Location: Central Park, NYC
Sweater: Hudson’s Bay Company | T-Shirt: Cole Haan – Pinch Collection (Zara Basics, Aritzia, and Rag & Bone also make great white T-Shirts) | Shorts: Crewcuts (adult version available at J.Crew) | Fur Stole: Karl Lagerfeld (I like this one from Charlotte Simone as well) | Shoes: Sam Edelman | Backpack: Louis Vuitton (Vintage)
Growing up my interest in fashion wasn’t exactly encouraged. I had the sort of upbringing where my parents didn’t ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, but rather, what kind of doctor I wanted to be. That being said, it shouldn’t be surprising they found fashion to be a wasteful distraction. Neither of my parents grew up with a lot, although they became successful adults, old habits die hard and they remained hardcore savers. Stylish clothing was obviously not an expense they deemed a necessity and for this reason, I’ve had a job since I was 14 to cover these “extraneous costs.” Prior to the freedom of employment, I was just a 12-year-old girl who desperately wanted a pair of flared jeans. I was in the throes of adolescence, that horrible age where fitting in was crucial and having the “right” clothes seemed life or death. Knowing my parent’s attitude towards materialism, I knew I was going to have to approach this topic delicately. I spent three solid weeks on my best behavior, going above and beyond with my chores and voluntary sibling babysitting duty, all the while waiting for my mom to be in a particularly good mood before asking her to take me to get these damn jeans. I waited patiently, saw my opportunity, and finally after a month of agonizing I got my answer, “ask your father.” F*ck. The routine started all over again and miraculously I convinced my dad to take me to the mall. I had to map out my plan of attack meticulously because my dad usually has a one store limit; if you don’t find it there you’re going home empty handed. I grabbed every pair of flared jeans I could find and took them into the dressing room….not one single pair fit….I felt defeated. As someone who currently has a hard time finding pants that fit you can imagine what size I was at 12. I walked out with the closest fit and figured I’d “make it work” as Tim Gunn would say. My dad was not fooled, he said “put them back they don’t fit, what have I told you about buying things just to buy them.” I was practically on the verge of tears, which is the fastest way to being called a brat and dragged out of the mall with a lecture, so I held it back. To my surprise, one store limit dad said, “why don’t we try one of those trendy kids stores.” I was a little miffed, on the one hand I was shocked because this was so unlike him and on the other hand I was clearly a mature pre-teen who couldn’t be shopping for my stylish new wardrobe in a kiddy store.
On the way to the “kiddy store” my dad shared his own flared jean struggle. Apparently he grew up as a bit of a beanpole and flared jeans were the coveted item for “groovy teens” in his day too. He also begged his parents for a pair and brought home the only jeans he could find, three sizes too big, a choice he looks back on and regrets because he looked ridiculous. This was one of those glimpses into the past where you realize your parents are people too, that my dad was once just a boy, searching for flared jeans. I ended up finding two pairs that fit perfectly and looked just like the ones from the juniors’ store. Instinctively and happily, I went to put one of the pairs back, because there was NO WAY I was going to be allowed to get both. Then something crazy happened, my dad said, “what are you doing, get them both, you can’t always wear the same jeans.” I was practically going to cry I was so excited, I kept it cool on the outside though because I didn’t want to rock the boat, but in my head I was thinking “omg, this is the best day of my whole life!“ It’s always interesting to me what we remember and I wonder whether it’s even a day my dad recalls. Nonetheless, here we are almost 20 years later and I still occasionally wear kids pants and shorts. I learned my lesson about looking beyond the label, the size, and the exterior that day at the mall. People get so hung up on the brand name or the size on the label, if it looks good and it fits why should it matter? Sometimes I get weird looks when I’m perusing Crewcuts, but can you tell the difference between these white Frankie shorts I’m wearing and the adult version? Exactly. Since I’ve also learned the value of a dollar from my years of lifeguarding and working in retail, I frequently invest in classic staples and have mastered the art of a high-low mix. Classic white tailored chino shorts and a quality white tee will always remain in style and evoke a casual chic vibe. Sometimes it’s the lack of complexity in an outfit that makes it stylish. My cohorts seem to agree as entire articles have been penned about the quest for the perfect white tee. It’s a basic that everyone appreciates from rappers to runway models. Whether your style leans edgy or preppy, whether you dress it up or down, it lends an air of effortlessness. However, white T-shirts are not all created equal, hence all the discussion. It’s really a personal choice, I prefer a classic crew neck in a lightweight sheer knit, but the right undergarments are key. This shirt is from Cole Haan and it’s one of the best I’ve found, but the basics from Zara and Aritzia also make my top rankings for white T-shirts. If you want a staple chino, J.Crew is the obvious choice, they have cornered the market on chinos for years and you definitely want a thicker fabric anytime you venture into white bottoms. This sweater is also a classic and the perfect dose of Americana, with a quality wool knit and a 70’s stripe that is as playful as it is preppy. Long cardigans are my preferred silhouette, they frame an outfit instead of cropping it off at the waist like traditional cardigans, the end result is more cool and relaxed and less ladies who lunch. I’d seen this campy stripe before but had always thought it was Pendleton. When I stumbled upon the Hudson’s Bay pop-up in Lord & Taylor streaked with “Pendleton” primaries I was thoroughly confused (if you google the Pendleton stripe you’ll see why there is so much confusion as the two are practically identical). I wasn’t going to get into the whole Hudson’s Bay vs. Pendleton drama, but a friend’s recent Instagram comment coupled with my own initial confusion convinced me it was a necessity. The wide primary stripes set to a neutral background is a design most people associate with Pendleton’s Glacier National Park collection, it has been a mainstay of the brand since the early 1900s, first appearing in blanket form. This same exact multicolored stripe style, also first appearing in blanket form, has been a signature (although never legally trademarked) of Hudson’s Bay since 1779, a solid 121 years before the beloved Oregon brand. So it’s pretty clear Hudson’s Bay is the originator, but both brands do the design justice incorporating it into quality, timeless clothing and housewares; fit for a chic wilderness girl. So I guess I should amend my first sentence as this sweater isn’t so much a dose of Americana as it is a dose of ‘Canadiana’ eh? Now that we’ve cleared up Stripegate, let’s talk about how impeccably cut this chunky knit is. It somehow nails comfy and skips right past bulky, no small feat. I’d like to also point out that this cardigan has a great shawl collar that is extremely versatile, as you can cross the sweater over and belt it (or pin it with the aged pin that came with it – bonus) or wear it open like I styled it here. Although this sweater is great for a casual look, I can picture it over a dressier dress for some contrast (I’d pull from one of the colors in the stripes since it’s going to be enough of a stylistic contrast), and even for beach days over a bikini. Now that we covered the lows, although this sweater isn’t exactly a low, let’s get into the highs of this outfit. I love mini backpacks and I’d searched for this discontinued style for a while before I found one at a vintage pop-up in Century 21 – LXRCO. I’ve owned a lot of Louis Vuitton bags in my life, people actually called me Louis Vuitton freshman year of college – in a derogatory way of course, I guess I wasn’t doing my part to “keep Portland weird.” Since LV and I share such a history I can confidently tell you that their bags age really well, so I wasn’t at all concerned about purchasing a vintage one. If you don’t want to go the pre-owned route, Louis Vuitton recently released a mini backpack style but I’m still happy with my O.G. purchase and my ability to go hands free, especially on vacations. With everything I buy, I try to think of at least three things I already own that it will go with, this bag has been one of my go-tos for years. This fur shawl by Karl Lagerfeld is another staple I gravitate towards a lot, it has the same shawl shape as the collar of my sweater (which would be an obvious styling option) but I often wear it on one shoulder for subtle added interest. There is a misconception that fur and leather can’t go spring/summer but fashion has changed so much that it’s basically no-holds-barred. In the winter I layer it over my coats in a more traditional manner, utilizing the shawl shape, but I’m always playing around with different ways to use my accessories.