Casual and Neutral

After reading the New York State Bar Association’s guidance on resuming work in law firm offices and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s operating schedule for the remainder of 2020, I am wondering when I will be back in my corner office, Monday – Friday . . .

In turn, that makes me wonder why anyone would continue reading a blog about dressing for professional environments at this time.
Should I keep posting? Are clothes still relevant? Or, if not relevant, do they provide an escape?
You tell me. I am not sure.*
Uncertain in the face of uncertainty

Belt smartens pants which are very rumpled
In our unseasonably cool spring, I was still wearing wool sweaters on May 10th. Do you remember this off-the-shoulder one previously seen here and here?
Here, I am wearing it with very sloppy khakis. I’ve smartened the pants up (a bit) with an animal print belt.

Every day, I go for a walk just before the dinner hour. Along my route, I pass a house where a gaggle of boys — whose ages range from 10 – 14 — are playing basketball. They’re almost always out at the same time I am on my walk. In all this time (two months) I’ve never seen one of them sink a shot.** I’ve puzzled over why they aren’t improving, but I think someone needs to take them in hand and teach them some fundamentals!
In the area of sport, I’ve always been a big believer in drills and one of my biggest pet peeves in all sport is missed free throws in professional basketball.+
Fun-DOH-mentals, I say!

Should I take those kids in hand?
I don’t think so; in addition to being a stranger, I haven’t handled a basketball in years

Little Richard died last week and if you haven’t read a little about his life and his impact on rock-and-roll, you might enjoy this story.
In early January 2008, I was in Nashville, Tennessee for a deposition. After checking into my hotel, I was standing in the lobby waiting for the elevator. The elevator doors opened to an astounding sight: a small man, with a significant bouffant, dressed head-to-toe in gold lame flanked by two big men, each dressed head-to-toe in black and carrying two black duffel bags. We stared at one another for a moment and then the man in gold flashed me a 100-watt smile and said, “Happy New Year, Doll!” — which I felt was a good omen for the coming year.++ As soon as I was inside my room I called the front desk to confirm: It was Little Richard. Turns out, he recorded at a nearby studio and was a regular guest at the hotel. Take it from me, if you don’t believe other sources: Little Richard = Charisma.
Charisma is innate

* Personally, I have been enjoying the high fashion retrospectives of events and designers on Vogue and GoFugYourself.
** This reminds me of the movie Pleasantville and the scenes of the high school basketball team’s practice sessions.
+ I have great sympathy for the missed throws of the NCAA tournament, however. They’re just babies.
++ As it turned out, 2008 was not a very good year for me — but I think it would have been worse without Little Richard’s benediction.

31 thoughts on “Casual and Neutral”

  1. Please continue to write and post, your thoughts are helping to keep me sane during these crazy times. Perhaps some posts on previous travels, or places you’d like to revisit someday when restrictions are lifted. I’m sure The Photographer has some archived photos. Or some posts about wardrobe organisation, now that we are all at home so much with time on our hands? Some wardrobe mistakes, why you feel they are mistakes and how you would change the outfit if you were to wear it again?

    Thank you again for all of your efforts (and The Photographer‘s) in producing the blog, it brings me so much joy to see the email in my inbox advising of a fresh post.

  2. I still dress for the office on the days that I am *not* in the office, so from here, a great cheer for keeping up the postings. We may not share aestetics, body type or life circumstances, but your posts are both entertaining and inspiring.

  3. I know right? What even are my professional clothes any more? But, now I think about having whimsy and put-together-ness in my casual clothes. I always appreciate your posts and would love to continue reading, about whatever.

  4. Being a government lawyer, I always dress pretty casually in the office, and even my fanciest hearing clothes are mere shmatas compared to yours, but I get such pleasure living vicariously through your posts. Please keep posting, we need you now more than ever!

  5. Please don’t stop – I really enjoy your posts. Not for the advice on dressing, I’ve always been more of the Steve Jobs school of dressing. But what I like is your explanations of the thought process of selecting and composing what is a mini-art work, the photographs, and your totally charming writing. Thanks!

  6. The Directrice must embark on a sub-blog focused on “fashion and faux pas of dressing for Zoom!” Many existential and practical questions await, including:
    – Impact of Zoom on patterns and layering
    – Zoom statement jewelry
    – Thoughts on Virtual Backgrounds
    and, not to be forgotten
    – What to wear from the Waist Down?!
    An advice column and submissions of screenshots might be involved!

  7. I’m always in favor of more Directrice in my life! Idea for what to add to the mix: crafting a waist-up outfit for video meetings and webinars. Details of necklines and bodice take on outsized importance now. Prints don’t always translate well. Colors need to be brighter? And statement necklaces become too … statement-y? Bonus conjecture up for debate: Zoom virtual backgrounds are the new outfit accessories.

  8. Here’s to keeping the blog going- whatever the topics. It’s part whimsy, part philosophy, part meditation. Fashion is just the delivery device. Keep telling us your stories, Tory!

  9. Love the animal print belt and kudos to you on your daily walk! But pls change your route so you are not tempted to teach some ‘fundamentals’ to the freewheeling, free-shooters in your neighborhood. They are getting fresh air, during a pandemic, playing at a safe distance without parents, teachers or coaches overseeing their activity! Hooray, let them enjoy their moments of free play 🙂
    ……from your biggest ‘Type B’ fan.

  10. D, did you see the cereal box closing hack that’s been floating around online this week? It kind of reminded me of you. It fascinates me that there existed such a better solution all this time, but it took someone looking at it in a different way. And that’s what you do in re clothing. Please keep finding those better ways and please keep posting!

  11. Right now many of us can’t envision the future. But one thing is for certain, we will still have to get dressed everyday. Two weeks ago I walked into my closet to dress for a day of Zoom meetings and asked myself What Would The Directrice Do? She would say to herself WWMOD?, and then get dressed with style and creativity and put on a belt. I’ve never “done” belts, so I went through the archives, studied the advice about belts, ordered an assortment and am today trying out new outfits. Zoom may not show the belt, but I know I’m wearing one. The point being, we still have to get dressed and go about our lives. We might not be dressing as before, but we are still dressing and as Betsy, Regina and Christine have said we can still keep learning from you!

    • Rhizophora, we need you to write up your experience as a Case Study! I hope that your new belts are giving you a little emotional lift and making getting dressed for your meetings a little more fun.

  12. Thank you for continuing to post! I like to see your outfits and I’m mostly still dressing for work though I’m at home. I’m also impressed with how you make it work hair wise. I used to go to the salon every five weeks and it hasn’t been pretty lately.

  13. [Joining the chorus] PLEASE don’t stop posting! I love your writing, the way you look at the world, and your charming observations. I hope you won’t view me as a stalker if I confess that I’m so jealous of the commenters who appears to be friends with you in real life. Please know that you make a difference in a lot of people’s lives and my life is just a little bit richer for reading your blog.

  14. Please keep posting. While I wear a uniform (when working at work), I also live vicariously through your columns. Perhaps you might add one column a week (month?) that shows what you would wear for a dinner out (not that we’re doing that anymore either) or a dinner at home.

    With regard to this outfit, the shoes (while wonderful) don’t seem to merge with the rest. they are quite distracting in fact. All I do is stare at the shoes and I don’t really notice the sweater. Is that the effect you want?

    • Oh no, EL. I thought the shoes were sort of blending in. But even if they don’t, that’s ok. You know I love saddle shoes and bowling shoes!

  15. Another vote for posting! I’d really miss your wit and wisdom if, heaven forbid, you were to stop.
    Also, please tell us about that bracelet. Is it as spiky as it looks?

    • I love the bracelet and wrote about it in the previous entry — It’s a Jungle In Here. The designer — Natalie Abrams of Abrams Wearable — is based in DC and makes the most interesting, striking necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. It’s not spiky. It’s soft and pliable.

  16. You could write about the post office and I’d read it. In fact, I’d love your thoughts on the post office, or anything else for that matter. Also, love the photographer’s take on any and everything. You two make a good team. Go figure. Humor, whimsy, philosophy, random facts, fashion of any stripe, brilliant travel logs, cats, lofty observations, strange but compelling jewelry – it’s all good.


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