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A Simple Technique For Those Who Would Be Artsy(er)

As Sturdy Gals, we often aspire to other Archetypes. Grande Dame hopefuls sigh for Vivier pumps. Artsy-Lites wish for a little bit of cool.

I myself have made a study of the Artsy style. Let’s not talk about the psychology, it’s fairly quickly assessed. Moving on the the practical, as one does, here’s a Sturdy technique. It works pretty darn well, as we are apt to say.

Pick a retailer and let them choose. Simple, no? This is not rocket science – except perhaps in the choosing of the outlet itself. For the Artsy comes in many variants. That’s what makes it so tricky for the Sturdy of spirit and aesthetic. We prefer clear rules.

So imagine a few Artsy options. Each come with rewards, and risks.

Girly Artsy

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Chart a course through Anthropologie’s ruffles and teacups to sun-bleached color mixing. Just watch out or the saleswoman may trick you into leaving the store in dress shorts. Those are dangerous seas for Sturdies.


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Steven Alan stores can be found scattered at the margins of America. It’s the kind of place where people know how to accessorize a plaid shirt – no gardening clogs allowed. Where maxi skirts start to make sense. The danger here is leaving in the clothing of a 12-year old girl. Anyone over 40 should avoid their short shirt-dresses at all cost, or risk channeling Dorothy Gale. Next stop hair-ribbons.

Urrrban Grrande Dame Artsy

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In real life, my Artsy leanings have been best met by AllSaints. I bought my biker jacket there, and sequin skirt. I almost bought a pair of their Hessian boots, before settling on the Dickers. While you do have to watch out for Fake Clubber Syndrome, and the associated Creeping Cat’s-Eye Makeup, AllSaints are masters of draping. In our comfort zone asymmetry looks plain crooked; as we venture into unknown domains our level shifts.
Now should anyone ever want tips on how to be Sturdy, well, that’s another matter altogether.


25 Responses

    1. Their fancy dishtowels are a reliable hostess gift, it’s worth trolling through the web site when your stock of gifts runs low!

    1. Oh yes, that too! I am always concerned that a dash of artsy-grande on a sturdy thirty-year-old may make me look like I’ve trawled the back of a thrift shop run by aged actresses.

  1. my little sis (an actual artist, and a costume designer) and i were talking last night, as it happens, about coco chanel’s instruction to take one thing off before you head out the door each day. we concluded that artsiness is in part the reversal of that dictum: lo, one must approach the mirror and add one thing. (and repeat as needed. and repeat as needed.)

  2. As always Lisa, I love your interpretations. I’m recently crushing on All Saints. Haven’t bought anything from them yet, but their aesthetic is speaking to me in seductive whispers right now. Also discovered French brand “Sandro” while over in the UK, may have to keep that one on my radar too.

  3. I do so love when you open up new avenues, or maybe alleys or driveways or perilous footpaths, for sturdies. You help me make sense of my own leanings (see previous epiphany on sturdy-to-cute, which is why I avoid Anthropologie with all my might). Yes, this is why I am always tempted by All Saints. But I would have put Steven Alan firmly in the sturdy camp — extravagant sturdy, but sturdy. Of course, I’ve only been to one of their (his?) stores, one time, so I’m not a good judge.

  4. Loving that AllSaints collage. What does that mean?
    Getting ready for the European holiday with a hot pink pailette skirt at the knee, lime green sleeveless tank, brown/black print oversized jacket & miles of jewelry. What do you think? Maybe I’ll send you a pic. And don’t forget about the giveaway, Lisa, maybe over Memorial Day?

  5. I´m so dumb that after all these years I still don´t get the Artsy, Sturdy etc.
    way of dressing/ or placing clothes into these categories.
    For me, it is all about wearing comfortable clothes.

    1. Mette it’s just an American thing. My apologies for the cultural references.

  6. The Steven Alan collage – that’s the kind of stuff that looks good on me and makes me feel both cool and comfortable. I wish I found such clean shapes more often. Do I see a touch of nineties there?

    And “Fake Clubber Syndrome” – priceless and a real danger! Thanks so much.

  7. If I were to adopt your types( which you offered originally as manifestations of High Wasp, which I’m not at all), I’m also at some intersection of Artsy and Sturdy, so I find this post interesting. Increasingly, I’m mistrusting myself in shops like Anthropologie which encourage my Artsy self to load up on wardrobe items that my Sturdy self ends up putting in the giveaway bin. . .slowly learning . . .

  8. The Grande Dame gone Artsy appeals to me. I do not wish to attempt looking like a 12 year old!

    Come with me on my adventure in France.
    life, possibilities, grace
    a beautiful dream…

    Art by Karena

  9. Once again, your clear thoughts and sturdy systems provide guidelines for the more muddle-headed amongst us.

    When I was younger, I thought I ought to be artsy (or boho, as it was called on the pages of Vogue in my teens), and would buy things from Anthro (when visiting relatives in the US) or Allsaints-type shops (because there are a plethora of them in the UK, and if we do anything well in fashion it is that) and then just felt plain silly and simultaneously lumpy. After a while I had to acknowledge the quiet truth of my patiently persistent inner Sturdy, and have been working on mastering the art of basics for the past eight years or so.

    When feeling dowdy I tell myself that I’m channeling Sofia Coppola, but sometimes I crave a bit a bit of artsy-grande, as epitomised by those ruby earrings.

    Any chance of a guide for people like me?

    1. I suppose my whole blog is, in effect, a guide for people like us. Perhaps it’s time for a synopsis.

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