Dressing for My Next Life

She used to be a couture-wearing fashion editor. Now she’s a suburban mom, taunted by a closet full of designer clothes.

By Lesley Jane Seymour
But what do I wear during the 70 percent of the time I’m just hanging out with my husband and kids?New Life, New LookIn my previous life, I could only power shop. In Milan each season, just off the plane, I’d grab maybe 15 minutes at Prada and blow about $5,000: two pairs of those shoes, that sweater, that coat…next! My newest luxury is time to meander through the mall. But recently, when I spun myself around Gap and Banana Republic, I realized I was just a little too mature for those looks. What I needed was comfy chic.I remembered one time several years ago when I got fed up with the baggy T-shirts and shorts I’d been wearing on weekends and tossed them all into a bag for charity. Back then, I found peace and fashion happiness at the DKNY store. So I took myself back there once again, and I wasn’t disappointed.What I’ve always loved about Donna Karan’s approach to fashion is that she acts as if she were dressing a hippie artist in the Hamptons. Her looks are chic, individualistic — and comfortable. They’re dressed-up enough that you won’t be embarrassed if friends stop by and sexy enough that your husband won’t be turned off if he has to see you in them again and again. (Which he will.) For less than $500, I picked up an entire wardrobe: a long black A-line cowl neck sweater that I wear over jeans, sashed with a thick belt; a cute short black wrap sweater that I slip on over a long-sleeved white T-shirt that has tiny ruffles around the neck and sleeves; and a short-sleeved front-wrapped white sweater that’s long enough to wear over leggings.I mix all that up with jeans I already own, a great gold Prada belt, Jimmy Choo ankle boots or cowboy boots (always classic), a pair of Celine driving shoes I got on sale — and I think I’ve finally done it. Relaxed chic: the kind of undone (but done) look that it takes Los Angelenas years to master. The kind of style that says I want to look great in my new life, not like a silly poseur. And my Chanel blouse? During a renovation, I had to stash it in my what-was-I-thinking closet next to the periwinkle blue shearling disaster. Sometimes I think I hear the two of them cackling together: The blouse talks about all the crazy, outrageous fashion events it’s been to, like the Moschino show in Milan where Marilyn Manson walked right across the runway — between the models — to get to his seat. And the shearling dress talks about the time it kept slipping off my shoulders at the apres-film party I hosted for some B-list celebrity.The truth is, I’m not quite ready to stuff my Chanel blouse into the charity bin. Like Clark Kent, I want to keep my professional cape and tights ready just in case I happen to see the right phone booth. At the right moment. Because, hey, you never know.Lesley Jane Seymour was editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, Redbook, and YM.

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