Style Stories

The bland old truth about what I've been wearing

Plus! Can you make a uniform feel different every time you put it on?
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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There is something in the air that seems to be making the conversation on what to wear feel like a drag these days.

Last week’s dispatch after all was basically an intellectualized fashion take on how to wear PJs. A few days later, I came across this instagram post from Allison Bornstein. The week earlier, Laura Reilly mentioned that she was already looking to fall for inspiration in her Magasin. On Sunday, Becky Malinsky published her newsletter echoing the same drag spun in her own way, and on the Friday prior, I wrote the below for publication today, with an intro that read something to do the effect of, “Does anyone else feel like they’ve been running at 100 mph with 4664728263727 tabs open on the browser of their mind but getting nowhere?”

All of these sentiments seem to underline a collective, lackadaisical feeling of stillness — a vibe standstill as opposed to shift that I’d like to think is rebranding the more popular turn of phrase, “stuckness.”

Because if nothing else, what this lull has shown me is that a dressing funk (or any suspension of inspiration, really) is not a creative death sentence so much as it is a period of chill calling itself in. A non-celestial retrograde to encourage your return to the tried and trues of your you-ness; to analyze, evaluate and to rediscover.

I have learned that it’s better to surrender to these things so here is one more take on the same blah, underscored by a uniform and cherry-on-topped by how to make it feel a little more special. But first:

Steven Alan shirt (RIP) — two good options for you here (size up x1) and here, this one is fancy shmancy nancy bancy but idk, depending on how often you’ll wear it and how likely you’d be to buy a shirt like from The Row which would prob be double the price, it might be worth it!, Soeur pants (I think I’m going to get these!) and here are some $20 black flip flops

The Chiara Shirt Sky
$150 USD
The Silky Cotton Relaxed Shirt
$88 USD
Cotton-poplin shirt
$568 USD
Pantalon Titouan
$142 USD
Pantalon Tancrede
$174 USD
Top Flip Flop
$18 USD

The uniform template is: relaxed-fit straight-leg cotton pants or shorts (some with drawstring, others with an elastic waistband) and a button-down shirt that is only buttoned 1-2 buttons down the middle.

It’s not rocket science by any stretch of style but it is very easy. And the reason I think I keep coming back to it is because it’s also very easy to make it look (or at least feel) different every time I wear it depending on how I style around it.

Soeur leather necklace — it’s got an Hermes energy about it, no?, Hermes bag, Bulgari watch; here is a great comp for the bag, or another option for $250 and here’s a set of gold tubogas bracelets from Ben Amun although if it weren’t the watch, I think I’d wear a chunky chain like this one. This one is much daintier but seems like a good deal at $640 for real gold.

Porte-clés clochette en cuir naturel
$83 USD
Symmetry Pochette leather tote
$1,190 USD
Kaia Shoulder Bag
$250 USD
Exclusive Cobra 24k Gold-plated Bracelet Set
$295 USD
Cobra Chain Bracelet
$640 USD

For this one, I focused on the camel leather chord around my neck (which I have been wearing a lot this summer with flimsy outfits — defined as those with no clasps or zippers to anchor them in a city). I chose it here for the classic color pairing it makes against the light blue shirt and the material contrast it makes against the lightweight poplin.

And then because the necklace is kind of playful/not at all shiny or fancy, I went full mature woman with a gold watch (would be a gold chain bracelet if it were not this) and a small structured bag with glossy hardware.

Arielle Ratner pinky ring

Plus a little solitaire stone for my pinky.

Why it works: The shirt and pant pairing is universal enough to fashion into a look that can be conservative if that is necessary, but on the same note, it reveal sa laidback ease (layers of lightweight cotton together), rendered in classic colors (corporate blue and tan, like khaki!) that might make it work appropriate in an environment that is more formal than an office for creatives but still less formal than like, a bank.

I styled it with flip flops but a pair of soft loafers or fisherman shoes work too.

And then because the items are so straightforward, the jewelry really gets to take peacock and can carry the look into new vibe territory.

The one thing I’ll say is that the black flip flops and bag are a deliberate pairing to catch each other with mutual color but contrasting vibe (formal bag tying back to the watch and ring, laidback shoes tying back to the necklace, but rendered in the same color as each other) to create TOTAL COHESION. So that’s how the science of this one works.

On to what’s next: the same basic template — button down and drawstring straight leg bottom but this time, as shorts.

LMND shirt (another good color ref here), Maria McManus shorts (a slightly lighter shade of yellow here from Lee Matthews, on sale for $140; and I know this is unrelated to the story concept, but they just populated and I think I am going to get these bermuda shorts), also, duh! these are an option!, (g)old Celine sandals

The Chiara Shirt - Cornflower
$164 USD
Loulou Studio Cotton Shirt
Loulou Studio
$165 USD
Drawstring Short in Acid Yellow
Maria McManus
$490 USD
Sparrow wide-leg shorts
Lee Mathews
$140 USD
Pleated high-rise wide-leg shorts
Acne Studios
$252 USD

Another reason it works: if you want to get a little dressed up, you don’t actually have to change the template, you just put on a different pair of shoes. So I applied all the same jewelry principles —

Jenna Blake and Mark Henry pendants; I love this Lemaire necklace on sale too

With the chord around my neck (you can literally do this with a black shoelace, leftover wrapping, or get something from Etsy) that I clipped three charms into.

With this look in particular, the black chord was a conscious choice to anchor the look in a dark neutral around the bright blue and yellow. It’s also what ties back to the bag, which is soft and satin, so constitutionally similar to the chord as far as material.

The Row clutch (my choice alternative on the fancy end; on the more affordable one; this one is a different vibe (more structure but is worth the investment if you are one to wear clutches for day), rings from Estelle Galerie, Mazarin and Pomellato (the range from Ragbag is really good too) and here is some solid chord from Etsy. Do you have any pendants you want to tie to it? There is also, always, the ease of a ready-made piece

The gold rings are a play on the shoes that add to the dose of femininity. I traded in the pants for the shorts because I love them but find that they’re not as easy to wear with flats (to the extent that they) look more interesting with a pair of heels. Something about them with the button down reads too Italian teenager at a beach resort. If there is such a thing

Why it works: This example is basically the first example recreated, but for a different environment — something you could wear out to dinner, or on a day to work when you…have a meeting? That seems to be what heels give to a laid back outfit. Where the shorts could have laid the look back further, the heels stepped in to break up all that laying around and that gave the rest of the accessories more free reign to control the look by creating this cool contrasting dynamic of the same balance of fabric to metal — chord (and satin) to gold.

A festive bra under your uniform

LMND shirt, Donni pants (last pic contains some good alts but here’s a quality pair I just found from MNZ too), Jamie Haller shoes, Dora Larsen bra

Here, for example, is real footage from my walk to the subway station to get to Sky Ting for a yoga class last Thursday. It marked the third time that week I had worn this outfit, but was the first time I’d styled it with the turquoise silk bra (love this one too), which prior to this day, I had been wearing exclusively with its (the bra’s) matching bottom and a nightgown or sheer beach dress (to freak out my neighbors). My comments on how this works and why it works here are threefold and actually tie back to the tips above.

Fold 1 — the shoes. Shoe MVP of my summer wardrobe has been this pair of sandals from Jamie Haller (with a French pedicure to boot) but not actually because of the sandals so much as the reason they have come so in handy — I don’t think I appreciated how much I’ve been wearing in-between clothes (née “non-clothes”) and simultaneously how often I’ve been able to pass them off as real clothes because sandals with hardware (and a backstrap) look like Real Shoes.

Jamie Haller sandals

They do the same thing the Gabriela Hearst ones do, but are also flimsy so they look chill when styled with something more formal (see: apron dress).

Whatever shoe falls into this category for you does not have to be as specific as Jamie’s — fishermens would do, or a structured ballet flat, even a comfort-first platform like this. Perhaps the exception to ensuring a back strap (which is like a period at the end of a soft outfit’s sentence) is a sandal with hardware like this.

Fold 2 — the jewelry. Another chord incorporated, but this time accompanied by a shell surrounded by tiny Lapis beads strung through a thread. One good thing about wearing an outfit that consists of no color is that it really gives you a chance to play with your jewelry.

Marisa Klass shell necklace, Deszo by Sara Beltran coconut pendant on leather chord, Paola Sighinolfi gold pinky ring

Fold 3 — the bra. The most fun and unexpected hero of summer dressing I’ve encountered is styling with this one Dora Larsen set I’ve had for a few years. (Any set that’s not solid and neutral will do.)

This is a niche recommendation because not everyone wants (does anyone want?) to expose their intimates but the conceit behind it is a sense of humor, a secret you’re willing to reveal, but only in part.

It’s less aggressive with a button-down shirt (which you can leave as buttoned or unbuttoned as you want) and even if you opt for the fun bra but decide no one is allowed to see it but you, there’s an energy you carry that still emanates the kind of levity that might succeed in closing one of the 5632852684365127 tabs that were open on your brain’s browser to call it a lovely day.

One more time that’s: LMND button-down shirt; I wear a size small in these shirts, Donni jersey pants (hey! It looks like for $790, you can get them from The Row; this pair from Hanro is great too, and here’s a pair from La Perla that is less sheer — I actually have these too, and sized up so they would fit a bit baggier; the L that is left would be good if you typically wear between an S and M. (Not to be confused with S&M.) The Row sunglasses, which are a spin on Ray Ban’s classic wayfarer and then here is one bag to accomplish the frills of the one I’m holding (I love this brand) and one for the chain effect.

The Chiara Shirt - White
$163 USD
White Bariem Trousers
The Row
$790 USD
Cotton Deluxe Lounge Pants
$130 USD
Souple Lounge Pants
La Perla
$135 USD
Wayfarer Square-frame Sunglasses
$163 USD

That’s a wrap — here, here to running in place!

Signing off yours,