The New York Times Style section ran this photo recently; I've cropped it so you aren't influenced by the face.
Reaction #1: "What? Did she reach into her closet blindfolded?"
Reaction #2: "What am I not getting here?"
Reaction #3: "Is my reaction age-related?"
1. No, her eyesight is just fine; this ensemble was chosen with as much deliberation as Michelle Obama's ballgown.
2. Damned if I know, and maybe someone will help me.
3. Probably. I came of shopping age in the last great American Era of Coordination, the early 1960s, when a girl's Villager skirt and sweater matched or she stayed home and watched American Bandstand.
I remember my roommate Jodi, just back from an exchange year, saying, "It's so different in France; you see a girl wearing a red skirt and a green sweater!" We were shocked.
While I've moved far from that age's hypercoordination and enjoy odd colour combos or pattern-mixing (mostly on others), that outfit is just... baffling. The preppy cotton blue-striped shirt, the sumptuous silk pants: neither refers to the other in hue, weight, sensibility. To my eye, the pieces fight when paired.
That striped/floral mashup is on Jenna Lyons, adored and honoured Creative Director of J. Crew; she chose it to wear to the line's spring launch.
Lyons does occasionally wear quiet, complementary hues:
But she also wears this:
I find Lyons talented and striking–but can't get my head around that first ensemble. Women in my age bracket (I'm 64) fret about what we can wear well as we grow older. There seems a point where many of us lop off the audacious end of the coordination continuum.
Or maybe, if you started choosing your own clothes around the time Lyons, 44, was born, you never went that far. In the '60s, a woman in Jenna's first outfit would have looked mad; we coordinated early and often, as shown in this '60s photo:
Was I imprinted? Today, I find certain mashups outside my comfort level. While I'd eagerly wear those green floral pants, I'd choose a shirt that picks up one of the colours. I'd wear the striped shirt with jeans or maybe with red cords- whoo-hoo, wild!
Coordination doesn't have to read like a '60s flashback; Advanced Style showed style icon Linda Rodin, in her sixties, coolly coordinated in black and turquoise.
I admire Rodin's chic from tip to toe, and more to the point, understand it. And she says she wears her strand of grey pearls "every day".
What's your coordination quotient? Your take on Jenna's ensemble?