The Eye Is Fooled

The Eye Is Fooled

A year ago, Marc Jacobs announced that it (he?) was eliminating the company’s diffusion line — Marc by Marc Jacobs — and would only produce clothes under the original Marc Jacobs label. This seemed like bad news to me because I really liked the cute clothes made under his youthful, cheaper (though not cheap) line.

Fast-forward to today and I am confused. The Marc Jacobs label is a bit of a hodge-podge, a mix of less expensive pieces for younger women and very expensive garments for the Woman of Means.
In other words, all bets are off. A visit to might yield a fun jacket, a worky dress, or a novelty bag. All at once.
And on one magical night in January, it yielded this elegant, intelligent, whimsical dress.
Can a dress be intelligent, Directrice?
Can a dress be intelligent, Directrice?

This dress, full-price, cost a fortune, but I found it marked down 75% at Neiman Marcus in a post-holiday sale. Note: Sale items from are often (if not always) final sale. I don’t know if I have ever seen the words “final sale” on the Neiman Marcus website.
Take a moment to look at these photos. Are you seeing the whimsy?
Take your time
Take your time
The whimsy runs deep; three layers
The whimsy runs deep: three layers

Let’s count it off.
One, the fabric is trompe l’oeil — printed to look like lace.
Two, the visual trick doesn’t stop with the pattern. Different elements of the dress are also printed; lacing up the center of the bodice and buttons at the cuffs.
Three, the printing stops short of the seams and edges, leaving white space. Yes, the dress looks like pattern pieces were cut and then attached to the dressmaker’s toile for rough assembly.
Note different patterns on sleeve and bodice
Note different patterns on sleeve and bodice

Charmed, I'm sure
Charmed, I’m sure
Correctly or incorrectly, I decided that this lace dress would look best if it were toughened up with a belt and boots.

Note a comic element here: trompe l’oeil buttons on the printed cuff, and a real button adorning the actual cuff.
For some reason, this little detail tickles my fancy
For some reason, this little detail tickles my fancy

Very tough Directrice here
Tough Directrice
I did have the dress taken in a little.
Do you see the black stripe running down the side? As designed, this stripe widened from the waist to the hem, almost like a gore. Because this fabric is very slippery and soft, it couldn’t hold the a-line shape and the resulting silhouette was a little dumpy. So I asked Fatima to take in the side seams and create a straight panel of black from the armscye to the hem.

For those wondering if the dress would look better with a pair of lo-bloc heels, I thought to take photos.
With skin-toned hosiery; pale, pale skin
With skin-toned hosiery; pale, pale skin
And the shoes you told me not to buy
And the shoes you told me not to buy

Have a fantastic weekend!
Dress: Marc Jacobs; Boots: Donna Piu; Belt: Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti; Lo-bloc heels: Tory Burch; Bag: Coach Gramercy Satchel

24 thoughts on “The Eye Is Fooled”

  1. Lovely! Do you happen to have “Before” pictures? It would definitely help this reader learn how to spot a garment that would be a good candidate for tailoring.

  2. I forget why we told you not to buy those nice shoes … (I think the boots kind of winterize that stunning dress, and maybe the shoes take it into spring?)

    I’m always fascinated by the way you cleverly tailor your clothes. I wish I had that kind of eye for style to not only spot the potential in an outfit, but know how to couture-ize it. Hopefully I’m learning from your posts.

    (Amusingly, I’m absorbing this sophisticated fashion advice while wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt to work. Which today is at my dining room table, due to nyc’s intense snowstorm. I was feeling a bit guilty about not spending most of the morning struggling to get to the office, but happily office manager just emailed that office is closing at 1 pm, because snow.)

  3. When I saw the trompe l’oeil buttons next to the real glam button, I laughed out loud — and only then did I see your photo caption! The Directrice has apparently already infected my wardrobing humor . . .

  4. I like the dress. I usually don’t care for a mixture of patterns in one garment, but this works well because of white and black elements that are intergrated. I like the dress best wth the boots, but those delightful shoes look good with just about everything.

  5. Now here’s something that will emerge beautifully from underneath a coat, unlike the lantern sleeves a couple of posts back. And I love that the print will pass as conservative enough for work while having all these little surprises for the more interested observers. Perhaps the cuffs could be a tad snugger to make the most of the contrast between a billowing sleeve and a pretty little wrist ?

    ps. *Marc Jacobs* the brand is definitely an IT I think. Whereas the designer/ maker of the interesting jewellery of your last post is definitely ‘she’ as in ‘she makes HER own pieces HERself’.

  6. I love this tricky and interesting dress. I would like to sit on public transport and have you stand in view so I could secretly study the dress and outfit. I would think, what a splendid dress and woman, and be grateful to you. While I like the heels and hose, I prefer the boots as they do interact so nicely with the dress. Green accessory somewhere would be good too!

  7. The dress is fabulous, and so is your sense of style! You have a truly great knack for adding ‘tough’ to an otherwise classic outfit; I would never have thought it could be done with a dress *this* elegant.

  8. What a fun piece and full of surprises. You took a leap of faith buying with alterations in mind on this particular piece. You did well with it and it is a favorite. I love those shoes and pale legs with it. Seems so elegant in its quiet scattered look. It would be fun to have your eye. Kate

  9. I love this dress! The printing is fascinating. Do you know how many sizes it was originally offered in? I imagine the print would need to be scaled up/down for different sizes. Or maybe that’s the idea behind the non-printed areas.

    This is my first comment, but I went back through all of your archives a few weeks ago after someone linked to your site on Corporette. I’ve always shied away from layering because I hate feeling constricted and spent my formative years as a competitive swimmer (and have the shoulders to prove it), but I’m adopting your idea of creating a faux collar from a small silk scarf. Baby steps!

  10. Directrice – I discovered your lovely blog through where someone recently mentioned your blog. The poster cited your “innovative and fearless” layering and styling, and I have to agree! If you have not seen this post and the ones that followed, here is the link There were a lot of comments that day because the discussion got very political (and interesting), so if you just want to cut to the chase, you can search on the page for “Directrice”.

    I am a professional woman in my (very) late 40’s, and I am enjoying your writing, creativity and point of view. Can you please help a recent devotee/acolyte navigate your website. I would like to read all of your posts as time permits, but I have not been able to figure out how read your older posts in chronological (or reverse chronological) order. Admittedly, I am not the best when it comes to technology. Perhaps I am just being obtuse? My thanks to you (and The Photographer) for the time you put into this project.

    • Hello Toronto Modern! Thank you for for sharing the information about jcrewaficionada — I am always interested in hearing how people have found this blog. Right now, the easiest way to work methodically through this blog is by scrolling to the bottom of the home page and clicking on the older pages listed there (1, 2 . . . 27) . You can start at the very beginning (27) or the present (1) and go in either direction. I will consult my website designer about two changes that might make it easier to read the entire back-catalog — a month by month index (which I thought I had) and a larger range of pages to select from at the bottom of the home page. I’ll write again after I consult with her. My only other advice is: Don’t try to read it all at once. Binging is fun while you are doing it . . . but then you get up and wonder why you feel nauseous and where the day has gone. Even my deathless prose will make you feel sick and cross if consumed in large quantities in one sitting. But so glad you are enjoying it!

  11. Thank you, Directrice. I must admit that I feel a little foolish. It never occurred to me to go onto the Home page. It’s a little reminiscent of the times at work when I call the IT Helpdesk and they have a simple solution for me 🙂 Looking forward to catching up on your deathless prose!

    • Toronto Modern! I checked today and my website designer added an “Annual Archive” which divides posts by year in reverse chronological order. If you click on a year, it will open the first page for the year; scroll to the bottom of that page and you can click through a smaller number of pages (e.g. 1-12 rather than 1-28) for that year. That’s a little easier, I think. Enjoy!

      • Directrice – I’m going to sound greedy, but would you consider adding search functionality? For example, you had a very nice post about a Stewart plaid jacket. If I want to see if you have any other insights into the world of plaid, it would be nice to type “plaid” into the search bar. Or perhaps I am inspired by a lovely Jil Sanders dress you show us, and curious about other “Jil Sanders” dresses you have styled. It may be too much trouble to add, but as your body of work increases, your adoring fans may find it very useful. Thanks again.

        • Bonsoir, Toronto Modern! In the upper right corner of the home page is a search box. Perhaps it is so inconspicuous as to be invisible, but it is there in the masthead. I tested Jil Sander and it pulled up all the posts in which Jil Sander is mentioned. I have been thinking of adding to the index bar a list of favorite labels/brands to help when someone has a memory of a particular outfit but can’t remember the designer and needs a prompt. Stay tuned!

          • Directrice, Thank you. I see it now. Once again, the Home page provides the answer and once again I feel a little foolish. Are you sure you don’t moonlight for my company’s IT Helpdesk 🙂

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