Privilege Blog

Dressing Well Without Chanel; When Quiet Gets A Little Louder

Some of us are wary of color. We have closets like this. Some of us prefer classic clothing. We own 5 pairs of the exact same khakis. Let’s call a quorum of this Quiet Dressers Club and and discuss strategy for turning up the wardrobe volume. Not to worry. I’ve done my research. Imagine, if you will, a screen and Powerpoint. First slide.

Here’s the secret. Only change one note at a time, and that just a bit. I know. Not very advanced, but we aren’t after Chopin now are we?

For example, color? Tend to wear nothing but navy? Who me? Don a shirt that takes blue to its edge, quietly. This I wore to my uncle’s remembering dinner, held in California before the service in Cape Cod. We weren’t pensive, but we might have been.

It’s from J. Crew. One of their Perfect Shirts, in a Liberty of London cotton lawn fabric. Floaty, especially at the waist, and a tad translucent. Sturdy Gals have to remind themselves to wear beige undergarments. The jeans are 7 for All Mankind “Ginger,” in a dark wash. I can’t recommend these highly enough, if you are looking for a line directly from hip to earth, with only the lightest of touches at the thigh. A treat for the short-legged among us. Shoes are Manolo Blahnik quilted ballet flats and yes I have had them for two years and yes I do wear them at least twice a week. Cost per wear, baby, cost per wear.

Or, say you want to experiment with clothing not to be found at Brooks Brothers? Dabble in Artsy Cousin territory? Stick to your color tones, explore other silhouettes. I never wear maxi dresses. Except when I do.

This dress is from Putumayo, a business that now focuses on World Music instead of clothing.Well OK then. My stepmother gave it to me almost 10 years ago. The dress is black, patterned with brown elephants, and perfect for very hot days. Shoes, Remonte Derndorf, bangles, here, gold disc earrings from San Francisco’s Chinatown, Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis bag in Amarante, wildly glam Costco sunglasses, and a scrunchie ponytail foldover. I tell myself the hair is insouciant. Help me on this one.

Taking little steps, setting friendly goals, always dressing with a smile for one’s foibles. Doing everything, in fact, with a fondness for one’s foibles.

52 Responses

  1. I love your hair I think it’ beautiful!
    Elephants are a particular favorite of mine so I do love that dress, and yes you have the arms for it.
    Your JCrew Liberty shirt is perfect on you as well. Lovely writing in this post as always.

  2. I have no problem with colors (although it took me 36 years to get to that point), but black patterned with brown elephants? I could never pull that off. Go, Lisa.

  3. I’m with Susan on “cost per wear, baby”! I’m guilty of having 7 pairs (much less 5) of black stretch “garbo” pants that I wear almost exclusively. They blend into all my combos which, of course, are all black-compatible. I’m slowly embracing some other colors….muted colors: silver grey, dove grey, amethyst, French blue, a soft sage. It seems these are colors that go well with my greying hair. Gold jewelry has changed to silver. Soon….no, really…..I plan on getting some new non-stretchy, non-black pants…….honest. Submit.

  4. Both looks are really lovely on you Miss Privilege, I particularly like the Liberty Gap blouse, I bet the print pops when seen in person. You know me, never one to shy away from color!

    BTW, I’m with all those understanding the amortization rate with investment pieces, it almost always works out to being a very savvy purchase.

    Sending you a smile,

  5. Yep 7 for all Mankind jeans are definitely great for short legs,as I have parted company from jeans any tips on trousers for shortie legs what designer caters for us?

    Love scrunchies but wish I could find something different from my velvet ones not much choice in the shops over here. Ida

  6. I like that you are showing more real life photo examples. I also like the sound of those 7 for all Mankind jeans. Thanks for the tip!

  7. I own 13 identical BB white shirts and 3 pairs of black BB gabardine pants. To add color, I finally started wearing Hermes silk squares in colors that go with the black and white. It has worked for all seasons!

  8. Cost per wearing should be everyone’s mantra. If only it could be known from the outset that the shoes/dress/pants/ etc would be a real success.

  9. The hair is insouciant…but it is the main thing I’m noticing about both photos. I am jealous that your locks are ahead of mine in the greying department, but looks so full and healthy. Must try a pair of those jeans.

  10. You are an inspiration. Lisa, I love your choices. And here! here! to your glorious hair. Dressing well may well be social anthropology but it fun, too.

  11. Very nice! I’ve been moving from the other direction (louder, brighter) and am sidling towards quieter, less prints — might meet you in the middle ;-)

  12. You’ve got to explain how wide legged jeans with flats can possibly make one’s legs look longer. I’m an artist, and it doesn’t make sense to me, and yet somehow, I trust you. And, since my legs aren’t long enough either, this is a really crucial question for me. Geometrically, it doesn’t make sense. Maybe with high heels or platforms hidden under the bell at the bottom? Have I been wearing the wrong fit jeans my whole life? Sort of having an existential panic attack and hope you answer soon.

  13. Well done oh glamorous one.

    Sturdy my butt.

    Effortlessly chic is more like it.

    Have you seen J.Crew’s new yellow raincoat?

    Do I want it to be my birthday present to myself?

    Dog walking, bus riding,dashing off to the library?


    xo jane

  14. Although my profile pic shows me in a jewel-tone tie-dye T-shirt, that is the lone item in my wardrobe so wildly colored and patterned. Being an old hippie I just couldn’t help myself.

    That said, my wardrobe basics consist of jeans, khakis, LL Bean pima cotton tees with a slowly increasing collection of lovely white cotton shirts. (I’m a Domestic Goddess living in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California, and rarely have occasion to wear anything more formal.) My tees are in colors I’ve found to be flattering: hot pink, whisper soft pink, light and dark teal, Kelly green. I wear the pastels and whites far more often than the brights (or the tie-dye).

    As important to me as color is simplicity of, or perhaps I should say, lack of pattern. Although I think it can look fantastic on others, I can’t abide it on my own clothes. Makes me twitchy.

  15. First, you have wonderfully thick hair. Please keep it natural. I do like it tied up better though.
    I also like your outfit 2 a lot.
    About colors. Less is more.

  16. Ah, how happy and well you look with those beautiful arms and that glorious head of hair. I adore colour during the summer months, but shy away from said colours during the winter & autumn months.

  17. Tried the Gingers, too wide for me, but the original boot cut, dark rinse, no “whiskering” are perfect. Bloomingdales was having a denim sale, so I bought 3 pairs in dark denim, one in black. Thanks for guiding me to my perfect jean, since that’s pretty much all I wear.

  18. Lisa you look great, very together, comfortable, classic.

    PS I have done the cost per wear for years!! Works for me!


    Art by Karena

  19. Hi Lisa! I am curious about your hair – I had a Lisa with much shorter hair on my mind until I saw your recent photos. Can you tell us more about it? Was it a decision to let it grow long? Did you read Poppissima’s posting on grey hair about one and a half years ago? Your hair is blonde, of course!

    My new hairdresser won’t allow me to wear my hair anylonger than shoulder-lenght, no bra-strap-length if he were to decide.

  20. Putumayo! Who knew! You have gone to the artsy side and I like it! What’s next, big pearls? And your pensive blue: the intense yet restrained way you put it together! A deep blue palette embraces you.

    Lisa, your Sturdy cred is in serious jeopardy.

  21. Miranda – Thank you. As the rest of me declines, gotta go with the arms:).

    DaniBP – Thank you! How cute that elephants are a favorite.

    Susan Tiner – I can only imagine:).

    Mary anne – Ha! My pleasure.

    Jan – The elephants are, to be honest, kind of camoflaged in by the batik.

    Lara – Your colors sound gorgeous. It will be a big step, non-black pants. Might require a massage, after. I’d go to silver for the hair but my skin tone calls me back to gold. Also? Silver allergy…

  22. Hostess – Thank you!

    TPP – The print for the Liberty shirt really is gorgeous – you’re right to imagine it popping.

    Ida – Thank for the confirmation! For trousers/short legs here in the US Banana Republic Martin fit works very well on me. Otherwise, um, Armani wide legs? Or Bernard Zins (German). Unfortunately I haven’t tried any lower price European goods.

    Laura – Ah good. As you can imagine I debate whether or not to go this route of self-picturing. If it’s useful, I’ll continue.

  23. Wendy – Thank you! Laughing is my favorite.

    Valentine – OK. ‘Fess up. Which BB white shirts?

    Susan – Yeah, I know. That is the risk. *she says with a glance at the white cashmere Kiton suit in her closet….*

    Blighty – Well thank you! I think I shall call it an accessory from now on:).

    Flo – I thought of you and your Artsy Cousin Polyvores when I wore that dress. I did.

    Terri – My hormones, and therefore my hair, haven’t figured out I’m 54. My joints on the other hand got the early memo.

    1. “Flo – I thought of you and your Artsy Cousin Polyvores…”

      I SO regret pulling those down. But a point proving itself from that action is that High Wasps can’t stand too much public exposure, even from behind a veil!

  24. Laura – I love that. Rainbow auto-pilot.

    BarbaraG – Your words are deeply appreciated. And heckyeah to fun:).

    Mater – See you there. Round about turquoise?

    Kathy – I am so glad you found some 7s that fit you. Totally get that the flares might be too wide but I think the general principle applies! Short-legs represent!

    Jane – Flo wants to know:).

    Lynda – Hehe. We are all old hippies here and there:). I love the Santa Cruz mountains, and spent last Sunday in Pescadero just for fun.

  25. Metscan – Thank you. I only let it down for short events. Otherwise it drives me nuts.

    That’s Not My Age – See you inside:).

    Jessica – We all have to know our profiles…

    Luna – How fun if I have gotten to the right spot, even if I did it by backing up.

    Stephanie – Thank you. It takes some of us 50 years to grow into who we are.

    Englishvers – Thank you. And I hadn’t even considered the seasonal aspect…

  26. The Style Crone – Cheers to blue! Thank you so mcuh.

    Karena – Thanks!

    Blighty- I’m thrilled to play a role on your wonderful blog.

    Flo – Let’s see if Jane hears our pleas.

    Paula – I’ve been growing out my hair since, hmm, last November. Stopped coloring it then too. I’ve documented the process a bit here, but more so maybe over at Rock the Silver.

    Duchesse – Ha! Keishi pearls maybe? But I tell you, Sturdy is also of the heart:).

  27. Wish I could wear more colour but apart from a few splashes of orange it is very much missing in my wardrobe. Love your liberty print shirt and your maxi. And the ‘cost per wear, baby’ comment too! x

  28. Keep up the fashion input! As a recent returnee from Artsy Cousin back to Sturdy Girl, I need all the help I can get to find my way back into the fold. I fear appearing too mannish, due to , um well. more sturdiness than you. Lead on!
    Aka Muffy

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