One for the Ages

It Never Gets Old

Veruschka wearing Pucci  in the 60s

There are many things that improve with age. Wine, cheese, the Statue of Liberty, and Michelangelo’s David. And us! Just consider the ageless nonagenarian Iris Apfel, the amazing and inspiring subjects spotlighted on Ari Cohen’s , the 60+ fashion stars of the new Lanvin Fall 2012 campaign, and the “Wonder Women from 28 to 101” profiled in the August issue of Vogue which is their annual Age Issue.

82 year old Jacquie Tajah Murdock in Lanvin’s Fall/Winter 2012 Campaign

They say “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery”, and gazillions of products (including those that are fashion related), have been imitated, though not necessarily duplicated. But I’d venture to say that most of us ‘sage’ fashion insiders, who have seemingly been around for ions and have “seen it all”, would agree that there are simply those things that cannot be improved upon (New and improved? Not so fast!) They can be tweaked, given endless bells & whistles, and made a whole lot fancier. But fancier does not make it better. Sometimes, it’s the stripped down, bare bones simplicity, the honest authenticity of the original, that makes it so chic and appealing. And sometimes, (though not always), it’s the more palatable price tag. Regardless, these are some examples that illustrate:

Marilyn’s favorite vintage Pucci blouse

Vintage Pucci: Emilio Pucci’s iconic prints are all time classics – wearable art – and will always be a wonderful addition to any wardrobe (whether it takes the form of a scarf, a jersey dress, a silk or cotton blouse, a velvet jacket, etc.) And once again, in my opinion, the patterns and colors found in the pieces from the 60’s and 70’s are more distinctive than anything currently out there today, and far more preferable (stains and all). There is something about the vintage patterns and colors, that cannot seem to be duplicated these days.

 The LL Bean Canvas Boat and Tote Bag: There have been so many versions of a traditional canvas tote bag through the years (they’ve even been made for evening in sequins, gold, etc.), but the original, made in Maine for over 65 years and available at, cannot be beat (nor can the price: $20.95 – $38.95). They are tested to hold over 500 pounds, made of heavy duty 24 oz. cotton canvas combined with the company’s signature double layer base and handles, they feature a reinforced flat canvas bottom and overlapped seams double-stitched with nylon so that they won’t rot or break. They are basically indestructable. You can have them personalized, they are available in 10 colors ( including red, black, navy, and a vivid royal which is my favorite), and come in 4 sizes: from Small to Extra Large.

The Aigle Rubber Riding Boot: The marketplace is literally ‘flooded’ with rubber rain boots in every color under the sun, with every heel height, in every style imaginable, with a range of decorations and superflous additions. But the all time chicest, are still the traditional Aigle Rubber Riding Boots, Aigle is No. 1 worldwide for the manufacture of high quality hunting boots (Parcours model) and horseback riding boots (Ecuyer model) as well as a European leader for nautical boots (Glenan, Glenan ISO, Skey, Bora and Maramu models are topsellers).The Ecuyer model is the real deal and looks more like leather than rubber. In addition, the tall shaft height and the narrowness of the fit (they are meant to really hug the calf), make these exceptionally flattering. They are available at, $195, and at J.Crew ( ), which is currently selling little girls’ sizes.

The Saint James Breton Striped T-Shirt:  The striped 3/4 sleeve bateau neck top is a unisex classic that completely stands the test of time, and almost nothing is as ubiquitous, especially in the summer (it can be considered a ‘neutral’ that really goes with everything). When you see images of the late Audrey Hepburn wearing hers with capris and ballet flats, it is still a look that cannot be improved upon. And nobody makes them better than the Saint James Company, ( ), established in Lower Normandy in 1889.

 Originally intended for deep sea fishermen, then adopted by known seafarers, and amateur yachtsmen, as well as their pure cotton “seashore” lines (comprised of striped tees in a range of styles and colors), are sold around the world. In New York, there is a Saint James boutique located at 1045 Madison Avenue, 212 535 1470. The Saint James Galathee Tee, $90, is available at

The Patterned Hermes Silk Scarf: There are patterned silk scarves, and then there are Hermes patterned silk scarves. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. They can be worn tied around the neck, tied around the handle of a bag, tied around the head to make a turban, or used to chicly camouflage a cast (remember Sigourney Weave in the move, ‘9 to 5’?). They can also be framed. While there are millions of patterned silk scarves in the market place (many at lower prices than the original), the ones at Hermes (the company was founded in 1837), stand out because of the saturated colors, the highly distinctive prints, and the luxurious, heavy silk twill which gives it a lot of body. (And true to form, I had a fondness for vintage Hermes scarves and find that the ones I’ve collected, are still better than anything out there today).

Burberry Fall Winter 2012 (photo:

A Burberry Trench Coat: This iconic 156 year-old global brand with a distinctly British attitude knows a thing or two about inclement weather. Their trench coats for men and women are still the gold standard, and though their original classic bare bones style is hard to improve upon, I have to admit that Christopher Bailey’s updated incarnations are always “right on the money”.

-Marilyn Kirschner 

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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