by David Kobe
When I am at my most sad and bored, which is most days in February, I try to envelop myself in my most obsessive hobby. It is not preparing my spring break body at the gym. Gyms are closed, and there isn’t going to be a spring break this year; I’m 26, and there is a global pandemic. I don’t feel the need for my usual dash to watch all the Oscar noms—theaters are closed too, and paying $20 to stream a movie at home just isn’t the same. So I’ve returned to my tried and true method of fighting off the anxiety of the moment. That is, I have given my everything to scrolling endlessly for unique pieces on depop. Lately, my objective is to find garments that will supply me, and hopefully you, with two things that are scarce at the moment: springtime and suiting.
The first few pieces here are from designer Anne Herman of Hermans Eco Fashion. Herman’s designs are entirely in lockstep with the moment. Her slow fashion approach, in tandem with Americana imagery that evokes big sky country, mirrors prevailing fashion trends. It’s tempting to call the designs Bode-esque, but seeing artisans work with the same concepts means more interesting pieces for us, the shopping public, who are desperately in need of some excitement after wearing jeans, long underwear, Blundstones, and wool sweaters every day since the New Year.
Take, for instance, this pair of suit pants made of 1950s tea towels and a vintage tablecloth that could easily be my grandmother’s. After years sitting idle in my grandparents’ dining room, it’s finally been made into a fine pair of trousers that would go well with a May promenade through Prospect Park (sorry, I watched Bridgerton in like two days, and I’m obsessed with the idea of “promenading”) with a new fling. Alternatively, if you’ve become an increasingly wilting and sexually deprived flower locked away during our darkest and coldest months, these pants are dripping with nectar that will surely attract the cutest honeybees the city has to offer.
There are those honey bees I was talking about! What’s exceptional about this piece here is its borderline medieval-looking collar. The shirt’s cut reminds me of some of the hottest pullovers Heath Ledger wears in A Knight’s Tale, while the graphic details evoke an image of a wayward hippie beekeeper. The shirt asserts “It’s Time For An Organic Planet”. I couldn’t agree more.
This purple suit also evokes the medieval. Felt patches shaped like a dragon, a green knight (I cannot confirm whether it is Sir Gawain or not) and a castle adorn the chest and legs. The purple cotton set is decorated with 42 rhinestones. Cut like a cross between Porter Wagner’s classic nudie suits and a deconstructed matador’s traje de luces, this suit would make a perfect statement piece for a potential formal park hang that, at present, only exists in our dreams but is close enough to prepare for.
If you are still hanging on to this cruel winter and need something functional and warm, but also striking, to wear while you sit shivering under space heaters, sipping on a martini, try this romper with skiing pigs reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s dancing bears. This repurposed Made in the USA white boiler suit blurs the line between haunting artistry and anthropomorphized joy.
While looking for a suit for myself I stumbled on this divine vintage 1970s women’s pink seersucker in marvelous condition. The ‘70s was a golden age for horse racing, with a record-setting three triple crown winners. The traditional lady’s attire for race day includes terrible hues of green and fuchsia, and is usually adorned with excessive fascinators. I imagine this suit was worn by someone who enjoyed pomp and circumstance but didn’t necessarily have to be the center of attention.
A little tip for folks who are shopping for vintage clothes from the ‘60s: SEARS! This might sound strange, but Sears was the Uniqlo of its day, constantly churning out new styles for every season. It was the beginning of fast fashion (as well as your grandparents’ go-to for a washer/dryer), and the quality is surprisingly good. This dress has the iconic mod style of the day with fantastic springtime flourishes. The embroidered orange flower on its massive pocket makes it the perfect dress for getting a glass of wine in May, or for when the radiator makes your apartment inexplicably sweltering in February.
There’s an episode in season 2 of Mad Men in which Don ditches his colleagues in Los Angeles to join a mysterious woman in Palm Springs. When he arrives he meets her “friends,” which here is a loose term for jet-set squatters who lounge around the pool. The scene has the quality of a Slim Aarons’ photograph and so does this shirt. It’s what I imagine a 1960s east coast heiress would wear when she is all settled in on the west coast, having finally escaped the trappings of New York high society. Perhaps she has a manicured lawn decorated with cacti, a small oil fortune heading her way, and guava juice every morning.
Springtime isn’t all sunshine and roses. Someone has to plant all those damn flowers. This denim shirt cut like a baseball jersey (also from White Rabbit) is the ideal piece for visiting the plant nursery, picking out which succulents you are going to try to keep alive this season, getting your fingernails filled with soil, and basking in the floral glory.
David Kobe co-edits Laid Off NYC's Politics section. Get to know him better: @david_kobe