Several winters ago, on a Sunday night so frigid that under normal circumstances nothing would have made me leave the house, I traveled to the farthest reaches of the Upper East Side for an impromptu dinner party. It was at the home of a friend’s recently deceased godmother—a fearsome/beloved fashion world eminence of whom there are a very few each generation; a woman for whom scholarships are named, and short documentaries are made. My friend was having people over to pay tribute to her famously sprawling Park Avenue duplex—and by extension, the woman herself—before movers came the next day. The evening was memorable in many ways, and highly instructive in one. Most of the woman’s important clothes had already been sent off to the Costume Institute, so there wasn’t much to see in the way of flash. But my friend directed me to an unassuming-looking hall closet, and when I opened the door, I saw something truly amazing. One long rack of no less than forty versions of the same exact quite simple shift dress, executed in every fabrication and color you can imagine: cotton, silk, tropical wool and charmeuse, houndstooth, black, fuchsia, and simple dove grey. Here is what she wore for the last decade or two of her (very long) working life: pretty the exact same thing, every day. This discovery overjoyed me, and whenever I feel like I should be taking more and bigger chances with my wardrobe, I think of that closet, and that woman, who knew exactly who she was. And it is in that spirit that I present my second installment of the things I wear all of the time—but sadly, do not have in multiples. I’ve extolled the virtues of the Clare Vivier messenger bag on more than one occasion, and I’m very fond of this tote shape, too. And of the blue and the black, which is an unstoppable combination always.
A slouchy black dress with just a little bit of something unexpected going on never lets me down. And I love the sleeve length here—just a couple of extra inches throw a lot more sophistication into the whole enterprise.
Tops with some interesting drape to them are a cornerstone of my wardrobe—because they’re cool, but also of course, because of their superior powers to camouflage one’s less desirable spots gracefully. I’ve got a Helmut Lang top from another season that’s very much like—but not identical to— this one, and I wear it so much I hate when it’s time to send it to the dry cleaner.
The jacket that makes the outfit interesting.
Walkable platforms—inevitably quite 70s-inspired in design, although that’s never really a conscious choice.Tags: Clare Vivier, Helmut Lang, My People