“You know, I love that kind of having these relationships almost like old friends with your clothes, and sometimes you rediscover … a little black dress or something that really protects you, and when you’re tired and you have to go to something, you rediscover it in your wardrobe and you say ‘Oh, thank God,’ and you zip it on and you feel better.”
—Giambattista Valli, designer
Sweet words spoken by a man who clearly loves women and understands one of the key purposes of clothing—to protect us from the elements, visible and otherwise.
As soon as I read Valli’s words (and stopped saying “Awwww …”), I asked myself what garment makes me feel protected. But since I live with a cacophonous collection of style subpersonalities known as The Style Sisters, I can’t name a single garment or even a single color. Doing so would start a tiresome argument, if not a hair-pulling session.
But I can name a couple of qualities that contribute to our sense of protection as well as our sense of general all-around happiness: soft and unrestricting. None of us likes to feel as if we’re being mugged by our clothes. Stiff, scratchy, tight, requiring us to take care in the way we move—uh-uh. The job of our clothes, once we put them on, is to just sit there and not bother us.
Some of the sisters adore pencil skirts, but even those slender garments must meet the criteria: They can skim, but they cannot squeeze or bind or prevent us from putting our feet up on our desk if we feel like it (and we do; we work in a very casual office where nobody minds).
In fact, we’ve so edited our wardrobe to eliminate the fussy and muggy and non-soft that we now often spend hours in the evening lounging around in the same clothes we wore to work.
I can also mention a couple of types of garments that the sisters do agree are wonderful, just on general principles but especially when we want to feel very comfortable and protected: long oversized or at least drapey hoodies, loose tunics or t-shirts, stretchy leggings, and what we call our soft pants—well-worn-in (easy when you shop almost entirely at thrift stores) cotton sweatpants or other loose soft pants, like the black velours from the Vermont Country Store that The Man in the Plaid Shirt gave us about 40 thousand years ago, give or take a few decades.
As I’ve been writing, The Style Sisters have been murmuring in the background. Seems they agree to disagree on a single garment or color, but they agree that we should show you a few of their “protected” outfits.
The variety of ways in which humans express the same need is amazing, is it not? Please do share your own variety—we’d love to hear about the garment, style, or fabric that best protects you.
The Skinny on Signor Valli
After studying fashion design in his home city of Rome and in London, Valli worked in Rome, Milan, and Paris, where he opened his own atelier in 2005 and showed his first couture collection, to much acclaim, in 2011.
Valli’s clothes, whether ready-to-wear or haute couture, are too fluffy, dressy, and frilly for me. But I do appreciate the beauty, femininity, and grace of his designs. He shows his love and respect for women by designing clothes that flatter and dignify the female form, actually look very comfortably wearable, and manage to be modest (except for a few see-throughs here and there) without being frumpy.
If you follow celebrities (I don’t), you may already know that Amal Alamuddin made her first public appearance as Mrs. George Clooney in a Valli design.
And he has a very classy website.
Categories: Fashion Quote of the Week