When I first graduated from college, I was very practical. My wardrobe was all about the basics: black, black and more black. Then, about 10 years ago, I decided I had enough basics and I started to collect “statement” items. Especially funny ones. I do like to laugh.
Crazy dresses, like the vintage Moschino seen above, are easy to wear. You throw them on, go out and enjoy any friendly conversation (or unfriendly press) that ensues. As for separates, I figured any zany skirt could be paired with any basic black top, and any insane top could be paired with any basic black bottom.
Black goes with everything, right? No. In the past year, I would try on my various rainbow skirts with black t-shirts (or a single, reliable black sweater), look in the mirror, and say exactly that: “No.” If the mirror were a magic Snow White-style talking mirror, it would have also said, “No,” and rolled its mirror-y eyes at me. “It’s not simply about color,” I mused. Why didn’t I realize this sooner? I don’t know! I’ve always been a late bloomer. I have to believe that it doesn’t matter when enlightenment comes, as long as it comes eventually. Can’t change the past, right?
Because my dear friend, designer Stacy Lomman, has a special knack for separates and lives around the corner from me, we decided she should walk over one night and do some closet therapy for me. After the first, spur-of-the-moment, quickie session, I almost cried tears of joy over my new outfits. But before that, I did cry tears of laughter. I’ve always had trouble describing my personal style. Stacy figured it out in a few minutes. I made her write it down for y’all.
“[One] thing that surfaced while reorganizing Wendy’s closet was Wendy’s affinity toward femininity. Many of her clothes flaunted low necklines adorned with drapey cascading ruffles or bias-cut fluttery skirts with flared gores.”
Or, as Stacy said to me while poking around my closet, “You’re very ladylike” and “Wow! Even your ruffles have ruffles!”
I wanted to say, “Who the fuck are you calling a lady?” and make her take it back, but I couldn’t deny the truth. I could only laugh hysterically at my own cluelessness. Then I asked Stacy if I needed to change. After all, I have never consciously aspired to be “ladylike.” One of my style idols growing up was Joan Jett! I’ve won prestigious swearing awards! Where did I go wrong? (Probably with all those corporate jobs that required skirt suits, for a start.) But even as Stacy wrestled a violently flouncy skirt back into my closet, she said there was no need to change. She explained:
“I believe that when people consistently gravitate toward the same type of items over and over throughout the course of many years, it means something. Pretty much it means that is what they truly like and see themselves wearing. So, my advice is to embrace it rather than ignore it.”
Stacy decided to focus on outfits for meetings and not-formal-but-not-casual evenings out, since that’s when neither party dresses nor my trusted combination of jeans and a black t-shirt will do. She decided to “divide and conquer” by focusing on skirts and pants first, noting:
“I usually consider proportion first. Depending on the shape and silhouette of the skirt or pant, I can deduce what type of top will work with it and then I focus on color and fabric to make a great little outfit!”
Stacy immediately found one black pencil skirt, formerly associated with a suit I wore when I worked at Lehman Brothers, that went well texture-wise with two tops that I’d only ever worn with jeans. Here is outfit #1, worn to back-to-back meetings with accessories editors one day last week.
What Wendy Wore – Stacy Lomman Outfit #1
Top: Anne Fontaine (2007)
Skirt: Dolce & Gabbana (from suit purchased between 2000 and 2004)
Shoes: Miu Miu (2010)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2001)
Jewelry: All my own designs, including my IDGAF necklace.
We chose this top because I wanted a neckline that would display my IDGAF necklace. Like I’ve said before, the necklace is very subtle and no one at my meetings even noticed it — despite the neckline — until I pointed it out while talking about my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes diffusion line. That’s the whole beauty of the necklace. It’s quietly angry. (So all the tightly-wound peeps who crawled up my gorgeous client Susan’s ass for wearing it can calm the fuck down.) The top originally had epaulets, which I never loved. Stacy agreed, so I had Jean from Ghost Tailor remove them. While I was at it, I had Jean take in the top at the shoulders, which improved the fit tremendously. I knew this outfit was a winner when the friendly guy who loiters on the corner near my apartment building all day gave me the thumbs up as I hailed a cab. He doesn’t comment on just any outfit, you know.
Last night, I wore the skirt to have dinner with MrB and friends.
What Wendy Wore – Stacy Lomman Outfit #2
Top: Vintage Moschino (acquired in 2007 from Yoox.com)
Skirt: Dolce & Gabbana (same as above)
Shoes: Yves Saint Laurent (2005-ish?)
Everything I wore on both occasions was at least two years old, but the winner in the vintage stakes was the coat I wore last night. It was already vintage when I bought it in the early ’90s.
I’ve gotten a lot of use out of that coat. Now I hope to get more use than ever out of the rest of my closet. But I’m not thinking of this project as the wardrobe “remixing” I’ve always dreaded. I think I’m going to call this “wardrobe therapy.” Stacy and I will see what I have and put it together in smarter, more refined ways … and, hopefully, my internal image and external appearance will match in the end!
If you’re in the New York-tristate area (including the Hamptons) and could use Stacy’s help with your wardrobe, you can book her for the job via the professional organizers at Cross It Off Your List. That’s how happy I was with my results — I wouldn’t stop nagging her till she called them and offered her image-consultant services. It complements what she does as a designer, so why not? Call Cross It Off Your List at 212-725-0122 and ask for an appointment with Stacy Lomman.
*See style ideas from other bloggers in Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday post.*