We hear a lot these days about “statement pieces.” Which begs the question – what statement? What, if our clothes are to begin speaking, do we want them to say?
There is a good case to be made for having your clothes say, simply, “Here I am. My clothes suit me. I’m fond of myself and therefore wear clothes that recognize my shape and coloring.” Imogen at Inside Out Style deconstructs this part of the process perfectly. We might also hope that our clothes say, “I have good taste. An appreciation for texture, color, and material that is always ruled by my innate recognition of good design.” You might even want your clothes to say, “I respect the mores of the group and would rather go naked rather than risk being inappropriate.” This is the devotional specialty of the High WASP. The rest of the signals we all send, our political, regional, and generational affiliations? Those can bring up the rear. Figuratively, and literally, on occasion. (Hence Juicy.)
So finding a functional statement piece can be a little tricky. Remember, this item of clothing is going to speak with such passion it will be heard over everything else we might wear. For most of us, it’s difficult to make loud statement pieces say, “Good taste!” Few of us yell with dignity. Quiet works better. (Jill at Stella’s Roar is an exception. They exist.) Counter-intuitively, it’s also hard to make small statement pieces work. You look into your closet and sigh at the sight. “Oh dear. I have to live up to my belt today.” “This morning I am not worthy of my necklace. ” Exhausting. Myself, I can find far too many other ways to feel anxiety to bother generating any with my wardrobe.
Big, quiet statement pieces, however, can offer a Zen moment to the most high-strung among us. Even High WASPs feel calm descend. Big statement pieces let you be done dressing almost before you begin. Big statement pieces turn choosing what to wear every morning into a meditative exercise.
The statement jacket is the holy grail. Jackets, after all, cover much of one’s body. Once you have your jacket, the supporting cast can, if you so choose, let out a sign of relief. Consider three candidates, below.
Here the understated tuxedo jacket* goes to the office. In several guises. For those days when you have absolutely no leeway, classic white shirt and cufflinks. Pearls. Those days when you can let out the inner girl, ruffles and puffed sleeves. Even your peace sign bracelet. But put that jacket on fast when you have to. And, when you might have a life other than the office, (it has been known to happen) the old camisole under a dinner jacket trick stands the test of time. Oh, and red lipstick. Yeah, another statement. Worth making sometimes.
Black tie or other high style events can be fraught with anxiety. The worst thing is when you’ve chosen a great dress and beautiful shoes, hauled the family jewels out of the safe deposit box, and stand in front of the coat closet in despair, wondering whether your black raincoat or a black cashmere cardigan would look worse. Start with the jacket, however, and you can even wear a Gap t-shirt to opening night at the San Francisco Opera. It doesn’t get much more local-gang-puts-on-the-glitz than that. Adding python pants and Varinas is up to you. Of course, if the real statement piece is your new 4-carat canary yellow diamond engagement ring, even a silver lame jacket will get lost in the sparkle fair.
Finally, a canvas jacket may be the one thing that saves you from going to the grocery store, as I have been known to do, in your son’s old Santa Barbara Surf Shop hoodie.
These jackets all have a few things in common. First, yes, indeed, you could wear cowboy boots with all of them. But that wasn’t what I was thinking.
- These are jackets that are clearly just that. Jackets. They all have two sleeves, fasten in the front, and have shoulders designed to house human women.
- Neutral colors look good with most skin. I am sure some people can’t wear silver, or taupe, or black. But fewer than can’t wear orange or aubergine. Not to mention acid green.Or plaid.
- Just enough texture and detail to make a jacket say something. Silver lame, an absolutely straightforward shape. Tuxedo jacket, minimal trim. Taupe canvas, sleeves puffed a wee bit and a wrap tie.
Finally, fortunately, in a jacket you are apt to be comfortable. Statements made in comfort generally stand the test of time better than statements made in a state of anxiety. Any chance at a friendship with serenity is to be encouraged.
*My mother insists that the word “tuxedo” is declasse. We must call these dinner jackets instead. I worry that no one would understand me.