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.*
I can’t wait to keep going with you… I love your closet! So many great pieces.
I think you mean “items” 😉
So many things to love here:
– I remember when you got nominated for the swearing award!
– I love that Stacy didn’t try to force you to change what you love. “Where what you want!” Some smart lady once said that…
– I love love love the top in outfit #1. Wow, you look amazing.
– I love the mix of patterns in the second outfit! It reminds me very much of around ’87-88 when that geometric blocking was big.
I’m so excited for this transformation of you, Wendy!
One thing I really love — and should have pointed out — is that Stacy stopped me from going to my standard shoes and is helping me mix up the footwear. I think I ONLY ever wore those Miu Miu shoes with jeans before.
I’m excited too! I love doing this kind of work… so rewarding. 🙂
Oh, and of course, I meant “WEAR what you want.” Only a cretin would use the wrong “where/wear/ware”. Heh.
Definitely no cretins on this blog!
sulky kitten says
Stacy did a great job, Wendy. Your closet must be huge,are you a little hoarder with clothes? That coat is an amazing piece,I love it.
I only hoard the good stuff!
She took the words right out of my mouth — she only hoards great clothes! And I encouraged her to keep a lot of it — I just don’t see any good reason to throw out a black Dolce & Gabbana pencil skirt! That’s just crazy! lol.
Sheila, Style Agent 909 says
How cool to have a designer friend to help you figure out your closet, not that you haven’t been doing a great job yourself!
That quirky skirt is just the best. And you’re so right, black does not go with everything.
Once I started working with Stacy, I realized how important the fabric textures are. Once I put the tops with a skirt of the right thickness, they made sense.
I have to admit, she is so stylish that she makes my job so much easier!
You have amazing clothes, you are so funky and glam. So funny about the reaction to une femme’s necklace, hee hee!
I do love to cause trouble.
Patti @ NotDeadYet Style says
Yay for you and Stacy, making even *more* fantastic looks from your already TDF closet. Thanks for sharing these with Visible Monday.
I’m going to try to do a different Stacy outfit for every Visible Monday!
We haven’t even scraped the surface yet with this girl’s wardrobe! More fun stuff to come! xo
déjà pseu says
Oh that Anne Fontaine top is fabulous and that whole outfit just rocks! Stacy has a great eye. I do find that figuring out how to mix pieces in a unique way is often the hardest part. Wish Stacy lived closer!!
I’ll need to drag her along next time I go to L.A.!
Seriously, I’ve always been separates-challenged.
You can “drag” me along any day!
I’m so glad she didn’t throw out that top like she wanted. After tailoring it to fit her small frame and tiny waist, Wendy was finally able to wear it rather than having just take up space! I would love to come and work on your closet one of these days!
Oooh, of course Stacy would be the best image-consultant stylist evah! Great info.
Yeah, it hit me that you can’t do better than a designer when it comes to closet therapy!
You might be biased, but I love you for it!!
One would never know from reading your blog that you have issues figuring out what to wear. You always look so great! Those outfits are terrific. Can’t wait to see what else she helped you pull together.
I’ve just never felt very good about separates, so it’s been easier to rely on jeans. And of course when I was in the corporate world, suits were the savior. I’m so happy to be getting more use out of the old suits. I knew I had a good reason to keep them!
Wendy is a special case because she does, in fact, have impeccable taste. It’s just tricky for a lot of people to “merchandise” their wardrobes. But, we have a lot more to come so stay tuned! 🙂
You always look terrific, but I have to say that outfit 1 is my favorite. Lucky you to have a friend like Stacy. Lucky us to have such a cool blogger friend like you!
I really feel like I have a whole new wardrobe already.
And lucky me to have a friend like Wendy! 🙂
The pencil skirt that was part of a suit you wore at Lehman’s reminds me of a black skirt I had 10 years ago but donated about 7 years ago because I couldn’t fit into it anymore. Anyway I love outfit #2 and of course the Moschino dress.
Who could say no to that Moschino dress? So funny.
Devorah Rachel (@StyleHigher.com) says
Crack up, “wardrobe therapy”, that name is true though. I have had enough melt downs in my closet that I know I need some wardrobe therapy myself. I only wore black in my 20’s and still struggle with putting on the color. LOVE that coat, what a beauty!
Ha ha, yes, I’ve had nervous breakdowns in the closet as well!
Lynne DeVenny (@ExpertParalegal) says
I’m sorry you’re so freakin’ lady-like, WendyB 😛 Sometimes it just takes an outsider with a lot of style and a willingness to be honest to make us see ourselves as we really are. I love what Stacy did with what you already have, and can’t wait to see the rest.
If it helps, you might be a quietly angry lady 🙂
The first step is acceptance…sigh!
Lynne, I was actually a little scared to break the news to Wendy! But she is still sort of badass! A very tough, intelligent badass woman wrapped up in a pretty, ladylike package! Love the dichotomy.
Stay tuned for more 🙂
Ugh, I have a split personality. I wonder if my appearance would be a better match to my attitude if I hadn’t started off in a very corporate career. It was always like I was faking it at those jobs. Looking all proper!
elena daciuk says
from what i have seen in your “what wendy wore” posts…i’m thinking stacy has a treasure chest to work with…
i love how you two support each other! very refreshing!!
I’m a big believer in helping other women!
Elena, you are right — a treasure chest indeed. And you have always been super supportive of me too! xo
elena daciuk says
thanks stacy…like wendy, i am a big believer in helping other women…
Susan Partlan says
What fun. Stacy is so smart. I guess it’s true you’re ladylike but I think of you as ladylike with attitude. I mean, isn’t that what the delicate STFU and IDAF necklaces are all about?
I love the outfit changes. Nice work Stacy. This seems like a promising new career direction.
Susan, you know me better than I know myself! LOL.
Exactly! She is attitude wrapped in a pretty bow!
And I agree… closet consulting can be a nice direction to go. Besides, I can always incorporate my own pieces into the mix! 🙂
I love all those dresses! You look amazing.
Jan Graham-McMillen says
As you know, there are all KINDS of Ladies! You are absolutely one. (The good kind!) So glad to have found your site. Thanks for appearing!
She is most definitely the good kind 🙂
All of those outfu\its look great… I would love to see the rainbow skirt in action if you can make it work….
I want a stylist *sigh*
Ooooh, this is great because we just worked on the rainbow skirt last night and I think you’ll be pleased with the final look 🙂
That's Not My Age says
You have an amazing wardrobe, Wendy. Really fabulous. Love that Todd Oldham skirt.
Stacy was over again yesterday and put together another Oldham skirt with a top in an incredible way. Can’t get over it. She did EIGHT new outfits for me last night!
We made TWO Todd Oldham skirts work — stay tuned! 🙂
LoL. I’ve been thinking Joan Jett every since you got your hair almost-mulleted! (In a good way. I’m from the 80s, and i know them’s fightin’ words.)
Amber of Butane Anvil says
I am digging the excitement and energy of this evolution! As others have said, I’m looking forward to seeing more of your levelling-up an already amazing wardrobe and style. Hooray for awesome Stacy!
I also had mixed feelings about accepting how well the ultra-feminine works for me. I’m so glad I tend to keep stuff, but with the new skills I can’t create space even when I want to because I can – or will eventually figure out how to – make everything work. Keep telling us what you’re learning!
Aw, you flatter! I love it 🙂
We’ve got some more outfits coming up!
Wow! You have some awesome pieces in your wardrobe! Everyone needs a few statement pieces to spice things up. The statement dress and that ruffled sleeved crop biker are fantastic! Love how you transformed that Anne Fontaine top. Just goes to show what some clever alterations can do!
All credit for the Anne Fontaine top looking good goes to Stacy!