A good winter vibe: classy with a touch of ugly
When you’re cleaning your closet, do you ever find that you’ll relegate one thing to a giveaway pile over and over only to pull it out right before you send off the discards because something about giving the thing away doesn’t feel right yet? Sometimes it only takes until the next time I’m cleaning to finally part from it — and that does feel really good because one emotional quality I have been thinking about lately is how hard it is (for me) to let go.
I think I hold grudges — like even though I’ll forgive people or never even mention I was upset in the first place, I hold on to the intensity of the feelings that probably want to pass through me thinking that if I don’t, I won’t be able to write my own story. Access the experiences that define my life, that teach me the most meaningful bits to pass on and put words to the sum of it. But this is what my teacher would call an “image,” the sleepy mistruths we walk through parts of our lives not realizing are lies that we live by.
Occasionally though, I will also find that waiting to part from a thing pays off. Recently there’s been this pair of brown Prada loafers, which I have almost sold every season for the last four years but have pulled back every time. I think the reason they keep returning to my closet is because they serve a purpose that most of my other shoes don’t — they’re a formal loafer on the top with a sole that is part espadrille, part foam, and that gives them a quizzically casual, decidedly rough edge.
This makes them a good foil to set up an ideal contrast to work clothes or an outfit that is classically pretty.
Last Thursday when I was getting dressed, I realized they were exactly the foil I was looking for — the thing sneakers (casual), clogs (pretty ugly but still not right) or a refined boot (too prim w the rest of it) could not accomplish. This got me thinking about a good vibe for the season. It feels fresh even though it’s not new — a page pulled directly from Miuccia Prada’s playbook defined by the pairing of something classically pretty with a good dose of ugly.
The melding of exaggerated masculinity on one hand and femininity on the other. Both are so exaggerated that the two entities almost cancel each other out.
Classy is a modifier that is subjective but the way I define it (possibly kind of cynical) is like a little stuck up and compulsively put-together. Cardigans, pearls, hair set back with a headband that erases one’s hairline.
Here are some black Oliver Peoples sunglasses for $95. Green lenses, vague cat eye, hard recommend!
There are plenty of ways to strike this balance — it’s an interpretation on the discord I always dissect, one way for your own yin and yangs to play out.
Chanel jacket (or), La Ligne striped shirt (but just got and rec this one if you’re looking for a rigid standalone), Emi Mess pants (like these from Sandro with an elastic waistband or these for a straighter fit), Loewe lace-up loafers but any pair of geriatric-ish shoes do the trick here. Like even these. Maybe especially these.
Jenny Walton hat, Delarge sunglasses, the gold chain I’m wearing is actually a necklace and a bracelet clipped together, this is more a cardigan than a jacket but I like it for the same purpose; then this guy is not black but it is FUN), the pants are Giuliva Heritage and the clogs are Fabrizio Vitti — love the black patent band separating the brown suede from the wood but not nuts about the floral appliques that you can’t see. I rec these for a suede clog
Or most casually imagined:
The details of how the styling plays out, at least as far as I’ve been able to make sense of it seems to indicate that the shoes are where the most give can occur. Or maybe that’s not exactly right:
But I am fairly certain that shoes are the easiest area to play with — this might be a function of how my own wardrobe looks: the extent to which my clothes are quite classic (partially a product of where we have been within the trend paradigm for the past several years), but philosophically, too, if you think about what shoes bring to an outfit, it’s the literal directionality of where you intend to go.
They’re an anchor that can either ground you or blow wind into the dust of whatever else you’ve got going on — challenging the expectations or “givens” about what you are trying to convey, delivering something less expected and new.
I have been citing Prada as a style reference for no longer than the last two or three years and have been wondering whether this uptick in my interest relates to the phase of life that I’m in, where and when my self-definition has changed, how I perceive myself as a woman.
Of course it has something to do with the newfound emphasis on how the culture reveres her work too but if I spent the whole of my twenties and possibly even the earliest days of my 30s trying to anchor into an identity: looking for absolutes to ground my character, I’m much more interested in play these days. Finding the spaces where I can create little surprises that give a sheen of youth to growth without discounting or worse, disrespecting it. A nod to meaningful risk taking that is less like what your 20s are about as you barrel through exploration with a mind that is open and eager to let new wisdom through.
In your 30s, this genre of curiosity becomes sport: a self-possessed act of intention and confidence. That seems to be the real magic of Prada, of Prada and of growing up.
So classy with a dose of ugly — try it.
Here is a breakdown that appraises 5 different pairs (all linked in some place above) of “ugly shoes” that I am particularly drawn to.
Okay, that’s it from me this week. Long live l’aisle du céréale,