My affinity for â€œcontemporary casualâ€ clothingâ€”and surely you know this about me by nowâ€”is both a gift and a curse. (In fact, I kind of hate the phrase itself. If anyone knows of or has come up with a better description, please please please let me get what I wantâ€¦er, leave a comment!) Itâ€™s a gift because thereâ€™s a lot of it out there to choose from. Itâ€™s a curse because, letâ€™s face it, a lot of whatâ€™s out there is sadly repetitive, derivative, unoriginal, ordinary, or just not very interesting. It was the fabulous fabulist Theodore Sturgeon who famously observed that “90% of everything is crap.” (Okay, what Ted actually said was â€œcrud,â€ but Iâ€™m fond of the misquotation.) The challenge lies in the finding of the 10% that isnâ€™t.
Any quest for gleaming gems unavoidably calls for one to sort through a lot of oreâ€¦crudâ€¦even crap. Itâ€™s a dirty job, but someoneâ€™s gotta do it. Fortunately, there is often a reward at the end of the tunnel. My most recent happy discovery (after several TP hops and stops, finding only polos and tee-shirts and jeans, oh my, with the occasional relog thrown in for good measure) is Socialite Wardrobe, by Shannen Zhora. Although in keeping with its name her collection emphasizes womenâ€™s wear, it also includes a handful of quality items for men. I was immediately intrigued by her collection of Batik Tanimbar Vests. The vestâ€™s lines are clean and flattering, and nicely textured fabric is decorated front andÂ back with bold batik designs. They can only be worn tucked in, as theyâ€™re provided on shirt and underwear layers but not the jacket layer. This is undeniably a limitation, and I could complain about the lack of flexibility, but the tucked-in look is so neat and trim that it feels small to complain about not being able to wear them untucked.
Shannenâ€™s Batik Tanimbar Vests are available in four colors: Black,Â Brown, Dark Red andÂ White. As you can see, the Dark Red is my own favorite. The fatpack of all four colors is priced at L$399, or you can take home the two-color pack of Black and White sweaters for L$199. The fatpack also includes the Maluku pants Iâ€™m wearing here in both Black and Brown. These are perhaps not quite as smoothly textured as the sweaters, but the side seams are properly aligned and the overall feel is comfortably soft rather than too-photo-realistically crispy.
Available at Socialite Wardrobe (Hot 190, 132, 36).
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I must also say just a few words about my necklace. To wear with these sweaters and their deep neckline, I wanted something decidedly not ordinary that would fill that space in a visually dramatic way. (If it sounds like Iâ€™ve been watching a lot of HGTV, itâ€™s because I have.) As soon as I saw nico200 Planer’s Black Madonna Necklace, I knew it was more than rightâ€”it was pretty much perfect. Multiple impossibly smooth thongs curve gracefully around the neck, suspending a cluster of beads and crosses that are almost bone-like in appearance, and all black as night. Beautiful and distinctly out of the ordinary. L$200 at n-creation (Pure 213, 55, 3126).