How to make your old stuff feel new
Unlikely accessory pairings -- that's the secret.
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Do you ever get so overwhelmed when you’re around very well-styled people (could be in real life, or through a magazine/website) that it teeters into the territory of helplessness? Like you lose sight of your own sense style or something, you start to think, because of all the good taste in your presence, “I have to have all of that! Every single component.” Even if its not de facto your taste! But especially when it is.
Lately, I’m realizing it is much easier to shake off this feeling than I have previously believed. Like all you have to do is step into your own closet and take the goodness for what it was: inspiration to ignite your own creativity. But I think the thing about the feeling at all is that there’s a thrill in the air around getting dressed again. It’s like we can finally see opportunities to put on a pair of heels (like these), and they don’t seem as far reaching as they have the past two years.
That proposition is so exciting that it can become intoxicating and when you’re intoxicated, you know how it goes, your head’s not on straight so you start to make lopsided decisions. Or maybe this is just me, idk, but I’m so excited about all the new stuff and I want to try it all and wear it all and see what’s me and what’s not, so I have needed to take a bit of a breather, which has drawn towards the thesis of this post: the thrill of unlikely accessory pairings as a way to make old stuff feel new. You use your tried and trues (trousers, sweaters) as a buffer and take risks around the edges. I’ll start with:
Thrill no.1: 2 bags, 1 look
In September, Matthieu Blazy (Bottega Veneta) showed a number of combo platters that included totes that looked like they were made of fishnet, or paper shopping bags that were actually leather, styled under structured, elegant handbags. Not to blow steam up my own ass, but I had done something similar earlier in the semester —
Where I layered the leather bag in figure A over that basket bag from the same figure. Don’t remember why I did it, but for sure it was a means of necessity and not deliberate styling. It worked out nicely because the small bag carried my key possessions: phone, wallet, airpods, while the basket hauled everything else. In figure B, seen here below too:
I’m using a canvas tote with a suede bag that features a chain handle. The converse serve as a foil to the fancy bags in both instances and if you’re going to try, I would recommend a pair of tennis sneakers to offset the rest of the look if you’re going the streamlined trouser route too.
I’ve been mostly wearing the trousers I wore all through last spring (these from Emi Mess) with layers of lighter knits from last winter. The contrast between the sneakers and belt feels like it matters more when you don’t have to wear a coat yet, so I take advantage of that dichotomy while I can. Meanwhile, some tips to make the combo of fancy bag to market tote/casual bag work:
Pair the bag with either a semi-structured canvas tote (the one I’m using is my grocery lugger), or a basket bag. Basket bags are more rigid, so if your fancy bag has some weight to it and your market tote doesn’t need to have that much stuff in it, you should probably opt for basket to avoid over-flimsiness.
This is a great solve for finding “that perfect laptop bag.”
If you’re using a coin-style purse like the one in figure B (Khaite), I’d go for something canvas or net like in the Bottega example (here’s an Etsy ref) — you want your fancier bag to have a little more structure than your nonfancy bag.
Make sure the top handle on your fancy bag is long enough that it dangles over the market tote — otherwise it will kind flop up over the handles of the tote like a misplaced wing.
Thrill no.2: a stockings sandwich
I think the original inspiration for the combo of stockings with jeans/suede shoes was the styling on Toteme’s website last Fall, with a number of their suede flats paired with stockings under various cropped pants. It’s an unlikely combo because suede is a more durable, often perceived-as-casual fabric while tights are delicate and fussy. So immediately the combo is unexpected in a good way, then you try it with jeans, ey vwala: your contradictions, they are-a-many.
Although for what it’s worth, the shoes def don’t have to be suede or loafers. A little kitten heel slingback, or winter sandal would look good too. (If you’re going this route, you’ll want a pair of well-worn blue jeans.)
Alternatively, if you prefer the suede loafers w tights, you could consider a skirt or dress to wear with them, a la:
The other thing I’ll say about this combo: if you do decide to try it with loafers, you’ll want your loafers to be pretty soft/narrow in the front, like featuring an almond-shaped toe (I don’t hate these from Aerosoles; these are a slightly different vibe, but the case could get made!) as opposed to something bluntly square or very wide in the toe. I’d stay away from doing this with ballet flats lest you’re wearing your well-worn jeans.
Thrill no.3: perfumed knit (but also, cropped and not)
Is less apparent than the ones above. It’s more like, a nod to self-care because:
This rec is to choose a perfume you like.
I had this moment like a month ago when I put on my first sweater of the season and it (the sweater) still smelled like the perfume I wore last winter. I was like, huh, that’s a pleasant surprise. The smell of the perfume catches on to the knit and has a way of sticking around, which is lovely if you actually like the perfume. I have been wearing this rollerball fragrance, 11:11 by Lake & Skye (musty! But also clean) since 2019. I think subconsciously, it reminds me of the best months postpartum but nowadays it also just smells great on cashmere/wool combos.
But if the other combo about this look — cropped sweater over long t-shirt — tickles your hoo-ha, I might recommend you take a knit you don’t wear so much anymore, make like Miuccia (as in, Prada, who literally cut some of the sweaters and skirts before they hit runway for Fall 22) and hack that shit on your own. I did not do this — my sweater is from Cashmere in Love. If you’re going to try chopping yours, make sure it’s a loose fitter to achieve the same effect over a long sleeve t-shirt.
And that concludes this edish of another e-mail too long for e-mail. Thanks for tuning in if this is where I leave you. If not, here’s your summarizing tip sheet: