Sunday, August 21, 2011
People occasionally ask us if we wear to work the same clothes we wear while we're out and about in our spare time. It's almost phrased as a challenge, like "Yeah, you can wear that NOW, but could you wear that to WORK?"
The answer is, well, yes and no. With the exception of our hats, there's almost nothing we can't wear to work. We just can't wear all of it at the same time. After all, it's just not good politics to look better than one's boss.
We're not even really sure why the question should arise. After all, here are two photos of Pavarotti at work:
And here's a photo of Pavarotti at rest:
Probably nobody ever put that question to him.
In any case, we decided to take pictures of ourselves during the past five day work week. If we topped any of these outfits with hats, they'd take on a completely different look. A lot of these are clothes you've seen before.
Valerie's Monday outfit (below). Maria Cornejo dress with graffiti / Cy Twombly-like print. The grosgrain straps are meant to converge in the front, but I wear the dress backward (like so much I do in life) because otherwise I'd have to get an entirely different brassiere. This is also worn with a tiny shrug from Strawberry. Partly a nod to propriety in the workplace, partly a way to cover my untoned arms. You can see my ball necklace and a bracelet, but I seldom wear jewelry at work because it gets in the way. The phone is jarring when it clatters against my earrings, and I'm deathly afraid I'll scuff or crack or otherwise ding my bracelets against something on my desk.
Valerie's Tuesday outfit. Perry Ellis jacket, black H&M bustier, Issey Miyake pants, Land's End shoes.
Valerie's Wednesday outfit. The green and black shirt by Suits Me is a brand new purchase from a thrift shop. $4.99. There was a Dries van Noten at the same place for $3.99. Trust me to make a beeline for the more expensive piece! (Jean also got a great Scandinavian brand shirt for $3.99.) Generally I gravitate away from animal prints, but I allowed myself this one because it's acid green. (Interesting aside: Did you know that many vibrantly colored animals are poisonous?) Also shown: black H&M skirt, green Uniqlo leggings, snake-shaped and snake-colored sandals by Inspirit. (Great sandals to wear to work; not great for a day of walking.)
This poisonous green and black striped caterpillar will metamorphose into a black swallowtail butterfly.
Valerie's Thursday outfit: vintage '80s Issey Miyake shirt (Junichi Arai weave), antique bone carving with bamboo centerpiece, woven metal bracelet, Yohji Yamamoto pants, Aerosoles shoes.
Valerie's Casual Friday outfit. Earrings mother of pearl, abalone and silver, unknown maker; porcelain necklace from Blue & White; Marilyn Monroe film print dress by Chow Chow Mob; neoprene diver's belt with pocket by Free Style; leather shoes have indecipherable logo.
Jean says: When Valerie suggested this week's topic, I demurred because I was traveling. Then, I decided to just go for it and photograph what I was wearing while working or while traveling on business, so here goes:
Jean's Monday outfit: Here I am in Georgia before I set out for the day. (I flew in on Sunday.) I'm wearing a Tale N. 3 dress from a shop by the same name in Milan. It packs easily and is hand washable. I paired it with red accessories: vintage wooden red beaded necklace, bakelite bracelet and earrings and resin and bakelite rings and a red Tignanello shoulder bag I use when I travel to hold my cell phone, Blackberry, wallet, ID and boarding passes.
Jean's Tuesday outfit: Here I am in my hotel room that morning before returning to NYC in typical travel garb: solid black (quel suprise!). The tee shirt is by Michael Stars. I cut the white label out of the shadow-striped sleeveless shawl shaped vest because it showed through the fabric and have forgotten the maker. The cotton drop-crotch pants (shades of the Man-Repeller blog) are from a Soho street vendor on Houston and Thompson Streets; purple and black striped Ellen Tracy socks; Pataugus shoes; charm necklace; vintage bakelite rings and gold rings and vintage Revue frames. (At the time, I hadn't really noticed how green the hotel's drapes were.) I always wear humorous socks when I travel because I hate taking off my shoes in the security line and standing around in bare feet.
Little known travel tip: I found out the hard way that wearing the wide-legged, drop-crotch pants through airport security pretty much guarantees you'll be an automatic candidate for the TSA "full body" pat-down.
Jean's Wednesday outfit: Busted! OK, OK, true confessions: I sometimes repeat outfits in the same week if I'm wearing them in different cities. Case in point: Here I am back in the office in Manhattan on Wednesday, wearing the same dress I wore on Monday. Here's my other great travel secret: "Forever New" Fabric Care Wash! As the label says: "Established Excellence in Fine Garment Care", and a small bottle lasts forever: Just 2 teaspoons of the white crystals in four quarts of water can do a whole sink full of fine washables. And, since it's not liquid, you don't run afoul of TSA 1 quart bag requirements. On the night before I left Georgia, I washed my dress and all my unmentionables and hung them up to dry, so I flew home the next day with clean clothes. Repeating the look right down to the red accessories really simplified getting ready for work. All I added was the color-coordinated Blackberry.
Jean's Thursday outfit: I paired a black tunic top by Ciel de Juno with a long mottled steel grey Lilith rayon, wool, nylon and spandex skirt, large silver orb necklace and aluminum and marble earrings from a flea market and craft shows, black resin alligator bracelet by Angela Caputi, Pataugus flat, ankle-strapped shoes, and my ever-present shades.
Jean's Casual Friday outfit: To counteract the weather forecast calling for cloudy skies and showers, I opted for a blast of color (OMG!). The orangey-red long shawl shaped sweater (another instance in which I removed the label which showed through the garment, but I think it was by Donna Karan) was the perfect topper for an Ambiance cotton tee shirt, Indian cotton and linen pasha pants, Trippen boots, vintage bakelite chain worn as a necklace and bakelite and resin rings.
Without our signature hats, the outfits do look presentable enough to interact almost incognito with the rest of society. However, that's a mighty thin line -- the right hat can transform an outfit in the blink of any eye. Keep blinking, ladies!
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SPECIAL TREAT: ZOOT SUIT RIOT
First, for one of the best examples of a fabulous zoot suit in action, let us treat you to Cab Calloway in fine fettle singing Geechy Joe, backed by his big band. A color photo on the net seems to indicate this suit (including the hat) was canary yellow. Wow!
The zoot suit was so popular that it even showed up in a 1944 Tom and Jerry cartoon. The zoot suit shows up around three minutes into the cartoon. The way Tom's hat is creased just so to accomodate his ears is fabulous.
Now, if you'd like to know some of the very interesting background of the zoot suit, click on this audio link to Soundcheck on WNYC.