When I think back to the year 2005, I can smell the scent of Strawberry Lip Smackers as if on my lips and feel an ache in my upper back. I spent so much time hunched over a stack of tabloid magazines in the aisle that sold Lip Smackers at a CVS on 80th street that I basically don’t remember a single otherwise detail of that year.
I mean, I got into college, then forfeited my acceptance and went somewhere else, and I also met my husband, but these are flashes in the pan when you consider the enormity of sitting on the floor at a pharmacy, you know?
I could never justify actually buying the magazines, so I made myself feel less like a criminal by routinely buying the same lipgloss every time I perused them. But the real purpose of my visits was singular in that I was there to appraise the best dressed, worst dressed, and who-wore-it-better lists as accompanied by sensationalized headlines inside the pages of UsWeekly and InTouch and, especially, Star, because they were the most relentless in their pursuit of prehistoric clickbait.
During one fateful flip spring through the aforementioned Star, a photo of Jennifer Aniston caught my attention. She was dressed in khaki pants (or maybe they were denim) and a white tank top (it may have been brown), with flip flops on her feet, sunglasses over her eyes and a coffee in her hand. She may also have been wearing a long sweater over the tank top but I can’t be sure. It was, by all accounts, the archetypical paparazzi photo replete with sun-speckled Los Angeles backdrop, legs in motion, visible frustration painting the expression on her face. A big yellow sticker escorted the photo as if about to announce itself half-price but instead it provided a question that would allude to the opposite: “Can You Guess How Much Jen Spent on This Outfit?”
I did the mental math. She was wearing a ribbed tank — I had several packs of three, which cost no more than $9 a pack — and cotton pants. How much could those have cost on the higher end? $100? $150? Her flip-flops looked a lot like Havaianas, so my guess was that those came in at around $24, but I high-balled in case they were from the special Swarovski crystal collaboration, which would have made them $90. Her sunglasses were definitely designer, so those must have retailed somewhere north of $200 but south of $275. All in, I guessed it must have cost her $500 to get dressed that morning.
The answer suggested I was off by a zero. Although I can’t recall the specifics, I distinctly recall the tank top retailing for $900. $900! For a tank top! [email protected]#$%??
Fast forward 14 years, however, and what I believe we were sitting on is a preamble not unlike my long-winded introduction. For what, you ask?
It is a theory that comes with plenty of holes, the least not being that, to my knowledge, The Row has never produced a pair of cargo pants, but I invite you to consider it conceptually. Because what is The Row if not an assembly of quiet! quality! basics! that cost an arm and a leg because, when they hug your body, it feels like you are at the spa of life, receiving a massage on a bed of soft fibers that whisper sweet nothings into your ear, which no one can hear but that’s what you like most about them. It’s the ultimate unilateral luxury, quality for you and yourself and no one but she who stares back when you look in the mirror. In that way, they’re delicate, like a secret that hides within the silent seams of your basic, refusing to spit out a price tag or make itself known the way a maximalist cue is wont to.
And who is Jennifer Aniston if not an emblem of, fine, good hair first and foremost, Smartwater second, but also of subtle enough style you almost forget that it’s style?
Is this precisely the allure of timeless dressing? Is timeless dressing even actually a thing? Sure, I can argue that perhaps the real value of investing in an expensive basic is that it does not have a shelf life and, provided you care for it, will never make you look or feel dated. Even after Brad Pitt no longer accompanies the sum of your paparazzi shots.
But more realistically, we (as in us) may really be embedded in the first of a series of shifts that allude to a new-but-old mode of dress on the horizon — a sort of rejection of the deluge of maximalist cues and disenfranchised personal style intimations that flood the streets of the fashion week. And in their stead are muted color palettes and uncomplicated silhouettes and stunning fabrics that hold their own so confidently they don’t need a print or a bright hue to prove themselves. A quality that, as it continues to percolate in my mind, can’t help but summon that old photo of Jen in that old issue of Star. It was echoed on the most compelling runways in Paris (see: Celine, Hermes, even Givenchy), it has been true within the physical framework of my own wardrobe and, in clicking through the slideshow that awaits your mouse, I do believe it appears as though Jennifer Aniston’s 2005 style has come back as The Row reincarnated.
Feature image by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.