I was asked by one of my lovely readers, Jennifer, to do a post on Elegant Chic and Strict styles. Not having come across the term before I read it on Deja Pseu’s blog and then Duchesse’s, I don’t feel Strict is something I’ve yet come to grips with fully.
According to Duchesse the look is worn by women over 35, and entails precise, demanding tailoring, the best fabrics, a base of neutrals (no bright colours), pattern usually tone on tone if any, each piece revealing idiosyncratic, subtle details.
What is Modern Elegant Chic Style
I feel that what I’ve gleaned about strict from these two posts, it’s different from the style Elegant Chic which is also a style generally worn by the 35 plus but includes more colour and sometimes some pattern, not just texture. The look is always well groomed. Whenever we see a woman who is Elegant Chic it never looks like she just threw on whatever was hung over the back of the closest chair. Instead, it’s a look that is culture and cultivated. Thought and care go into the look. There is often structure and tailoring to the garments, you won’t see a tracksuit in this style!
What you do notice with Elegant Chic style is that the clothes exude quality, the garments are always well constructed and made from high-quality fabrics. There is a combination of classic elements, along with femininity sometimes with a dash of drama. It’s always polished.
Some words you might associate with this look are:
People who dress with this as a basis of their style include Carla Bruni, Michelle Obama and Princess Mary of Denmark.
Carla Bruni has developed an Elegant Chic style since becoming the First Lady of France.
Kate Middleton also wears a modern Elegant Chic personality dressing style.
Discover more about the Elegant Chic personality dressing style in my 7 Steps to Style program – you’ll also discover six other personality dressing styles and how you can combine them, how you can understand which are you and which are not – so that you can make great purchasing decisions so that you stop wasting money on the wrong clothes. Understanding how to choose clothes, accessories, details, fabrics and prints based on your personality is an important part of finding and developing your personal style.
What is your interpretation of Strict and Elegant Chic?
Oh, I LOVE the looks you’ve created. I could wear all of those outfits! Now to get over my loathing of shopping …
Maybe it is because I am not yet 35 and I live in southern California, but I don’t really get these looks at all. In fact I am reading Genevieve Antoine Dariaux’s A Guide to Elegance and am utterly confounded by many of her requirements and suggestions. I don’t think it is at all interesting to look at. I am afraid that I will never be elegant, even when I am 50.
Tiffany – or make it yourself!
Cosmo – this is a style that relates to personality traits – if it’s not your personality, you won’t like or want to wear this look. When you come to the LA workshop we’ll find out what your style is – that is the style that will look best on you.
It’s a hard style to carry off as it’s high maintenance.
Elegance in this conservative, classic sense, is not for everyone.
I look at those clothes and think “that is what I wear when I grow up”
Jane – yes – it’s very grown up and definitely no ugg boots here!
This is me to a T!!!! I never knew there was a name for this style of dressing.
I learn something new every time I visit your blog. Thank you!
Ingrid – so happy to have helped you define your style!
As originator of the original post (and also of the term), I was reaching for a word to describe a a subtle sub-style, a way of dressing not usually seen in North America.
I saw a great deal of “Elegant Chic” but ‘strict’ is uncommon even in Paris, and that is precisely why I sought to capture its essence, more rigourous, luxurious, intellectural, and less accessorized than your Polyvore “Elegant Chic”choices.
The original post is on my blog, titled “Paris: Un Certain Regard”, dated November 8, 2008.
I was not suggesting women emulate it; if you live in sunny, southern climates you are almost genetically programmed to dislike (or not understand) ‘strict’.
Genevieve Dariaux’ book is a delight; however it was written in the early ’60s and even then reflected an earlier, rather “haute bourgeoise” sensibility. Trying to closely follow her advice in the casual California of today would indeed feel strange. And I can imagine what Madame thinks of track pants with letters across the butt.
I would have to agree with her on tracksuits with letters over the backside. Hideous.
Elegant is a style that once was quite the norm in the 40’s and 50’s
It’s been lost over time. I have a lot of elegance in my clothing and everywhere I go I get
told, “why don’t you relax?” when I am relaxed or “I bet you don’t do camping” when I do.
Its a mindset that prevails worldwide that no one “dresses” anymore. My mother told us that your hate and gloves and shoes should always match. She was a seamstress and she made those gorgeous cardigans that were beaded and bejeweled by hand. She never wore pants, ever. Not even now at 89.
Its a lost era.
If you look out over the crowd there is no one dressing that way anymore and if they do, they stand out, and get stared at.
Recently I took my girls shopping for a special event they are going to, and it took us hours to find beautiful things and in rare and small boutiques. The end result is fabulous and they look 100% ladies even if one is more elegant and the other a touch dramatic. I know they will stand out from the others but the general group wear runners and track dacks. I find it disturbing that fashion has degenerated to shreds of clothing on the whole. Ripped, torn, sloppy, just disturbing.
I often wonder what these women would think were they resurrected and saw the cities and towns and streets now. Horror springs to mind.
Duchesse, I would love to see more photos of what you describe as Strict style.
It doesn’t sound like a style suitable for Californians (or what I know of them), nor most Australians, maybe Melbourne in winter, but that’s it.
I have read Genevieve’s book and enjoyed its content, even though much is not applicable today.
Imogen, I think you’ve nailed it! I love your Polyvore interpretation. Did you see my Ines de la Fressange Polyvore? Her style I describe as “accessible chic” and that’s the style to which I’m gravitating these days.
I like the “shape” or structure of the lines here — the tailored underpinnings of the look, I guess. And I like the versatility combined with a certain authority the look gives. I do gravitate towards something like this often. However, during the many years I was raising four kids, I can’t imagine the dry-cleaning bills, for one thing, of a looks that relies on good fabric, well-tailored. High-maintenance indeed, as you say.
I was convinced for many years that elegance meant wearing black, brown, beige or cream. But now that I’m in the colour world I think everyone should have their colours done, and should wear the colours that work for them.
I do love the outfits you’ve put together!
I’m fascinated by the discussions about this style, as its strictness is SO unappealing to me. Yet the pieces and outfits and overall looks that are born of that strictness do appeal … hmm.
Well, at least I am glad to know that I am not to be shunned by the fashionable for not getting these styles.
I was reading A Guide to Elegance and surprised that she mentioned Princess Diana’s death. So apparently is was updated a bit. I have been trying to figure out which parts have been updated and which have not. I can’t tell.
These are my favorite kind of looks. I like clean lines and not too much foof or frills. I like your #1 and 2 look best.
Deja – yes – I’d call it Relaxed Elegant Chic – slightly less structured and more casual, still classy!
Mater – so true – not the look for a mum of small kids!
Colour Me Happy – Maria – I love colour and would be bored out of my brain without it! It affects us psychologically – what does the beige wearer really think?
Cosmo – the best look or style, is the one that works for you and your personality. It’s hard, if not impossible to consistently carry off a style that is not ‘you’ on the inside.
Belette – I can imagine you in this look!
I love this look -so polished and serene. I envy women who look like this!
I agree that it relates to personality. My mother had a similar style when she was only in her ’30s,and I grew up thinking she was the epitome of style. I just look dowdy when I try for elegance -and I feel very self conscious. I guess I just don’t have an elegant soul!
I think of the blog Thumbelina Fashionista when I think of strict. She wears beautiful clothes in a very narrow but sophisticated color palette. Another example is Carine Roitfeld.
Thanks for your tip about David Lawrence trenches for those of us who aren’t too tall! Are you coming up to Sydney any time soon?
Jamtart – you’re right, on the right person it looks so great, on the wrong one it just doesn’t work.
Leah – thanks for the examples, I’ll check out Thumbelina
Tiffany – I’ll be in Sydney in October for the Image consultants conference.
The demands of this style of dress don’t suit me at ALL.
This is the essence of First Lady Jackie Kennedy…perfection. It's refined sophistication. Simple, not overdone…and VERY spendy. An absolutely moneyed look. Audrey Hepburn wore it well also.
I have read that wearing bright. colorful clothing makes one look younger. The neutrals, I believe,age us. The only way I would feel comfortable with these looks is possibly a colorful scarf wrapped around the neck.
Alice – depending on your colouring will determine the colours that suit you. Some people look great in neutrals, others look great in colour. Wearing a scarf in colour can make neutrals work for you.
Love the Flared pants. Back big time for 2016 🙂
This was very much my style when I worked in corporate, though I didn’t wear heels (I can’t due to an accident). I introduced a little more colour into the mix than is pictured above, though not a lot, as my hair was darker in those days so I opted for deeper tones than I do now.
So glad to find a name and images of clothes I can imagine feeling really comfortable and put together in…. i have NO idea where I would shop for these shapes and styles! I am pushing 60, but younger looking, and in the southern US. Does anyone have any thoughts for me?
You will find them in many places – but you’ll need to search them out – fortunately most stores have an online presence and you can start to search out what you’re after and look at lots of stores to see who is selling the kinds of clothes you like. Start with your major department stores websites.
Love this look. My own take on it has a more Ralph Lauren vibe to it. I love the fitted sheath dresses, they’re my favorites. I wear the simplest possible outfit and people will regularly ask me, “Why are you so dressed up?” 😄