Coming up with a new twist on our favorites is an American pastime not only with fashion designers but innovative style setters. Here are a few ways you can update your own wardrobe with a new take on some American classics making the rounds in a new century:
Start with denim. It's on the top of the list of our must-haves even after Levi Strauss introduced his “Two Horse Brand” jeans in 1886 and cowboys loved them. Today, “dudes” of all ages, shapes and sizes still ride the denim wave, updating the workwear shapes in all kinds of edgy new ways. If you haven't added a pair of bold-color jeans to your wardrobe, this summer is the perfect time to take those original “blue” jeans to the next level.
Head west. And speaking of cowboy, western chic is another fashion favorite with roots in America. Stetson hats (designed by Philadelphia hatmaker John B. Stetson in the late 1800s) are still “The Boss of the Plains” and everywhere else, too. Bandannas, shirts with snaps, and cowboy boots also have stood the test of time and morphed into lots of new designs. The slip-on boot-inspired mules are my favorite.
Come on, get hippie. The '60s ushered in another American classic — the flower children who did their own version of cowboy chic with frayed jeans and patchwork jackets. This one also is trending in today's runway shows. Add in some tie-dye and fringe.
Gilding the jersey. Diane Von Furstenberg wasn't the first one to do the jersey wrap dress, another American classic. Enter Lillie Langtry, the actress who was known as “The Jersey Lily” and who popularized the skintight knit dresses she wore on stage. We're still doing the shimmy in those slinky little jersey dresses.
Making a flap. The beaded “flapper” dresses popularized in the Art Deco era of the '20s are also American classics harking back to a day when dancing the Charleston was a nightly event for many bobbed hair “Gatsby” partiers who kicked up their heels in the chic chemises. As the recent movie proves, it's never too late to dance the night away in beads and feathers.
Drink it in. The cocktail sheath made popular in 1950s America is still an inspiration for designers today. The sleeveless shift dress is a mainstay in wardrobes from TV anchors to Michelle Obama. Audrey Hepburn, however, may have worn it best. If you don't have a little black dress in your closet, put it on your shopping list! You can always slip on a little cashmere cardigan over it if you don't have those Obama arms.