Posts Tagged ‘look of the week’

Look of the Week: Getting That Semi-Elegant Bad-Ass Feeling with Blazers

When I lived in NYC, I wore jackets and blazers all the time. Boyfriend blazers, tuxedo-y styles, classic English-y redingcotes: they all made me feel upright, strong, swaddled in strength and fortitude as I weaved down the streets and sidewalks quick and sharp. My uniform was a sharp jacket, skinny jeans and boots — it was practical and utilitarian, but most importantly, it made me feel like a semi-elegant bad-ass.

Then of course, I left, and slowly those jackets went away. I either sold them — some lucky duck owns a fabulous Phoebe Philo-era Chloe wool jacket now for crazy-cheap — or replaced them as they wore out with cardigans, ponchos and wraps. I went soft and cozy in my gentle, hushed new life. This was instinctual and deliberate. After years of being armored — a mental and emotional fortress onto myself — I wanted to be open, receptive, warm. And it works — if you ever want to soften your heart and soul, put something against your body that feels that way. It helps.

But lately I’ve been gravitating back to the jacket and blazer. I’m not sure what it is — I don’t have a yen to move back to the city. Perhaps it’s that I go riding horses a lot more these days, and the strong upright posture you hold is rubbing off on me in strange ways. Or maybe I just feel the need for some reserve of strength, power and forthrightness to draw upon. I have things to do, accomplish, reinvent; I need solid footing and the armor to shake off criticism and be brave!

But I realized as I was transferring my fall/winter wardrobe into my closet that I had only two blazers remaining in my repertoire — a thin silk boyfriend-y one for evening, and a very old Armani Exchange one that was like a shrunken, cropped swingy peacoat. Both are nice in their ways, but don’t exactly give me that feeling of decisive power I like and want. It’s time to tap into my powers of elegant bad-assness again! So I decided, this fall, that some new jackets were going on the shopping list.

Jackets, though, are tricky to buy. They are not easily or cheaply tailored items; they have to fit very precisely and perfectly to look right, especially on my short frame. While I can usually adjust sleeve length, I am very picky about their overall length, as well as with what I call the “bra lines” area — the horizontal line from right underneath your armpit to the middle of your chest, and the one from where your bra strap would be to the middle of your ribcage. Essentially, anything going over your boobs! This area has to fit absolutely right with no excess material and hang open perfectly. Otherwise it can make you look much stockier and thicker than you really are, and that’s no fun. Oh, and an overly low armpit is also usually a disaster. I often tend to buy jackets that are a size smaller and just make peace with the fact that I’m never going to close them. But usually I just don’t buy it if it doesn’t work right on me.

So you see, I’ve only been able to find two blazers…and I’ve tried on a great many in my search so far! One is black crepe-like material short with a curved, shapely waist, collarless with nice, shorter sleeves. (I always end up shortening sleeves on a jacket.) It’s much more formal and structured. Oddly, I like wearing it with shirts with really long sleeves, and let them flop out goofily, because it feels Dickensian to me.

The other is a navy blue knit, much more of a classic blazer, and the knit lets me push up the sleeves in the way that I like. At first I was a little wary of the knit, but it's very soft and warm, so I think of this as my cardigan replacement. Because it's nice to feel both soft and strong in the same garment, right? Anyway, I wear it here with a shirt I got last year and can't decide if I want to keep. I was in a polka dot quirky mood last year, but this year not so much. The jacket gives it a bit more groundedness, which is what a good blazer does well.

I’m thinking of going kind of Bianca Jagger and trying to find a cream-colored jacket. That might just be a tad beyond my comfort level, though it might look nice with my coloring and hair. But eek, so impractical! We shall see. You can take a girl out of a practical jacket, but you cannot take the practical out of the girl.

Look of the Week: In Which I Wear a Fedora

So I finally gave HBO show “Girls” a chance. I had seen probably half of the first season when it came out, but didn’t really keep up with it, so I forced myself to watch the first two seasons in their entirety. It was okay, just another case of struggling between liking the secondary characters and not being able to stand the main one — similar, interestingly enough, to my relationship to that other iconic woman-centered HBO show “Sex and the City,” which I wrote about in my All Things Glorious and True and admitted how much I hated Carrie Bradshaw. Overall, though, Girls is amusing and it makes me glad that I’m not in my 20s anymore. I like the problems and issues I’m reckoning with now better.

It’s so weird because Lena Dunham herself can be so adorable (when she’s not conflating veiling with fundamentalism in poor jokes about Middle Eastern women’s sartorial traditions.) And yet when she’s acting as Hannah Horvath, I’m like, Noooooo. So I’ll watch Girls, but I’ll get up and do something else a scene is Hannah-dominant (unless she’s with Adam Driver, who I think is kind of a genius actor, along with Zosia Mamet.) Oh, and I love how Jenna, the British bohemian party girl, dresses. Particularly how she wears a hat. And so I got inspired to break mine out.

I’m not a British bohemian party girl, though, and I would never look good in the billowy silhouettes that Jenna wears on “Girls” that form a lovely counterpoint to the structure of the hat. (Ah, the travails of being short.) So I just wear it with plain clothes, like a simple sweater and jeans and boots, or a denim button-down, leggings and Frye motorcycle boots. (Boots, boots, boots!) It’s kind of a roll-up-your-sleeves look, really solid and practical. I’m like “This feels like a Jane Goodall look!” even though I know she never wore clothes like this — but she’s kind of my paragon of beautifully contributing to the world, and I like to facilitate that.

It’s also funny how people sometimes look at you funny when you wear hats that aren’t baseball caps, at least in my town. It either scares people and they keep their distance, or makes people want to have conversations about it with you. Even the security guard at the grocery store was like, “Nice fedora, lady!” and we talked about how men don’t wear hats anymore, and that’s kind of a bummer because they’re generally pretty sharp. (It made me think about codes of masculinity and class and how they’ve changed, but we didn’t talk about that, sadly.) We also agreed I have a good “hat face” because my face is round-y/oval-shaped, and I thought such fashion analysis was pretty sharp for a middle-aged guy working in a grocery store — but then again, he must see a lot of people all day. He had a very good eye for detail overall. All I know is, I’m gonna wear this hat more often. It gets me into all kinds of minor adventures!

Look of the Week: The Transitional Outfit

It’s the in-between days, straddling Indian summer and the crisp, purposeful fall — today as I write this, it’s 90 degrees and sunny, but tomorrow we’re supposed to have a low in the 40s. I suppose you can say this is my “last gasp of summer” outfit because it’s cool enough for a day like this but — with a jacket or cardigan thrown on — will do just fine when it gets cold tonight. It’s a silk sleeveless top from the Fletcher by Lyell line (prob my fave designer collabo ever), a pair of beloved, well-worn sandals, though the grey Mango jeans are a new purchase. It takes a lot for me to buy a bottom: usually I wait for perfection, because the last thing I want to worry about is my arse. But I’d been wanting an alternative to my usual dark skinny jeans for some time, and so when I found these on sale, I snagged them.

As it turns out, they were sort of the missing link in my wardrobe — the kind of item you didn’t realize you needed until you bought it, and then were like “Why did I wait so long to get these?” Kind of a big “duh” moment, I suppose. These particular jeans, they’re not really perfect, but sometimes you just have to go for it anyway, and I’ll get a lot of mileage out of them later in the season. I have other things to do with my time besides spend afternoon upon afternoon trying to find jeans, you know? There are so many brands and styles and it just makes my head spin — and it makes me miss Uniqlo, because I would just find something I liked there and be done with it. Jeans are such a personal thing — which ones do you like, that make you feel confident and secure and all those things? I need jeans suggestions that aren’t $200+. (I look at those price tags, and I’m like, Hmmmm, I could get airfare to someplace cool with that money…)

Anyway, I tried something new with this outfit post and made a quick video instead of taking photographs. I really find it weird to take pictures of myself like I’m a model, so perhaps I can just pretend I’m an actress pretending to be a model? I still felt gawky and weird anyway, but at least I was using my rusty filmmaking skills.

Look of the Week: What I Wore to My High School Reunion

So in between bee stings and busted fingertips, I went to my high school reunion. And…it was really weird in many ways, for obvious reasons that boil down to warmly awkward social interactions and existential evidence of the inexorable march of time. While it was fun in a surreal way and genuinely nice to reconnect with a lot of people, sometimes I felt like I wandered into an episode of “Arrested Development.” Maybe it was the florescent lighting all night, or all the new jack swing the DJ was playing. It was just weird! Weird but oddly fun. Maybe in the way getting laughing gas at the dentist can be, and you wake up with a hangover and are like “WTF?”

I actually wasn’t going to go but then, talking with an old high school friend of mine, changed my mind at the very last minute. (Like, there was literally half an hour left before the deadline to buy a ticket passed.) And of course I thought about what to wear. I have lots of sartorial refugees from my formerly semi-glamorous louche NYC lifestyle, really great dresses that are statement-y and bold. But I decided to go for comfort and wear leggings because I just wasn’t feeling fancypants about the occasion — I actually felt like, “What the hell did I get myself into?” But of course, they had to be fancy leggings; I couldn’t roll in as a complete slob. The nice thing about being in the land where fashion forgot is that no one cares that leather leggings are, like, so six seasons ago. I felt comfortable, and even better, I felt like myself, especially with a nice structured blazer. This outfit is actually a bit more minimalist than I usually am, but it felt stripped down and chill, which is very me at the core. (If anyone ever asks me to define my style, I will just say “chill.”)

In a way, it was nice to use clothing to create ease and peace instead of, say, proclaiming myself in some way. The temptation at occasions like these is always to prove yourself: prove that you won at life, that you’ve done well and succeeded. I sort of just felt, “Ah, well, this is who I am and where I’m at.” And that attitude and my relatively chill outfit let me relax and take in the occasion and really enjoy the good parts of it. Plus, the nice thing about those leggings is if you spill something on them, you can wipe it right off. See, I’m really a super-practical girl after all!