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Sewing Chatter: Would you describe your style as “classic?”


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In case you hadn’t heard, we’re releasing a new pattern next week!

In a recent blog post, Sarai reminisced about how Colette has grown over the last few years. She shared a peek at what’s next for both Colette and Seamwork—including the mood board above—and started to detail the creative process behind our patterns.

Sarai’s posts sparked some interesting discussions about the word “classic,” which was the most common word used to describe personal style in our survey responses. It’s a word that many of us might use to describe our wardrobes or the patterns we choose to sew, but what does it mean exactly? Timeless? Tasteful? If you were to draw a picture of a “classic” outfit, what would it look like?

So I’m wondering, when you hear the word “classic,” what comes to mind? If you would describe your style as “classic,” what does that look like to you?

Meg Stively   —   Communications Manager

Meg is here to help you. She's the smiling face behind our customer service and social media. Keeping in touch with our family of stockists, and shipping your orders all across the world, she loves seeing what you're making with our patterns.

Comments 42

Nikki Vasquez

To me, classic means style independent of modern trends, with simple, flattering silhouettes. The fabric is in a solid color. I would consider it understated by modern standards, but deliberate and purposeful, which elevates the simple pieces. I feel like to be truely classic, it had to be made out of nice, or at least natural, material with lovingly finished seams and facings. Classic seems slowed down and more purposeful overall, from the sewing to the pattern choice, to the assembling of an outfit.


What she said! Well-made, well-curated pieces that flatter most silhouettes and are shapes that are always returned to in fashion.


to me, classic seems a bit dull. like those magazine articles telling you to buy black trenchcoats and tailored trousers and blazers. and lots of neutrals especially beige. so they won’t go out of fashion as they are never in fashion. it’s a great look if it is for you but it’s not for me. i don’t follow fashion trends personally but i like more variation on shape and colour than “classic” suggests to me. I like nikki’s post above about great fabrics and finishing. so maybe i could reinterpret it as slow sewing made to last? that would work better for me!


I’m with you! I read Simon Doonan’s Eccentric Glamour a while back and it really made an impression. I don’t want disposable trendy stuff, but I’m not sure “classic” describes what I want either.


Agree with both here! Do you know the blog Advanced Style? That’s my fashion dream, to grow old playfully, extravagantly, disgracefully. Slow sewing for sure, but classic? Maybe not for me…


I pretty much agree with Nikki. I’ll add that some prints are classic (polka dots, houndstooth, etc). My biggest criteria for classic is that it can be worn for years without anyone being able to pinpoint when you bought or made it.

One of my favorite work outfits was over 15 years old when I finally retired – it was a kelly green skirt and shell with green & black houndstooth Chanel style jacket – so not exactly dull but I would call it classic.

Being able to sew makes it easier to have truly classic clothes that really last and really fit – things that are not always possible with RTW.


Good descriptions of “Classic”. For me, it is all those things, but also that touch of something that harkens back to another decade. It is a flavor of yesteryear.
Which is why I love Colette and Seamwork patterns so much! I can always find a bit of yesteryear in them!


To me, classic clothes are not trendy, but not frumpy. They can be dressed up or down, they can be bright or subtle, beautiful fabrics, uncluttered, un-fussy, great fitting… Oh, and can be accessorised to make them more fashion forward if needed.


Totally agree with this! :)


Timeless elegance. I tend to think of Talbots as a great example of classic. No surprise that a lot of my sewing inspiration comes from them.

Juliana @ Urban Simplicity

The first thing I think of when I hear “classic” is Tim Gunn’s fashion essentials list: neutral trench, white button down shirt, classic pencil skirt in a dark solid, dark heels, striped breton shirt, well fitted dark trousers, etc. (I agree with someone else’s suggestion of Talbot’s as a style inspiration for classic). I think a classic silhouette is well fitted without being skin-tight, elegant, and timeless but not trendy.


The other day my mother-in-law gave me a stack of her old Burda-Magazines, from the late 90s and early 00’s. I presumed I would not find anything in them, but there were quite a few pieces I consider sewing (and a lot that gave me bad flashbacks.) Among them is a long woolen coat with.notched lapels, a silk nighty with matching morning robe and a button-down fit-and-flare dress. Change the colours and those things could be from. any decade since the 20s. That’s a classic to me.
Would I describe my style as classic? Once I would have liked to think so, I wore only basics after a sartorially confused youth. But since I started sewing, I wear and sew “my classics” but there is no black cashmere in sight.


Jackie O., Audrey Hepburn, clean lines yet feminine, semi-fitted and well made, quality fabric, attention to details, modest yet leaving things to the imagination, red lipstick, diamond stud earrings. To me, classic style is noticing the woman before the clothes and not the other way around.

Jenny Sandoval

OMG, I didn’t read your post; the first part of my post is almost verbatim! ?


Yes! We’re definitely on the same page!


Classics are things that come back season after season after season, even if they are slightly tweaked – the boatneck neutral tee, dark wash flare jeans, the trench coat, a black turtleneck, a button down in complimentary colors…for me, often, the types of clothes you find in an LL Bean catalog. They are simple and they fit the wearer properly so that the wearer shines, rather than being outshone by their own clothing. I will grant, these are often based on WASP-y styles of yesteryear, and they probably don’t fall into everyone’s idea of “classic”.
Another thing I think about classics, is that women of any age can wear them – they make young women look sophisticated and give old women gravitas and command respect.

Betty Jordan Wester

I always think of “classic” as crisp, monochromatic, and minimal details- so a blazer can be classic, but it wouldn’t be in a busy print fabric, and it would be fairly structured.

I rarely wear “classic” styles. I prefer modern, monochromatic clothes in the summer, and romantic, floral, clothes in the winter.


Classics are not always things that have been seen before. A new classic can be born tomorrow, but we may not realize it for a few years. Good design is practical and beautiful, both. It is wearable. It is worth making well out of good fabric. A whole wardrobe needn`t be classic — in fact that can be really boring, just too safe. It`s the fun things we love (colours, patterns, accessories, etc) because they express ourselves that make us shine in our classic pieces.

Karen Dixon

I think of classic as being about the silhouette. A garment that is designed to fit the body well. It can be very simple, a classic straight skirt, a blouse with bust darts, a shell dress, etc. or have lots of detail. The fabric could be colourful or patterned…classic is not about neutrals, to my view. It’s called classic because it doesn’t go out of style!


I’ve been told by others that I have “classic” taste. I don’t think I do, but there are certain classic elements that are there. I define classic as those practical garments than can cross decades and could be worn anywhere: a trench coat, a button down blouse, a cardigan, an a-line dress, slim skirt, a gathered or pleated skirt, pants that fit well with a modest cut straight leg, and penny loafers or ballet flats. Classic also means a plain tshirt, hoodie, tennis shoes and a pair of jeans. The things everyone has in their closet sooner or later because you can mix them with trendier pieces but they still get worn after the trendier pieces have gone. Things that never really go out of style, and have endless variations. You might call them basics.

Patricia Wilson

Classic to me is fashion that doesn’t look out of place on a 20 year old or 50 year old. Ageless fashion


Nailed it!


classic means for me beautiful in fabric and fashion, with one detail that sing out. I think of elegant, best fitted and simple shapes built with best couture level. Not Haute-Couture!. .. I fiel very good and not under, certainly not overdressed in such a garment. I fiel confident and sure. Not to forget: the garment musst be versatile so i can wear it with different items of my closet, one time more casualy, one tine more elegant. Classic, yes, and classy.


To me classic is something that never goes out of style. The Chanel Jacket comes immediately to mind. You can still get away with wearing a Chanel jacket look alike with a pencil skirt, high heels and stylish hat and look well turned out, dressed up, and “posh”. Maybe a little vintage but that spot on trend right now anyway. Other words I associate with classic are fine quality, fitted (tailored more specifically) and universally familiar. I couldn’t say I adhered to a classic dress really – I have a few pieces like most people that could fit in that category but I don’t think I would ever be described as a “classic dresser”.


Clean lines, unfussy, and the details not specific to any particular decade – it doesn’t have to be something that never was quite in fashion, but to be “classic,” it can’t go OUT of fashion, at least not permanently. And it has to be of sufficiently good fabric, sufficiently well made, that it will stand up to wearing for years. My favorite office clothes were like that – I had one beautiful black wool gabardine, knife-pleated skirt (picked up at a Lexington thrift store for $10) that I wore once or twice a week all winter for 16 years, and it was still in good shape when I retired. Now I’m more into gardening denim and “bohemian retro.”


To me classic means clean, simple lines and tailored silhouettes, with perhaps just one or two unique details that I won’t tire of quickly. I’ve always thought of my style as ‘classic with a twist’ – lately it’s classic with a bit of edginess.

Jenny Sandoval

To me, classic is retro. I think of Jackie O, Hepburn, trendsetters in style who we’re still emulating (not limited to those 2!)

A classic style is one I adopt, but eclectically. For instance, rather than a more tradition mod top, I’ll add loud print and darts.

Also, I may match a me-made, or even a thrift store buy, with designer jeans and designer heels. I call it “shabby couture.” I love shabby chic and I love mixing a couture skirt with a tank top I bought at Target. I may even polish the look off with some tennis shoes.


Recently, I bought a 1994 Vogue sewing book. I figured that even though the fashions would be outdated, I could still benefit from the designer sewing techniques. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I would wear almost every garment pictured! Clothing becomes classic because it is well designed, beautiful and useful in a wardrobe. Donna Karen, Calvin Klein, Ellen Tracy, Victor Costa, Claude Montana, Geoffrey Beene, Todd Oldham, Bill Blass, Bellville Sassoon, Ralph Lauren and many other famous designers have staying power because their clothes make sense. I like classic and subtly retro fashion because I like to look a bit elegant and put together. I don’t want my clothes to make an impression, I want ME to make an impression.

Becky Culbertson

Exactly. Perfectly stated.

nickkole e huerta

I’m curious, why so many mailing lists? Regular, seam work, and now pattern insider. I get every seam work email in regular mailing list and seam work list. Why not just one mailing list?

Paula Mo

When I think ” Classic” , I see Jackie Kennedy. So, pure lines, solid colors or ckeck in many sizes, sofisticaded details like buttons, bias,and special cut.
I love, instead I am so standart…

Britney Waite

I feel like “classic” could be interpreted in many ways and they’re all right…
The Thing I think of is silhouette and how a garment is cut, and no matter the color or print (to an extent) of that garment the shape and fit of the item can make it a classic piece.
Then, I think of color and pattern. There are certain colors and patterns that are classic like neutrals and stripes and polka dots and no matter the shape of the clothing item (to an extent) it makes it a classic. The combination of silhouette, color, fabric makes the garment classic or not.
I also just think that it depends on your personal style! To me, leopard print shoes is a classic item that I will literally wear with everything. So it’s a classic to me. Some people see that as a pop and not necessarily traditionally “classic”.
Then I also think of vintage styles as classic…but then that goes into personal style as well. Everyone lands at a different point on the map of style.


So I think the first thing to be said is that classics are that way for a reason. We wear classics, where, in many cases, the trends wear us.
I strive for classic… especially in my professional wardrobe. Because it gives me confidence that I am dressed in a manner that will let people look past my clothes and see ME. It’s taken 10 years, but I think I am mostly there! To me, a classic wardrobe is a stable of solid (or tone-on-tone, textural) pieces and tailored styles that fit(!) and are in colors that suit my body and my complexion, not the trends. Red lipstick and pumps, pearls and a great tobacco-tone leather handbag… Classic doesn’t go anywhere, and I don’t plan on leaving it behind anytime soon.


I think of classic as simple, stylish, and well made but not really fashion forward. Like the duchess of Cambridge, who always looks lovely and appropriate.

Charity S.

To me, classic means something that lasts through trends. It’s Audrey Hepburn style. You could wear her wardrobe now and no one would look twice! Expertly crafted items that can be worn for years and with anything. They can actually even be worn with trendy items if so desired. Does a tailored shirt, pencil skirt, or a lovely shift ever go out of style? I think not.

Gretchen Potts

When I hear the word “Classic” I immediately envision Amelia Erhart. I think of the elegance of necessity in how she dressed, not for show but rather function. I imagine her lifetime as an era when women were trundling out of the 1920’s newly liberated from the corset and felt confidence in their clothing choices. Thats it for me. Functional, enduring, comfortable, simple.


Simple. Elegant. Timeless. So Grace Kelly, or Angelina Jolie (post, rather than pre-Brad). Shirts, tailored jackets and trousers, skirts and dresses that could be fitted or flared. The garments that are reinvented by year after year. Natural fibres, more solids than prints – basically my perfect wardrobe! The hard part is preventing it from looking stuffy on us mere mortals.


Jackie O – but a bit more relaxed


For me classic is when someone remembers you being immaculately presented but they can’t remember exactly what you were wearing. They may not go “wow, where did you get that shirt/dress/top/skirt” but they will say “they always look fabulous/well put together/lovely”. For me, that’s the difference between stylish and fashionable.


To me, “classic” is restrained, mostly neutral colors with a few brights in scarves or other accent pieces. Nothing trendy that could go out of style belongs in the classic wardrobe. Classic is also dignified; cleavage is limited, skirts skim the top of the knee at the shortest, and bra straps don’t show. The two style icons for classic are Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn.


Classic means to me that it is well-made, well-fitted, and timeless. It is the path the trends jump off of to make a quick splash! But the classic always remains, whether, bold and bright or muted and beige. The lines are always in tune with the times!


Classic is well made, timeless, elegant, not fussy. I think I mainly think of black, grey, navy & neutral tones as they go with everything, but often a great bright skirt will fit the bill.
It’s those pieces that mix well – a jacket that looks fab with a pencil skirt & heels or jeans & boots. White shirts & t shirts will change shapes & styles, but the newest version can be worn every season.
It’s an item that you can wear year after year, or give it a rest for a few seasons then pull it out again & hey presto it’s has a new life.
I have a collection of classic vintage coats that do the rounds, a 12 year old beige double breasted, boxy car coat that gets new buttons every few years to brighten it up, white shirts in 3 styles, a new white t shirt every summer, my vintage beaded cardigans & black pencil, black tailored cigarette pants & well fitted jeans.

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