Les Mystères de la Mode

Une femme readily admits she isn’t the most fashion-forward hankie in the drawer, but some recent vagaries of La Mode have her flummoxed.

One is the resurgence of jumpsuits. Not only are they generally unflattering, but having to remove an entire layer of clothing (or two if jackets are involved) from top to bottom every time you have to pee is a royal pain.

The antithesis of glamour: even Gwyneth looks like the seating hostess at The Velvet Turtle, circa 1975.

Another is sandals with spats attached.I have no comment except, “why?” (photo from Go Fug Yourself)

But the one of the biggest mysteries to me is the runaway success of Tory Burch clothing. And according to the LA Times,

In just four years, she has become the most influential fashion designer in America. Unlike big names such as Lanvin and Balenciaga, who may score a lot of red carpet hits but are sustained mostly by accessory and fragrance sales, Burch designs clothes that real people really wear.Her brand, with prices mostly in the $195 to $495 range, is accessible to a good range of ages and sizes (up to a size 14). For high-end shoppers, it’s a source for casual clothes; for budget shoppers, it’s aspirational. And for Burch, it’s raking in more than $200 million in annual sales.

The allure just totally escapes me. I see something like this,

and my brain goes here:Bad Sitcom jokes aside, who is buying/wearing this stuff? The signature prints and many of the styles are intended to evoke breezy socialites on holiday, but might also bring flashbacks of wealthy, WASP-y, suburban, 70’s pre-feminist hausfraus, with their shag haircuts and shag carpeting and avocado green appliances and hanging asparagus ferns and messy divorces. (An image the decor in the boutiques does little to dispel.)

But I’m starting to think that’s part of the appeal. Not so much the messy divorce part, but the breezy socialite “I don’t have to work” part. These clothes are not designed for the boardroom, the classroom or the mailroom. These are clothes for Ladies Who Lunch At The Club and then drop the kids off for their tennis lessons. They evoke that most coveted of luxuries, leisure. (As do many designer brands, but they aren’t claiming Everywoman as their customer base.)

And my apologies if you’re a fan of Tory Burch clothing, but I think the vast majority of it is butt-ugly to boot.Photos from interior of Tory Burch boutique from NY Times, here.

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  1. I examined a TB dress- not that well-made either, with lumpy, badly-serged seams. TB seems neither fish nor fowl: not truly rich-hippie, which is a look I like (and is usually fr an odd one off boutique), nor austere old money like Beene.rqazhub

  2. Burch is totally unknown to me (lucky me),but I agree that the jumpsuit and the sandals are s o awful! Clothes,including shoes and bags should be easy and comfortable to wear. How the heck can you walk with shoes like that? And what about the platform shoes that have appeared and are strongly in the picture next fall too?

  3. Not my thing either, but I am loving Swingtown for its ride through 1976 bad hair/avocado/tube top central. One or two more episodes and I’ll have seen enough.

  4. LOL!! The Velvet Turtle. Ah, yes, I remember it well. Gosh you got me wanting Prime Rib and chocolate mousse.

    That said, I am with you in hatin’ the jumpsuit. I have enough trouble peeing in public restrooms doing the quad challenging squats so as not to touch the toilet. I don’t need to add the burden of having to remove all my clothes to do so.

    But, I do have some Mrs. Roper like tunics that I do love. I am not sporting her perm though.;-)

  5. Miss Janey agrees on every point, Deja Pseu. And will add how much she adores the wasp-waisted New Look dress at the top of this post. Of course, Miss J would need MAJOR corseting to pull that off… Compared to that, well, Tory whats-her-name just doesn’t compare.

  6. ashe – those are more like shoes, though. Kinda fun!

    duchesse – if the quality isn’t that good, how does she get people to pay those prices?!?

    wendyb – no, I definitely don’t see you as the TB type. 😉

    metscan – yes, I keep waiting for the Xtreme platform trend to die, but I guess there will be a few more broken ankles before that happens.

  7. LBR – I knew there’d be at least one other person out there who’d get the VT reference! It sure was swanky eh? I’m certain your tunics are lovely and nothing like Mrs. Roepers. Although you won’t believe, I saw a woman coming out of Hermes on Rodeo Drive today, and she had a MrsR tunic, complete with the dingle balls!

    anon – we also watched Swingtown, just to see how well they captured that 70’s vibe. I think one of the best (if depressing) movies that really captures the feel of those times was “The Ice Storm.”

    Linda – glad to oblige!

    Miss Janey – corset, hell…I’d need a rib or two removed to achieve that wasp waist. But it’s lovely nonetheless.

  8. Deja,
    Absolutely brilliant post.
    Velvet Turtle hostess circa 1975…spot on!
    And I too just don’t get the TB thing. Her collection is OK, just OK. But like Lilly Pulitzer in the 1960’s and Ralph Lauren in the 1980’s it’s an aspirational collection evoking summers in Southampton and winters in Palm Beach for all the women who want to be sunny blondes with big bank accounts.
    And I don’t even know what to say about those ridiculous shoes.

  9. HAH! I was thinking all those very same things when I read that Tory Burch article. I run screaming from her stuff. And I love how she talks about how women identify with her. Mmm-hmmm, Tory you’re just like me. Park Avenue apartment, debutante upbringing, multi-million-dollar divorce settlement and all.


  10. belle – true. At least Ralph’s separates have morphed into mostly-wearable territory. I have a couple of RL jackets and they’re very well cut.

    style-spy – you mean there are women out there who don’t have (gasp!) a doorman???? 😉

  11. I have come close to buying Tory Burch several times, in my suburban life, some of her tops would look good with skinny jeans and a higher heel. But every time I take a close look at a top it seems rather cheaply made, especially this season with chunky bits of plastic liberally applied to necklines on flimsy fabric that needs far more attention to the finishing seams than it has received.