How to Achieve the Style Made Famous by Calvin Klein

All About Fashion Designer Calvin Klein

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Calvin Klein's unwavering vision of minimal designs and wearable urban styles are part of what make him an icon: his widely recognized marketing genius is also part of the package.

Calvin Klein started out as a coat company and then moved to sportswear. Back in the late '70s, Klein launched a designer jeans line, which not only broke down price barriers by offering a lower-priced line but spawned sexy, controversial ads featuring teenage model Brooke Shields (and, later, actor Mark Wahlberg).

Klein has also left his mark with some industry firsts, including making utilitarian men's underwear sexy and the first unisex fragrance, CK One. An influence to many of the minimal-chic designers of the late 20th century, including Miuccia Prada and Donna Karan, Calvin Klein remains one of the most recognizable designer names in the world.

I've always had a clear design philosophy and point of view about being modern, sophisticated, sexy, clean and minimal. They all apply to my design aesthetic. -- Calvin Klein in Women's Wear Daily.

How to Achieve the Signature Calvin Klein Style

Calvin Klein is all about modern, practical fashion with an elegant touch. Here's how to translate the runway looks for yourself:

  • Think urban uniform—leather skirt, turtleneck, tights and pumps or boots. Mix and match colors and fabrics, but this is an easy, work-ready look that looks good on everyone.
  • Choose long, lean lines in whatever you wear—from knee-length skirts to narrow, cropped pants worn with boots.
  • Add in standout pieces in a reptile print like alligator or snake (or leather stamped to make mock crock) jackets, pants, skirts. Try boots or bags for smaller doses.
  • Skip the jewels—less is more when it comes to the Calvin Klein look.
  • Find styles in muted and deep tones like gray, ruby red, nude and black.
  • Choose lots of leather; wear a trim jacket in the place of a blazer, not just as outerwear.
  • Opt for styles that frame the face through structure rather than ornamentation. Think deep V necklines, turtlenecks, and buttoned-to-the-top jackets.
  • Try a maxi coat for the perfect dramatic complement to spare, unfussy styles.