WARDROBE: The Matter Of What’s Hanging

Photo Credit: www.alittlesomethingwhite.com
Photo Credit: http://www.alittlesomethingwhite.com

There’s a lot of fashion talk going on in the novel IF NOT 4 U and Some Shoes, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that it’s written from the first-person perspective of the fashion-centric, expressionistic, artsy-girl Francie Lanoo. Woven into that chit-chat is the notion that the protagonist’s wardrobe choices are influenced by a variety of external factors—peer pressure, fashion school, world travel, and, of course, her greatest admirer, Berkeley Mills—and that how she appears in the mirror directly affects how she feels when she walks out the door. The ongoing rhetoric serves to impart an important life message to readers: that life choices (clothing included) should be about pleasing oneself, and not about pleasing someone else. It’s an issue that, for the most part, is about self-confidence  … particularly as it pertains to young women caught up in the world of fashion … but because I’m not an expert on it, I would direct those interested in more in-depth information to the currently 816,000 Google articles linking clothing to emotional state of mind.

To travel down a more lighthearted road on this subject, I’ve chosen to depict Francie’s style coming-of-age by interpreting the written word of IF NOT 4 U and Some Shoes  into tangible wardrobe selections. In doing so, I’ve factored in Francie’s quirky character, her love of all things artsy, her self-awareness of her body type, and her presumed fashion crushes—1960’s Mary Quant, early 1970’s Carnaby Street, Audrey Hepburn and Victoria Beckham (which … because I’m the decider … happen to be my own).

If nothing else, I hope the exercise takes people down the memory lane of their own fashion history and transformation. It certainly reminded me of the numerous fashionable skeletons from my closet.

FOOT NOTE TWO: The bell-sleeved mini at the school dance. The look is daring, attention seeking, and totally influenced by peer pressure (a.k.a. Francie’s best friend, Phoebe). Even Francie knows she has stepped outside of her comfort zone, thinking: If my father were to see me looking this enhanced, he’d nail every door and window of the house shut.  

Photo Credit: http://www.polyvore.com.

faux-fur-coat-white-jeans-grey-tshirt-street-styleFOOT NOTE SIX: The Valentine’s Day overcoat (but picture it a little bit longer) accompanied by a pair of unique patent pink gloves. The look is delectable (as per her intention), cute-as-a-button, and flirty. No wonder the night ends the way it does.

Photo Credit: http://www.thefashioncuisine.com.


FOOT NOTE TWENTY-ONE: The space-aged outfit worn on Francie’s first New Year’s Eve Party (in the novel, it’s silver pants), influenced by having spent a semester among a wealth of fashionista classmates,  and in the very fashion-centric Florence, Italy. The look is way-out-there, square-peg-in-a-round-hole in her conservative hometown, and the kick-start of Francie’s growing away from her roots.

Photo Credit:  www.mintagevintage.com.


jarlo-aria-all-over-lace-plunge-front-skater-dressFOOT NOTE TWENTY-THREE: The plunging-neckline dress worn in the photograph taken by Francie’s Italian classmate Arno. It’s intense, seductive, and the most mature wardrobe item she’s ever purchased.

Ironically, it didn’t get appreciated by the person meant to please.

Photo Credit:  JarloAriashopstyle.co.uk.

tumblr_n2ehjplAEo1qcv7buo1_1280FOOT NOTE TWENTY-SIX: The monochromatic outfit worn home from Italy after having spent a full year there. It’s chichi, fashionably European, and an indicator that Francie is beginning to understand what works for her boyish, petite body.

Photo Credit:  36.media.tumblr.com.



j-mendel-spring-2014-off-shoulder-two-tone-mini-dress-profileFOOT NOTE THIRTY-THREE: The off-the-shoulder short dress worn to the high school graduation in Florence, Italy. The look is unadorned, subdued and a bit tame for Francie … an accurate reflection of her deflated and somber mood that day.  Perhaps, the warm color was an attempt to sooth her aching heart.

Photo Credit: J Mendel
-font-b-Silver-b-font-Short-Homecoming-font-b-Dress-b-font-With-Beading-StraplessFOOT NOTE THIRTY-FIVE: The strapless beaded mini-dress worn to the high school graduation in Riverly Heights. The look is bubbly, free-spirited, and effervescent … well suited to Francie’s upturned mood.  All that’s missing in this pic is that stunning corsage.

Photo Credit:  www.kissydress.co.uk.


originalFOOT NOTE FORTY: A similar outfit to the one worn at the Ill-Mannered-Mimes’ outdoor concert on a very hot summer’s night (note: it needs a mesh teddy so it doesn’t look so much like a swimsuit).

It’s uninhibited, uncharacteristic, and outright provocative … part of Francie’s experimental fashion phase brought on by the extroverted new guy in her life, Mr. Vale.

Photo Credit:  GQ Magazine

OLCA-WD8_V1FOOT NOTE FIFTY: The halter gown worn for Francie’s college graduation dance in NYC. The look is classic, flattering and elegant … and fits her like a glove (which is not surprising since she self-designed it as part of her design school curriculum).

The cold dark blue color is a reflection of her despondency and self-loathing on that very messed-up day.

Photo Credit:  www.lookastic.com.


timthumb.phpFOOT NOTE FIFTY-ONE: The all-black attire worn while working, and continuing her studies, in London.

The look is monochromatic, understated, and dictated by her employer … yet it’s every bit as striking as her other wardrobe pieces.

Photo Credit:  www.somarthasomary.ca


FOOT NOTE FIFTY-ONE: A collection of outfits worn for her entry-level designer position in New York, after having spent a year living in London. The looks are very UK influenced, chipper, and suggestive that she has emotionally turned a corner.  Bye, Bye, Basic Black.  Photo Credit: http://www.kaylazkloset.com.


FOOT NOTES FIFTY-TWO through FIFTY-SEVEN: A collection of Francie outfits while moving up the ladder in the fashion industry. The looks are flattering, sophisticated, and leading edge … a strong indicator that she has finally slipped into her meant-to-be groove.  Photo Credit:  www.firstavenuemagazine.com.


60s-mod-styleFOOT NOTE FIFTY-THREE: The cocktail dress worn to the art gallery soiree, where Francie runs into a new man in her life (a.k.a. “Blueberry Boy”).

The look is super-stylish, eye-catching and indicative of her newfound self-assuredness.  It seems to combines all of the influences to date.

Photo Credit:  www.thefashiontag.com



wide-leg-pants-4FOOT NOTE FIFTY-EIGHT: The white blouse/black pants worn in the final chapter/scene.

The look is comfortable, confident, and seeking of no one’s approval but Francie’s own.  It took a decade, but she has clearly come into her own.

Photo Credit:  www.fashiongum.com.



These examples cover only a sampling of the wardrobe described in the novel. If anyone would like to offer suggestions for some of Francie’s other outfits—especially the swimsuit worn in FOOT NOTE SEVEN, the birthday outfit in FOOT NOTE FIFTEEN, the makeshift raincoat in FOOT NOTE FORTY-THREE—feel free to do some posting.


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