Carolina Herrera-the Venezuelan sophisticate who began her career at 40 and dressed many a First Lady- took a final bow as creative director for her eponymous fashion house last week. In a fitting coda to four decades of brilliant work, the finale featured colorful variations on a signature look: model after model wore a crisp white button down, colorful taffeta skirt, and wide contrasting belt. She closed the show with typical grace: taking a bow alongside the men and women who work the atelier before receiving a bunch of roses from her successor, the aptly chosen Wes Gordon. In ode, here are notes from the elegant style maven's playbook:
1. Trust Yourself: "We always know better than anybody else what looks best on us. Even if people are complimenting you, if you think, I hate what I have on, it's not right. It's important to find what really suits who you are, because style isn't only what you wear, it's what you project."
2. The Power of a White Shirt: "I wear a white shirt like a security blanket: It looks snappy in any situation. I have different styles for different outfits. Trousers are best with a shirt cut more like a man's, and for a pencil or formal skirt you need one that's a bit fitted."
3. Dress Your Lips: "I always wear a plum lipstick by Bobbi Brown. It was discontinued, but I have a lot of it."
4. Belts, Belts, Belts: "I wear a lot of white, black, and gray, then I dress it up with a little color. A belt adds a nice finishing touch to a look."
5. …on Money and Style: "Money doesn't buy elegance. You can take an inexpensive sheath, add a pretty scarf, gray shoes, and a wonderful bag, and it will always be elegant."