October debut of Hedi Slimane’s Céline, sans aigu accent. Will I be able to welcome Hedi’s vision for the brand? Or will the new collection veer too intensely into his rock-and-roll aesthetic — a skinny-jeaned interpretation that might read too literally for devout Philo-philes (which includes those who buy Céline and those who simply look to it for inspiration) to devour?
We’re about a month away from finding out, so I’ve been comforting myself with this thought: With Phoebe’s archives to look to, coupled with the fact that I’m not running around buying full-price Céline as-is, there’s more than enough inspiration to satiate my own style cues for a while and encourage me to get creative with the wardrobe I already have — with the help of one or two fate-like supplemental purchases, of course.
This seed of this idea was planted when I recently found a brilliant pair of silk viscose Céline trousers for $97 at an Upper East Side consignment store called Michael’s. I’ve been making a concerted effort to reconsider every piece of clothing, every allegedly “perfect boot” or beaded bag that enters my life, and I set a spending cap for all future purchases until my freelance income can coexist without future rent falling by the wayside. This tactic is part of my new budget: nothing over $100. The financial restraint forces me to consider my spending, whether it be new or vintage, and buy based on the longevity of a piece instead of whatever happens to be trending. Given that I already miss Phoebe’s unfussy, minimally chic and sometimes experimental chaos, these under-$100 pants felt like a sign.
In her honor, and to prove my own theory right, I took my new second-hand Céline pants plus a selection of items I already own and put together five of my favorite looks from her tenure.
A Classic White Shirt, from Resort 2012
This is my favorite Phoebe Philo collection, and seeing it for the first time was the exact moment I felt real admiration toward Phoebe as a designer. This look in particular is the perfect shirt/pant combo: a traditional men’s tuxedo shirt, made of a thin fabric for maximum breathability and a clean white high-waist pant.
I found my version of the shirt in London’s Portabello market for $20. Boom clap! (But if you’re trying to buy this outfit online, might I suggest this one from J.Crew, this one from Theory, or this one from H&M?)
A Leopard Coat, from Resort 2013
Leopard is not so obviously Céline, but I love the punky-zest-meets-west-London vibe her version gives off. This see-through leopard raincoat in particular doesn’t not make me feel like I’m in rainy London, either.
I mix prints gently, and I consider leopard the most neutral of patterns; it plays well with all. I added two paisley-print accessories in a scarf at the neck and belt to make an otherwise simple outfit feel more adventurous, like I’m ready for a suburban fashion safari.
A Blazer With a Lace Top, from Spring 2016
Admittedly, I searched on Etsy for days — weeks even — to find something that might come close to Phoebe Philo’s plunging lace-edged slips. It paid off, I found this one for $50 from a shop called Reckless Daughter! It’s thin enough that it even works well tucked and draped as a top, too. I particularly like wearing the 90s slip dress in a pulled-together grown-up way, like this. The structured trousers help tie it all together.
A Sheer Dress Over Pants, from Resort 2017
This sheer and ruched-arm dress is from eBay, and I got it for maybe $30? The idea of putting a delicately floral fluted dress over flared trousers…Yow! Right up my alley. Also, not until researching looks did I realize Phoebe Philo made an elephant necklace. I made my own. It’s an incense holder strung through a gold chain.
A Yellow Sweater, from Pre-Fall 2018
Straight up the LAST of 35 collections, and Phoebe is still making me want her white pants, not to mention oversize sweaters. This is currently my plane look. It makes me eat more carefully and rethink the free red wine while aboard international flights.
If you’ve been in the business of recreating Phoebe Philo’s greatest hits with thrifted finds, tell me about it in the comments!
Brie Welch is a stylist and creative consultant. Follow her on Instagram @briesarawelch
Céline images via Vogue Runway.