If you know you want it, maybe you don’t need it

Is wanting it right away a “buy it” sign? Or a sign that it’s … blah.

Hey Mrs. Solomon
7 min readJan 3, 2023

Been thinking about how the best stuff is harder to digest at first. Remember that Sex & the City episode where Carrie finds out Big is engaged and references this moment in The Way We Were: “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell,” says Streisand to Redford, upon meeting his more traditional, more acceptable, more obvious partner. Carrie on SATC has an aha moment: She’s complex, not obvious in her beauty and not easy when it comes to her baggage or brain, and that’s too much challenge for Big. She’s too complicated, unbridled and wild, but of course that’s where the good is. And ultimately in the fantasy of SATC the show, this proves itself out. Because the acceptable wife, Natasha, is beige. Big later admits his life is beige. And he ends up with complicated Carrie. Til death do they (literally) part.

Over on her Instagram, Amy S. has been talking about how the best pieces that her design partner Traci and she come up with aren’t the ones where Traci suggests them and Amy immediately wants them, but rather the ones where her first reaction is no.

My takeaway: the best stuff isn’t what you want in the moment, because the best stuff isn’t what you’re ready for. It’s what you don’t even know you want, what you don’t even know you need. If there isn’t anything complicated, if there isn’t anything to chew on, if there isn’t any friction, maybe it’s just a great basic, but not transformative. In college, Aerin Lauder once said to me: “Once it’s in it’s already out.” I so did not get that. It wasn’t about trends. It really was about, when everyone catches on, when your eye is so adjusted that it’s as easily digested as vanilla pudding, then the thing that makes it magic has already started leaking away. Not that it can’t be a go-to outfit valve. But it’s not going to give you that pushed feeling you truly crave as a lover of fashion.

OK so take the shacket. I don’t know if she was the first to do one but the first one I saw was Stella McCartney, and it was very early on in the trend cycle. (Find it here on sale if you’re interested.) Her ad styled it with a pleated skirt; the model had sharp short bangs, I still remember the moment I laid eyes on it. I felt something. I loved this juxtaposition of the refined, classical skirt and what is essentially a thoughtfully designed lumberjack shirt. Something that has nostalgia for me as the type of army jacket my dad used to wear when he was working in our woods, cutting trees on weekends. The contrast, the shapes, it looked so different and so memorable, I did something I rarely do which is pay full price right away. And then didn’t wear it.

Finally in that Stella Shacket

There was something about it that scared me. It’s not flattering at all. Where it hits makes my legs look short. I’m not a lumberjack, and I worried that without that credibility I’d look like a poser. And I just didn’t know how to recapture whatever it was that I fell in love with. I felt tentative about the whole thing. I thought about selling it many times, but I held onto it for some reason. And now, years later, I am loving it, even though I live in Miami. A great piece for coming home, layering under a big femme coat to take it down and add warmth. A great piece for juxtaposing with things like a see through skirt, or over my shoulders at night with a froth of a dress and a loafer.

I think I’ve thought the same about an oversized camp shirt. When I first saw camp shirts, I just thought “what do I need with this boxy thing?” This chest flattening thing? Do you tuck it? Will I look like I’m going bowling? Like it’s borrowed? Is it supposed to fit my (tiny) shoulders? What proportion do I wear on the bottom? Denim and a camp shirt is way too full on “camper” to be me. But ultimately I was drawn to the color of one and it was on sale and I bought it. And eventually I stopped being afraid of it, and I stopped trying to apply logic to it or make it all about color matching or proportion creating and just started forcing it on myself, forcing myself to enjoy the friction. And only then did it get good. Over long-ish, lean knife pleated skirts especially. Not tucked in. Not belted. The big in big, slim skin. I’m going to keep forcing it, keep pushing. It’s a tool for that. A game changer that makes you rethink lots of other things, that changes your whole frame of mind. These are the “value” purchases, I feel. Because they change you, they teach you to fish versus putting dinner on the table.

Camp shirts. Boxy. Untucked. Not a bowling pin in sight.

I think there’s this idea in here that you often here as a platitude on Instagram, or wherever, which is: Run towards what you fear. Or another platitude: Nothing worth having is easy.

Let me give you a non-fashion example. When I’m giving my son advice or criticism (which I really limit), instead of getting defensive, he might say “That’s fair.” When it is, obviously. But I haven’t always been good at this. He’s teaching me. Sometimes when he or my husband is critical, the fear in me takes over and I start explaining why I did what I did or whatever. But in a way, that’s the equivalent of putting my hands over my ears and singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.” I’m not getting the good nuggets. I’m not growing. When I don’t sit with my fear, with the yuckiness of hearing something critical, I miss out on what I could be learning to develop as a person and a mother, to get along better with the people I love the most.

So now I take a cue from my 19-year-old and say “that’s fair” like he does— it’s a tangible signal to myself to stop and take it in.

I think it goes back to friction. Avoiding friction is gentle, like a warm bath. Like the vanilla pudding. But if you love fashion, you probably knowingly or unknowingly chase friction. Or as I’ve sometimes articulated it, “until it’s wrong it’s not right.”

Allison Bornstein did this reel on trying the wrong shoe. I actually thought her choices could be even more wrong! But I love this idea. It’s about challenging yourself to accept something “off” that potentially takes your look further — more poison, more edge, more interest, more sophistication.

Friction is at first hard to take.

Photo of my place via our designer Barbara Vail

Even things like wearing gold and silver together, or mixing it in hardware in your home. Our Miami place was the first time we used an interior designer, she had a mix of metals all over, in chandeliers, hardware, table legs. And I was like “is that … right?” And with cheery confidence, she said: “Yep!” And of course it is. Just as a wrist of “mismatched “ bangles becomes more interesting. Whereas back in the day, I’d only wear one kind of metal and every element had to comply: jewelry, belt buckle, handbag clasp.

Rose and her fearless layering.

I used to not wear black and brown. I used to not wear casual and dressy fabrics together. I used to not wear black and navy. Now when I want to make a simple outfit something more, I love going to black with navy. Or adding a white belt, which I formerly thought of as sort of leisure suit-y. Or mixing a brown belt with all the black. Right now my friend Rose (@thecreativeclassicist) has a thin white dress on repeat in … winter. Playing with the friction using wool and tights and rubber rain boots and noting these as some of her favorite looks. And who first folded the belt over and deemed it good that way? It looked wrong, but they sat with the wrong. They looked in the mirror and challenged their eye to accept it. They said the fashion equivalent of “that’s fair” — they said “that’s interesting.” And left the house.

A white belt is weird, right? I love it.

I guess, too, when I say I am a good student but lack natural style instincts, one big way it comes out is this: I know enough to like and repeat the “wrong” someone else has discovered. I’ve learned to see that wrong as right. And that took some time. But what I’m working on now is getting to a place where I can try out a wrong myself and have the confidence to go out, assured in its rightness.

Wearing only what’s easy, only what you immediately love, only what’s calming, may feel nice, but for me it’s the equivalent of putting my hands over my ears and singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.” I won’t do that. I’ll stumble, sure. Still, I am open and that’s good.



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.