Happy Labor Day to those in the USA! In “olden times” (e.g. my childhood), Labor Day meant the end of summer, and the last day that one was supposed to wear white until after the next Memorial Day. Glad we can now file that one under “silly things we used to believe.” Here I’ve tried to take what is a very traditional summery/nautical look with white and navy and use accessories to make it a bit less literal. All of the solid pieces here were begging for some pattern which I’ve added with the sandals and clutch.
In my fantasy life, I’d be spending this long weekend sailing off Cape Cod; in reality the closest I’ll probably get to the sea today will be taking jeune Homme to ride the water taxi in Marina del Rey.
I don’t know about you, but my email inbox has been inundated in the last few days with retailer sale announcements. There is some wheat among the chaff; here are a few of my picks from sales at J.Crew, Shopbop, Nordstrom and even Petit Bateau (hey, I know there are Grandmas out there ).
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In my next life, I will have her hair…and those shoes. Image source.
The topic of “flattering” clothing has been making the rounds again, most recently at 40+ Style and Suzanne Carillo Style Files. I thought it might be fun to dust off another favorite from the archives to continue the discussion. This was originally posted in April 2013.
Flattering. It’s a word we toss around quite a bit. The cut of the jacket is flattering. That color is flattering. Hem length X or Y is most flattering. In general usage, “flattering” could, without stretching too hard, be translated to mean “that which makes the wearer appear closer to the cultural ideal.” In our particular time and culture, this often breaks down to: tall, thin, young, pretty. (Just an observation, not an endorsement!)
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look our “best,” when we serve “flattering” above all else, it can squelch our expressive style. Think of many of the women who are considered style icons; at one time or another they broke the rules of what’s considered flattering in order to honor their personal style.
I think that the reason some women can look great in clothing that’s not conventionally flattering isn’t because they’re a size 0 or were born with some recessive Style Gene. I think it’s because they choose items that are an organic expression of themselves. When we dress in a way that’s aligned and integrated with who we are, we create a kind of harmony that comes through even if we’re not following the rules of flattery. Looking at the photo above, would you call this outfit “flattering”? The proportions shorten and widen, yet there’s a gorgeous mix of color and texture, and unexpected shape. I find it pleasing to look at, even though it doesn’t conform to accepted notions of what’s flattering. (We’ll leave aside the practicality consideration for now, as that’s a whole ‘nother discussion!) Some could argue that you see the clothing rather than the woman, and yes there is some of that. But if style is expression, we’re seeing a version of her as she’s chosen to express through her clothes. We should also consider how a particular style or color or piece of clothing makes us feel when we wear it. While black is probably objectively not my “best” color, I love how I feel in it. I love how I feel in clothing that moves, even though it may sometimes have more volume than is considered optimal for my short stature. I love how I feel in boots, even if they can shorten the look of my legs. Confidence and joy are flattering too in a way that transcends pure physical appearance.
For some of us, personal style does align with what’s most conventionally flattering, or we prioritize flattery in our style choice hierarchy. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if the notion that “it’s not flattering” is keeping you from wearing something you love, perhaps it’s good to let “flattering” take a back seat from time to time. Or perhaps we broaden our definition of “flattering” to include harmonious, aligned, balanced, powerful, a true expression of who we are.
How do you define “flattering?” Are your style choices based primarily on what’s conventionally flattering? Do you ever let go of that, and if so, what motivates you to do so?
A few years ago, I decided that one of my criteria for wardrobe items was “would I wear it in Paris?” While at times I have deviated from that style mantra, I find that when I follow it, it never steers me wrong.
1. This little striped linen tee has an easy fit and looks great with jeans, skirts, under a jacket, whatever. It’s very lightweight so perfect for these last weeks of summer. Layers well over a long-sleeved tee too once fall arrives. I’ve done the wash test…will work well for travel as it dries overnight on a rack or hanger.
2. I’m so happy to find a v-neck cardigan that is fitted and hits at the hip. This one in Merino wool is available in some fabulous fall colors. (I went with Cabernet shown above.)
4. Beyond the ballet, this leopard flat begs to be worn with dresses, jeans, trousers.
5. I’ll admit it, I’m impressed. I’ve become very picky about fragrances in the last couple of years, and have only found two or three that appeal to me over time. (For me, the true test of a fragrance is how I feel about it 3-4 hours in.) I’d read about the inspiration behind these two Arquiste® for J.Crew fragrances (the first modern art show featuring all female artists, curated by Peggy Guggenheim) and it piqued my curiosity enough to try both scents, though I really wasn’t expecting much. And…I really, really like both. No. 31 is a perfect daytime fragrance, while No. 57 is a bit more sultry, nice for evening (in fact 57 reminds me very much of Serge Lutens “Chergui”, one of the few I’ve been wearing in the last year.) After sampling I purchased both in the travel size with a roller ball applicator, but will probably pick up the spray of No 31 as well.
>> Special promotion: as of Aug 27, some of these pieces are 25% off with code ALMOSTFALL .
Do you have a style mantra? Have you found anything recently that fits in with your mantra? Affiliate links may generate commissions for unefemme.net
Fall has always been my favorite style season. But in Southern California, we really don’t see the kind of typical fall weather that has us reaching for sweaters, boots and jackets until mid to late November, so I’ve had to learn to Get My Fall On in other ways. A lightweight silk shirt in a yammy color will do nicely. I love pairing earthy tones like this with charcoal grey.