Privilege Blog

Dressing Quietly In A High-Resolution World


Last week, when I put up the photos of khaki and white outfits, before I pressed “Publish,” I thought to myself, “That is not very exciting.” I mean, khaki pants and a white shirt? And then another pair of, yes, khakis, and another white shirt?

How boring is that?

At least on the screen. And that’s my point.

We live, these days, in what Edward Tufte would call a low-resolution world. We know ourselves often as a series of digital images. Digital images have lower resolution than print images, and far lower resolution than real life.

What do I mean by resolution? The amount of information carried in every visible pixel, or square inch. A square inch of screen shows some color, some shape, a little texture. You can drown in a square inch of real life person.

So I think the trend toward “pops” of color, wearing 62 patterns at once or the oddest-slash-most-striking pieces possible, including Alexander McQueen’s shoes that miss cavendish calls “Bedlingtons,” is driven in large part by the expansion of our identities to include our digital selves.

My khaki outfits were a little boring on the screen. You all, of course, were very nice about it. I suspect you are all quite intelligent, and understood the impact of screens. I just wanted to point out that in real life, you could see fabric textures, that knit is not a weave. You would know that I wore gold hoops under my hair. It might even strike you that wearing no nail polish at all is somewhat of a statement, these days.

If you like dressing vividly, if it suits your character, I by no means point a judgmental finger. Allez-y, as the French say. But if you find vivid dressing taxing, as do I, pay attention to the small details and feel quite confident that your sensibilities will not get lost in the world off-screen.

48 Responses

  1. Don´t worry, I think I understand what you are writing here.
    Seeing the picture of you and seeing the real you – I believe I´d see a difference. All those small details don´t show in the picture, details that make you You. And you know how much time/ arranging is used for simple magazine pictures!
    I don´t use nail polish, but did not know, that it is considered a statement.

  2. You know, I don’t believe I commented on the post with your pictures, and I should have because I loved them. Since taking up photography as a hobby, I’ve found that I have much more appreciation for not only color, but lighting and composition in photographs, and the white shirts and khaki pants in no way detracted from any of those elements in the pictures you posted.

  3. Interesting. I see and feel that difference when veiwing art. A photo of a work of art doesn’t nearly capture what the piece itself expresses. I hadn’t thought about fashion photos that way.


  4. Furthermore, the screen obliterates the other sensory details that amplify or inflect the visual — the musicality of your voice, for example, a giggle that might get drowned by a colourful print, the hint of a rose oud perfume that the quieter context of white/khaki allows one to attend to. Sometimes, when I kiss one of my daughters’ cheeks, I’m struck by how soft their skin still is, a youthful plump layer that reminds me of their infancy. Or my son’s late-afternoon non-beard surprises me by being gentler, more ticklish, than its soft scruff suggests — much of the time,these other senses get pushed aside by the dominance of the visual, as if we’re all picturing ourselves, ready for the next photo op. . . I liked the simple, quiet background you posed — something like that cleansing sherbet between colourful courses. . .

  5. Interesting. Maybe because I’ve met you in person I see more of you in the photographs than actually conveyed by the digital images, but I thought the photos were stunning. Not boring at all.

  6. I enjoyed the pictures…I notice the small details..the men’s brown rolex, the cool shoes, the necklace..also you are in such good shape, that is a statement in itself…it is a relief to see classy and classic clothes with a modern twist..I read a lot of blogs, and am bemused by the amout of bangles on the arm, the piling of layer after layer! What I do is take one thing from pictures, maybe a color combo, or shoe idea..also love your beautiful silver hair!!Coco

  7. I had to laugh because my daughter tells me:”Mom, you are so beige.”. I don’t want anything to pop out at me, so I leave that practice to others. Oh. And hey, who knew I of all people would be making a statement ??

  8. Such an interesting concept–the over saturation of color and print to be “interesting” on line…well, if you can’t tell by my line, I do like a more subdued look, I’m all about wearing the clothes not the other way around and if it’s a really nice white shirt and khaki pants, it’s never boring!

    xo Mary Jo

  9. I didn’t see “boring” at all. I see “you.”

    You were wearing the clothes, the clothes were not wearing you.
    Comfortable, polished and honest.

    If you want to pop you could choose coloured shoes or a scarf and still be “you” without pushing the envelope too far.
    Deja Pseu has an interesting post today about accessories and the statements that they make.

  10. I noted your beautiful shaped feet especially the toes so clean and uncluttered by colour,never wear polish on my fingers this year neither on my toes.

    My only negative thought was ‘prefer my Cartier ‘tank’ watch! Ida

  11. I think you’re onto something here.

    I didn’t find your outfit boring at all, but rather a bit soothing and serene. Like a Zen garden. I also find vivid dressing to be taxing, and don’t like the effect on me IRL.

  12. I thought your pictures were lovely! A beautiful woman is never boring. I wear white shirts and khaki pants most of the time, and I certainly do not feel plain. Quite the opposite really! I also appreciate the “no polish” being a statement comment. I agree.

  13. In general, I don’t like being photographed because, when I see the resulting picture, I feel self-critical. In my mind, I am one way. In the pic, I’m so often a stranger to myself and I wonder if that’s how others see me. Vivid dressing taxes me. I like quiet, but with surprising elements of soft whimsy. It works for me, but it doesn’t seem to come across in a picture. I know that the people who know and love me see more of me than what appears on a flat image. Maybe the natives have it right, photos do steal your soul.

  14. Very thoughtful analysis. It makes sense.

    My only comment re: khaki and white is that climate makes a difference. It works wonderfully in California. In Oregon? Not so much…

  15. I admire quiet, classic elegance. Your photos were all the more striking, because you did not overwhelm
    our already over stimulated digital age senses. The eyes had a pause and enjoyed the simple details. Great clothing choices and photo styling.

  16. I wear mostly black, grey and ivory. I sometimes carry a tomato red handbag. Sometimes I wear a leaf green scarf. I would make a very boring fashion blogger!

    I did like your khaki and white outfits. I understood that they were very nice, carefully selected pieces.

  17. You looked so far from boring, a breath of fresh air. I think white and khaki are one of the best color combinations ever. Maybe because I’m an artist, and before that an interior designer, I have always worked with a lot of color. Can’t bear it on me, or frankly on most people. And yes, I find vivid dressing, whether color or prints, very taxing. Also don’t use nail polish. These days I look at magazines like Vogue, and literally feel nauseous.

  18. Great, great insight. I often notice there’s a quality about my outfits that doesn’t translate into the photo, and I keep taking pictures in an attempt to capture a piece of it. That real-life integrity is elusive. I guess if a picture is worth a thousand words, real life is worth a thousand pictures!

    The lovely simplicity of your outfit photos made it natural to pay closer attention to the details. I also prefer an aesthetic of clean, short, healthy nails on my fingers and toes.

  19. I think your khakis and white shirt are a comforting “uniform” and look clean, neat and classic. Those Bedlington shoes are absurd.

  20. I have OFTEN wondered if the pictures/stylings that we so often see are actually worn in real life or if they’re carefully put together for a blog post photo and then taken off.

    That’s something that did not cross my mind when I saw how the pants we’d seen in a Polyvore look on a real body.

    Since my recent trip to the Bay Area found me putting on a sweater or jacket every time I stepped outdoors I also thought that you probably add something on top of the pants when you step outdoors.

  21. Oh, I hope khaki and white is not boring………I wear it most days and happily. At 57 I have “done” the vivid pops of colour many times over. I like quiet some days. XO

  22. Although I seem to be in the minority, I do like color. Khaki and white make a good uniform for warm weather, but it can seem to be just that–a uniform. In cooler weather my favorite look is a cashmere turtle or v-neck in a beautiful color with black pants and a black leather jacket or other black jacket in a different texture than the pants.

    Oh yes, I do agree with the fact that a man’s watch upticks up an outfit. I proudly wear my man’s 1932 Gruen with its black leather band. It runs only sporadically–but it does look good!

  23. Boring? Nonsense! You were having a grand time and in every pixel it showed, regardless of glasses and settings and buttons and angles and lighting… We’ve all been there, however reluctant to admit, lol. Amazing to me (personally) still are the comments forthcoming regarding accessories. Of all things! I know then, that I am doing khaki and white just right.

  24. I generally like dressing vividly but I also think that neutrals are timeless and chic. I also feel quite serene in pale pale pink and taupes and stuff of that ilk. Keep up the Good Work. xx

  25. I remember an article from the early to mid 1990’s, comparing those who are “color” people and those who are “neutrals” people in their clothing choices. I think it may have been InStyle magazine. The main point was that most people revert to type even if they try to make changes. As a “colors” person, I am tired of the relentless black in fashion spreads. I love khaki and white, but would usually add a third, colorful piece. I certainly agree that texture shows poorly in the digital world.

  26. Posted too soon. Technology is probably giving a high contrast look its’ day. I think much of what will work for an individual has to do with their own natural coloring. Imogen Lamport writes about this on her blog. People’s coloring, based on hair color, eye color and skin tone is high, medium or low contrast. The vivid tones and combinations suit those who have high contrast in their own coloring and right now (technology and fashion)favor that.

  27. I’d never thought of this before, but of course it’s true. We are all influenced by the world of TV and the internet.

    I wonder if this is why fashion in some circles is about more – glitter is now worn all day, not just evening wear or for special occasions, one necklace isn’t enough, pile on six of them, layering, patterns, now colour blocking all trying to stand out.

    I really prefer your more refined style.

  28. Vivid expression works for some people, like my girl, Iris Apfel and quiet expression works for some, like you, classic Lisa.

    The common denominator is that you would both look good in a paper bag.

  29. we adore your blog.

    and are so thrilled you dropped by to visit us at

    btw, love the elegant watch.

    and, judging from the multiple-intelligent-thoughtful posts and comments, you definitely have touched a nerve and found an audience.

    you had us at this line: “I’ve been a lot of places, some by private jet.”

    it felt like the beginning of a novel……do tell us are writing one n’est ce pas?

    we shall visit again.

    warmest regards from a european-who-was-a-tiny-bit-scared-of-WASPs before reading your blog ;-)


  30. I sense a minor note of apology in your post, and if so, would only say: I like that quiet, restrained style best of all. Life in Hi-Def is not so kind to most of us.

  31. I thought you looked lovely and perfect in both outfits. Personally I never want to stand out anywhere so I have always embraced a simple classic style of dressing, hopefully with at least a touch of occasional elegance. I believe one can never have too many jeans, khakis and white shirts or blouses. The older I get the more important impeccable grooming becomes. I can’t just run out the door like I used to although I suspect you can. You look great!!!

  32. Lisa,

    I love the generosity of your spirit and cleverness of your words. In a single post, only you could explain your preferences and support the choices of others who prefer other ways of dressing. Brilliant!

  33. Mette – I think you very much have this style. More elegant and dramatic, but still quiet.

    Jan – How interesting. I like that, thinking of the outfit shots as just another way to play with light to make a photograph. And thanks – I’m glad you liked them

    Darla – Thanks. Art seems just about impossible to translate from IRL to screen.

    Mater – Cleansing sherbet – wonderful. It would have been mango, I believe. And nothing can compare to the cheek of one’s child, as you point out so beautifully.

    Susan – Thank you. And I always like people themselves more than I like their photographs. Funny that.

    Coco – Thank you very much. I am sure that some of us pick up more visual detail, and are therefore more drawn to dressing like this.

  34. Valentine – xox.

    Mary ann – I think clothes should be beige, food should not:). Statements are always made, even in their absence, just because people have big ears, right?

    Mary Jo – Yes, your line is very high resolution, I agree. Thanks.

    Hostess – Aw. Thanks. Yes, I think a lot about why I always need my accessories to blend in, not stand out.

    Ida – I also love a good Cartier Tank! And what a nice thing to say about my feet! The high arches make shoes tough, but look OK in sandals.

    Deja – It is the serenity I see, you’re right.

  35. Sandra – Well thank you. And it’s so nice to have comrades in khaki:).

    Lara – I am finding that posting these photos is removing a lot of the odd stuff I had about pictures of myself. So maybe they steal our souls until we become hardened to the effect?

    Jean S. – Thank you. And I completely understand about the Oregon climate. What would replace it, I wonder?

    Miranda – Thank you very much. Even to call it photo styling quite pleases me:).

    rb – Well, but you were the one who found the shoes for me, and that hasn’t been boring at all!

    Kathy – Thank you very much. And I feel my need for simplicity elevated by sharing it with an artist.

  36. Claire – Thank you. I think because I used the blank background, I tried to capture the feeling of the outfits as much as the look. I mean otherwise, there was so little see, if that makes sense. Part of the thousand pictures of life.

    BarbaraG – I’d love to. Just love to.

    Gablesgirl – Thank you. Those shoes felled many a model on the runway.

    SSG – xoxox!

    RoseAG – I’m down on the Peninsula, so it’s warmer here until fall. Unless it’s night, then it’s almost always cool. And it was fun to show the Polyvore pants come to life, essentially.

    Sande – Yes, there’s a bunch of stuff we’ve done and done enough.

  37. Bonnie – Thank you.

    Scarlet’s Mom – Sounds as though color really works for you. Wonderful. And your man’s watch sounds fantastic. Who cares if it works, what are cellphones for:)

    Mags – :). Just right, it seems, indeed.

    FF – You are one of the Queens of Vivid, no question.

    DocP – I think you are right, one either is or isn’t comfortable with a lot of color. And, good timing, Imogen has a video up today about contrast:).

    Northmoon – Well thank you. I think the more and more bit is related.

  38. Tabitha – Of course, right after I posted about bangles, but I get your drift in any case and I thank you.

    Patsy – Iris. Another Queen of Vivid. And you make me laugh as always. I swear if you dare me I WILL wear a paper bag and show you the error of your assumption:).

    teamgloria – So very, very nice to meet you. Not writing a novel. Attempting, sluggishly, to write a non-fiction book proposal:).

    Duchesse – It was more that as I posted, I thought it was boring, and then afterwards I thought no, it’s just got more impact IRL. If it had been an apology, of course I couldn’t have posted it, as that would hint at need and High WASPs have none:).

    Janey Ann – Thank you very much. I can’t quite just run out the door any more either. I have to pay a little more attention. And hear, hear for the multiple jeans and white shirts:).

  39. Latha – You are so nice. Quite simply I have a cultural horror of offending anyone, and a personal need to tell the truth. These things conflict, and require care in speech. Thank you again.

    Lori – I know. I thought of a jeans jacket on top:)

    Englishvers – And I thank you enormously, oh woman of style and mystery.

  40. I love the generosity of your spirit and cleverness of your words. In a single post, only you could explain your preferences and support the choices of others who prefer other ways of dressing. jennifer!

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