Style… What a Universal Appeal

Posted by Laura
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In a suit, Yves Saint Laurent’s unique redefinition of classic shapes. A little longer, leaner-but-softer safari jacket in khaki wool gabardine; deep-coral silk blouse, and his shorter leather skirt—here, in brown at its leggiest (there are other—longer—short variations).



As I write this I am waiting to board my fifth flight in ten days after a quick trip through three countries. In the airport and on the planes it is immediately striking to me—as a historian usually deeply embedded in images from the past—how poorly people dress for travelling now in comparison to decades gone by. The reasons for this is linked to changes in aviation laws as well as cultural shifts in acceptable dress and propriety—whereas traveling was once an ‘event’ that was treated with respect, the increase of air travel by all classes coupled with a loosening of the unsaid moral rules that regulated dress codes has led to a world where comfort is king and elegance is lost. It is unsurprising that we look to photos of celebrities of the 50s, 60s and 70s as the board and deplane, and all mourn a sense of glamour that has been replaced by leggings and sweatshirts. I’ve always dressed up for flying (a leftover from my mother’s strict Southern upbringing) and am oftentimes questioned about it by other travelers, who assume I am uncomfortable—when in reality there is nothing more comfortable than a pretty dress and a well-cut jacket. The designs featured in this 1982 Vogue travel story are easy-to-wear yet chic and elegant—how I wish I saw more women making an effort at the airport!


Kelly LeBrock, Nancy Donahue, Kelly Emberg and Wanakee Pugh photographed by Denis Piel for Vogue, January 1982.

Suddenly, there’s a new way of thinking about clothes and it’s something that’s happening everywhere. Within the context of fashion changes, a growing emphasis on clothes that symbolize something more. Clothes that represent a vital balance in fashion today: new without being newsy, imaginative without being trendy, sophisticated and attractive without being excessive in any way, appropriate without being dull. Clothes with enough of a difference and a little more. Clothes with style… with a universal appeal. And on these ten pages, the best: what looks terrific, what really works anywhere in the world, from designers all over the world… 



Faced with days that move from city to city, from appointment to appointment, a different approach to fashion is called for… sometimes, a different approach to suit.
When a suit is more than a suit… at Geoffrey Beene, when is has the softest little jacket—small, collarless, totally unencumbered—in khaki gabardine; a darker gabardine button-front skirt. And—the clincher—a khaki-gold “sweater” hemmed in lace, with a detachable cowl lined in pale-blue silk. Throw it on any scene, anywhere in the world, almost any hour—it comes through… and then some!



A racier attitude, in Calvin Klein’s turn on a navy wool gabardine pants suit… in the cut of the jacket—shorter, sharper, boxier—the easygoing straight-legged trousers and pure white silk crepe de Chine blouse. There’s a definite classic quality, but it’s heightened, worked on another level… and everything changes.



It isn’t only a question of day dressing. The same demands on clothes exist for late day, for evening, for every active life style.
The answer at night, in a spectacular top—dazzling, very movable, Giorgio Armani’s blue-and-black-sequined overblouse—yoked, shirred through the shoulders, full sleeved—all the softness caught by a low, hip-riding sash. Here, over his silvery-blue cropped pants… a look that’s as good as gold! The TWA stewardesses in uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren.



Perfect example of day dressing that makes an easy transition into evening… dressing worked out with a very unique style—Emanuel Ungaro’s new two-piece dress: wrap-front silk jacket in a floral on black-and-white geometric print; lapels of quilted silk with charming little appliques; short skirt in black-and-white diagonally woven wool tweed.



Clothes that take you farther, that do what the familiar can’t always do…
Nothing could be simpler than a white blouse and black skirt, but the way Karl Lagerfeld does it, it isn’t quite a “simple” —and it becomes a different option. His perfect white silk top—a clean, low V-neck, pointed lapels, small silver buttons—held, narrowed by a very wide belt, and a side-slit black skirt. All, Chloé.



What always works harder: a total look based on flexible pieces. From Sonia Rykiel, slightly unexpected pieces—all very narrow, small-fitting; her ivory knit coat piped in black, a lace-collared knit pullover, wool jersey culotte skirt.



A new character to a dress from Perry Ellis—and it’s irresistible in a warm-weather place, at night, at home. The narrowest white cotton knit with a wide stripe of hem, side buttons.



Sometimes the difference—the style—turns on the way something is worn… on the details, the attitude
An unmistakable difference that starts with the sharpness of Gianfranco Ferre’s navy wool gabardine suit—with its longer, narrower jacket, narrow-falling pants. But the real change is a matter of details: his knockout top—a crisp white cotton pique blouse, clean, collarless, sleeveless; and his new belt—very wide, very striped, to wrap and hold the waist, the line.



There’s dressing at night… and there’s dressing at night. And Geoffrey Beene’s short dress is the ultimate in modern terms. Perfectly simple, perfectly narrow black silk held by a low hip-wrapping ribbon sash, “cuffed” and hemmed in a splurge of white lace. Without a bit of glitter or gold or sequins—the most dazzling look in any room, anywhere.

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