THE SPIRIT OF AMERICA
If there’s one takeaway from the NYC style book, it’s the art of dressing comfortably. The premise of the sartorial ease of New Yorkers – and those who live and dress like them – is practicality. They dress the way they do because it allows them to get going and get stuff done – and that in itself is a real luxury, since time, or rather, every New York minute, means money.
The traditional term for this aesthetic is American sportswear. Not to be confused with gym wear, it refers to clothes made for the casual everyday agenda. One of its earliest and most significant contributors was Bonnie Cashin, who was known for her light, loose-fitting separates that were perfect for layering and that earned her the plum job as Coach’s first creative director in 1961. Today, Stuart Vevers holds that honour and as he perpetuates her brand of functional elegance, he also gives it his own exuberant Midwestern-meets-prep-school slant.
Sharing Bonnie’s vision are industry veterans Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera, who not only champion lifestyle dressing, but also put a fresh spin on the fundamentals of a woman’s wardrobe season after season. Their celebrity customer base – which includes Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow and Michelle Obama – reads like a rolodex of the chicest (and busiest) women.
To truly understand the spirit of American sportswear though, one need only turn to the avenues – after all, they’re what clothes are made for. Here, a crash course on how to ace the look with help from the Big Apple’s Fashion Week street-style stars. Overall difficulty level: easy.
1. Invest in well-cut pants.
The easiest apparel to move around in on a busy day, the perfect pair of well-cut pants can be elusive, though worth the search at Michael Kors, considering how sharp you’ll look in them.
2. Throw on a varsity jacket.
Deep collegiate roots make this outerwear quintessentially American, and its versatility makes it easy to wear – casually throw it on over a slip of a dress for a sexy vibe, or pair it with flowy palazzo pants or a rugged romper for a devil-may-care look. Thanks to Coach’s creative director Stuart Vevers, the heritage-leather-goods-house-turned-full-fledged-luxury-label offers an impressive selection this season.
3. Hop on the athleisure dressing bandwagon.
Do sweatpants for day and sports coats for smart-casual evenings or the freezing office. Comfort factor aside, athleisure dressing makes for a chic look – as long as you keep the shoes and accessories stylish. Opt for refined runway renditions from the likes of 3.1 Phillip Lim.
4. Never underestimate the power of jeans.
On the Michael Kors runway this season, they’re so American, so timeless and so awesomely luxe – styled up and glamorised with floaty feather embellishments.
5. And if all else fails, just keep it sensibly cool.
No matter the decade, you cannot go wrong with a black turtleneck, an utilitarian coat, a short A-line skirt and pointy-toe kitten heels. Add these staples to your wardrobe and boost your style quotient instantly, a la party girl deejay Leigh Lezark.
Noelle Loh, editor at Female