severe appeal

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I sometimes wake up craving a severe, restrained look like this. Hair sleek, lines simple, fabrics luxe, colors muted, face stark, accessories minimal. I often associate this kind of austere, controlled elegance with Ralph Lauren, who does it so well.

This craving may be attributed to a severe mood, an ungenerous mood, or perhaps it is a display of control to balance some hidden lack of control (surely there is no shortage of this). Or something less traceable.

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Usually I prefer, like J Crew’s Jenna Lyons (good interview), to leave something (or many things) undone to give reality and warmth to the look. An air of carelessness. There is something especially armour-like about heavily polished, curated looks, however, something impersonal and impenetrable that has its own peculiar appeal (though it runs the danger of being completely charmless, even if technically well executed). The transparent purposefulness of the approach also sidesteps the phenomenon of spending much time and effort to look as if you have not spent much time and effort, though this too is compelling in a bizarre way.

I couldn’t want to do this sort of look every day but it is occasionally satisfying.

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The tooling on this bag is lovely. Ralph Lauren, fittingly. A thriftfind.

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Ralph Lauren bag (thrifted), thrifted silk tank, Victoria’s Secret linen beach pants, Birkenstocks, 10mm pearl studs (of course, it had to be pearls) from Pearls of Joy, vintage Geneva watch. On the lips: Stila liquid lipstick in Beso.

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I am often looking rather severe, which is either me being horribly serious or just my face, doing its thing. I don’t think there’s any way to tell them apart.

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the ascot

It’s a shame how rare it is to see an ascot these days.  Rarer still than seeing a bowtie. Such an elegant way to add a bit of color or interest to a plain shirt or outfit, for men and women alike, with an endearing element of eccentricity. It creates the sense of an additional layer that is really only the illusion of a layer.

Any light scarf can be made serve the purpose.

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This would have been better if I’d worn a shirt that buttoned up farther, maybe. More color this way but there’s something appealing about a small triangle of color peeping out, too. The loose, casual interpretation vs the severe, polished interpretation.  Both have their strengths.

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Silk is a nice way to go. 

The most enjoyable part of wearing a shirt or vest with buttons is the art of leaving certain of them undone. I like the idea of this look with no ascot, nothing at all at the neck, and another button on the shirt undone. Love the looks I’m seeing across runway shows recently (to say nothing of American Hustle, long may it be an inspiration to us all) of extremely deep Vs (front and back). I have many personal aspirations re: the deep V. The smaller breasted of us can wear it relatively innocently, I think. Relatively… It still makes for a potentially distracting eyepath, but one that is much more suggestive than it is revealing.

So much more appealing to me to create the impression of revealing than to literally reveal, which is like explaining the joke.

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Vintage silk scarf from Jones New York, H&M vest, Banana Republic shirt (thrifted), Express jean leggings, Mulberry bag, Trotters loafers. Sunglasses: cheap (retro, no?). On the lips: Shiseido Lacquer Gloss in RS 306.

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I never get it when people with broad shoulders want to disguise them. Shoulders love to be accentuated. They seem to jump at the chance.

But maybe it’s just me, and some lingering 80s influence.

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