Drowning in a dive into fashion

One would think that a stint in the Chicago Tribune's fashion section with experts who covered runway shows in New York and Paris would have put me on a path to confident fashion choices.

But no. Or to add a touch of faux sophistication: "Mais non."

I have studied Pinterest posts on "7 easy pieces that will take you through Europe for 10 days" and still ended up filling a suitcase the size of a steamer trunk.

More recently, an online fashion dive led me to "coastal grandmother" chic. (Think Jane Fonda as the classically tailored Grace in "Grace and Frankie.")

Going deeper, I read that all I have to do to ensure fashion savviness is define my personal style with three words. After hitting a wall with "comfy" and looking for inspiration, I asked a few friends for their three magic words.

Diane, an architecture and home design writer in Houston, was the first answer my query with "classic, polished and monochromatic."

She added, "I thought about 'comfortable,' but I realize that what I wear probably isn't anyone's version of comfortable."

Which brings me to Chris, an artsy free spirit in Seattle, who needed only two words borrowed from the great Gilda Radner: Not itchy.

Suzy, a fun-loving food editor and columnist down in Florida, nailed it with "whimsical, goofy and vintage."

Lastly, Ann, a New Orleans native/former New Yorker/ now Washington Post recipes editor, made me laugh when she said, "Sometimes when I catch my reflection I think, 'You dress like a nun.' " Maybe that's all the black she opts for in her self-described style of "understated, classic and comfortable."

So now I'm leaning toward "tailored, traditional and (definitely) comfortable," because this grandmother likes sitting on the floor and playing with Legos and Barbie dolls.

I didn't bother asking my in-house focus group of one lone male if I was overthinking this. My husband, Joe, could speak for many when it comes to fashion.

For instance: In March 2020, just as Covid was shutting down virtually everything, including Costco's optical department, Joe stood before one of the department's employees, pleading for a chance to replace his glasses, which had just gone missing.

The woman manning the counter said there was no way he could order new frames, since the samples were now under wraps and couldn't be touched and how could he decide on what frames suited him if he couldn't try them on?

Joe sighed and, pointing to his baggy jeans, worn flannel shirt and tattered ball cap, said, "Lady, do I look like I care about style? I just want the same frames I had before."

The woman laughed. And ordered his glasses, featuring classic, understated, monochromatic frames.

- Denise Joyce of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].