Monday, November 1, 2010

The Story About The Prada Peanut Cardigan And Her Friends

It turns out that my story about a Prada cardigan is really a story about a Prada dress. A classic, quirky, iconic, dress.

Ever since the W. Magazine vs. Vogue smackdown I have been dreaming of full-skirted beauties. Mooning over the impact they'd have on my waist, my wasted decades, the yearning I have always felt and will always feel for Fashion. Even though I mostly wear navy blue. Sometimes Aerosoles. The dress above is from Miuccia Prada. Something wicked this way comes.

But why would anyone currently optimizing jeans, khakis, and Target tees need that kind of clothing? They wouldn't. I know that. I know that. But I scheduled a meetup with two of my favorite bloggers, Maxminimus and Reggie. In New York City. Suddenly, mysteriously, I needed a new dress. The Narciso was not suitable.

Cathy Horyn, the New York Times fashion critic whom I heard speak the other week, told a story that started out, "And then there's always the question of, 'Can you find the clothes?'" She had apparently wanted to touch, if not buy, a Balenciaga runway dress. She went to Barney's NY, hoping the piece was available, and that she could remain unrecognized in its pursuit. It wasn't there, and they figured out who she was. For Cathy, the dress arrived on Barney's floor a few weeks later.

For the rest of us, actually buying something we saw in Vogue, or on a runway video, even if we are crazy enough to shell out the huge sums of money required, can be more difficult.

Back to my story. Back to my dress. Back to the hunt for something along the lines of what you see above.

Off to the Stanford Shopping Center. I searched through racks looking for those colors, those patterns, that silhouette. But Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus were showing shifts. I did not want a shift. In the sensible way that one has at midlife, I settled for similar color and pattern at Nordie's, all the while pining for a flounce. Just one flounce. Perhaps a little twirl.

Here's the Tahari pencil skirt I came home with. You can see my fondness for the Prada pattern wasn't just puppy love.I found a nice beige sweater to match. Theory. At a stretch, it's camel, and should I want to I can check off a trend. But trends and fashion visions are not fungible goods.

I even found matching pants. In tweed. So practical. So Sturdy Gal.

Be that as it may, I couldn't get Miuccia's 'Mad Men meets Dries Van Noten' creation out of my mind. And I know where to find a Prada store. San Francisco, On the corner of Post and Grant. I popped into my little white Toyota Rav4, the car so Sturdy that Kanye West curses it. I scooted up Highway 101. Surely, I thought, the dress will be unavailable. Surely I'm just being responsible, doing my homework to back up a purchase.

It's amazing what one can tell oneself when possessed.

The Prada store was up to its ears in cranberry. You know, fall and all.

And there, waiting demurely behind the cranberry tweed, was my dress. Or close enough. Held below by a very nice salesperson named Abe. He called me love, and brought me water. If you want to sell middle-aged ladies anything, bring us water. We're always thirsty. "Love" is optional.

Surely the dress would look terrible on.

Surely not.

On, the skirt has body. On, the bodice shapes. On, the hemline hits me right where hemlines all over the universe should hit me. And see that little black line on the bust? It's a lace crumb-catcher. They tacked it down for me, a bit, as there's only so much outré I can manage in one outfit, but still. I felt chic. The dust devils of desire, stirred up by W's photo shoot, settled. Harvest time.

And that was that.

If you'd like to see my new obsession out walking, take a look at the Prada Fall 2010 fashion show and lookbook. If you'd like to see the blue coat version, as worn by Anna Wintour, look here.

Let us not forget the Peanut cardigan. Since I will be wearing the dress to New York in November, and then to a conference in Atlanta which will surely be held in air conditioning, I had to buy this sweater. Whose sleeve I immediately snagged on a shopping cart at Whole Foods. That's what you get for forcing jeans duty on an aristocrat. Could I have made do with a sweater I already own? No. I shake my head at myself but I'm beyond shame. Beyond happens, even to High WASPs.

Were I Artsy I'd sport woolly tights, bagging in the ankle, with some suitable nerd-chic flats. Were I a true Grande Dame, I'd venture out bare-legged and ask my driver to crank up the heat. But as a Sturdy Gal, just pulling off Grande by the skin of her teeth, I'll be wearing nude Donna Karan pantyhose with these pumps. And damn the naysayers.

Lordy, lordy, lordy. Even Sturdy Gals dream.

The impulse to buy is the same I had at 20. Only the formation of desire is different. These days I read style with analytical faculties fully engaged. These days I understand that I keep clothes for decades, I hold them on hangers in front of my closet, I look back. Not inconsequentially, and not to wax overly sentimental, but these days I write for you all. I bought in informed delirium.

Thank you.

Kanye really doesn't like my car.

W. Last Exit to Brooklyn via Tom and Lorenzo
Others via me

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Blogger P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

It is so true, fashion calls at all ages, I do like that dress. Reggie will be besotted no doubt, though when I saw him last week, He had Nothing to say about my Vanessa Bruno frocks, nor the 25 year old Chanel bag I drug out of the ark! it may have been a bit drear. Bravo for wearing the pumps, though I have some evil peds for the Moschino devils I wore that evening. Have a great jaunt and go easy on the guys.

November 1, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Susan B said...

See, this is what Fashion should be about. Those pieces of our dreams, that fit like a dream, and satisfy. Congratulations on both the dress and sweater.

November 1, 2010 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love the skirt and want to see the dress on! It does look shapeless on the hanger, but the human body can do marvelous things to enhance fabric.

November 1, 2010 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I absolutely adore that dress and I am sure it looks great on you. I also like all the other pieces of clothing you bought, but that dress...ahh that's the stuff dreams are made of ;)

November 1, 2010 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger SewingLibrarian said...

You will look wonderful! And bully for you for eschewing the bare-legged look. That dress and those shoes need the polish of very sheer nude hose, IMHO. Have a good time!

November 1, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger La Belette Rouge said...

I know it is early on a Monday to be coveting but that is what I am doing. I can tell you if there were links available that at this very moment I would be buying that Tahari skirt and Theory sweater. And you have motivated me to squirrel away my cash to get a Prada dress of my own. I am MAD for that dress. Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!
p.s. I have a JCrew dress that was clearly copy-catting this Prada dress. That doesn't stop me from wanting the REAL thing.

November 1, 2010 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Mise said...

I read through this hoping and hoping that you'd find it and buy it, and when I saw Abe I knew it was a good deal. Someone so gracefully suave will manage to sell it to her, I prayed. And a crumb-catcher: only Prada could pull off such superbly practical ridiculousness. You'll look a million dollars, or the proportion therof that's a dignified sum for a WASP.

November 1, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Muffy said...

Wow. Unbelievably fabulous. Gorgeous dress. Wear it in good health! "You're worth it"

November 1, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Oh! Gorgeous! Heads will turn, whispers will follow you. Lucky Reggie & ADG!

November 1, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I think you are channeling divine Skye Chic here...
and I am a tad green sitting in the wings with enourmous envy.

I believe in living out your dreams...and applaud your action in achieving what is within your means...alas, miles from I will live vicariously here and swoon just a bit...

November 1, 2010 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Susan Tiner said...

I love the dress! It would be wonderful to see a photo of you in it.

November 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger elle said...

I need to spend some time with Abe.

November 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Northmoon said...

I too share your dream purchase vicariously. Hope you feel like you can conquer the world when you wear your gorgeous dress.

November 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger mette said...

Oh my, the dress definitely is your dress! Wonderful. And you bought all the rest too? Everything goes well with everything. Lucky you! Enjoy : )

November 1, 2010 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Hill House Ramblings said...

Ohhh that dress. I bet you'll look smashing in it. (I quite like the coat version as well.)
Have fun!


November 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Blighty said...

wow, you have marvellous taste, loved the pencil skirt and then the dress, superb! And those Louboutins! And very impressed at all the research and groundwork that went on! xx

November 1, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous rb said...

I am so, so, so very envious that you have both the funds AND the figure to wear that dress. I have walked by the Prada store many times and it has never even once occurred to me that I might walk in!

November 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Belle de Ville said...

I love that Prada will be turning heads in New York!

November 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger materfamilias said...

That dress is wonderful -- and those shoes, that cardigan, will make an impeccable combination with it. Impunity indeed!

November 1, 2010 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Annabel Manners said...

Divine, divine, divine. This is how every dress should perform - as though it was tailored expressly for you and delivers precisely what you were searching for. You'll look and feel fabulous in it!

November 1, 2010 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous The Preppy Princess said...

Über-elegant - you are going to be that and more. It is one stunning dress, and the pumps are perfect. Maxminimus and Reggie are two lucky guys to be 'making the scene' with you!

Call me crazy, but I think the pursuit of the pieces contributes significantly to how they'll feel on.

Love this story Miss LPC, good on you.

November 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Sensible Footwear said...

Nice work LPC!

November 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Town and Country House said...

I have no doubt you will be perfectly stunning in this ensemble. And I love the pencil skirt, too--something about structuring ikat really appeals to me. And I know you're a grown-up and everything, but it can be pretty cold in Atlanta in November. Most likely you'll get glorious fall, though, which will be perfect for the peanut and the Prada.

November 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Velvet Over Steel said...

Great picks!! I really, really like that dress! Learned awhile back that if I try on more modern stuff that most of the time it looks great and nothing like I inagined. So now I at least try things on. I have some really cute 'clearance' pieces that are actually 'in'! lol

Great post! Following and will be back!!
~ Coreen

November 1, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger the gardener's cottage said...

omg i so wanted to see you in that dress. it's fabulous and so are you. killer combo i'm sure, i just wanted to see it!!!!!

and those tweed trousers. yum.


November 1, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I highly approve of your Prada decision. It's always so hard to understand why designer pieces justify the price until you try them on. The patterns have been worked to hang just so and I'll be it makes you look stunning!


November 1, 2010 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Miss Janey said...

Miss J LOVES that dress. Had she seen it in NYC, it would be hanging in her closet at this moment.

She's wearing the Elie Tahari tank that matches Privelge's skirt...

November 1, 2010 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

little augury - A meeting of such great import occurred and there is no record? Or perhaps I missed the telling? Oh silly Privilege surely nothing could have been more fun than that read. But Reggie! Reggie! No word on the frock and bag. I declare that I shall chide him

Deja - I knew you would understand. Well said.

Class - I took the skirt back. You would approve of my frugality:). The dress, luckily, is not shapeless. If I can prevail on Reggie's partner, Boy Fenwick, he of the golden camera, I shall bring back a picture of me in the dress and show it to all of you. It's the least I can do.

Marcela - Thank you. That's why I took the other stuff back.

Sewing - Perfect. I will tell myself it's polish I am after, not just blister buffers and warm shins.

La Belette - Then I won't tell you I had links in there to both Tahari and Theory.... If I could have found a copycat I would have bought it instead. I think.

mise - Oh Abe was exactly that. Perfect description. He was elegantly suave and still nice. Rare in a person. I hope to look like a million dollars and if not, then feel like it anyway.

November 1, 2010 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

Muffy - Thank you. Especially for the good health wish.

Patsy - And if not I will just pretend it's happening:).

Hostess - Thank you. I am honored that you'd envy me.

Susan - I will see what the evening produces in the way of photography.

agirl - Oh yes. And I think he'd be a kick to have a drink with. Apparently he is a student at the Fashion Institute.

Northmoon - I wanted to share it. I wanted it to be sort of a group experience.

Mette - I bought the rest. But after the dress, I brought all the rest of it back. I may not need the dress but I REALLY don't need the dress and skirt and pants and sweater:).

November 1, 2010 at 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's perfect and I am sure you looked smashing! I savored every word of your description and delighted in the visuals you created in my head. I do, however take exception about wooly tights.
artsy cousin

November 1, 2010 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

Hill House - Thank you. I tried on a coat-version, but it was too fancy for the life I read now. I might wear it to a grand benefit, where everyone else was in long and black.

Blighty - Thank you! I returned the other stuff - not even delirium could warrant all those clothes. And the research, well, that's what happens when one misplaces one's job:).

rb - You know what? That place is DAUNTING! My mother always said one should not feel one has to dress to shop, but I confess I dressed to walk in there.

Belle - Well thank you! I plan to wear it also to the Lavish! conference. With photo opps...

Mater - Thank you so much. Impunity and delirium at once...

Annabel - I know! Why don't more clothes do this for us?

TPP - Max and Reg are good sports to put up with all this girly fuss, don't you think?:). And I agree, the pursuit, the formation of desire, does make the eventual wearing much more satisfying.

November 1, 2010 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

Sensible - Thank you very much.

Town and Country Mom - Yes, I liked the skirt too. But the thin sweater over it came dangerously close to revealing the same middle age pudge that the dress so gloriously conceals. If it's cold in Atlanta in December (it's December) I will just put my coat on over. Right? Right?

Velvet - Thank you. So nice to see you here. It's very hard to shop well without trying things on unless you are buying something you've bought before.

Janet - The tweed trousers were pretty delicious. But one must draw the line somewhere.

Mary Jo - It did hang Just So and I felt stunning. I'm still 54, of course, but I don't expect a dress to change that. I think:).

Miss J - You have the thank that matches the skirt? You lucky devil you. Thank you for your approval of my purchase.

Madeline - Maybe it's only Miuccia, then, who wanted the dress to be worn that way.

November 1, 2010 at 6:51 PM  
Anonymous julia::ordinarysaturdays said...

I like those colors. Especially the tweed pants. The dress is wonderful, I hope you have a great time wearing it.

November 1, 2010 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Sydney Shop Girl said...

I love the dress!

SSG xxx

November 1, 2010 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Can't wait to read about your meetup with
Maximum and RD. Beautiful dress, pants and cardi classy. Of course.

November 2, 2010 at 2:50 AM  
Blogger Genuine Lustre said...

Just snagged a new cardigan myself! Drat.

November 2, 2010 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Duchesse said...

Pretty dress and you're so happy! Wish you had not returned skirt and pants, IMO you can wear them lots of places you would not wear the dress. In for a penny, in for a pound: get the skirt and pants too!

November 2, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger mette said...

I could well have acted in a similar way; I mean choosing the best article and hurrying to take the rest back. My hb hates something like this. He says, what is bought, is bought, so I won´t always tell him everything. My latest flop was that I bought booties, took them back and exchanged them to a Louboutin evening clutch+ a Marni T ( soft wool ). Today I took the Louboutin clutch back, traded it to a gray ( ! ) Marni sweater+ a matching beanie ( yes, a beanie again). I wished the shop owner a Happy New Year, and told her not to let me in before that date ; )!

November 2, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Summer is a Verb said...

Grrrrreat...THAT's the bar your setting for a meet with Max! Prada and Loubs? Sigh...I fold...XXOO

November 2, 2010 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Pigtown*Design said...

holy crap! you are going to have such fun with the guys. max had dinner with us in baltimore last week and thank god he took the train up! i think that there were no less than 15 gins between us all! i know you will love max... and reggie, too! (I just don't know reggie)

November 2, 2010 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


November 2, 2010 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger DocP said...

I'm a bit late to this thread. I would love to know why it is always a dress that provokes this kind of desire even though I live in suits. With trousers.

November 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Miss Cavendish said...

Am imagining the utter pleasure of walking into Prada and leaving with a dress and cardigan. Bliss.

November 5, 2010 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Mardel said...

Oh that dress is divine! Good for you.

The last time I was in San Francisco that very same Abe brought me water and convinced me that a particular jacket was so perfectly me that I must take it home. He was right. I still adore it and feel fabulous dressed up or down.

November 5, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

Julia - Thank you.

SSG - Thank you.

Barbara - Thanks. I'm looking forward to the meet up. Anyone else in New York?

Genuine Lustre - Just what I said:).

Duchesse - But sometimes out for a pound means hold onto those pennies...

Mette - I rarely return things, in fact, but with the dress in hand the skirt and sweater would never have seen the light of day. If the shopkeeper doesn't mind, I don't think there is any harm in your back and forth.

November 5, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

Summer - Your athletic spirit is always there, ready to rise to the occasion. Fierce. Love it.

Pigtown - Oh lord. My liver may not survive. But I am sure it will be worth it.

Pam - Thank you.

DocP - I've been thinking about your comment. I remember, the first navy pants suit I bought, the first really nice one, I felt the same way. It was by Vestimenta.

Miss Cavendish - If I could have bottled the feeling for sale, I'd be able to buy 100 more dresses just like that.

November 5, 2010 at 9:35 PM  

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