Runway to Real Way: Elizabeth & James’ Chic and Streamlined Look

Blair Pfander
Runway to Real Way: Elizabeth & James’ Chic and Streamlined Look
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Some combos never go out of style: peanut butter and jelly, for example, or Lauren Hutton and white sneakers. It was over a hundred years ago that Coco Chanel introduced the world to the power of black and white looks, and ever since, the industry has been revisiting the indomitable color combination on and off the runways.

On Spring 2013 runways, black and white came in a range of catwalk iterations, from techie pieces at Proenza Schouler to flowery prints at Jason Wu.

But one of our favorite takes on the trend cropped up at Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s chic Elizabeth and James label, where a tailored black satin blouse was paired with a drapey white silk skirt, metallic-accented sandals and a pile of chunky wood bangles.

Of course, you don’t have to be an Olsen (or have an Olsen budget) to style this ensemble. Here, we’ve rounded up nine affordable pieces currently on the racks to help you recreate this classic black and white look in your own wardrobe.

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Fashion will never tire of classic black and white. This spring, the favorite color combo of Coco Chanel made major catwalk cameos. At Elizabeth and James, a satiny black blouse anchored a bright white wrap skirt for a crisp, summery look that felt sophisticated enough for work. The finishing touches? A pile of heavy bangles and metallic-accented sandals to add a pop of personality.

Photo: Elizabeth & James/Elizabeth & James

A high-quality black blouse is a seasonless wardrobe must have. This simple tab-sleeve option by Bailey 44 is all business in the front, but a flirty cutout in the back adds just enough edge (should you feel like slipping off your blazer).

Bailey 44 Sumerian Button-Down Shirt, $160, at Lord & Taylor.

Photo: Lord & Taylor/Lord & Taylor

Nothing anchors a laid-back summer look like the perfect pair of black leather gladiators. Dolce Vita's "Faroe" sandals feature subtle bronze hardware and a subtle stacked heel offers just enough lift.

DV Dolce Vita Faroe Sandals, $79, at Lord & Taylor.

Photo: Lord & Taylor/Lord & Taylor

For a more tailored effect, try a sleek white pencil skirt from ASOS. The affordable, office-ready option counters a daringly high slit with a more conservative, below-the-knee silhouette.

Pencil Skirt with Split Leg, $58.19, at ASOS.


If you're going for a streamlined look, it's crucial not to overlook the accessories. Kate Spade's "Ace Up Your Sleeve" Bangle feels chic without trying to hard, and can be stacked with just about anything you have in your jewelry box.

Kate Spade "An Ace Up Your Sleeve" Bangle, $48, at Lord & Taylor.

Photo: Lord & Taylor/Lord & Taylor

Recreate Elizabeth and James' elegant white maxi with a fluttery ivory number from Mango, which features a leg-baring lateral vent and subtle pleat details. Pair with a crisp black blouse or, for a more casual look, your favorite white cotton tank.

Maxi Skirt with Lateral Vent, $69.99, at Mango.

Photo: Mango/Mango

Similarly, we guarantee you'll pull Zara's simple V-neck button-down out of your closet time and again. We love how the collarless cut creates a sleek, minimalist look—the perfect counter to an easy breezy white skirt in the summertime.

Polo Neck Shirt, $59.90, at Zara.

Photo: Zara/Zara

Elizabeth and James' metallic-accented kicks added a shimmery flourish to a simple black and white look. These strappy bronze and silver sandals from ASOS create the same effect for a serious bargain. Bonus: the two-tone design means you can mix up your silver and gold jewelry without fear of "clashing."

Fable Leather Metallic Sandals, $46.55 , at ASOS.


For a more casual effect, try a pair of squishy black jellies from Topshop. Not only will you get the satisfaction of resurrecting fly grade-school style, but your piggies will be extra comfy to boot. 

Black Strappy Jellies, $28, at Topshop.

Photo: Topshop/Topshop

A chunky wood bangle like this cool carved bauble adds an earthy, organic texture to an otherwise minimalist ensemble. This particular piece is actually a vintage find salvaged by the buyers at Free People.

Vintage Thick Wood Bangle, $58, at Free People.

Photo: Free People/Free People

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