Fashion season is in full swing. After Men's Fashion Week in Milan and then Paris, the circuit will move to womenswear in London, Milan, Paris, Mumbai, India, and, of course, New York. Although the point of Fashion Week anywhere is to inform editors and buyers about what is hot for next season (in this case, fall 2012), a recurring theme every season and every year is classic pieces that don't go out of style.
There are any number of classic pieces with which to fill a wardrobe, but here are a few staples that show up every year on the runway.
The white shirt
Crisp. Clean. Light. The white button-up shirt can be both powerful and feminine. Politicians rarely veer from its tailored clean palate, but at the same time Carolina Herrera, a socialite and designer, almost never dresses without one.
"I have been wearing a white blouse all my life," Herrera has said. "It's like my security blanket -- take a white blouse and mix it with something." With its simple elegance, she pairs it with jeans or a satin skirt to mark whatever occasion is called for.
The wrap dress
The wrap dress debuted in the 1970s and has not had an "off period" since. Diane von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and original creator of the wrap dress, has attributed its creation to a number of inspirations. Unexpectedly, she has said that it came from wanting something quiet without zippers for sneaking out of the house after a late night tryst.
A key factor about the wrap dress is that it flatters any shape and can be rendered in a million patterns. Regardless of its original inspirations, the wrap dress has a very secure spot on the list of classic pieces every woman should own.
The trench coat
The trench coat has a long and storied past. Originally developed by Burberry for the British military, the coat has classic tailoring with many practical features derived from its background. Although more than 100 years old, the trench is not only a core item for Burberry's runway but also for many other designers from Marc Jacobs to Michael Kors to Nicholas Ghesquiere.
"Everything was designed for a reason, which is why I think it's so beautiful and which is why I think it's become a design classic," said Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry, in an interview for the website MrPorter.com. "You can wear it with everything. You can wear it if you're quite smart and a little bit more formal or you can wear it with jeans and a T-shirt. It's one of those pieces that just manages to feel right with every environment that you're in."
The boucle jacket
Possibly the least well-known classic piece, the boucle jacket is a regal piece that works equally well with casual and more formal attire. Coco Chanel created the jacket as part of an ensemble that could work for evenings out or days at work for women.
Today you can spot the jacket on editors and socialites the world over. In the documentary "The September Issue," Vogue editor Anna Wintour can be seen in a number of jackets in this style.
Of course, there are myriad other classic wardrobe staples that one should not go without. These few, however, are a good start to putting together an elegant wardrobe.
Seth McCormick Cooke is a stylist and freelance writer based in Charleston. Reach him at SethMcCormick@me.com.