Nili Lotan on How to Dress at Any Age
Trends come and go, but a wardrobe based on elegant pieces will serve you for years to come. Womenswear designer Nili Lotan understands that longevity counts when it comes to your clothes. The Israel native crafts pieces that endure time and transcend location.
Lotan attended design school in Tel Aviv before moving to New York, where she now creates her perennially chic collections. She led design teams at names like Ralph Lauren and Liz Claiborne, and in 2003, she started her own label, which encapsulates an aesthetic that has a global and intergenerational appeal. "The more I've been exposed to fashion and traveled the world, it's elevated my taste," she says. "The interesting thing is that I just turned 60, and I design for myself, so it's quite amazing to me that the 24-year-olds actually have so much respect for what I do and want to wear my clothes."
Lotan shared three considerations to keep in mind when building your wardrobe, no matter your age.
- Buy things you'll treasure.
When crafting a wardrobe to stand the test of time, Lotan says, investing in a few quality pieces will pay off in the long run. "Personally, I think you should buy less, and I've learned that I'd rather have one good thing than many of not-so-good quality. If I take care of it, it will stay with me forever, versus buying something that, after a few wears, loses its shape. That's my philosophy with everything. When I buy things, whether fashion or furniture, I buy the best that I can, and then treasure it."
That same ideology is reflected in Lotan's line, which features soft cashmere, fine silk, buttery leather and high-quality cotton—enduring materials she believes belong in every closet, whether you're 25 or 55. "Age isn't part of it," she says. "I think that these clothes are not only timeless but also ageless."
- Build on the basics.
No matter what stage of life you're in, the first thing to consider when choosing pieces is that they're versatile and work well together. "The most important thing is that they are interchangeable," she tells us. "Depending on your lifestyle, obviously, then the ratio between evening and daytime clothes changes. But if you live in a big city, then I think there should be an equal ratio between casual clothes and evening clothes," she explains.
"I would say you need one pair of jeans and one piece of what I call 'nondenim denim,' which is my military pant—a casual, cool, everyday pant. These days, you need a leather pant of some sort, whether it's skinny or wide; you need some sort of black, structured evening pant, and you need one soft pant. On top, I would say about two cotton shirts, two silk tops, one jacket and one outerwear piece like a trench coat, which is something that you can have for years and never get tired of."
- Mix contrasting elements.
Once you've assembled your closet staples, start combining them in both traditional and unexpected ways. "Let's say you chose a velvet jacket. You can wear your military pant with that. You can also wear your leather pant with your jacket, and that's a little bit more for the evening. Or you can wear your denim with the velvet jacket, and you'd look supercool," she says. "The idea is to mix things that you normally wouldn't and create contradictions of high and low," Lotan explains.
Most of all, pick pieces that reflect your personal tastes. "What I've learned is to stay true to who you are and the integrity that you have in your clothes."