In a July 15th article that ran in the Style section of The New York Times, “The Phantom Handbag,” Lou Stoppard reminisced about a black leather Balenciaga bag she never left home without and now, she never uses. The author notes that in lockdown, nobody needed a bag and questions whether we will ever embrace them again, given how important functionality has become.
Miuccia Prada’s 2021 Resort Menswear show featured several women’s designs. It is vintage Miuccia: spare, polished, a mix of tech and couture, emphasizing practicality and pragmatic luxury. It is one of my most favorite recent collections, perfect for our times.
Fashion, specifically, the luxury market, is being completely redefined. The fall 2020 couture shows have brought beauty and much-needed fantasy, but they are not relevant for real life. This is a summer like no other. Certainly, nobody needs cocktail dresses, ball gowns, or stiletto heels. But clothing and accessories that are functional, practical, and timeless are always desirable. The following ten items, priced from $12.95 – $1600, fit the bill.
The Frankie Shop Nylon Shoulder Bag is lightweight and roomy, measuring 16 “L x 9 “H x 9” D with a 19” strap drop. The bag has a rectangular, boxy shape, silver zip-top closure, and two functional pockets: a faux leather pocket and a single drawstring pocket at the side. It is reduced from $155 – $119 and available at thefrankieshop.com
You can’t get more functional, practical, and versatile than the Swedish Hinza bags. They are of a recyclable polyethylene made in a factory that is quality and environmentally certified under ISO-9001 and ISO-14001. The rugged plastic totes have a stylish and classic shape and are indestructible. They are stackable and great for storage, the beach, picnics, gardening, and shopping. They easily wipe or rinse off any dirt, come in two sizes, and are available in 11 colors, $34- $51.00, for sale on trendytripper.com
Maybe you don’t even need to carry a bag when your clothing has multiple pockets. The iconic Yves Saint Laurent Saharienne features four front patch pockets with snap shut identical closure on each cuff, two inverted pleats at the back, and slits on the side. This unlined early 90’s YSL variation is a reissue of the original version that Veruschka wore for the legendary shooting by Franco Rubartelli for French Vogue, July/August 1968. Made of beige twill cotton with grommet and lace tie detail down the front, it is tagged a French size 40 (US 8), priced at $1290, and available at 1stdibs.com. Coincidentally, an identical 2020 version is for sale at both netaporter.com and saks.com, reduced from $1790 to $895.
For over 300 years, Belgian Shoes have been made exclusively by hand, carefully with craftsmanship unique in the world of fashion. Their most classic style, the Midinette is both versatile and timeless. It comes in an array of colors and materials, from muted houndstooth wool and sherbet-colored leather to gold and silver lurex, leopard, and zebra printed velvet. Priced at $450, the soft-soled loafers are as comfortable as bedroom slippers, unapologetically untrendy, and available to purchase at their store, located at 110 east 55th street, 212 755 7372, belgianshoes.com
A white jean jacket is an indispensable wardrobe staple. With matching white jeans, it’s the perfect summer suit. From Zara, this one is fitted, made of thick cotton and elastine, and features a lapel collar, front patch pocket with flaps, and welt pockets. The hem of the collar is slightly unfinished, giving it a cool, raw look. It sells for $39.90 and is available at Zara stores and online, zara.com
Nothing is more appealing, especially in the summer than an espadrille. Nothing is more timeless than a ballerina flat. Diegos authentic black canvas ballerina espadrille with back loop removable laces is the best of both worlds; the perfect summer shoe. It was sewn by hand and made in Northern Spain of jute thread and recycled textile fibers from Barcelona. Priced at $47, it is available at diagos.com.
I love the chic versatility and effortless glamour of Nanushka’s Tallulah black rib-knit sleeveless bandeau top and Tatum high waisted flared trousers. They are a chic alternative to a t-shirt and jogging pants. Worn together, the two pieces resemble a jumpsuit and could easily take the place of an evening gown depending on how it’s worn. The ensemble can be dressed up or casual, and you don’t need a special occasion to wear this. The top is $315, and the pants are $345, available at thefrankieshop.com.
In her spring 2021 menswear presentation in Milan, Miuccia Prada proved that a little black dress is the perfect all year workhorse. The designer paired her iterations with black leggings and pointy-toed low heeled pumps to give them a modern new attitude. One of the best LBD’s I’ve come across is this vintage Yohji Yamamoto. The length (just above the knee) and architectural shape makes it versatile enough to wear a dress with espadrilles, flat lace-up sandals, or sneakers, or as a tunic over leggings a la Miuccia. It is $1600 and for sale at 1stdibs.com.
The Ralph Lauren Polo shirt first introduced in 1972, put Ralph on the map. It now comes in a variety of colors and styles and remains just as iconic as the original. It is available in classic, slim, and skinny fits with a regular or big pony. In black and white, the top is sporty and sophisticated, but the vibrant colors are irresistible. It is worn with jeans, shorts, jogging pants, over a bathing suit, or, with a ball skirt, should the situation – or desire – arise. Priced at between $89.50 and $98.50 they are available at ralphlauren.com.
THE most important accessory is the face mask. I’m not a fan of ‘fashion’ masks and would never wear or suggest wearing anything with little hearts, flowers, polka dots. But, I love this black and white striped mask from Berek, which has the formality of a man’s tie. Made of cotton, polyester, and spandex, it has adjustable ear loops, and there is a pocket for an optional non-medical grade filter. It is $12.95 for three and available from the Berek Boutique on etsy.com.