“The Joy Of Fashion”

Vintage mink & leather jacket worn with faux leopard bag
and Stella McCartney Elyse platform sneakers

Bill Cunningham famously said, “Fashion is the armor to get you through the paces of your daily life.” Bill’s quote has taken on a whole new meaning as of late. Much has changed in the past 11 months. What hasn’t changed is fashion’s ability to give you confidence and alter the way you look and feel. Having great clothes is no substitute for good health, but it’s the icing on the cake. And, boy, can we all use a little of that icing these days.

Black and white houndstooth puffer jacket by Bacon, vintage bag,
and Michael Kors trainers

The truth is, the pandemic has not affected my interminably casual sense of style. It is predicated on a mix of old and new, high and low, and infused with a dash of the tomboyish. The only difference is that there is an entire sector of my wardrobe that I am not tapping into right now, as there are no events, shows, openings, parties, or galas to attend.

Vintage satin turban and necklaces, yellow J. Crew cashmere sweater, vintage YSL satin trousers, vintage Manolo Blahnik shoes

The last time I got “dressed up” is when I took photos of myself to enter Rebecca Moses’s virtual Turban Contest in September. It was fun even though I was not one of the winners.

Vintage leopard coat, Moroccan belt, vintage Gucci bag,
Stella McCartney Elyse platform sneakers

I’ve always thought that it’s far more critical to focus on elements of your daily uniform, rather than special occasion wear. It’s about celebrating the common and every day, having fun, finding joy in fashion and life. It has nothing at all to do with following trends. It’s about following your instincts. Shopping in my closet, and putting myself together in a measured way, provides a much-needed diversion and enables me to tap into my creative side.

Vintage Bonnie Cashin fur and leather coat, vintage leopard bag

I have an enviable, well-curated wardrobe. I’ll be darned if I let it go to waste. Quite frankly, I appreciate what I have even more when I see images of some recent collections. Demna Gvasalia believes we should wear our clothes until they fall apart and decay. Just what the world needs now: a $1450 ripped jean jacket and a pair of $995 ripped and torn jeans from Balenciaga. Puleese!!

Red Courreges vinyl jacket, Michael Kors trainers and bag

Having a laid-back, effortless style that mixes the pragmatic with luxurious elements is always desirable, but it is even more so right now. It’s about being dressed down yet dressed up and making the ordinary extraordinary. I don’t need a special occasion to wear my crystal buckled Roger Vivier sneakers, treasured Courreges jackets, vintage Bonnie Cashin fur and leather coat, or my statement puffers.

Zara white denim jean jacket and jeans worn with Roger Vivier crystal buckled sneakers and Hinza plastic tote

For months, I’ve been dipping into my bag of fashion tricks to amuse myself and raise my spirit, and it helps. For example, instead of wearing head to toe black (like everyone else), I prefer black and white. Crisp white jeans make everything look better, in my opinion. Graphic, art-inspired patterns add a lot of interest.

Red puffer jacket by Bacon, Zara black jeans, Stella McCartney sneakers, Hinza tote

I could care less that Pantone is proclaiming yellow and gray as the colors of 2021. I feel great whenever I wear red; the bold hue energizes me. A touch of leopard never hurts either, and you can’t underestimate the power of accessories. Adding a great bag or belt to an otherwise simple coat or jacket adds a lot of glamour.

Black Line Crazy zippered pouch, Zara black jeans and oxfords

Of course, the essential accessory is a mask. I dislike masks that are cutesy or overdone. I prefer solid colors or maybe a graphic stripe that compliments my outfit.

Great shoes are essential. Coco Chanel said, “A Woman with good shoes is never ugly”. Of course, that depends on how you define “good shoe”. Aesthetics have undeniably changed. What was once considered “ugly” is now beautiful and the height of chic. I have an entire collection of heels that I have not worn in months. I will at some point but for now, I like feeling grounded.

Vintage Junya Watanabe red and yellow puffer, red suede Puma sneakers

My preference is for distinctive trainers (my Converse Comme des Garcons high tops with the signature red heart always puts a smile on my face), sturdy shoes with thick tread soles, and exaggerated flatforms. I love that they can add another two to three inches to your height without wearing a high heel. Stella McCartney’s Elyse platform sneakers, which I wrote about a few months ago, are exemplary.

Zara puffer and vintage belt and leopard bag

In a way, my attachment to fashion has become stronger than ever. We don’t have control over many things these days. We do have control over what we wear. It might as well be exuberant and life-affirming. It’s nice that others are appreciative. The other day, a complete stranger gave me the “thumbs up” when she spotted me across the street.

It takes the same amount of time and effort to throw on something “meh”, as it does to wear something that’s fab. Well, okay, so it does take more time and effort, but we all have more time now, and it’s well worth the trouble.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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