31 Classic Items Our Editors Will Always Think Are the Best of the Best

Emma Spedding
·13-min read

In January, we set ourself a task: to write a story about a timeless, classic fashion item for every day of the month. The items could be from the high street or the most exclusive luxury fashion houses, but all had to fit with some criteria. One, they are exceptional quality. Two, they are timeless and will be a worthwhile addition to any wardrobe. Three, all of our editors agree they are the best of the best.

We have written about some truly special investment pieces, such as Chanel pumps, Max Mara coats and Cartier watches worn by royalty, diving into the history of the items, the icons that have worn them and how you can buy them today. But we also were keen to show classic items that don't have a heritage background, such as a blazer from & Other Stories which has been one of the top-selling items on Who What Wear for years and an Arket T-shirt we believe is legendary. So grab a cup of tea and get ready for a quick run-through the 31 items which we will never ever stop raving about.

Arket's maxi down coat is, in my opinion, the best puffer coat out there: a style that comes with a history of being extra-popular. Back in February 2020 the shopping search engine, Lyst, revealed that amongst the biggest-selling trophy pieces of the season (many of which were expensive and designer), Arket's perfect puffer made it onto the top 10.

Arket Long Down Puffer Coat (£225)

While the 501s were created in the late 1800s, it wasn't until decades later in the 1960s that jeans started to become the popular item they are today. And it was all down to Hollywood stars wearing the trousers. Marilyn Monroe, who wore a pair of jeans on the set of The Misfits; Bruce Springsteen, whose Born in the USA album featured a pair of Levi's; Steve Jobs, who only wore 501s; and Alexa Chung, who had this to say about the legendary style: "They were the only acceptable style of jeans. The Levi's brand back then was so in touch with youth culture that it was hard to believe it hadn't been created in a laboratory by a collective of style bloggers."

Levis Crop Jeans (£95)

When Alessandro Michele presented his A/W 20 collection back in March 2020, almost every look featured the iconic Jackie bag, which confirmed this bag was set to be the next cult accessory from the Italian fashion house. The handbag was initially named after Jackie Kennedy and has been a hero Gucci item for years, but it's been relaunched with a bit of a makeover. The Jackie 2.0 has the signature shoulder strap and gold clasp across the body of the handbag, but instead of using statement logos or floral prints, these Jackies were all in simple buttery-soft leather. Harry Styles is a fan too.

Gucci Jackie 1961 Small Hobo Bag (£1590)

The Italian fashion house Max Mara has created a long list of coats that really can only be described as iconic. Not only is the classic camel colour flattering for all skin tones, but the shapes are also designed to flatter women's bodies. There are three, in particular, that are repeated every season by the brand—the 101801 Icon coat, the Teddy coat and the Manuela. Click to read all about this truly iconic coat.

Max Mara Manuela Icon Belted Camel Hair Coat (£1585)

The words "affordable" and "cashmere" aren't often found together, but Marks and Spencer in our opinion creates the best knitwear on the high street. There's a reason why these are a Christmas list hit year after year. Click to see our edit of the best M&S cashmere knits.

M&S Pure Cashmere Crew Neck Jumper (£89)

The Burberry trench will likely need no introduction. The British army needed coats that were more lightweight but weather-resistant, and thanks to Thomas Burberry’s discovery of waterproof gabardine cotton in 1879, the designer was approached to create the new coats for the army. The garment was then worn throughout World War I by soldiers fighting in the trenches (hence the name). Today’s classic trench coat has barely changed in terms of look, and is still very much true to its heritage DNA.

Burberry Chelsea Long Cotton-Gabardine Trench Coat (£1490)

Having debuted in 2014, the Tiffany T collection was created by Francesca Amfitheatrof and served as her first collection as a design director for Tiffany & Co. Inspired by the women of New York and the bustling city itself, simplicity was integral to Amfitheatrof's vision. The uncomplicated aesthetic of the Tiffany T bangle makes it a hit with pared-back style enthusiasts, while the unmistakable "T" emblem serves as a status symbol for those who live for labels.

Tiffany T T1 Narrow Diamond Hinged Bangle (£8775)

& Other Stories' £165 wool blazer, which has boxy shoulders, two buttons and a strong lapel, has been an influencer favourite for several years and is now a hero item released season after season.

& Other Stories Oversized Wool Blend Tailored Blazer (£135)

It's likely no surprise to you that Chanel features frequently on this list. In early March 2020, just weeks before the world went into lockdown, Chanel hosted its autumn 2020 runway show. It was in this show that the brand debuted a range of logo-embellished CC tights, which the majority of models were wearing on the day, either in a white or black colourway. And as if by some kind of fashion editor intuition, the moment I saw them I just knew they would become a cult favourite. We think these will be a new Chanel classic to add to the list.

The cold weather undoubtedly influenced why this made it onto our list, but Uniqlo's layering vests are a fashion editor favourite.

Uniqlo Layering Vest (£40)

If there's one brand that has been inescapable over the past few years it's been Gucci. Since 2015, under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, the brand has become one of the hottest fashion houses around and one of the most sought-after items is a Gucci logo belt. This is one of those designer items that remains as popular as the day it launched.

Gucci Leather Belt (£330)

The Juste un Clou bracelet is the Cartier Love bracelet's younger and easier-to-remove sister and was inspired by the humble nail. Its name is the French translation for "just a nail." Released in 1971, the Juste un Clou bangle was designed by Aldo Cipullo, the luxury brand's jewellery designer, who had a distinct minimalist, androgynous style and love of all things nuts, bolts, and screws.

The Birkin bag is arguably the most iconic designer handbag thanks to its easy-to-recognise shape and hardware can be customised in countless materials—it is handcrafted in a six-phase process over the course of 20 hours. Even with its jaw-dropping price tag, the Hermès Birkin remains one of the most difficult bags to get your hands on because of overwhelming demand.

Gold hoops are one of those items, like skinny jeans and a white T-shirt, which in theory should be very easy to find, however in practice it can be difficult to find the perfect one. Over a year ago fashion influencer Lucy Williams released her latest collection with jewellery brand Missoma, and the gold hoops quickly became a firm favourite with the fashion crowd. The likes of Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Bella Hadid have all worn these hoops, along with almost every fashion influencer in London.

Missoma Lucy Williams Gold Chunky Entwine Hoop Earrings (£110)

When Emma Watson and Meghan Markle wore a pair of trainers by the conscious French brand Veja, it quickly became one of the most talked-about sneaker brands in the UK. The classic white basket sneaks (made from recycled plastic bottles and wild rubber) feature the distinctive V logo in varying colours on each side.

Veja + Net Sustain Campo Suede-Trimmed Leather Sneakers (£115)

The first Panthère de Cartier watch was launched in 1983 and has an '80s feel thanks to the chunky gold bracelet strap. Cartier is regarded as one of the first to create a 'jewellery watch' with the Panthère, thanks to the flexible gold chain bracelet paired with the square watch face with rounded corners. It is named after the panther, which is the emblem of the house, as the slinky chain resembles the movement of the animal as it prowls.

Cartier Panthère De Cartier 22mm Small 18-Karat Gold Watch (£30000)

The Wolford bodysuit has become something of an A-list cult buy. Almost everyone in Hollywood owns at least one. The Colorado bodysuit, which features a jaunty turtleneck, is a particular favourite of Natalie Portman, Priyanka Chopra, and Gigi Hadid.

Wolford Vermont Stretch-Jersey Thong Bodysuit (£140)

Each month, more than 12,000 people in the UK search for "Dr. Martens boots", and we're not at all surprised as these heritage 'stompy' boots have been loved by the fashion crowd for decades.

Dr Martens Atlas 8 Eye Fluff Lined Boots in Black (£159)

Like the handbags, Hermès watches are instantly recognisable without being showy. Usually the faces have the distinctive H, and the straps come in the Hermès orange or a brown or black. Occasionally there's a subtle green or pink, but on the whole, you can rely on the above colours. While they are far from being inexpensive, they're the kind of piece that you'd wear for the rest of your life.

Hermès Timepieces Heure H 17.2mm Very Small Stainless Steel, Leather, Mother-Of-Pearl and Diamond Watch (£3680)

Back in the '80s unlike any other of the power fashion houses, which predominantly worked with leather, the brand managed to turn nylon into a must-have accessory. Miuccia Prada launched the nylon backpack in 1984, and while this particular style remains a hit there are two '90s and '00s bags that continue to be incredibly popular among the fashion crowd: the Nylon and Saffiano bags.

Prada Tessuto MacRam Nylon Shoulder Bag (£995)

In the '90s, Ghost was one of the first places you'd visit when looking for a new dress, as its silky slip dresses were the height of cool. However, the brand gradually became seen as a destination for pastel bridesmaid frocks and occasion-wear only. But Ghost has become cool again over the couple of years thanks to a reboot of its button-front tea dresses and silky midi dresses. The Duchess of Cambridge is also a big fan.

Ghost Dress (£169)

As far as fashionable footwear is concerned, the prominence of Birkenstock Arizona sandals is nothing new. The style has been around for years (since 1973 in fact) and is heralded as one of the comfiest options available. Then, arguably due to the pandemic, it became the world's second most-wanted item of clothing in 2020, after Off-White's face mask. Katie Holmes, Gigi Hadid and Alexa Chung are often spotted in theirs.

Birkenstock + Net a Porter Arizona Leather Sandals (£320)

A few years ago, ACNE Jensen boots were harder to get your hands on than vintage Chanel. They were like gold dust. Wait-lists were formed, and those lucky enough to secure a pair posted them gleefully on social media. And while they're somewhat easier to come by nowadays, their appeal hasn't wained. This is thanks to their classic design which has given them endless wardrobe appeal.

Acne Studios Leather Ankle Boots (£410)

Though founded in 1845, Barbour has been creating the timeless wax jackets and outwear for which it is known since 1910, and, honestly, very little about the design has changed, which is a good thing. Of course, modern updates have been made but, at their heart, their aesthetic and, as such, appeal, rings true. Click to find out more about the history of the Barbour jacket.

Barbour Winslet Dark Green Waxed Cotton Jacket (£320)

The Duchess of Cambridge's whole aesthetic is about wearing timeless, classic fashion items. One of her hero items is a tailored blazer, and she has often been known to find these at Zara. That alone is testament to how brilliant they are.

Zara Check Blazer (£79.99)

Originally released in the 1960s as a tennis shoe, the sneakers were rebranded in 1978 as a homage to the famed American tennis player, Stan Smith. Adding to the shoe, Adidas emblazoned the player's name on the heel tab and added a portrait of his face to the shoe's tongue. However, according to Complex, the shoe's resurgence in popularity that occurred in 2015 had nothing to do with the sneaker's namesake at all. The story goes that in order to reignite demand for the style, in 2014 Adidas set out to get Stan Smiths on the feet of fashion-forward individuals such as former Celine creative director Phoebe Philo. Evidently, the marketing tactic worked precisely as planned, as in the following years everyone from Victoria Beckham and Marc Jacobs to Kendall Jenner and Zendaya have been spotted in a pair.

Adidas Originals + NET-A-PORTER Stan Smith Vegan Leather Sneakers (£125)

The Loewe Puzzle Bag was the first new bag designed by Jonathan Anderson (or J.W. Anderson in fashion speak) for Loewe. It was first introduced in June 2014 at the men's S/S 15 collection presentation in Paris, a year after Anderson took his seat in the Spanish brand's creative director's chair, and was undoubtedly the most-talked-about piece on show. Fast forward a few months and the Puzzle was a firm fixture in Loewe's A/W 15 womenswear collection. The bag's ergonomic, origami-style shape, made up of separate pieces of leather stitched together, folds down until it is completely flat. With the addition of different straps, the Puzzle can be worn in five different ways, making it one of the most versatile designer bags we've come across.

Loewe Puzzle Small Leather Shoulder Bag (£2000)

Saint James's Breton top is arguably the ultimate breton top. It is the perfect slightly loose cut. Its neckline isn't too high or too low, and it can be worn tucked into trousers or left loose. Click to read more about this classic fashion item.

Saint James Phare Top (£105)

Heattech is Uniqlo's collection of innovative thermals across all of its product categories. As if by magic, the Heattech-fused fabric comfortably regulates your body temperature without the discomfort of bulky clothing. How? It cleverly uses moisture released by the body to retain heat to keep you warm during the colder months. Trust us, this is a winter essential.

Uniqlo Women Heattech Jersey Scoop Neck Thermal Top (€13)

Despite the fact that the iconic two-tone Chanel pumps were designed over 60 years ago, they're still one of the most coveted pairs of shoes. Every season, a new iteration comes out and immediately they sell out. Designed in 1957 by Coco Chanel, the two-tone shoes, which initially were a slingback, were meant to mimic men's shoes at the time. It was also considered to be a universally flattering style. Thanks to the contrasting-coloured toe, the shoes both made the foot look smaller and the leg longer.

Who What Wear's shopping editor Joy Montgomery has a sharp eye when it comes to a high street winner, and she thinks Arket's T-shirt is the best white T-shirt out there.

Arket Heavy-Weight T-Shirt (£35)

Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring summer 2021.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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