Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Devil Is (Always) In The Details

Details in ready-to-wear -- and taken to their glorious extreme in haute couture -- are the real estate equivalent of location, location, location.

They transform the ubiquitous into the unique, or at the very least the unusual.

They come in two forms: Add-ons and Built-ins. 

Translation: Accessories, the individual, creative, easy way to make a garment your own, versus the discreet or blatant embellishments that are part of the piece of clothing itself, i.e. tucking, embroidery, buttons, piping, and so on.

We're not here to discuss accouterments -- we'll be delving into them on many occasions in the future -- today's topic is "built-ins."  Those are the details that make something special before we start playing around with it. Normally, those are the touches that scream "I'm expensive, look at how special I am" whereas less costly items can look cheap when the details are over-the-top or badly executed. 

It's that famous high-low mix (or hi-lo, if you will). It's tricky. As a general rule, when going low, keep it simple, i.e. white t-shirt, classic shirt, etc. If you're going high, look for details that set your purchase apart from the crowd without falling for a fad. 

Fads should be bought in small doses and when possible kept in the cheap chic category unless they have potential shelf life. By that I mean you can put it on a shelf and pull it out five or 10 years from now -- or one of your descendants can. . .

Recently I got lucky on the cheap detail front. I found a 100 percent Merino wool boyfriend sweater; you know, the long, classic V-neck cardigan that's never out of style. But note the difference, drawn by Edith, the double row of buttons marching down the front. Cela change tout.  It comes in navy, gray and black -- all in the fall/winter color palette (and as you know, black is always in mine) -- it cost 40 Euros.

The other purchase was the silly tunic-y t-shirt with tiny tucks at the neck and fullish 3/4 push-up sleeves. It will probably last a couple of seasons and if we finally get away from all these maternity tops everyone is wearing I can always tuck it in. I wore it with an ancient pair of white linen trousers with black pin-stripes bought at H&M in New York. (Note cuffs on pants, it makes them look more expensive than they were.)

Above mentioned t-shirt was nine Euros. It comes in white, black, coral and a brick red. 

Ok, ok, it's true: I bought one in black too. How could I not? It goes with the same pants and I have the reverse version in black with white pin-stripes, also from the same long-ago shopping trip at H&M. 


Deja Pseu said...

That's an excellent point about less expensive items and minimal details! I also had it drilled into me by my mother that simpler designs a) can often pass for higher quality and b) won't be tiresome after a season. Too many details or poorly executed details are the kiss of death for me. Love how you buy things you like in multiple colors; I'm guilty of same.

Marsi said...

"As a general rule, when going low, keep it simple, i.e. white t-shirt, classic shirt, etc. If you're going high, look for details that set your purchase apart from the crowd without falling for a fad."

This is such excellent advice, Tish.

In my closet, I have a lot of the very simple and unembellished, which I fancy up with scarves or a great necklace. I've wondered how to get away from that and add more of the "built-ins," as you call them. Your point above is so very cogent. Thank you!

Sarah said...

Hi I love your "idees" on your side bar.Very interesting! S

Anonymous said...

I love both looks and I love the perennial fashion colors you pick. I am looking for a boyfriend sweater much like that. It seems that most of the ones I see are TOO LONG, falling way down my hips, not a good look for me. THe length and cut of yours seems perfect.

tishjett said...

Ummmm, Deja Pseu, when I buy "multiple colors" they tend to be black or white -- ever so occasionally charcoal or navy.

Thank you again for the "nomination."

tishjett said...


Just wait 'til you see what I'm cooking up with Edith to carry us through the fall and winter. It's a surprise.

I'm already loving it. . . said...

Thank you Sarah. Now I'm thinking I better come up with some new ideas.

Originally I thought I could have an idee per day, then that didn't work out and finally I thought, well, certainly I can come up with un idee par jour, but have been lax and lazy. You have given me new inspiration.

Merci, merci.

tishjett said...

Well, I certainly messed up that response, Sarah. Pressed all the wrong buttons and then said I tried to do an idea per day twice. I meant to say an idea per week, which I shall try to do in future.

Apparently I am incapable of having a telephone conversation at the same time I'm writing a comment.

Now I know better.

tishjett said...

Dear Kristi,

Thank you for your visit. I visit you often. I'll just put you on my blog roll and that way you will only be one click away.

Re. boyfriend sweaters: Have you tried the boys' department? They might must do the trick in length and definitely in price. Women's clothes are always more expensive.

Just a thought. . .

annecychic said...

Do I recognize that pintuck t-shirt from Monoprix?! said...


I'm in the middle of laughing out loud as I write this.

Yes, indeed, you recognize the t-shirt. Too funny

I've actually had compliments on it. Did you buy one or more or take a pass? The "boyfriend" sweater is Monoprix aussi.

Your blog is superb btw.

annecychic said...

LOL. I tried on the t-shirt but just couldn't get past the maternity look, so I passed. Never thought about tucking it in . . .

However, at Monoprix I did buy a beautiful cotton button front shirt--dark grey with a small dot pattern and lovely pin-tuck detailing and tiny hidden buttons--very Comptoir des Cottoniers.

Thanks for your kind words about my blog; I love yours as well and am adding it to my list of favorites. said...


The saga continues. . . I think I know EXACTLY the shirt you're talking about. I thought it was adorable.

It has a sort of peplum thing going on right? You can wear it in or out. And it has those special details we all love so much.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I didn't discover your blog until recently, especially when i see all these wonderful familiar names commenting. I am adding you as a "friend" today and look forward to checking in with your blog daily!
Kristi said...

You're up and on. Thank you.

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