As we know, it’s Fashion Week. Day after day, designers are showing collections in New York City. We might now wonder, is there such a thing as a High WASP* designer? I reviewed scads of photos of expensive clothing looking for an answer. Research purposes only, you understand. An enormous amount of work, but I forced myself. Didn’t find a designer, per se. Did, however, find designs. And identified those worthy of the High WASP stamp of approval.
These aren’t necessarily the clothes I admired most. I have enormous appreciation for avant garde fashion. Give me Yohji Yamamato, or a shirt printed with a striking Rorschach blot, and I will voice my admiration. Prattle on about deconstruction. But I can’t wear it.
The clothes I might wear, had I but world enough and time (gratuitous 17th-century-literary-reference-familiar-from-college-English of the day), meet key criteria. Could I walk out the door feeling appropriate? Do I feel the clothes are worth the money? “Worth” has to be established both by the internal click of desire and a time and place to wear said items. Ball gowns don’t count at this time of my life. I might be done with ball gowns.
First, let me make one thing clear. Designer shorts never qualify for High WASP approval. We won’t spend $200 on a pair of shorts. That’s unequivocal. Shorts are supposed to come from Banana Republic or thereabouts. No matter how often the industry says so, we will never believe shorts are OK for fancy, and spending more than $200 for not fancy is just plain silly.
High WASPs look for several things.
- A recognizable, symmetrical silhouette.
- Just enough interest, and no more.
- Careful use of color.
- An appreciation of fabric’s virtues and character.
Below are two looks from this particular canon of good taste. Black and white, classic shirt, just enough interest in the wide pants, comfort in the silk. Khaki, shift, just enough interest in the slashed fabric. It might seem like an oxymoron to use the words slash and High WASP in the same sentence. It’s OK. Trust me. We don’t want to be boring or dowdy. Just appropriate. Nothing wrong with a slash here or there.
However, the High WASP would wear a bra in the second outfit. We are great believers in underwear.
Although we are most comfortable in a monochromatic world, we like prints on occasion. Best when one and only one is seen on a simple dress. We can’t do the whole 25 different prints up down and all around thing. It’s a failing on our part, I know. Probably one of the reasons the species is dying out.
Assuming the second dress was willing to tolerate a closer relationship with our knees. We might even wear ankle bracelets. Especially if we brought them home from the India voyage of our youth.
Another mode of appropriate is the quirky take on a classic. Has to be worn with actual classics, to make it clear we understand the ironic reference. Aren’t making an embarrassing mistake. For example, a bandage skirt worn with what we used to call a camp shirt. A denim block graphic Chanelesque jacket, worn with boyfriend Levis. Or white linen. (Not the pants below. Did I even need to say that?) So as not to violate the “too much interest” rule. After all, we, as humans, need to leave room for our selves to provide interest.
Good taste is not all, I confess. We take, as does the entire country, a guilty pleasure in reality TV. We will, therefore, shudder with secret glee when buying Christian Siriano. Especially as he does us the favor of designing in what appears to be lightweight, shimmering, khaki silk.
Finally, for the right occasion, we will don something bright, unusual, something we call art. A wild, uniquely colored dress? With tufts? We will go there. My sister, now contributing honorably to the social welfare field, wore a pale pink Zandra Rhodes (or maybe it was Betsy Johnson?), lace, slashed, dropped waist, mini, to my mother’s wedding. Granted, it was 1983. Trust me, appropriate. And if it wasn’t, we were with family. On a happy occasion. Even for us appropriate is not always paramount.
Joyeux Fashion Week – and clothes that make us hop with happiness – to all.
*I openly admit to believing that High WASP means good taste. It’s genetics on my part, so I can’t help myself. At the same time I commit to your right to a completely different opinion.
**TPP posted the same dress, in the ballgown version. Great minds think alike:).