The Good Ick #13: Good Ick VS Just Ick
The Good Ick #13: Good Ick VS Just Ick

I'm going to tee up this conversation with two quotes. I find quotes are excellent at saying succinctly what can take pages upon pages to convey. They also get one in the right frame of mind to better understand a concept.

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Pablo Picasso

“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

If your closet is full, and you’ve nothing to wear, then I bet it’s because of one or two reasons. And more likely yet, a combination of both. You’ve either bought the wrong pieces or there’s something holding you back from just diving in and being at ease in your style. From the daily conversations I have with people, that inability to be simply “at ease” with their choices, with themselves, is a huge part of the problem. These talks always have me digging around to unpack from where these inhibitions are born. Most come from established notions of what is good taste. And after conversing, most inevitably find that pushing, poking and questioning these notions leads to true curiosity and interest. A desire for friction - and what we call "The Good Ick".

To better illustrate this, I’m going to do a deep dive here on white clothing items - as they’re usually fraught with rules about seasonality, transparency, and functionality.

Sometimes the easiest way to push yourself creatively is to work in your “antonyms” - those are the items of clothing that, on the surface, appear to be the opposite of what your outfit is conveying. This is a good example here:

photo of womans legs propped on a table with illustration of socks

I was in Paris a few years ago when I took this picture. I had on white jeans, a big cozy gray cashmere sweater. Effortless yes, classic yes. But I craved good friction, something opposite to the “comfortably elegant” vibe I was giving off. Sheer black hosiery did just that - it so strongly didn’t belong that it became the very thing I needed to feel like myself. More interesting, a bit curious. Plus it was cold out and pragmatically speaking, it absolutely worked. And if anyone commented that it was “tacky,” then somehow that would affirm my choice rather than have me question it.

And here’s why:

photo of woman wearing all white with checkmark on the rules

Our friend from here, she’s checked off all the rules. She’s sporting a nice fully lined white suit. It shows her curves. She has a lovely portrait neckline. And it’s after Easter and before Labor Day. She’s radiant and smiling in her perfection. And this works for her. But not for me. This look would be torture for me - no ease, no modernity and nothing to spike my curiosity. I love an all white look. I love white skirts, but they need to push and allow for friction.

When we design, we think about how we want to feel in an item. Sheerness, especially in a luxury fabrication like the organza in look 1, adds ease. No prissiness here. It’s a way of giving stuffy rules the finger. Look 3 adds in the refinement of white in a sporty fabric that balances a quite feminine look with a minimal refinement. Effortless but not sloppy. And conversely, in an overtly eased fabric like denim, the density and strength of the fabric adds structure and tailoring.

photo of four women wearing outfits in varying degrees of sheerness

I’m going to do a deep dive on the white draped skirt here (#2) in Lyocell. The skirt that, depending on how you’ve styled it, falls into the ultimate trifecta of PDW, 12-Moer, and CMC.

illustration of three women in the same skirt

Worn with leggings, the Pedro slide, and your favorite sweatshirt, it’s the go to weekend item. You see, if this skirt was fully lined, it would take it out of the “I’m just casually strolling through town, wearing my personal style, and it’s really good” vibe. Lining would remove all of the ease. When the weather is still chill, the stirrup leggings keep it functional but chic. I can also wear it to the office, with a proper shirt, all business here and I can demand you take every idea I have seriously. The same skirt I’m wearing on marble floors and surrounded by computer desktops also works on my summer vacation. In Nice, at the farmers market - bare legged and shopping for mushrooms.

illustration of woman in skirt

Now remember, I worked in a big office for the first 8 years of my career (Ogilvy Advertising & American Express). I’m not a stranger to what can be "The Good Ick" versus just flat wrong and inappropriate. If I am wearing the skirt in office mode, then I’m going to wear a type of boy short / bicycle short underneath. I find that either matching my skin tone or the bright white of the skirt makes the pocket bag seams minimized. And remember, all clothing comes with a tag in the side seam - I snip those off first thing. I’m always amused when someone says “I loved the skirt, but I could see the tag on the side so I never wear it.” I’m pretty sure these are the same people that keep those long tags on their pillows as well:

photo of tag

This particular draped skirt is one I’ve worn many times over the years. So much so, that we brought it back for this spring. And here you can see, from my posts dating back over 5 years, this one lives in constant rotation. And I still wear it today, the same white one. Our new spring piece we did without the exposed snaps - when we bring something back from the past, I always like to improve upon it where I can. I found the snaps sometimes limited me in what I could pair it with - for a skirt I wear so often I prefer those types of metal details to be ones I can remove at will (like a belt or earrings.)

four photos of woman in different outfits

Remember, get in touch with how your clothing, your style, makes you feel. Question why you may experience one sensation when first putting something on and then doubt yourself later. And think even more about the times your first reaction was negative only to be turned on its head upon further introspection. You’ll find in all of this, those rules established long ago and often for no other reason than to simply embolden one to smirk and another to cower, may be your source of discontent. Holding you back from exploring what you already own and truly uncovering what new pieces will become mainstays in your closet for years and years to come.

So I leave you with one more quote here:

“You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul.” -George Bernard Shaw.

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