“Cool” fashion usually involves tension of one sort or another. The wearer has enough force of character, or enough vision, to carry off a union of unmatching goods. Combining patterns, textures, or “high-low” elements.
While cool isn’t a dominant High WASP trait, some style archetypes are cooler than others. The Grande Dame wears a messy bun with her red satin ballgown. The Artsy Cousin mixes ikat, madras, and pearls. The Sturdy Cousin, well, if she’s cool it’s usually inadvertent. She buys a mariniere t-shirt while biking through Normandy, and upon her return to the US she finds it’s an overnight fashion sensation.
But, as a Sturdy Gal myself, I am drawn like a taupe moth to the blood-red flame. And would like to offer up two possibilities for high tension fashion. For the oxymoronic among us.
First, “brutal pearls.”
Pearls on leather or rubber. Diamond ornamentation, even. Style oxymorons. Or, similarly, a gold plaque on wrapped, rough leather from a wonderful jewelry store with endless online goods, Ylang23. One might engrave on it, as a reminder, what Lydia, or @littlefluffycat‘s dad used to say. “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.” Therapeutic for the Sturdy Gal. Or one might mix modes even further, and engrave one’s monogram, ornate and classic. I know, right?
Second, I would like to suggest a subtle, but bright, red lipstick. This is a recent purchase. Jane at simple + pretty recommended Lipstick Queen. For some unknown reason, as I have said, I have a faith in makeup that I have long since discarded vis-a-vis clothing. My faith is not misplaced here.
I am another proponent of lipstick that looks like your lips but better. In Nars “Cruising” I found a nude. In Lipstick Queen “Medieval,” what we have is a glamorous, sultry, lip-bitten, subtle, easy red, that’s completely wearable when you run to the grocery store in your son’s khaki pants, a white tee, and turquoise Haviana flip flops. I know. I’ve done that difficult experiment for you. And, in case you wondered, even cool people with red lipstick sometimes then leave all the produce they just purchased in the store. No matter. A lipstick with all the allure of red, one that even Sturdy Gals can wear to leave the house, makes up for so many missteps.
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Note: To anyone new to Privilege, the Grande Dame, Artsy Cousin, and Sturdy Gal are High WASP style archetypes. The Style Archetypes should make the general tomfoolery and tongue-in-cheekness clearer. We can but hope so.