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How To Dress Like A City Chic

I've had so many requests to write a post about the City Chic style personality. It would seem that as we get older, many of us aspire to this. Not surprising really as it's a more mature way of dressing. I'm not talking frumpy and old. We're not quite at the blue rinse/elasticated waist trouser stage yet. It's more a confidence thing when we're totally fed up of being slaves to fashion and are comfortable enough in our own shoes.

So what exactly is a City Chic?

In order to explore this, I held a little brainstorming session....with myself (well I did ask the husband and son, who looked at me somewhat vacantly). Here's what I came up with:

Doesn't advertise brands on clothes/bags
Doesn't follow high fashion but is interested in general trends
Limited palette of colours
Lots of neutral tones such as black/navy/charcoal/white
Very few bold colours
Limited print
Quality not quantity
Well fitted clothes
Good quality accessories
Buys into pieces that will last for years

I see a City Chic as a combination of a Natural and a Classic (find out more information about style personalities in this post)

A Natural is someone who likes to feel completely comfortable in her clothes. Her look is relaxed with simple easy wear pieces. 

A Classic is someone who is always immaculately turned out. She prefers a groomed look and favours more traditional clothes.

So, a City Chic takes elements from each of these personalities;

Simple, elegant, comfortable pieces put together for

 a groomed and polished look

There, that's my interpretation of a City Chic! 

And a few images c/o Pinterest, such a fantastic source of inspiration.

But of course, it isn't as simple as that is it? Style personalities come from the heart, and clothes are an expression of our characters. So how can you pigeon hole yourself into something that isn't really you? Well, you can't really. Take a Creative (Vivienne Westwood), she would be totally miserable in a pair of well cut black trousers and a crisp white shirt. She'll whip those scissors out and make the outfit her own before you can say cotton bobbin. In fact, I doubt there are any Creatives that even read this blog, it's far too tame. 

What I would say though, is that generally as we get older and a bit longer in the tooth, we tend to dress a tad 'safer'. Ok, there's always going to be the odd fashionista out there and nothing wrong with that either but most 'mature' women tend to follow a trend loosely rather than dive right into the deep end. We also tend to have a little bit more disposable income and are prepared to pay a bit extra so we buy in to the whole quality not quantity thing.

Finally, an older (gosh that word hurts) woman who is interested in clothes will probably feel the need to smarten up her act and yearn for a more polished look. You see I have a theory that baggy, saggy clothes hilights our baggy, saggy wrinkles. It's not yet proven but I'm hoping it will be in my lifetime!!!

And all of this is exactly what a City Chic does. So without knowing it, we gravitate to this particular style personality.

With me so far? Good.

Who is the biggest City Chic Icon of them all?

That's an easy one, it has to be Emmanuelle Alt, we'll just skip over the ungroomed hair bit. 

*Neutral palette; blacks, greys, whites
*Very little pattern 
*Classic pieces; blazers, court shoes, well cut white t-shirts
*Understated with just a hint of personality (the shoes in pic 1, the cuffs in pic 2...)
*Well fitted quality pieces

What does a City Chic have in her wardrobe?

I hate to be prescriptive so let's call this a starter list. Don't forget, you'll have your own personal favourite colours and cuts which should be considered. 

Every item below can be tailored to your own body shape so for example if you are a pear shape then you'll be looking for well cut trousers without side pockets or detail. Or a curvy hourglass will probably want to swerve the pencil skirt for a more flippy style and so on.

Black, grey, navy and brown. Flat fronted are the most flattering. Ankle grazers are perfect for showing a little bit of flesh. Wear nude coloured pop socks underneath - amazing how warm they are.

Mid to dark wash or black with minimal detail/distressing. 

neutral shades (see trousers above). Knee length and longer. Midis are a perfect trend to buy in to. Choose a length that is the most flattering for your shape (tip: make sure the hem doesn't finish at the widest point of your leg).

Clean lines in plain fabrics. Find the best style for your shape eg. A-line, shift, wrap. See above for hemline tip.

White, cream, chambray, black. The fit is key to pulling off the City Chic look. Buttons should lie flat with no strain across the bust/tummy. Crisp cotton creases easily, lyocell is better

Well cut in white, navy, black, grey. The neckline is really important - busty ladies go for a soft v, flat/pigeon chests can wear higher neck styles. It's worth paying more for these as they'll keep their shape and last.

Long sleeve t-shirts 
Neutral colours (see t-shirts above). Also Bretons are key in the City Chic wardrobe (remember that the 'cleanest' ones are 80% white background, 20% stripes).

Silks, chiffons, good quality polyester which will wash well and require very little ironing. Will you be tucking in? If not, look for a well finished hemline - a curve is very flattering. You can buy into trends such as frills but think will I still wear this next year? 

Merino and cashmere ooze elegance but cheaper man-made fibres are ok too as long as they're well cut and not too sloppy. For an oversized look, make sure the shoulders fit, this will prevent it looking scruffy.

A coatigan is a fantastic addition to a City Chic wardrobe. Laid back style! Boyfriend cardis are also useful.

Stick to neutral colours such as black, navy, charcoal, brown, cocoa, stone, pewter. Blazers, plain biker jackets, military with minimal detail are all good investments.

A classic trench will last for years. A proper winter coat is an investment so choose your best shape; cocoon, belted, straight. Try lots on before you decide. Make sure it fits properly and the length is flattering. 

This will very much depend on your lifestyle. Flat pumps (rounded or pointed fronts) and loafers are ideal for running around town. If you prefer sneakers, stay away from fitness brands such as New Balance. Instead look for classic white or black in leather with minimal detail. A City Chic may or may not wear heels (personal preference), but a classic pair of stiletto court shoes will always feature. Neutral shades including nude or animal print. City Chics can use shoes to personalise their outfit so don't be afraid to buy in to fashion if you fall in love with a pair. 

An ankle boot is easier to style than a longer boot. Choose a classic shape that isn't too fashion led as you'll be wearing for years. When you've built up a small collection, you won't mind so much buying the odd fashion purchase that will only last a season or two. 

A variety of bags in classic colours; neutrals, red, animal print, burgundy. Totes, hobos and cross body.

Classic pieces, either one statement or a few smaller pieces.

How to add a statement piece the City Chic way

This is what Emanuelle Alt does so bloody well. If you don't believe me, go over to Pinterest and have a look. Her wardrobe staples are black pants with a simple t-shirt or shirt. And then she may add a killer jacket or knock out shoes and occasionally a statement bag. But never everything at once.

This is the key. Keep it simple and then add one wow piece

A few things that we could consider:

leopard print heels or flats
a red bag
a military style jacket
peep toe ankle boots
a fedora hat

taken directly from Emmanuelle's closet. And these would actually last for years.

But, I think this is where we can also insert our fashion-led items but remember the rule **just the one piece at any one time** It will keep your look current and help fend off the boredom from a pretty basic, parred back wardrobe.

Where to shop for City Chic clothes?

Here's a list of shops for all different budgets (in no particular order)

Good for: classic shirts, breton tops (in different cuts to suit different body shapes) blazers, well fitting trousers, classic shoes with a twist.

Good for: basic jeans, t-shirts, cashmere, shoes.

3. Me&Em

Good for statement pieces that will last and layering tops.

4. Baukjen

Great for layering pieces. Cut for real women

5. Mango

Cheap, affordable basics but you'll need to search for them!!

6. Next

My go to shop this year. Great for the coated leggings that I love and well priced tops.

These pull on coated leggings are so comfortable and easy to style

Love the smart take on the jogger with these Twill Textured Trousers

The Frill Front Shirt looks much more expensive than it really is

Because not everyone wants a black bomber jacket

7. Winser London

This company is the epitome of the City Chic. Great for good quality knits.

The Milano Wool Skirt, a useful item for the A/W wardrobe

Layer up or wear on it's own, this Merino wool v-neck jumper so super versatile

Under stated classic - Miracle Crochet Shift Dress

And some other brands that cater for the City Chic

Jaegar - pricey but a good all rounder that will last and last
Jaegar Outlet - pick up some fabulous bargains
John Lewis - I love browsing Ralph Lauren (in the sale) and Tommy Hilfiger
Hobbs - pricier end of the High Street but lovely staples 
Joules - brilliant for long sleeve Breton tops
Esprit - fantastic for basic items such as polo necks and t-shirts

Phew, that was a long one wasn't it. Hope you made it to the end.

The New York trip was successful. We had 3 things on the agenda; to visit the 911 Memorial Museum (so glad we did), to shop for my birthday pressie (got that) and to cycle in Central Park. Oh my bloody God, it nearly killed me. Did you know that there are hills in Central Park? No I didn't either. I mean, I've done the horse and carriage romantic thingy and walked through part of it too but did I see any hills? Not one. Three times I had to get off the damn bike and push. Not amused! We also managed to see the NYC football game (the soccer variety) in a fantastic catered suite, walked for miles and miles and enjoyed one too many cocktails. Having done most things on previous visits it was lovely to chill and not have too much planned.

Anyway, back to real life and back to no central heating. I had to ring the emergency gas people on Thursday evening. They asked a few questions and said we had to evacuate the house immediately. Couldn't decide whether to save my coat collection first or my family. The good news is that I still have a house, a family and my coats. The bad news is that we need a new boiler. Just working out how many pairs of shoes I could have bought with that money!

Back later in the week.

16 comments on "How To Dress Like A City Chic"
  1. Love all of this. Thanks. Great ideas.x

    1. You're welcome Rebecca. Thanks for the comment x

  2. Another great post, enjoying the brand recommendations and the "starter list." Love the Baukjen jacket. Glad you enjoyed your NYC trip but I am not sure there is such a thing as too many cocktails in NY!!

    1. So pleased that you enjoyed it. Oh I could have probably managed a few more cocktails....never been known to say no!!!! x

  3. I'll be referring back to this frequently Donna! So useful for building a reliable core wardrobe. I am an aspiring city chic/natural type but can't help being drawn to colour and beautiful prints as well. Resistance is futile so I just enjoy both styles at different times. Glad you enjoyed your holiday!

    1. I guess you could use colour or prints as your statement pieces Elaine. But you should go with what you feel is comfortable....make your own rules up xx

  4. Another fantastic post, thank you!

  5. What a fab post! Lots to think about :)

    1. It's thrown me into turmoil writing it all down Helen lol xx

  6. Really helpful post. Thank you for this!

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog anyway, but this was such a good post. I saved this so I could refer back to it. Thank you.

    1. Oh I'm so glad you enjoy it. Posts such as this take literally hours to write so I always appreciate feedback (good and bad). At least I know I'm not talking to myself lol x

  8. Can I say how much I enjoy your blog, always on the lookout for the latest one. Been in a bit of a rut recently and your suggestions have really helped. I hate going shopping but you've pushed me into buying things online that I wouldn't have considered. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Purple Rinser, thanks so much for your lovely comments. I'm so glad it's been of help to you and hope you continue to read xx