Style personality profiles: the Classic

Why do some styles or outfits just seem to work for us, while others (though maybe “good on paper”) feel like wearing Someone Else’s Clothes? It may be that the latter aren’t aligned with our Style Personality. Many of you have requested more information about the various style personalities. So over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing details and tips for each of the Style Personality Profiles. Up today, The Classic.

The missing piece

Finding one’s personal style is like creating a recipe: there may be several ingredients, and each person’s style “taste buds” will be unique. If we only consider our coloring and body shape/proportions, we’re probably missing a key ingredient: our style personality.

But first…

When I write about seasonal color palettes or style personalities, some may balk at what they perceive as just another set of rules. But these tools aren’t intended to be dictates. My goal is to make getting dressed easier. For many of us, a set of style tools can take much of the trial and error out of shopping and creating outfits. And can save time and money.

Most of us will be a mixture of style personalities. And there will always be those “anomaly” pieces that we love. But understanding our Style Personality(ies) can help create a cohesive wardrobe, full of clothes we love and WEAR. Your style profile will be determined both your physical “architecture” and your personality. If you’re interested in booking an in-person style session, please email me at [email protected] for more information.

So let’s dive in…

The Classic style personality

I’ve kicked off this series with the Classic style personality, because I think many of us gravitate toward the timelessness of Classic style. And I think many of us have some Classic in our style mix, in varying degrees. Many of the items shown below will work for some of the other style personality profiles; it’s all in how you style them.

The look

The Classic style personality is classic (of course), groomed, sleek, polished, uncluttered, structured, grown-up, sophisticated, refined, and expensive (or expensive-looking). Think Grace Kelly or Princess Catherine. “Quiet luxury” + structure.


Medium scale (structural details & patterns). Well proportioned, fitted, no extremes.


You’ll want to stick to fabrics with a refined or smooth finish: matte or a slight sheen. Natural fibers are best: wool, silk, linen, cotton, fine knits, flannel, gabardine, twill, cashmere. Satin for evenings, or fine lace work. Some Broderie Anglaise OK if not too large in scale.

Clothing styles

  • Trousers should be well-cut, nothing too baggy or tight. Smooth fabrics with some structure. A front crease is good.
  • Skirts should be straight, pleated, or paneled, not too short, tight, or oversized. Avoid lots of flounces, gathers, or tiers.
  • Tops and shirts should be structured. Set in sleeves, neat necklines. Nothing too loose or floppy. Patterns are best when evenly spaced and medium-scale. Tees should not be too loose, soft, or oversized.
  • Coats and jackets: again, go with set-in sleeves and structure. Trench coats are good for Classics. Also fitted coats and swing coats (as long as they’re fitted through shoulders.) Blazers (not too shrunken or oversized) and Lady Jackets work well, including tweeds and bouclé styles, but avoid oversized patterns or chunky textures.

More “lady jackets”

  • Shoes: stick to low and medium-height heels in smooth finishes without any fussy details. Avoid platforms, very high heels, anything too trendy (e.g. mesh shoes, “jellies”). Loafers, sleek sneakers, espadrilles, riding boots, kitten heels, low wedges are all good everyday styles. (Ballet flats can work for some Classic Princess* or Classic Gamines, but may skew too juvenile for most Classics.)
  • Jewelry & accessories: think polish and structure. Bags should be structured, in smooth finishes, nothing distressed or cheap-looking. (Good quality nylon or canvas bags will work too.) Fine and demi-fine jewelry is best, but if your budget calls for costume, look for pieces in classic designs, and avoid anything tarnished. Pearls in classic styles are always good! Simple hoop earrings (in silver or gold) and gemstone studs are great for everyday. Avoid anything too oversized or dramatic.

Where to shop for Classic styles

Ann Taylor | J.Crew | Talbot’s | L.K. Bennett | Boden | Me+Em | MM LaFleur

*I’ll be covering Princess and the other style personality profiles in future posts.

The Classic style personality can often read as more formal or professional. If you’re retired, or have a more casual lifestyle, here are some tips for how to adapt your Classic wardrobe: When your style is Classic, but your lifestyle is casual.

I’ll be covering the rest of the 10 Style Personality Profiles in coming weeks, so look for those. And you can read all of my articles on Style Personalities HERE. If you live near or will be visiting the Los Angeles area and would like a personal style profile analysis, please email me: [email protected]

Do you lean toward Classic looks?

Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying my articles, please share on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media, and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for updates and exclusive content.

Stay in touch

Sign up to be notified of new posts and updates from une femme d’un certain âge.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I love your style information. But…I was surprised to see “body type” in an article about style. Would that mean that curvy bodies can’t wear classic styles? I think body type is unnecessary in this type of article.

    1. Hi Jeanne, it’s only one of the puzzle pieces, and not meant to be exclusionary. Of course you can wear what resonates with and appeals to you.

      1. I initially had the same thought as Jeanne. I’m definitely curvy on the bottom but lean towards classic style. Then I realized that however much I may like the style, it’s my shape that instructs my choices within the style; e.g. I’ve yet to find a “lady jacket” or any cropped jacket that I feel is flattering, so that’s a trend I’ll skip.

  2. It seems to me the term classic style incorporates a few sub styles. Ones I’m familiar with are: minimal, cute, sporty or edgy classic. Depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing I’d veer between minimal-my most worn style to sporty or edgy. I haven’t embraced the lady jacket yet, unless it was black or navy-no gold buttons, it just isn’t me. If you were doing a Kibbe classic I’d be a dramatic classic.

  3. Great beginning to a series I will look forward to reading. Can’t wait to see what style I fall under. I’m always looking for inspiration. Thank you for all that you do.

  4. Thanks for this Susan. I have always dreaded being a classic, but your description of body types/ features and fabric preferences confirm it for me. I think I have a ‘natural’ or slightly boho or dramatic bent in clothes, but classics always look right even though I don’t really live the look.

  5. To add to my previous comment about lady jackets. If it shows up. Our internet is wonky. I love lady jackets on others. The above outfit is lovely, but not on me, I do better when wearing something cropped if it has a defined waist. Recently, I purchased a jacket that’s a cross between a lady jacket, jean jacket, and a bomber. It has the refined material of a lady jacket but a defined waist of a bomber or jean jacket. The hardware is an antique bronze so it is a little more subtle. And it’s black.

  6. I’m looking forward to this series. I think I’ve always known I’m a classic, though my lifestyle is pretty casual. I’m still drawn to very classic styles and I understand now why I’m most comfortable in those styles, and why when I try to step away from that, it just doesn’t work for me. I’m interested in the further breakdown of substyles. Thank you for the information!

  7. Have always loved the classic look and usually shop in the stores you mention, but am retired and have purchased things that really don’t fit my lifestyle anymore. I think I also bend a little natural/ outdoorsy esp. since retiring….. with the occasional wild card purchase in a color I normally wouldn’t buy… just because ‍♀️

    1. Me too, Nancy. I’m home-based and I have made many shopping mistakes, buying for a fantasy lifestyle which doesn’t exist! I think this is because I err on the side of caution/Classic because I want longevity from my clothes, but perhaps need to break out a little and add more fun, embracing the Natural and Gamine? I will be following this series closely for inspiration!

  8. I love the idea of this series. And even though I did just re-read the other post you linked to (When your style is Classic, but your lifestyle is casual), I’d love to see two outfit boards juxtaposed — one for the office or evening, and one for the super casual life many of us currently lead. Just as boho is hard to do in a conservative office, classic is hard to do in a casual, retired life. Seeing examples side by side would be super helpful.

  9. You went to a lot of work to put this post together. Thank you for the hard work and useful information. My only quibble is your recommendation of Ann Taylor, and also Talbots in connection with natural fabrics. They don’t use them. (The amount of nylon is Talbot’s clothes in 2023 was stunning. AT is the emperor of polyester. I no longer purchase anything from AT and am moving away from Talbots where I have bought Petite clothes for 35 years.

    1. Same. I am done with polyester, nylon et al.
      Thank you, Susan for this interesting series- did you decide not to do the buy me a coffee idea?

  10. Susan B., this is an awesome idea! Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing all the different styles and clothing recommendations. My personal style is basically classic, however, there are a few items that I have in my closet and throw on occasionally just to add a little “hello” factor.
    Again , I am delighted that you are doing this for your readers.
    I had my colors done back in the 80s when the idea was new. I still have the little handout with the color swatches and I still carry them with me when I’m shopping.

  11. Hi Susan,
    I lean classic, but it has to be combined with princess (ingénue). There’s a point for me when classic is just too classic – I don’t like tweed/bouclé, lady jackets, blazers (except sweater material blazers), trench coats, or pleated skirts. I need to add some feminine details. Looking forward to your post on the princess archetype. Thanks!

  12. I echo the others. Way TOO MUCH polyester, nylon and acrylic at Talbots and AT. Much diminished quality from years past, however they still want to charge premium prices. I can buy this quality at Amazon for 1/4th the price.

  13. Thanks for this post, Susan. I look forward to the rest of the series.

    I think “classic” is a confusing term for many people because we encounter it in wildly differing contexts, from Classic Coke to Turner Classic Movies to classic rock to Classics Illustrated (anyone else remember those comic books?). In style, it can mean “timelessly elegant and beautiful,” which many of us aspire to. But in color theory, a *classic personality type*– or “classic harmony,” the term I learned when I underwent the color-analysis process–is something more specific, based on body proportions, face and eye shape, and other factors. According to the cheat sheet I was given, a classic-harmony women is best served by clean, simple lines; dressmaker details; and refined fabrics (as opposed to open-weave or shaggy textures) and refined silhouettes. Words like “jaunty,” “cute,” “flowing,” “exaggerated,” and “delicate” generally don’t apply to classic types unless there’s a pronounced influence of another harmony such as “romantic” or “high-spirited.” (Susan’s system uses different descriptors, but you get the idea.)

    I wrote about the various shades of “classic” more than a decade ago:

  14. Hi Susan,
    I guess I’m a Classic, because so much of what you’ve posted today describes my wardrobe.
    I have one question..not sure where else to ask it, so I’ll pose it here:
    I’m weeding out the clothes I don’t wear and find I have at least a dozen pair of jeans. I wear them all…but…I think I could get away with a lot less.
    How many pair is optimal? My closet will thank you.
    As always, today’s post was just so good. Thank you for providing useful info and advice.

  15. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for your thorough explanation of the Classic style personality. So much of this resonates with me. I lean towards classic, but wonder if this is because I am practical and working towards a smaller wardrobe with items chosen for versatility and longevity? I know I bore easily and often need an injection of pattern, texture and whimsy too. Is it possible to be a Natural Classic Gamine?
    Best wishes
    Julie xx