I have struggled, a tad, with how to look casually presentable. Wasn’t previously necessary, given I spent the majority of my time in corporate gear. Last year I asked Corporette how to do casual and remain networking-presentable, in case I was surprised at the supermarket by a venture capitalist. Squeezing avocados, let’s say. Corporette, those good souls, answered with remarkable restraint. No audible guffaws. A fitted jacket in a casual fabric, said they. But did I act immediately? Of course not.
I look back now and laugh. Like a horse let out to pasture after her life under saddle, “I don’t have to wear corporate executive gear? I will dress like a skateboarder! I will wear sneakers!” While I’m at it, “I will throw all good sense to the wind, all style out the window! In one fell swoop! Satorial hari kari!” Let us be clear. There is nothing immoral about the outfit below. But giving up the attempt to look presentable didn’t make me feel liberated and creative. More like a 50-year old woman wearing her son’s clothes. Goofy. Fun for a few days but not a good life strategy. Not for me.
Turns out I am not the only one struggling with casual. Albeit, perhaps, the only one over 50 who actually left the house wearing a Santa Barbara Surf Shop sweatshirt. Recently, a blog commenter in my age cohort asked this question,
…I wonder what you think is appropriate attire for casual wear for a woman of “our age”. Thank you so much! I would love to see you do a post on the “mature woman” and her casual wear. How to look great, without trying to look like our daughters!
Well, what does Imogen say? She writes the remarkably useful blog, Inside Out Style. Highly recommended. Good soul that she is, Imogen responded to a similar query on my part just the other week. With remarkably similar advice. “Get thee some decent outerwear!” Oh. OK. Softly structured jackets.
This time, I was ready. A Christmas credit at Saks Fifth Avenue? Commence gleeful hand-rubbing. First step? Internet window shopping. I poked, I clicked, I followed. And found myself looking at a James Perse fleece peacoat. Fleece + peacoat = soft + structure. I didn’t take calculus in business school for nothing. Saks carries James Perse. Game on.
Push open the heavy glass doors. Employees by the cosmetics counters greet you at the entrance. Without seeming to want to sell you anything. Just a sort of, “Oh, hello honored guest.” Nice touch. The smell of department store cosmetics counters in full bloom. The light that special gold fluorescent tint. Time to shop. With a credit, time to shop without fretting.
Up the escalators I went. Up. And up. Past all the Dolce and Gabbana, St. John’s, Prada. Today I’m doing casual. And they put casual all the way up in the attic. Heaven forbid you might want to look nice at the grocery store. We know you are all far more interested in what to wear when attending the Golden Globes or crashing a Presidential Dinner.
I wander around a little bit, wondering why the two sales guys laughing about their weekend don’t jump to attention, sensing my intent to buy. Who knows. A young woman asks if she can help. Why, yes, you can. She points me in the right direction.
They don’t carry the peacoat I saw on the Internet, but they’ve got another one. And it’s made from SWEATSHIRT fabric! I cannot possibly communicate the enormity of that fact. I love sweatshirts. They are my fuffies. Were I ever to have sucked my thumb in my entire life, it would have been while holding a sweatshirt to my face. To say nothing of their extreme suitability for life lived in California. Which is to say, subject to weather that is sometimes cool, rarely cold. A lot of driving. You know how uncomfortable it is to drive wearing something bulky?
I was so happy I even bought something I didn’t need. Just because it was cute. Hip. And on sale for $93.oo. I’m not quite ready to give up on hip. I may be a Sturdy Gal in sweatie but when I want to go Artsy it’s urban rather than multi-colored. Largely because I’m simple-minded when it comes to hues. No judgment on pink. Or aubergine. Or Desert Sunset.
I bought this cropped military jacket. A trend that would in otherwise have passed me over like wind in the treetops. But this was made of, yes, SWEATSHIRT fabric. Hosanna in excelsis. To be worn with jeans, a long white t-shirt, and those ever-useful Manolo quilted ballet flats. Don’t forget the diamond studs.
Mission more than accomplished. I learned the ins and outs of corporate style a while back. These jackets, as unimportant as they are in the grand scheme of things, make me feel in the grocery store like I did at work. Intelligent, competent, individual. Not bad for two fancy little sweatshirts.
On to tea at Cafe de la Presse. With a friend. Which turned into wine and Salade Nicoise. Sensible cafe, to have a license to serve Sauvignon Blanc. Quite sensible.
By me, except the cropped Casual Couture by Green Envelope jacket, via StyleCaster. And Imogen’s Polyvore.