Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally Grasping The Obvious

 I love everything about this tunic - cut, color, pattern, details - except where the ties hit. It's almost up to where an empire waist would lie, not quite, and it does nothing for the lines of the garment itself or my figure (kind of a weird matronly young girl feel).  For years now i've worn this top while finding the silhouette distasteful.

The other day it occurred to me - just tie the ties loosely at the back, then belt the thing wherever you like. Bingo! Why this insight took several years to settle through the gelatinous synapses of my noggin, i cannot say. But i hope my confession will save some of you a little grief.

I think this is an example of a look that's not traditionally 'figure flattering', but where i love the way the lines of the tunic drape over the figure. It brings the curves into full relief, highlighting them in a unique way. Maybe not for every one, but i like it. It reminds me of the drapery folds in ancient Grecian wear.

In another flash of the obvious, i had a realization about capsules. The concept is a little hard to explain and grasp (until you get it, obviously). A while back i received a copy of Land's End's catalog and noticed the new 'Starfish Collection'. This is targeted towards middle aged ladies with casual wear needs. Every piece in the collection can be worn with every other piece - they all are made from a strictly crafted color palette, of similar fabrics, with continuity in silhouettes and design details. You could pick any 8-12 pieces from this collection of twenty items and create a perfectly functioning clothing capsule. Land's End Canvas, while offering a much bigger selection (a couple hundred pieces), could also be seen as a huge capsule. You'd be hard put to pick any 12 pieces from this line and find any pieces that would not work with the others.

Many catalog companies design and present their offerings in this way - you could pick out any several items from the catalog and they would all work well together. This is especially true for Land's End and L.L. Bean, which makes sense as part of their appeal is 'ease in dressing'. But companies such as Banana Republic and J. Crew operate on much the same principle, in these latter cases i suspect it is more as a result of attempting to maintain a coherent brand image. At the same time, i am sure that busy young business people with time at a premium can see the appeal to 'ease in dressing' as well as the khaki and polo crowd.

What do you think - do you agree with my take on this? Does this make the concept of 'clothing capsules' any more clear?

Tunic: thrifted April Cornel dress, shortened
Skirt, bracelet: own design
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Shoes: Aerosole
Earrings: Meg's Ragged Edge


  1. I like your blouse workaround.

    I hated the example capsule wardrobe merchandise but haven't been able to figure out why. Checked out Eddie Bauer and Orvis to see whether I hated them, too. I used to savor the catalogs full of cozy, warm clothing. Duck shoes! Chamois shirts! Moleskin trousers! Down, down and more down. And you know, I hate camping. Why would I want to go somewhere and wash dishes for a vacation?

    I think I have too little imagination for the pages of mild colored basic garments, stark on the page. Where are the folks striding down the dock? Sitting by the fireside? I wish everyone sold clothes more cinematically.

  2. Hi Vildy! good grief, speaking of the obvious - the Land's End, L.L.Bean, etc. links are examples of the capsule concept. Come to think of it, i think the clothes are pretty awful. as a rule, i would avoid them personally at all costs.

    But they do a bang-up business, so apparently many people find them quite useful and are happy wearing them. But, to be clear, i set these forth as an example of the capsule concept - not really what i would endorse as clothing. just my opinion.

    "I wish everyone sold clothes more cinematically." ah, have you seen the Peruvian Connection catalog? talk about selling with gorgeous cinematography!!!

    the styling is so renowned that they mention the shoes on the company's blog.

    happy weekend! steph

  3. Oh I didn't think you meant that we could solve our wardrobe problems if only we dressed straight from the Lands End catalog. :)

    But the Peruvian Connection catalog? As soon as I opened the link and saw that lace top over that glazed looking leather skirt - I used to dress like that - I immediately wanted to throw away my whole closet!

    What's great about the catalog is not just the location shots but in almost every photo the model is acting - you know, when you can see photographed what the character is supposed to be thinking. Some look intrigued by something offscreen, or delighted. Some look speculative. Some are giving you the once over. Just wonderful.

  4. My mom has gotten the Land's End and Eddie Bauer catalogs for years, but she never likes or buys more than one item from each season's collection.
    Anthropologie is the only company that feels cinematic to me. Their full-page spreads may involve woodpiles and bodies of water, but you know they sure as heck aren't camping in that $300 dress! I often wish catalogs would present their clothes as worn by real people. Wouldn't a fashion blogger catalog be fab? =)

  5. There are some decent pieces in the L.L. Bean and Lands' End catalogs, but it takes a lot of digging to locate them. Still, I admire the prep they've invested in building a capsule catalog for the busy ladies who need something functional and fast. Works for the catalog company of course, since in theory this means the customer is more likely to buy the matching pieces.

    Peruvian Connection and Anthropologie are fantastic examples of opposing forces - at least, on the surface. The styling pleases the eye and challenges the mind to work out unique, creative or at the least interesting ensembles from the individual pieces.