Living Askew

(horrible cell phone shot whilst balancing my daughter atop my shoulders on “our” walk home from school….)

This is one of my favourite doors in Richmond. The house is around the corner from me on historic Monument Avenue. The owners used to put up the most wonderful display of orange lights in the tree for Christmas. Over 50,000 lights. It was magical.

I thought that it was the elegance of the doorway, its lacquered black door, polished brass, coat of arms above the pediment — the symmetry of it all — that appealed to me. But on second thought, what makes it more perfect is that the doorway is set off to the left of the house (as you look at it.) To further counterbalance the larger mass of house on the right, the owners have used lots of plantings in iron urns that escort the visitor up the stairs.

This is also the perennial debate with clothing. Purposefully askew vrs. the even hand of symmetry. Think of the high/low mix, or the four-in-hand vrs. full windsor knot.

As with the door above, it all comes around to balance. There the plants in pots, heavy carving and deep black of the doorway added visual weight to counterbalance the mass of limestone (or cast concrete?) that is the rest of the façade.

So how does that translate to your clothing? In a myriad of ways. Loose top calls for tailored bottom. Textures play against one another very well. The silk pocket square against a rough tweed, for example. Suede shoes against a worsted fabric; polished leather against a twill or a tweed trouser. Or, in the case below, a cotton bandana and ribbon belt (to say nothing of the lime green socks) make a chalk stripe suit casual enough to wear as a “shell suit” without looking like I left my tie at home by accident. (Sorry for the hair. It was very warm day and I just came in from driving with the windows down and sunroof open.) Just a quick example of wearing “dress” clothing casually.


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