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The Key Set, Part IV: The Finishing Touches

 
I’ve always told you that the accessories are for extra credit. The busy professional who manages to sally forth four days out of five looking pretty well put together while expressing her own taste and wit gets an A as far as I am concerned. The one who does this and remembers to wear a little scarf gets an A+.
 
Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to walk you through the accessory prop box? But I don’t need to do that, because I’ve already written posts that lay out a variety of check-lists, prescriptions, and pleas: here, here, and here. And here and here and here.
 
Today shall simply be a recap of the best accessories: the useful, the beautiful, and the zany. I leave you to decide which are which.
 
One caution: There are no links in the photos or captions below because . . . Stranger Things Season 2. I will add links later this week.

The scarf that elevates the zip code around it

The scarf that elevates the zip code around it

A mushroom cap

A mushroom cap

 
butterfly scarf

A scarf covered in butterflies and flowers

A scary necklace

A scary necklace

Cameo

A classic cameo, to wear with a modern dress

Apricot scarf

A scarf in a muddied bright

Kick ass belt

A kick ass belt, to wear with many things

A pile of Bracelets

A pile of Bracelets

The Beautil thing

The Beautiful Thing

It's an indoor scarf now

A colorful, infectiously cheerful winter scarf

Patent trench belt

Patent trench belt

kick ass belt

I told you this belt would be useful

yellow bag

A yellow bag

yellow belt

A yellow belt

YellowBelt still showing

Yellow Belt is also very useful

scarf

A slinky, articulated belt

At least one pair of red shoes

At least one pair of red shoes

An elegant watch

An elegant watch

An Oil Slick, i.e., a bag of indeterminate color and iridescent appearance

An Oil Slick, i.e., a bag of indeterminate color and iridescent appearance

Legitimizing pearls

Legitimizing pearls

The Dainty Siranos

The Dainty Sianos

A glossy dark blue bag

A glossy dark blue bag

Wood beads, talismans

Wood beads, talismans

Forever stripes

Forever stripes

A scarf in your favorite colors (Weirdy Greens)

A scarf in your favorite colors (Weirdy Greens)

Orla Kiely stem bags

Orla Kiely stem bags

And . . . . scene!

And . . . . scene!


 
For those still reading, I’d like your advice. The Photographer thinks I should write a book proposal for some sort of style guide. I am not so sure, so let me ask you: What would make you pick up a book on style at the bookstore? I have a few of these books that I really like,* and I am trying to decide whether I have anything to add to a subgenre that already seems fairly robust. I think there may be something herein — picture of Venn diagram of “professional woman,” “staid professions,” “expressing creativity,” and “minimal effort.” Or, perhaps my question put bluntly is: Can my ideas be universalized? Please feel free to share your thoughts and a description of the book that you wish were out there.

*The style books that I really like: A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux; How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer; Secrets of a Fashion Therapist by Betty Halbreich

16 thoughts on “The Key Set, Part IV: The Finishing Touches

  1. OMG I seem to be the first to comment (?) so, here are my comments:
    1. I just realised I purchased my own favourite belt after seeing your ‘kick ass belt” and looking for one very similar, with astounding success!
    2. Wanting to have seen included above your crystal rock candy necklace and it’s not there boo hoo it’s my favourite!
    3. Wanting you to do a review of your favourite style books though I know you talked us through these somewhat some time ago! (Yes! Another exclamation mark).
    4. My favourite books are (though
    I’m at work and not near my bookcases at home so will likely forget them) “A Year of Style” by Mr Frederick Fekkai (suuuper!), the little series by Ms Kendall Farr, the Very Excellent and much read book by Ms Amanda Brooks “I Love Your Style”, an Australian book I’ll have to get back to you on, the ones you mention above and several at home I know I can’t remember. There is also a book maybe called “Paris Street Style” about shoes that’s pretty good.
    5. I love fashion and style books. I like them very loaded with text and images probably the Amanda Brooks one and the Fekkai two are most loved book. I always seem to find something fresh in these no matter how many times I look at them. I would purchase your book. I’d want lots of education, thoughts, musings, and many many photos! Also some photos of you that are candid ie in real life wearing your outfits. Maybe some contributions from your friends? Maybe the photographer could style you in his favourite outfits and articles of attire?
    Justine

    • No need to apologize for such a long and helpful comment, Justine. But just in case your typos were bothering you (like when you see a typo in your table of contents after your brief is submitted),The Directrice — with her awesome omnipotence — has fixed them.

    • Thank you Directrice. I still see a few embarrassing errors but I can live with them, sigh. A further thought about something which your blog offers that I love, and that any future book might feature, is that you create ways to wear the unwearable to the office, or just in ways not necessarily intended.. You have managed strapless and backless, for instance, and that is intriguing and helpful. I don’t think I’ve made any further typos. Trying very hard. Eating sandwich again though, but today in a cafe between court appearances. It’s a woman friendly cafe I guess you could say. Lots of sole females eating and reading here.

  2. Things I would find useful in a style book (tricky in this case, because most people looking for style books want to be classic and conventionally attractive, I would think, but the appeal of your blog, to me at least, is the just-enough-unconventionally attractive):
    – How to identify which garments are the likeliest candidates for (inexpensive) tailoring – with before and after
    – Playing with proportions
    – Playing with color/pattern (I don’t know if they still do it, but I used to love the InStyle feature where they included swatches of different colors as ideas for coordinating with the featured color)
    – Versatility – showing one garment multiple ways/seasons
    – Sources for not-the-typical-mall-store garments… bonus points for free shipping and returns as well as accurate size guides

  3. I’ve been trying to put a scarf under my shirt to make a little collar, as you sometimes do. What is your secret? Everytime I attempt it I end up with a poofy mess. Is folding involved?

    • Unbelievably, Mary, I made a riveting 90 second video on this subject and actually managed to post it in 2016. It is at the bottom of an entry called “Odds and Ends.” This link should take you to it. The weave/weight of your scarf will make a difference, too. Silk twill tends to hold a shape better than chiffon-type fabrics. Good luck! Let me know if the video helps.

  4. I’m digging the book idea – and I echo Cat’s sentiments. Anything that would help professionals BE professional in their dress! Plus a little hint of quirky and a dash of propriety. I’m surprised you haven’t written one YET! I would totally buy it. The rest of the books mentioned, I check out of the library and put back…. yours I would keep. I’m a Directrice fan.

  5. I don’t know — your blog is about the only personal style blog that I read any more and it is because you are SUCH an individual. Would the world be a better place if many people — every wannabe blogger — had the “Directrice Look”? Like Cat said above, most people looking for style advice books are looking to be conventionally attractive by following rules. Do not give them. That way may lie Peak Directrice and eventual disillusionment.

  6. If I were to describe a book I’d like to see : focused on dressing for professional work; diverse stories from many people; brought together by an editor with a sharp eye for style (witty writing a plus). Given the diversity of modern workplaces and cultures, I think this makes more sense than a guru who lays down the law for everyone everywhere. At the same time though, there do seem to be certain universal questions worthy of collective brain-storming, such as :
    1. Shoes – what do you wear when you need to look sharp but are at risk of bad weather, an unexpected walk or detour onto public transit ?
    2. Handbags – do you give up on leather and rock a nylon bag when travelling with a laptop ? Or even … a nylon backpack ?
    3. Totems – what does power dressing look like today ? How do you accessorise to denote status and how do you read other people’s signifiers ? (with a side bar please on what means what in which cultures where)

  7. What a lovely collection of photos.

    I have never bought a book on style, although I have read several blogs on style. But here is where I think your writing on style stands out: it’s not just the subject matter (“professional woman,” “staid professions,” “expressing creativity,” and “minimal effort”), though this is unique — it’s also the approach. You write very logically, like a lawyer (like a mathematician!), explaining your thought process, making connections and generalizations. It’s great! It’s rare to see clothing treated with this level of intellectual seriousness!

    There is one other blog about clothing I have seen which, in my opinion, has a similar level of “intellectual seriousness” (although it’s totally different from yours, both in subject matter and style). This is the blog of Anuschka Rees, a Ph.D. student in Berlin. She recently wrote a book (which I haven’t read), and maybe its reception gives some clues about how a book of yours would be received. On, eg, the Amazon reviews, many readers think it is exceptional, others complain that instead of telling you exactly what to do it asks you to think for yourself . . . .

  8. If I were to opine more generally on what I miss in the fashion/ style writing, it would be the authentic voice of a genuine consumer, by which I mean a woman who has her own eye, her own budget and a real life to dress for. The Directrice is one such rare voice, which is one reason why this blog is so terrific.

    I think of the US Vogue I read as a young woman in the 90s and early 2000s, heavy on stylish society girls of then-current and previous generations (Marella Agnelli, CZ Guest, Lee Radziwill and the like). Amanda Brooks mentioned above appeared regularly and Marina Rust, an heiress of the Marshall Fields department store fortune, had a regular column named for the catch-phrase of her ancestral business (‘She’s gotta have it’) which covered everything from Gap khakis to Prada prints.

    Their lives weren’t necessarily relate-able – I myself am a working professional woman, not a lady who lunches, and I don’t otherwise have any nostalgia for those less-inclusive less-diverse times. But the fact that these ladies were actually wearing and living in their own clothes (the strategic gifting and borrowing from luxury brands came later) was enough to make interesting their stories of what they wore where, their ideas on what worked and what didn’t, their tips on how to wear a penny loafer or a ruby necklace, even the odd pithy epigram of the let-them-eat-cake type.

    Skipping forward to the present day with the ongoing death of print and the rise of social media, we have business news being presented as fashion coverage, fashion shows being reviewed like art, marketing being presented as content by bloggers and influencers (not the Directrice I hasten to add) and Vogue itself scarcely carries anything that doesn’t involve a celebrity with something to promote. Fashion and luxury are all big business these days and somewhere along the way the perspective of civilians who own, wear and enjoy their own clothes seems to have been misplaced.

  9. I’m fascinated by style and how it’s personal expression intersects (and sometimes collides) with what we’re sold by the style industry. I’ve long admired your blog for that very reason. I love your elevation of professional style to suit your quirky nature. Having said that, I’m not a lawyer and do not work in a “professional” setting. I’m a writer and journalist who could easily spend a workday in sweats or sushi PJs (though I try not to, most days…). Perhaps it’s the writer in me talking, but I would buy your style book for your witty, quirky, engaging VOICE as much as the fashion advice, which I also like. As one commenter said, love that mathematical approach. You and Michael also have a wonderfully intuitive partnership in combining your voice with wonderful images. I love me a beautiful book package – great images, funny writing, skillful commentary and cool design. This is the winning combo for me, more than the specifics in terms of advice. In any case, you can count on my purchase.

  10. Dear Directrice,

    I would love to read a book about embracing (flaunting?) individuality in workplace attire. This (along with your wonderful wit and gorgeous clothes, beautifully photographed) is what I love most about your blog. I’ve found your daring very inspiring–if a DC lawyer can let her eccentricity show at work, surely a tenured professor in the Pacific Northwest needn’t hold back.

    It would be neat if your book included some other women–and men!–who bring some pizzazz to their workwear and had interesting voices as they talk about their choices. I would also love it if it included some folks who are not as affluent or white collar.

But what do you think?