I often think of my personal style like one of those mix-and-match paper doll books of swappable outfit parts, but in my case the cut-outs consist of a variety of blue jeans for the legs and an assortment of classic tailored jackets for the top. As a Texas-born boomer Greenwich Village bohemian, I prefer western-style jeans of the Levis-Wrangler school, but for the jackets I like the look of classic tweed, as if "to the manner born." It's a western saddle-English saddle kind of thing, but the equestrian style works for me, eventhough I look like I just got off a high horse. What this wardrobe means for me in terms of American dollars is that the jeans average out to be about $44, but the jackets I like usually cost about $444. I try not to go there.
My fashion role model is a 40ish woman I saw several years ago walking through a square in the Renaissance town of Conegliano, Italy, just an hour or so north of Venice. The beautiful hilly town, part of a wealthy section of the Veneto, enjoys a diversified economy based in wine, textiles, shipping, and manufacturing, and many of the residents look like fashion plates. The time was autumn and the town was wrapping up a mushroom festival when I noticed this woman strolling through the square. She had longish dark blonde hair, pulled back in a loose ponytail, and she was wearing straight-leg blue jeans, a fitted tweed jacket of autumn colors, an artfully wrapped dark green scarf around her neck (could have been pashmina) and on her feet, she had on drop-dead gorgeous Italian boots. She looked confident. I think that it helped that she was tall, but maybe the boots (I think they were Salvatore Ferragamos) gave her the illusion at least of being tall in the saddle.
I've arrived once again at the week in early autumn where I've finally put all the summer things away, but I still need a nice new jacket. I'm heading out now, most likely to the great swath of stores on Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 59th, where I hope to do my small part in restoring consumer confidence but to find something of beauty that won't break the bank. I'll report back.
Images: Zooming in on the Empire State Building this morning, and a little cut and paste for my WOTBA paper doll.
See the follow-up post: Gucci, Prada and Pucci on Fifth Avenue: Thoughts Outside the Box.