‘How Do You Shop?’

posted in: Fashion 6
Fashion plates from the 1880s. Image: Wikipedia.


My friend Soph asked me awhile back how I shop for clothes.

I really liked the question because I like my clothes and hadn’t ever really been asked about how I pull everything together. I told Soph that I get my clothes mostly at designer discount outlets like Nordstrom Rack (my sister Rebecca is with me on this), or I buy things at fancy department stores when they’re 70 percent off.

But beyond the “where,” I thought about the “what.” What do I wear? What don’t I wear? Thinking it through, I realized I have a firm set of rules in mind when I’m purchasing clothing. Sometimes, gals like to swap this sort of information, so here we are.

After roughly 25 years of dressing myself, there’s stuff I wear and stuff I do not, full stop. I might be at a killer sale rack and see a dress that’s just my size, but if it features one of my “no’s,” I bounce. Who needs a closet full of clothing that only slightly works? Worse than that: Who wants to have a closet full of clothing you don’t actually like?

And I’m happy to say that at this stage in life, I know what does and does not work on my body. This saves a lot of time when I’m out amongst the racks, believe me. Note: Please do not take my “doesn’t work” list to mean the items are bad; they might be perfect for you, just as what clothing works for me might be disastrous on you. Oh, fashion! You fickle so-and-so.

Here’s what doesn’t work on me/for me/anywhere near me: 

Chinese collars
Anything that gives me cleavage
Drop-waist dresses
Cap sleeve anything
Sleeveless shirts/dresses (with rare exceptions)
Ninety-percent of denim clothing (this includes jeans)

Here’s what does work:

Tailored pants
White dress shirts
Gold hoops
Pumps (black, usually, but I make my forays)
Black cardigan
A red accent somewhere (often this is my lipstick)
A great coat

To be honest with you, I kind of like the girl who wears all the things on my “no” list. I mean, chiffon and t-shirts?? Sounds fabulous! But for me, the simple thing is best, the well-made pants and the “crisp white shirt,” as Sophie put it — that’s the way for me. And I feel good.

How about you?

Saint Laurent Boots + Bakelite = Congruent

posted in: Day In The Life 0
I know, right?
I know, right?

These boots arrived as I was leaving Thursday. As I walked out the front door of my building, the UPS gal walked in. She had a large box with my name on it. I knew what it was.

Thankyouveddymuch,” I said, and signed for it.

I set the box in the back seat and hit the road. As I sped north to Door County, I periodically looked at the box over my shoulder, the way a mother checks up on a baby in a car seat. I adjusted the rearview mirror a few times over the course of my five-hour trip, looking back to beam at the box. I had been anticipating these boots for many moons.

My final destination would be our family’s cottage, but I wouldn’t be able to make it there that night, so I had a reservation at the Holiday Music Motel, my favorite place to spend the night outside of the Ritz Carlton in Paris (I’ve never been there.) The Holiday Music is clean, adorable, and affordable, and they have great coffee, cozy linens, and have somehow managed to do retro decor well. Not easy.

When I got to the motel, I checked in and like a badger with a sandwich, I tore into the box. Tissue paper went flying. Plastic was tossed. The black Saint Laurent box nearly glowed. I pulled the boots from the pretty cloth bag and sighed a deeply contented sigh. They’re better than I even hoped and they fit perfectly.

The word “incongruous” means “not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something.” Those boots looked so out of place in the Holiday Music Motel that they entered into a kind of zen belonging. Delicious.

I was traveling alone, but that night, I had two bedfellows: the right shoe and the left one.