Punctuated by loose midi dresses, lightweight duster coats, spacious handbags, low-heeled shoes, cozy sweaters and tons of monochrome, these were collections that mutually affirmed an obvious truth often forgotten, perhaps amusingly, in the world of fashion: Clothes are meant to be lived in.
I love the look of a dramatic, I-can-barely-walk-or-sit-in-this outfit as much as the next fashion editor, but when it comes to the everyday, there is something far more magical about an assembly of pieces that don’t just look great, but feel great — clothes that ooze ease and the confidence that comes with it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ease and confidence lately when it comes to style, especially after reading a recent “Week of Outfits” post on Cup of Jo, in which communications specialist Nicole Bruno said: “My style icon is probably Jackie O. or her sister Lee Radziwill. I love the tailored look of the 50s and 60s. Their clothes looked great, but you saw them first. I try to do that. I want people to see me first.”
I want people to see me first. That simple statement took me aback, articulating perfectly the power of clothes to selectively conceal or reveal. As a self-proclaimed maximalist, I often prefer to have the bells and whistles of my personal style speak for me, at least initially. I have this idea in my head, and I’m not sure whether or not it’s true, but I think I can make a better first impression with an outfit than I can with my personality. I’m fun once you get to know me, but my clothes? They’re fun right away.
The thing about wanting people to see you first is that you have to feel comfortable about what they might discover. Wearing bright colors and clashing patterns seems bold in theory, but sometimes I think minimalism is braver. Whenever I see a woman wearing something utterly simple and utterly chic, I think to myself, that’s power. There’s power in putting your most vulnerable self out there without a rainbow bracelet or sparkly shoe to shield you from what other people might think. There’s power in knowing who you are to the extent that you don’t feel compelled to try on different identities.
I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy a rainbow bracelet, though. Ditto for sparkly shoes. So where does that leave me? Is there a middle ground between the quietude of minimalism and the distracting chatter of maximalism? Clothes that project both ease and self-expression simultaneously?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, or so Mansur Gavriel and Tibi seemed to conclude, offering up a slew of outfit ideas that looked wearable and comfortable and relatively simple without skimping on style. I’m already thinking about how to approximate the head-to-toe robin’s egg blue look from Mansur, and the cargo pants tucked into cowboy boots at Tibi. Both exuded a sense of contentment, and if there’s one thing I want my clothes to do, it’s that.
How about you?