How to Spot a Fashion Classic, From a Net-a-Porter Buyer

The work of a fashion buyer is one that is largely shrouded in mystery. While there are plenty of films and TV shows chronicling the world of glossy magazines and, more recently, the lives of influencers (we're looking at you, Emily in Paris), there are probably few outside of the industry who actually know what a fashion buyer does. Yet just as much as editors, fashion buyers are the ones shaping trends and hand-picking the new designers who deserve a shot at the big time. They are the ones who, ultimately, dictate what you see on the shelves of your favourite stores, which is why Libby Page, senior market editor at global fashion giant NET-A-PORTER, is a pretty big deal.

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If you're an avid fashion fan, you might recognise Page from the street style roundups of London, Milan, Paris and New York—usually snapped with a fellow NET-A-PORTER buyer, phone in hand, en route to her next show. When it comes to talking about fashion classics, you won't find a greater authority than Page, who has honed her personal style down to a well-curated edit of pieces from cult brands such as Totême, Saint Laurent and The Row. After all, when you spend your time shaping the stock of a luxury e-commerce giant, you probably get a pretty good sense of what is, and what is not, worth our time and attention. 

But as we all know, deciding what fashion items to invest your hard-earned money in is easier said than done, especially if you subscribe to the "buy less, buy better" mantra, which we do. Who better to turn to than Page to get the insider intel? I spoke to her about everything from the items she can't live without to her advice on seasonal trends. Scroll down to see what she said.

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What are the five items of clothing you can't live without? 

My shopping mantra has always been investing in forever pieces that I can "buy now and wear forever," and of course, if they nod to current trends, I’m even more sold. My ultimate favourites include a strong blazer, such as Saint Laurent’s tuxedo style, as it does all the work for you. I like throwing one over a white tank top to smarten up a casual look. I also love the simplicity of a tailored coat. It sharpens up any loungewear outfit I might throw on over the weekend whilst still being perfect for the office. 

Regardless of trends, a pair of good skinny jeans will always be iconic for me. I love styles by Mother or Frame paired with over-the-knee boots. I’ve also recently fallen back in love with the humble white tee. You can never have too many! Classics include the Jenna style from Ninety Percent and the Faye style for a more oversized fit. Both are in our NET SUSTAIN edit, which is a bonus. And last but not least, I can’t live without sneakers! The Row’s are dreamy, and pairing them with a slouchy suit still feels relevant. 

What are your top tips for spotting something that will stand the test of time?

I’ve adopted a uniform approach to dressing and like to invest in pieces that will feel relevant for seasons and even years to come. That’s why I always opt for classic items that are made from quality fabrics and can be styled in multiple ways, dressed up or down, and have sustainable elements. If a new item I am considering purchasing doesn’t work with three existing looks already in my wardrobe, it won’t work.

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How do you work out which seasonal trends are worth the investment and which aren't?

I think about what will work for me first and foremost. There can be so many great trends and new ideas, and it’s important to not try to adopt everything. Updating classic items is always my fail-safe. This season, I am investing in a waistcoat—it’s such an iconic piece, and when styled over a white T-shirt, it feels cool, but it's also something I know I’ll cherish for a long time. Same goes for the wide-leg white jeans everyone seems to be wearing at the moment. 

What's been your best and worst fashion purchase?

My best purchase is a Totême black suit. I’ve worn it so many times, the jacket separately on many occasions, and it never feels like I am wearing the same outfit twice because it constantly reinvents itself. The biggest mistake was a pair of size-too-small Celine white pumps, which doesn’t sound bad, and they were beautiful, of course, but if something doesn’t fit, no matter the brand or the discount, don’t do it! They are still sat in my wardrobe with pristine soles. These are definitely one for me to get on our Reflaunt platform!

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What are your favourite new brands for classic fashion items?

We have some incredible brands falling under our mentorship program, The Vanguard, that offer timeless fashion items. Interior is a great example for its cotton-poplin shirt dress and cashmere blazer. Other new brands for classics include Savette, which is the first emerging luxury handbag brand to really disrupt the market.

Finally, can you share the pieces on your fashion classics wish list?

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