The Return of Gregor Samsa + These Old Clothes

Directorate, I think you know where I’ve been.

The Dobbs decision caused me to sit in the dark staring at a wall, literally, on Friday, June 24. In the weeks thereafter, the sitting and staring were more metaphorical, but I was finding it hard to keep on keeping on, as they say. But now the lights are back on and I am up and about. I hope you are, too, because there is so much to be done.

Things to do include “correct the course of our declining democracy” and “enjoy simple pleasures like this little blog.” We’ll start small here, and look at some very casual summer clothes.

In my continued experiments with shape and volume — in which I am testing how far I can depart from the standard human form and still plausibly assert that I am “dressed for work” — I found this large, square top on YOOX.

It’s basically a giant square with two elasticized armholes on the front, positioned in the 2/3 hole-punch position. From the front, I look like a white Grimace. All that volume on the back-side creates a shell that is much bigger than my actual self.

How could I resist?

Gregor Samsa returns in bug form

Gather ’round and behold

To normal it up, I added a belt.

See my arm emerging so normally from the volume?

I normalled it up

According to the label, this top is 100% cotton, fabric and trim. While the trim around the neck is a soft, stretchy rib knit, the body is very flat and stiff. It almost feels like paper. Paper!

I’ve been machine washing this top, but am wondering if I should try to iron it with starch to keep it stiff.*

Any normalizing effect was wiped out when I added red sunglasses which are, under these circumstances, very bug-like

Moving on to These Old Clothes, I bought this top from JCrew approximately 12 years ago in blue and red. In recently pruning my closet, and thinking I didn’t really need two fringed tanks, the red one was placed in the give-away pile. Then I had second thoughts. I love this tomato red and decided that with this white Off-White belt (another Weight Securing System belt), it would be perfect for railing about Dobbs and summer vacation trips.+

Smiling, but the Dobbs-induced rage is there, just below the surface

Top has been combined with utility belt, everyday pants, and forevermore sandals

Rounding out the picture, khaki pants and sandals. As I may have previously mentioned, Prana action slacks have become my go-to pants. So comfortable and flattering. And in the course of cleaning my closet, I found the surplus hideo-marvelous Skecher sport sandals that I bought in 2019 and stowed away.**

Et voila!

The finishing touch, for airplanes and cool evenings during summer vacations, is the disappearing denim jacket.

Moving right along with the Old Clothes tour (and tips), a black sundress.

Remember: For extreme heat (i.e., extreme sweating), a black cotton poplin dress may be your best bet.

I bought this 3.1 Phillip Lim one a few years ago — you may remember that I have tops (blue and black) in the same cut — but I couldn’t figure out what to wear underneath the dress.  The dress would be adorable without anything underneath it . . . on someone else. But I need a little more coverage. At the same time, I feel that whatever is worn underneath needs to be sleek, so as to allow the exaggerated A-line silhouette of this dress to come through. A regular tank top created the visual clutter of 4 (tank + dress) or 6 straps (bra + tank + dress), so I tried a racer-back tank (an attempt to mimic the halter neckline of the dress) and that wasn’t quite right either. A regular tee shirt looked dumpy. And then I tried a snug, cap-sleeved tee. Perfect.

Cap sleeves are just right

It took a few tries

So let this be a lesson to all of us. We must keep trying.

Take note of the orange sandals. These Sorel Kinetic Impact Sling Sandals may be the Skechers of 2022.++ I hope they go on sale . . .

I bought a white tee, too, as an alternative to the black.  These little ribbed tees are from JCrew, part of a “Re-imagined Cotton” line.

Consider the ease of this A-line cotton dress.  Picture me in it, gobbling hotdogs and doughnuts, while watching the Nationals play in 90 degree night-time heat. Soon, it will happen.

An elasticized strap above the waist and an elasticized waist give this dress a little shape 

I’ll leave you with that image and a promise to be back soon. Until then, keep on keeping on.

A closer, but not brighter, view of the back; can you see the elasticized strap?

White boxy top: Marques’ Almeida  from YOOX (still available); Belt: Off-White Mini Industrial Belt; Pants: Prana Halle Straight II Pants; Orange Sandals: Sorel Kinetic Impact Sling Sandal; Tote: Les Toiles du Soleil Tote in Jour de Fete; Red Sunglasses: Lapima

* I am a timid ironer (fear of hot appliances), but can we all agree that watching someone iron well is kind of mesmerizing? It’s a dying art, but I remember watching a childhood friend’s mother iron with spray bottles of starch and water and it was completely riveting.

+ I also wore this top for a Zoom meeting on a Friday (Casual Friday!) and was greeted with, “Looks like you’re ready for vacation!” So, maybe it’s too bare for work.

** I bought a pair of these sandals in the summer of 2019 and wore them almost every day. When they went on sale for something like $20, I bought two more pairs and tucked them away for days ahead.

++ These are too big. The Sorel website advises that the sandals run big and I did not attend as I should have!

13 thoughts on “The Return of Gregor Samsa + These Old Clothes”

  1. Hello, We in Canada share your darkness. We also have things to do. Our Conservative Party is showing signs of going the way your Republican Party has already reached. We must not allow complacency but must remain vigilant, proactive and persistent. And in a parallel posture, we must remain well clothed in positive and fun apparel. You are our inspiration. Thank you

  2. Railing about Dobbs and summer vacation trips while dodging thriving and aspiring pandemics seems to be THE summer sport. Of course, I could add fires, floods, autocracy and climate change to obstacle course, but it’s tough enough as is. I’d rather applaud you for “testing how far you can depart from the standard human form and still plausibly assert that you are dressed for work.” This sentence gives me life. You are a sporty, avant guarde lighthouse in stormy seas and I am here for every bit of it!

  3. Ah, Directrice,
    It’s so good to hear from you again. I, too, have that rage and despair problem and have been struggling to maintain optimism. I wrote about it in my most recent post on Psychology Today (

    I think, when it comes to it, it’s imperative to keep on keeping on, and part of that is thinking about (and enjoying) what I’m putting on while I keep on.

  4. Jumping to comment on the state of affairs. Then while go back and look at clothes! For its me it’s Dobbs + the energy and climate bill that was nixed 2 weeks ago + + +. Since 2016 I’ve been saying, “this just means we have a lot of work to do.” And the only way to muster the energy to keep on keeping on is through life’s small pleasures. Nature, good food, a well cut dress, a community of good dressers at the Directrice. Onward!

  5. Thank you for your post – a bright light for many of us. I enjoy your take on summer clothing! The big white square top may need a necklace for zoom meetings, but that is all! The shape is whimsical and I love it. I’m missed you Directrice – please keep creating.

  6. Any Gregor Samsa top is likely to be a winner, but this one in particular is delightful! I love the beetle wings enhanced by the belt. And of course the big bug-eyed red sunglasses. The saffron sandals are perfection. I wonder how many shades of yellow they needed to iterate through to arrive at this one, endorsed by focus groups? A designer with a sunflower vision?

  7. Now to the clothes — so clever to layer a t-shirt under the spaghetti strap dress. I’m hesitant to add any layers in our extreme 100+ summers, but it might work for late fall. So glad you didn’t get rid of the square-necked top. The sandals look like yellow taffy!

  8. In Sweden we are also sharing the darkness and feel for all those who will be affected by it. The red fringed tank is however very cheering!

  9. Yes, there is not much joy to be had in grossly irresponsible ruling by a sadly diminished supreme court packed with partisan extremists; except perhaps sharing in the overwhelming condemnation this extreme court has brought upon itself. Fun fact – Dobbs was the name of a petty redneck criminal in the comedy film Run Ronnie Run! Keep on keeping on while stylishly attired.

  10. To follow with your post, for me ironing and washing dishes are both things I enjoy doing because they are so …soporific and sedate in a way.
    But also it gives one the feeling of work well accomplished with clean dishes and well ironed clothes (which I still starch…sometimes).
    Yes to a necklace (or two) and bangles and rings with the white square top which reads quite casual to me but I like it anyway.
    Wish you better time….


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