Sophistication is the name of the game in a Washington, D.C. home designed by Frank Babb Randolph.


We’re Ready for a Return to Refinement

From pretty porcelain to glamorous gowns, it's all about embracing elegance.

January 11, 2024

In an age when “dress sneakers” are considered a proper footwear category and closets filled with “easy-care” linens have us forgetting when we last used an iron, the idea of making an effort can seem like, well, a lot of effort. We’re here to remind you that it’s often worthwhile: From sofas that make you sit up a bit straighter to heeled pumps that give a more graceful gait, these unabashedly elegant essentials are the secret to a more stylish life.


When exactly was it that the phrase “white-tablecloth” became less a euphemism for “fine dining” and more an indicator of “fusty” or “uptight?” Don’t get us wrong—we love a block-printed backdrop for an alfresco meal—but when it comes to laying the groundwork for a truly elegant affair, nothing does the trick like freshly pressed white linen. Best of all, it keeps everyone on their very best behavior—no wine sloshing here!

An exquisitely laid table in an English home designed by Carlos Sánchez-Garcia sets the tone for the evening.

Chris Horwood


While we might lack scientific proof, we have a theory that a meal seasoned with a pinch of salt from a porcelain cellar (or pepper sprinkled from a sterling-silver shaker) tastes just a bit better. So next time company’s over (or not), go ahead and pull out all the stops with a properly laid table with crisp linens, just-polished flatware, and a beautifully arranged basket of flowers at its center. As for the cellar vs. shaker debate, we’ll leave that up to you.

  • Crystal Clear

    Harcourt Eve Wine Glass by Baccarat, $260, baccarat.com

  • On the Edge

    Calais Table Linens by Julia B. Casa, $1,300 for a set of four place mats and napkins, juliab.com

  • Scaling Up

    Dolphin Candlestick by Mottahedeh, $145, mottahedeh.com

  • Flower Show

    Wisteria Porcelain Dinner Plate by Tiffany & Co., $190, tiffany.com

  • Golden Opportunity

    Thistle Water Jug by Saint-Louis, $1,720, saint-louis.com

  • Pen Name

    Place Cards by The Printery of Oyster Bay, $18 for a set of 10, iprintery.com

  • Geometry Class

    Murano Water Glass by Eleish Van Breems, $185, evbantiques.com

  • Sterling Reputation

    Sterling Silver Pagoda Salt & Pepper Set by Scully & Scully, $310, scullyandscully.com

  • Precious Metal

    Queen Anne Sterling Silver Handmade Flatware by James Robinson Inc., $3,400 per place setting, jrobinson.com

  • Weaving Lessons

    Willow Strawberry Basket by Valérie Lavaure, $268, abask.com

  • Just a Pinch

    Salt Cellars by Tory Burch, $88 for a set of two, toryburch.com

  • Drink Up

    Thistle Carafe and Tumbler, $152, schumacherboutique.com


The line between luxury and flash can be a tenuous one: In the wrong hands, fine materials like mahogany, veined marble, or gold leaf can overpower. But when applied to truly timeless silhouettes (think a George III–style chair or simple candlestick lamp) and deployed with impeccable proportion (there’s not an extraneous note to be found here), what might be considered extravagant seems positively essential.

  • All the Marbles

    Devon Mantel by Ancient & Modern, price upon request, ancientandmodern.us

  • The Gilded Age

    Reproduction Antique Leo Mirror by Dennis & Leen, price upon request, dennisandleen.com

  • Hearth of the Matter

    Pimlico Firescreen by Charles Edwards, price upon request, charlesedwards.com

  • Fancy Woodwork

    Thomas Hope Hall Chair by Smith & Watson, price upon request,

  • The Great Divide

    Sloan Screen by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, starting at $21,475, rosetarlow.com

  • Laced Up

    Cecily Flat Sheet by Matouk, from $549, matouk.com

  • Gold Standard

    Campbon Candlestick Table Lamp by Vaughan, price upon request, vaughandesigns.com

  • Polished Perch

    Hardwicke Sofa by Jamb, price upon request, jamb.co.uk

  • On Display

    Emilio Urn and Pedestal by Michael S. Smith for Jasper Lighting, price upon request, michaelsmithinc.com


In certain corners of the internet, tailored camel coats and logo-less bags might be considered a trend—raise your hand if the words “quiet luxury” have lost all meaning—but in our opinion, a well-made wardrobe staple never loses its cool. From a reissue of Cartier’s first-ever men’s wristwatch to a new update on Guerlain’s iconic fragrance, developed more than a century ago, these pieces are the literal definition of timeless style.

  • To the Letter

    Easton Collection Stationery by The Grosvenor Stationery Company, $66 for a set of 10, grosvenorstationerycompany.com

  • Time Gone By

    Santos-Dumont Watch in 18K yellow gold by Cartier, $13,000, cartier.com

  • Crème Caramel

    Leonarda Cashmere Coat by Ralph Lauren Collection, $5,490, saksfifthavenue.com

  • Well Heeled

    Belle Vivier Metal Buckle Slingback Pumps by Roger Vivier, $950, rogervivier.com

  • Set in Stone

    Maxi Chaos Stud Earrings by Asprey, $7,450, asprey.com

  • Sleep Easy

    120s Cotton Twill Pajamas by Ascot Chang, $540, ascotchang.com

  • Linked In

    Classic Medium Link Bracelet in Wood and Gold by Seaman Schepps, $12,750, seamanschepps.com

  • Weekend Warrior

    Large Travel Bag by Celine, $2,200, celine.com

  • Throwing Shade

    Morgan Oval Sunglasses by Linda Farrow, $600, lindafarrow.com

  • Vanity Project

    Shalimar Extract Parfum by Guerlain, $375 for 30mL, guerlain.com


Grown-up dressing is back. From New York to Paris, runways were filled with structured silk gowns and precisely cut suiting—looks that embraced luxury and strength in equal measure. Perhaps it was Wes Gordon who put it best when describing the ethos behind his Fall 2023 collection for Carolina Herrera, inspired by Empress Sisi of Austria: “A disciplined opulence. The belief that elegance is restraint. And my firm conviction that beauty is never a bad thing.”

Square-Neck Tulle-Trim Gown by Carolina Herrera, $4,990, carolinaherrera.com