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Oct 12, 2010

The Second Opinion

Friends, when you put an outfit together -- be it for work or for play, using clothing you've sewn yourself or just fished out of the local dumpster -- who do you turn to for an objective (i.e. honest) opinion about how you look?

Do you make the final call, or is there someone else -- a person real or imagined -- whose approval you seek?  Maybe a real-life panel of judges (who live in your house) or a book you consult? 

I am lucky.  I have all of you.  I know if something really doesn't look right, you'll tell me -- and most of you don't mince words.

I don't know if you ever peek at my bloglist, but if you're not familiar with Eugenia, you should be.  Eugenia lives in her own "(fabulous) world of fashion" and what a little fiefdom of chic it is.

Readers, I have never met Eugenia in person, but she has always struck me as the Julie Christie/Susannah York type: British, blonde, and with that casually sophisticated glamour that makes us Americans pull our hair out by the polyester plugful.  Why is life so unfair?  She's Jaeger, Burberry, British Airways and the carefree, jet-setting lifestyle they evoke, all wrapped up in one.

Now while I receive a great many fashion tips from readers -- and I'm grateful for all of them -- some comments will inevitably carry more weight than others. Wouldn't you value a fashion directive from effortlessly elegant Eugenia over, say, deliberate-to-the-point-of-exhaustion Elaine?

Anyway, yesterday, generous, stylish Eugenia suggested I might try pairing my new Western side-lace boots with shorts. 


Well what do I know?  Not as much as Eugenia, obviously.  So I gave it a try.  I combined my striped cabana set bottoms with my treadled Western shirt, and added the popular psychedelic pocket square that was such a hit at my high school reunion.

What do you think, readers of exquisite taste and sophistication perhaps even surpassing that of Eugenia?

Do you think the blogging English Rose is onto something?  Don't just tell me, however, let Eugenia know over at her "(fabulous) world of fashion."  She needs to hear it as only you can say it.

In closing, fashionistas and shlubistas -- I don't discriminate -- Whom do you trust when it comes to how you look?

Whose advice do you solicit when you need a second opinion?  Husband?  Partner?  Mother?  Daughter?  Arlene Dahl?  Your tattered copy of What Not To Wear: The Rules?

Face it: we all have those moments of uncertainty and fashion risk.  Who tells you when it just ain't working?  (And how do you handle the news?)


  1. LOL I am without words. No, wait I have three: slightly Village People.


  2. Eugenia did use a question mark after the shorts suggestion. Which is lucky ... because it is looking just a bit questionable.

  3. Actually, your outfit doesn't look too bad. Not sure of the 'style' in NY, but here in LA, you would just blend into the crowd, especially on the west side of LA. Perhaps your fashion 'muse' isn't so off base after all? ;) As to who do I turn to for fashion advice - geez? I think I pretty much know what I like and don't but I do have a good friend - who used to reside in the Big Apple - who usually 'pushes' me out of my *fashion comfort zone* and his fashion advice is more times good then bad too. (Gee! I hate that about him!)

  4. I totally see shorts working, but different shorts. Longer, more rugged shorts, something with a little texture.

  5. (Is that just Eugenia, hiding under a pseudonym?)

  6. WOWSERS. Those are SHORT, Peter! I second Anonymous' suggestion for slightly less sassy shorts with the boots.

    Husband Mike is absolutely stellar at constructive criticism. He doesn't offer it unsolicited - though sometimes I wish he would - but is always tactful, concise, and spot-on. He's my stylist!

  7. Maybe it's just the hat that pushes it over the top and into summery pimp land.
    Have you thought about jodphurs, or even better riding breeches. I love breeches!

    I would love to have a second opinion, but in Colombia every answer is....couldn't it be tighter, short and made from lycra?

  8. I giggled a little at, first, the photo and then the Village People comment. And as Karen Walker, a-la Will & Grace would say, "It's funny because it's true." :)

  9. I think Western boots with shorts only really work if the shorts are denim cut-offs and you are a girl. Even then, the idea of boots with shorts seems odd to me, as boots are for fall,winter, and part of spring, and shorts are for summer and part of spring. Although you do have the legs for it, so if YOU like it, embrace it.

    As far as fashion advice, in general, I follow my own star, but if I'm really stuck, I turn to my best friend. He has convinced me to buy a few things I never would have otherwise, so there is a bit of pushing me out of my comfort zone, but never too far.

    Our policy is "If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague." So if he's extra-vague, then off it goes. We have also adopted Tim Gunn's phrases "this worries me" or "that's a whole lot of look."

  10. You wear those shorts outdoors? In places other than the beach/swimming pool? Crumbs. Maybe I'm overly British, but they look like boxer shorts and therefore underwear. That outfit looks like you forgot to put your trousers on!

    I sometimes check with online friends if I'm a bit unsure, but generally I just go with own gut instinct about how things look on me.

  11. I second Emmy's comment--those shorts, in that particular outfit, do look like some boxers I have made my husband! Especially paired with the heavy jacket and boots, it definitely looks like you've forgotten to put pants on! :P As for who I ask about my husband regularly gets asked, but his comments are only sometimes taken into account, lol. I also take daily outfit photos for my blog, and I think it's very interesting to see what my outfit looks like from a third person perspective (but still viewed by me!). :)

  12. OK, kids, let's all head over to Plummys..!


  13. I hope I don't offend, but that outfit is bad. Really bad.

  14. I saw a man wearing boots with longer cargo shorts the other day and it didn't work for him either. My first impression was that he was too lazy to tie his shoes so just slipped on boots.

    My husband is great when I'm looking for a second opinion. He's also told me to put together some combinations that I thought were really strange but ended up looking great together.

  15. Hm. Considering my "uniform" is jeans and a tshirt, I don't often solicit how do I looks.

    And I missed yesterday's post. Was too busy with RL and hardly had the time to even check mail. But I'd wear Wranglers with those boots. Tight ones that will make Micheal thank you for walking away from him. What can I say? I spent seven years living in Texas!

  16. Now you're just baiting us.

    I love the idea of a second opinion, but my boyfriend's not observant enough and blog-readers are usually too diplomatic to tell me anything useful. Clearly, we have very different audiences. =)

  17. Maybe with a different pair of shorts Peter. They look a little too boxer short for me. I fear people might think you forgot to put your pants on. I love the rest of the look though!

  18. Peter;
    That is a whole lotta look.
    Made me laugh, but I'm not laughing AT you. Promise.

    I go to my 5 daughters for fashion advice. And man, they can be brutal.

  19. This look is more Venice Beach Boardwalk than I myself would like. I think that those shorts are all wrong for boots...actually boots and shorts just scream "Pretty Woman" to me. And I know my resident panel of judges here (husband, daughter 25, son 20) would agree

  20. You could join the Naked Cowboy with this look. No, not now not ever.
    I used to use my dd as my sounding board, but since she's moved out I rely on myself.

  21. You've made a good start on the shorts and boots look. But the jacket needs more military detail, the hat needs to be higher, it should be all white with trim in your school colors, and you need a baton.

    When my DD is at home I rely on her answer to "can I leave the house in this?" Otherwise I'm on my own.

  22. Wow, Peter, was I right - you are totally rocking the shorts and boots look! But, if I may, just a teensy word of constructive criticism, when I said shorts I had envisioned something a little more substantial, something that had a closer relationship to the knees. But you are definitely on the right track with this stylishly put together outfit, stick with me and 'casually sophisticated glamour' will soon be yours.
    I do love that you see me as a Julie Christie/Susannah York type (you do mean in their heyday ....... don't you???). I think I have to reveal, however, that my lifestyle is not quite the carefree, jet-setting one that you have assigned to me - but I'm working on that - as soon as I've cleaned the kitchen floor and shoved dinner in the oven.

  23. Personally I think you would look better standing naked behind the treadle, with only the boots on.

  24. I think that you should let Cathy wear the boots, they would look great with a skirt!

    Like many of the other readers, my husband is my stylist, and he is correct 85% of the time.

  25. Huh, interesting. Too bad I'm allergic to shorts! I might have been tempted to steal your look...

    My husband... I always ask my husband. After the prerequisite question of "does this [fill-in-the-blank] make me look fat?" there is always the follow up one of "how about like a hooker?" I'm insecure, what can I say? But srsly, he is always honest, yet in a kind and loving manner.

  26. Nothing says 'eccentric old English money' like this outfit! I love it. I can see you out checking the boundary of your estate in this outfit. You just need a pipe. I've given up asking what anyone thinks of my outfits (particularly men) as I feel that if I like it and I'm comfortable, that's all that matters. I once heard one colleague say to another, "I don't like that bow'. The other colleague replied, "I do". Enough said.

    BTW, I've been sporting short shorts and boots all this winter. Personally, I love the look.

  27. Your outfit is fine. I lived in San Francisco for 5 years (LOVED IT, MISS IT, AND WILL TOTALLY GO BACK!!!!) I've seen worse.

    To answer your question, no, I don't really get opinions from people on an outfit. I often get a lot of my vintage friends asking me for advice on their clothes. I don't know why, really. I don't think Im any expert or anything. One friend said to me I make the look seem effortless.

    *blush* Oh if she only knew!

  28. Somewhere between Meh and Ick is a word called Gack! Otherwise, I am speechless.

  29. Definitely, as Eugenia says, shorts with a closer relationship to the knees. Apart from the really short shorts, I like the look!

  30. My first reaction was “He is going to stick to the subway seats.” ;)

    I have no idea what this says about me. About you, I wish I had your confidence.

    My current style questions are: Is it clean? Is it neat? Is it appropriate? I am trying to advance from this to actually having a style.


  31. oh my! Tell me this is your Halloween preview.

  32. I think the shorts and boots idea could work, but not like that. Not with cut offs either. Nothing below the knee.

    My husband had to be trained to be my panel. He's pretty good now, and since he's always right about the height of my hair I tend to trust his instincts in other areas.

  33. Yes, in West Hollywood - you would be some rocking hipster - perhaps silver lake and los feliz would work too - I think the boots and shorts look quite frankly would be better on your cousin:) Gals look hot (in LA Fashion) In boots and short shorts, or even better, a short skirt.

    I agree - Eugenia is the cool British blonde. . . .

  34. P.S. Some (Tom and Lorenzo) would say the boots and short skirt look is over - but not here in LA TLO!

  35. oye, Peter, boldness is good, male boldness is very good, but that outfit does not suit you at all! You have nice legs a nice body (the shorts show it nicely, wink wink) but you are mot the slut dressing type. I don't think the boots would look right with any shorts unless you were dating someone with whips... sorry, not one of your better bold looks.

  36. No, no, no. The boots need to be worn with the harem pants. The harem pants!

  37. Leslie beat me to it: no, No, NO! Well, not those particular shorts anyway. Harem pants would be worse, they scream Fashion Victim!

  38. Village People does spring to mind, I must say!
    I'd suggest you lose the boots, not the shorts, as I can't imagine what you would wear them with OTHER than wranglers that would look right....(what were you thinking??!!)
    but anyway, we all have our own (sometimes funny or strange) ideas on what looks good & what doesn't.
    For me, if my kids don't offer an opinion, I just have to wing it & hope I don't look too stupid.
    this seems to work, most of the time anyway (either that or people are too kind to tell me to go home & try again)

  39. I second the opionion that shorts and boots could work, but only with longer shorts that don't look as much as underwear as these. If it were denim shorts, this would acutally look great.

    As for your question, I ask my husband. He's pretty infallible on what I can and cannot wear, what complimens me and what doesn't. He's also more objective than me, especially on bad hair days. When I have to get up earlier than him and am unsure about whether or not I should leave the flat dressed like that, I even wake him up and ask him.

  40. Great legs! Maybe Eugenia just wanted a look at them, she does have good taste.
    In general, fashion points involving western wear might be best confined to the Americas.
    Have you considered chaps?


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