I can do minimalism, Parisian polish, rock ’n’ roll and full-on glam. But there is one style that I will never be able to grasp: off-duty model.
When they are dressing themselves, models have a nonchalant way of throwing pieces together that looks so right (“Model Behaviour,” page 100).
If I attempted a riding jacket over a pouf skirt, or a sequined mini with white bucks, I doubt it would have the same modern charm. So I stick to my usual (safe) way of styling myself and envy those who are more daring. What I really need is a full day at home alone, the services of an expert stylist and an open mind.
“I wish I had time to play with what’s in my closet,” lamented a finance executive I met recently at a fashion industry dinner. Immaculate in a white shift, with garnet teardrop earrings twinkling through her blonde hair, she looked as if she had nothing but time on her hands.
But she had a confession. At the other end of the table was her “dresser”—a saleswoman she had befriended years ago and followed from a luxury boutique to the department store where she now works. “She puts everything together for me—the outfit, the shoes, the bag, the jewellery. I had 20 minutes to get ready for this dinner. Without her, I couldn’t do it.”
I am too much of a fashion nomad to devote myself to one store or salesperson, but I get it. Experimentation takes time and effort, and often both are in short supply. Why not get help, if you can afford it? But what struck me most about this woman’s admission was her candour. It was almost as if she didn’t want to take credit for her look without at least giving a nod to her trusted advisor.
So many women won’t admit to having help, especially when it comes to their face. Fake names, cash payments, disguises and decoys; they’ll go to great lengths in order to hide their cosmetic tweaks. They don’t want to deal with the embarrassment of feeling imperfect, a psychologist tells writer Wendy Schmid in “Does She or Doesn’t She?” (page 62).
Our appetite for imperfection in others seems boundless, however, and may have contributed to the instant success of HBO’s Girls. The characters, including a posh gallerina played by our cover girl, Allison Williams, are bared, warts and all. “It’s not easy and it’s not safe,” executive producer Judd Apatow admits in “About a Girl” on page 96. “It’s controversial because it’s really frank.” Williams, on the other hand, is a Yale grad starring in a hit show, looks stunning in designer samples and is so well-bred, she sent features editor Elio Iannacci and stylist Tammy Eckenswiller handwritten thank-you notes before this issue went to print. Kind of perfect, no? I look forward to hearing your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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