My friend Julia once detailed to me how her beagle Henry can smell each part of a food rather than the whole. He doesn't smell chicken soup but rather the elements separately... the meat... the carrots... the celery... the fat. This is a skill possessed by ALL beagles, as they are hounds bred for hunting, but she seemed so proud and proprietorial about her OWN dog and HIS special talents that I now think of Henry every time I see a dog going crazy for a delicious smell. My husband Sid is like a beagle when it comes to music. I hear a song, but he hears each part. He will point out the bassline... a little triangle under it... some weird brush from the drummer that I honestly cannot hear. I don't get it, but I love it. I, like Julia, feel proud and proprietorial. He is mine. Some of my best memories of him revolve around music – I cannot tell you how many hours I spent beside him while he flipped through each album at Tower Records, one by one. And I had no iPhone to scroll or multitask! We both had a little more free time back then.
To this day, we always, always, always have music in the house. Between Sid and my two older brothers, my taste in music has been influenced by male perspectives, but filtered through my own very feminine imagination. So when a song plays, I might not be able to hear the musical elements as well as Sid, (in fact, I definitely cannot) but I can absolutely hear the style behind it... probably because so many of my own fashion icons are the girls of rock 'n' roll. There are a lot of things in our fall collection that remind me of the 70s when I was first starting to carve out my own music taste. Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Michelle Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas... when I hear those songs, my mind instantly goes to knee-high boots, long skirts, dramatic hats... all very cozy and fall-feeling pieces. There are also a few things that remind me of the 80s in New York – another formative time for me, as anyone who reads here will know – when there was a real punk thing going on. Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, and of course the earliest days for Madonna.
I never quite like the idea of gaining a whole new wardrobe for a new season... trends are fun, but I usually like the things I buy enough to want to wear them year after year. With all this musical jumble in my head, there are a few things I am grabbing this fall to update and mix up the existing things in my closet (which is already quite full!) Sometimes a single item can give a refresh to what you already have going on – in life as well as wardrobe. Maybe it's a sentence from a book you have just read that makes you see things just a little differently... a yoga class that gives you slightly better posture... some new cooking technique from the amazing Salt Fat Acid Heat... a little lift can be more interesting than a big transformation. The three items on my list right now are the updaters – new versions of my old go-tos I have written about before – and will freshen up everything around them. Last year's flat pull-on boot is this year's Heeled Pull-on Boot... still tall and stretchy but with more of a 70s look to it (and a couple of inches!) I am adding in the Pointed Cowboy Boot to join my staple short Western boots... a little more rock 'n' roll but just as functional. And I am grabbing the python Stiletto Boot for a little extra edge... I can never resist snakeskin.
I will wear the tall boots with long skirts, and feel very groovy and layered. There is a great picture of Nico wearing this, sitting next to Patti Smith. Gucci has been all over this look in its ad campaigns over the last few years, but in my head the look is a little cleaner and less opulent... kind of girl-next-door meets Stevie Nicks? All my peasant-y dresses that I've worn all spring and summer with sandals will look totally new paired with my new boots... very Emmylou Harris. My legs aren't long enough to slip tight jeans into them, but yours probably are so you should go for it. With a turtleneck sweater it would be phenomenal. Speaking of legs, they would look great with a short dress and coat à la Jane Birkin.
And both of the shorter boots are so fantastic. A little 1980s in the very best way. I cannot wait to wear the python ones in particular with white jeans and a crisp shirt. And the black ones with blue jeans and a chambray shirt will make me feel like urban cowgirl – I love black and blue paired together – which makes just going to work feel like a bit of an adventure, even if I am getting there via SUV and not horseback. And then with black jeans and a white shirt and a little eyeliner, I will look like Debbie Harry. If I REALLY want to go for the Madison Square Garden fantasy I will grab a pair of leather pants in the amazing Faye pull-on style. So chic and hip. If tight leather pants aren't rock 'n' roll, I don't know what is. You just feel cool in them.
And they are real leather – I love faux, but be warned that it has a shelf life. I went to small dinner party a few years ago, when I wore an old pair of pleather pants I hadn't even unfolded in fifteen years. As we were eating, I kept smelling a weird petroleum scent, but it was only after I drove home and got up from the seat of my car that I realized my body heat had MELTED the aging plastic of the pants! The tan car seat had sticky black stains all over it like an oil spill. I died a thousand deaths in my head thinking of the beautiful upholstered chairs we had sat in during cocktails. Miraculously, my body hadn't quite heated up at that point, and we had dinner in black lacquered Chinese-style wooden chairs, so I didn't leave a mark! True story. (Can you tell I was dining with interior designers?) A good case for real leather – but black jeans work just as well for this vibe.
I don't know what your taste in music looks like, but I know that with my old standbys, a little attitude and some new boots... I am going to feel awesome and groovy. I may even want to sing. Should I start a girl band called THE UPDATERS?