How do you know if you’ve f*cked it up enough?

a striped shirt discussion has me wondering

Hey Mrs. Solomon
5 min readJan 4


I’ve talked a lot here about “fashion friction” — how until it’s wrong, it’s not right.

When they see me in some of what I wear, I’ve expected people to sometimes react like: That’s weird. It’s friction, it’s wrong, so that reaction makes sense. Here’s what I didn’t expect ... the IG friend who said “it’s not fucked up enough.”

It was around a striped shirt. And the discussion made me see something. So I’m sharing what I learned.

Her IG ask was (I’m paraphrasing) — “Any thoughts on wearing this striped tee shirt. And my bob is probably not helping.”

So I read this as: The bob and the stripes are expected, how do you add friction, i.e. make it unexpected/fucked up? And that starts with assessing what the thing itself is. And then you get to an antonym.

A striped tee for me is sporty and athletic. Like a rugby. The antonym: elegant, refined. As in far from the field.

It’s also a little childlike — the bob, the striped tee can go a little Charlie Brown and co. Antonym: Sophisticated.

see what I mean? image taken from here.

It’s also very casual. (Relative of sporty. And there’s some overlap.) Rough and unfussed. Antonym: Polished.

So to fuck it up, ie, give friction/wrongness, my mind immediately went to

(1) Tailoring + gravitas. Long lines. Fabric with some heft. These things say — this is not meant for running on any field, anywhere.

(2) Grown up signaling. Push against the childlike quality with symbols of adult pursuits like real jobs and cocktails.

(3) Hints of luxury. Fight rough with indicia of a slinky life. Cashmere. Sequin. Croc. Colored suede. Gold and silver hardware.

In these contexts, the tee is the rebel at the party. You’re so cool, you’ll take a cotton tee — wherever. Shades of Sharon Stone in that Gap turtleneck. Like yeah, what of it?

Now the IG friend showed it with black sport fabric pants, aka “nylons.” Black in general helps with sophistication, especially since the shirt was blue. And her gold pointy shoe added some polish, but the shoe silhouette was still very casual.

My rec was even more polish in the shoe (a small heel, a colorful suede a shoe with some hardware). And a dressier pant, like a tropical wool, since the stripe with the nylon to me didn’t go far away enough from the shirt’s sporty origins. It still read like “gym.” Maybe some Anna Wintour-ish necklaces would help? (I use a J.Crew version and wear them in multiples.)

She thought my ideas sucked, basically.

“I’m trying to fuck it up!”

It finally dawned on me.

Her summary word was “preppy.” Country club cute. So her antonym is “badass.” or Edgy. So my dressy “refinement” was all wrong IHO. Fucking it up meant black and … what else? So I gave this one a shot in my own (admittedly not badass) closet.

I started with a black Japanese drop crotch pant. (I’m a 52 year old mom so again, the badassery is limited.) Added my “tough” studded brogue. You’re scared of me a tiny bit, no?

And some leather. Watch out. The clutch has handcuffs on it.

And the neck felt empty so also added a half sweater up there that says (you can’t see this): Confidential.

The sweater mostly fills out the space.

But I also tried out my own antonyms. And got completely different results.

I went to these pants because they say “This is not a sports game.”

The color palette is refined. Navy shirt stripe, teal, gray-blue, off navy bag. Shades of and yet off kilter. The brown croc belt gives me a little luxe and more off-ness. I’d wear this to a casual meeting, to go out with a friend on a weekend, to brunch. The tee takes the fancy out of the other elements.

Here’s another way I went after it. What’s the most opposite of casual I own? Sequin.

The skirt says cocktail party. And I added a very grown up shirt. A kind of work shirt, as in the “work pants” above.

I like taking the “sports game” out of the stripe by adding a second stripe which makes it more like fashion. So do the Tabi shoes. I am not running on a field in a literal hoof! Obvs. I’d wear this to a low key dinner with my hub, the tee makes the sequin just a playful texture vs “dressup.”

To me these “fuck it up” by totally pulling the shirt out of context, inserting its kiddie cotton-ness in a world where it does not belong.

(They made me wish I had a better striped shirt; this one is a rag.)

But also. I come back to something I’ve been articulating a bit and hearing confirmed by quite a few others of late. If you generally dress casually, and you like friction, the super casual pieces are hard to incorporate! Oddly, and it fights common sense. But if you crave friction and gravitate toward denim and other uber causal items in your day to day, a striped tee is harder to bring into play than say, a cashmere tee/tank/tube or something with the refinement of a balloon sleeve or a satiny texture. Because the tools to give it friction aren’t the things you love to wear. Whereas, if you wear lots of refined pieces — skirts, wool pants, etc. etc, then a striped tee, a sports tee, a denim shirt is just the right foil.

Also, what can I do to be more badass? Maybe it’s finally time for that second piercing?



Hey Mrs. Solomon

Grown-ass woman. Perpetual student of style. Sharer of tips. I work @honorcodecreative and write about fashion and style ahas here and on IG @heymrssolomon XO.