but how do i wear it?

but how do i wear it?
a “conversation” with norma kamali

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but how do i wear it?

I just bought this vintage Norma Kamali garment for $15.00 at a thrift store, great, but how do I wear it? I use the word garment because I’m not quite sure if it’s a dress, or a skirt; I think it could be both?

I love Norma Kamali despite having bitched, for a long time, about her penchant for man-made fibers. 

red dressThis red dress, you must admit, looks pretty fabulous on me. I tried this dress on at the Kamali store, here in New York, about 2-3 years ago, but I just couldn’t make myself buy it. It was polyester, as are the vast majority of her garments.

Kamali’s designs are what we usually call “timeless,”

mostly meaning they are well designed. Her prices are great, her things look good on women of all ages, and they are almost indescribably comfortable.

But no, just no to all of that polyester and spandex, the plastic!

message of empowerment

Norma Kamali is known for her healthy living (she’s a long time Pilates and fitness enthusiast), and her message of women’s empowerment. From her website:

“Self-esteem and body image relate to a healthy body, which translates to a healthy mind and spirit. This is an empowered woman. Empowering women through fitness, health, beauty, style, and entrepreneurship builds women who are invincible. Women who are invincible will change the world.”

So, as they say, “I’m down with this,” but recently, and rightly, slow and ethical fashion advocates have been asking questions about the disingenuous nature of many of these kinds of statements.

How can you be for a good, clean world, in which women are empowered and not exploited, but still persist in making things with environmentally toxic fibers, in places where women are often working for pennies and piece rates? 

You can’t, it just doesn’t make sense.

time to change?

I admit that I don’t know the details about Kamali’s business, how could I? This in itself though, is problematic for me these days. I want to know, as I believe many of you do as well. 

Don’t one’s customers have the right to know precisely what they are spending their money on?

Norma Kamali has always been known for innovation, making things from parachutes for example, and designing dresses that can be worn multiple ways, and not just in “gimmicky” but very stylish and convenient ways.

Kamali never seemed to fit a conventional mold, she didn’t seem to follow along the same well-worn “designer path,” and that’s why she is still very much-loved by women our age who don’t want to wear what’s conventional. Me, and you, I think. But isn’t it time for a change?

If you ask me Norma, it’s time for some innovation, change in the direction of slow and ethical fashion.  


but how do i wear it?

Having said all of this, why did I go and buy a Norma Kamali garment today, one I don’t even know if I’m wearing properly? The bottom line, in this case, is that I bought it at a thrift store, and in that way I helped to prolong the life-cycle of a garment. 

The garment is unique, and it looks good on me and it’s very comfortable, but those things alone would not have led me to buy it new. Now if Norma could just tell me if I’m wearing it correctly. 

Just one more little “oddity,” I can’t find a label that would tell me the contents of the fabric anywhere.

As you can tell, the skirt is voluminous, but trust me, that’s the first thing I look for before purchasing anything. I’m not suggesting that there never was a label, but because I always look for them, I thought it worth mentioning.

I know that sometimes one does have to search, there are laws regarding these things. This from “Legal Beagle.”

“The information required on clothing labels is governed under two separate laws established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Textile and Wool Acts require that labels contain three pieces of information pertaining to the garment: fiber content, country of origin, and manufacturer, importer or dealer. The Care Labeling Rule requires that care instructions for the garment also be revealed. There are specific parameters within each of the four required pieces of information.”

Do you look at garment labels?

more coral?

I’m not talking about the color of the year here. I’m talking about an artist, a ceramicist: Courtney Mattison. She makes wondrous, intricate coral “reefs.” Must be seen, see her on Instagram, here.  

aging anyone

A new blog, new to me anyway, The Age Buster, whose tagline is: Because of (not despite) our age. Written by Stefania Medetti, it looks good and the February 1 post is an interview with Ashton Applewhite of This Chair Rocks fame. Check it out here.


“The details are not details. They make the design.”

—Charles Eames



1 Comment

  • Leslie says:

    Ok that red dress is perfect on you. If you hate the poly fibers…fine. Send it to me. I’ll CashApp you. The other piece…looks awesome. With combat boots and then cowboy mules?!

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