Tuesday 23rd January 2018
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My black hole

luma topYears ago, a friend told me a story about her two spinster great aunts, who lived together on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Every morning, they’d go to the same coffee shop and pore over the menu and its myriad breakfast options. And every morning, after much deliberation, they’d order the same thing: one bran muffin each, lightly toasted. The tale of these two ladies surrendering daily to their own predictability amused me for a while—until I realized that this is what I do every morning when I try to get dressed. And while it’d be nice to tell you that gaining awareness of this inclination to inspect my entire wardrobe before settling for pretty much the same thing day after day did something to curtail the behavior, alas, it did not. It’s just something I’ve come to accept. At least I allow myself some variety, in that my uniforms generally rotate:  I’ll run one into the ground, then move on to another, then another, and like that, until I’ve arrived back where I started. Right now, I’m deep into the color black—that great default of all wardrobe defaults, and one I often find myself drawn to once the weather turns frigid. It’s great for layering, because you don’t have to worry about whether everything matches, and it allows for a more streamlined appearance at a time of year when it’s easy to feel like a big old lumpy mess.  Since all black can be a bit of a bore, I try for interesting silhouettes. There is a rather fantastic sale going on at Maria Cornejo right now, and I picked up this sweater, and I wish you could see it in person, because its genius does not totally come through here: there’s this really nice, dramatic draping in the front, and it’s a regular length in back, and you can wear it backward—as I have been—and it’s just super-flattering. 


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I always get asked this time of year about my favorite heavy-duty leggings, so I’m just tossing these in here, because they are the best I’ve found by far. Thick but not without adding too much bulk. Which is, of course, key.

long spiral skirt

Tube skirts are fun, but I rarely wear them because of the dangers inherent in doing so and having hips at the same time. I went a little nuts and splurged on this one during my Maria Cornejo outing after the salesgirl insisted I try it on, swearing that it was flattering. And she was right: it sucks you in rather Spanx-ishly but is still exceedingly comfortable. Also: here’s a much  less expensive, more straightforward version from Zara.

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And while we’re talking big purchases, my winner in the footwear category for fall was this pair of platform boots from Acne. They cost more than I’m used to paying these days for a pair of boots, but as I’ve mentioned in the past,  I can’t wear heels, and these do a really good job of looking chic and high without having much slope at all. They are also just supremely walkable, as in throw- them-on-to-walk-the-dog walkable—which is highest praise I can give a pair of boots.

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It’s been a big year for me and blousy half-button-up tops, and it has everything to do with stomach junk. But I think even without my affection for their excellent camouflage capabilities, I’d be drawn to their clean-lined but just a touch peasanty vibe.

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I would be a mere shadow of myself without draped-front cardigans (I also like this inexpensive one from Mango).

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J. Crew’s toothpick jean is one of my favorites no matter the season—the crop is perfect for showing off your boots in cold weather—and I like that the denim here is less than pitch black, as too-black denim never looks quite right to me.

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Posted on January 3rd, 2014 17 Comments

17 Responses

  1. Hannah says:

    I used to think I was avoiding the malaise of an all black winter wardrobe until I realized that instead of black, everything I have is grey. The things that are not grey are navy >_>

  2. c.w. says:

    All lovely choices––surprising how many similar items I already own. I do, however, prefer the J.Crew Matchstick jeans rather than the Toothpick––slightly looser fit with the Matchstick which seems more appropriate for my age (I’m older than you so no dissing meant by that comment!!). And on that age note…I recently flew from the East Coast back to Texas and on my flight was an older woman (early seventies, maybe) wearing snug leopard print jeans with a cinched waist black wool jacket with booties very similar to the Acme ones above. She looked FABULOUS!!!

  3. Jill says:

    I like the jcrew matchstick too. They’re easier on most days than the toothpick, whichc requires more maintentance to be able to wear them (wry smile).

    On the same note as c.w.: I took my husband to dinner for his birthday at a pricey and somewhat chichi Atlanta restaurant, and there was a woman who *had* to be in her fifties wearing GORGEOUS, skintight black leather pants, black suede stiletto ankle boots with the thinnest heels, and a long red jacket that fit her to a tee. Short jet black hair and the perfect eye makeup…she looked so French-ish to me but she was very southern…but not the southern you’d expect. Loved her elan and it was so inspiring to my 46-y/o self (who has not quite kept such a lovely figure).

  4. Liz says:

    I, too, thought you preferred the matchstick. I’ve never tried the toothpick but have the matchstick in black. I like how the size 29 is equivalent to an 8.

  5. joannawnyc says:

    I, perhaps perversely, like to wear a lot of white and ivory in winter. But these are excellent choices and kind of make me want to reconsider …

  6. Viajera says:

    It seems to me the only thing that – in theory — one loses when no longer in one’s 20s is the “ability” to wear unflattering, loud, trendy clothing, which is no great loss really.

    And the ability was really just other people being tolerant anyhow.

    Plus, I think people should wear what they want, regardless (assuming bits are covered).

    I still have a problem with this knee boots/leggings issue. Must the buns be covered? Or, if the fabric is supportive enough, not? I don’t think it comes down to the condition of the body in question. Right now, I rather think it’s a no-go, even for a 20 y/o. Whereas, tight jeans are just fine. Fortunately, I don’t see too many people doing the leggings thing.

    • Viajera says:

      Just to be clear, I only meant, wearing leggings without a top or sweater that covers the derriere. Leggings are great when used properly.

  7. Tamara says:

    Annnnd of course the jcrew top is on it’s way, thanks to another 40% off…it now occurs to me that I bought it in navy last summer! probably as a result of something you posted…

  8. Diane says:

    I need some advice regarding the heavy duty leggings. I’m in San Francisco and can thus be sufficiently warm with regular tights during the winter. But I’m heading to Amsterdam in February and wonder if I can wear dresses with the heavy duty tights shown here — and still be warm enough. If I wear a dress, those tights, boots (and a coat of course) will I be warm enough? What do y’all do in NYC when it gets really really cold? Any thoughts or advice? Much appreciated!

    • Turner says:

      I wear that in NYC in winter all the time and it’s fine but I’m not outdoors for long stretches of time. How about fleece-lined leggings? I’ve seen those around but haven’t tried them.

    • joannawnyc says:

      How cold is “really really” cold? I think into the 20s you should be able to wear thick leggings and a long coat and boots with a dress and be fine. I like to layer with a bodycon tank dress underneath but you could also just wear a slip. Layering is key!

    • Tamara says:

      We (or at least I) give up. Tights under jeans. UGGS. Gross parkas. Bra tops instead of cute lingerie (it’s warmer!) Winter is vile. Cute dresses and tights? Forget it! That’s for the end of April. Unless you travel in a limo and have bodyguards to hold your umbrella and paparazzi to provide heat from flashbulbs. The trick is not to get so fat as a result of how depressing it is so you can’t fit into your cute stuff when it’s time to emerge…

      • Diane says:

        Thanks for your feedback, all. There will be no limos, Tamara, and no umbrellas or lightbulbs either! The best thing about being in Amsterdam is biking as a main form of transportation, temperatures be damned. It does help that the Dutch are practical and unfussy and stalwart. That’s all good but I still want to look good!

  9. Kay says:

    Kim, you should be ashamed to recommend products from Mango. This company’s negligence and unwillingness to take any responsibility for their obvious role in the tragedy at Rana Plaza is abhorrent.

    • KimFrance says:

      Kay–While I think your complaint could have been more tactfully expressed, you’re absolutely right. I wasn’t aware of their role in the Rana Plaza disaster. No more Mango.

  10. Good to know about those Splendid leggings. I like their regular leggings but have yet to try the heavyweigt version.