The fashion world is famously youth-obsessed, but Elem designer Emily Brewer proudly cultivates a more mature vibe. “I think 35 is a great age,” she says. “It’s the golden age. You’ve figured out your style by then, what looks good on you.” Even though Brewer is only 24, her Brooklyn-made debut collection is unencumbered by trends and follies that can trip up even the best-dressed young people, and is filled with simple separates like red crêpe de chine blouses, wide-leg pants and long-sleeved dresses.
“My mom raised us on Katharine Hepburn films on Turner Classic Movies,” she says. “Classic beauties just look better and better.” This doesn’t mean 20-somethings shouldn’t wear Elem, just that, hopefully, the collection’s modest A-line tunics and earthy linen vests will find a durable, long-term spot in your closet. “I’d like to still want these clothes in ten years,” Brewer says. Hepburn is a great model, but when searching for lasting wisdom, she often returns to her most trusted wellspring: her mother. “My mom had this amazing collection of Italian designers like Escada and Fendi, but always only the most wearable pieces,” she says. Elem benefits from a certain kind of accessibility, distinct pieces that could fit into a cross-section of wardrobes. “I made this pink wool dress which I didn’t totally love at first, but my mom told me she’d wear it. The next thing I knew, it sold out.” In fashion, as in life, mother often knows best.
STYLED BY IAN BRADLEY, MODEL BAY BERGER AT MUSE NYC