This week, I read the new high-concept style anthology Women in Clothes cover to tastefully watercolored cover. As a bookhead, I was curious about this tome of sartoria edited by three literary heavy-hitters: Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?, Heidi Julavits, novelist and reliably well-dressed editor of The Believer, and Leanne Shapton, an artist whose graphic novel in auction-catalog form was optioned for a Brad Pitt/Natalie Portman vehicle. Inviting "women worldwide" to complete a survey with 100-plus open-ended questions (among them: "What's the situation with your hair?"), the triumvirate diced up the responses, sprinkled them between interviews, essays, drawings, and photos of women's "collections" (fedoras and used earplugs and such), and ran all 500 pages through what looks like an aloof, underscrubbed, and awfully chic Instagram filter.
Let's set aside the tension between the book's egalitarian methodology and its contributions from highbrow and/or high-dollar fashionistas, glamstresses, modettes, and Lena Dunham, and get to the important question: "Why am I not in this book?" Seriously, guys, huge oversight. I am just so incredibly fascinating – not to mention a major fashion influence in Austin and beyond. I'm told you can't throw a rock in Pflugerville these days without hitting a caftan. (Granted, they make big targets.)
So I decided to rectify the situation and interview myself. Yes, that's right. This week, the Good Eye interviews the Good Eye – and she's not pulling any punches.
Good Eye: What's important for fall?
Good Eye: Well, caftans are still very wearable if you can find a cocoon coat to fit over the batwing sleeves.
GE: I thought caftans were a summer thing, like beachwear.
GE: First of all, this is Austin, so get a grip. Second of all, voluminous looks aren't going away anytime soon. The most interesting silhouette is either bulky and layered or structured to stand away from the body.
GE: Where do culottes fit in?
GE: I'm so glad you happened to ask about culottes, Amy, because they are among my favorite looks for fall. Get them tailored in tweed for a hobbity look, with brogues and nubby tights or kneesocks; or style fuller culottes like a skirt, with boots, flats, or chunky heels.
GE: Why not just wear a skirt?
GE: If you're wearing tights, your skirt's going to get all bunched up between your legs anyway. Culottes make it a look.
GE: [Laughs] It's like you know me! Let's talk structure.
GE: Oversized structure is key this fall. If you have a million dollars — first of all, you probably aren't reading this, but if you are, you should buy that full-length, cream-colored coat from the Row's Resort Collection. Humans with budgets, I'll meet you in the outerwear section of Savers, where I'll be scouring for a men's greatcoat or a women's drop-shouldered Eighties coat to fake the silhouette. Look for camel or gray with chalk pinstripes. In the 1943 Val Lewton-produced horror movie The Leopard Man, Jean Brooks wears a chalk-stripe coat over a pin-striped skirt suit, and all the stripes kind of layer and match, like a sofa in a beachy living room. The truly adventurous among us will be chopping the sleeves off straight-cut wool and suede coats to make long, structured vests, which are actually more practical in Austin than they are in New York. Plus they fit over caftans.
GE: Why not a black coat?
GE: Only if you're planning to go full-on lumpy-artsy Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto. Tailored and black isn't the Austin way.
GE: Tell me about early fashion influences.
GE: Elfquest comics, Hans Andersen Fairy Tales illustrated by Shirley Hughes, and Flashdance. After I saw Flashdance when I was 7 I spent the whole summer yanking my boatneck tops down over one shoulder. And my mom spent the whole summer yanking them back up.
GE: What is one thing your mother taught you about style that turned out to be true?
GE: You're either a gold person or a silver person. I'm a silver person.
GE: What is one thing your mother didn't teach you about style that you wish she had?
GE: Yellow is the very best color a shoe can be.
GE: What is one thing your mother taught you about style that you wish she hadn't?
GE: "Pink and red don't match." When I was 6 years old I had a pink fuzzy sleeveless shirt and a red skirt that were my two favorite pieces of clothing. I wanted to wear them together, but she forbade it. My mind was utterly blown. I was like, "Why can't I wear my two favorite colors together?" Now I know that pink and red are fine. Anything is, if you put enough energy into it. Although you may not want to expend that much energy on bizarre color combinations every day. [Long, reflective pause.] I guess it was good to learn about matching, though. Maybe nobody can teach the lesson of how to break rules.
GE: Wow, what a long, emotionally revealing story about your relationship with your mother. Do you pair pink and red as an adult?
GE: What are you into lately?
GE: I've been getting into interior design.
GE: Talk about rules! It's like, front legs of the furniture have to be on the rug! Total fascism!
GE: Who knew "transitional" was a style? I always thought it was a house-sitting gig you take after getting dumped. [Rippling peals of laughter, like a thousand tiny bells.] Have you done much decorating?
GE: My husband and I just moved into our first house so I'm trying it for the first time. I'm even starting a new Pinterest board to keep it all straight!
GE: Tell me more!
GE: It's – wait a second, who's doing the interviewing here?
GE: I'm the Good Eye.
GE: I'm the Good Eye!
[Cat fight, sound of ripping caftan.]
To follow the Good Eye's multiple personalities and obsessions, including looks referenced in this Fall Fashion Preview, check out her Pinterest page (www.pinterest.com/amyegentry).
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