Looking polished has fallen out of favour recently, wouldn't you agree? It's all hoodies worn so big that they're dresses, jeans ripped to the point of no return, sneakers styled with everything and long, long sleeves—or not-so-nonchalantly shrugged-off coats—finishing every ensemble. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not 100% sure this is my jam, even if it is the by-proxy uniform of Bella, Gigi, Hailey, et al. I'm by no means a super-chic uptown kind of girl—the thought of me receiving regular blow-dries is laughable—but I'm also not one for looking (read: getting away with looking) slovenly.
So when my mum asked why so many runway shows and celebrities were looking, let's say, laissez-faire, she prompted me to consider how left out so many style-conscious girls must feel right now. Comfort is all well and good, but perhaps fashion's prevailing dishevelment isn't for you, and you've been feeling sidelined. Maybe you have the kind of job where being turned-out 24-7 is of the utmost importance. Or there's a possibility that (like me) you just don't feel ready to hit the world in dad jeans and a sweatshirt.
If you're looking to give your wardrobe a boost of chicness for 2018, there are a handful of industry women I know who never look anything short of perfect, and for whom trends can come and go while their personal outfitting technique remains the same. Keep reading to see the women whose chic style I admire, plus their number one tip for looking sophisticated at all times.
Tank's executive fashion director, Caroline Issa, is one of those effortlessly graceful women who inspires working girls across the land—whether they're in the fashion industry or not. Her sartorial approach to dressing means that even the most thrown-together of outfits owns that kind of boot-shined, trouser-pressed, buttoned-down finish.
While all that polish sounds like a lot of effort, there's actually one rather approachable trick she has up her (tailored) sleeve. "I always feel I look my most polished after I've had a manicure done," Caroline says. "I don't know what it is about beautifully 'done' nails but I think it shows you've made an effort, and it pulls together an outfit nicely." *Books a mani immediately.*
I don't know what it is about beautifully 'done' nails, but I think it shows you've made an effort, and it pulls together an outfit nicely.
Fashion designer Emilia Wickstead creates gowns that wow without gimmicks. From the incredibly flattering cuts to the bold colours and feminine fabrics she always employs, they're kind of modern red carpet concoctions that royals and A-listers alike love… And we've never seen the lady in question looking anything other than 10/10 at all times. Emilia tells me her trick for looking sleek is to "pair dresses/gowns with a neat ponytail, a simple red lip and almost always an elegant flat shoe!" Done.
L.A.-based super-blogger Jenny of Margo & Me can always be relied upon for charming looks and her ability to flourish every outfit head to toe, with her black hair-bow never far away. She walks the ultra-feminine line without ever looking twee—impressive.
"The secrets of perfectly polished women lies in structure," Jenny says. "Regardless of if you're in a rush or just don't feel like pulling yourself 100% together, a structured blazer, a structured handbag or structured trousers elevate your look, making it feel modern and thought-out."
The secrets of perfectly polished women lie in structure. … A structured blazer, a structured handbag or structured trousers elevate your look.
Petite, poised and always perfectly ladylike, Jenny Walton—an illustrator and The Sartorialist's fashion director—often captures the glare of street style photographers, nudging us to raid vintage stores for granny-chic blouses, clip-on earrings and sensible kitten heels.
Rather than clothing choices, it's Jenny's hair routine that she relies upon the most: "I would say taking the time to put my hair up in a thoughtful way always makes me feel polished," she says. "If I just throw my hair up into a topknot, I feel a bit messy, but if I take the time to braid and twist it into a pretty bun or an interesting style, I feel more refined and elegant."
When I was thinking of glossy fashion PR powerhouses, it was Lissy von Schwarzkopf, vice president at Karla Otto, who sprung to mind. Even in the midst of event or catwalk show chaos, she stands out as neat, chic and composed. "A combination of statement earrings (at the moment, mainly by Simone Rocha), red lipstick (Chanel) and face spray (Aesop Immediate Moisture Facial Spray £16)," are the three things Lissy tells me make all the difference.
A combination of statement earrings, red lipstick and face spray.
While most of London can't help but let grunge and punk influences seep into their wardrobes, influencer Peony Lim has always stood out for her glossy mane and grown-up fashion choices. The way she can make a pair of boyfriend jeans look upmarket will inspire even the most loungewear-addicted of girls. Her trick? It's very simple: "Brushing your hair. Vital—not a childhood myth." Well, that sounds doable—and Byrdie has rounded up the best hairbrushes to do it with.
Pippa Vosper's charming Instagram feed reads like a who's who of the best dressmakers in the globe. If anyone knows how to pick a frock to make a dramatic entrance or swoosh for social media, it's this brand consultant and owner of the store RSPV.
"My closets are full of dresses, rails and rails of them. I wear them with flats, heels, boots and a dress will always work for any occasion," Pippa tells me. "To use the words of Mr. Lagerfeld, one is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress."
Shop our chic style essentials in the gallery below.
Unsurprisingly these are a fantastic versatile investment.
Add red lipstick and hear the compliments roll in.
Such an elegant alternative to an evening look.
Ladylike but entirely fun.
Just the right height for ladylike glamour.
Every stylish girl worth her salt should own a blazer like this.
Make the most of the retail boom in dainty blouses and stock up while you can.
Joseph Altuzarra cuts the meanest pencil skirts in town.
This is roomy enough to elegantly clutch all of your belongings.
Edgy but feminine.
Rejina's dresses are already a hit with the fashion crowd.
For the modern sophisticate.