Oh wait, perhaps some of you are trophy wives. Know what? I salute you. Time spent pointing fingers is time wasted. Let’s elevate, talk about class, symbols, and anxiety. Better to discuss than complain.
In that light, what do we think about Trophy Wives, their symbolic import, and what to wear in their presence? For me, in my 40s in particular, TWs represented Those People Who Had The Money My Family Lost. Or at least failed to keep. Trophy wives – defined here as those women chosen by rich men in substantial part for their decorative capabilities – also represented Women Who Were Not Sturdy. They were recreational, glossy, Tinkerbelles. Probably unfair judgment, but I was working at a brutal job, and undergoing emotional shifts I wasn’t quite admitting, even to myself.
A decade later, emerging from turbulence, done with that job, and able – we hope - to think more clearly, I’ve abstracted these sartorial principles.
How To Dress When You’re “Man Down”
These principles apply to any occasion when you dress for an event with a) loose to zero overt rules b) significant emotional weight c) other attendees who scare you.
In these situations, take a page from the High WASP book. Don’t disclose your effort. Otherwise known as, “Don’t let on you’re trying.”
1. Proportion, Proportion, Proportion
We’ve all got a personal geometry. In “man down” situations, veer not from the tried and true silhouette. If you live in skinny jeans, wear their dressier cousin, cigarette pants. If you’re a dress person, stay in dressland. Now is not the time to be tugging at your clothing, up, down, or sideways.
2. Vintage With A High DQ (Design Quotient)
Trophy wives have access to everything cool from this season. So pick a classic from a completely different decade, instead. Above you see a YSL dress – that coin belt one of his signature Other Culture embellishments. For vintage pieces, I recommend choosing something you can wear many times in many ways. Imagine this same dress with a patterned fabric belt.
3. Classic, But Current, Shoes
Again, this is not the time to experiment. Weird shoes have their place, highly charged social situations with people who make you nervous aren’t it. Of course, if you are the sort made nervous by no one, I salute you. I salute you and start a parade in your honor. My shoe strategy is either a discreet, well-repaired pair of classic luxury shoes – Manolo ballet flats that I’ve owned for 10 years – or a cool pair of shoes in a brand on its way up. In this category we find Loeffler Randall, Pour La Victoire, and Ancient Greek Sandals. Yes, that’s really their name.
4. The Unbearable Lightness Of A Good Haircut (And Healthy Hair)
Hair requires a little pre-planning. If you are torturing yourself with too much coloring and blow drying you might consider a haircation. Short, long, all good. Just not crispy.
5. A Signature Accessory
You can add an accessory in whatever color makes you feel indomitable. Turquoise for me. Or rely on a piece with sentimental or symbolic value. I think Alexander McQueen’s skull accessories might have been invented originally to wear to meet the Queen.
I could add a lot of caveats, to do with inner peace, materialism, anxiety, and so on. But I will leave that to the wise. I can only advise on what I’ve learned, and I’ve not yet reached Social Anxiety Zen Mastery.
So take care of your shoes and hair, keep your good clothes until they become your own private vintage stash, and build on a certainly about your personal geometry and coloring. Finally, nothing wrong pausing with before you enter the room to remind yourself, silently so as not to mutter in public mind you, of all your accomplishments and the people who love you.