Welcome to Outfit Anatomy, a new series on Man Repeller that aims to break down what we wear by answering questions like: How much did that cost? Where did you find that? Why did you buy it in the first place? Leandra is up first, breaking down the relatively simple outfit she wore to dinner after work one day in late May.
The jacket is Chanel; it’s from the cruise 2000 collection and the interior label says “Bergdorf Goodman.” I bought it in March from The Real Real while I was in Paris for fashion week for $395 plus an additional 20% off using the code “REAL,” which seems like a campaign the site is always running. For whatever reason, I tend to find that spending time in France burns a hole in my pocket. I’m not sure if this is because I’m far away from my wardrobe and therefore infrequently distracted by any bells and whistles that aren’t truly my style, or because I get insecure while I’m there and resort to using fashion as armor to hide the self-doubt lurking between my limbs. My grandmother has, or had, the same jacket, which she gave to my mom, and which I stained rather violently when I borrowed it. Harling has it, too. Carrie Bradshaw wore it on an episode of Sex and the City. I can remember almost all of the lightweight, collarless cropped jackets from Chanel’s cruise 2000 collection and you can actually find a bunch of them loitering innocuously on platforms like eBay and Tradesy and TRR and 1stDibs. I prefer how it looks when it’s worn a few sizes too big. The one I bought is a size 44, the one my grandma had was a 40.
The t-shirt is from the first collection that Nikki Kule launched under her most recent brand, Kule. It dates back to 2015. The first time I wore it was the night before a cervix exam that I hoped would provide some intel regarding my not getting pregnant. I was having drinks with my team at a Mexican place called Rosie’s. We were seven people back then. I wore it with denim cut-offs, a utility jacket, and closed-toe slingbacks. At that time, it retailed for $80 and I’m still wearing it pretty regularly (it’s the right combination of boxy but shrunken and the crew neck is high enough to peek out from under a sweater, but wide enough not to make me feel like I’m wearing a mock neck) so I’d say it was well worth it.
The shorts are Dries van Noten—another Paris purchase. I bought them in February 2016 from the store in St. Germain, an interior design marvel that is heartening in the way standing inside of the architectural manifestation of the guts of a man who genuinely admires the female form can be. I was there with Amelia for fashion week and know I was depressed because I wrote this story (I’m pretty sure I love Paris). I was three months further away from a pregnancy loss, and didn’t know when, or if, I’d have kids. The shorts were 175 euros, which I remember because I’d seen them at Barney’s for like, $325. To be honest, I’m not even sure why I bought them. I’m a pretty impulsive shopper, have convinced myself that I hate “boring clothes,” and there was nothing particularly exhilarating about a pair of navy shorts. I liked how they fit—sort of loose and relaxed, hanging from my hips, but still tailored enough to wear more formally. And now that I think about it, most of what not just remains in my closet, but gets worn the most frequently, falls into the category of “boring to buy.”
The bag is Proenza Schouler. I got it in 2012 from the Intermix flagship on Madison Avenue. It was one of those summer afternoons where the city seems vacant and I was walking by with my mom. We went in, and I saw the clutch on a sale table. I’d had my eye on the full-size version, but never could pull the trigger (it retailed for $1,695). The clutch was on sale for $595 with an additional 40% off at checkout. (I just found it on The Real Real for $110, btw.) I bought it without thinking twice, with my debit card—the first I opened in my own name about seven months earlier.
Man Repeller was still basically embryonic and I was new to maintaining my own cash-money, all of which was disposable because I still lived at home. I think I spent, like, five years effectively buying anything I could afford not because I needed or even genuinely wanted the thing, but because I subconsciously had to keep proving to myself, or reminding myself, that I was free to make my own financial decisions. I had power. Power! Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure it’s only in the last two years that I’ve realized I don’t have to, or need to, or even want to, have everything that I like. That was a potent revelation and realization, too.
Finally! The shoes. They’re from my own collection, a licensing partnership that has technically ended. I have dabbled in so many creative projects so eagerly, just throwing and throwing to see what will stick and probably giving up or calling it quits too early on so many of them, but I am pretty sure that if I am ever to attempt shoe design again, I have to do it on my own terms. No shade! The partner was great, and helped see my vision through fairly crisply, but there is so much more to launching a brand than just amenable design. Who knew? Anyway, I didn’t pay actual money for them because as part of the deal, I got all my own shoes for $$free$$ but the sweat that went into that silver cork heel, let me tell you—it’s true when they say nothing in life comes free. You can buy them if you like them (but only in the beige raffia) from Shopbop for $275. I really love these too.
In sum: Even though the oldest member of this outfit, the Chanel jacket, is 19, it’s technically one of the youngest in the shell of my closet. The Proenza Schouler clutch has lived the longest, coming in at seven years. Second to it is the Kule T-shirt, then the shorts, then the jacket, then the shoes. The total outfit cost me about $950. I kept the t-shirt because it’s reliable, I wear it almost weekly. I kept the shorts because they’re insipid enough to balance out my temerities and the bag because of what it represents. It’s too soon to explain why the jacket and shoes are still around—they’re just kids, it’s still new, our anatomies are just getting acquainted.
Outfit Anatomy Identity by Madeline Montoya.