Buy and Hold: A style star steps aside

The photographer, illustrator and author Garance Doré left a highly-visible role as a photographer and blogger because of burnout and disillusionment with the fashion industry and its nonstop demands. She spoke of her rise, crash and recovery in an interview in L'Officiel late last year.  

Garance Doré and Scott Schuman, 2011 

Doré was first noticed around 2008, when part of a talented and glamorous couple with photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist. She impressed me as the more broadly-talented: besides photography, she produced fashion illustration and wrote a well-observed blog— all while looking like a million in any currency.

Six years later, she was on her own, but still a front-row fixture, a fashion influencer writing about an event-and-appearance-packed life, from Cannes to New York.

She resigned from that life over the past year and a half, and says, "I rarely buy. I’ve talked about “eternal creations” for many years and that’s still my philosophy. It’s important for me to find things I love and wear them over the years. I’m not killing myself in search of sustainable brands because, as I told you before, I’m not sure all the messages equate to real results."

Time to call in Mr. Buffet, our guru, again. On the topic of longevity, he concurs: "If you aren't willing to own a stock for 10 years, don't even think about owning it for 10 minutes." Bingo, Mr. B.! We'll just substitute "skirt" for stock.

Some items fall outside this rule: we'll be replacing lingerie, active wear and shoes more often. But consider how long your mother or grandmother expected a dress to last—and I will bet the answer was not one year.

When talking about a closet clean-out, Doré mentions divesting "clothes I bought too fast because they were so cheap."  The obvious reason to avoid fast fashion is because it's not durable (or if it is, i feels like wearing a poly bag), but she refers to another drawback: low prices support impulse buying.

Buy and hold picks

I am not dressing the window so that you will buy these, but as examples of clothes that will skip though years with you. All are from The Outnet—why not benefit from some good markdowns?

Left: DKNY belted trench with faux-leather trim and a rather thrilling yoke;  price $US 110 (also in black). Washable! DKNY coats are well-made for the price. I can't guarantee ten years in this lighter colour, but it should give good wear. 

Top right: Iris & Ink "Carey" lightweight wool sweater; price, $US 110 at The Outnet. Hand-washable, with just enough detail in just the right place. Limited sizes; also available in ecru with white piping.

Bottom right: Alice+Olivia broderie anglaise gauze blouse. Someday soon you'll go somewhere, and a pretty blouse is pure charm with everything from jeans to a satin slip skirt. Price, $US 168.

Doré also said her closet sweep included discarding her "essentials" that had become "old and sad without me realizing it." For her, such items are her signature shoes: Gucci loafers and Rondini "Tropezienne" sandals.

These Cole Haan "Cloudfeel" All-Day loafers in  multicolored snake have a Gucci-esque glamour but lower price; $CDN 195.

Snuggling up to the Happy Goat

I took Mr. Buffet's advice about buying blue-chip essentials when a seriously good deal pops up. In April, Bompard had a two-day flash sale, with discounts up to 60%, the best I've seen in years. Mr. Buffet says, "Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble."

Photo: Eric Bompard

I bought the red intarsia pull which I tried on in Paris a year and a half ago and purred in, but thought was too expensive— but now, at 60% off, irresistible.

Issue #23, Spring and Summer 2021

And speaking of buying, I pounced on the spring copy of The Gentlewoman, the only fashion magazine I read. Despite ScarJo on the cover, The Gentlewoman also profiles women from diverse occupational fields; scientists share an issue with entrepreneurs, athletes with  politicians. The focus is on their work, and the accompanying portraits often show them dressed in some of their own clothes and jewellery. 

Doré sad that after her closet cleanout, she was left with "mostly jeans and tees until I get inspired again." She may be contentedly calm (she lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her partner, actor Graham McTavish, and his children) but still has her artist's eye.

Don't we all want to be inspired again?  I'm hoping the spring "Gentlewoman" will nudge me out of the burrow. Offbeat, eclectic, and even if I wouldn't wear a football jersey with a skirt, I love the eye-nudge.

Though the price point for their features is dizzying, I can find ways to rethink what I have, and their philosophy reflects a forthright value on longevity. 



LauraH said…
Buy and hold is a useful guide for more than clothes. I recently decided to make some changes in my house and did it by 'shopping my closet' i.e. switching up furniture and bedding, looking at items in a new way and using them differently. it was a very satisfying exercise.
Jane in London said…
I think we will all have to scale back our consumption in most areas, if our lives are to be sustainable.

It's difficult when fashion, by its very nature, depends on novelty and style obsolescence for its survival.

I enjoy the Insta accounts and fashion blogs that I look at, but tend to use them as inspiration on how to restyle what I already own, rather than as shop fronts for new purchases.

I've bought very little for my wardrobe over the last year, and have found this strangely pleasing. I've also found the time and energy to get various repairs done, including a super-neat darn to the arm of a sweater and professional repair to the handle of a bag that I had been unable to use for about 3 years.

That Bompard knit is fab - congratulations on snagging it at such a good price!

Jane in London
Laura J said…
Gorgeous sweater!
While I don’t need anything, I have been scanning the web stores of local businesses…we don’t want to lose them! I’ve switched all my skincare to a local natural products person (skin actually improved!) and undies to another local brand. I too have had fun doing visible mending!
Duchesse said…
Laura and Jane in London: I was disappointed to not be able to register for Flora Collingwood-Norris' introductory Zoom seminar. All sessions sold out in minutes.

LauraH: That's intriguing. My friend who is an upholsterer says she has never been so busy.
Ocd said…
How completely refreshing. I think shopping has reached addiction levels in some people; it certainly did for me in the past. A drastic nosedive in income put an end to that! I wouldn’t wish that method on anyone. I now weigh any purchase like this: item versus the distant possibility for retirement. It doesn’t always work; sometimes item wins the tug-of-war, but it casts some shade over the purchase.

Personally I don’t do closet “edits” or clean-outs. I only get rid of something if it is incurably stained or torn.
My grandmother owned one pair of shoes, which she wore until there were holes in the soles, then got another. Always black as it “goes with everything.” I would be **miserable** with one pair of shoes, but a compromise, a half-way meeting, with that mindset would do me good.
LauraH said…
Thanks for the Flora Collingwood-Norris mention. I hadn't been aware of her work and she has some great stuff.
Duchesse said…
Ocd: Your consideration is the cornerstone of the book "Your Money or Your Life", , in which the readeris asked to consider the hours of labour required to buy a given thing. re shoes: wearing one pair of shoes continually makes them fall apart much faster. Nearly all shoemakers say to rotate shoes so they air and 'rest' between wears. But most of us have way more than we need.

Yes, closet clean-outs signal that one has bulked up. (Though size changes can dictate them too.) I find that though I love thrifting for the recycling aspect and occasional thrill, it is easy to overbuy when something is a bargain.

That you never get rid of something unless stained or torn also speaks to your skill in choosing your clothes.

LauraH: I bow before the supreme skill and artistry of Flora Collingwood-Norris. I tried one of her darning tutorials on a pair of jeans and have a lot to learn but it was satisfying to rescue them.
Susan said…
I have a few items in my wardrobe that I have owned for almost 20 years (and maybe longer). This is a great post. Now, if I could only find things I love and are worth keeping for that long.

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