Goldilocks goes shopping: snakewear revisited and the $400 buttonhole

sssssso - I bit! A certain silk and wool skirt has been sssssitting in my closet for a few weeks, awaiting the rest of the outfit. A girl can't go out in just a skirt, after all. There are Laws. The ssssskirt has the famous "ssssssnakeskin print" on an exquisitely pale cream background, and my objective was to locate and purchase a blouse, a sweater, and some kind of jacket or cardigan, thereby turning the skirt into an outfit. With winter approaching, I decided against more cream - probably one of the few times in my life I've ever said no to more cream. I took the skirt out onto the roof on a bright day and identified the following colors: a wine-y maroon with blue but not brown undertones, a lighter maroon as the ink spread out to create dimension in the print, a pale grey and a deep taupe with grey undertones. Challenge accepted!

Allow me to refresh your recollections. Here is the skirt, with someone else's hips and thighs, not mine. The photo suggests that a faded kind of tea rose pink would work with the skirt, in kind of an old-world elegant way. It did not.

This is where I explain that I paid next to nothing for the skirt, and so my shopper's heritage was telling me that the tops should:
-- also cost nothing, i.e. be found lurking in a closet here or out at Flintstone Manor, or at a thrift shop, OR
-- cost no more than the skirt, OR
-- be so perfect that they would also go with absolutely everything else I own and be worn to threads in a season or two, which is the expected useful life of the ssssskirt, AND
-- require no additional expenditures, like tank, cami, undies.

And this is where the tape self-destructs and I leave on the mission.

First thought: a not-bulky cashmere, crewneck or boatneck, in a wine color. You're familiar with perfect pitch, right? I have perfect pitch of color. It's a known trait, my sister has it too. And where potables are concerned? Perfect pitch of color also! I have sent back Scotch as "it must have been poured accidentally, that can't be what I ordered," without even sniffing it, and received apologies and a free glass of the good stuff. Same with wine by the glass. So finding a wine-colored sweater should be, as we say, cake. Well, no. Several cashmeres came home, failed the "roof on sunny day" test, and went back. This is where you picture me explaining to SA that if you look at it in bright light, the sweater is really a reddish brownish kind of yarn and the ink on the skirt is a deep High School Varsity Jacket Maroon and just missing is worse that failing altogether. "Have you thought about grey?" she asked, trying desperately not to sound desperate.

Actually I had. I have a Ralph Lauren Collection grey cashmere twinset that I bought at two different stores - hey, in rotten weather, who walks outside? and if you stay on the ground floor, you may encounter perfume! so as the clouds loom, you dash into a nice dry store, go up the rear elevator, narrowing your eyes keenly as you pass the markdown racks, go down the front elevator, jump on the crosstown bus... As I was saying, I have these cashmere sweaters which are getting on in age and haven't pilled yet, and are grey. I tried them on, they fit, but they are the kind of grey that has yellow undertones, so non-starters. And even though grey is the default top to wear with anything J.Crew puts forth, I have enough. Naturally I didn't try the other default top - navy stripes. It would be a brave ssssnake that would venture forth under a clutch of stripes.

Would you believe I've lost weight on the tops of my shoulders? Who does that? So a delightful heavy satin wine blouse from the closet was the perfect color, but unwearable since the shoulder seam almost reached the elbow.

This past weekend I came home from the local outlet mall with a deep wine wool sweater, crewneck, long sleeves. It was knitted in a cable and rib pattern.  After coupons and promos, it came to $34.97. The sleeves are a little puffy at the top, but I can live with that.  Ralph Lauren strikes again! Just to make sure I hadn't overpaid for the sweater, I checked the Ralph Lauren website:

a very expensive buttonhole!
The price - you can look it up yourself, it's Ralph Lauren Blue Label - is $398 plus tax. The only difference between it and my outlet prize is the back "keyhole" buttonhole.

I like the buttonhole, but not that much.

So now on to the silk blouse and maybe a jacket. I'm overstocked with blazers, and was thinking more and more about the taupe shades in the snake print.  And at the end of last week, I was thinking everything would go back to the store, when one of those peculiar emails from a flash sale site arrived.

And there was my leather jacket, Theory no less, in a color called Dark Taupe, which is at least descriptive. The sweater shown with it is in a fiber called Mélange, which is Garmento for You bet it will itch! But there was also a simple, long-sleeved single-breasted silk blouse, also in Dark Taupe. I ordered the jacket in a Medium, I find that Theory pieces can be close-fitting, and the blouse in my regular Small.

On arrival, the two pieces fit perfectly, the collar on the blouse worked perfectly with the non-collar on the jacket, the silk is heavy not flimsy, and the seams are felled not serged. Life is good. Um, of course, these two pieces cost more than I set out to spend, but will work with so many other things that I already have that I'm not worried. Seriously loving the Dark Taupe, it's not as much of a dark grey as it looks here, it's closer to milk chocolate.  Although I must say, my photos are no more accurate than anyone else's that go from iPhone to iPhoto to Blogger to post to screen. The snap of the jacket by itself is closest to real.


When things like this turn up, you have to POUNCE.  And then hope that you've made a good decision. I've already tried the blouse and jacket with black jeans, with wine-colored pants. I have made a good decision.  The sweater - well, I'm keeping that too.


  1. Replies
    1. and of course this stuff is going in the suitcase next week.

    2. Understood. Hurray for most excellent travel plans. Please be my eyes and taste buds at Kapunka, if you can. Merci. Tell Manu that Gail and Andrew sent you.

  2. Gorgeous looking jacket, I think it'll look great with just about anything. I love your dedication to finding the perfect garment.

    1. yeah, it's not like I.have a life or anything...

  3. darn it! I didn't know I needed this for my skirt. I do. darn it.

    1. All over New York, business slows at 11 a.m. when the flash sales open. These pieces were gone in a minute, so I expect to see twins of me everywhere I go. Oh, well.

  4. I am having hard time finding what to wear with it too. So far I found my old cashmere sweater and that was it. I love that skirt, but it's so hard to pair. Unfortunately, I paid a hefty price fro mine and now I feel even more disappointed. :)

    1. I'd keep looking at the sale racks in Saks and Bloomie's for things in the taupe family. Saks is having a 20% Friends and Family sale thru 21st October, so you may get lucky!

  5. I really want to take lessons in garmento now! What a great post and what devotion you showed here, I bow to your sartorial sleuthing.

    1. Well I live surrounded by stores that are not doing well this season, everyone's having sales that would have been incredible just a short few years ago and now they're practically paying you to take the stuff out of the store...

      Garmento-speak is like real-estate speak, where "open-plan kitchen" can mean the stove is in the living room and is not ventilated...

  6. I am so glad to hear that you found a couple of pieces to go with the skirt. The leather jacket is beautiful, as are the matching blouse, and the RL sweater. You did well, my friend! What a beautiful outfit to wear in Paris, too! :)

  7. Thanks, FFM, I'm glad not to have the skirt lying around annoying me - it was final sale. Of course the whole happy group is joining us on our trip, although it looks like it might be too warm for the sweater.

  8. You have chosen some very sophisticated pieces to go with the skirt. The jacket is stunning, and will complement your collection of pristine cream pieces beautifully. I,too, am cursed with perfect color pitch, and have a hard time putting together pieces that just "go" together.I can perseverate over shades and hues forever, although I am trying to get past that. I am so glad you saved $ 350+ on the keyhole. The sweater is a gorgeous find!

  9. Yes, there's nothing worse than knowing an outfit isn't quite right, I won't give in on color coordination, in these days of electronic color mixing there's no excuse for closet orphans.


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