It’s almost too cliché to even write the dreaded trope, “A closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear.” But for former fashion blogger Diana LoMonaco, amassing hordes of garments for photo shoots really did leave her with nothing but a messy closet. LoMonaco channeled that frustration into creating Classic Six, a quintessential, highly-edited capsule wardrobe of six versatile pieces. While she launched the brand at the start of 2020, a challenging time for any fashion brand, this year has actually cemented the validity of her mission: to prove the importance of high quality, timeless clothing. As she says, classic certainly doesn’t mean basic….
How long did you operate your personal style blog for?
I was creating content for about two years until it began to feel really excessive to me. The more stuff that I accumulated to create that content, the stronger my desire became to have less.
Do you remember the exact ‘aha’ moment that led to the launch of Classic Six?
There were actually a couple of ‘aha’ moments for me. One was in 2017, right before I decided to hang up my hat on the blog front. I was in a store buying pieces that I needed to style last-minute for the blog and as I waited in line with my arms ready to break because I was holding so much, I realized I didn’t want to be there. It was a feeling I needed to investigate. (I actually wrote about it here.) When I got home that night, I dumped all of my purchases into the mess that my closet had become because of the fast fashion I had accumulated. I had an overwhelming need to get rid of everything and start over.
Did you toss it all?
Over the course of that year, I quit the blog, I shoved all of the clothes I never wanted to wear in the closet and didn’t open it for months. I started to think, “How many other women are feeling this overwhelmed?” Outside of my closet on a rolling rack, I created a paired-down wardrobe of pieces that I would always reach for. Some were pieces I spent a little more money on, like my favorite cashmere sweater. Some were pieces I’ve designed for myself (including a version of what is now our Twiggy dress). One was a vintage Oscar de la Renta jacket that I had worn for special occasions only, but was now wearing with jeans and t-shirts because it was so versatile. What I found with this experiment of mine was that dressing with these few “quality” pieces, yet styling them to make them feel different each time, was so much easier than I expected and I always felt great. I was uncovering an actual formula to my style, and it didn’t include a closet full of clothes I would never wear.
You collected magazine tears for years and eventually cataloged them all. Why did you do this?
Since I can remember, I’ve saved pages of inspiration from magazines. If there was something about a page that made me stop and look for longer than a second, I would rip it out and save it in plastic sleeves in big black binders. Later, when I got my first iMac, I created a folder to dump anything I would find on the internet that gave me that “let me look for a second longer” feeling—kind of like my own personal Pinterest before Pinterest! When I came up with the initial idea for Classic Six, I knew it was time to organize it all in the name of research. I was certain I wanted a collection of go-to pieces, but I didn’t want to just design these pieces based on what I was loving at the moment. I wanted to design based on styles and silhouettes that I have loved for years and years; styles that have stood the test of time. I organized and sorted them into categories. Those that I had responded to 15 years earlier and was still stopping and staring at were the pieces I knew I had to further explore.
And this anthology of outfits from the past two decades formed the basis for Classic Six?
I would say Classic Six was formed based on a mixture of these repetitive themes I found in my catalog of inspiration, mixed with elements of pieces I’ve designed for myself over the years because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted in a store, mixed with elements of silhouettes that I personally always reach for in my own closet.
What has the response been like?
The response has been really exciting. We’ve been getting great feedback on the quality and fit—which was very important to me—but also the amount of women that I find coming to me saying that they feel the same way about overwhelm and excess in fashion is more than I even expected. I am finding that people actually want to invest in quality pieces that they know won’t wind up in a landfill the next year, and they are really excited about the idea of creating more with fewer pieces in their closets.
How are you personally planning to style each of the six pieces to nod to Fall Winter trends?
I am personally loving velvets and suedes, big silk scarves, snakeskin boots, embroidered tights, and a great felt hat. I just styled the entire collection for Fall here, and it is truly incredible how these pieces can so easily transition from season to season just by styling differently.
You designed these pieces with meticulous attention to detail, can you explain how these pieces are slightly different to what’s currently on the market?
I’ve come to realize that my definition of quality is a bit different than most. For me, it’s not just about construction. It is really about thoughtfulness in design. The pieces must not only be made beautifully and fit just right, but they have to pass my quality checklist. Is it versatile? Is it functional? Is it chic? Will it stand the test of time? Can you style it to create endless looks? Elements like side slits in our shirt that ensure various ways to tuck and tie; our grosgrain coat detail with hidden belt loops so you can wear with or without a belt; thoughtful button placement on our blazer and shirt so you are showing just the right amount of skin; extra long zippers on our dress so you can step into it instead of putting it over your head; inside shoulder snaps on our sweater to prevent slipping; necklines that can be worn backwards or forwards. I have even seen our blazer worn inside-out because the details on the inside are just as special as the outside. It all boils down to how these small details can help the consumer create more with less.
What’s new for Spring?
I am so excited for Spring! We are creating the Original Six in beautiful new textiles and adding a “Spring Seasonal Six” to the mix. These six new silhouettes are more seasonally inspired pieces to mix and match with the original season-less foundation. They, again, have been really thoughtfully designed when it comes to my definition of quality and the versatility and timelessness that I think is so important.
Do you plan on updating the capsule each season? Will the core offering always stay the same too?
My vision is that our Original Six and the Seasonal Six collections will always be available and change in textiles from season to season. I’ve always hated finding a fit I’ve loved and then years later not being able to buy it again.
We love your styling guide lookbooks, do you do the styling for these yourself too?
Yes! Styling is such a creative outlet for me, and styling this collection has been especially fun. The idea that I can take these six pieces and just add a t-shirt, a few pairs of jeans, and accessories to create over a month’s worth of looks is my dream wardrobe.
What lessons are you taking away from 2020, on a personal level and for the future of Classic Six?
I think my lessons, from a business and personal level, are the same. I am learning to embrace the madness. I’ve always been one of the mindset that everything happens for a reason, but this year has ruffled the planner in me more than ever and I’ve had to accept rolling with the punches in a more profound way; figuring out ways to make lemonade from lemons, to pivot, rethink, get creative and keep forging ahead. Launching a business at the start of a pandemic was nothing that I could have ever planned for, but I’ve decided to see this as [experience] as a glass half full. In the most positive way, 2020 has forced us to see things in a new light. We are re-evaluating our needs and wants. Fashion is ready for change. There is a real space opening up for a conscious consumer and a “less is more” mentality, and I hope Classic Six can be a part of that revolution!