I Felt the Need for Sleeves

To prepare himself for Top Gun: Maverick, The Photographer watched the original Top Gun — against the advice of counsel (that would be me) and discovered that it was unwatchable. I only popped into the TV room occasionally to check his agonies but was reminded of one indelible line, “I feel the need . . . the need for speed.”

So, perhaps you should hear Tom Cruise’s voice reading this post as we discuss the need for sleeves . . . dramatic sleeves.
Some of you may remember when this little plaid bolero made its debut? It started life as an oversized shirt and with Fatima’s extraordinary ability to actualize my ideas in the physical world, it became a charming bolero to wear over sleeveless dresses and tops.
Top Gun was kind of unwatchable in 1986; the dialogue . . .

But Top Gun: Maverick was really fun; totally worth your entertainment time and money
You saw the bolero with the ivory lace blouse in 2019, with jeans for a casual Friday.
And you just saw it with action slacks and blinged-out loafers for a day at the office in the world of How We Dress Now or HWDN (trademark application pending). Could be Casual Wednesday. Could be a day when I am speaking to a crowd or running a large meeting. That’s the wonder of HWDN.
Now you are seeing it with an ivory wool shell and ballet flats. Such versatility!

I keep reading two proclamations in the fashion press: (1) peplums are back in and (2) ballet flats are back in. I didn’t realize that they were out. I’ve been wearing them consistently for the last 12 years. I think these are classics, non?
I also read a fashion report advising that red “was in” and almost spat out my drink. When has red not been in? These types of headlines make me think that the fashion press is adrift, possibly missing the bigger industry stories of our times.
I mean, I can understand straight reportage documenting the use of red in a lot of shows, but calling red a hot trend seems a little vacuous to me.
Whereas the launch of a line of office action slacks
by HWDN Directrice would be huge news

I found this Victoria Beckham ivory shell on The RealReal. It is made of the most beautiful wool crepe. I am already pre-suffering its decline into a dingy, yellow-tan state.
While it’s super-fresh, it will also look beautiful with something more traditionally worky. Perhaps a white or ivory silk blouse with a black skirt and tall black boots.
Beautiful lines here; two bands of fabric beneath the bust

Fitted shell is much trimmer than the floaty lace top, which does make me look pregnant
Bolero buttons up the back because . . . the back was once the front

A quick substitution and now we are at the outer limits (at this time) of my whimsy. I give you: giant meringue puffs worn as sleeves.
I was at Tysons II Galleria last summer and whizzed by a mannequin wearing a top (possibly two tops, layered) that “read” as an ivory bodice and sculptural white sleeves. I was in a hurry and after failing to find the top in the immediate vicinity of the mannequin, I filed the mental image in my mind for future investigation (possible acquisition) and left the store.
My subsequent calls to the store went unanswered and my painstaking reviewing of merchandise on the store’s website turned up empty.
Our Lady of Bad Ideas was delayed, but would not be denied

I fashioned my own top
Surely you can guess what happened next?
I purchased an inexpensive white blouse — ludicrously girlish for an adult size, cropped, backless but with epic sleeves — hacked the sleeves away from the tiny bodice, attempted to attach the puffs to an old t-shirt (also hacked up) to wear under the shell, got stuck with the giant sleeves inside the ivory shell (once), attempted to fashion elasticized puffs myself, and then called Fatima.

There are many things I love about Fatima, but the thing I love the most is that when I tell her one of my ideas, she never says, “Why do you want to do that?”
I’ve done what I wanted

I think this is more for dressy occasions than work, notwithstanding HWDN
Over the 3+ decades that I have been in charge of my own closet, many tailors and seamstresses have asked me “Why do you want to do that?” It’s a joy-killing question.
I described what I wanted to Fatima — giant, disembodied sleeves — she nodded and said, “ah yes, a deconstructed blouse” as if it were an obvious, logical request.
Her only reproach, so gently delivered, was to ask me to save the excess fabric in the future when I start the cutting and pinning without her. My disassembly was really ragged.

The puffs express themselves independently, assuming different shapes in constant motion
Fatima joined them with an elastic cord; just like the mittens of my youth

7 thoughts on “I Felt the Need for Sleeves”

  1. The puff sleeves are gorgeous! I can see them used in a lot of different ways! I also have a Fatima, but mine is called Alexander and comes från Ukraine. He´s a complete sewing-master and should really be based in Paris and not in a snowy corner of Sweden.

  2. The puff sleeves are gorgeous, but “Top Gun” may be the first point on which I have to seriously disagree with our gracious hostess. Because while *theoretically* an objectively terrible, even deeply objectionable film, it is, for all *practical* purposes, an amazing, amazingly fabulous movie. And the new one is also very excellent.

  3. The mitten strings made me think the sleeves aren’t attached to the blouse? A bit like men used to have collars that buttoned onto shirts and they’d change the collar on a shirt?
    It’s a good idea. You could pack the sleeves away in your tote, pull on a jacket, and then resleeve once you’ve taken the jacket off.

    I liked Top Gun Maverick. The best was before the movie when they ran a clip of Tom in casual attire thanking us in an oh-so-sincere manner for coming to a theater to see his movie. He’s a charmer.

  4. !!!!! I’ll definitely be adding disembodied sleeves to my list of clothing items that are obviously amazing but went away probably because they became too much effort—wristlets, spats, collars, gloves when it’s not cold out. Also, I admire your industriousness as much as your ingenuity in bringing those puffy treasures into the world.


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