Stylish Anna dello Russo and Giovanna Battaglia at the Paris Fashion Week, All Over Press
SILLY, DARLING TRENDS
The term ’trendy’ has almost become a taboo in the fashion world. Instead, ‘classic’ and ‘understated’ are the catchwords du jour. But sometimes a little frivolity is essential, explains Mattie Kahn.
I have been in
the process of refining a uniformly understated aesthetic since
grade school. Blame my grandmother. Citing her own wardrobe as
evidence, she demonstrated the utility of sharp-shouldered blazers
and crisp, white button-down shirts. She celebrated little black
dresses and glittering diamond studs. Hers was an almost feminist
conviction. She insisted that powerful women did not need to be told
what to wear or how to dress. Their success depended not on trends,
but rather on season-less confidence and poise. That and perhaps
several coats of mascara.
Even then, I understood it would be wise to follow her example. She was immaculate, gorgeous, and always knew which fork to use at dinner. I was a clueless ten-year-old who wore too much plaid. The path to well-adjusted adulthood seemed obvious.
In fact, her instruction to invest in quality has served me well. It is the reason I can pack a carry-on suitcase. It is responsible for my owning skinny, subtle bangles and a leather jacket that wears as well this year as it did last. It also explains my refusal to settle for ill-fitting sweaters and lukewarm cappuccinos, and boys who never call.
But it is not without its shortcomings.
As it turns out, such thoughtful dressing is not for the impatient. It took me three years to find a pair of black ballet flats that would satisfy my exhaustive requirements and at least one to track down the right satin cocktail dress. Furthermore, a closet comprised of sophisticated trench coats and patent-leather pumps may forever endure, but only on the condition that its owner does not die of boredom first.
Make no mistake: I do not regret my wardrobe. I treasure each leather accent and zipper detail. I am especially fond of the striped crewneck I snatched up in Paris last month and the suede booties I discovered much closer to home. In the process of acquiring such gems, I’ve managed to cultivate a style that stands ever so slightly apart from the masses. Most of the time, anyway.
A few weeks ago, I wandered into a small boutique. Looking for nothing in particular, I slipped on a simple pendant necklace and thumbed through a heap of casual knitwear. I considered racks of clothing brimming with pieces that would have won an encouraging nod of approval from my grandmother: skinny tuxedo pants, cashmere pullovers, thigh-skimming sweater dresses.
Then I spotted one that almost certainly would not have.
It was an orange leather baseball cap. I’d seen versions of it before. Similar styles had populated the Sartorialist and flooded my Instagram feed. Ones like it have graced the heads of starlets, models and Cara Delevingne. It was bright and entrancing, but it could in no way be termed “timeless.” After its fifteen minutes of fame expired, it was destined to be forgotten in the backs of taxicabs and abandoned at thrift shops nationwide. Some newer fashion would surely seize its spotlight, and good riddance. If hats were boys, this was the kind that you did not take home to meet your parents. It made no effort to blend in or play nice. Instead, it was loud and opinionated. It was so impractical.
But it was strong, too — assertive and modern in the way that only the best craze can be. I imagine even my grandmother would have come to appreciate its charms eventually. She had a weakness for such unapologetic charisma.
Since purchasing it, I’ve worn the hat a dozen times and I have yet to tire of it. As in life, so too in fashion, a little frivolity is sometimes essential. It may not be the most polished accessory or smartest accoutrement, but it does what clothes (and, yes, boys) are meant to: for now, it makes me stupidly happy.
Mattie Kahn is a writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared on VanityFair.com, Refinery29, and the Man Repeller, among other platforms. She hopes this will be the year she cements a signature drink, resuscitates the semi-colon, and masters liquid eyeliner once and for all.