tell it to me tuesday – if i were a fashion designer

Ok, I have to interrupt this regularly scheduled post to tell you I just had an idea tonight that was most truly inspired. Are you ready? Picture this: moist, cakey, rich chocolate brownies…filled with raspberries and raspberry liqueur. Are you not intrigued? Because I mean, really. Is there anything better on this planet than chocolate and raspberries? I think not. My hubby ate two. And I’ve never seen him eat two brownies in one sitting (actually, come of think of it, I think he ate three…). Alas, I did not document the process. Tell me you are intrigued though. Because if you are, I just might have to make them again and share the recipe, complete with photos.

All right back to Tell It To Me Tuesday.

If I were a fashion designer, I would totally bring back flat wedge penny loafers.

What are they you ask? Well, they look like normal penny loafers, along the lines of these:
Except these aren't comfy. These are the devil.But they have wedges for added height.

But not wedges like these:
Found on 6pm.comFlat ones. Basically two and a half inch platforms – without the sloping high heel.

I had a pair of such shoes. I bought them when I was a teenager – and for about $20 at Payless! And they lasted for years! They were perfect for the office because they dressed up well with slacks and give me the added height. And let’s face it. At 5-naught, I can use all the help I can get. But they were also comfy. I could walk around in them all day without a care in the world. And wear them again the next day. To me, they were the ultimate shoe: cute, classy and comfy all in one. No more compromises between cute and comfort. No more blisters so my slacks don’t drag. No more worry about hemming everything I own because even the “petites” are too long for me. It was bliss.

And then, one day, they fell apart on me. Because, duh, they were from Payless after all and I had put them through quite the long hard slog. I didn’t think much of it at the time, figuring I would just find a similar pair.

WRONG.

I have looked. For years. Praying each season someone somewhere would sell them. Wedges are back, with a vengeance. But every.stinking.one.of.them. is high-heeled. And my feet are delicate. I get blisters in sneakers if I walk around for more than 4 hours in them.

It’s tragic, really.

But if I ever meet a cobbler one of these days, I’ll make him cobble me some 2-inch platform, flat wedge penny loafers.

If you were a fashion designer, what would you bring into style?

Next week’s challenge: Your favorite quote(s) for inspiration

you capture – shapes

For this challenge, I had the idea to go and take lovely, flattering pictures of women of all shapes and sizes to show beauty comes from within, not from squeezing into size 00 jeans and filling out a 32D bra. It was to be a beautiful f— you to corporations pushing on us an industry standard “ideal” that does not reflect reality and only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we buy more products. It was to show that all bodies can be beautiful: round cut or pear shaped, athletic, lanky or motherly, there is beauty in every shape, if only we look for it. And refuse to allow our minds to be boxed in by corporate dictates.

So I set out to take such pictures. I started with my beautiful friend, who is expecting. And, oh my, she’s just gorgeous and glowing!

youcapture_shapes6aThen I started approaching women of all kinds, targeting every shape and size I could find, with only a mind for possible compositions and workable lighting. But my job quickly became more and more difficult.
youcapture_shapes3The rounder a woman was, the less likely it was that I could get her to volunteer for a photo. If she was older than 25 or 30, then it got even more difficult. One woman, who had some facial scarring I hadn’t noticed until after I approached her, positively shooed me off. I began to suspect that the less comfortable a woman was with her body image for not fitting in the “norm”, the less willing she would be to let me photograph her.

youcapture_shapes4I began to fret, wondering if I should just scrap the idea altogether and just go with pictures of circular and rectangular shapes and whatnot in still life form. But then I got mad. No! I would not cave in. This is exactly my point!

All shapes and ages are beautiful, each in their own way. Beauty comes not in shapes but in how we carry ourselves and from loving our own bodies. A woman could have the “ideal body”, but if she hunches over and shrinks back, you’d never notice it. When a woman is truly comfortable in her own skin and carries herself like she means it, then others will find her attractive. And having the “ideal” body doesn’t ensure you love your body and are comfortable in it. That is just a lie we tell ourselves when we want to lose those extra pounds. Perhaps if it comes fairly naturally to you, it might. But if you have to fight for it tooth and nail, and every day you’re weighing this and scrutinizing that, you might easily hate your body, no matter how well you look doing it.
youcapture_shapes5

(You might think I’m being hippy-dippy, oh, everyone is beautiful…and I’m not. In all honesty, not everyone is a beautiful person. But I’ve thought a lot about this and I do truly believe beauty can be found in a variety of different shapes, of which the “ideal” is only one. Yes, health might be a factor…but I’ve seen healthy, round people and nonhealthy skinny people and every version in between. While there is a correlation between health and weight, they are not one and the same. Shape aside, the key issue is whether you’re eating and moving in ways that are healthy – mentally, physically, and emotionally – for your body and its peccadilloes. Because physical health is only one dimension. Mental and emotional health are equally important. But physical health is just happens to be the one that’s easier for others to see.)

youcapture_shapes1So I reiterate: all shapes are beautiful. Skinny, square, or short, luxuriously curvy or lanky and lean. All shapes are beautiful.
youcapture_shapes2
If only we can allow ourselves to believe it too.

Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

For more shapes (and perhaps less soapbox!), head over to Beth’s site, I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in this week’s You Capture challenge!

Photobucket

beauty behind the veil

behind_the_veilMy sister-in-law said it best last night, when she said, “It seems like the world is conspiring to make me a feminist.” Yes, yes, and yes. I always used to avoid race and gender studies, believing that they weren’t ultimately very helpful: that looking backward didn’t help us move forward, and that focusing on one race or gender to the exclusion of another didn’t do much to advance equality or mutual understanding. But I didn’t realize I believed a lie about what those studies were all about. And the more I see of the world, the more I can’t help but take umbrage at how ridiculously backward so much of it is. Once you start seeing bits of it, you start opening your eyes to entire swaths of it.

For example, Oprah just conducted a “Marriage Around the World” show highlighting cultural differences between married women in various countries. But as this article illustrates, she appeared to have a preconceived notion that Western women are inherently more liberated than others, presuming the hijab (or head scarf) equates with repression. Contrast that with the Rick Steves’ interview with Justine Shapiro, filmmaker and producer of A Summer in Tehran, where she discusses the time she spent with a variety of Iranian families. She observes that in Persian culture contains many veils (both literal and figurative). They make a sharp delineation between the public and private spheres of their lives, with the public sphere characterized by formality, politeness, and guardedness while the private sphere is far more familiar and comfortable. In the privacy of their own homes, they wear tank tops and Persian women exude sensuality. There is freedom and sensuality within the home, but the minute they step out the door, on goes the hijab, their choice of clothing and sensuous figures tucked discreetly beneath.

What these women see when they look at Western women are nearly nude figures objectified like toys draped over cars. They look and see a world where women are not treated with respect, and are not honored (which, frankly, with today’s hookup culture, you kinda gotta see they have a point). We say we are free, but we measure our freedom in how much of our flesh we can show off to tantalize men (and maybe even incite the envy of our fellow women). No one can tell us what clothes we can wear, but it’s not as if our society doesn’t have rules we abide by, even when it is not healthy – or even when it hurts. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a bikini wax. Or if your feet have hurt from stilettos. Or if you’ve ever gone hungry to lose a pound or two, had your eyebrows plucked, undergone cosmetic surgery or dermatological procedures, or gotten a tattoo or piercing in the name of beauty. This is not news. We all know this. And yet we still do it to ourselves and call ourselves free. With a “no pain, no gain” kind of chagrin, we accept that sometimes we have to suffer to be beautiful.

Compared to all that, donning a simple piece of cloth doesn’t sound like such a hardship. This is not to say there aren’t real inequalities in women’s rights with assets after divorce, or in persecuting rapists, or in receiving equal pay for equal work (ahem). The point is: let’s not be so quick to point fingers because you never know what the world looks like on the other side of the veil.

lust

Can we talk about how I am in love with this skirt?
lady_skirt
…and this jacket?
anka_jacket
…or this blouse?
blouse
Oh, Anthropologie, you slay me. You make me spend way too much time ogling your gorgeous clothes and stunning photos.

Never mind that these three pieces together cost about as much as a full month’s rent of a nice, upscale home in Thailand.

Wardrobe Fail

I went to the market today, and as I was paying for my groceries, the guy bagging the groceries complimented me on my shirt. He went on in quite some detail about the little images that were printed on the shirt and how he really liked all of them. I smiled and said “thank you”, paid for my things and went on my way.

Then I got home and happened to walk past the mirror. That’s when I realized the shirt I was wearing today is a tiny bit see-through and my bra was…shall we say, slightly off-center. And thus bagger-boy had most likely seen more than just shirt. I’m officially never wearing this shirt in public again. Wardrobe fail.

Where, Oh Where Have the Accoutrements Gone?


Hats need to come back in style. Yes, I know some people wear hats (especially baseball hats) all the time. But I think it’s mostly guys who do so and a few brave girls looking cute with a special outfit. But we as a collective don’t wear hats all the time, everywhere, like we used to in the old days. Like the 1920s when everyone was bedecked with an embellishment for their noggin.

Hats need to be a staple accessory like socks. Or maybe watches. They’re so expressive; I think the kind of hat someone wears and how they wear it can say a lot about a person.

I have a couple of hats I love, and I would wear them every day, except I feel awkward doing so. As if people think I’m trying too hard to be cute, when really I’m not…I just like my hats. So I end up never wearing my hats because most of the time it doesn’t feel appropriate.

Maybe the biggest area where the social acceptability of hats needs to change is at work, in the corporate office. People used to wear hats to work every day. Now if you come in with a hat, people would look at you funny. Or maybe even suspect you’re unprofessional. I hate when people choose stupid reasons to think others are unprofessional.

But I digress. I think if it was acceptable to wear hats to work, people would wear hats more often.

Maybe I should be taking advantage of the fact I no longer work in a corporate office. Maybe I should just dare to wear my hats. Maybe I can boldly go where no hat has gone before. Maybe I can single-handedly change the hat world, one hat at a time.

Ha ha, or maybe I can just get over myself and wear the stinkin’ hat.

Transitioning to Tweens


Yesterday, I attended a younger sibling-in-law’s sixth grade graduation. The principal gave the typical speech about “the challenges ahead”, advising them to always think critically, be themselves, and not be pressured by their peers. As an educator and socially responsible person, I’m nodding “yes, yes, of course, sound advice that is”, but as someone who has suffered through and survived junior high, I found myself thinking I could have used an entirely different set of advice before embarking on that adventure/tragedy that is junior high. Oh, the social awkwardness. So this is the non-parent/principal-approved list of advice I wish I had gotten when I was 13. To the adults out there: what advice would you like to have gotten before going to junior high? Feel free to add your own to the list!

The (Alternative) Guide to Junior High School

1. Don’t pop your zits – As satisfying as it is, you never know when you’ll pick the wrong one and just get a bloody mess and scars for your efforts.

2. Yes, it’s true. The social hierarchy does depend almost entirely on the clothes you wear. The sad truth is it is so easy to move up the hierarchy but the kids at the top almost never deserve it and yet the kids at the bottom don’t realize how such tiny, inconsequential, superficial things determine their fate. It’s not a matter of “following the crowd” like your parents warn about; it’s a matter of social survival.

3. That said, it’s not worth caring much about the social hierarchy in the long run. Most of the popular kids end up barefoot and pregnant before adulthood, and the nerds and geeks come into their own and end up being the really cool people you want to know right around college.

4. Avoid being in photographs at all costs. You’ll only want to burn them later because a) hormones and braces are evil, and b) 7th & 8th graders are just not the best judges when it comes to make-up.

5. These are the years you discover sarcasm, rolled eyes, ineffable boredom, the joy of cussing and general negativity. Embrace it with your peers, but realize every one else finds it supremely annoying.

6. To the A students: If the choice is between doing homework and hanging out with your best friends, more often than not, opt for friends. You only need to test well to get into advanced classes in high school (and even without that, you can petition)…other than that, NOBODY looks at your grades from junior high. Fun times and hilarious memories are far more worthwhile.

7. Guys, as much as it might seem cool to act like a badass, you’re not fooling anyone. Except maybe yourself and other wannabes.

8. Girls, ALWAYS have an extra tampon/pad, even if it’s not that time of the month. You never know when emergency or disaster will strike you or a loved one.

9. Eighth grade dances are not like the proms you see on TV. Imagine all the girls on one side and all the boys on the other side, insert awkwardness and music compiled by people three sheets shy of cool, and you have the first half of an eighth grade dance. In the second half, when people start actually dancing, awkwardness increases exponentially as everyone realizes they have no clue how to dance. Successful slow dancing requires being able to rotate slowly in a circle, while weaving from side to side, without stepping on anyone’s feet or dress. This can be hazardous when people’s feet and arms are out of proportion from the rest of their bodies thanks to growth spurts and when boys are a head shorter than girls but girls must still find a way to rest their heads on the guy’s shoulder.

10. Romantic relationships will probably be the most dramatic, soap operatic, and short-lived of your entire life. Two survivor rules: 1) Dating your best friends’ (ex)boy/girlfriend is so not cool. No, it’s not like they’re not going to get married, but it is a code-of-honor issue among friends; 2) Don’t freak out when your friend gets a bf/gf and spends less time with you. They’ll be back eventually when they discover how much of a dweeb their bf/gf was.

And above all:
Nothing that happens in junior high is the end of the world (though it all seems like it), and so remember: This too shall pass.

How You Know Clothes Have Been to the Playa

And by the playa, I don’t mean the beach. I mean Burning Man, the place where all collective intentionality coalesces generating a mind-bending, spirit-stretching, communo-phenomatic experience.

Yesterday I posted about the clothing swap. Well, at said clothing swap I picked up a gorgeous red-pink-magenta-maroon-toned, hand-knit scarf. I’ve seen similar ones at Urban Outfitters, but never could quite convince myself to pony up the cash for an accessory. So when I saw the scarf, I did not hesitate to grab it and stuff it in my pile of takens before anyone else did.

However, when I got home and pulled out the scarf, an overwhelming, overpowering odor hit me upside the snout. It wasn’t musty like attic, or noxious like BO. It wasn’t even a bad smell, really, just some indefinable brand of pungent. And there’s only one thing on earth that could create a smell like that–the Black Rock Desert. And clearly this scarf had not been washed since. Most likely its former owner came back exhausted, euphoric and caked in playa, shoved the scarf into some unknown recesses not wanting to deal with de-playafying it and forgot about it until the swap. Tossing it in the swap pile is easier than coping with such an object.

This object, this scarf, was the succubus of clothing. The smell was so pungent it infiltrated all the clothes around it, and infused them all with its evil. I had to hand wash it separately to prevent further spread of the nefarious fumes.

And this is how you really know an object has been to the playa: it takes four separate hand-washings to get out the grey alkali mud that is so fine it is invisible on the object, but nevertheless fills the suds you rinse out of it. It takes four washings to turn the soap suds from grey to white. Then it takes a fifth washing to get the object to almost smell as if it had been washed. And your hands feel chalky even though they’re clean. It almost makes you want to douse the thing in vinegar, set it on fire and have done with it.

Cleaning up after the Burn is a pain in the ass. I bitch, but anyone who has been to Burning Man knows, I bitch with love. (And would happily subject myself to it all over again.)

Fishbon Clothing Swap at the Pescadrome

Last week I went to a clothing swap–and it was pretty much awesome. A bunch of women got together and brought old clothes that they never wear anymore, laid them all out, socialized as they eyed the clothing and waited for everything to finish getting organized, and then had a free-for-all. Scarves, skirts, and estrogen flew everywhere as women scavenged for cute clothes that fit. Whatever you wanted and could get your hands on, was yours. All free! It’s the best idea ever. Not only do you get rid of the old clothes sucking up space, but you get new (to you, at least) clothes in return. No minimums, no quotas. Just what you want to give and what you want to take. In today’s economy, events like this one are a godsend. You get new clothes, and might try a style that perhaps you wouldn’t normally wear because you don’t have to worry about whether or not its worth the price. Paired with appetizers and cocktails, it’s a romping good time.

If events like this happened seasonally–or perhaps even more regularly–it would be a great new way to update a wardrobe. And if you pick up something you eventually decide you don’t like or never will wear, you can just swap it out at the next one. And any clothes that aren’t picked up at the swap are donated to Goodwill. Fabulous, huh?

Fashion Forward?

My research involves spending a lot of time on high school campuses, which beyond making me relive tedious high school classes, observe dramas worthy of soap operas, and cringe at the gangly awkwardness, gives me a good synopsis of teenage haute couture. I got to see the hipster movement filter through the popularity ranks. I saw the proliferation of 90′s plaid cut in 80′s mod and I witnessed the mass resurgence of Uggs paired with Daisy Dukes. I know I’m getting old when I look at these kids immersed in the movement of purported irony and think out loud, “You kids don’t know what you’re talking about. In my day…” With those three words “in my day” I’m transported from young and hip to old and geezerly.

Still I don’t say this too often. My initial dismay has worn down and I’m starting to like the look of the flat-footed, knee-high boots over skinny jeans, and I can appreciate the concept of the movement even if fashion flew ahead of thought on this one.

But I met my match today. I saw someone who made me channel my inner New Yorker and my senses were appalled. I saw a girl with barbell piercings in the middle of her cheeks. Now I have nothing against piercings at all. And I have nothing against multiple piercings. Depending on the piercing and the person, I think they can be quite flattering. But this little chicklet had an eyebrow piercing, two nose piercings, piercings on her top lip, piercings on her bottom lip, and one piercing in the center of each cheek. And those are just the ones on her face. Granted, a piercing in the middle of your cheek is no more or less arbitrary than one on your eyebrow or tongue or ear. But I’m sorry; teenagers have acne. And when your piercings are warring with your zits for space on your face, you’ve done something wrong.

What happened? Did she give up on a smooth complexion entirely and instead decide to rival the moon’s surface? Did she think that a surplus of bright shiny metal balls would draw attention away from the bright shiny red ones? What would possess a person to do that to themselves? Does she really look in the mirror and think, “Hey, I look good”?

The logic in this fashion statement is beyond me. Although, having gotten my rant out, I suppose something might be said for being able to squirt your soda out of multiple orifices with one good belly laugh.

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