Monday, January 28, 2013

My Curious Cuir Conundrum

When chicken get teeth (that's when I would wear this jacket).
          Here's the thing, into each fashion cycle -- spring and fall, year after year after year -- come those little "signal" items (sometimes they're not that little) that say to the world: "I'm on message; I get it. Orange, or even worse, green, whether I hate it or not, must appear someplace on my body or it will be clear even to complete strangers that I don't know what's what in the world of the ever changing "In".

         OK, let's say I accept the premise. After all, fashion is -- alright, was -- my life,  so using above example, I would find a scarf that has some orange and/or green hidden in it or maybe a belt (if I still wore belts, this is all hypothetical) and move on until the next cycle which would no doubt have another color I would never consider under normal circumstances.
Maybe, we're getting warm. . .

Maybe, yes, maybe. . .
          Fine. I can live with this notion. But here's the thing, I have a very complicated relationship with cuir (leather). No, not shoes, bags, belts (you know, in principle), gloves. . . It's when cuir clothing comes into the equation that I become uncomfortable. I don't know why. I love the idea of a black leather pencil skirt and that elusive, but nonetheless perfect, jacket that is out there someplace. Mine would definitely be in the form of a "cardigan" never, ever a biker.

When this Whistles "cardigan" was spotted on Pippa Middleton (see below) it flew out of  the stores. It has just the right touch of the famous Chanel quilting with a smooth, crisp fit. But, it's gone, gone, gone. . .
          French women wear both, not together of course that's a bit much, and they really do look stunning. When I see these women on the street I think, "why not me?" And then I think, "because it's just not me."

         You may have noticed that almost every capsule wardrobe of 20 items or so will more than likely include a leather jacket. (I know I'm not supposed to talk about Inés, but she did mention that a leather jacket -- blouson in her case and brown -- is a basic. Maybe for her, probably not for me.)

         Heaven knows they're an investment as in buying in can be expensive to astronomically so and if one were not to wear the investment I suppose that would be the ultimate folly.

         Long ago when I was madly covering the collections all over the world I owned a black leather blazer. It was a gift and I actually quite liked it. It made me feel cool at the time. Then I realized I'd outgrown it, literally and figuratively.

        At the moment I'm searching for a buttery, black (what did you expect?) cardigan-like number and I've found some in varying price ranges. But do I want it because it's someone else's idea of what I should own or do I want it because I would wear it? These are the questions that have held me back.

         I've even made a mental list of how I would wear the imaginary jacket -- my way -- to see if I would be comfortable in it and I still can't decide.

The quilting theme gone awry.  Nothing like adding more bulk to the body I always say.
          Have you ever had this tempted, not tempted, want it, maybe I don't want it relationship with a piece of clothing?

         I know, you're probably thinking she really knows how to pose thought-provoking, esoteric conundrums. . .


Murphy said...

I feel your pain. For me it's a matter of finding a balance between sticking to my own sense of style and still being open to new ideas. Since my sense of style is not completely evolved (even at my *certain* age), and since I do NOT want to be that little old lady who wears the same outfit she bought in 1972 because "it's still perfectly good," I do branch out of my comfort zone for one or two items a year.

Some of these ventures go better than others. This year I bought two, subtle, animal print tops and they have been great! In fact one of them is essentially worn out already. On the other hand, Goodwill has snapped up a couple of great, scarcely worn items due to my system. For what it's worth, I do have a leather jacket that I love - I don't wear it super often, but when I do it is just the thing.

Also - as far as I'm concerned - go right ahead and keep talking about Ines. I might never be as rich, thin or beautiful as her, but I can still get good ideas from her. And - sorry to ramble on, but I missed the flap on an earlier thread - thanks for keeping your blog going while you write your book! Your blog is quite the bright spot in my day, guest poster or no.

Déjà Pseu said...

I do have a very simple black leather jacket, probably best described as "scuba style" (very simple, Mandarin collar) which came from Talbot's of all places, probably 6 or 7 years ago now. I do want a moto style though, but need to find the right one without huge lapels or too much belt-y detailing.

I think though, that a garment or style either feels right for you or doesn't. I've learned not to force anything.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's best just to not join into a trend unless you can find an item that has style elements that you consistently love -- that are really you. I too don't find many leather jackets that are me (I prefer suede). They often look too edgy on my softer body shape and facial features. I need softness in my clothing both in line and texture as others need crispness, texture, structure, clean lines, etc. Two years ago I found a beautiful leather moto-inspired jacket in a medium grey colour (softer than black), buttery leather, rounded lapel points and a slightly longer line that is belted. This jacket ticks all the boxes and I wear it often.

Some items that will never be me, but that I love on others, are jean jackets, boyfriend jeans, structured bags and classic pearls. Having true style is as much about knowing what works for you as what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Ah Tish, you've articulated something I'm struggling with and it has become a benchmark now that you have. Still working on finding my style and not wanting to be that lady that crosses the line into frumpy, (at mid-60 now) I know I've bought items that weren't "me". I'll keep a better eye on the "why" of buying certain items since I've read your post. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Splenderosa said...

OMG, Tish, you mean I should not have purchased that burnt orange Jill Sander leather jacket? It made too much of a fashion statement? But, I had too,'s the color of the University of Texas Longhorn football team....:)'s

Villette said...

Tish, I am absolutely with you on this question. I've been looking at black leather jackets, and yes, after Ines' nudge in her book, biker jackets, too; but I've always had something in the back of my mind that they look like a woman of a certain age is trying too hard. Certainly if I had the look and build of Francoise Hardy, fine, great. But I don't. And for the amount of money a good leather jacket would cost, I think I should spend the cash on something that, the moment I put it on in the shop, I think: 'Ah, that's it.' For me, a black leather jacket will never be 'it.'

webb said...

Spent the entire weekend obsessing over the "want it/don't want it, should I/shouldn't I" over warm boots. Finally decided that, global warming aside, my feet are getting colder as i get older, so ordered some tall black Uggs ... from a place where I know i can return them!

Would love a black leather jacket, too, but have trouble with petite jackets in general. Maybe i shall obsess over than next weekend.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I so agree with the first comment...I have tried on many leather, biker jackets and they are just not me! I like the look for others, but the garment just seems like me trying to be someone I am not. So I do not own one and unless something changes inside my head, I probably won't own one. Also, my Texas climate just does not give me much opportunity for a leather jacket. Though many women here own them.

mette said...

A definite no for a leather jacket in any color. It would not do any favors for me.
Same goes with leather pants of skirts.
Fur is a totally different issue.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel, even down to the issues with green and orange. I finally realized that I love a little leather jacket, but I hate black, so I went with camel, which looks gorgeous with the blues I wear. Just a thought...

Karen Albert said...

Tish I do have a couple of very simple zip up or leave open leather jackets. Have had them for years, very classic. Do I wear them very often? No. Would I purchase one now? NO.

Do what is comfortable for you!!!!
That is the only way to make your own fashion Statement!

2013 Artists Series

Tree said...

Agree, there's something about leather clothing that....

For me, I can do leather shoes, bags, watch straps, and gloves but just can't wear large pieces of it. I love the look of a black leather jacket, but no can do.

Good luck with your dilemma!

sara said...

How about Agnès Bs Cardigan Pressions in leather?

knitpurl said...

My zip up leather jacket has simple lines. I've owned it for years and it fills a place in Wisconsin's climate -- when "faux" fur coats are too much and wool coats let the wind in. My "tempted, not tempted, want it" is a pencil skirt. Sigh, I shouldn't take one off a hanger unless I first endure a long regime (a beautiful word compared to diet!). Sorry to ramble - loved and laughed over your opening paragraphs! xoxo, C.

That's Not My Age said...

I wore a black leather biker when I was a student, but I wouldn't wear one now. Too try-hard. But I do own one quite simple, seventies-style zip up jacket that's about 15 years old - haven't worn it for a few years but don't want to throw it out just yet. And...I'd never wear anything that Pippa Middleton has worn. She's just not stylish.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean - I had the exact same feelings last winter about some motor cycle boots. I argued with myself for weeks on end, finally succumbing towards the end of winter - and guess what? I lived in them for the rest of that season and can't wait for this winter to start (I live in Australia so it is a few months away yet). Fashion? - difficult some times!
Cindy F

raupe said...

Trenchcoat! Somehow on me it always looks crumply, not crisp - and the classic light beige I went with washes me out a bit.
Thankfully, not much money down the drain as it was an eBay find.

Expat mum said...

It's even harder when you have a 20 year old daughter and you're terrified you'll be seen as trying to look like her. Last time she was home I stepped out in a pair of tan leather boots with my straight jeans tucked in. Nothing fancy and nothing too daring, but it was her "Hey, we look like twins" that almost sent me back to the closet.

BigLittleWolf said...

I'll take Door #2 please. (Very cute. Love leather... but we do have to be careful...)

LPC said...

So I went shopping with a friend in her early 40's. We went to AllSaints. And damned if I didn't come out in a biker jacket. At 56, this ranks in my top 50 all-time complimented pieces of clothing. Now, the compliments are coming from the young, but I have to say I feel quite at home in it.

Katherine said...

I had the exact same jacket in the late 80's {when I was 4 years old of course - kidding}. You know the saying 'if you keep it long enough it will come back in fashion'.
I just bought a deep brown leather jacket but with a collar on it. Can wait for warmer weather to take it for a walk.

The leather you like - the buttery kind - is lambskin. You have to buy the garment two sizes too small because it stretches a LOT.

Pink Piano ... in a country town said...

I have a leather coat that I have had for years and I do wear it in the winter. I'm in my mid 60's and feel quite comfortable in it BUT I wouldn't consider a biker jacket. I don't even like the leather jacket on Pippa.

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Chicatanyage said...

Believe it or not I still have a 1984 Agnes B black leather jacket. I have been wearing it when I ride my bike however I have just had it remodelled and may well wear it on the street! I also have a lovely soft Armani blazer which still looks good. I am not in the market to buy another leather jacket however I can't quite get round to getting rid of the 2 I have.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jill said...

I don't have, have never had a biker or "moto" jacket and I don't lose any sleep over that. It's not my style. A few years ago. However, I came across one in cotton - black, of course - and I love it. Apparently leather clothing is just not my thing. I don't agonize over it; I just focus on wearing and enjoying clothing that is more me. :)

Anonymous said...

For the last year and a half I have been taking the editing of my wardrobe more seriously; purging the closet, becoming acquainted with our local consignment shop and puechasing the "few" good items I needed. A few months ago, the perfect smooth black leather jacket was hanging on the rack at the consignment shop. Price: $100!
Scooped it up and have enjoyed wearing it. Never thought I'd want a leather jacket but this one works

Caryl said...


I have the answer! Agnes B makes a leather jacket
in the style as her snap button cardigans. It works
with jeans, skirt, even a black lace dress. When I bought it, I felt as you do about leather plus it was more
than I like to pay for a single piece. I have never
regretted the purchase and probably have bought
its cost per wearing to almost nothing. Agnes B
still makes it --and she works it with her collection every season. It's timeless---and ageless!

Anonymous said...

I've been straddling this black leather jacket fence so long, it used to be an auunal hunt starting late summer, now it's a year 'round occupation. Good thing too because the 'what's it for' parameters keep refining, narrowing. This past Christmas, ahead of shopping season, my husband inquired on which side of the fence I'd currently settled. Being Christmastime I distilled my prototype leather jacket features into a poem and gave it to him:

"Twas the season of Christmas
And all through the night,
Dream visions of lambskin
Most elegant, polite.

No bombers, no baseball,
No biker, no blazers;
No patches, no quilting,
No snaps and no zippers."

He came home and said what I already knew "It doesn't exist!"

I'm not through hunting, I know it's out there.


Kathy said...

I've had the same black leather (slightly biker-ish) jacket for 30 years. I also have a number of other leather jackets, grey, cognac, army green suede. They're great for the climate in California, and perhaps because I've worn them for so long, they feel very comfortable and right on me. I have the "on the fence" thing about a faux leopard coat, and have for a few years. I do think if I found the right one I'd get it now, and it's been on my fashion mind a lot. I want it simple, fitted, and slightly above knee length.

Anonymous said...

My problem with the real cardigan-y looks here is that they make your waist disappear. They're just soooo boxy, which to my eye look mumsy and old fashioned. And too much texture doesn't help the slenderizing cause either, as you point out.

You and Vicki Archer are zoning in on each other's brain waves today, I think, because she too is writing about the black leather jacket. Here is my comment to her post -- which is apropos here as well:

My black leather jacket is the most buttery lambskin. It is cut to the top of my hipbones, has French cuffs (!) and a black sheared beaver collar that’s detachable. I bought it on sale about 12 years ago and wear it three seasons of the year. It was breathtakingly expensive for me at the time — even on sale — but it’s absolutely timeless and I’ve never regretted the purchase. One of my favorite garments for sure.

xoxo --

Rhiannon at After Plumcake said...

I just can't with the black leather anything. I don't even think I have black leather shoes. It's so emphatically Not Me that try as I might --and I do try-- I'll never make a Perfecto or its ilk work on my body. Plus there was an embarrassing incident in 7th grade ca 1991 where I borrowed my mother's black leather miniskirt and wore it to school with a sheer top and looked like the pre-haircut version of Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl.

A few years ago I bought a gorgeous pair of luggage brown suede cargo pants, and loved them right into the ground. Maybe they worked because brown suede reads horsey while black napa reads Harley.

Anonymous said...

Hi Flo with the poem - I just came across this:

...Agnes B., but no snaps.

Anonymous said...

"Hi Flo with the poem - I just came across this...Agnes B., but no snaps. 11:34 PM."

Anonymous, you are so kind! Our brainwaives must have overlapped last night because just when you were cruising eBay, and leaving me this note, I was over at Etsy taking out my Visa. I struck! [even though I broke one of my own rules, the zipper]. The Agnes B is so beautifully detailed and finished, this one I picked up was $60, the sleeves look a bit hefty, this jacket has the "note" I had hoped to hit, a little bit of understated elegance, I'll wear it open as a cardigan:

Thank you again, Flo

silkpathdiary said...

You just described exactly my own indecision about leather jackets and I've come to the same conclusion that it must be a soft cardigan like garment for it to have any hope of working for me and the rest of my closet.
Good luck with your search!

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