Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

An American reader asks

Who can help out Ms S from Washington DC? All suggestions received with thanks.

Ms. Grant:

I'm attending an office holiday party the weekend with a gentleman friend (his office's party.)
[Imagine big, American-style bash for high-end law firm where he's a partner.]
The invitation says "black tie optional."
He, in true big, American law partner style, has announced "I'm not renting a tux.
Since I for one will look fabulous (natch) I'm looking for ways to gently suggest a smart way of dressing so he doesn't appear to be wearing yet another suit + tie outfit from his closet which he'd be wearing to the office on any other day ending with the letter "y."
I seem to recall some white-tie-on-white-shirt options with dark suit that looked quite sharp at last year's academy awards.
I've scoured the internet and can't seem to readily find photos. I thought "there should be an explicit article on this- and Linda should write it."

Since publishing an article would likely take more than a couple days, please can you shoot me a mini-version of what you'd advise on this front. Photo attachments heartily appreciated.
Many thanks and best, fashionable regards,


Apropos of nothing

courtesy of Dave Hill

The ever-changing bunny

My personal disillusion with much contemporary video and installation art is how boring, obvious and didactic it is. Advertising has always borrowed its clothes from the art world. In Britain, because of our woefully under-funded film industry, many directors have begun their careers in television and cinema advertising. I find the following clip charming, amusing and inventive, but it does lack the precise and salty bite of art.

(via Norm)

Thoughtful Dresser poll - shopping within one's budget?

Shoppers fall over themselves to buy £3 jeans at Primark

A simple enough question, but one which drives many women mad. Is it really necessary to max out one's credit card when there are so many good clothes at all prices? I'm not really talking about the shopaholic syndrome, buying for the sake of it, but rather, going into debt for a £600 dress instead of making do with a £200 one.

Forty per cent off

At My Wardrobe until midnight tonight. Enter code Confidential40 in the Promotional Code box after you submit your card details at checkout.

For example

Beatrix Ong - £468 (£280) Black satin peeptoe shoes with swarovski crystal encrusted balls.

I just bought this cheerful John Smedley scarf to enliven a black winter coat, or even a leather jacket

Italian women: best dressed in the world

I inadvertantly mis-set the closing date for the Thoughtful Dresser poll, it should have ended this morning and I'm closing it now. So sue me.

But there's no mistake about the result with Italian women 12 points ahead of their French rivals in the best-dressed women of the world contest. I added some other nationalities in order to stave off objections by proud patriots, but the real contest was never in question. Young British women are good at experiment, and are quick to adopt the latest fashions, America has given us street style, but that's mainly in menswear.

In Paris in September for a couple of days shopping at Le Bon Marche I had never seen so many incredibly well-dressed women in the same place at the same time, and as much as one looked at them it was difficult to see how they had done it, like great prose which seems simple, plain and effortless, yet cannot be copied. For it wasn't that they wore the latest styles, is was how they wore their clothes, how they pulled a whole look together, often out of very simple elements. But move of the fashionable neighbourhoods, and things don't look quite as good. Every French woman knows to buy a classic jacket, but in French towns of the interior you see women who are perfectly dressed, but dowdy. The young, too, seem to take clothes so seriously that there is no sense of fun, which surely is a component of being young? French women dress well, I think, because as a nation they are taught how to from an early age, are rarely overweight, and their bodies are in proportion. Far harder to dress well with a difficult figure, such as the large-bosomed women of Italy.

Italians have a saying which permeates every aspect of their lives: la bella figura, the beautiful form. They apply it to a palace and to a can opener. Design is everything. Italian women are show-stoppingly well-dressed. Not for them, the muted good taste of the French. They have a stronger sense of fashion and, crucially, they have at their disposal good design available at all budgets, from Armani to Benetton. I have been to small towns in Sicily, mafia-ridden impoverished villages, sleeping under the hot sun of the Mezzogiorno, and come evening, the time of the passagiata, the doors of the houses open and out come the women, carrying Gucci handbags.

So for me, Italians are the winners. Because you will find well-dressed Italian women (and men also) in every part of the country and at every social class and situation. What is the secret, I once asked an Italian? Ironing, he said. Very, very good ironing.

Thought for the day

I don't know who invented the high heel, but all men owe him a lot. Marilyn Monroe