Yesterday, while clad top-to-toe in all black, I thought "man, I just feel more put-together and professional when I'm all in black. It's comfortable and sharp." (Note: for something like eight years, I wore pretty much exclusively black clothing. Jeans were exempt from the all-black-all-the-time rule, but my closet was stocked exclusively with Morticia-appropriate hues. I wore a brown sweater once in 2006, and people couldn't stop commenting on that occurrence.)
And then I woke up and put on a bunch of color this morning. Hm.
Dress, Zachary's Smile; satin-trim cardigan, Old Navy; anonymous and ancient tights, suede boots, Chinese Laundry.(I had a burgundy purse that I toted around earlier today, but I forgot to grab it for the photo.)
These are the actual school colors of my high school, btw. Blue and gold: two hues I chose never to wear together after the age of sixteen, lest something think that I had (horrors!) school spirit.
I don't want to start asking for a lot of things, but...
...oh, let's just come out with it. I like stuff. Clothes, books, shoes: I can sort of empathize with Imelda Marcos on the compulsive acquisition. And since it's less than two weeks til Christmas (and just over a month until my birthday, yet another Highly Important Gift-Giving Occasion!), I'm going to make like a small child with the Sears Toy Catalog. Except instead of toys, it's grown-up presents that cost way, way more than the Barbie Dream House ever did.
Screw the "What to Give to Other People" guides: here's what to give to me, Santa.
(subtitle: In Which I Pretend That My Actual Wishlist Does Not Have Only One Item On It, That Item Being "A JOB".)
I do have a reasonable side, really. Some wholly practical gifts:
- an ultra-badass new watch. My well-loved faux-lizard Marc Jacobs watch is falling apart. (Boooo, Marc Jacobs. A two year lifespan for a watch? Not cool.) I've got a dainty silver bracelet watch in my pile o' jewelry somewhere, but dainty is not often what I do. More like "super-spy-esque", this one.
- a terrarium. That way, the cat will find it much harder to nibble on the plants in the living room. - driving gloves. So what if I don't own a roadster? That doesn't change how awesome these gloves are.
I am a sucker for year-end recaps. Best of! Worst of! And now, à la Daddy Likey and The Sunday Best, my highly opinionated and likely under-informed list of Five Trends I Hated in Fashion/ Five Trends I Loved in Fashion for the 2000-2009 span. Oh, man. This means I'm mentally looking back to things I wore in college and cringing so, so hard.
Let's go with hate first, because that's more satisfying. Bonus: I will admit to the fact that I've owned/worn several of these. In no particular order:
5) Vera Bradley bags.
(image via Vera Bradley)
I do not understand these. They look like a grandmotherly sewing kit mated with an assortment of reject fabrics and had a hideous baby. I grit my teeth every single time I see one. I managed to avoid them until 2007, when I noticed a plague of them attacking the campus of my grad school. You made your way into college, ladies. This should indicate you have the common sense not to carry something so ugly. (Note: one of my best friends has a large weekender-sized Vera Bradley. I love her so dearly, but oh god, how I hate that bag.)
4) Ultra-low rise jeans. Oh my god, what was the world thinking? Was it something like "wow, I wish I had a way to display my bikini waxer's skill, my thong, AND my belly simultaneously?" Because that's the net effect here. Shudder.
(image via makeyourownjeans.com. I would retitle this makeyouownmistakeinpantchoice.com, but that's just me.)
Wow, 2001. I don't miss you at all.
3) Mullet dresses. Party in the front, hey-look-we-have-more-fabric! in the back. I am not a fan. (I confess: I wore an asymmetrical-hem dress to my own high school graduation in 2000. It wasn't a mullet dress, but the hem rose at a 30% angle from my right knee to my left thigh. It did not look good, and I hate all my graduation photos because of this massively stupid outfit choice.)
Again, I confess: I owned a pair of Crocs in 2007, BUT ONLY FOR TWO MONTHS, AND ONLY BECAUSE I WAS WORKING AS A PRODUCTION BAKER AND I NEEDED SOME NONSLIP KITCHEN FOOTWEAR AND MY RUNNING SHOES DIDN'T CUT IT. The all-caps-bold was necessary to explain how much owning those shoes hurt my soul. Immediately following my last shift at the bakery, I threw the shoes away and took a hot shower to cleanse myself of their memory.
1) Branded velour sweatsuits.
(image via Slice of Style, who pinpoints this as one of the ensembles sure to attract a douchebag. True, true.)
It's almost too easy a target, isn't it? But I blame much of what went wrong for Britney Spears on that velour sweatsuit she wore immediately following her wedding to K-Fed. When your wedding party is wearing clothes that say "Hot Mama" and "Pimp", you know life is going downhill.
Now, on to a place where things are pretty and make me smile, and like R.E.M., we're all shiny happy people holding hands.
5) The whole resurgence of classic cocktail dresses (and office dresses, and day dresses, and pretty much every costume on the show) and pencil skirts, courtesy Mad Men. I've never seen the show (which, I know, is blasphemous), but the unabashed dress-for-the-occasion bent gives me great joy.
(image via Fashion In Motion, who did a nice series of posts on the early-60's style in Mad Men)
Also, Christina Hendricks is out-of-this-world gorgeous. Excuse me a moment, I'm going to go troll eBay for yet another sheath dress.
4) The knee-high boot.
(so I already own three pairs of knee-high black boots, so what? I don't own this one yet!)
Is this a thing of recent occurrence? I don't recall women wearing the knee-high boots while I was in high school, save cowboy boots: it was more the Doc Martens Age at that point. I think my first pair of knee-high boots was purchased in 2001, and they've served me so well. Something about the tall boot just makes me feel bad-ass and yet put-together: a deadly combination.
3) Skinny jeans. I doubted the skinny jean for so long- I swore that they would certainly make my legs look lumpy and my knees knobby and generally I'd look awful, and then I converted. The transformation happened slowly: I started off with slouchy skinny jeans, and then was sucked into progressively slimmer cuts of jeans, and am now fully committed to Uniqlo skinny jeans. Will we look back on these and go "ugh, what were we thinking?" in ten years? Perhaps. But until that day, I will prance about in these, now that I realize how good this cut of jeans looks with a really good pair of heels.
2) Mid-rise and high-rise jeans. Hallelujah, the backlash to the obscene low rise has saved my brain. A higher rise means that my belly is tucked away safely behind a wall of denim, rather than spilling over the top of my pants like a life preserver. Enjoy your freedom to sit down without having your underwear exposed to the world!
1) Fascinators and all manner of be-feathered, be-netted headbands.
Yeah, they're the ubiquitous hair accessory for a certain species of girl who attends Renegade Craft Fairs, and who secretly toyed with the idea of opening a bubble tea stand/ cupcake shop/ vegan brunch spot, and who is probably dating a drummer. And yes, you can buy them at Urban Outfitters and that's very "inauthentically vintage" and all. SO WHAT. You're wearing feathers (or fur or netting and bows) on your head. If that doesn't make you happy and elicit smiles and appreciative nods from passers-by, well then damn it, there is simply no hope for joy in this world. I want a world with more feathers and fur worn on a daily basis.
I tweeted the other day about my what-to-make-for-dinner dilemma--
wait, we can stop right there. That is perhaps the ultimate in Stuff White People Like: twittering about food. Or perhaps the White Whine of the day: "oh no, I have an esoteric assortment of ingredients in my cupboards, please tell me what to cook". Moving on.
-- and my friend and former boss Stacey replied, with this "recipe" into 140 characters or less. It's less a recipe than a list of ingredients and a suggestion, and it worked out very well. Here, then, is my slightly more specific recipe for Stacey's abundantly healthy dinner suggestion.
You want about a 3:1 ratio of liquid to lentils, regardless of how many servings you're making.
3 cups stock (I used homemade chicken stock) or water or other tasty simmering liquid 1 cup dried lentils lots and lots of curry powder to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons, I think. I just kinda dumped it in.) a good dash of ginger just for fun (I used about 1/2 teaspoon, I think.) 3 small-to-medium apples
Rinse the lentils a few times and remove any rocks or other unappetizing bits by straining them. If you've got a crock pot (and I highly recommend that you acquire one- I love my crock pot), put the lentils in there with the liquid and the spices, and simmer on low heat for six to eight hours. Walk away, get things done, etc.
If you're doing lentils on the stove, put them in a pot with the liquid and spices and simmer, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes.
Core and chop the apples. Add the chopped apples to the crock pot and continue to cook for about an hour, or if you're doing this on the stove, add them to the pot and cook, covered, for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how mushy you like your apple pieces.
Serve hot or cold. Makes, I don't know, four servings? Depends on how hungry you are. (Bonus: inadvertently vegan if you swap out the chicken stock for veg stock or water or something, y'know, vegan.)
These leggings, bought in 2007 at the height of my I need leather leggings but the American Apparel knockoffs shall have to suffice frenzy, have slowly become less pleathery and more, um, worn-in. Meaning just this side of sheer. I think they'll have to be moved from the shelf of pants in my armoire and into the drawer of tights so I have the reminder to not wear them solo. (I can feel C smirking at me right now. Hi, C. You can shame me lightly for this if you so choose.)
I'm inching ever closer toward the Tights Are Not Pants line here, aren't I? No matter: today is a day off, which means a day of errands where my lack of proper pants was covered by my trenchcoat in most situations, and now I can lounge around in my leggings at home and enjoy the snow falling in the courtyard.
Long cardigan/swobe thingy, bought in undergrad, origin forgotten; v-neck, American Apparel; faux-leather leggings, American Apparel; flats, Steve Madden; watch, Marc Jacobs but it's falling apart oh no; nail polish, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Uptempo Plum that looks not at all plum when you put it on, but really just black. Whatever, it's been chip-free for three days, so I don't care.
There's a long list of things I never learned in life (formal etiquette, "no white after Labor Day", how to eat a lobster, how to say the alphabet backwards), and new rules that I was unaware of keep popping up. Sparked from a conversation I had with Helen, I now wonder if there's a formal rule about the color of the soles of your shoes.
Yes, really. Is there a Fashion Rule that dictates what color the sole of one's shoes should be, depending on the occasion?
Some background: I fell hard and fast for these satin pumps. You can see why, I'm sure. I mean, look at them. Swoon.
Helen brought up a doubt as to their propriety, though. It's honestly something I've never thought about or heard of before, but that could very well be due only to ignorance on my part. Her thought is: the tan sole is a dealbreaker.
Not because there's anything wrong with tan, but because she was taught that tan soles are for daytime wear, while black soles (or Louboutin-red soles, for the extravagant) are for evening. The conjecture here is that wearing black stockings with tan-soled shoes looks awkward and undermines that whole "evening glamour" thing that you're going for with the fancy shoes.
Is this a thing? Have you heard of this? Am I a heathen for not knowing about this rule? Is there a "no nude soles for evening shoes" gospel?
I have a counter-point, however. I think that if the sole-color debate is based on the assumption that one wears black stockings for evening, it's a false premise. I can think of very few situations in which I've worn black stockings (sheers, that is: opaque black tights are a daytime/all-the-time sort of legwear from December through February), and I'd argue that for formal occasions, few women bother to wear stockings at all. When we do, they're most often flesh-toned, and the contrast between stocking color and sole color is therefore a non-issue. The peep-toe option throws more confusion onto this, as peep-toes (more so with formal strappy shoes of all sorts) make wearing stockings awkward. (There are definitely ways to wear tights with peep-toes and look awesome, but I think all those ways are pretty much a daytime look or a casual thing.) I know you can get toe-less tights to expose one's toes in a peep-toe shoe, but that sort of defeats the purpose, I'd think. And strappy formal shoes: what then? Clearly, stockings aren't an option, so do strappy shoes get a pass on the sole-color rule?
Here, for comparison's sake, is a line-up of my more formal shoes. I can't think of many ways in which black satin pumps (center shoe) are daytime shoes, but the sole color remains resolutely beige. The black-soled contenders here are the tricolor satin peep-toes and the black patent peep-toes. Hmmm. The peep-toe component totally throws me for a loop.
What say you, fancy fashion people who know these sorts of things?
This past Saturday, I schlepped to the Michigan Avenue H&M to peruse, pet, and purchase some of the Sonia Rykiel for H&M collaboration. Am I a sucker for pseudo-Parisian lingerie? Do I own more robes than a choir? Am I mildly obsessed with the idea of owning only matching sets of underthings? Yes, yes, and yes.
And I know this is late, as the collection has been out for several days now, but it seems like there's not a lot of crazy excitement about this capsule collection, so your H&M has probably not been overrun by frenzied Rykiel hoarders. (You'd think that the Michigan Avenue H&M would have been a mob scene on Saturday, yes? It wasn't at all: I was one of maybe four people shuffling through the Rykiel racks. Racked NY seems to have had the same experience.)
I tried on nearly everything, because this is one of the few times in my life H&M has actually had a full rack of options with every size available. Good sizing news: the bras go up to a 38D! Bad sizing news: they run small. Euro-bras, maybe? In reality, they probably top out at about a 36D or 34DD. (The band sizes seem much smaller than indicated.)
As far as construction, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much silk was involved, in lieu of the all-polyester-all-the-time I was expecting. The stripey chemise was 100% poly, though, which saddened me. A girl can never own too many slightly impractical chemises, I feel.
And on the "impractical" note, I couldn't bring myself to get excited about the rosette bras, no matter how adorable they are. (They are, in fact, seriously adorable. Very Blair Waldorf.) If only the rosettes were detachable, I'd have seriously considered them, but the lumpy-boob look wasn't something I was looking forward to rocking. And the sheer black silk pajama pants vex me. They're not so much "slightly sheer" as "completely translucent". Why bother with pants at that point, really? As I assume they are categorized under "lingerie you wear solely to look hot", but at that point, I'd argue that simply not wearing pants is a far sexier choice than wearing baggy black see-through pajama pants.
That pillow is for sale. I have no idea why you'd buy it.
The collection also has these microfibery bras that looked totally promising: until I saw the rhinestone detail. No. Just say no to bedazzling. The sparkly appliqués say "belle", which is less awful than "sexy" or "hottie" or something equally nausea-inducing... but still, no. Don't do it.
The kimono robes were the far-and-away winners, in my mind. Perhaps because a robe can't really "run small", so the issues of fit were moot? Perhaps because they were 100% silk and had perfect kimono-detail sleeves that were awesome without being overly floppy? (You don't want to know how many times I've accidentally dragged the sleeve of my actual kimono through a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. I keep forgetting that the sleeves hang like two feet below my arms.)
(All images via H&M)
The peach long robe with the black trim is gorgeous. So, so gorgeous. But it is also far more money than I want to spend on a robe, even if it is 100% silk. I was sorely tempted, but the static-cling issues I was having while in the dressing room with this robe thankfully tipped my opinion to the "you don't need this" side. The short black kimono robe, however, is another thing. It's hanging out in my bathroom, looking perfectly drapey and elegant and let's face it, a thin silk robe isn't exactly winter lounging wear, but I don't care.
Things I thought I'd go nuts for: lace underthings, 50's-glam satin matched sets, silk robes. Things I actually loved: silk robes. Things I just don't understand: seriously, a rhinestoned velvet pillow?
White tuxedo-pleat button-up, H&M; dress, H&M; super-tall socks, American Apparel; boots, Aerosoles.
I'm feeling a bit like Kelly Rutherford during the second season of Gossip Girl. Not in the blondebotoxedBirkin mode, clearly, but in the "must hide this belly through moderately successful camouflage" mode. (See also: Sarah Jessica Parker during the fifth season of Sex & the City.) Except that I am not pregnant, but merely showing the effects of my fondness for cheese, cookies, cocktails, cake, and chorizo. (Plus I haven't gone running in four months, and my yoga has fallen off to once-weekly practice. Yeah, this is my own fault.)
That is to say: I have gotten rather suddenly and unacceptably* chubby around the midsection lately. I am never of the svelte-and-willowy ilk, and I always have a nice little layer of protective cushioning around my waist (or, um, lack of a waist due to said cushioning), but it's become more prominent over the past month or so. And yes, I am that deadly combination of superficial (dude, I take photos of what I wear and blog about it. No shit I'm more-than-occasionally superficial.) and rather insecure about my appearance at times, so this is like a perfect storm of body-criticizing and trying to figure out new ways to look nice despite it all.
Note: in this quest, pants are the enemy. Naturally, right as winter hits, I'm trying to find new and inventive ways to wear dresses and skirts through the snow and slush and legitimately cold days. Thank god for new tights and super-tall knit socks, eh? Dresses and skirts with some room in the midsection are my standbys here, but I have learned something very important over several years of this vicious cycle: I can distract from the belly with another part of the body, but if it's via a cleavage showcase, I run the increased risk of being asked if I'm pregnant. Seriously, this is not an isolated occurrence. In 2006, I kept a running tally of how many times I was asked when I was due. I think it came to seven, and on five of those occasions, I was trying to draw visual attention away from the stomach and up to the cleavage. There's a thin line between "titacular" and "pregnancy boobs" in most minds, I suppose, and that line is too easy to cross. Maybe don't pair an empire-waist dress with serious cleavage, lest you find yourself explaining that no, you are not pregnant, but merely falling for the charms of apricot-mascarpone danishes.
This is all to say: I'm expecting to get a lot of wear out of my super-tall sock collection for a while here. Distract with legs and heels and hope for the best, I think. Also, get my lazy ass back to yoga or running, or, I don't know, away from the damn plate of brie already.
(*and dude, when I say "unacceptably", please don't think that I'm some Karl Lagerfeldyjudgey bastard, scorning anyone above a crazy-skinny sample size. I say "unacceptably" in this case because the new layer of insulation means that lots of my clothes don't fit, and damn, I've spent a long time collecting things I like to wear, so having a big chunk of that currently unavailable is totally unacceptable. I like those pants, dammit. I want them to button again.)
1) wrap fabric around head like headband, tie. 2) wrap small strip of fabric crosswise around the knot. 3) pin brooch to this spot. 4) pretend this wasn't a last-ditch attempt to dress up an otherwise nondescript ensemble.
Thankfully, no misdemeanors were committed to obtain the following:
I'd like you to meet my new orchids, Lenore and Hiram. Lenore is a Love Knot orchid, and Hiram is a Tequila Sunrise orchid. They arrived at my house on Wednesday from The Domina, who is amazing and generous. She also has perfect timing, as my Wednesday has been full of suckage right up until about 7 pm, and these orchids, coupled with cocktails and dinner with the lovely Helen of Ready Steady Go, seriously turned my day around.
(Oh my god, I am such a Cathy cartoon cliché up in here. I just realized that my "boohoo, bad day*, make it better" solution was cocktails, a dinner followed by a second dinner at Big Star, and flowers. ACK.
*seriously, that day was pretty crap, though. A job I'd been gunning for with all I've got called to say I wasn't getting a second interview; the insurance company of the woman that rear-ended me called and informed me that due to some mitigating and probably illegal circumstances, they may not pay me a damn dime for the repairs; then I fell down a bunch of stairs in front of some important people.)
This officially crosses the first item off my Thirty Before Thirty list. Now to practice parallel parking!