I fell into a fashion coma for about 20 years. I lived in an rotating uniform of black; black slacks, black jackets, black sweaters, black shoes, black sandals, black boots. I awakened sometime in my fifties desperate for a style uplift, but I was bleary-eyed and confused as to how to proceed.
Animal print, polka dot, tie dye. When did that happen?
Leggings, jeggings, skinny jeans. My body was so not made for this.
High rise, low rise, mid rise. How the hell should I know?
The plethora of fashion blogs on the Internet felt like a rabbit hole and I needed quick relief. So I hired Tali, an Israeli “fashion stylist” who was recommended by a friend. If she was like most Israelis, I knew that she would be brutally honest, and free me from the dark fashion ennui my wardrobe had become. We made a date and she told me to bring along three items from my closet that I “didn’t know what to do with.”
I quickly did my homework. First I chose my short, structured blue and white pinstripe Tommy Hilfiger blazer that I had been trying to make work for a pop of color, to no avail. Next, the denim Gap shirt dress that I was hoping to wear with black tights and boots, that hung like a sack of potatoes. And finally, the dreamy, designer three-quarter-length black silk jacket that I picked up at a thrift shop, that looked like it was for someone younger, taller and thinner. These were all items that I didn’t want to part with, but I wasn’t sure they should take up real estate in my small closet.
We met at a new coffee shop near my office that also served trendy food. I recognized Tali immediately from Instagram, plus she stood out with her straight bangs, long dark hair and oversized black glasses that weren’t fashionable yet in Boston, but looked fabulous on her. She was drinking black coffee and had a plate of avocado toast by her side. I ordered the same even though I was way past my coffee limit and really craved a turkey sandwich. I sat down and introduced myself.
“So? Nu? Show me what you brought,” said Tali. I felt self conscious because I knew she was also looking at me – my body, my style, my vibe. I felt old and frumpy.
Shyly, I held up the blazer first. Wagging her forefinger Tali said it was all wrong for me. “It’s too….too…too….” she searched for the word. Turns out it was “structured.” It was too structured for my 38D chest.
The denim Gap dress had the opposite problem. It was indeed a sack on my 5’3 frame and there was nothing Tali could do to fix it.
Lastly, I took out the jacket. I told her I knew it was special, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me.
“What? Why not? Put it on!” she ordered, like the Israeli soldier she once was.
So I put on the black jacket in the coffee shop, over my t-shirt, stood up and she spun me around.
“What’s wrong with you? The jacket is perfect and it is beautiful on you.” said Tali.
Tali buttoned the jacket and pushed up my sleeves and magic happened. By pushing up the sleeves (not folding) I was able to turn a somewhat dated, albeit very expensive jacket into something swanky and stylish. I sat back down, proud of myself, eager to hear more from Tali and eat my toast.
I learned that Madewell jeans are not just for 20-somethings. Once you find the proper specifications for your body, the fit is sublime. I feel 10 lbs thinner and 20 years younger in my high waisted, button fly, cropped Madewell jeans, size 30P. A shirt partially tucked in and my waist appears. Pair that with an unstructured jacket or sweater (sleeves pushed up) and booties (no socks) and I have my go to outfit.
I have spent the past year, pre-Covid, integrating Tali’s sartorial suggestions into my wardrobe, feeling like a rock star each time I pull off the right look. I have several new booties in red leather, black suede, green suede and leopard. I have cropped pants in colors (including polka dot) not just black. I have four pairs of Madewell jeans in different washes. I have unstructured sweaters and jackets in different colors. And I have the black silk jacket. The problem is that it just isn’t in me to wear it, any of it, around the house or on my occasional trips to the supermarket.
Instead, I gravitate toward comfort and these days it seems that fashion and comfort have collided into something that I don’t fully understand called “Athleisure wear”. When I looked online and realized that my sweatpants with the elastic ankle went out, came back and are now out again, I knew I was back in a fashion coma. Thanks to blogs like BA50, I think I can figure this one out on my own!