There are many meanings and uses of the term “ladylike” but in the fashion world it’s defined as the “new classic”. A mix of traditionally feminine and timeless pieces, the ladylike style is my ultimate favourite. Exuding elegance and grace with every outfit, it’s a love affair I’m sure will last a lifetime and I know I’m not the only one to share these affections. If you adore fashion Icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly or modern Duchess, Kate Middleton then you’ve caught the ladylike love-bug.
However, for a large amount of women, the so-called ladylike fashion is inappropriate and seen as irrelevant to their lives. I’ve heard that in the professional world, where women are taking their careers by storm as lawyers and executives, the silhouettes of feminine fashion diminish their presence and power. Theres a concern that clothing, even suits, which emphasises the female form are just another demonstration of inequality.
Personally, I couldn’t disagree more and whilst there is an inarguable divide in gender, when it comes to the work place, I believe that women should fight
to be equal without losing their femininity. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wearing traditionally masculine clothes if that’s what you love but I adore feminine fashion and I never want to give this up! Let alone just so I can be taken more seriously as an authoritative figure. Moreover, the issue I see with women turning away from ladylike style- despite all desires to wear it- is it states that the only way to be powerful is by wearing clothes that don’t emphasise our femininity. Surely, this only perpetuates the notion that to dress traditionally “womanly” is equatable to being fragile. Femininity cannot be powerful?
I want to bring back the ladylike fashion, I admire dearly, with a vengeance. A woman can be empowered and graceful and elegant and it all starts with her wardrobe. Dress the part and it’s easier to walk the walk. Here are 5 Autumnally appropriate pieces that ooze the ladylike style to get you started on a timeless, feminine wardrobe that can still leave you feeling empowered.
A Neutral Trench Coat
When I think of a trench coat, the scene of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with ‘Cat’, instantly comes to mind. Is there anything more classic? It’s no wonder the trench coat is so iconic. It’s became the cornerstone of any chic closet and a timeless foundation to any outfit. This outer-wear piece is practical and easy to style making it the ‘no-fuss’ fashion item I can’t get enough of.
The reason why a neutral trench is more ideal over a bold colour, such as sunshine yellow or lime-green, is that it will go with anything you wear it with, becoming the ideal addition of effortless charm to every look; the key essential to the ladylike style- as you’ll soon come to realise. In my opinion, the trench coat is the ultimate wardrobe staple -particularly if it’s in beige. The flare out skirt, running stitch details and double breasted silhouette of the one I’m wearing works perfectly for my love for intricacy and the 1950’s and 60’s shapes.
The trench originates from military wear making it the power piece of any style savvy Elle. It’s history ensures a certain authoritative power will always be intertwined with every design, despite now, only being at the frontline of fashion.
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A Little Black Bag
You’ve heard of the LBD right? Well, the little black bag is something that also needs to be on your radar. It’s everything the LBD promises to be but you can actually carry stuff with this one. Sometimes, accessorising can be daunting. When you’ve managed to get your whole outfit looking just right but then you ruin it by applying that red lipstick and now you look like a clown after your failed attempts to wipe it off. Surely I’m not alone in this struggle? This is why an LBD is the perfect investment. Having a go-to bag that will work with almost everything in your wardrobe is fool-proof.
This classic number is from ethical luxury handbag brand Expressions NYC. With each product containing recycled plastic in the lining, I can’t think of better causes to support than cruelty free and sustainability when it comes to fashion. Every penny we spend casts a vote for the kind of world we want to live in by financing the actions of each brand we purchase from. Supporting a brand such as this unshackles you from the fast fashion industry that is killing our planet and liberates you from the unethical acts
of animal exploitation and abuse. There really isn’t anything quite as empowering than taking a stand for your beliefs and making the world a better place. Moreover, the foundation of an elegant woman is her committed practices of compassion and carrying a bag crafted with kindness is a treasured message she’s sure to act up on.
This Chelsea Satchel bag in black is designed with minimal detailing which is the fundamental design element required for a timeless investment. Paired with high quality craftsmanship that will offer durability, which the bag certainly hits. With a 12 inch width and 5 inch depth, I’d class this is a medium sized bag which is what I recommend going for when building the perfect wardrobe, as it is not too large to carry around all day, nor too small to become limiting on how many things you can carry. It’s important to remember: purchasing an empowering piece such as this ethical bag is great but you also need to ensure that you’re buying high quality items so as to not cause more waste to the planet.
Lace tights are my secret fashion weapon. Why? because they seductively elevate any look with über elegance. Also, they’re the signature for Blair Waldorf and who doesn’t want to channel that powerful, feminine beauty?
Lace tights are alluring with an edge, which is the sole reason why I love them so much and get secretly ecstatic, come every Autumn, when it get’s cold enough to be able to wear them again. Depending on how you style this hosiery, they can be made romantic, sophisticated, elegant or sexy. If you hit it just right, you can successfully channel all four without it being too overbearing. The Ladylike style is all about mixing demure with seductive to create this polished, suave outcome.
To achieve this, secure your lace tights in black. Not only are they more versatile than nudes and coloured pairs, they make any outfit look more timeless and modest. For ultimate chic vibes, style your tights with simple outfits as it can be hard to balance out the look with loud pieces. Personally, I find they look best with solid colours in neutrals tones such as black, browns, beige, dark blues, etc. Opting for tailored clothes, such as the dress and trench I’m wearing here will achieve ultimate sophistication and also, be appropriate for work. If, however, wearing plain from top to toe bores you, experiment with a mix-media combo such as a pair of faux-leather booties or a faux-wool coat to add some texture variation to your looks.
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A Collared Dress
Dresses are the pitomy of the ladylike style and collars speak the language of business. Instantly stating: ‘I’m not here for any funny stuff, so you better take me seriously’. Thus, they’re the perfect combo for a feminine fashion lover with concerns of lacking power.
When it comes to shape, a dress that skims the knees or lays a couple inches above is universally flattering and emphasizes your feminine silhouette, highlighting the graceful lines of your legs. Paired with short-sleeves to highlight the elegant lines of your arms, a dress -such as the one I’m wearing- with tailored elements, is a perfect candidate for the ladylike style aesthetic.
Usually, timeless fashion is defined with neutral colours such as black, white and beige. However, due to the tailored elements in the dress, such as the bow tie collar and shift cut, choosing a bold shade like magenta works well. As it is also toned down with the navy and ivory collar, this piece can easily stand the tests of time in the fashion world. I have further enhanced the timelessness by pairing it with classic accessories.
Going for something in a bold pink – a traditionally feminine colour- speaks volumes for female empowerment by refusing to allow feminine things be treated as lesser or weaker than masculine ones. What’s more girl boss than slaying a presentation whilst wearing a touch of pink?
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A pair of Bow Heels
A pair of heels dresses up any outfit, with a delicate, feminine touch and accompanied with a bow enhances that chic-girlishness, ladylike style is defined with. Personally, I find bows to work wonders with any outfit as it elevates the look and instantly makes you look more put-together. Gone are the days when cute bows could only be spotted on the playground, now they ooze sophistication by prepping-up your clothes all the whilst keeping you feeling feminine and looking über elegant.
The trick to wearing the bow well- whether it be on your shoes or in your hair- is to carefully consider your styling. These shoes work so well because they’re heels, which is undoubtedly a shoe made for mature women, had this bow been on sparkly flats, the look would have lost all gracefulness.
Likewise, if you were to wear a bow in your hair, I would consider avoiding a sleek high bun which can give the impression of a 6 year old ballerina-enthusiast. Instead, pairing a bow with hair which is a little more unkempt, perfectly straddles sweet and sultry and successfully brings forth the ladylike perception of a classic, elegant woman.
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It’s worth noting that the ladylike style doesn’t necessarily mean you have to embrace Kate Middleton’s fascinator hats or Jackie Kennedy’s matching sets- feminine elements can be as bold or as subtle as you choose. Whether this be changing out of your ripped jeans and into a fitted pencil skirt or swapping a pair of coloured tights for a black lace pair, adding small doses of femininity in ways that feel right for you is what’s important.
Never will I desire to come across as a rule lister- telling you what to wear- as I wholeheartedly believe that fashion should be completely personal and a liberating form of self-expression. Timeless style is simply something I adore and find great inspiration by beauties such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. I find passion and an odd sense of purpose by dressing in clothing that makes me feel elegant and sophisticated and sharing my opinions, tips and tricks is what I enjoy writing about. Moreover, it felt important to diminish this unfortunate perception that dressing feminine means we are abiding to the ‘gender hierarchy’.
There is nothing more ladylike than dressing in a way that reflects who you are so that you feel comfortable, confident and the empowered woman I know you are.
* in collaboration with Expressions NYC.
Please note that I will never work with a brand that I do not believe in and I will always share my honest, genuine thoughts no matter what.
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