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043: A capsule wardrobe is the best prescription for travel
Plus Dilara Findikoglu on sale, a couple Ganni collabs, and Balenciaga's unlikely hottest item of the season.
The optimism with which I buy clothes means traveling is one of the only times I make use of a capsule wardrobe (and even then I always seem to expand on it along the way, puncturing the fragile cellulose shell keeping it all together). But the public fixation on achieving the elusive, platonic capsule wardrobe—an approach that seems to want to solve the problem of clothing—remains stronger than ever.
An excess of self-professed brands out to achieve end-all-be-all, versatile basics from top to bottom, often with a “work-to-weekend” lilt, as with all the large labels issuing their own answers to the approach (see: COS’ Icons Collection), tell us a lot about our demands of clothes: namely, that it should be functional. This is fair!
Some of the trouble, though, is that when these companies feel the need to release new styles as a means of drawing consumer attention, they over-produce their way out of the capsule space, and the basics suffer. These are no longer “building blocks” for your closet, that’s just some other poplin shirt to be worn less than seven times.
Everlane in its inception catered to this craving for ease, claiming to be “not big on trends,” but now hosts sales regularly to move unsold seasonal items. Universal Standard holds a similar space in plus size, but promotes frequent designer collabs.
Even on the higher end, Wardrobe.NYC (which bills itself as “a conceptual composite of luxury essentials”) sorts its themed, curated collection drops into 4-piece and 8-piece options, meant to be bought as sets, issued by styles like Tailored, Street, and Beach. Structurally, it feels just a half click away from TikTok’s “aesthetic” movement to shop along caricatured lines for outfits that have almost zero promise of longevity.
My gripe is environmental, sure, but it’s also personal. Would you order food off of a menu that offered 100 dishes? How about 1,000? Or 10,000? The quality, experience, and energy of clothing suffers at scale. For core elements, and for the spice of avant garde and weirdo pieces our closets hopefully also hunger for, the important thing is to reject being overly catered to.
Ultimately, a suitcase offers better insight as to what might constitute an essential—capsule—wardrobe, and naturally, there’s very little brand repetition. Here’s what I packed and actually wore on a recent 10-day, 3-destination, springtime trip:
A very good tank top: Sold Out NYC The Not So Basic Tank — If you read my recent newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been hunting for my ideal, and I found it in this high-neck, thick band ribbed tank that’s opaque enough to wear a triangle bra under to support a bigger chest (I’m 32E). It stays tight and resists easy stains so I can rewear it a couple of times between washes, which is especially helpful on trips.
A semi-fancy trouser: Pronti Pleated Dress Pants — I picked these up at The Break a few months back, and they’ve quickly become my most asked-about item on IG. They’re a couple sizes up, so they sit below my naval and pool around my bare feet (perfect with the lift of an MNZ wedge).
Really comfy outside pants: Shaina Mote Boy Trouser Linen in Salt — I was shooting some social content for SM during my trip and brought a few pieces from the new collection along with me. I’m a fan of the brand, but I hadn’t expected this pair of pants to so quickly and easily supersede the other casual pants I brought (two pairs of Levi’s 501s in black and white). They’re sexy, breezy, great in heat and cool, and fantastic to fly in.
Couple of button-downs: Frankie Shop Lui Poplin Shirt / Reformation Preston Linen Top — Put them to work in any of the million ways they can be styled as either actual clothes or simple affectations. Tie one on the strap of a bag or carry it by the collar for the drama of being fabulous and away. Or, of course, wear them on your body if you must!
A fitted blazer, the type you can wear as a shirt: Knwls Grey Wool Exos Blazer — Maybe this feels niche, but a semi-cleavagey blazer than can be worn with or without anything underneath is an insurance policy for unpredictable weather and a failsafe for always feeling hot.
A soft, oversized blazer: Aritzia Vogue Blazer — A light, fuzzy layer that’s easier to move around in and with than a trench coat, will keep you warm in AC’ed spaces, and safely holds your passport while you move through air travel.
One to three sexy little skirts: Dries Van Noten Silk Organza Midi Skirt / A. Roege Hove Green Tube Dress — Another thing about capsule collections that actually isn’t admirable (because there is a self-righteousness that gets attached), is that they fail to deliver pizzazz. There’s nothing virtuous about dressing drab! Pack something attention-grabby for showing and shaking ass.
Surprisingly, a fantastic leather belt: Saint Classic Leather Belt Brass — I might just be late on this, but: Belts! They really change up a silhouette. This Saint one got almost as much wear in the dozens of outfits I assembled this past week as the tank (which I wore with just about everything), establishing a waist and fine-tuning the fit on a bunch of pants I thought I’d want to wear loose and low-rise, but didn’t after all.
Heels that also make sense in the day: Maryam Nassir Zadeh Olypia Wedges — Vacation, and by extension, life, is unpredictable in its day-to-day. A white tablecloth lunch might take precedent over yet another natural wine dinner, and it’d be a shame not to feel as elegant and in charge of this less-tread situation in an unfit shoe.
Sandals that also make sense at night: Flattered Brooke Leather Sandal — Similarly, each evening is unlike the last in its infinite curves and nuances and is deserving of a moment of reflection: “Does this heel represent who I am on this singular night, or will something less familiar thrill me more?”
Shoes to wear socks with: G.H.Bass Weejuns — I am not what one would call a pragmatist, but I’ve suffered enough abuse from hours of walking, dancing, and poor footwear delusions to have learned this lesson. Plus, I don’t need to be the one to tell you that a straightforward loafer is critical for one’s wardrobe at large.
Three bags, in a color-to-neutral sandwich according to size: Mansur Gavriel Pencil Bag / Prada Nylon Tessuto Tote / Acne Studios Oilcloth Bag — Let me explain. The smallest of bags is your party bag, therefore it deserves to express itself in a noisy and untethered fashion. The middle-sized bag is doing the daily work, and will need to create visual harmony with the greater majority of your outfits; pick one in a complementary shade. The largest bag, basically your airplane personal item and errand workhorse, will also be faced with the need to match your flying/doing-things clothes, but let me galvanize you to break ranks here are actually hold space in your transience.
If you are as morbidly curious to hear what I picked up along the way as I am incapable of not telling you, the answer is this Acne Studios blazer and dress, this Siedres dress from Simonette, and a pair of antique silver serving utensils you’ll just have to come over for dinner to see.
Ganni used to be the little sister in collabs, connecting larger, less nimble entities to its huge pool of young fans while growing its reach. While it still occasionally shares a byline with household name brands looking to recapture relevance (e.g. Juicy Couture), it’s now also in a position to elevate emerging designers. This past week, the brand released its second collaboration of reworked denim with UK designer Ahluwalia, who, if you recall in a recent send, recently partnered with Paul Smith. Not only that, but Ahluwalia also just presented a six-piece collection to judges of The Woolmark Prize as a finalist of the competition. It’s boom times for the young Brit, and, who knows, maybe it’ll even grown up to become the next Ganni.
In that same breath, Ganni’s also teamed up with Dr. Scholl’s (see what I’m saying?) to reinvent the brand’s classic wooden clog. I’ve always had a soft spot for those clompy slides, and the collab’s designed leather uppers are a fun and cheeky update.
Farfetch is a top five site for me when I’m browsing new-in collections or just looking for surreal deals to spend pocket-burning money on. So naturally, even though my cosmetic inclinations fall behind my fashion ones, it’s still a huge deal to me that the site finally launched beauty. This comes, of course, after the platform acquired Violet Grey, the luxury skincare and makeup site always a step ahead of our consumer aspirations. Now, VG’s expert edits of Westman Atelier, U Beauty, and Augustinus Bader can be found on Farfetch alongside all our fave designers.
Nensi Dojaka’s sheer, stringy, wraparound pieces are mostly recognizable in all black, often layered forms, but an exclusive capsule full of playful, high-pigment iterations just landed at MyTheresa.
Miaou released a super limited Earth Day capsule of recycled material corsets that feel dutifully regent, or as we’re saying this week: Gilded Glamour. Two styles have already sold out entirely, but seven elevated options remain.
Similarly, Merlette celebrated Earth Day with a collaboration with Kurozome Rewear. Rather than issue new or composited garments, the partnered brands took past-season Merlette dresses and expertly overdyed with black ink, Kurozome’s specialty.
There’s also: Gentle Monster reunites with HBA for a second sunglasses collection; in food news, Brightland introduces its new Paragon Collection with the collaborative Castelvetrano Olive Oil, grown in Paso Robles, California; minimalists prepare to adore the new Vince x Nu Swim capsule that issues fantastically clean lines and mature colors; Dr. Martens collabs with streetwear brand Pleasures on an edition of the classic Jorge mule with the latter’s logo emblazoned on the upper; Gil Rodriguez releases new swim silhouettes; Musier Paris also releases swim for the first time, plus its newest spring collection; Glossier adds a lavender Balm Dotcom to its lineup; the Mansur Gavriel x Pascucci collab is back after selling out quickly the first round, with only 100 units of the bucket back and pouch available; and Acne teams up with Greek “technoshaman” Angelo Plessas on a 4-SKU streetwear line featuring otherworldly emoji.
What’s on sale
Met Gala afterparty looks put those on the red carpet in the ground thanks in Bella Hadid and Addison Rae’s case to Dilara Findikoglu I’m deeply not over their swashbuckling, hoop-skirted dresses, and in looking to scratch that itch, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few of the designers pieces on sale at Luisaviaroma.
Makeup brand renowned for its matte liquid lipsticks, Lime Crime, is hosting a sitewide sale reaching up to 75% off. The lippies in question are down to $16, and some of the biggest deals include palettes down from $30 to $8.
Ksubi’s well-cut denim with personality is a playful, modernized alternative to a hoard of vintage Levi’s, and the brand’s K-Sale, happening now, brings temptingly oversized wide-leg jeans, denim skirts, and cool jorts down by 40%.
Vasquiat, the Spanish fashion pre-sale site that’s like Moda Operandi for emerging designers with additional discount incentives, is hosting its Mid-Season Sale, bringing the next guard of trendy, want-y brands down by 50%.
There’a also: Sleeper’s Archive Sale includes cottagecore dresses, flowy sets, and cuter-than-I’d-have-guessed flats for 50% off; an I.AM.GIA flash sale brings its All Stars collection down by 30% and the rest of the site down 10%; Lisa Says Gah’s sale section is full of Siedres, Ellis, and About Arienne as it adds more spring deliveries to New In; Madewell shares a 20% off summer items sale on dresses, shorts, and more; and emergent, buzzy jewelry brand Mudd Pearl drops the price on its cross earrings with a lighter silver redesign.
The Lyst Index for Q2 2022 released, sharing findings that Balenciaga is once again the hottest brand on the planet. Less predictably, though, the most in-demand women’s item are these Naked Wolfe knee-high heeled boots, while the top men’s item are the New Balance P550 Aimé Leon Dore. Only once on either of the top 10 lists does any Balenciaga product appear (the Balenciaga Defender sneakers, no. 4 men’s), so we can also confirm our suspicions that the brand offers mostly vibes.
A couple of fantastic outcomes from creative director appointments at stale brands (Blumarine, Diesel) gives me high hopes for the news that Dr. Martens has appointed Darren McKoy as its newest CD. Hoping to see more experimental styles á la Achilles Ion Gabriel at Camper Lab, fewer and more choice brand collabs, and a calculated entrance into the apparel category.
At the top of AAPI month, Nordstrom launches a shop highlighting AAPI-led brands, including Comme des Garçons and Shiseido as well as Beis, Boy Smells, and AG Jeans.
Earth Day initiatives continue to drive creative solutions to fashion consumption. From Uniqlo, we see “Buy With Purpose,” which funds environmental non-profits, while COS launches a resale program alongside thredUP.
There’s also: SSENSE released an industry-facing page of last month’s best-sellers, which you can find here, in case you’re looking for shopping inspiration; Pitti Immagine Uomo announces Grace Wales Bonner as guest designer of its edition 102; and Crocs’ latest collaborator is SZA, whose woodgrain clog will release in two days as part of a Mental Health Month initiative.
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