What Every Elegant Woman Should Have in Her Closet

Luxury and sophistication minus the flash.

Long before dressing down became a fashion statement, the elegant woman has been running companies, foundations, and errands in low-key but decidedly sophisticated clothes.

Style is a reflection of her refined taste and not her bank account. It’s easy to describe her look as “simple” but it’s really a study in contradictions—luxury without the flash; modesty with a hint of sex appeal; simplicity adorned with artistic quirk. She also has the uncanny ability to make day dresses look elegant enough for night, and evening dresses unassuming enough for day. Her wardrobe is all about the transformable detail.


Halston Heritage jumpsuit at Net-A-Porter; Cheska clutch at MoMA Store; Self Portraoit jumpsuit at Moda Operandi

Count on her to have a modest answer to dressy affairs. She is willing to trade a cocktail dress for a loose jumpsuit in black or white. A pair of chandelier earrings from Morocco and a minaudiere designed by an artist friend add character to the whole ensemble—without stealing the show from the party host.


Well-proportioned strapless top with wide-leg pants

Solace London charmeuse top and pants at Net-A-Porter; Tory Burch clutch; Manolo Blahnik shoes

Her immaculate skin deserves attention, but always in small doses. She pairs a lax strapless top with roomy pants because her idea of sexy is balanced proportion. A bare item goes well with something loose, masculine, or anti-sexy; the total look is surprisingly feminine.

A vintage item worn in a modern way

Versace ruffled top; YSL pants; Tom Ford glasses; Louboutin pumps

Her wardrobe is not complete without heirloom items from her grandmothers, who were likely to be as chic. Sometimes these dresses and accessories are too ornate for her muted taste, so she does an anachronistic mishmash. She may pair a Victorian-style necklace or cat-eye glasses with a white tee, or a wildly ruffled top with jeans. It’s all about creating a current look with a dash of heritage.

Loose midi dress with flats or mules

Zeus + Dione midi dress at Matchesfashion; Versace mules; Adam Lippes at Net-A-Porter; Valentino flats

Not all stylish ensembles require the click-clack of stilettos. For casual brunch and shopping activities, she retires from her high heels and goes for comfortable footwear. As for the dress, a midi is a middle ground between casual and sharp. It doesn’t have to be snug. Columnar pieces with room in the waist have such chic appeal.


Luxurious coat, turtleneck, and jeans for travel

Burberry trench coat; St John turtleneck; Gucci skiny denim jeans

She knows she shouldn’t wear a battalion of heavy fabric in autumn or winter. She will splurge on a heavy-duty trench or robe coat (in black, camel, or tan) because it looks good with everything, especially a turtleneck sweater. Each piece she wears is sensible and made for the cold, so she doesn't have to pile on a lot of layers.

Suit worn casual

Givenchy suit in crepe and leather clutch at Net-A-Porter

If she decides to be dressier in a suit jacket, she will scrunch up the sleeves for a nonchalant effect. It’s easy to tell from the impeccable tailoring that this is a designer suit—or she just has that je ne sais quoi that makes things look more luxurious.

Vest dress

DVF vest dress; YSL jeans; Salvator Ferragamo pumps

She is the master of the corporate look made casual. During the day, she may wear a pinstripe vest dress that is equal parts commanding and approachable. For events, she may wear a longer vest dress as a jacket. Paired with a tube top and slim pants, it makes her look ever the effortless lady.

Prim dress made sexy

Michael Kors dress and St John dress

Being a supporter of causes and foundations, she owns a lot of prim and proper clothes for charity events. Her choices run the gamut from lace to embroidered fabric, but always with modern aspects like a shorter hemline or a slim silhouette.

Asymmetrical neckline or hemline

Jonathan Simkhai denim dress at Moda Operandi; Paper London dress at Net-A-Porter; Paskal dress from Net-A-Porter

Once in a while, she breaks her simple mode and picks out something a little off-kilter. For formal dinners and brunches, she wears something with an interesting neckline because she will be photographed a lot while seated. For events at museums or art galleries, a quirky hemline provides all the statement she needs.

Affair dress with exceptional detailing

Needle & Thread tulle dress at Moda Operandi andPrada applique dress at Net-A-Porter

Her lifestyle is a collection of gorgeous details, and her clothing for special occasions is no exception. The more adventurous pieces in her closet are even better up close. The prints are one-of-a-kind, the fabrics soft to the touch, and the beading intricate.

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Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
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