Details in ready-to-wear — and taken to their glorious extreme in haute couture — are the real estate equivalent of location, location, location.
They transform the ubiquitous into the unique, or at the very least the unusual.
They come in two forms: Add-ons and Built-ins.
Translation: Accessories, the individual, creative, easy way to make a garment your own, versus the discreet or blatant embellishments that are part of the piece of clothing itself, i.e. tucking, embroidery, buttons, piping, and so on.
We’re not here to discuss accouterments — we’ll be delving into them on many occasions in the future — today’s topic is “built-ins.” Those are the details that make something special before we start playing around with it. Normally, those are the touches that scream “I’m expensive, look at how special I am” whereas less costly items can look cheap when the details are over-the-top or badly executed.
It’s that famous high-low mix (or hi-lo, if you will). It’s tricky. As a general rule, when going low, keep it simple, i.e. white t-shirt, classic shirt, etc. If you’re going high, look for details that set your purchase apart from the crowd without falling for a fad.
Fads should be bought in small doses and when possible kept in the cheap chic category unless they have potential shelf life. By that I mean you can put it on a shelf and pull it out five or 10 years from now — or one of your descendants can. . .
Recently I got lucky on the cheap detail front. I found a 100 percent Merino wool boyfriend sweater; you know, the long, classic V-neck cardigan that’s never out of style. But note the difference, drawn by Edith, the double row of buttons marching down the front. Cela change tout. It comes in navy, gray and black — all in the fall/winter color palette (and as you know, black is always in mine) — it cost 40 Euros.
The other purchase was the silly tunic-y t-shirt with tiny tucks at the neck and fullish 3/4 push-up sleeves. It will probably last a couple of seasons and if we finally get away from all these maternity tops everyone is wearing I can always tuck it in. I wore it with an ancient pair of white linen trousers with black pin-stripes bought at H&M in New York. (Note cuffs on pants, it makes them look more expensive than they were.)
Above mentioned t-shirt was nine Euros. It comes in white, black, coral and a brick red.
Ok, ok, it’s true: I bought one in black too. How could I not? It goes with the same pants and I have the reverse version in black with white pin-stripes, also from the same long-ago shopping trip at H&M.