Coaching myself out of a rut: RTW, Spring '11

Sometimes I long for clothes that jog me out of my dependable-basics rut, but then, in a shop, I find the tried and true in my hands. I need to summon a higher vision.

While couture is the stuff of dreams, ready-to-wear must translate those dreams into getting dressed Monday morning or enjoying an evening out. This year, many designers sent out pieces that meet real-life requirements.

The best of Spring '11 transmits messages that I can pick up on, even if I don't buy the exact item. I just have to stay open.

Here are some RTW clothes I admire as much for their attitude as the specific style.

The matching shaped tunic updates the pantsuit, in supple silk. Mine might have sleeves.


A suit in rich and varied fabrics reminds me to hold out for superb pattern:

Proenza Schouler

A tonal mix, here grey but equally effective in blues or beiges, can be as summery-cool as white:

Bottega Veneta

Or...monochrome, but with precise yet soft tailoring:


A packable, playful coat in python-print iridescent taffeta sings in the rain! Note to self: avoid boring travel basics.

Marina Rinaldi

Colour in unexpected combinations: dare unconventional pairings! There's world beyond navy and white.


I like black, but I should make it interesting. Feathers: not on my list but I'm charmed

Betty Jackson

 And, finally, to remember that cut reigns; this suit! Worn with those oxfords! Dame Vivienne Westwood turns 70 this year, so I could pull up my socks.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Whether or not these exact clothes make it to my closet, I'm inspired by their point of view and quality

Issues of access, size and budget notwithstanding, a look at the best of spring's designer RTW hones my eye and strengthens my resolve to save my pennies for something special.


Susan B said…
What I notice most in general here are sumptuous colors and fabrics. Those are inspiration indeed!
materfamilias said…
Your title drew me in -- I'm not so much feeling myself in a rut, though, as an odd kind of paralysis toward shopping. You use the words "holding out" as least once, and that's what I've been conscious of -- It's not been my intention as I head through the shops, but it's what I end up doing. I love what you show here and much of what I see in the mags re Spring '11, but I'm increasingly aware that to find it at a favourable price point in a flattering but wearable length, in my size, in good fabric . . . so far, I'm realizing that my wardrobe is deep enough that I can "hold out" a bit longer . . . Meanwhile, thanks for the inspiration!
Belle de Ville said…
I love the the unexpected mix of tailoring with softness in the Cerruti. I also like the Marina Rinaldi, very chic.
laurieann said…
Terrific examples of what to hold out for when buying something you want to have an impact. I especially love the soft suiting in the Cerutti photo, the striking color in the Max Mara jacket and the texture in the Betty Jackson dress. One thing I'm not good about is looking for textural mix to keep things interesting. That and looking for non-boring travel basics. Good reminders all.
Susan Tiner said…
There's world beyond navy and white?

Just kidding. The fabrics and styles in the photos are very lovely.

I love black too, but have been thinking about how to make it more interesting. Fabric is key.

P.S. The roofer says we don't need a new roof for another 5 years, just some sealant, so it looks like we're going to Paris Spring 2012. We got your Parisaddress tip from Mater's post and it looks intriguing!
Anonymous said…
Materfamilias said it for me: Paralysis. I walk into a shop (often after seeing photos in catalogues or magazines) then walk back out again. More and more, I see nothing that inspires me to peel off layers of winter clothing for a try-on. I was luckier last Spring, so I may just coast on those purchases this year. The clothes you've featured are beautiful, though, and if I saw something as exciting and wearable as the Rinaldi raincoat (in a petite blonde's equivalent of the python print--whatever that might be)I'd happily fall in love again!

LPC said…
Navy! I like that first outfit quite a lot - also the new silhouette. In my case, I'm trying to spend NO MONEY at all. So I have ALL KINDS of pent up desire for clothing and I think I'd avoid ruts just from sheer energy...
Tiffany said…
It is always good to be reminded to hold out for something special. Cut, colour, interest - if none of these sings to me, I don't need it! I already buy very little, but I think buying less, with greater care, is the key. Love that python print!
Anonymous said…
Very inspirational. I just wish I could find it when I shop. Not quite the size/shape or the pocketbook for those designers.
Duchesse said…
Pseu: Yes, and I'll probably buy more neutrals unless it is a cool print.

materfamilias: I think quality has dipped since the recession. I'm not getting thrilled in the bridge and mid brands.

Belle: See my remark to Anonymous @ 3:49; thanks!

laurieann: Travel brings out my worst all-black tendencies :)

Susan: Great news for your trip! Parisaddress has been wonderful to us. They even returned a rather large sum of euros that my son left behind!

Anonymous C: I keep trying to figure out how I used to have to choose among so many things I wanted and now am gobsmacked to find something that really raises my pulse. But I have lots so like you am coasting.

Tiffany: I'd like something in a well done python!

Anonymous @ 3:49: My history is checkered.

When I was single, up to my late '30s, I spent on designer clothes, watching for sales but sometimes paying full price, gasp. Then life and my size changed- a family and far less time to shop.

Fast forward 25 years: empty nested and can think about the occasional high-end piece again, but like you challenged to find sizes and unwilling to break the bank as I once did. Jewelry is returning more year over year value than clothing, which is why I post on it so often.
Duchesse said…
LPC: That shaped top over pants is one of those magical cuts that looks good on so many sizes and shapes, not too voluminous but easy.
materfamilias said…
Duchesse: Yes, this is the problem -- the price points that used to work for me seem to have dropped to nastier fabrics, clumsier cutting -- I love, love, love some of the Etro dresses; ditto Marni (well, maybe just two "loves"for Marni). I'm wondering if I can bring myself to do without otherwise, "holding out" for one of those choices -- especially since I have a mother-of-the-bride justification. The price is gasp-worthy, but I keep smiling when I look at my Cape Cod watch, whose purchase you inspired. . . it's my reminder to "hold out" . . . we'll see if I can do the same for a dress, but sadly, dresses are a bit more vulnerable to wear and tear as well as to the vagaries of fashion . . . thus the paralysis (temporary, though, I'm sure!)
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: Your mother of the bride dress will be an adventure! I'm confident about jewelry and of course fit is not a non-issue. Think I am going to search for a dressmaker in Mtl.
Anonymous said…
I do hope that Materfamilias will treat herself to the best for the wedding! Her message made me think of a memorable Frances Mayes passage about buying her M.o.B. outfit in Italy:

"As soon as I say I want a dress for my daughter's wedding, everything in the shop comes forth. They understand totally that the occasion is molto importante. Most brides' mothers, I think, do not want a mother-of-the-bride dress. All the lavender lace and beige crepe dresses designed with that in mind must go unsold. The suit I finally choose at a small shop, which makes everything especially for the customer, is orange. I never have had an orange dress in my life. It's a frosty silk orange, which requires two fittings. My sister will loan me her coral and pearl necklace. I find beautiful dull gold shoes with high heels that could kill. The wedding will be wonderful."

Rubiatonta said…
I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy a suit one of these days - haven't worn one since I got out of marketing - but I'm feeling thoroughly uninspired by what I'm seeing.

Maybe I'll visit the Marina Rinaldi boutique on Calle Serrano when I'm in Madrid. Exchange rate and all, it might be worth the splurge...
materfamilias said…
C: Thank you for this quotation -- wonderful!
and Rubationata, I love thinking of you shopping in Madrid for smoething inspired by our fabulous Duchesse -- who hosts the BEST conversations. We are soooooo going to share some fabulous glasses of wine in Montreal, n'est-ce pas? quelque jour? . . .
Duchesse said…
C.: Your delightful quote might be carried in the bag of any woman shopping for a MOB ensemble! Thank you.

Rubiatonta: You might want a suit for your venture in Madrid. I want an "unstuffy" one like the Westwood, which I would buy instantly.

materfamilias: I would be delighted to have a glass of wine again with you in Mtl or anywhere!
Mardel said…
I love that first outfit with the tunic and pants. I see a lot of that look in the fall Italian lines as well, and think it is a versatile basic.

But I am having a lot of trouble shopping now. Prices seem to keep going up and up and quality, at least in the lines I can afford, is slipping drastically. There was an article about this (WSJ?) during NY fashion week.

I would pay more for good materials, design, and construction, but it becomes increasingly difficult to find something that lives up to this criteria, especially without paying high end prices. Even then, size and cut is an issue.

It all brings me to thinking more about each purchase and refining the basics that I live in.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: You have the enviable skill of being able to make wonderful clothes, controlling quality and getting the fit. Of course it is work, but after months of looking for anything that really makes me happy, I'm about ready to return to my ancient Singer!

Quality in department store bridge lines that used to be pretty good (Anne Klein, Tahari) is poorer by the season: saggy knits, limp, muddy prints. Super short skirts, skimpy blouses.

At least the high prices will keep my wardrobe edited down!

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