The “eternal” wardrobe

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    I’ve gotten really interested in capsule wardrobes and “slow fashion” in the last little while, but a major flaw that I see with a lot of the folks putting together these apparently “classic” wardrobes is that they are still often put together based on silhouettes and trends which will probably only look good for +/- 3-5 years or so.

    Now, I know it’s not reasonable to expect that something you put on today will still look fresh and current in 15 years. However, it got me thinking, if you could only put together one capsule wardrobe, one time, and you needed it to last you 20+ years – what would you put in it?

    What are some garments and outfits which, while not always at the absolute height of fashion, have looked pretty much fine for the last generation or so? What are the absolute classic cuts, lengths, and styles which you believe you could pull off today AND if you were suddenly sucked back into the 80s or forward into the 2030s?

    What would be in your “eternal” wardrobe?



    I wanted sooo bad to believe in this. Desperately. I love the idea of neutral, classic cuts of high quality in natural fabrics.

    It doesn’t work, IMHO. I am a moderately current 37 year old. Just before the latest iteration of the current oversized look came back, say… 4 years ago? I went through this.

    I now have a pile of “timeless” items that look quite dated. Many are beautiful, and I still wear some, but I can’t wear them all together. Specifically, I am thinking of a bunch of basic fitted (not tight) v-neck cashmere sweaters. Tailored button-ups, simple cardigans and cropped blazers. Riding boots in cognac and black. Ballet flats. Pencil skirts. Roubd toe heels. Fitted pea coats. These were “investment” pieces that were supposed to be in style forever. They weren’t. Before that it was flared black pants for the office and jeans. I’m sure there were earlier iterations in the 90s or 80s, such as huge shouldered suits for women, but I was a kiddo, and don’t recall personally.

    Skinny jeans are on a downward trend. Still perfectly common and acceptable, but in a few years another look will replace them for everyday, non “fashion” pants (ie. Unlike something fashion forward, like linen high waisted culottes. Fun, but impractical for winter etc.)

    (and if anyone whines and bitches about peeling your tattered old skinny jeans off your rotting and rigor mortised legs… Styles change. It happens. Mostly I just despise that clichéd over used term. And I have probably said the exact phrase at some point. We did it with flare jeans a decade ago. )

    Anyway. Yes, I suppose that a navy boat neck top may surge in popularity every… Oh 50 years or so. But they are never going to be the same. Even “basics” like white t-shirts (neck line, length, material, drape etc) or jeans (cut, dye, rise, bagginess, length) change. I mean you won’t look like a fashion disaster (whatever that may be for you personally) but you will almost guaranteed to look “of a certain time”.

    Clothing is inherently disposable, and it always has been. Yes, our ancestors resoled shoes, and wore a dress for multiple years, maybe even a decade. But they had fewer clothes, by orders of magnitude. They wore out their clothes, and then bought or sewed what was needed to replace it. I’m no historian, but I doubt that anyone, anywhere at any time had a static unchanging wardrobe. Humans adorn themselves to fit in with their desired social milieu. The cycle is just faster now than the natural lifespan of clothing.

    (I am all for sustainability, but I feel very strongly it comes from buying less, and using it up)

    I will likely keep my sweaters and coats and boots for a long time, and continue to get minimal wear out if then. Maybe they’ll come back into style. Maybe not.



    I think I’ve said this before on this sub, but I think the idea of timeless fashion is horribly misinterpreted. It doesn’t mean that you can wear the same items of clothing for the next 500 years and still look current. Imo it’s the concept that’s eternal & has stood the test of time, i.e. the little black dress, the plain white tee, the blue jeans. People have been wearing those for decades. But the style and shape of each of those items — what they actually look like — changes with time, even though the idea of them doesn’t. You see the changing trends in neckline and leg shape and skirt length.

    I think an eternal wardrobe can be done, but it’s in no way based around understated and classic items like beige trench coats and blazers. If you want to develop an eternal wardrobe you need to completely reject trends in clothing and develop a strong, recognisable personal style that’s apart from normal trends. You have to set your own trends. And that can be very uncomfortable because it usually involves standing out massively from the crowd. Everyone has seen or known non conformist dressers and knows what I’m talking about. Even within that, people have a tendency to form little clubs and groups and set sub trends.



    > is that they are still often put together based on silhouettes and trends which will probably only look good for +/- 3-5 years or so.

    and honestly? most people’s weight changes particularly over 5+ year periods. Your life changes, your priorities, where you work and how you dress. And fashion changes impredictably.

    I got items which lasted me 20 years, it is things which were very comfortable, leisure and which I quite liked. but they are not predictable things, I did not think so 20 years ago. also it is useful if you got LOTS of storage space, or these things would have been long gone.



    tbh buying things because they’re “classic” will always lead to you needing to buy new things because classic items like jackets and button downs even change over time. Silhouttes change, lapel widths change, etc etc. Imo the only way to truly have a wardrobe that “lasts” is by buying things that are uniquely “you”. among the people I knwo that have the “oldest” items in their closet it has nothing to do with being timeless or trendy as much as just being…what those items are which is a unique “look” which is just what they choose. the leather Rick jacket I’m wearing right now is very old, it DEFINITELY isn’t timeless or classic, but it’s my style and what I wear so here it is.



    I think things that are eccentric (velvet Sergeant Pepper-style frock coat, leather trousers) and things that are iconic (Levi’s 501s, Western boots) tend to stand the test of time best.

    I definitely have some clothing I’ve been wearing for 15+ years. It’s mostly very simple stuff like “black fitted merino crew-neck” and “charcoal wool knee-length single-breasted coat,” but I also have some eccentric things like “faux Persian lamb blazer in a 1950s style (but made in the 1990s)” that always seem to get compliments.



    I’ll admit I find a classic wardrobe tedious, because part of the fun in dressing up is new wacky silhouettes, materials and colors. I do get investment pieces from an economical standpoint.

    A classic wardrobe would be.

    Straight leg dark denim, white button up, gold hoops/pearls, wool pencil skirt, Medium/Low black pumps (3′ heel), Breton shirt, Black turtleneck, Double breasted trench coat, Simple flats, Mohair/wool/cotton pullover sweater, wrist watch w/ leather band.

    It’s a constantly cited example but I think of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.



    As long as you don’t own too much, it is not too hard to keep your clothes relatively current. Even well-made pieces will wear out with regular use within 5-10 years (RIP the bottle green, cashmere-merino wrap coat with shawl collar I got for under $200 in 2011 and wanted to keep forever).

    I have a moderate-size wardrobe (maybe 50 items not including exercise/underwear/pjs), and keep it fresh by rotating new styles in as things wear out (and not faster, I don’t have that kind of $$). This year, two wide-necked sweaters bit the dust, and I replaced them with turtlenecks. I gave up on my pencil skirts (they don’t suit my figure) and replaced with an a-line brocade and another mini.



    Oh, interesting!

    I sell women’s vintage and this is based on what I see that was made in the 60s and 70s and, with a few tweaks, is still fresh today:

    A paisley silk caftan for lounge, entertaining, and beach wear

    A pair of cone heeled slightly platform black leather clogs/clog like shoes with ankle straps

    A pair of trim ankle length black pants

    An ivory cable knit sweater

    A chambray button down shirt

    A gauzy peasant style sundress or blouse

    A linen midi skirt in black, white, or muted neutral stripes

    A slightly oversized black wool blazer

    A pair of black almond toed loafers with a 1″ heel

    A jewel necked, slightly bell sleeved simple shift dress in a solid, saturated color

    A denim jacket with shearling lining

    A white button down shirt

    A black sheath dress

    A pair of simple brown leather slip on sandals

    Edit: I made an [image collage]( of the items for easier reference!

    And edited to add: You can make so many outfits from this! It’s a kind of capsule wardrobe!



    Having a small wardrobe full of favorites means that you will wear out your clothes soon enough to not look dated. That is my way of doing slow fashion. Buy very little and wear it out.



    I think it helps to pick a time period to emulate. I mean, we’ve been doing redos of fashion periods since the 1970 at least ( I read a lot of fashion mags/ books/ archives) so if you wanted to do, say, the 1800s trend then you could research modern takes on that. Or, 1980s takes on the 30s or 1970s takes on futuristic…the recent trends are 1070s and also futuristic and the slight cuts and color changes do change every few years but if you stick to one or 2 you love playing with (40s/ 60s for me) it’s easy to buy the same things and it all should fit together okay. I think the lists above are great you just have to find what works for you but also be open to what you find.



    I’m hoping that in 7 years I’ll have the sort of position and power and desires aligned to start rocking MM LaFleur esque sheath dresses and curvy hard femme clothes rather than my current soft masc aesthetic. I do not think for me there is an eternal wardrobe.



    a lot of my velvet dresses themselves can probably still be worn as they’re pretty standard, my moto jacket, potentially my black moto’s beige fringe cousin, my navy rose-printed dress, standard black ankle lace-up boots, my black skater skirt i inherited from my sister and am never letting go of (same with my 2010 peacoat), red wellies, scarves outside of my paisley print one and my red and black striped jumper–as in the words of one spongebob squarepants, the best time to wear a striped sweater is alllllllll the ^tiiiiiiiime (even in the year two thousand and twenty-^niiiiiiiiiiiine).



    This is something I think about a lot. I’ve been tracking my wardrobe for awhile and actually posted an Excel spreadsheet analysis on FFA a few days ago (see it [here]( if you’re interested). From what I observed, most things cycle out of my closet and a select few have stayed in my closet for more than 7 years. My garments either get worn down or are no longer in style. Even something as simple as a cardigan has changes in styles — now the trend seems to be longer and more structured. Just looking at the oldest items in my closet, these are the following items that had lasting power in my closet that can be paired with trendy items:

    1. *Handbags* — I care less about trends and more about utility. Longchamp totes and structured satchels will be my go-to work bags for years to come.
    2. *White silk blouse* — it goes with pencil skirts, cardigans, blazers, etc. It can be paired with a lot of newer, trendier pieces.
    3. *Sheath dress* — I don’t think there has been much change in the style of sheath dresses. I will still be wearing mine 10 years down the road.
    4. *Cable-knit Sweaters and Jumpers* — There’s always new sweater silhoettes (i.e. hi-lo hem) but simple sweaters/jumpers seem to look the same through the years.
    5. *Black flats* — There’s always new trends in colors and shape, but simple black ballet flats will be around for a long time. I’ve gone through several iterations of black ballet flats over the years and replace them as they wear down.
    6. *Green utility jacket* — Have had mine for 6 years. Still going strong and still get compliments on it.
    7. *Black or Navy Blazer* — I know blazer trends can vary, but the one I have is the only one I’ve found that fits my shoulder-width perfectly and the length hits right at my hip. I avoid trendy blazers because I prefer blazers to be multi-functional so that it can be paired with work clothes or paired down with casual clothing.
    8. *Trench coat* — I’ve been wearing the same trench coat style since 2009. Probably will continue to do so for the next decade.



    Silk shirts, cashmere jumpers or a thin knit, skinny jeans, black pants will always be in style I think?!

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