Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: From The IRA to Rachael Ray

Taken from

            Tuesday’s social commentary was a bit fashion oriented, so it seems only fitting that Friday’s fashion commentary would see a bit of politics. Shit this good just doesn’t happen every day. On Wednesday of this week there was quite an uncomfortable shaking of hands. THE Queen, Miss Elizabeth, the 86 year old purely decorative leader of the UK, met with former IRA Chief Martin McGuinness in Belfast. For those of you unaware, Northern Ireland, unlike Ireland, is still part of the UK. If you are young, you may not have good memory of at least one [terrorist] bombing almost every year between 1969 and 2001 (some years having several) by members of the IRA and Provisional IRA in attempts to break Northern Ireland away from the UK. Martin McGuinness is credited with being in control when one of the Queen’s cousins was killed, just to give an idea of the tension. On to the superficial.
            Did you SEE what the Queen decided to wear to this event?????? You can’t miss it, it’s right up at the top of my blog (I took it from The Globe And Mail and couldn’t find any copyright info, so sorry if I’ve stepped on toes!). Here’s a link to another Associated Press photo that I can not afford to buy the rights to post. I can just hear her thoughts as she chose her outfit. “Well, I realize that for hundreds of years my ancestors have been terrorizing the Irish, treating them as peasants and forcing them to migrate to other nations. As an act of good faith for this meeting with Mr. McGuinness, I think it would be best if I dressed like a leprechaun.” Beyond the fact that this suit is hideous, it’s tasteless. Wouldn’t you agree? If it were a darker forest green, I probably would have thought nothing of it. But this is just really bad St Patrick’s Day decoration green. There is no way I am the only one who has made this connection. She’s a red hair dye job away from appearing on a box of Lucky Charms.
            Where do we go from here? I can’t say that I’m entirely sure. Leprechaun fashion isn’t really a trend that I’m worried about taking off. I would, however, like to address something I saw on Rachael Ray while at the gym the other morning. (I’ve moved away from the Dr. Oz side of the row of elliptical machines. I just needed a break). I don’t watch a lot of Rachael Ray; I thought she was mostly a chef, and her cooking doesn’t appeal to me so much. It seems that she likes to have a little fashion blurb on her talk show, and this particular one appeared to be about creating multiple outfits out of one piece for cheap. The guest stylist she had on the show suggested taking a men’s button down shirt (cheaper than a lady’s! the injustice!) and belting it over some pants and then, for evening, taking the pants off and exchanging the belt for a ribbon.
            I don’t want to start sounding like the No Pants Nazi, but that look just isn’t going to work. They showed the girl in her oversized button down shirt with ribbon from waist up and said “Oh, isn’t that cute?” Well, sure, from that angle maybe. Take that camera down a notch and no, it’s absolutely not. Everyone loves a shirtdress. They are sweet and comfortable. Tying a ribbon around a men’s dress shirt does not a shirtdress make. The thing about men’s dress shirts is that they are meant to be tucked in. They are cut longer in the front and back and shorter on the sides – shaped like a saddle. A real shirtdress is going to have an even seam the whole way around the skirt. Do you want to look like you walked out of your boyfriend’s bedroom onto the street high on Ambien? Or do you want to look like you got dressed before you left the house?
            I am all for discount styling, and I love using ribbons as belts, especially since tailoring is not usually at a high point in lower priced clothing. I’m going to use one of my favorite sales techniques right now. Since I’ve just nixed the idea of making a dress out of a cheap men’s dress shirt, I am going to suggest some better inexpensive options that can transform with a ribbon.
This is not a day to night option, but it is a wear it two ways piece. I love long stretchy fold over skirts because you can also wear them as strapless dresses. Of course, this is a trick that only works if you are fairly evenly proportioned. This skirt at Target is $24.99. Not bad. You can absolutely tie a belt or a ribbon at the waist to cinch this in and give it a bit more streamlining. Leave it hanging freely for a more casual cut or a beach cover up. Dress it up with glittery accessories and a delicate shoe, or keep it casual with colorful chunky jewelry and a wedge.
            Next! It’s getting pretty hot outside these days. It’s much too hot for sweaters. The air conditioning in restaurants can bring on quite a chill. What to do????? I have long been a fan of alternative forms of jackets. People close to me would question that statement, as I have often been told there is no understanding as to why a person would need to own so many coats. Regardless, to assist with the air conditioning chill I suggest a light chambray tunic such as this one from the Gap. It is $49.95, which is not a bad price for 100% cotton, especially since I’m going to tell you how to turn it into a sweet little belted dust jacket.
Now the obvious thing to do would be to just put the shirt on over your sleeveless shirt and tie the ribbon around at the waist, preferably with the bow off to the side. I like the asymmetrical look. What I will suggest is more cardigan like and will require two safety pins. Find where the shirt hits your natural waist and follow that point to the side seams. Put a safety pin in length-wise on each seam. Then take your ribbon across the back of the shirt, thread it through each safety pin as if you were going to bring it around the front and then instead fold both ends and bring them to the back. Now you tie the ends in a bow. This way you end up with a lovely little jacket that is tied open, so it’s not too hot, and drawing attention to the thinnest part of your midline. You can fiddle with where you place the safety pins. They may work better for some closer to the front or closer to the back.
I have scoured the Internet looking for inexpensive tunics and shirts that could be repurposed into shirtdresses, but to no avail. If you are handy with a needle and thread or a sewing machine, you could fix the saddle shaped seaming issue of the menswear shirt to a straight across hem. Otherwise, if that is what you are really after, I suggest buckling down and getting a shirtdress that was designed to be a shirtdress. Sometimes it is better to just invest in looking nice. You can’t wait around hoping that Queen Elizabeth will appear at the bottom of your cereal box to grant you a wish for the perfect cheap wardrobe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Evolution of the Ho-niform?

"Dear Miss, have you confused me with your gynecologist?
I realize it must be confusing as this dirty street corner
looks a lot like a doctor's office."
I remember quite clearly that there seemed to be a uniform for the bar-bound sluts and poser sluts when I was in my college years. It is from this point on to be known as the “ho-niform.” They all wore the same thing – maybe because they all lived together in their enormous sorority houses. (Everyone should go to a Big Ten school. They are AWESOME. I’m not kidding). They even dressed alike when they went out to brunch hung over: tight work out pants and a North Face fleece. If you were going to frat parties or to the bars you were careful not to wear too much clothing, both for practical inner core temperature maintenance purposes and also so that you didn’t stick out as THAT girl in wool body armor. My idea of “hooching it up” was to wear a strapless top and a skirt or a low cut shirt and skirt, but always maintaining a level of class. The ho-niform at that time was usually tight black pants and a really skimpy top. One really popular style they had in a local boutique was something reminiscent of that napkin they clip over you at the dentist so you don’t get spit on your shirt. It was basically that, but made out of something silky and printed with a tie at the neck.
            I thought these girls looked SUPER trashy, but they felt good about themselves and would still be able to get a PG-13 rating by the Motion Picture Association so my opinions were really inconsequential. As long as you are not hurting me, I will not judge you. I will, at the very least, try to be quiet about it.
            On Saturday, my dear friend Elizabeth and I went out for a ladies’ night. We dressed up and treated ourselves to dinner, dessert, and drinks. Apparently, we have already transitioned to elderly people dining and drinking hours because we were almost alone in the lounge at the W Hotel for our first drink. Thankfully, some entertainment did start to arrive halfway through our stay. We eyed some questionable outfits, but most of the patrons were tastefully covered. I think age may have been a factor.
We don’t get out very much. The whole having-to-drive-a-half-hour-into-the-city thing sort of makes it difficult to go out on the weekends. (Additionally, we both really enjoy the comfort of a couch). The fact that we were out past 10 pm was a bit remarkable. I am so glad we made it that late, otherwise we would have missed out on an amazing treat. Little did I know just how much the ho-niform had evolved since I had left Indiana only six years prior.
Elizabeth and I turned the corner to walk towards the car and literally started simultaneously losing our shit in horror and astonishment – tapping each other furiously, quietly mumbling “pink dress, pink dress, pink dress, pink dress,” quickly quivering heads back and forth….it was like we had been instantly infected with a central nervous system disorder. ALLLLLL because of the new ho-niform. The gaggle of twenty something girls in front of us may have called what they were wearing dresses. I call what they were wearing crotchless leotards. Accessorized with hooker heels from Bakers.
What is going on in the world? Women have been showing people their boobs for years. Sometimes for plastic beads. Sometimes just so they can brag about being on Girls Gone Wild. Big Deal. But the bottom half? This is unacceptable. There is a modicum of class that seems to have been lost on this generation. I can’t put my finger on how it got this way. Maybe in trying to be accepting of everyone, we are not being judgmental enough in the right arenas. I saw plenty of trashy rock stars growing up and yet still knew that wasn’t how I was supposed to fix myself to go out. And while I think the word “harlot” sounds nice, I do know I don’t want to dress like one. Part of me wanted to knock their wristlets out of their hands just so they would have to bend over and pick them up. The fabric they wore barely met the bottom of their tushy cheeks while standing straight. This aversion can’t be because I’m getting older. I admit, it is happening, but I’m only approaching 31!!!! And to think, I was walking around with very short shorts clandestinely hidden under my dangerously short black ruffled dress, just in case I fell down. These girls were definitely not wearing shorts under their lycra top half body wraps. So if this is what has happened to the ho-niform in just six years, where is it going next???
 I’m almost afraid to ask that question. Perhaps people are going to just stop wearing clothes. Somehow, I feel like that wouldn’t be provocative enough for the young folk. Perhaps they will wear knee socks a belt and a scarf. Maybe they will paint on underpants with finger paint. Or they could make garments out of cling wrap. I’m voting for clothing though. And respect. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could teach our young ones a little something about self-respect? And while we’re at it, how about some respect for the people around them? I can’t imagine someone’s poor Grandpa coming out of the opera and walking into one of those ladies in ho-niform. He’d have a heart attack. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Pimp Slippers - Like Men With Robes Wear

Prada Fall 2012 at Saks Fifth Avenue

            My little (6’0 tall) brother has been anticipating fashion trends for decades. Mixing prints at age 7 (albeit, different plaids that perhaps shouldn’t have been mixed), sporting designer denim before most people even knew there was such a thing (he was even responsible for my introduction), wearing fur trimmed puffer coats before ghetto fabulous was even a concept (he borrowed them from little Japanese girls at Juilliard)… He wore orange and grey color blocked Miu Miu dress shoes to my Bitcho aunt’s wedding a few years back. Yes, he’s straight, and it’s never contrived, just one of his many loveable quirks. Not much surprises me when it comes to my brother, but he really threw my mom and I for a loop this past Christmas.
            When asked what he wanted as a gift his response was “Pimp slippers. You know… like men with robes wear.” Of course, my mom and I both immediately started thinking, “What the hell are pimp slippers?” It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon when the Saks Fifth Avenue “Prada 2012 Fall Collection” email arrived in my inbox that I think I figured out, “Perhaps this is more along the lines of what he meant than the memory foam ones I picked out (that ended up being too small anyway).” Good thing I got him a robe.
            Apparently, pimp slippers are a big pre-fall trend. Who knew? I must admit, I have not been doing my fashion blogger homework lately. The weather’s been too nice to spend all my time at the computer. It’s gardening season, folks! I have petunias to deadhead. And ever since the Border’s Lending Library closed, I’m not reading quite as many fashion magazines. (Barnes and Noble just does not have the same feel!) I’m certainly not going to pay for them, given how pithy the writing is, and how often the clothes they choose to showcase are horribly ugly. In short, this email surprised me. Not only were the above examples pretty ugly (and I love Prada!), I can’t figure out how they have anything to do with the badass brightly colored wax dipped superheels that Prada exhibited in their FW2012 runway show.
            They aren’t all so bad though! There’s this lovely black sequin adorned pair that I think would be quite smart under a black pants suit (my musician/CPA brain is trying to figure out how I could legally acquire them and write them off as a business expense for tax purposes). The Miu Miu version, however, with the bow and the jewel studded heel is a bit more up my alley. They have patent at Saks and suede (in red) at Neimans.
            As with any trend, I’m sure there will be plenty of cheaper knock off versions to quell the masses. So, for those of you out there who are buying shoes just to look like everyone else and not because you actually really like them, the cheaper version is probably the way to go. I don’t anticipate this trend lasting very long. I will tell you right now, the thing that’s going to differentiate between the pimp slipper that “works” and the pimp slipper that doesn’t is the length of the tongue of the shoe. You’re going to want it to come up higher on the foot, otherwise it’s going to look like you stole your Grandma’s slippers from the nursing home (you ungrateful little turd!). For example, Prada slipper (left) YES. Manolo slipper (right) NO. Although, honestly, I don’t like either of them.

        Sadly, dear brother, I don’t see anything similar in men’s sizes. And even if I did, the ones I could afford to buy for you would be the ones I found at a yard sale and re-pimped the shit out of with supplies I purchased at Michael’s craft store. But if that’s what you really want, I will do that for you, because I love you THAT much.

Since it IS Fashion Friday, and I was a little hard on Prada this week, I would like to share with you this lovely short, featuring Ben Kingsley and Helen Bonham Carter, that Roman Polanski did for the beloved brand. Just click on the text below. Have a good weekend!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your Job Can't Be THAT Bad.....

I tell people I am unemployed. This is not because I am not working, but because it is much simpler to tell people the former, rather than explain to them that I actually have four or five jobs which provide little to no income. Some people don’t even understand that being a musician actually CAN pay a living wage. Almost every musician I know has had the “Oh you play an instrument? That’s so nice! What do you do for work?” conversation at least once. It’s a wonder there aren’t more violent musician vs. uneducated non-musician interactions.
            Over the years I have been quite lucky with the “day jobs” I have found myself in. I’ve worked mostly in retail – I could probably sell you your own toe if I wanted to. Sadly, the amazing job track record did come to an end with something worse than I anticipated. After a coworker who appeared to have a really bad case of oral herpes (think Ronald McDonald) gave me a staph infection and my neo-Nazi supervisor (Ronald McDonald's boyfriend) informed me that, “It’s scientifically proven that white people are smarter than black people,” I started to believe that Hell was an actual mappable place with coordinates set in the Natick Mall. You know you’ve hit a low point when you go home and Google “What to do when your boss is a racist.”  For the record, Google was incredibly unhelpful. I was hoping for directions on how to mow him down into roadkill while hidden in some sort of Star Trek-style cloaking device to avoid arrest, and all I got was that I should quit.
            Eventually that’s what I did. Now while I work very hard at being “unemployed” while the rest of you go to your maybe crappy jobs, or maybe great jobs with occasional crappy moments, I am here to offer you some twisted optimism. Things can ALWAYS be worse. I have been aware of this for a long while, but was reminded last week when I realized how much it must suck for the poor, poor, photo editor who was tasked with the job of Photoshopping Madonna’s crotch. I can think of a few other jobs that people probably didn’t sign on for that would be pretty awful. So, as you find yourself having rough moments this week, you can be quite happy that you do not have to do any of the following:

Be the kid who joined the circus with dreams of grandeur and got stuck being the person who cleaned up the elephant poop.

Work as a tattoo artist who was requested to tattoo Lawrence Welk on any part of an 85 year old (male or female) that should forever remain covered with clothes. Use your imagination.

Be a Mennonite nurse and be charged with caring for Hugh Heffner (I don’t know that it’s happened yet, but it could).

Detail cars… for the Gotti family.

Edit “fan fiction” erotica books about Harry Potter characters (Did you know random people were writing this kind of swill? It’s true. I wish it weren’t).

Babysit Justin Bieber. Or really do any job relating to Justin Bieber.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Delusions of Youth

Woman, you're 50. Cover your
crotch. No one wants to see it,
especially your teenage daughter.

            It’s almost 9 o’clock and it’s still light outside (yes, I often write my blog posts the night before). Extra light is one of the many blessings of summer …. UNLESS you are in the presence of old women dressed in prostitute worthy clothing. Then many of us find ourselves wishing we were in the Arctic Circle in December. To quote the t shirt of the easily 400 pound woman I saw outside PetSmart today, "It's better in the dark." I don’t know what it is about summer that brings out the worst in age inappropriate dressing. Since the fashion houses are now showing off their fall lines and the thought of even talking about wool sweaters makes me sweat bullets, it seemed like an appropriate time to address this fashion-related disease.
            I call it a disease because I truly believe that age inappropriate dressing stems from a combination of a narcissistic personality disorder and EXTREME state of delusion. It can be visible as early as mid-twenties, but this disease really runs rampant during the forties and upward. An older friend of mine was talking about a dating event she was attending, and we discussed the suggested “cocktail” attire. We jokingly anticipated that many women would be dressed with their saggy cleavage out and their lumps happily hugged by inorganic textiles. We also anticipated that these women would attract the infected males, dressed with half buttoned shirts and flashy necklaces. I’m not sure if the delusion is that saggy boobs and wrinkly cleavage are hot, or if it’s that the offenders don’t believe that their boobs are saggy and wrinkly, despite the fact their skin has more ridges than the San Andreas fault line. Frankly, I don’t care.
            I think if I could invent some sort of cleavage flat iron, I’d be a millionaire. If these women (and men… there are also saggy boobed men showing off their figures… have you seen David Hasselhoff in the Cumberland Farms iced coffee commercial?) were only hurting themselves, this would be a non-issue. They are scarring and blinding millions of people. It’s not just the Chernobyl level toxic cleavage. What’s up with the body-hugging cuts? If you’re past your childbearing years and are carrying a little extra junk in your front trunk, do you really want to wear a t-shirt or other shirt that makes you look pregnant?
            I really want to help the afflicted older people with their wardrobe choices, so I thought the best way would be a question answer quiz. Here we go.

1.     Can you comfortably get a hand in-between your shirt fabric and your skin?
A.     If yes, continue.
B.     If no, it’s too small. Take it off and put it in the Goodwill box.
2.     Does your shirt comfortably make it down past your bellybutton and the top of your pants?
A.     If yes, continue.
B.     If no, what are you, five? It is not acceptable to show your midriff at any age! The only time it’s okay is if you’re a child playing quite actively on a jungle gym or if you are at the beach in a bikini.
3.     It’s okay to show a little cleavage, but not ALL of it. If you are wearing a low cut shirt and you dropped some food out of your mouth, would it actually get lost down under?
A.     If no, good job! You’re probably tastefully covered.
B.     If yes, you’re probably dressed like a porn star. Put on a camisole.
4.     When you put your jeans on, are they shaped like a water tower, cylinder down the legs, wide wide wide bubble at the top?
A.     If no, continue, but you’re not off the hook yet.
B.     If yes, get those things off. Your pants should be the width of the widest part they cover. If you have a fat tire tummy, you should probably be wearing a wide leg.
5.     What color are your pants? Could they match anything in the Skittles rainbow?
A.     If yes, and you are under 40, we are okay.
B.     If yes, and you are over 40, most people are going to think that you’re trying really hard to look cool and be saddened. Think Betsey Johnson. Have you seen her lately?
6.     If you are wearing a skirt, hold your arms straight down. The bottom of your skirt had better be at least as low on your leg as the edge of your fingers.
A.     If it is not, it is too short. No exceptions. Remember, your front is flat (relatively). Your back is not. Short skirts will ride up in the back, especially if they’re not cut well. Guess what happens when you bend over! (This is actually applicable at any age.)
B.     If it is, you’ve hit the minimum. Be careful!
7.     Let’s go back to the pants. When you bend over, do you feel a breeze?
A.     No? Great!
B.     Yes? You’re dressing like your refrigerator repairman. Pretty.

In general, if you are over the age of thirty and don't have serious styling skills, you should not be shopping at Delia’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostale, The Disney Store, Arden B, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Wet Seal, Rave, or Forever 21. I hope this helps. Did I leave anything out? If you’re one of the people suffering from age inaproppriate dressing disorder, and you read this, and you think “She’s just jealous! I look hot!” then you are much worse off than I can assist, and you’re really going to need to get professional help. If you're lucky, your loved ones have already contacted What Not To Wear or someone else who will stage an intervention. I’m pretty sure everything here can be applied to men as well. If you think I have missed anything, let’s hear it!