Numerous thoughts this week, spurred quite naturally by the fact that a new year is (already?!) upon us. I’ve been thinking about all the big fashion moments this year (helpfully rounded up here). It’s been a year of dopamine dressing, trying to put the fun back into what we put on. Fashion to dance in, even! It’s been a year of reliable, future-proof choices – classics both “new” and enduring.
It all got me going about what ought to come next. Spring/Summer 2022 seems to be a season marked by optimism and liberation – which offers great vibes and plenty of options. But I want a little more direction. A plausible answer came to me earlier this week from two things. One: I was suddenly overcome with the desire to put on makeup and proper clothes. Two: I was thinking about the recent death of Joan Didion, who was an inspiration and North Star of journalistic and stylistic prose to countless writers.
Joan Didion as campaign model for Celine Spring/Summer 2015, lensed by Juergen Teller.
These two thoughts are incongruent, but they sort of joined when I got to wondering what Joan Didion might’ve worn while writing/working. We know for a fact that Didion worked at Vogue when she was younger, and learned the economy of language from writing fashion captions (ironically frivolous, but she’s got the range I suppose!). There’s also her infamous packing list from her 1979 essay collection The White Album. The wearables she included are as follows: “2 skirts; 2 jerseys or leotards; 1 pullover sweater; 2 pair shoes; stockings; bra; nightgown, robe, slippers”.
Feasible then, that she might have lounged and drafted in a nightgown or a robe. But the discipline and rigour of her writing suggest to me the opposite: the skirts, jerseys, sweaters and shoes seem likelier. This was, after all, a writer who at age 15 typed out sentences from Hemingway to understand how his prose worked.
There is something quite alluring about being at work. And I don’t mean in the humdrum labour sense. I mean being productive, doing something, making things happen, getting things moving, and so on. I find people who are good at what they do endlessly fascinating – seriously, find a specialist and ask them questions! – and they have a kind of style that arises from substance.
Two other things happened that helped solidify my thoughts. First: I encountered some insipid marketing copy online about faux-rugged streetwear that said “workwear has never looked this good”. Yuck! Phoney, and not in a good way. Two: I went into the Prada boutique at Ion Orchard. (Highly recommended when desire flags a little and you need an aesthetic pick-me-up!) In there, I saw THIS BEAUTY.
When I tell you I was floored, stunned, gobsmacked! Miraculously, the oracles at Prada had discerned and put describable form to my yearning. Like a beam of light cutting through shadowy clouds, I now had the words for it: I simply want to get back to business. The bag becomes a starting point for this idea. Briefcase-like, at home on the elbow of a powerful woman in business (or law? Not to get too corporate here) who needs a handsome tote that conveys her seriousness. Importantly: seriously chic, NOT stuffy.
Of course, I got sidetracked after the revelation at Prada and saw this adorably flippant dog figurine from Faure Le Page. Hard luxury brands make some of the darnedest and cutest novelty creations… a bicycle from Hermes, for example. But that is a topic for another day.
Like the topic of this week’s edition, we ought to nod coolly and passingly at the digression and get BACK TO BUSINESS. There is an archetype of the capable-powerful-person-at-work, but you don’t have to go all in and make it a total look. I certainly will not. What I do believe in, however, is the talismanic power of one or two carefully-chosen accessories (items of interest, if you will) to help these thoughts take off in reality.
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