Monday, July 28, 2014

Following C. Z. and Jackie

image from Time & Life Pictures / Gety Images
via Huffington Post
C.Z. Guest did it.

Jackie O. did it.

When icons like these agree, it’s worth taking note.

Actually, when it comes to fashion, I wouldn’t be surprised if both women agreed on various rules to follow, but one that sticks out for me is the way they both bought multiples of clothing that they liked. It really makes so much sense – if you absolutely love the way something fits, why not buy more than one?

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis famously purchased the same pieces of clothing in various colors. If she liked the way a sweater fit, she might buy it in both navy and white. And why not? It can be so difficult to find clothing that one really loves, so why not get the same item in multiple colors to help fill out a wardrobe? Imagine how easy daily dressing would be if one’s favorite piece of clothing could be worn three times in a week simply because it was owned in three different colors.

With a slightly different approach but just as useful for her, C.Z. Guest was reported to have purchased exact duplicate copies of all of her clothing. If she found a sweater she liked in white, two of the white sweaters would be purchased. According to some, Mrs. Guest bought doubles so that her Palm Beach and New York closets would be identical, ensuring that dressing, as well as traveling from one home to the other, would be an easier task.

These days, many contemporary women also purchase multiples of the same items. Practicality being a fundamental piece of preppy, this approach is often seen in preppy wardrobes, and is one of the reasons that from year to year classic clothing companies offer the same styles, often in new prints. It might be a straight skirt from Vineyard Vines, a shift dress from Lilly Pulitzer, or a Norwegian sweater from L.L. Bean, but year in and year out, a relied upon piece of clothing can often only be improved upon by another purchase of the same item. Some women do this with suits too – if suits are worn regularly, it makes sense to buy one that fits well in grey as well as navy. If one wears jeans regularly, it's wise to buy two pairs and have one hemmed to the right length for flats and the other hemmed to the right length for heels.

image via Handbag
Over the years, I have also purchased multiples of clothing I really loved. As even the most classic of clothing companies have been switching out their most reliable and loved items for versions boasting shorter hemlines or more polyester, I find that purchasing multiples all at once when I can find them, just as Mrs. Onassis and Mrs. Guest did, to be the easiest way to ensure a closet of pieces that I love. But I have also wasted money with this method. Sometimes there is only one color available that I like, and in trying too hard to make a second color work, I have ended up with some odd color choices that were rarely worn even though I adored the same item in a different color. With these mistakes in mind, I now try to be a bit more careful about buying in multiples.

There are certain items that make sense to follow Jackie on: Sweaters, shift dresses, button downs, and straight skirts are staples that won't go out of style, and therefore are a few smart choices. When I purchase a single item and quickly discover it’s going into heavy rotation in my closet, I love to check out the other colors available right away to see if any other options are ones I like. Most recently, I did this with this Boden dress and was able to get the second one on sale, which is something that often happens when I find myself going back for a second helping of clothing.

Other items, like white tees and, for me, cheap flats are contenders for following C.Z. Guest. When one item wears out, as these both tend to do for me (since I seem to destroy all flats as fast as I break them in), a replica can be waiting in the wings. Another advantage to buying the same item a few times over is that when a beloved staple is discontinued or changed, one has a backup ready to go. I wish I had remembered to do this with my favorite white tee from Everlane, because it’s since been discontinued.

And of course, whether one follows Jackie's system of multiple colors, or C.Z.'s style of buying exact copies, classic styles and pieces are always the ones that work best. This way, one doesn't need to worry about having too many of an item that is only a passing trend, and instead will have multiples of items that can be worn for many years to come.

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