Ever since the W. Magazine vs. Vogue smackdown I have been dreaming of full-skirted beauties. Mooning over the impact they’d have on my waist, my wasted decades, the yearning I have always felt and will always feel for Fashion. Even though I mostly wear navy blue. Sometimes Aerosoles. The dress above is from Miuccia Prada. Something wicked this way comes.
But why would anyone currently optimizing jeans, khakis, and Target tees need that kind of clothing? They wouldn’t. I know that. I know that. But I scheduled a meetup with two of my favorite bloggers, Maxminimus and Reggie. In New York City. Suddenly, mysteriously, I needed a new dress. The Narciso was not suitable.
Cathy Horyn, the New York Times fashion critic whom I heard speak the other week, told a story that started out, “And then there’s always the question of, ‘Can you find the clothes?'” She had apparently wanted to touch, if not buy, a Balenciaga runway dress. She went to Barney’s NY, hoping the piece was available, and that she could remain unrecognized in its pursuit. It wasn’t there, and they figured out who she was. For Cathy, the dress arrived on Barney’s floor a few weeks later.
For the rest of us, actually buying something we saw in Vogue, or on a runway video, even if we are crazy enough to shell out the huge sums of money required, can be more difficult.
Back to my story. Back to my dress. Back to the hunt for something along the lines of what you see above.
Off to the Stanford Shopping Center. I searched through racks looking for those colors, those patterns, that silhouette. But Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus were showing shifts. I did not want a shift. In the sensible way that one has at midlife, I settled for similar color and pattern at Nordie’s, all the while pining for a flounce. Just one flounce. Perhaps a little twirl.
Here’s the Tahari pencil skirt I came home with. You can see my fondness for the Prada pattern wasn’t just puppy love.I found a nice beige sweater to match. Theory. At a stretch, it’s camel, and should I want to I can check off a trend. But trends and fashion visions are not fungible goods.
I even found matching pants. In tweed. So practical. So Sturdy Gal.
Be that as it may, I couldn’t get Miuccia’s ‘Mad Men meets Dries Van Noten’ creation out of my mind. And I know where to find a Prada store. San Francisco, On the corner of Post and Grant. I popped into my little white Toyota Rav4, the car so Sturdy that Kanye West curses it. I scooted up Highway 101. Surely, I thought, the dress will be unavailable. Surely I’m just being responsible, doing my homework to back up a purchase.
It’s amazing what one can tell oneself when possessed.
The Prada store was up to its ears in cranberry. You know, fall and all.
And there, waiting demurely behind the cranberry tweed, was my dress. Or close enough. Held below by a very nice salesperson named Abe. He called me love, and brought me water. If you want to sell middle-aged ladies anything, bring us water. We’re always thirsty. “Love” is optional.
On, the skirt has body. On, the bodice shapes. On, the hemline hits me right where hemlines all over the universe should hit me. And see that little black line on the bust? It’s a lace crumb-catcher. They tacked it down for me, a bit, as there’s only so much outré I can manage in one outfit, but still. I felt chic. The dust devils of desire, stirred up by W’s photo shoot, settled. Harvest time.
And that was that.
If you’d like to see my new obsession out walking, take a look at the Prada Fall 2010 fashion show and lookbook. If you’d like to see the blue coat version, as worn by Anna Wintour, look here.
Let us not forget the Peanut cardigan. Since I will be wearing the dress to New York in November, and then to a conference in Atlanta which will surely be held in air conditioning, I had to buy this sweater. Whose sleeve I immediately snagged on a shopping cart at Whole Foods. That’s what you get for forcing jeans duty on an aristocrat. Could I have made do with a sweater I already own? No. I shake my head at myself but I’m beyond shame. Beyond happens, even to High WASPs.
Were I Artsy I’d sport woolly tights, bagging in the ankle, with some suitable nerd-chic flats. Were I a true Grande Dame, I’d venture out bare-legged and ask my driver to crank up the heat. But as a Sturdy Gal, just pulling off Grande by the skin of her teeth, I’ll be wearing nude Donna Karan pantyhose with these pumps. And damn the naysayers.
Lordy, lordy, lordy. Even Sturdy Gals dream.
The impulse to buy is the same I had at 20. Only the formation of desire is different. These days I read style with analytical faculties fully engaged. These days I understand that I keep clothes for decades, I hold them on hangers in front of my closet, I look back. Not inconsequentially, and not to wax overly sentimental, but these days I write for you all. I bought in informed delirium.
Prada Dresses Today
W. Last Exit to Brooklyn via Tom and Lorenzo
Others via me
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