Do you ever see a piece of clothing and know, on the spot, that you want it badly? And if so, do you buy or pass it by? And either way, how do you feel afterwards?
I was in San Francisco on Saturday, walking down Sutter Street, when I spied a store full of shirts. Different shirts. Unique shirts. Possibly extraordinary shirts.
It was a standalone shop selling NaraCamicie, apparently an Italian shirt line. I’d tell you how they position themselves, but all I can decipher from the Italian website and Facebook page is that they have been around since 1984 and are now entering the USA to, um, sell shirts. Oh, and they offer plus sizes too.
Here is what drew me in off the sidewalk. I tried it on. I pranced around the store in a happy fog of daydreams. Sold. Extraordinary.
- Fits like nobody’s business
- A bit different from everything else hanging on retail racks at the moment
- Good use case and cost per wear
- Proven alignment with personal taste
- Evokes certain dreams, surfaces certain inspirations
What am I talking about? First, it fits perfectly, even, well, flatteringly, if that’s a word. With flatteration. Which is clearly not a word. Made of microfiber in the body, and woven cotton for the trim, it’s stretchy in the right way, but still fairly dignified and structured. You can see in the photo above, on the mannequin, these are tailored shirts, good for those of us with broad shoulders and the faded ruins of a narrow waist. There’s even a louche sort of puckering at the dart adding a, “Non conosco che cosa.” That’s my mangled Babelfish version of Italian for, “Je ne sais quoi.” Why not mangle EVERY language while we’re at it?
Second, the pattern is more sophisticated and unusual than might be visible at a distance. See?
Fourth, this set of colors really does bring me comfort. Voila la proof. (Mangling every language, non?) Remember this sweater? Loved in part because these particular shades of blue make me feel beautiful. Whether it’s true or not, who cares? Extraordinary is personal.
Finally, the shirt traces its heritage directly to my secret identity. My, “In another life I am” dreams. The muddy orange to my navy blue.
Do you remember the Versace campaign below?
In my unacknowledged dreams I want to be a trophy wife from a different culture. I want to lay down the tools of reason, wear thick black eyeliner, big hair and big rings, match everything to the point of far too much. I want a wicked, weary glamour. That little blue patterned shirt is my ticket. It’s the peach I dream of eating.
Inspiration is personal. That Versace campaign ran in 2000. I’ve waited a full decade to dress like those women in yellow. Except I look terrible in yellow, so, you know.
Purchase made, we left the store. Wandered up through the Chinatown gate. The streets were full of tourists, and inhabitants speaking mostly Cantonese. Some Mandarin. We passed produce stores, ong choy, dried mushrooms, purple eggplants in bins. Just wait, in another decade I’ll find some way to refer my clothing to these oranges. It’s those little bits of stored vision that resurface. Fruit. Dreams and inspiration. I regret what I don’t do far more than what I have done.
Me, except Versace via Style Search & Ryan Kennedy
*Thank you to Deja Pseu at Une Femme D’Un Certain Age, for her great post on the “extraordinary” piece of clothing.
**Yes, I know, the peach is a gratuitous, over-used, metaphor. An equal opportunity language mangler.