New York! We're officially open at 74th and Madison. Read more.

You Need This... I Promise

The Black Jeans


I am at it again. Back in the new year to promise you that you need something new. Sometimes I get a little apprehensive about continuing to write this thing every two weeks. It is a lot of pressure. And I mean, seriously, am I still needing anything?

I spent a good part of MLK Day weekend finally tackling my own closet and Instagram must have known because I got caught in a rabbit hole of closet cleanout videos “personally” teed up for me. It was a big bore, actually. A lot of it strikes me as overcorrection. It is great to start the new year feeling cleansed and fresh, but what happened to variety being the spice of life? I am a big Anne Lamott fan and I heard her say (on Audible, so really heard) that she was not such a fan of the cultural obsession with tidiness and decluttering. She went on to say that for a writer, the stacks of papers, old notes, stray pictures, books read or unread from college, whatever, provide material for her work. Inspiration in the clutter.

And so when Sid saw me sifting through my things — we now share a closet — and told me that I looked like a hoarder, I was defensive. He pointed out that “hoarders do not think they are hoarders,” which is true, but I had Anne Lamott in my head when I told him that I, in fact, needed these things. “I have 5 girls that may want them someday.” Which is also true. I can’t tell you how fun it is when I find something from 1982 and one of the girls loves it for herself. Another great defense is that it is “research material.” Still, he had a point. For someone who dresses as simply as I do, I have a lot of stuff. With design, you are constantly looking at your own things and going back and zeroing in on what it is you loved about a specific piece. And then, dreaming up a way to make it better or updated for today. More defensiveness, I know. But it is is a good exercise to physically put away the things that are boring you… once you get sick of an item it can go up on the top shelf so you don’t even have to look at it. That way, a few years later, when you find it again after some time and distance… you can fall in love with it all over again. (Wait, is that marriage advice?) In the end, I did toss quite a few things.

But back to the apprehension I started with. Another voice I heard recently via Audible was Paul Simon’s, in Malcolm Gladwell’s audiobook Miracles and Wonder. The whole conversation is brilliant but in it, he speaks of never being afraid of running out of ideas. For him, there will always be new things (or old things) to spark his interest. It was inspiring. And sure enough – recently I found something that really interested me. Something I needed, I promise. We were shooting our fall lookbook and I dressed the model in an all-black getup to go underneath this awesome tweed car coat. A black fine-gauge funnel-neck and our black 5 pocket jeans and short cowboy boots. Super simple. The reason I am bringing this up is that Octavia looked sensational before I put the coat on her... I looked at her on set and thought, wait a second. That is exactly what I want to look like. Nearly every day, actually. (I mean, until I get bored and move on to white!) How is it that I don’t have a pair of true black denim jeans? I have leather, pleather, coated printed python, black and white striped… and there was a period in the early 2000s when I bought several pairs of black velvet cropped flares in the clearance pile at the Gap and I think Pauline spent most of her toddlerhood sitting atop those soft pants since I had so many. But not true, rock and roll black denim.

inspired

 

When we moved on to photograph the next look, I kept thinking about those pants. I couldn’t focus on the rest of the shoot until I had called the shop and made sure that a pair was set aside for me. Priorities! Suddenly I had all these images in my head of Emmanuelle Alt, the editor of French Vogue. Queen of black jeans. Queen of all jeans, really. Google search her and you will see what I mean. Her look is not for everyone, and even though I claim to dress simply, I have nothing on her very specific discipline and uniform. (Wait… I guess I did in Wisconsin with my black velvet jeans.) Of course I go through phases – I have been wearing these black jeans for 5 days — but since I am no longer an editor (or a stay-at-home mother,) it is part of my job now to try new things. To get new ideas and to wear the things we make. I should tell Sid that.

There is this terrifically talented young woman, Stephanie, who works for us. She is so clearly in love with fashion that it is a delight to talk to her. She actually told me, in the most animated, charming way, “I mean, sometimes it is a problem… I just lie in bed at night and think up outfits.” She is not materialistic, a fashion ‘victim,’ or… a hoarder. (Though her fiancé might disagree if they ever share a closet down the road.) But she just delights in making herself look a certain way each day. She inspires me. We have had the most wonderful conversations about the details of a certain vintage thing she just picked up, or why she loves what she loves in the shop and how she plans on mixing it with what she already owns. When I told her that I envisioned her in the fringed tunic on the mannequin – kind of punk Chanel – she lit up and said, “wow! I love that!” Maybe I even inspired her? It was fun.

So for now, I am on a black jeans kick. The fit I love, cropped just enough, great rise, little flare at the bottom, and unbelievably, with my own label on the back... in BLACK. I needed them! And let me tell you, they deliver. The stretch to cotton ratio feels like a hug. If you were the type to lie in bed at night and dream up outfits, they would be the perfect base. Turtleneck like Octavia, white blazer like Emanuelle, bright cashmere sweater and neck scarf and short zebra cowboy boots like Stephanie. Just as Paul was saying… there is always another idea.

From Ann

More You Need This... I Promise

The NYC Store

You Need This... I Promise

The NYC Store

Sid and I are opening a store on Madison and...

The V-Neck Sweater

You Need This... I Promise

The V-Neck Sweater

I have recently gotten back on my pre-pandemic travel schedule...

The Cowboy Boot (Again)

You Need This... I Promise

The Cowboy Boot (Again)

Almost exactly four years ago I wrote about our Short Cowboy...

The Bias-Cut Skirt

You Need This... I Promise

The Bias-Cut Skirt

Recently, our youngest daughter Pauline came home from college for...

The Chambray Shirt

You Need This... I Promise

The Chambray Shirt

I am really feeling chambray right now. Though to be...

The Better Sweater

You Need This... I Promise

The Better Sweater

I am having a hard time lately with telling you...