Style is both enduring and changing


November 03, 1994|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I am having a discussion with my grandmother who was once the society editor of the paper in her town. She thinks she knows it all and insists that if a woman has style she must always look the same. She cites Jackie Onassis, Grace Kelly and even the Duchess of Windsor as examples.

I say that today's woman with style has to change to reflect new trends. Otherwise she will appear old-fashioned and so lose her style. Which of us is right?

A: You both are. A woman with style has to know herself well -- the good features she should play up; the bad ones she should camouflage.

Your question intrigued me so much I called several designers for their thoughts.

In Milan, Gianni Versace agreed with me. He said style is something a woman is born with, adding:

"This doesn't mean she should never change. An intelligent woman updates her natural style by small touches that do not alter her real self but enhance it."

Giorgio Armani agrees: "A woman of style knows herself. She is confident enough to express her own personality. She doesn't accept the rule of imposed fashion."

Rosita Missoni adds: "A woman with style will always change. Since she has style, she will always be in perfect harmony with both herself and the times."

Valentino says the idea of style has evolved so much in the last few years that it is no longer about clothes, hair or makeup: "Style should evolve with a woman's attitude toward life."

Oscar de la Renta says style is a woman's personal way of behaving and projecting herself. "It really has much more to do with the inner person than it does with clothes."

Cathy Hardwick says fashion is important to a woman with style: "Every 10 years or so we see a major change in the fashion silhouette. No woman can afford to ignore it. But a stylish woman will not follow the changes slavishly. She will adapt it to her own advantage."

Elsa Klensch is CNN style editor.

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