Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ned Stark ; a tragic character but he was right about Winter ...

... 'cause here it is.

It may not be winter officially for a month yet, but it is a pretty good imitation of it. Our heating system chose this time to go on it's annual, season-opening fritz for a couple weeks, but all is repaired and cozy.  We are reveling in the warmth. Feels like a vacation. North of us the cold is deeper, but it was in the high 20s and low 30s on Sunday when we dressed to make our trip to the Big City.  

Cold weather is coat weather. That's one of my favorite things about the season.  This little, heavy knit coat is perfect for my trips to town as it's light weight and cozy at the same time.  These trips involve lots of time in a warm car or in a warm store with quick arctic-esque dashes between car and door. This is one I can comfortably keep on while I'm stomping around in the store.

My teeth gritting grin says it all ... "take the picture ... take the picture ... hurry up ... I AM smiling, so just take the damn picture!"

This is my first winter with the short crop, and scarves are taking on a new importance. I liked the almost reverse image of the coat's print this scarf added, and did a lot to keep my neck warm! This photo not only shows the patterns working together but how chilly and windy it was.  A  freezing gust poufed up the right side of my scarf, making it look like less of a gracefully draped scarf than an upholstered toilet seat cover.  Just take my word for it, please. It looked much better when the wind died down. 

Not taking on any topics tougher than winter coats today.  Hope you are all staying warm and enjoying this most invigorating season!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stuck In My Craw

The following is from a conversation between fashion designer Mona Kowalska of A Détacher, Heidi Julavits, author and one of the editors of the book Women in Clothes, and writer/childbirth educator Ceridwen Morris (p. 29) ...

      "Ceridwen: I just turned forty-five, and the look that's being pitched to me is about being MILF-y, sexy -- but whatever you do, don't look like you're forty-five. Like the idea of being a capital-W Woman is not so great. We should all look twenty-eight.

      Mona: And the result is these terrible human collages. Sometimes you see someone from the back and they're all worked out and wearing skinny jeans and then they turn around ....

      Heidi: Eep! And they're seventy!

     Mona: I'd prefer someone dressed in a dowdy way."

I've gone on lately (and on, and on ... I know) lately about attitudes toward aging that I see and hear. I'm going to do it again. The above bit from the book Women in Clothes has been stuck in my craw, and I need to hock it up and look at it. Disgusting image, I know, but I'm pretty put off myself with this little snippet. Right here, I'm going to issue a note that I do not intend to condemn the whole book because it is a book full of a variety of opinions and experiences. I will, however, note that one of the elder-bashers is an editor of the book. Just saying.

What we have here are women complaining about ageism in our culture and particularly within the fashion industry. Then they make a quick 180 and wind up firing on women older than themselves. I understand that they deplore social forces that demand youthful looks. I also understand that they believe when women dress to appear younger and meet an impossible standard of youth, some Baby Jane-ish looks can result.


Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

Most of us would agree that this horror movie still from the early 60s reaches the level of a "terrible human collage." (This great role as a deranged, former child-star was a career boost for an aging Bette Davis and won her nominations for the Oscar, Golden Globes and the BAFTA awards for this performance.) I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time equating this image with that with the woman who is "all worked out and wearing skinny jeans". The woman they describe as "all worked out" suggests a healthy woman with a great shape that is admirable from behind. And one who chooses to deck out the admirable figure in contemporary style.

Please note the following images. 

Lauren Hutton at 70 for Lucky Magazine

China Machado at 85 (really ... freaking 85!!!!)

Of course these women are exceptional and both won the gene pool contest big time, but the fact remains that they are old women in skinny jeans. No "terrible human collages" here.

 "Eep! And they're 70!" says Ms. Julavits of the woman she imagines in the conversation. This is not happy surprise she's expressing. Her response implies that it's inappropriate for women to look good in their 70s. Please understand, dear reader, the comments are not about a woman who looks bad in her skinnies. This is about a woman who looks good until her face shows her age.

But it's the last comment that really steams my rice: "I'd prefer someone dressed in a dowdy way."
There's no equivocation here ... this woman states that when you're old, you're no longer permitted to dress in the same way that a younger woman might choose. You gotta look old so we're all clear that you really are old. You are no longer free to look vital and modern and part of the world you live in. You're relegated to a syle-nil status. Get out on that ice-flow and stay there! Don't confuse us and disturb our stereotypes about age, and especially don't cause us to adjust our world view. We need you to settle down and look how we expect you to look at your age.

But absolutely, no matter what you do, don't show us that youth can be overrated and is not automatically present in all examples of female beauty. You just can't fly your flag as an old woman and get away with it.

Eep, indeed!

The three women in the conversation above are not 20-somethings who still hold on to the callow assumption of immortality. These are really bright and accomplished women in their 40s who clearly have some kind of concept of their own progress in life by this point in their lives, and are plainly resistant to the pressure to look younger. It makes me wonder if they assume that there is some mysterious cut-off point where they will only be graceful in their aging if they give up all interest in dressing themselves in any interesting or attractive way. Do they truly feel that being a capitol W-Woman is achieved by sometime in ones 40s but you have to give the trophy back after you get older?

These comments are not from a group of gnarled, dusty, old misogynist fellows kvetching about uppity women. These are otherwise smart and accomplished women talking this way ... and that is what really, truly what bugs me.

I sometimes have the uncomfortable suspicion that one has to actually get old before we realize that we can always, always be all that (or only that) we think we can be. If I had known this earlier, I might have done things differently. These three women will get there, if they are lucky, and I hope they remember this conversation with some chagrin.  In fact, I hope the chagrin starts anytime now.

Finally, this is the second time in a couple of weeks that I've been pissed off by something said by someone named Heidi (click here to see my other Heidi rant.)  For all you Heidis out there, and for the record generally ... I don't think or mean to imply that all women named Heidi are women of limited empathy for other women further along in the the aging process. Just these two particular Heidis.


This is me, trying to look reproachful and smile big all at the same time.  A difficult face to achieve, and I admit the fail.  Nor am I an "all worked out" old lady, but I do wear skinnies without shame.  If I am a "terrible human collage" then they must just look away if they see me coming. Eep.

This tunic-sweater is the one thing I got from the Altuzarra collaboration with Target.  I really love it.  The low shoulder embellishment is flattering without looking like 80s big-shoulder pad extreme.

The appliques were much nicer than I thought they'd be.
My photos didn't show the detailing on the neubuck booties,  so here they are: by U.S Polo Associaton, and I loved wearing the gold with the gold.  The funny marks just above the heel are their embroidered logos that show a couple of polo players and their horses. 

(Disclaimer: I have never played polo, but I do know how to ride, so I guess I can wear these if non-riders wear "equestrian" boots.)  


I'm taking it all over to The Leafy and Lovely Patti's Visible Monday with all the other Capital W-Women! Join the movement!
And, late breaking, I'm joining Our Wonderful Sacramento at her Share In Style!  Come see the shooooooes!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy as Pharrell ...

And that's pretty darned happy.

Not much to talk about this week except how much I love my pink coat.  The weather went from the 70s to the 50s overnight, and I was FINALLY able to wear my pretty new coat to town on Sunday.  And my pink mirrored aviators.  Love them too, and between the coat and the sunnies, I'm about as content as I get with what I'm wearing.  

So that, as they say, is that.  I'm going to go put my pretty pink coat on and watch some television.  I wonder how much the sunglasses will affect the screen color ....

Update (11/10): Goin' to Patti's Visible Monday !  Come with me!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Tale of Two Unicorns .......... and Carolina Herrera

This story was inspired by an old nursery rhyme that you all may know ...

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipp'd all their bums, and sent them to bed.

                                                     from J. Ritson, 
                                                    Gammer Gurton's Garland,
                                                    or The Nursery Parnassus: a choice collection of pretty songs
                                                    and verses for the amusement of all little good children who
                                                    can neither read nor run
                                                                    (1794, rpt., Glasgow, 1866), p. 27.

                            (Or Mother Goose. Whichever.)                      

Once upon a time, in a backward little village, far, far away from anywhere of any consequence, there was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Classic Stiletto-Heeled Black Pump. (We'll just call her Old Woman because it's much easier. ) She had so many pets, she didn't know what to do, but that's another story for another time.      

One morning, Old Woman stirred her old bones early to go to market and resume her unending quest for the most magical and elusive of wardrobe pieces; the Perfect Crisp White Shirt. Late that afternoon, as Old Woman flipped wearily through the Women's Medium Long Sleeved Shirts rack at Ye Olde Discount Department Store, she was startled when ... POP! ... the great designer Carolina Herrera suddenly appeared at her side, as if out of nowhere!

"Old Woman," the great designer began. "I know of your sincere desire to find the fabled Unicorn of Fashion, the Perfect Crisp White Shirt, " she continued, in perfectly elegant, Spanish-accented English. "Why, Old Woman, do your eyes bug out so? You should see a doctor about that. And you may close your mouth, now. It looks very stupid."

"I'm sorry ... who are you? You look like Carolina Herrera, but you can't be," Old Woman stammered.

"That was fast. You're smarter than you look," the apparition murmured to her self. "Okay, so you found me out. I'm just a figment of your imagination. An illusion. The psychological manifestation of your anxiety caused by your foolish fixation on one, impossibly perfect item of clothing," she continued, her exotic accent turning abruptly into a Midwestern version of American English. "But illusory help is better than no help at all. And you need help, you know? Besides, you can't afford the real Carolina Herrera. "

"Hey ..." Old Woman began defensively.

"Here's the deal," the apparition interrupted sharply. "Rather than just granting your wish, all poof-and-there-it-is, I'm advising you to grab the very next white shirt that you come upon in this rack, and actually go and try it on. You'll be glad you did, I promise. But remember this; unicorns come in dark neutrals as well," she said, in a more kindly tone.

Then, as abruptly as she arrived ... Pop! ... the spitting image of Carolina Herrera disappeared. Only then did Old Woman notice other women near her giving her some seriously suspicious side-eye and pulling their children closer.

Old Woman decided, for once in her life, to do precisely what she'd been advised and sure enough, she soon came upon a lovely, tailored white shirt by Jones New York. The moment she touched it, the shirt whispered to her, " I am the shirt you desire. I am the White Unicorn of tailored shirts. Take me home with you. And while you're at it, take my sister ... the shirt right behind me on this rack. She is the fabled Black Unicorn, and just as rare and magical."

"Time to get my blood sugar checked," Old Woman decided as she carried both shirts to the fitting room. "Or maybe just skip that second glass of wine with lunch ..."

As all good stories do, Dear Reader, this one has a happy ending. Old Woman ended her quest with more than she dreamed of, and took both shirts home at significantly less than suggested retail price. She hung them in her closet, and the shirts chatted happily to one another about their new home and how inferior the rest of the clothes were, giggling about their escape from the Final Clearance rack. They chattered on, non-stop. Into the wee hours of the morning. And because they kept the Old Woman awake with their merriment, she got up from her bed, threw both shirts into the washing machine and laundered them in cold water with no chlorine bleach as the instructions advised, in Woolite and on the longest possible wash setting. In the morning she dried them thoroughly on the Permanent Press cycle and hung them back in the closet.

But now, they were silent and never, ever spoke to anyone again, because, as everyone knows, washing a new shirt takes all the magic out of it as well as the factory sizing.

But Old Woman was pretty sure she'd wear them Happily Ever After anyway.

Carolina Herrera (the real one)
in her signature white shirt

Me (AKA Old Woman) having my own 
budget-Carolina Herrera moment in
Jones New York.  Still ... not bad.

Of course, she does it in black, as well.

And so does Jones New York! 
So happy ..... 

Update (11/10)  I'm going over to Patti's Visible Monday ... come see what all the fuss is about!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Old Lady Runway Rant

If I hear Heidi Freaking Klum or Nina Freaking Garcia say one more time, "That looks old lady" when they mean dowdy, old fashioned, unfashionable, outmoded, out-of-date, passé, unstylish, or frumpy, I will be forced to reconsider my weekly indulgence in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: watching Project Runway. (I participate in lots of other light-minded pleasures and activities. I just don't feel guilty when I indulge in them.)

I'll miss you, Tim Gunn. But I have to say, Tim, you should be all over this one and on my side.

It is just plain ageist, incorrect and mean-spirited to employ two words that describe an at least passably well-behaved and civilized woman who has attained a considerable number of years past her youth when Ms Klum attempts to describe an especially unhip outfit made by one of the anxious competitors. The fact of a woman's age doesn't and never should automatically define her stylishness or un. When Klum says this, she implies that we old women look dowdy in whatever we're wearing simply because we are not young, no matter how great our clothing might be without us in them. Oldness makes everything about us uncool.

She uses this phrase fairly frequently, and I cringe for her when she does it. I try to remember that as a non-native speaker she does worlds better in English than I do in her native German, and I can understand her searching for a word while on camera. But it isn't live-broadcast, so somebody needs to look at editing out this gaffe the next time it occurs. Really, it's important to at least be clear and respectful when she's paid as much as she is to opine about something as subjective as the hipness of clothing design.

Garcia often climbs on the band-wagon with Klum, but sometimes has the grace to use other, only slightly less offensive terms such as madame, or mother-of-the-bride in the same insensitive way. As the 49-year-old mother of young sons, it is likely that she will one day wear her carefully chosen and couture outfits at the nuptials of her grown boys, and she won't be a spring chicken by that time, either. I guarantee that she won't like to hear her ensemble unkindly described as "soooo mother-of-the-groom." I'd offer her the excuse that she may well not have been a childhood speaker of idiomatic English as she was born in Columbia, but I won't because she holds a bachelor's degree from Boston University as well as a second one from FIT.

Yooo-hooo, Ms. Klum and Ms. Garcia. Hellooooo. We're sitting right here in front of the TV. We're old but we can still hear you.

I know. It's American Reality TV. Therefore, I should not be surprised. I also know this isn't so-much-of-a-much all in itself, and the next, most obvious step should be to let it go now that I've vented. But it's been a week where I've been noticing more disdain exhibited towards older women than usual in our language and popular culture and media, and it's been frustrating. I beg that my darling vintage-enthusiast friends will cut me a bit of slack and not pummel me for equating only current, knife-edge newness with great style. I do not mean that at all. It's the equation of advanced age and non-style that I object to. I've been chastised black and blue because I neglected to clarify my smarty-pants glibness. Completely black and blue, I tell you.

In fact, since I'm bound to offend someone, I'll apologize ahead of time and show my contrition by wearing my black and blue shame right out in the open; in a very soft and comforting blue Max Studio extra-fine merino wool sweater over my Old Navy black and blue hounds-tooth Pixie Pants. And my navy, cobalt and black suede d'Orsay ankle-strap pumps ... more black and blue, from me to you.
Oh, yeah. And my sleek and snazzy Old Lady bag, too. 
Snap to you, Heidi.

Taking this silliness to the Lovely Lacy Patti at her Visible Monday link-up.

Hope to see you there.