Soft, drape front jackets became really popular at some point in the last decade, and I soon learnt that they fell into the Not For Me bucket. I understand their appeal, but something about them is deeply, irrationally irritating to me. They just kind of – flap about? Particularly in Wellington and its dynamic weather. I realise everyone who has ever watched Trinny and Susannah or Gok Wan will be shouting “but they create a SLIMMING VERTICAL LINE” and that’s certainly true. But also: calm down. Not every fashion choice is about vertical lines or, judging by those programmes, doing a very questionable job of accessorising.
What a drape front jacket is good for, is repurposing into a wrap front blouse. I love a wrap front blouse – it’s chic, it suits an array of body types, and it has just enough going on that it’s a Look. So when I saw this jacket at Kilt, in a print that filled me with covetous joy, I immediately tried it on with my high waisted jeans and punched the sky. Particularly perfect, since I’d just found these brand new, unworn pink shoes from Next at SaveMart. I do love new shoes for $6.99.
The key to turning a jacket into a blouse is the safety pin placement. I wrap the left side in first, and pin it directly to the bottom of my bra to hold it nice and close to the body. Then I bring the right side over and place the second pin under the lapel of the jacket to catch the left hand side underneath. Make sure you run that second safety pin in the same direction as the lapel, or you’ll end up with a strange tension in the front of your blouse. Tuck the whole thing into something with a high enough waist band, and hey presto – you are a fancy lady.
This skirt, which we all know is not at all leather, is from Jacqui E about five years ago. It was deeply discounted, for two reasons:
- Jacqui E customers do not want to buy leather-look A line skirts. The buyers must have had a group rush of blood to the head that year. They have since returned to manufacturing shift dresses in a variety of jewel tones. (Ed note: I wrote this, then went to get the link from the website and found this. It's actual leather, as opposed to leather-look, but I'm still surprised/impressed).
- They smelt weirdly fishy. My deep, dark history in cheap retail land meant that I knew that this was a (horrible) side effect of manufacturing. You can get that right out by soaking the skirt in a bathtub full of sudsy shampoo and warm water.
It is proof of two of my key shopping beliefs: (1) there is no store that you are too good for, or which is too misaligned with your sense of personal style, to be not worth checking on rare occasions (2) you can guess which things will not sell well, and wait for a sale. Ultimately, I’ve ended up wearing this skirt a lot, over every year I’ve owned it, and it’s showing none of the disappointing signs of wear you can usually expect from “pleather” (AGH), like peeling, so it’s been a very useful buy.
I’ve been thinking about what a classic style really is, lately, thanks to old episodes of Project Runway from 2010. The designs all look slightly…wrong…from 7 years in the future, and it’s helped me see again how small changes over a long period of time can slowly add up to that photo of you from 1999 that makes you wish you had never learnt about waistcoats and coloured, tencel denim. (I am still waiting for the waistcoat trend to rock around again). However, I do really think that a wrap shirt, A line skirt (probably not in faux leather) and a pair of simple heels is a classic look. So, this posts begs two questions of you: what is your favourite classic look? And what clothing item do you consistently repurpose?