If you don’t have your health, little else matters. In the wake of so much unbearable heartache and suffering, fashion seems like a trivial pursuit; but it’s still a part of our lives and can bring us comfort and joy.
I reached out to our fashionable readers and asked what their favorite, most indispensable article of clothing or accessory is. I said it could be something they rely on now or something they can’t wait to wear when things get back to some sort of normal. Or both. In most cases, images were provided.
Amy Fine Collins: “I have been wearing rediscovered pieces from my Beene archive every day, as a therapeutic and nostalgic exercise. Mr. Beene’s work is looking better than ever….again! Rebecca Moses just did a drawing of me in one of my favorite pieces from my Beene archive, which I hope to wear again once we can go out and be festive.”
Sandy Schreier: “I’ve been living in my pink fuzzy Josie Natori pajamas. My very first Zoom meeting was for a Passover Seder. I did my makeup, put on a plum color crochet mini dress, and a matching Dries Van Noten necklace. I mistakenly thought my images would be blown up on the screen. Little did I know that once it started, all you could see of me was one eye! I could have kept on my pink pajamas and did not need to make a fuss. But at least, it forced me to get out of those pajamas.”
“One outfit I look forward to wearing in the future, is a pair of wide-legged black sequined pants by Halpern paired with a bright yellow Ralph Lauren sweater covered in paillettes, and a black Dries Van Noten necklace.”
Steven Kolb: “I’ve been wrapping myself in a DVF cashmere animal print blanket! The pillow is my dog, Donna. Follow her on Instagram at @officialdonnathedog.”
Vanessa Friedman: “Oh, boy — I have so many favorites. My whole fashion week suitcase has been slowly accrued over decades. I would be bereft without it. And though I used to be sick of wearing what is inside, now I look at it with longing! Especially: long Alaia skirts, a silver Dries van Noten Indian sari fabric jacket. But for the moment, I am living in some old black Helmut Lang knit trousers that feel like pajamas.”
Freddie Leiba: “Yves Saint Laurent was a good friend. In the ’80s, I spent Christmas with him at his house in Morocco. He made me a vest, which is one of my treasures. Another favored item is a red jacket given to me by Hermes back in my Bazaar days. It is not just a common red. It is the red of the Maasai.”
Nancy Chilton: “My favorite and most indispensable piece of clothing is a Balenciaga jacket from 2007 that I got when I started working at The Costume Institute. It’s extremely versatile and has been my go-to piece for work and events for 13 years. I wore it when Nicolas did an Atelier with Alina Cho talk at The Met with Grace Coddington in October 2018.”
“My other indispensable item, which is especially necessary now, is a Rodarte hoodie that I bought in the Punk exhibition shop in summer 2013. It is my comfort object that I wear every night, and now that I’m staying home, I wear it every day.”
Linda Fargo: “The one thing I will never give up unless marooned on an island considerably smaller than Manhattan, is MY RED LIPSTICK! I wear numerous brands.”
Miki Higasa: “Most of my pieces from my Comme des Garcons days!”
Jeffrey Banks: “Having been sequestered in NJ for the last five weeks with only what I thought would be a 3-day weekend wardrobe, my most indispensable wardrobe item has been my fine gauge black merino turtleneck! With my black cavalry twill pants, I feel dressed enough for zoom meetings and warm enough for a solitary dog walk.
Thank goodness I thought to pack it (and one in another color). That’s what I wear now, but I can’t wait to wear my multi-color floral pants and flamingo embroidered slippers!”
Carmen dell’ Orefice: “The only thing indispensable is my BFF’s closet always available to me to “raid” when I unexpectedly had to dress for a special event, the opening of the ballet, or a special charity ball, sadly no longer Monday dress night at the opera. More often than not it’s Felice’s closet, which she lets me raid to borrow one of her fabulous silk vintage tops (Norrell, Balenciaga) put together with my Peter Cohen’s long Silk evening skirt or pants. I guess the statement is; indispensable to me firstly, is the friendship!
Indispensable today of course are, what I consider very chic, my “black” rubber gloves, and the surgical masks my designer friend Cho Cheng was kind enough to send me from China, after telling him the shelves were empty in NYC. I have a funny selfie with a patch over one eye after a routine Dr. appointment, which I’ll look for, but you see my gloves, and that I do take all precautions possible, no matter the circumstances.”
Valerie Steele: “Before the quarantine began, I went to Nordstrom and bought a fabulous coat by Dries Van Noten with images of roses all over it, with the idea that I would wear this to the opening of the Museum at FIT’s fall exhibition, ‘Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion.'”
It is from the collaboration between Dries and Christian Lacroix, which was such a brilliant collection. Of course, I couldn’t wait to wear it, and did so last month at the MFIT symposium for “Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse.” I look forward to wearing it again soon.
Jean Shafiroff: “Right now, everything is about what to wear at home. Since I am doing all meetings at home via Zoom or conference calls, I am almost always in black leggings and a grey Lululemon top. I have several pairs of black leggings and about 4 or 5 different grey Lululemon tops. This “at homework” outfit enables me to go from Zoom workout classes right back to Zoom meetings.
Above is a photo of me cutting my daughter’s hair in our kitchen. You will see that I am wearing a grey and black outfit as described. The other pieces I cannot live without are my Bed Head pajamas! Very comfortable. I posted a fun photo wearing a pair of on Instagram. In desperation, I pretended it was a dress and dressed it up!”
Deborah Hughes: “My red cap is my most indispensable accessory right now and I wear it every day all day…sometimes I even sleep with it on. It originally belongs to my Daddy…I discovered in his closet a few months ago.”
Lisa Lockwood: “I can’t wait to wear my Cartier watch again. The battery died four weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to my local jewelry store reopening so I can replace it.”
Teri Agins: I’ve gone full-on minimal since the early March quarantine. Like everyone, I’ve been lounging in sweatpants or gym shorts– for my twice-weekly Zoom workouts with the personal trainer. Skipped all makeup (except for a swipe of eye concealer and lipstick for Zoom), and I cut my nails super short and stripped off the polish on my toes too. I’ve been wearing my hair in braided pigtails and rarely wearing my usual tiny earrings or a watch. But I’m ready to trade in my laid-back home-style, to get dolled up again with makeup, earrings, and scarlet nails. Indeed, the Zoom camera doesn’t lie!”
“I have a steady dozen or so signature fashion combinations that have been my go-to look for years, which I update from time to time. I love playing “fashion show” in my bedroom mirror, as you can see from the selfie I recently posted on Instagram. It’s my new favorite outfit. I can’t wait to wear it with a Commando black patent leather pencil skirt and a sleeveless knit Commando bodysuit and my trusty Louboutin black patent pumps. My husband Paul can’t wait for me to wear this look when we go out–to a restaurant (!) dinner and live jazz–after New York reopens.”
Maryann Grisz: “Wearing now: Vince, cashmere hoodie. Can’t wait to wear again – Valentino Pink coat!”
George Carr: “I was working for Calvin Klein early 80s and had just been promoted to Vice President. Calvin and my brother Zack were wearing Rolexes. Calvin’s had a jubilee band. Zack had another band. So to celebrate my new job, I bought this Oyster Perpetual with the Jubilee Band – like Calvin! Bruce Weber was shooting Sasha for CK. He usually used Calvin’s Rolex, but his was not available, so Bruce called me. My Rolex is famous. I’ve read that Rolex is the #1 luxury brand and is the favorite of Millennials. Quality lasts.”
Tonne Goodman: “Gosh…..maybe my original Charvet scarf that Nick gave me in the 70s. But I can’t wear it now. It’s too fragile. I wear the newer, reissued version.”
Wendy Goodman: “I hate to say that my most cherished piece of clothing is a very old and very holey (as in lots of holes), but it is also holy to me!!!! My shahtoosh!!! It was purchased with savings when you could still buy them decades ago. It is MAGIC. Not just the warmest piece of spun heaven that is softer than a cloud, but the quality of the warmth, like a hug being spun around you by the animals it now turns out, were killed for their exquisite coat. The story that the fabric was made of chin hairs from these goats may be a fable, but sadly they were killed for that. I will cherish this beautiful textile always and wear it down to its last thread!”
Patrick McDonald: “My ladybug watch, a gift of Bill Cunningham.”
Vicki Tiel: “I live in my “Liza” caftans, which are named after Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter Liza. I wear them, I sleep in them, I travel in them. I keep 5 or 6 in all of my homes. Some are short, some are long. The short ones I wear around the house as pajamas in the summertime. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, how much you gain, or how much you lose because they stretch out since all the points are on the bias.” #16
Booth Moore: “I can’t wait to put on a dress and a pair of (low heeled!) party shoes and go out to dinner. These are from two of my favorite pairs in my collection. In essence, the sun embroidered Aquazzura ankle strap pumps I bought for my birthday one year at the spectacular Madison Avenue boutique, and the cactus heel sandals I bought at Charlotte Olympia’s since closed Rodeo Drive boutique to wear to someone else’s birthday in San Miguel, Mexico. Both bring me great joy, even if I’m just looking at them right now!”
Rebecca Moses: “I would have to say my turban!”
Ruth La Ferla: “Your project is intriguing, so I’m all the more sorry to report that nothing in my wardrobe is indispensable.”
As for me? I would not know where to start. But I rarely take off my Elizabeth Locke gold and tourmaline wedding ring and matching band, and right now, I am living in Adidas sweatpants, black turtlenecks, and my very old and trusty cropped black hooded sweatshirt from DKNY. Karl Lagerfeld famously said that wearing sweatpants is “a sign of defeat.” “You lost control of your life, so you bought sweatpants.” Of course, Karl did not live through this pandemic.
Among my impossible to replace vintage fashion items are my cropped vinyl Courreges jackets from the ’60s, my Bonnie Cashin coats, and my black leather biker trench coat from Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garcons.