Much personal style revolves around finding what works for you. Intensifying focus. Otherwise known as the Great Cashmere V-neck Bakeoff, or other quests of type.
But it can also be useful to try out stuff that’s way outside your comfort zone, in the flesh or the imagination. How so?
For example, the dress above was a present from Terri, of Rags Against the Machine. Terri is an expert thrifter who approaches her wardrobe with both rigor and enthusiasm. She has put together more outfits in the past few years than I have in 20. I told her I liked the dress, when I saw it on her blog, and in a very generous gesture, she sent it along.
I like the silhouette. I like the blue and yellow windowpane pattern. I like the comfort. But I can’t get Auntie Em out of my mind. This, I know, is not me. Thrifting is a great way to experiment and confirm your style hypotheses. (BTW, I would love to pass this along, so email me if you’d like it. Can’t let generosity founder.) Thanks again Terri, the insight is much appreciated.
One can also experiment by shopping with friends. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting up with Sal, of Already Pretty, and Audi, of Fashion for Nerds. We had lunch in Belden Place. Conversation ranged from personal to universal in the best way.
After lunch, Sal and Audi had planned a shopping expedition. I took a half day off and came along to learn. Sal LOVES color, and wears it with pleasure. I dream of party pants, she lives them.
Audi, on the other hand, layers in textures I will never attempt. I put her style in practice, at the margins, by wearing patterned and colored scarves with contrasting collared shirts. That feels adventurous to me. Me is a luxury concept, maybe, but open to most of us.
Wandering through San Francisco’s primary shopping district, we found, lo and behold, a Fluevog store. Sal and Audi are both devotees. I imagine the Fluevog sales VP projecting his annual budget with a specific line item for Already Pretty impact. (Mater is also a huge fan.) I ogled these.
I didn’t buy anything, but there’s room in my imagination now for unusual shoes.
Further down the road we ducked into Barneys. Which, even in San Francisco, is called Barney’s New York. A little insolent if you ask me, but what the heck. Attitude is part of their brand.
And attitude is what it took for me to try on these Philip Lim leather pants.
Rest assured, we’re not showing photos of that particular experiment, thank you very much. But I hold out the right to try some on again. Perhaps next decade. Grande Dames attend art gallery openings in leather pants, when they travel to Hamburg. Or so I imagine.
Do you balance the tried and true with exploration? Happily? Nervously? Cautiously? Impulsively? Someone out there must have a pair of leather pants in their closet in case of emergencies.