Arty Slick - What's it mean?
Pirate: To me, Arty slick is not well named. Maybe you got the right picture in your head, but when I heard "slick," my head went straight to 1930's Gangster Chic . . . which has nothing to do with this look. Arty Slick is all about not blending in: it's minimalist, it's stylish, it's avant-garde, and it's weird. Everything about this look is about making the wearer stand out from the pack . . . to a point, since the main colors in the Arty Slick palette are black and white. Other "industrial" colors are allowed, but black and white are the mode of the day.
Moi: I had the opposite response. Say Arty Slick to me and my mind races back to my art school daze, when everyone seemed so angular and minimal, as if the story of their lives were being sound tracked by Joy Division. Black draped sheath dresses, skinny jeans worn with wafer thin cotton tees, and tangled, jutting pieces of metal "jewelry" were the order of the day. However, even though I know this look well in my brain, re-creating it in real life proved more difficult.
Arty Slick Icons
Pirate: Arty Slick icons are the fringe-ey weirdos of the celebrity world who are highly respected and celebrated for their fringe-ey weirdness. Most notable icons include Tilda Swinton,
and Donna Karan.
Yep, Donna Karan, whose extremely functional clothing line is worn by pretty much anyone, is an Arty Slick icon.
Moi: Double yep. The only thing I want to add here is that if I had a bajillion dollars, I'd own every piece of clothing that came out of Donna Karan's Fall 2009 collection. Her draping is out of this world.
Pirate: Pieces defining the Arty Slick look are often asymmetrical, or drapey, or edgy, or graphic, or just plain unusual. Jewelery is sculptural and/or over-sized. One of my favorite arty slick essential pieces is an off-kilter kilt—when I realized I had three of these in my closet, it occurred to me that this look was already in my wardrobe DNA.
Moi: I own at least a half dozen jersey draped tops, a couple asymmetrical draped tees, draped cardigans, and a few pieces of modernist style jewelry. But my absolute favorite Arty Slick-ish piece is a pair of black silk Karen Millen parachute pants that I was slavering for at the beginning of summer and which I managed to snag at a deep, deep discount.
Putting it together
In the Lucky Guide, Isabella Rosellini says that she, "look(s) at clothes as if they are pieces in the Guggenheim." I took this to heart when I put together my Arty Slick looks. At least one piece in each look has a story: purchased in Europe in some out of the way boutique, or hidden in my closet because it just has magic properties. Every one of my Arty Slick looks incorporated favorite pieces in my closet put together in a way I hadn't quite thought of until now—and they just. . . clicked. Somehow, weird, unusual pieces work exactly right with other weird, unusual pieces. It helps when all your weird pieces are in shades of black, white, and grey.
A black pencil skirt is a very wearable thing, but a furry black pencil skirt is a little bit of a challenge. Especially if the skirt has a kangaroo pouch.
J. Crew Tuxedo shirt, White House/Black Market laser-cut platforms, Alexander McQueen b&w scarf, Ted Baker merino fur pencil skirt.
Did I mention it's made of fur?
These trousers I refuse to part with because they're magic, I tell you, magic! They are the oddest find ever—not quite blue, not quite black, with a tuxedo stripe detail up the leg, and they're made of a fantastically draping synthetic. They're difficult to wear because they're wide legged and 3/4 length. They don't really belong to any one season, but they fit like a dream and I refuse to part with them. They came out just for this look:
Karen Millen sleeveless white zipper top, BCBG drape-front grey cashmere cardi, Jessica Simpson chili red "Astor" platform peep toe slingbacks, Anthropologie chile red sculptural necklace, Ted Baker blue/black tuxedo 3/4 length wide-legged trousers
Here's my off kilter kilt, long hidden, now found. The shapeless poncho pairs beautifully with the skirt, which also has a big ol' pocket right in the front. I love this kilt so much that I bought two in different colors, because I felt so strongly about how it expressed my inner "weirdo." The boots with hook-and-eye detail all the way up the shaft are kind of Goth, which I consider a sub-set of the Arty Slick look.
Banana Republic white shirt, Anthropologie "Silver Cloud" poncho, Donald Pliner boots, grey wool asymmetrical Jigsaw kilt, Cartman the grey cat (whom Moi will eventually steal)
My favorite modern drama everyday look. It's easy to wear an over-the-knee boot with this look because I don't resemble a pole dancer in the slightest. I look serious, in an arty way.
BCBG grey leggings, BCBG black leather over-the-knee boots, Karen Millen black asymmetrical zipper cardi, Alexander McQueen b&w scarf
This is an outfit built for an evening of cheap wine and expensive art. Where everyone stands around in tilt-headed contemplation of $12,000 piles of fiber and paint and steel uttering things like, "Paradigm-busting interpretation of post-modern methodologies," when in their heads they're thinking, "Christ on a cracker; my eight-year old could have made this."
Fremont silk jacket, Zoa tie-dyed asymmetrical tank, Karen Millen silk parachute pants, DKNY faux lizard gladiator sandals, Sigrid Olsen medallion necklace.
This is what I'd wear to work if I worked in an office that was just slightly stick-in-the-muddish and I fancied myself . . . just a bit of a rebel? I dunno. I'm not much for head-to-toe black and white. I do like the way the shoes thumb their nose at all that monotone, though, while still retaining the Arty Slick industrial edge.BCBG shirt and skirt, Chanel studded cuff, BCBG "Ivanka" peep toe pumps.
This outfit comes closest to how I tend to dress in my every day life. Even though the over-the-knee boots are suede and therefore a tiny bit more Boho than Soho, I think they can impart an Arty Slick vibe, too.
Banana Republic wool cardigan wrap, BCBG navy jersey drape top, CAbi black stretch skinny jeans, Dolce Vita over-the-knee suede boots, unknown "tangle" necklace.
Final Thoughts on This Look
Pirate: I found I could do Arty Slick much easier than I thought I could. Here I was thinking that Arty Slick was a "them" look, and it turns out it's also "me!" I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a look that I can get away with every day if I want to.
Moi: While I initially fumbled and bumbled, in the end, I began to look at all the slick, drapey, "weird" things in my closet in a whole new way as well. I was even inspired to purchase an entirely new Arty Slick item, from Anthropologie, no less: Although, I do plan to wear this with color.
Up next: Pirate and Moi do American Classic