Do You Have At Least One Over-The-Top Piece?

I’d like to discuss the value of over-the-top clothing. At least in measured doses. You see, even those of us who favor Quiet Dressing bloom in adventure. Sometimes quite literally.

Recently, I won a pair of Wolford tights in a giveaway over at That’s Not My Age. I love Wolford tights, they fit well and last forever. I have a black pair, seen here, bought to wear with everything. and some purple ones, seen here, bought thanks to middle-aged eyes and fluorescent lighting.

So, offered carte blanche, what to choose?



Not just any lace. No demure small-figured pattern this time. Nope. Very big nigh-on vulgar swirls. The “Victorienne.”


I’m wearing them here with my Narciso Rodriguez dress from 2009 and Isabel Marant black suede Dickers, on a date with Significant Husband. We had dinner at a Michelin two-star restaurant, COI, as a wedding present from my former team. It was delicious. As I said, they are a great group.

Why not more standard sheer black? This is what style exploration looks like. When I was working, I got a small daily Artsy Cousin fix with Anniel oxfords, Hello Kitty necklaces, etc. In that mode, I was happy to go full Grande Dame when I dressed up. Now that I am home, and Sturdy much of the time, I find myself sneaking a little Artsy into my nights out.

And throwing a camel Max Mara coat over the whole thing when the temperatures drop.


Fooling around with blur and glare, as is common when beginners play at artistic. Experimentation everywhere.

I’ve not yet got it right. That outfit could have used either knee-high boots, so the tights peeked out more subtly, or a larger necklace, to balance the expanse of fishnet and fol-de-rol. I might have worn black Louboutins, except displaying the arch of my foot in lace felt too risque. I know, chalk it up to the voice of my great-aunt.

However, I have found that rarely do policeman arrest you on the street for imperfect clothing.

For those of you who wonder how to put together a wardrobe, or how to evolve your personal style, this is key. As Sally recently wrote on Already Pretty, some of us come late to style. Our journey requires us to gallivant.  You may find that tights make an inexpensive, high-impact, all-terrain vehicle of choice.



Narciso Rodriguez| similar
Max Mara coat| similar at Matches (and gorgeous)
Wolford Victorienne| Bloomingdale’s
Isabel Marant “Dickers”| Barney’s
Drugstore reading glasses with rectangular frame| similar
Coach bucket bag| similar

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  • I love the tights – on you, at any rate. You have gorgeous legs. I like the outfit quite a bit, too, and agree that a larger necklace would have finished it off perfectly.

    I tend to go sparkly when going “over the top” – I have several sequined tank tops that I wear with slacks/skirt and a blazer. And that’s about as risky as I get.

  • I like your lace! Last year I did a pair with a much smaller pattern and from a distance it looked like I had some skin malady These are great.

  • Hooray! The Wolford tights est arrivé. And you look fantastic! I’m all for quiet dressing too but think it’s important to have one over the top, stand-out piece.

    PS Sorry to be a pedant but please could you add my ‘That’s’? Many thanks, Alyson

    7:06 am
    Lisa said...

    Of course, not pedantic at all.

  • You have a beautiful figure and legs, however for me I would lose the dickers with these tights! They need plain black kitten heeled pumps, the boots are too clumpy in the overall look.
    Yes I know, my opinion!! Sorry.

    8:02 pm
    Kathy said...

    @Jenny, My thought exactly. “Yes” to the tights, “no ” to the booties. How brave Lisa is to open herself up to these critiques :)

    8:23 am
    Lisa said...

    Jenny and Kathy, my thinking in posting imperfect outfits is to help others understand how to experiment. To understand that for every perfect outfit, those of us not born to be fashion designers have to try on 10 imperfects. Plus the comments then show everyone that style, at a certain level of okayness, is a matter of personal opinion. I don’t mind the critiques at all, am happy to hear your thoughts.

    4:47 am
    /anne... said...

    I have a pair of black patent Mary Janes with a four inch heel that would be perfect – the heel is quite sturdy, and the strap is about 1/2″ wide, so they work well when I don’t want footwear that’s too delicate, or something as heavy as boots.

    I love them so much (they are nearly 20 years old) I recently bought something similar in a wedge from Clarks.

  • I think you pulled it off very well! And a little over the top is fun. For me, it has happened to turn out in the form of a slight obsession with the j crew statement necklaces. oh brother!

  • This past Saturday afternoon the ‘Estella’ in my life maxed out my smartphone memory with a deluge of pics to help select her little outfit for the Halloween party that night. She’s among the 2.3 million otherwise sensible women doing Catwoman this year. Among the selections she modeled were fishnet hose which I deemed ‘a bit much’. My position will likely soften over time but I’m not there yet.
    LPC, you’ve got a fab figure with world class gams which need no embroidery but however if you feel good about it that always will project in your favor.

    8:16 am
    tabitha said...

    Oh GSL, I would love to dress as Catwoman, that takes quite the figure.

    9:08 am
    GSL said...

    Tabs, she does have that & that whole exercise is to lure me back to that cultural wasteland but recent evidence suggests you do as well…if only she had your gifts she could lure me to Siberia in January.

  • Yeah, I immediately thought of a larger necklace, or even a scarf, for balance. And the boots seem a little heavy for the lacy stockings, but that’s a matter of taste.

    You still look pretty great.

    My over-the-top piece is a dressy silk blouse by Bordeaux: scoop neck front and back, that pulls over my head, no buttons or zippers. It’s a big, bold print with flowers in brightly colored orange and pink, accent color is dark blue, on a creamy background. The front neckline is outlined with orange beads! I was shopping with a girlfriend or I’d never even have tried it on. It looks amazing on me–and reminded me that I look better with brighter colors around my face than I do in all black. I still love it, and wear it whenever the occasion warrants.

  • I like the ankle boots with the lace — amplifies the Victorian vibe — but agree that a splashier necklace might have balanced the boldness of your lower half. Still, boldness achieved, and that was the mission, no? Looks like a fun evening. (My sister has that MaxMara coat, and I’ve been coveting, pondering. . . . it looks gorgeous on you)

  • These lace tights are superb! Do you mind if I copy you and get some for my black dress?
    I have an over-the-top piece, my silk taffeta leopard print jacket with the weird half peplum, I love that thing!

    8:10 am
    Lisa said...

    I’d be honored!

  • I forgot to mention MY over the top piece is actually an accessory which I think Prof C might like. When I’m doing Saint Andrews Day & Burns Supper galas the Chicago Police prefer I leave my trusty Claymore at home.

  • I think you look great! I love that you’ve gone over-the-top with one item while keeping the rest of your outfit subdued.

  • I think it all works quite well. Love the boots with the lace!

  • Oh I wore those Wolford lace tights non stop back in the 80’s, they are lovely but because of my history with them, I can’t wear them, you however can and do pull them off beautifully. I’m just not a ‘sexy’ person – it’s that new husband of yours!

  • Nice! Maybe a pair of evening reading glasses someday?

    And have you ever tried a black scarf to go with a lighter coat or jacket? I just got one and it makes a nice bookend to dark tights and boots.

    But as always, that grin steals it away …

    9:37 am
    Flo said...

    “But as always, that grin steals it away … ”

    Doesn’t it? Just like our mothers told us it would…

    8:33 am
    Lisa said...

    @mademarian, a black scarf and a camel coat? I LIKE that idea:). Also the grinning…

  • You look gorgeous! I love lacey tights – I have several pairs, but mine are cheap H&Ms. Could be time to step up my game.

  • You look gorgeous. I have an office event where I plan to wear a dress similar to yours. I was going to pair it with knee-high black boots and bare legs (safe! boring!). But WOW, your lace tights look perfect, and the short boots are so edgy! As always, thanks for the great ideas.

    8:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kait, My pleasure!

  • I am experimenting with fancy tights this season. I wander over to sock dreams to see which ones I like. I have not gotten bold in patterns yet, but I have with color! Tights aren’t my thing so I feel like I’m walking on the wild side.

  • I used to have a long skirt in BRIGHT RED that was my over-the-top piece. I paired it with anything black from sweaters to sleeveless. Gave it away a few years ago and regret it so much. Same with the matching red glittery purse, though I had my reasons for that :(

    Looking through my closet right now, I don’t see a lot of over-the-top anything. I do have a purse in a ridiculous shade of teal that occasionally I carry (and currently needs a bit of TLC.) Does that count?

    8:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Andrea, It counts if you say it does.

  • I think replacing the booties with knee high boots would be a mistake. Seeing a small sliver of the large-scale lace could lead to the ‘does she have something on her knee?’ look. I think the way you’re wearing the tights is perfect.

    8:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, Hahahaha.

  • I have a fuchsia lace top, that I bought and have yet to wear. It’s beautiful but I never feel it’s the “right” occasion to stand out that much for me. Maybe Thanksgiving?

    I often find in photos that I could use a large, statement like necklace as well to balance out my outfit, yet I’m not a statement necklace person – hmmm…

    I think you’re outfit looks great, maybe your hair down, would have balanced it out without the necklace??

  • You look fabulous in that outfit!
    It has just the right amount of fun and you carry it off so well.
    This could be a regular theme….The Fashion Police have been very quiet lately.

  • I think my problem tends to be how few pieces I have that are NOT over the top. I’m working on that.

    8:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cynthia, Ha!

  • I love the dress and tights, and yowzah, what they do for your figure! Great neckline and interesting seaming on the bodice. I had some lacy Wolfords (black w bits of cobalt blue) in the 80s, the year I lived in London, and I adored them. “Keep calm and carry on,” but add a little subversion and intrigue…

    I think I’m Cynthia’s soul sister: Artsy’s Amazing Technicolor Dream Closet (haha) is brimming with color, pattern, and texture. But because the over-the-topness is informed by a Sturdy aesthetic (all pieces must be comfortable, clean-lined, preferably stretchy, and low maintenance, rarely seeing an iron or an environmentally friendly dry cleaner), I can usually get away with it. And when I don’t, at least I had fun.

  • I agree with the larger necklace. And these tights make such a nice statement. I think you wear them in a perfect way. The knee high boots wouldn’t show them so well.
    You look amazing. You have such a great figure.


  • The lace tights are gorgeous! My over the top piece is an Emerson Fry sleeveless top in a slightly-sparkly big geo mod print that she put out last season or the season before. It’s more sparkly and loud than anything else I wear and it displayed fabulously in a tintype family photo (nice mashup of 60’s style and ancient photography tech).

  • Those lacy tights are fantastic ! When I was in New York last May, I discovered a Wolford boutique in the Time Warner Center and I bought one item as I tought that I could order when back home. But no !!! I live in the Province of Québec and they don’t deliver here… I receive their newsletters though…. sighhhhh….You have nice clothes, Madame !

  • I am so sorry to admit I have nothing over-the-top. Plain black tights and boots are about as wild as I get. How dreadfully boring that is! But maybe, just maybe, your photo will give me the courage I need!

    8:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @Carole, Let’s all have courage together.

  • Wolford has the best tights. I know it, since I never wear anything else, heh.
    The picture, where you are wearing the coat, looks very much ok.
    The reason for it is, that I could not imagine anyone without warm clothing in late October.
    But then you know, that my geographical position is different than your´s.

  • Former team? Score one for retirement? Did I miss something? Have you retired? (Sorry to be off topic, but in addition to being a style role model, you’re a work role model too).

    8:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Carol, Yes I have. Again:). And thank you.

  • Like the simple design of your MM coat (would need it here 9c today brrr)Like the boots with the racy tights…..Wolfords are the best especially the cashmere tights.

  • Love! Love your outfit … you are encouraging me to be more adventurous as I work on creating my own style. hugs, C. (HHL)

  • Spectacular look! Love Wolfords, fit us 34″ inseamers and wear well. Maybe a cuff bracelet instead of a necklace?

  • Well, maybe one.

  • I wore the most ridiculous over-the-top Jeffrey Campbell 5-inch platform boots in cheetah calfhair with an obnoxious square oxblood toe in smooth leather. I paired them with a shot silk chocolate balloon skirt from Calypso and my Girls Boxing tee from the Bronx. I had previously worn them for Punk Rock Day two years ago but decided I might as well put them in rotation for some classroom merriment, if not general confusion. This is one of the pleasures of being a literature professor.

    6:51 pm
    gsl said...

    I would rob a bank to endow a chair to see that outfit

  • I used to wear over the top pieces of clothing when I was younger and nubile, some of which make me shudder to think of today. My only “flash” these days is confined to patry shoes (Stubbs & Wootton velvet slippers) or watches. I recently lost my mind and bought myself a gold Rolex Daytona, which I love but also find vulgar and showy, and almost embarassing. MD would not have approved, I’m sure.

    10:10 pm
    Reggie Darling said...

    I meant “party” shoes…

    8:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Reggie Darling, See, as we age, showy is pretty fun. And at least you didn’t mean “pantry” shoes:).

  • You look beautiful! I quite like the lace tights with the ankle boots actually. Ankle boots lend an unexpected, French-girl twist to the sexy vibe of the form-fitting dress and lace tights.

  • I have about 76 over the top pieces. Just because.

    I look at my lovely decoration you sent and think of your fondly!

    Hope you are well x

    8:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Faux Fuchsia, You are my Over The Top muse:). Happy way too early Christmas.

  • LOVE this look. Very French, including the uncluttered neckline. I’d save the scarf to wear with the coat, adding some color near your beautiful face.

    8:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Lisa W., Too kind. Thank you.

  • I love the look Lisa, those stocking are so much more interesting than plain tights. I think I like the camel coat the most, it reminds me a little of Gweneth in The Royal Tenenbaums–in a good way!

    8:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mary Jo, Going to have to go Google Image Search that.

  • I’m a bit obsessive about tights and I covet a pair of Wolford’s. I don’t think there is anything “over the top” in my wardrobe, alas.

    4:49 pm
    Lisa said...

    Wolfords are such a nice little step in the direction of over the top:).

  • Nice outfit and very pretty tights! I do patterned tights in beige, grey or black but not bright coloured tights. (Some folks are keen on red or cobalt blue etc. I think you might need better legs than me for that and a different sense of style).

    As for over the top garments, I don’t have much these days… maybe a burgandy faux fur stole/ scarf thing? Oh, and I still have some showy shoes that I don’t wear much i.e. bright red ruffle toed high heeled wedges.

  • I like that outfit just as it is. Knee High boots would give an entirely different impression and this one is much more interesting. Love Wolford tights.

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