Thursday, June 9, 2011
Last Saturday, I went to an event where I wanted to look serious, so I dug around in my closet for some suits from my (pre-2005) corporate days. First, I tried on a gray skirt suit by Luciano Barbera. I got it at Barneys when I was absolutely desperate for a summer-weight, investment-bank-appropriate suit. I’d been to a few other stores already and hadn’t found anything I liked. At Barneys, I didn’t see any suits at all, so I asked a saleswoman where I should look. She said, “We’re not showing suits this season.” WTF! Sometimes I hate women’s fashion. Can you imagine saying to men, “Oh, we’re not selling any suits right now”? No, men always have access to suits. Barneys was like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, except it was the Suit Nazi: “No suits for you!”
Finally, I found one suit. I got it but I never liked it. Now I like it less. Though it pains me to part with any clothes that still fit and haven’t been reduced to rags, this suit has to go. I have much sexier suits, so I can’t imagine wearing this frump-licious one again unless I was a defendant in a court case.
What Wendy Didn’t Wear
Suit: Luciano Barbera (pre-2005)
Shoes: Prada (pre-2005)
Jewelry: My own designs
If you need a blah suit for your job at a bank or The Wall Street Journal, check with Housing Works later this summer; that’s where this one will be.
The suit I eventually chose to wear last week was a corset-detailed Alexander McQueen. Too bad I didn’t get a shot of it before it got all rumpled.
What Wendy Actually Wore
Suit: Alexander McQueen (pre-2005)
Tank top: Versace (pre-2003)
Shoes: Michael Kors (2003 or 2004)
Sunglasses: Prada (2010)
Jewelry: My own designs
Years ago, while wearing this suit, I was browsing through Bergdorf Goodman on the hunt for more suits. What?! I needed to wear a suit every day! Anyway, another customer told me she loved my jacket. I thanked her. She asked to try it on. I said, “It’s not from the store. I own this suit.” She said, “Well, I’d like to try it on.” I said no, of course, and she bitched me out. The weirdest thing was that this was the second such incident that week. I’d been in another store trying on a dress. I announced to the saleswoman that I was getting it. The woman in the next dressing room, who had seen me trying the dress on, asked if she could try it on. I said, “I just decided to buy it.” She said, “I want to try it anyway.” I said no, so she called me a cunt. By the way, she was a size 44 and the dress was a 40. Don’t ask me to explain this shit. I still don’t understand it myself.
Going back to the first suit picture, I have no idea why I tried it on with those high-heeled loafer-style shoes, which I never wore with skirt suits. Maybe I had a premonition that I was about to see this page in Harper’s Bazaar.
It turns out that I have quite a collection of high-heeled loafers. I always liked them for work. I started out with two pairs of Tod’s — one in black and one in a deep red. I wore those out years ago. Here are the ones I have left. The Pradas seen above are at the top. Clockwise from those are brightly colored shoes from Castelbajac (2009), another pair of Tod’s (pre-2005) and studded Miu Mius (2010).
I’m going to send the Tod’s to Housing Works. They’re like the skirt suit — too stuffy for non-corporate life. I’m very into the Castelbajacs right now. I’ve worn jeans, a black t-shirt and the Castelbajacs nearly every day for the past two weeks. It doesn’t matter if I’m hanging out in a post office garage at 4 a.m. …
What Wendy Wore to Hang Out in a Garage
Tank top: Splendid
Jeans: Generic Girl by Acne (2008)
Bag: Louis Vuitton (2001)
… or watching Bill Cunningham New York, the excellent documentary about the New York Times’s street-style photographer, Bill Cunningham.
What Wendy Wore to the Movies
T-shirt: Michael Stars
Jeans: Same Acne jeans as above
Watch: Louis Vuitton (2005)
Rings: My own designs
Fact-wise, the documentary went over the same ground as The New Yorker’s 2009 profile of Cunningham, but it was wonderful to get the visuals and hear Bill’s voice.
I’ve said before that I admire Bill for his democratic approach to street style. Sure, he has his favorites, like Anna Wintour of Vogue, Patrick McDonald, and the freak who copied my outfit in the early ’90s (what IS it with people and my clothes?). But he also gets out there to shoot the St. Patrick’s Day parade and plenty of non-fashion-biz people. Bill is a real journalist to me, because he records trends regardless of his own opinion about the particular look. I value that more than those street-style blogs that are all about the aesthetic of the photographer, who, for example, might think that leggy 20-somethings wearing sleeveless fur vests, chunky shoes and head wraps are the only story going on. As for the blogs devoted to nearly fetishistic shooting of models and editors outside fashion shows? I appreciate the ravishing photos. But that’s not reporting on fashion in general; it’s reporting on fashion insiders. (One street-style blog that I really like is Advanced Style. Check it out.)
I dress pretty plainly most days, going about my business without a raincoat made of garbage bags or a tiny top hat or a nose-piercing or a dog wearing an identical outfit to mine. So it’s a huge thrill for me if Bill takes an interest in what I’m wearing. (He does love to see a vintage Ossie Clark dress.) Most of those photos don’t make it into the paper. He’s picky; you can see him working on his layouts in the documentary. But I’ve made it in four times, and each time I said it was the best day of my life and I’d never ask for anything again. Each time, I really believed that for 24 hours or so. Then I reverted to my normal state of dissatisfaction. Alas. Anyway, here are all four of my Cunningham photos.
I definitely recommend seeing the documentary. It’s refreshing to see someone who thinks of fashion in an inclusive way. Style really is accessible to everyone, not just the people walking into fashion shows!