When You Wear Less

Posted by Laura
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(L)  Starting here—first things first—with a strapless white maillot. Now, it's set off with a black band, a snappy bow tie. Oscar de la Renta Swimwear by Wavelengths. About $43.
(R)  You see softness in a pale-pink lambswool-blend cardigan (about $90). Givenchy Sport. Over white wool gabardine pants (about $96). Givenchy Signature.



As I write this it is incredibly hot in New York—deep into a week-long heatwave it is definitely a struggle to get dressed. Now if I looked like Kelly Lebrock I would happily run to the store in OdlR's strapless white swimsuit above, but instead I'm having to look to this 1981 editorial's tagline for inspiration: "When you wear less... everything has to count more!" Good advice, right? The intriguing aspect of Vogue's choices at the beginning of the 80s was that they are all from designer diffusion lines. I've always been interested in comparing the similarities and disparities between a designer's multiple lines—reflecting on how a designer's vision weakens step-by-step down their collections. None of the clothes in this editorial sing of artistic imagination or stand out as the work of one individual (I dare you to guess the Givenchy and Bill Blass ensembles without reading), yet they are all clearly flattering and wearable clothes, which is sometimes all you need—especially on a hot day...

One thing that does stand out is the prices—even for tertiary lines the clothes are quite expensive. A simple sundress by Bill Blass Collection III was $230, which comes out to $589.77 today, while a Miami Vice-esque suit and shirt from Christian Dior Sportswear would cost $1000 in 2016. Definitely a sign that the power of a designer name has been longstanding.


Kelly Lebrock, Sheila Johnson, Lisa Ryall and Carey Lowell photographed by Jo Francki for Vogue, January 1981.

Easy "cool"... that's what you zero in on when it's warm. Something clean and uncluttered. What gives this season's sparer looks even more appeal: new, pretty touches. The charm of a small print, a very-thin stripe, a softer way with a sleeve or a bow. The impact of color or texture, of an unusual shape.



(L)  The prettiest white sundress: ruffled and brushed with color. By Bill Blass Collection III, $230.
(R)  A strong look this season—stripes, in navy and white on a silk dress. By Cacharel, $274. 



A bright fuchsia maillot—subtly striped, softly shirred. By Catalina, $35.



(L)  The wit of a green vinyl "shawl collar" on a black maillot. By Diva Fashions, $50.
(R)  A tiny black bikini... edged with gold Lurex. By Gottex, $44.



(L)  A T-shirt and cotton wrap skirt... with the impact of black and white. By Givenchy Nouvelle Boutique. Both, $50.
(R)  Very charming—an eyelet embroidered navy silk dirndl, $130, and white silk pleat-trimmed blouse, $120. From Miss O designed by Oscar de la Renta.



When you want to feel relaxes but look "polished": color! What powder-pale pink does for an easy jacket and pants... how a pastel print "turns" a straightforward button-down shirt. Christian Dior Sportswear. Jacket, about $150. Pants, about $130. Shirt, about $110.



(L)  A white T-shirt—short-sleeved, boat-necked—and trim navy walking shorts. Pure. Classic. But this season, the "T" is soft silk, (about $90) the shorts a silky blend (about $130). Donna Karan and Louis Dell'OLio fro Anne Klein & Co.
(R)  Now, Jantzen does a bikini in strong stripes, a bold color mix About $26.



(L)  More soft touches: brown-and-white welting and a small tie on a strapless maillot. Christian Dior Swimwear. About $44.
(R)  A small camisole, all silver sequins (about $150) to wear over straight-leg, pull-on pants—in white satin (about $90). As ornamental a look as you're likely to need. Jill Richards II.



(L)  For some women, nothing does it like crisp white. Courreges polyester/cotton raincoat with string ties at the cuff (about $400); cotton walking shorts striped in blue (about $80).
(R)  Another camisole option, and a great traveler, black cotton, unexpectedly stitched in rust (about $24) and a rayon/linen trouser skirt (about $120). Kasper for J.L. Sport.

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