Note from the editor Lesley Jane Seymour
The Delights of Dressing Down
I travel a lot. And I shop a lot. But after years of attending runway shows around the world as editor in chief of Marie Claire — and therefore dragging kilos of designer handbags and shoes onto planes with me because my fashion editors insisted I couldn’t go to a Gucci show wearing Valentino — it’s delightful to be done with all that tortured preening.
No more freaking out about whether or not my French boss (yes, The Devil Wore Prada but The Real Devil Wore Dior) was going to fire me for the un-chic sound my heels made on the hallway floor (dear readers, I’m not making this stuff up: In the early years of Vogue, an editor was actually axed for this transgression).
No more fretting about whether some designer was going to look askance at my skirt length or handbag size. Or bitch behind my back about whether I had chosen the “wrong” bucket bag from their collection — you know, the one with “too much hardware,” instead of the “right” choice, which had less.
And while it was great fun to play designer dress up every day (after all, I had a clothing allowance that forced me to spend thousands on clothes!), I’m very happy, and relieved, to tell you that, as an entrepreneur who works mainly from home, I’ve declared a moratorium on all that stuff.
Since my new gig in front of the computer no longer calls for Spanx and a tight dress, I’ve been drifting toward looks that you might classify as comfortable chic. (OK, OK, so I skidded first toward sweatpants and T-shirts, but the scruffiness just got to me.) Where did I find this essential new look? At COS (the upscale sister of the Swedish company H&M). With stores in 29 countries worldwide, COS, which opened its first U.S. store in 2007, provides a perfect mix of chic, architecturally-inspired “Art Director” clothes that are totally on trend yet don’t cost a fortune. You can dress head to toe in COS or mix in some designer pieces. I was first tipped off about COS by my More fashion director when the line was only available in Europe. Now it’s here and just as fabulous.
I’ve also found easy-going separates at Aritzia, a store my daughter first introduced me to. When I went to Austin’s South by Southwest earlier this year to present a discussion about Covey’s wonderful forgotten market of women called “The $40 Trillion Market Everyone Ignores,” my partner, Dr. Tausha Robertson, who runs the website Ms.XFactor.com, which caters to Xers of color, warned me “not to dress up: you’ll look too old lady.” And she was right (see us below): not a shift dress in the crowd and certainly no stilettos. Thank god I wore my track pants and velvet sneakers.
Most reinventions also require a fashion reinvention as well.