severe appeal


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.


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.


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


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.


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.



classic: basic black pumps


So, yes, I was looking for a comfortable pair of heels, and naturally wanted to find that basic, quintessential, serviceable black pump.

I knew exactly what I wanted, which often causes problems for me. A wide, rounded toe, no platform, 3-4″ (really, 3. Keeping a 4″ heel was a surprise to me), leather, flattering lines, no embellishments, comfortable. A lot to ask, and I’d turned down every candidate until this shoe.


They even look basically cute without any feet in them, which in a size 10 is truly not the standard. They are not insanely comfortable, I admit, but they are not unfriendly (especially with insoles), which is, in the context, high praise. In a way, this is not even relevant, I think of them more as props than as actual functional items. Sort of in the same category as faux bangs and fake glasses…fake shoes. Or, only real shoes for a limited time on any given wearing. I’m not going to try to walk very far in them, as the feminist in me balks at this. Why should I suffer in discomfort? In the realm of my tableau-creating, though, I want them as an option. I understand their limitations, and I am still interested in the silhouette they make possible.

I keep incorporating them into future visions (you know, fashion visions), and dub them powerful additions to the closet. It seems so sensible and efficient to add one [collective] item capable of effecting great, versatile change rather than several lesser items. This is a very French stance, and also very me. At least, it is very me on my practical, intelligent days.

What I’m taking away from this experience is: the Cole Haan Nike Air line is worth checking out. Steep at full price but not bad if you can find them in great used condition, which is what I did.