Around here, the crusade to dress with relaxed elegance continues with some success. I finally found suitable khakis. Over the last year I had bought two pair, one from Land’s End, one from L.L. Bean. Nope, too rough. I looked at many more in the usual mall shops, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and so on. Nope, too stretchy and too trendy.
Then, in an online discussion forum, “BunsenBurner” recommended Karen Millen.
See? The Karen Millen Tailored Cotton Pant, $199. All-cotton, wide waistband, fine fabric. Niiice stitch detail.
Ankle length, not too skinny. Label says dry clean but I threw caution to the wind and and pants into the washing machine – no visible damage. Shrank some, but they were a tad big anyway.
These pants play a key role in preventing work-at-home schlub. They are so comfortable that I’m willing to wear them for every activity except writing or gardening. For now with with a loose, cream, lace-trimmed tank, and orange Havaianas, but I have my sights on a few more options. The Kate Hepburn look begs for a white shirt. Oh goody. We can go button front or tee. Stretch the borders of white to cream, even peanut.
I’ll have to see where those v-necks hit. How fine the fabric on the button-front, how nifty the buttons. I could also make good use of one of these pairs of shoes.
Cork’s having a moment. Are the slides too dowdy? The wedges too precious? Paul Stuart makes exceptionally comfortable shoes behind those leather rosettes, and I could always use another pair of Havaianas, this time in dull gold. Of course I really covet the studded Louboutins, (Hola Chica indeed!) but can’t quite tell myself they deserve a place in Dressing Without Chanel. Which poses the question, is a $500 shoe the moral equivalent of a $3000 jacket? But I digress.
You might be saying to yourself, wait a minute, white shirts are not exciting. Maybe not, but they are the stuff of which a certain kind of wardrobe is made. The Grande Dame is never truly casual. The Artsy can fling together this and that. But the Sturdy among us, or those with Sturdy leanings, must take the uniform of our heart and clean it up.
(I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of money for khakis.” True, but cost per wear will be quite low in the end.)
If you want to assemble a wardrobe of not-boring basics, you have to pay attention to subtleties. This white shirt is not the same as that other white shirt, these tan sandals certainly not the same as those over there. One must venture offline, to the world of linen vs. cotton, peanut vs. beige. I report to you as a scout, face streaked with yellow dust, palm fronds in pith helmet.
Karen Millen Khakis
James Perse button front
Petit Bateau peanut colored v-neck tee
Over-sized Deep-V Tee via Urban Outfitters
Shoes from upper left, clockwise, ending in center
Vanelli cork wedge via Arthur Berens
Paul Green Ema Fango via Zappos
Eric Javits “Squishee” slide via Arthur Berens
“Hola Chica” Louboutins , via Barneys