Comfort Is The New Black - une femme d'un certain âge

Comfort Is The New Black

Young Coco Chanel, Chanel chapeau

Comfort has become non-negotiable for me. I will no longer wear anything that binds, itches, constricts, or needs constant adjustment. And if it requires shapewear or a special bra….mais non. When it comes to (capitalF)Fashion, “comfort” is a concept that is often met with snorts of derision. Fashion seems at times to expect suspension of bodily needs, or almost a denial that we have living, feeling bodies at all. “Comfort” conjures up images of baggy, shapeless clothes and frumpy wearers. I’m calling “nonsense” on that notion.

Last week I mentioned that I rarely follow what’s going on with designer collections or fashion weeks anymore, as taken literally the clothes seem to have little relevance to my life or needs. And so much of it just looks so darned uncomfortable. I’m glad it isn’t just me. In her last column for the New York Times, veteran fashion writer Kathy Horyn talks about the disconnect between what (most) designers have been sending down the runways the last decade and the clothes most of us want to (or can) wear day in and day out.

Who has the will — never mind the time and the money — to wear high fashion, at least as it has been conceived over the past decade, as something extreme, or “special,” in retail jargon?

While for most of us, it’s no particular revelation that “fashionable” and “well-dressed” are not necessarily synonymous, it’s interesting to hear someone who is writing from an insider’s perspective acknowledge this openly. This is something I’ve wondered for quite some time now: who is actually wearing most of this stuff, aside from overdressed characters in Gossip Girl, celebrities on red carpets, fashion editors and the occasional well-connected size 0 style blogger? It’s not just the prices of designer getups but also the contrived-ness of them that often has me scratching my head. Beautiful, theatrical, sometimes even awe-inspiring, yes…but in the category of “ready-to-wear,” who is ready to wear this and to where?

Spring RTW

Bluemarine and Fendi, both Spring 2014 RTW. Source: Style.com

I’m not saying there’s no value in creations like these, but is there really a large demographic out there who would think of any of these pieces (or lower-priced knockoff versions) as something to wear in their daily lives? Even though most of us are probably looking for beautiful styles that are also practical and chic, Horyn acknowledges that “practical” is a hard sell when it comes to fashion but…

On the other hand, this idea is not so far from something Coco Chanel offered when she arrived in New York, in March 1931. Asked by a reporter to define the fashionable woman, Chanel said, “She dresses well but not remarkably. . . . She disobeys fashion.” Then, perhaps thinking of her rival Elsa Schiaparelli, Chanel added, “But she is not eccentric. I hate eccentricity.” So she was extolling understatement and ease, yes, but also suggesting these choices reflected virtues like self-control and seriousness.

When Horyn talks about the women she knows, fashion-conscious women with busy lives living in “an almost boyish uniform of slim cut trousers, pullovers and flat shoes…” I think of the kind of French chic that has become almost mythical. Simple, functional, (and yes, comfortable) yet with a soupçon of flair, panache.

I noted that even my French sisters had begun to ditch their adored stilettos for low heels. That was quite a concession for them, I thought. Something must be up, because those women don’t do anything on a whim.

I should note that even in Paris I’ve rarely spotted women on the street in “stilettos;” sensible and walkable shoes dominate the landscape, even on the most well-dressed. Perhaps she’s referring to the march of editors and hangers-on from their limos and taxis to the tents. 😉  Few of us outside of that rarefied fashion world would probably consider ourselves “slaves to fashion” or feel compelled to wear 4″ heels out to run errands, but why is there often such a divide in our minds between stylish and comfortable? To fashion-minded, words like “practical” and “comfortable” have often been regarded as anathema. Fashion is supposed to be “asiprational,” to rise above the mundane. And perhaps being inaccessible to 99% of women is one way to achieve that. But fashion is about business after all, the business of selling clothes. And with seemingly so much focus on creating clothes that most people can’t or won’t wear, I’m surprised that many designer lines haven’t folded. (Perhaps the branded makeup, perfume and accessory sales are keeping them afloat? Perhaps the collections are loss leaders to sell lipstick?)

Vince

Outfits from “lifestyle” brand Vince . Other than the shoes, these look pretty comfortable.

When it comes to clothing, Horyn acknowledges that “the desire to be comfortable is profound” and cites brands like Vince that are doing quite well with an emphasis on comfortable, simple styles. She notes that things do seem to be changing among designers, citing especially Phoebe Philo of Céline, and her collection of soft, loose pieces (and those wacky fur-lined Birkenstocks) that shocked everyone not that long ago.

For me, that collection captured something rare in today’s world of anxious, self-created stars — and that is a woman of indeterminate age who knows what she likes and has shrugged off what she no longer has any use for, and maybe never did. If that sounds rather limited, that’s the point. 

I love that last bit especially, and thinking about limited or “well edited” as the Fashion people would say, as a good thing, a way to cast off what doesn’t serve us and focus on what does. I do wonder how Horyn would have written up the Fall 2014 RTW collections, which did seem to offer more down-to-earth styles (if not prices) from many designers. Even though most of us will never wear designer clothing, the styles shown on runways are often harbingers of what will be available to us within a few months, and I hope that the winds and whims of fashion continue to point in a more comfortable direction.

Related: article on Phoebe Philo here. Take away quote: “Increasingly, comfort is the ultimate commodification of luxury.”

Luxury should be comfortable, yes, but stylish comfort shouldn’t have to be a luxury.

Where are you on the comfort continuum? Do you sometimes sacrifice comfort for style? Which are your favorite brands that provide stylish yet comfortable clothing?

MORE STYLISH COMFORT:

Everlane // Eileen Fisher // Splendid // Covered Perfectly // Velvet // Adea // Karina Dresses // Vince

Affiliate links may generate commissions for unefemme.net.

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

60 Comments

  1. Susan
    February 24, 2014 / 3:53 am

    Yes, comfort is very important to me. I want to be able to forget what I am wearing when I am out and about. At the same time, I am still looking for the best clothing styles for me–and haven’t found them. As a result, I would not call myself well dressed. Even though I live in a large city which is considered a shopping destination, I still have difficulty finding flattering wearable clothing for some of the occasions I have to dress for.

  2. February 24, 2014 / 3:55 am

    That has been the major change for me in the last year, I have gotten rid of all of my too tight or woollen (too itchy) clothes and I will no longer wear dresses that require spanx for an evening out.
    Comfort and wearability are my first thoughts now regarding anything new, fancy dresses are not my lifestyle.

  3. GingerR
    February 24, 2014 / 4:21 am

    I like that black/white Fendi jacket. I expect by the time I see it, knocked off twice and tweaked for Ms. Middle-Aged American the sheer panels will be turned into finished twill or somesuch, and it’ll be on a rack with black skirt/pants and provide legions of women with something different to wear in their favorite colors. Given the nasty winter we’ve had I am thinking about a new fall outfit and am looking forward to seeing what my favorite brands do with these ideas.

  4. Patty
    February 24, 2014 / 4:50 am

    A great topic and a great article, Pseu. I so enjoy your writing.

    I’ve often thought that fashion editors and buyers live in a world that is so removed from reality that they don’t know what “real” women can and will wear. I’d like them to sit in a mall for a couple of hours and see the variety of shapes and heights we come in…and to see how very, very few of us are 5’11 and size 00 (and 20 years old). It would be wonderful if their talents could be used to design beautiful, functional, and comfortable clothing for the rest of us. And, really, it would be in their best interests to do so.

    • Rachel
      February 24, 2014 / 7:23 am

      I read an interview with Franca Sozzani (who is one fashion editor whom i greatly admire, she constantly pushes the boundaries of fashion orthodoxy,e.g. I admired Vogue Italia’s voluptuous edition of June 2011) who commented correctly that in order to make clothes for the average woman, designers would have to cut quite differently from first principles in order to fit and flatter the body on the high street (hips, bust, shoulder line).
      I wonder if that is where much of the disconnect stems from – when many of the runway outfits are simply priced down in terms of quality of material and craftsmanship, but the essential shape and fit of them remains and that garment DNA is inherently wrong for Mrs Average. The prototypes are pinned and draped on very tall, very slim, very young models. So no wonder the eventual watered down result on the high street is often unappealing in terms of comfort and figure flattery. No idea what the remedy might be. For myself, I use a tailor here in London and source my own fabrics from Paris and Milano. But that is perhaps a rather eccentric resolution not suitable for most.

  5. February 24, 2014 / 5:04 am

    I so agree with everything you wrote. For me, comfort & style go hand in hand. Fabulous post!

  6. Leah
    February 24, 2014 / 5:07 am

    What a great post! The fashion shows for Fall 2014 have left me confused. Who will wear almost any of it except for Anna Dello Russo? What drives me crazy about clothes lately is the amount of work that I have to do to make something work. So many things are sheer which requires so much thought about layers and undergarments. I have noticed that people just give up and wear the top without adding layers (yikes – but I saw it twice yesterday – sheer top with only bra on stylish women of a certain age. I refuse to buy anything where the zipper is in such an awkward place that I have to get in strange positions to get things on. If I can’t just zip and go, I’m not buying it. I agree that “lifestyle” brands like Vince are doing so well because they translate to people’s lives so much better. I wish they would cut a little but smaller though. I look like a kid wearing a muumuu in Vince.

    • Rachel
      February 24, 2014 / 7:28 am

      I’m with you on exasperation at the quantity of sheer stuff out there. With regard to cotton, I honestly wonder if it is cost cutting dressed up as a ‘fashion forward’ offering when the garment is high street. Cotton price has gone sky high and the density of weave is lessened in order to use less spools of cotton thread per metre. Men’s shirting fabric (linen, cotton, and cotton silk mixes) is still often of excellent quality, I buy this to get my feminine blouses made. Fabric marketed for women is often, IME, shoddy, as if we as a gender are expected to accept obsolescence in our garments, to wear it and bin it hence be unbothered about quality and longevity. I vote with my feet and simply don’t buy it.

  7. LauraH
    February 24, 2014 / 5:11 am

    Great post. Many times I have read designers talk about the “architectural” quality of their clothing…who among us has the angles of brick and mortar? Such a disconnect. It’s definitely a challenge to find clothes that are comfortable, good quality and that also fit well and look good. Too often manufacturers ladle on the spandex in place of going the extra mile for a flattering cut. The result is nasty feeling fabric and a garment that clings in all the wrong places. The search continues but why should finding the right clothes be so hard with the masses of product out there?

  8. February 24, 2014 / 5:15 am

    Excellent post! I am like you with shapewear…ready to burn it all! There are so many reasons I finally got serious about exercise and getting rid of SPANX is one reasons for sure. I love these types of styles and comfort is now at the top of my styling list as well.

  9. February 24, 2014 / 5:57 am

    I have rarely worn uncomfortable clothing, comfort has always been a priority for me. My daughter is the same – she wore white sequined Toms with her wedding gown. I don’t follow the fashion shows at all, and don’t like the look of “clothes wearing the person” rather than the other way around. Such a well thought out, and well written post Susan.

  10. Duchesse
    February 24, 2014 / 6:22 am

    Loved this! I just spent time ogling, in-person, the spring Céline collection. Philo has pulled off what Chanel did in the 20s (and how far is Chanel from that now?) Pieces of magnificent quality, and everything would feel marvelous- unconstricting, ungimmicky yet womanly. Unfortunately the price tag stops me from buying, but- what fantastic clothes.

    • Rachel
      February 24, 2014 / 7:30 am

      Oh Duchesse, swoon… it is a stunning collection. Also out of my price bracket alas but I have enjoyed educating my eye and my hand investigating it in person too.

  11. LauraH
    February 24, 2014 / 6:25 am

    I’ld be interested to hear any comments about comfortable brands. Living in Canada, I’m not always familiar with some of the one you mention or they’re not very available here. I’ve seen things that look possible on the J Jill site but no experience as to quality or fit.

    • February 24, 2014 / 11:24 am

      Y’all have Joe Fresh! I believe Nordstrom ships to Canada. Eileen Fisher is readily available at a discount on eBay, too. JJill is good quality, but is generally sized like Eileen Fisher; you may want to size down one for a standard fit. Lands’ End is excellent quality and has many nice options. They give garment dimensions, now, too, as do most eBay sellers. Just measure a similar garment!

    • Nuts4dogs
      February 25, 2014 / 9:53 am

      Most US companies ship to Canada. J. Crew, Nordstroms, Neimans, Saks, Shopbop, Lands End and Talbots are my go to stores. If you sign up for email notifications quite often they offer Canadians free shipping and many have weekends where they pay the taxes and duty with free returns. If the shipping isn’t free its usually a nominal $9.95. The major online retailers are wonderful to us Canucks. If you’re in doubt about sizing call the toll free customer service and they really do go above to make sure you get the right size. If you have the option of paying taxes and duty at check out do it. Then if you do have a return the business will refund the payment and you don’t have to figure out how to deal with Canada revenue.

      A word of caution, stay away from Chico’s…crazy shipping prices and you pay for returns. I learned the hard way when I ordered a pin that cost $30 and they charged a $65 minimum shipping charge!

      Nuts4dogs

  12. Cathy Wong
    February 24, 2014 / 6:53 am

    What a wonderful post! I now really only see “designer fashion” as art…which is fine, but then what about clothes to wear??!! Where does that leave us? I find I see even less and less inspiration for actual wearable things….not even a spark of inspiration to use something I see as an idea to reinterpret for myself. This all may be ok, but we need another industry then…Even as ideas “filter down” there really isn’t anything useful much of the time. We need designers that create beautiful clothes that look and feel special-shock factor not needed-any hope for it I wonder? I would think it would be good for them financially-if only they’d try it. (Seems to be evoking for Eileen Fisher for ex).

  13. February 24, 2014 / 6:59 am

    So well written Susan!! I stopped buying uncomfortable clothes and shoes many years ago. What disturbs me is when women confuse comfort with sloppy. Comfort can be found in casual, semi dressy and formal clothes. With shoes it’s not so easy…but I won’t tolerate painful shoes.

  14. Murphy
    February 24, 2014 / 7:07 am

    Great post! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – I don’t need more than a few dressy outfits – with a business casual workplace and a low key lifestyle, 99.9 percent of the runway is irrelevant to me. I also want to be comfortable: I won’t look comfortable if I am tugging at my clothes or feel self-conscious in them. Also, I got bad news from the podiatrist – I won’t be wearing many dressy outfits with the shoes he approves!

  15. Hostess
    February 24, 2014 / 7:10 am

    I tried on some Spanx once and thought I might need to call 911 from the dressing room….I was stuck and could not get them off! No way will I wear anything that is uncomfortable. Life is too short to be a slave to fashion. Editing my wardrobe to suit my lifestyle and figure have been the best thing that I have done.
    This is an exceptional post.

    • Rita
      February 24, 2014 / 11:56 am

      Thanks for the laugh, Hostess!

  16. February 24, 2014 / 7:27 am

    Great post and good comments, too. I hate being uncomfortable, and I dress casually for work so I’m generally pretty comfy. But then I don’t buy designer clothes! The shows are really just shows, aren’t they, with suggestions of shapes, colors and prints that will filter down to the sweatshops and KMarts. One thing I like about buying secondhand is that you can forget about the latest trends and just look for what you want. Who cares if it’s this year’s color.

  17. bettina
    February 24, 2014 / 7:32 am

    Comfort is very important to me, but I have (thankfully) learned that I don’t have to look frumpy or sloppy to be comfortable.

    I am comfortable wearing heels every now and then, just not every day. I am comfortable wearing soft ballet flats, or boots, instead of sneakers. I am comfortable wearing a nice cardigan instead of a baggy fleece hoodie.

    Coincidentally, certain shapewear is comfort wear for me. I like the “hugging” feeling provided by a shaping camisole. In addition, its smoothing effect actually reduces the likelihood that my jeans waistband will dig into my tummy and irritate me.

    For shoes, I’m way more concerned about the lining and the softness of the leather than I am about heel height, arch supports, or cushioning.

    When it comes to brands and shopping, there are certain things I feel that I have to spend more on (jeans, shoes, bras) and other things I’m happy to buy at Old Navy or Target.

  18. February 24, 2014 / 7:48 am

    So glad you wrote about that Horyn piece. I couldn’t agree more. I think the whole “sports luxe” trend is precisely because people want to wear something comfortable and still feel that style thrill. I have never found “quiet dressing” to be boring. I only hope that this is a long-lasting shift in fashion, that many designers start aiming at this need.

    • Gretchen
      February 25, 2014 / 4:24 pm

      “quiet dressing” is such the apropos phrase! It’s only boring if one lets it become so, as Pseu’s uniforms demonstrate. Personality in accessories, the fabric selection and pairing of shades/tones of grey, how one adjusts a sleeve, the way one walks…never boring. I so love it when the discussions here touch on personal interpretations of such nuanced ideas as “comfort,” “uniform,” “appropriate.” How could that ever be boring?

  19. pink azalea
    February 24, 2014 / 7:49 am

    Great post. I don’t pay attention to fashion magazines like Vogue or the runway shows. I don’t find these kinds of things interesting or inspiring. Contrived, over-worked looks. Who wants to look like they try that hard? I read your blog regularly and several others and that is where I get good fashion/beauty information that I can apply to my own life. I agree with everyone else – I wouldn’t sacrifice comfort to be fashionable. As far as brands, I have slim cut ankle length pants from NYDJ and Lafayette 148, Anne Fontaine white blouses, love linen t-shirts (Loft, Eileen Fisher), slouchy striped Saint James t-shirt. Max Mara for dresses. Their Weekend line seems to have dresses at a good price point, comfortable and stylish. Like Duchesse noted, Celine is divine, but too expensive for me.

  20. February 24, 2014 / 8:13 am

    Your post is so timely, I was just thinking about this yesterday. Having just turned 50 and finding my body morphing into different proportions, I find myself looking for more clothing items that accommodate my needs for comfort yet still be stylish. Thanks for your great insight! Love your blog.

  21. Cornelia
    February 24, 2014 / 8:41 am

    I may be living in a different universe, but all around me women dress for comfort, hardly anyone has any style though. I never read fashion magazines nor do I pay attention to runways anymore than I follow the comings and going of the Hollywood people. One can dress comfortably and well, as you show us in your outfit photos, but when I hear I want to dress comfortably around where I live, it’s usually an excuse for sweats and 3/4 cargos with sneakers. And yes, I am head to toe in Eileen Fisher today, and as comfortable as I was when I wore this outfit several months ago on a 10 plane ride.

  22. Nicole
    February 24, 2014 / 9:41 am

    The translation from runway to everyday is obvious in the fabric content, and we are enjoying the forgiving “stretch” factor that has resulted from a need for it to fit more of us seeking it. The runway looks of fine silks and wools and not the stuff that the everyday consumer has to pick through, for the most part, to find similar drape, flow and elegance. I appreciate greatly the stretch that a viscose/rayon provides (mostly for comfort), and I have my favorite blends (with cotton, silk and wool) that are forgiving and drape and flow well. I notice how thin a lot of our clothes have become, as well. ?? Unfortunately, I find myself picking through lots and lots of polyester (100% polyester would have me melting within minutes due to its non-breathe ability). I vote for a ban on 100% polyester, but I digress (I concede that it does provide strength, and I sew with a cotton-poly thread that is stronger, and therefore is less apt to break than 100% cotton, though I still prefer a 100% cotton blouse that keeps me from over-heating). My dream closet is filled with silks and finely-spun cotton that feel like silk with a hint of stretch, and occasionally I find such a gem for a good price. I have decent luck finding stretch blends, but all are not created equal. (What did we ever do before ‘stretch’ was added to our clothes?) It is here to stay, and it is the stuff that comfort is made of. 🙂 As for adding style to our comfort, I surmise it is why the scarf and costume jewelry markets are so huge; they’re a great way to spruce up our comfortable outfits and still feel stylish and put-together. At least it does for me.

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2014 / 11:40 am

      The runway looks of fine silks and wools “are” not the stuff that the everyday consumer has to pick through, … (And to think I’ve often thought I’d like to be an editor in an alternate life. :p)

  23. PamelaG
    February 24, 2014 / 10:30 am

    Great article and ditto to all of the comments. Sometimes I just get so angry when I go shopping for the reasons already cited. It is also annoying as well that “sizes” and measurements vary greatly from one designer/manufacturer to another.

    Comfort and wearability are very important to me, but I am not willing to look shapeless. I want to both look good AND feel good. I am also tired of spending so very much time trying to find clothing that works well for my post-menopausal body, meets my quality standards – and is designed well, available in the colors and fabrics that look great on me…..

    I’ve always had my clothing tailored (some pieces nearly re-made entirely) and have been seriously considering having some clothing custom-made because of the hugely disappointing retail products available.

  24. February 24, 2014 / 10:46 am

    Comfort is really important to me, but I shudder at what so many people see as comfortable. I routinely see people in public places wearing pajama bottoms, cropped tops and jeans that showcase muffin tops, shapeless and worn t-shirts that I wouldn’t use as dusters. I really love that comfort can be beautiful and stylish and want to trumpet the news from the rooftops!

  25. February 24, 2014 / 10:54 am

    I agree comfort and practicality is all. I do think the runway shows are staged mainly for publicity. the buyers then do a very thorough edit so that what eventually ends up in the stores is eminently more wearable. I do have a friend who buys quite a lot of designer and she always looks elegant and stylish. The fabrics often tend to drape better.

  26. February 24, 2014 / 11:21 am

    Comfort is number one for me and I love this new relaxed trend we are seeing. I go for an effortlessly chic look and try to avoid effortlessly sloppy one. I adore sneakers and loose boyfriend jeans, I love a roomy cotton sweater and soft silky Equipment shirts. I can feel put together, comfortable and not have worry about bulges!

  27. February 24, 2014 / 12:13 pm

    Whatever I wear has to get me on a bike, across slippery docks, and down a boat ramp or two, so although I love to wear a heel occasionally, it’s got to be a solid one, and max out at 3 inches. Similarly, a skirt has to have enough give to let me step from dock into the boat. And even in the city, I’d generally rather walk than wait for a bus or brave the rapid transit hordes. That said, I think there’s still plenty of room for style to develop within those parameters — and, as you suggest, Sue, that’s proven for me with every visit to Paris — or, indeed, to almost any busy cosmopolitan city. . . . What a great post — Thank you!,

  28. Shawna
    February 24, 2014 / 12:33 pm

    I really like and agree with your post! I want to look stylish and I want to have my own personal style, but comfort comes first. I am comfortable in a skirt and tights, whereas many of my peers are not so I automatically dress quite differently from most of them. I don’t wear high heels though and my favourite is a chunky 1.5″ or 2″ heel. I have a love of Clark’s shoes which I know some consider dowdy.

  29. February 24, 2014 / 3:31 pm

    I am definitely dedicated to comfort, but I don’t really like that “boyish uniform of pullovers and ankle pants” that dominates the landscape so thoroughly. I wish there were more, and more interesting, ways to dress comfortably.

  30. Elissa
    February 24, 2014 / 3:50 pm

    Interesting post and comments. I prefer draping and dresses for style and comfort, structured jackets, flat shoes, no shapewear ever, and clothing that covers underwear at all times! My first choice for basics is Rick Owens Lilies – ignore the models in the photos, his clothes are cut to suit curves with fantastic draping and are consistent in style and fabric, so intermix perfectly. I also find if you go japanese – Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto – the clothes are as comfortable as pyjamas whilst looking fantastic, and the fabrics are beautiful.

  31. sybes1
    February 24, 2014 / 4:12 pm

    Great article! I, too, am getting rid of too tight, too itchy clothing. My figure is changing! I want to look stylish and feel my best but not be self conscious about ‘lumps and bumps under my tops and jeans digging in to my waist. I’m still in the process of finding comfortable yet stylish jeans (Eileen Fisher jeans and pants don’t work for me). I love the clothing suggestions made in your blog–it’s helped me enormously. I’ve decided the next clothing investment I make will be with some Babette tops and/or jackets. Maybe even one of their skirts.
    Thanks for a great article. Sound like we’re all agreeing on this! Sally

  32. Nancy K
    February 24, 2014 / 4:18 pm

    Great post. I often wonder not only who wears these clothes but where they wear them! Certainly not to run around on errands or even to go out to dinner in the suburbs. I’ve never seen women dress remotely like what comes down the runway. How do these designers stay in business?

  33. Kris
    February 24, 2014 / 6:23 pm

    Excellent post. And some terrific responses. There are so many comfortable, flattering choices available now. At many price points. Given that, I am somewhat surprised by the number of women I work with who appear to choose clothes *only* for comfort–“effortlessly sloppy” as described above.

  34. Jill Ann
    February 24, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    Yes, comfort without looking frumpy! It can be done. Just now had this conversation, short version, with my husband. We belong to a local country club (rather modest, not at all snooty), and we have a Wine Club that meets every other month or so to do a wine tasting. There’s usually a theme, like Rodeo, or Mardi Gras, or Holiday, with a suggested dress code (cocktail attire, tacky golf pants, rodeo style, etc.). There’s one guy who belongs to Wine Club but refuses to go to the taasting events because there’s a dress code. He will only wear shorts. Period. How sad is that, really, if you refuse to go to a fun event, just because you are asked to dress up, even slightly?

    I LIKE dressing up. I haven’t worked in an office for about 7 years, but back in the day, always tried to dress professionally, and stylishly, at work. I never understood the desire to wear jeans to work: jeans are what you wear when you DON’T have a job. What I wear now, in my retired-person life, is comfortable, but I think stylish. I will wear Spanx on occasion; I have a couple of outfits that work better with shapewear. Mostly it’s some version of jeans, NYDJ being a favorite for the higher rise, with a knit top, or woven shirt, and a jacket or cardigan. And really cute shoes or boots. And accessories. It’s fun to have choices. And, I find, quite easy to be among the best-dressed people wherever I am. Which is less a compliment to me than a criticism of everybody else!

    —Jill Ann

  35. February 24, 2014 / 7:25 pm

    One of the shocks of retirement dressing is that my fairly serious GERD (reflux) went away. I have a tummy and slim hips and always had a slightly tight waistband. I wore a Spanx shaper for one night , causing a nasty flare that almost resulted in surgery. Amazingly, never again wearing tight waistbands CURED me. After 15 years on omeprazole, I’m off medication and doing fine.

    Forgive me for a senior health story, but uncomfortable clothing is also about health. High stilettos do permanent damage to feet, achilles tendons and backs. It’s not worth it and unnatural clothing gives a distorted, ungraceful line.

    I’m eternally grateful for the omnipresence of lycra waistbands and a few brands of jeans and pants that work for “o” type silhouettes with tummies, slim hips and legs:

    NYDJ (some cuts)
    Miraclebody
    JAGS
    European type trousers that have a back seam designed for easy waist alterations.

    And NAOT, Gentle Souls, Josef Seibel etc shoes.

  36. Anne h
    February 25, 2014 / 6:14 am

    I agree with your points about fashion and availability and wearability for the average woman but when I clicked on the link to the Vince line although I thought it was wearable the price point is not realistic for most women

  37. February 25, 2014 / 6:16 am

    I too read the article in the NY Times. And I have written about this issue — comfortable, fashionable, interesting clothing on my blog.

    I wonder if anyone has thought of doing an online magazine featuring such clothing? There are a number of online magazines that feature interiors and interior designs from real people. Why not a fashion online magazine? Any thoughts?

    And I have found the clothing from Gumps, the department store in San Francisco, to be very comfortable, classy, interesting, affordable, and well designed for real people. Check out their catalogue or go online to see more

    • une femme
      February 25, 2014 / 7:25 am

      Antonia, I enjoyed your post. I find some of the Italian designers (Armani, de la Renta, Valentino and even Prada on occasion) seem to be motivated to create styles that make women feel beautiful, rather than avant-garde.

      • February 25, 2014 / 7:44 am

        Une Femme,

        If I could only afford them . . .

        So, no takers on an online fashion magazine for stylish women who are interested in comfortable, stylish, dare I say “fashionable” clothes?

  38. Jill
    February 25, 2014 / 6:29 am

    Great post. I read that Cathy Horyn piece too. I already miss her at the NY Times, she is so so good. And you are right–couturiers use their haute couture collections as fantasy pieces, then turn around and sell the makeup, perfume, sunglasses, and handbags to recoup what it costs them to put on shows like that and to create those clothes. I know something very similar is afoot in other brands that don’t do haute couture. Vince and Theory are going to keep killing it in retail because they offer great timeless stylish pieces, many of which can be picked up on sale, and can be worn by a range of women of different ages and in different stages of their lives. A friend just gave me last fall’s New Yorker and there’s an article about Eileen Fisher. I would add her line to that list as well. The article on her is great, and makes me think of you! XO, Jill

  39. February 25, 2014 / 9:25 am

    I think Cathy Horyn has her finger right on the pulse point of reality. It has to be comfortable for me, now, and I’ve all but given up on heels. I’ve always loved simple basics, and the occasional statement piece, but I’ve really honed in on what is essential to me. I love following the fashion shows, but more as entertainment with a hint of inspiration, rather than as anything practical.

  40. February 25, 2014 / 11:14 am

    Comfy shoes rule! Hardly anyone wears heels in London, it’s like New York, people walk a lot.

  41. February 25, 2014 / 3:25 pm

    Isnt comfort what Chanel was talking about from the very get-go? I look at runways and designer clothes as an artistic inpiration. The masses are left to interpret for their lifestyle. Trickle down.

  42. Suz
    February 27, 2014 / 12:37 am

    You have to look at runway these days as a parade. They are advertising the show (accessories and scent sales mainly) and it has nothing to do with anything. Truly fashionable people have always dressed simply and practically. I don’t think it is nescessarily a french thing either – I mean, look at Lauren Hutton. Has she ever looked foolish? No – she looks put together, comfortable, stylish, and mainly – herself. She has a good 20 years on Inès de la Fressange as far as simple chic.

    I do most of my shopping on ebay – resale these days. Have given up on retail and but classics and vintage mainly. Clothing of decent fabrication cut for someone with hips. They used to make it back a decade ago.

    The few retailers that people have noted are going to continue to do well because they respect their customer. Older women don’t buy crap, basically. We are smarter.

    • Suz
      February 27, 2014 / 12:44 am

      Oh and… Viva Comfort!

  43. Emily Hflaven
    February 28, 2014 / 4:22 am

    Comfort is King!

  44. Belinda Gomez
    March 1, 2014 / 9:57 am

    It’s Cathy Horyn. And Chanel’s jealousy about Schiaparelli was really based more on her own impoverished beginnings, rather than on the actual designs.

  45. March 13, 2014 / 7:23 am

    I think that often the high end fashion brands are trying to shock (more exposure and press) and also trying to create an unattainable fantasy of dressing. I like to take the essence of the idea and then recreate my own version or simply add maybe some lace…as that is what those two images you showed were about.

    In all honesty I don’t even follow the fashion shows. It is so beyond me and what I can afford that I don’t even bother with it. Most of the time it doesn’t fit into my lifestyle.

    I find that if you are wearing a dress 99% of the time you will be comfortable. That is why you often see so many women wearing them.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  46. Nicole
    March 13, 2014 / 8:32 am

    Speaking of dresses, I would like to add them to my wardrobe as an every day go-to option, not only for the comfort but also to feel more feminine. Slacks just don’t do it in an all over way, even with added accessories, one of which might be a scarf, though not an option in high heat. It is part desire, part strategy for the upcoming season. (I am living in a new place that will be much hotter this summer than I am used to.) My challenge is to find a fair selection of decent quality fabrics. Any tips on where to shop for dresses would be very welcomed and appreciated.

  47. Belinda Long Stevens
    May 4, 2014 / 3:38 am

    I simply don’t shop. When an important occasion comes up, I go to the dressmaker and have a lovely suit made that fits me beautifully and that I can wear for years. Otherwise, my wardrobe is simple pants, sweaters, skirts and lovely ballet slippers.

    And by the way, I not only agree about the clothes, but look at the emaciated looking models wondering who finds them attractive???? They look underfed and underage. Not like a lovely woman with a few real curves and lots of wonderful life experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

powered by chloédigital