Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Scent of Music: Christmas Time is Here (Vince Guaraldi Trio)

The scent of what, you ask? Well, perfume lovers associate a lot of things with perfume. What perfume would James Bond wear, and does it depend on whether he's being played by Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan? What does the color chartreuse smell like? What perfume goes best with prime rib?

For Christmas, some of us are blogging about the link between a piece of Christmas music and a perfume. The choice of music is up to the blogger. And I'm a weird blogger, with a taste for the dark.  The chorus of Christmas in Prison, as performed by The Boxmasters, keeps running through my head. The same album (Christmas Cheer)  includes I Won't Be Home For Christmas, also about Christmas in prison. And My Dreams of Christmas, about a child's disappointed Christmas dreams. And Slower Than Christmas, about a dysfunctional family. And Blue Christmas. And...

I love that album. And I'm slightly disappointed that August: Osage County (the movie based on the play about a dysfunctional family, by Tracy Letts) isn't actually opening on Christmas day. And I'm feeling the urge to watch Christopher Titus's Norman Rockwell is Bleeding again. It's been one of those years. Or two of those years. I'm supposed to be happy and sparkly, and I'm failing to fulfill that expectation. There's no particularly good reason why, but all the same, without an excuse, I'm failing to sparkle.

Like Charlie Brown.

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, right before watching It's A Wonderful Life. They both gave me just what I wanted, and, more surprising, they seem to fill the same need that's filled by the Boxmasters album, the Titus special, the Letts play, and similar dark work. I suppose that the common element is that they all address disappointment, address it not so much as an incident in life, but as a part of its fabric. The best comedy comes from darkness and disappointment, and I suspect that the best music does as well. I don't say that that makes it all worthwhile, but that's not really the point. You start with what you have, and you make something of it.

This is really not the kind of Christmas post that you were expecting, is it? Then again, Christmas is about darkness, too, in its way. I'm not religious, but that doesn't mean that the story of a dark world being presented with hope, hope coming from a humble and poor place, doesn't have power for me. A manger and a baby. A tiny Christmas tree facing scorn and growing when it's loved. I can't really make a tidy analogy there, but all the same, it works for me.

Christmas Time is Here, the music that opens A Charlie Brown Christmas, is sweet and sad and happy. It glimmers and ripples, like candlelight on glass. It communicates childhood, but without the frantic heartless pace of so many children's songs.

How do I translate that to a perfume? My first thought is that it's a perfume with some dark notes, not just simple pleasing sweetness. But there must be brightness, glimmering and comforting, and a touch of childhood, or at least innocence. My usual Christmas perfume is Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale, and my loyalty to that scent hasn't weakened. But Sushi Imperiale isn't Christmas Time is Here, it's the jazz number, with Snoopy dancing and Schroeder playing at the pageant.

I considered Sutra Ylang, Sushi's shy little sister, but there's not enough darkness there. After a good long sniff, I decided on Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose. No, it's not a "Christmasy" perfume--no cinnamon, no ginger, no woodsmoke. But the trail of this post led me looking for dark and light, complexity, glimmering sweetness and sorrow and joy. Cepes & Tuberose fits the description, with its forest-floor darkness mingling with luminous sweetness with that vibe of innocence, and the edge of browned butter. So there we are.

Please see the other Scent of Music posts at these fine blogs!

Australian Perfume Junkies
Chemist in the Bottle
All I am - a redhead
Riktig Parfym
Olfactoria's Travels
Undina's Looking Glass
Another Perfume Blog
the unseen censer

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fashion: What I Wore Friday, or, Transcending The Ball O' Wool

There's been snow and ice on the ground for a week, and temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit) at night. That's big winter stuff, for this town. The car giggled at the very idea of driving on the roads, so we trudged (carefully) into town to buy snow boots. I now own five, count 'em, five! pairs of little short boots, but only this most recent pair is suitable for snow and slush.

This was an exercise in attempting style against counter-style influences. Most days I've been a booted ball o' wool, my greatest fashion ambition being avoidance of the garden grubbies jeans, and my greatest ambition in general being Not Falling Down. I did wear silk scarves every day, but not for the look of it--a doubled-up silk scarf clings nicely to my neck and is startlingly warm. Silk is no good at all for shielding my face from the wind, though, so for a day or two I was wearing a plum-colored silk scarf and a plum-colored woollyesque scarf, making me a waterfall of fabric swatches from neck to waist.

I digress. Friday I was only mostly wool--an unlined medium-length fawn-colored coat, brown-and-fawn houndstooth skirt, and a woven-patterny black and white scarf that haunted me into buying it. The non-wool that crept in was the drapey white knit shirt and textured cotton overshirt from this post. And the amber necklace that Himself gave me long ago. And the snow boots.

Texturepalooza. By my standards, anyway. I enjoyed it. Given my somewhat high girth-to-height ratio, a ratio increased by woolly clothes, I tend to have a Paddington Bear or Boarding School Child look when I bundle up, and I find that I rather enjoy that, too. Even if I lose all the weight I want, I'm never going to be willowy--depending on what I wear, I'll either be curvy or tailored-and-sturdy. So I may as well embrace those vibes now.

It appears that that is all.

Edited to append: Actually, it's not all. I find my thoughts returning to the coat. The fawn-colored coat, advertised as a "car coat". In the past, I never understood the idea of coats being fashion. I remember Mary, in the old Mary Tyler Moore show, trying to figure out how to afford a coat that she loved, and I remember thinking that, well, she already has a coat, so...? I suppose that this is in part about being a child in a middle-class frugal home; I think that most kids at school had one winter coat that they wore every day. They might have had something sportier and and something dressier, but all I saw was what they wore to school.

I own several coats now, but they were all purchased for specific functions: The raincoat. The one-step-warmer-than-a-sweater jacket. The long lined black wool coat for when it's really cold. I did buy the black wool poncholike thing because it was fun, but there were no style'esque thoughts of what it would go well with, or what mood or vibe it might contribute to. I just bought it. I also bought it years and years ago; the fact that it feels a little steampunky when worn with the right shoes is pure coincidence. Most of my coats stick around for decades.

I bought the fawn car coat, on the other hand, with thoughts of how the color and texture and general hang of it would look with clothes and with my figure. I cared that it would work as an outdoor coat but also not be too bulky as an indoor jacket, for occasions when I'm bouncing indoors and outdoors. The soft-shouldered cut was a compromise between the fact that I want a  jacket that fits at both shoulders and hips, but I'm not going to get one that fits precisely until I commission one from that seamstress/tailor that I'm planning to contact in January.

I bought a coat for fashion reasons.

I'm scared.

Now that really is all.

Images: Mine

Friday, December 6, 2013

What I Wore Friday: 21st Century Jeans (And a Note on Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia)

The world must be ending. I wore non-Mom jeans.

I don't mean that I wore those scarey low hipster jeans. But the "hug" of today's jeans ends two or three inches lower than I'm used to. It's giving me the sensation that my pants are falling down, and I keep checking to make sure that my top is long enough to hide my underwear. Because I'm still wearing Mom underwear. (I'm providing too much information here, aren't I?)

I didn't buy the jeans for the non-Momness, but instead for the (compared to my other jeans) narrower legs and heavier fabric, and a much nicer solid black "wash". (Why is it "wash" and not color? I'm sure there's a good reason.) My other jeans are a weird streaky light blue that signals gardening grubbies no matter what I wear them with.

The Momness or otherwise of the jeans is largely irrelevant, because today's top, a drapey cowlneck sweatery thing, hangs to somewhere around mid-hip. But it feels weird all the same, both rebellious (against my determinedly fashion-blind stance) and compliant (for exactly the same reason.)

Purely for entertainment, I took off the drapey sweatery thing and considered how the jeans looked with just the dark-pumpkiny tee underneath, and to my surprise, there was some good there. While I wouldn't wear that combination without (shudder) "shapewear", I was surprised to see that my overall bulk has a half-decent curve in to the waist and out to the hips. I'm not a column. Who knew? Then I put the sweatery thing back on and there's a subtler version of the curve even then. So I'm rather pleased. This is by far the most close-to-current-fashion jeans look I've worn since--I was going to say "since forever", but there was a moment in my teens, in snug jeans and a gauze top...

Momentary "have I told you this before?" divergence: You know how sometimes on What Not To Wear, they'll ask the subject of the show when they last felt beautiful? If I were the subject, that would have been my answer--that moment when I was fourteen, more or less, looking in a full-length motel mirror while on a driving trip to meet one of the parents' relatives. I thought that I looked beautiful--and I thought that, therefore, the mirror must somehow be defective.

All right, moving on. I didn't feel beautiful in today's jeans, but I felt good.

Did I mention that after I bought boots, and more boots, I remembered that I already owned boots, and more boots, purchased several years ago? I now have four (four, count 'em, four!) pairs of little short boots. Aparently I've been having a little-short-boot craving for quite some time, one that I didn't know how to actually deploy.

Today's boots waited a very long time (five years? ten?) to get to work. I wore them for the very first time a couple of weeks ago as part of an undocumented skirt outfit, with brown tights, to avoid the effect of, "Oh, my God, someone cut off her foot and glued on a boot!" that I got when I tried them with plum-colored tights. I wore them again a few days later with the gardening grubbies jeans. They didn't seem all that happy about that; I think that they crept in while I was sleeping and instilled a post-hypnotic suggestion to buy the non-Mom jeans. Except, I'm told that brown boots with black jeans are not ideal, so perhaps they got the message a little muddled.

It snowed today and I needed a hat when we went to lunch. I quite forgot that I owned this one, a sort of plaid newsboy cap, so I didn't wear it. However, that may be just as well--I'm beginning to conclude that a newsboy cap with long hair is "cute", and I definitely don't want to be cute. It's better if I put my hair up, but my hair generally declines to stay up.

The perfume? Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia extrait; I've started buying samples again. I didn't give it a proper review-esque monitoring, even by my rather slack review standards, but I like it very much. It started out both feminine-ladylike and delightfully animalic-dirty, two separate aspects that managed to mesh perfectly. It was fairly emphatic, though it still wasn't a projection bomb--a good thing, in my book, though I realize that many people wish that naturals would speak a little louder.

Over a few hours the ladylike aspect grew stronger, and I got a whiff of New Barbie Doll Note. I always assumed that this scent came from something synthetic; now that I've experienced it in a natural perfume, I'm determined to figure out exactly what produces it, similar to the way that I figured out that Pencil Eraser Note is iris.

New Barbie Doll Note was accompanied by Smelly-Doll Note--that is, sweet peas. That tiny doll in the photo, one of my favorites as a child, came pre-scented in a perfume-bottle-shaped plastic clamshell. Officially, she was a Liddle Kiddle, but we called her Smelly-Doll. I always assumed that she just smelled of "perfume", until I encountered my first real life sweet pea at a relatively advanced age and immediately flashed on "Smelly-Doll!" Did Mattel really spring for a photorealistic sweet pea scent? I can't evaluate her scent any longer to try to answer that question; it's long faded.

So Cuir de Gardenia shifts, for me, from a delightful animalic-ladylike melding to equally delightful childhood nostalgia--dolls, flowers, and candied notes. I love it, but I doubt that anyone else will share exactly my experience of the drydown.

And that is all.

Images: Mine.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fashion: Versus Sewing. And Murphy's arrived!

It shouldn't be "versus", right? The sewing should support the fashion. The fashion should encourage the sewing. The ability to create a garment in whatever color and fabric I want, fitted to exactly my size and shape, should be a dream come true for the fashion.

But I've been less interested in sewing since the fashion thing. Now, I would have spent less time sewing lately anyway, due to being snowed under at work. But usually no amount of snowed-under stops me from being dragged in, tractor-beam style, whenever I'm within six blocks of the fabric store. And lately, I haven't been there so much.

I think that's largely about trying-on. A few weeks ago, I tried on a good two or three dozen garments at a local store, trying and rejecting style after style before finding a couple of things to actually buy. That's years' worth of sewing, at my turtlesque rate. Sewn, each different style would have involved choosing a pattern, fitting it, and making at least one muslin before I could have any real confidence that the style worked or failed on my body. And this new sense of discovery and rebellion just isn't prepared to wait for that. I want to try on things, and own things, right now.

And there's the "homemade" issue. While I would argue that the workmanship of many home-sewn garments is superior to that of many manufactured garments in terms of fit and durability and fabric quality and whether the buttons are going to merrily leap to the floor as soon as you're not looking, that doesn't change the fact that many of those home-sewn garments look home-sewn. And in my case, they don't have that magnificently hand-made designer "Oh, my God, this has real padstitching by hand!" look, or even that joy-of-creation look, but instead the "well, I'm sure that your skills will improve with time" look.

It's going to take a while for my skill to reach a point where I can confidently feel that my creations are as good as or better than store-bought. So I'm going for the joy-of-creation angle. For example, I finally almost finished the green Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt that I cut out who-knows-how-many months ago (it still wants buttonholes and buttons), and I added (gasp) trim. Bright trim. Trim that I bought for the circus pajamas. Look look look--trim!

What circus pajamas, you may ask? Well, once again I've been looking at the discussion of the SWAP, or Sewing With A Plan, contest at Stitcher's Guild. And this time I thought that I'd go with an area that involves minimum stagefright: Pajamas. Gaudy, festive, circus-colored pajamas.

I won't finish the SWAP. Probably. I never have before. Though this time, I may well not finish because I make too many garments early--the SWAP doesn't officially start until December 26. I've already finished one pair of sleep shorts, in a fabric with multicolored swirls on a green background, with a "tuxedo stripe" down the side seams in orange ribbon with yellow swirls.

But that wasn't quite festive enough for me, so I went shopping for ribbon. The fact that it was Small Business Saturday and Fabric of Vision was having a Black Friday weekend sale on ribbons and trim made this step mandatory. Right? By the way, I found Cthulhu ribbon. OK, its designers no doubt think its octopus ribbon, but it's Cthulhu. Really.

And then I got that green shirt nearly finished and found myself eyeing the ribbon. And the shirt. And the shirt. And the ribbon. And the result is what you see in the photo. Joy of creation. Not gaudy enough for circus pajamas, but the gaudiness is limited because I plan to wear it outside the house. Preferably tomorrow, before I lose my nerve. If I don't get around to the buttons by then, I'll declare it a jacket and wear it over a tee. A bright plum-colored tee.

I've veered off subject, haven't I? Sewing, that is. And how it will mesh with the new fashion thing. Oh, and I failed to mention the Wildly Exciting Event that got me rushing back into sewing this weekend: I got my Murphy table!

See that table that the shirt is on? It's five feet long by three feet deep and it's hovering over the chaise shown in the second photo in the Chasing Color post. When I'm not using it, it folds up against the wall and I can flop down on the chaise again. I can now sew in my den and leave projects up just as long as I darn well please. Bwahaha!

The Murphy table was a joke when I first mentioned it. Then I kept coming back to it. Then Himself discussed it with Ben the Builder. Then the two of them designed it and Ben installed it. And now it's here, sprouting from my wall. This is ever so exciting.

Um. I'm not so much veering off subject as ambling around randomly. I suppose that my vague conclusion here is that I want my sewing to serve my new fashion interest, and that goal will require a plan. The closest thing that I have to a plan right now is:
  • Indulge in lots of Joy of Creation sewing, with a heavy focus on garments that I'll wear even with flaws in workmanship. Like pajamas. Aprons. Cooking coats. Petticoats and pettipants.
  • Use those garments to learn new skills that will apply to eventual streetwear garments. The tuxedo stripe on those pajama shorts was seriously flawed in workmanship, so I asked for advice while buying the ribbon, and brought home a tool for marking nice straight lines, a spool of invisible thread, and instructions to attach the trim by catching it in the edge of a zigzag stitch. I used those instructions on the shirt, and I'm rather pleased with the results. Pajama learning to street clothes learning in less than twenty-four hours. That's pretty good.
  • Keep working on reusable patterns that will support the fashion goal. The Liberty Shirt is one; now I need to pick the next one. Pencil skirt? A nice fitted raglan sleeve jacket? A dress?
Anyway, it's all fun, and that was the plan, right? Joy.

That is all.

Images: Mine.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fashion: What I Wore Thursday

My skirt wasn't black.

Neither were my tights. (They were maroony red.)

Neither were my shoes.

Hey, waitaminnit. I don't think I wore anything black on Thursday. (Well, except for my coat.) Even the dark part of the houndstooth was brown, not black. And my shirt was also maroony red. See?

Am I allowed to wear not-black? Is there a law?

Three weeks ago, I suspect that I would have seen Thursday's outfit as risky or daring or something. Actually, I suspect that I saw it that way when I put it on. Houndstooth, after all. A pattern! In something other than a scarf! But I was over it by the time I took it off.

The boots, the lower-risk steampunky pair rather than the fancier heeled pair, also seemed risky; little short boots with a skirt. I don't see those as weird, but I do see them as young, and the possibility of dressing "too young" does make me nervous. 

I was tempted to also wear a brown-leopard-print scarf that I bought recently, but that felt like pushing it. Well, and the scarf was deeply unflattering to my face. That's the sort of thing that I want to understand. Was the problem the brown? The large-scale print? The shiny texture? The pale background? The square-folded-to-triangular scarf shape? I can't figure out why, but my instant reaction upon turning to the mirror after draping it on was "Eeew." And, "Maybe I should try that makeup thing." That's a new and alarming thought. It's not necessarily a wrong thought, but an accessory that immediately triggers that thought is not a successful accessory.

I wore the same boots a few days ago with black skirt and a collection of plum shades--bright plum-colored tights, even brighter knit shirt with a neckline that was almost but not quite entirely covered with a darker plum sweater, and a kinda-filmy bluish-plum silk scarf. I enjoyed that, though it continued to feel possibly too young.

Color. I'm wearing color. Matchy color; red-tights-red-blouse, plum-tights-plum-sweater-plum-shirt-plum-scarf. But color. Also cool boots. 



Oh, and you'll notice that the photos this time include me. They can't really be said to be photographs of me, but bits of me are in the shot. Also progress?


Images: Mine.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fashion: There's always a pair of boots

I was just re-reading The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant, and was struck by the bit where the author states that
One day last summer, at the moment of waking, I knew that I had to go out at once and buy new shoes. Shoes which fulfilled a function apart from walking...Ridiculous, sexy, "I don't care how much they cost, I have to have them" shoes.
Her conclusion was that the waking message from her subconscious to buy those shoes was a message to "be seen." I'm still not quite sure what my subconscious is demanding, in pushing this style thing. It might, indeed, be a goal to be seen, after a lifetime of trying to disappear. Or it could be some slushy Hallmarky "love yourself" thing that I refuse to see due to its inherent slushiness.

Today I bought a pair of boots. Actually, I'm going to confess: Today I bought two pairs of boots. (NAYY linkyness: From Village Shoes.) First I bought a moderately practical flat-heeled pair--practical but also dripping with steampunk-chimney-sweep atmosphere. And I took a picture of another pair to see if it would haunt me. I do that now and then--I still have a pair of rhinestone earrings in my phone's camera roll that are still haunting me but not quite enough to inspire me to buy them.

The haunting took effect at record speed. Himself didn't hate the photo of the other pair. With that knowledge, I found myself hurriedly changing clothes to a skirt shape that had more of the Edwardian/Victorian vibe that I get from the boots, called the store to find out how much longer they were open today, and charged down there in the car. I walked out half an hour before they closed. With, of course, the boots.

That's them up there. I have fifteen days to change my mind and return them, but I don't think I'm going to. We've already bonded.

Photo: Mine
Title Quote: Modern Family

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fashion: Suspicion, Armor, and Rebellion. And Oregano.

When I put something away in the kitchen right after using it, my brain often mocks, "Well, aren't you fancy. Who do you think you are?" It's a voice from childhood. Refusing to tend a home was part of Mom's identity--she was a Modern Woman and an Intellectual Woman, and for her, that went along with an abiding suspicion of housekeeping. There were inconsistencies, such as her avenging offensive on the floor with the vacuum, but in general housekeeping meant knuckling under to the sexist and plebeian standards of others. Putting the oregano away promptly was a surrender.

I mock Mom for this, and I mock my brain for trying to maintain the habit. Why reject the opportunity to have pleasure and comfort in your own home just because you might (gasp!) fulfill a community standard at the same time?

Yesterday I put on a denim dress that kinda fits me, and the green Dorothy earrings, and a green blatantly-fake-emerald necklace that I've been trying to find an opportunity to wear. And that didn't feel like enough color, with the necklace and earrings mostly being hidden by my hair and collar, so I grabbed the floofy-flower scarf and tried it on. And my brain demanded, "Well, aren't you fancy. Who do you think you are?"


It's been saying that a lot since the fashion experiment started. And it's not Mom's voice--you all know that I'm ready to blame Mom for everything, but she didn't model a lack of interest in putting together an outfit. A lack of joy, yes, but not a lack of interest. It's not the voice of the kids who told me day after day in school that I was ugly. I know that because I never gave them the chance to mock my fashion ideas. Because I mocked them first, alone, and put a stop to them, before anyone else got the chance.

In other words, it's my voice, defending me from what is no longer a threat. The voice mocking me when I put away the oregano is Mom's dysfunctional defender, unwittingly transferred to me. The voice mocking me when I consider the effect of a scarf is my dysfunctional defender. It thinks that mean girls are waiting around the corner and that I still need to keep my power close and my armor buttoned up.

It means well. I want to treat it gently. But it's being retired from an executive to an advisory position--Advisor on Fashion Rebellion.

Rebellion is what gets me past those nervous moments. If I want to do something "right" I don't have the confidence to go through with it. If I want to do something whacky, it's much easier. I often realize afterward that it really wasn't the least bit whacky, but that's OK--once the experiment has been completed once, I can do it again even if I'm (gasp) fulfilling community standards.

There's probably more to say. But it's been more than two weeks since my last post, which means that I've reached the "write something!" deadline. So that is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fashion: Chasing Color (What I wore Thursday)

So, What I Wore Tuesday was all neutrals. The same for Wednesday--a white knit shirt with a drapey front that I got from a Multinational Megalith, a beige/brown woven cotton thingie that I got from the sample sale at Webster's, freshwater pearls that Himself gave me some years ago (yay Himself!), a knee-length knit black skirt that also has a drapey front (Megalith), and the same black tights and black flats that I keep wearing.

The photo, left, is unexciting. But I really liked this outfit on me--the V shaped neck and rumply draped front worked well for my face and hair, and the vaguely suit-like impression and the pearls made me feel like a well-dressed little old lady about to go to a board meeting. The average woman probably wouldn't think of "little old lady" as a success, but for a person who loves old-lady perfumes, perhaps the appeal is unsurprising. I felt like a grownup. That's both fascinating and a little frightening for someone who's been dressing like a college student for over twenty years.

But I did notice an ongoing lack of color. So on Thursday I wore a red velvet shirt that I've had forever, possibly since my early twenties. Wearing this shirt is part of a long-term plan to put idle clothes to work or get rid of them. To reduce the eighties silhouette, I cut out the shoulder pads, and I plan to (gasp) throw it in the Delicate cycle rather than obey the Dry Clean Only tag. If it goes to pieces, then its fate is sealed permanently; if it doesn't, then I'll probably start wearing it more than once a decade. Either outcome is a win, though I'm hoping for the second, because I really do love the red. I love almost any red, but this dark blood-red with no touch of blue or orange is my favorite.

Following the same philosophy of Wear It Or Lose It, I added a pair of screw-on earrings that belonged to my mother or my grandmother or possibly both--I tend to forget these things. Matchyness again. Is matchyness in jewelry wrong? And wore it with, again, another knee-length black skirt, black tights, black flats, blah de blah de blah. Wearing earrings was another cool novelty. Much to my surprise, screw-ons seem to be less painful than clip-ons.

Friday was less matchy. I wore a boxy denim shirt trimmed at the sleeves and hem with purple velvet ribbon and little bits of beadwork, and a silk scarf with a floofy flower print in which red-pink dominated, and (whee!) a knee-length black skirt, black flats, and slate-blue tights. And the same red starburst earrings as the day before.

Am I going to keep a perpetual diary here? Actually, I probably am, though not necessarily recording every single day on the blog. I suspect that in six months I'll be very curious to see what I was wearing six months before. But just to finish up to date, today it was a brown linen shirt with an interesting shape--I'll photograph it someday, probably the next time I wear it--with black SkirtTightsFlatsBlah, the flowery scarf, and those green Dorothy earrings. Color! That's the top photo, of course.

So. Color. At least, color above the waist--I keep on wearing those black skirts. (I have three knee-length and one calf-length, and that's ignoring any lurking among the neglected clothes.) I feel as if I must have pages and pages to write about color, but...nothing is coming out. Not a thing. I guess I can't go all rambling philosophical every time.

So I will, for now, declare that that is all.

Images: Mine.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Food: Back on the Wagon

Did I mention that I fell off the low-sugar wagon? Yeah. Not so much fell as leaped, claws extended toward the nearest candy treat. Stress, work, travel to That City Where St. Cupcake Lives, and it all fell apart.

Saturday I'm starting again. I'm prepped. The sliced turkey, olives, and Greek yogurt are ready in the fridge. (Greek yogurt, you might ask? That's milk, and milk has carbs, you may say. Yes, I know, but a limited dose of the stuff worked well last time.) We've got plenty of teabags for iced tea.

So what's the plan? The same one that worked last time. Starting Saturday, no candy, no cake, no sugar-bearing condiments, no sugared drinks, no fruit juice drinks, nothing that's hiding sugar in its depths, except for:

  • One piece of chocolate, per day.
  • One bowl of Greek yogurt with one tablespoon of honey, per day.
  • One piece of fruit, per day.
  • One Coke, per week.
  • One full-on sugary treat (doughnut, cupcake, candy bar, whatever), per week.

I realize that that's probably a year's worth of carbs for a true low-carber.

Last time I did this I cut out the sugar, waited a few weeks, and then cut the simple starches. This time I think I'm going to try to cut them both at the same time, because I think that just extended the misery--once they were both pretty minimal, I felt OK and was no longer tempted to detach and eat the limbs of innocent passers-by. So, no potatoes, no white rice, no potato chips, no bread, and so on and so on. For the first few days, in fact, I'll probably also cut out the whole-grain, er, grains, restricting my bready eating to the crispbread that I make my turkey sandwiches with. I'd cut that out if I could, but I just can't; I've tried. Turkey without anything filling the role of bread depresses me.

Oh, and no milk. Lotta sugar in milk. Also, Himself thinks it makes me crazy.

So, turkey. And chicken. And pickles and olives and vegetables. Massive quantities of them, and zero effort to control fat. This is a single-topic diet. There will be butter on the vegetables and mayonnaise on the turkey-and-crispbread. (I just rushed to check the mayo jar for sugar. Nope. Thank goodness.)

Wish me luck. And best keep your limbs out of reach, for a little while.

Image: By Uwe Hermann. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fashion: What I Wore Tuesday

The journey--and confusion--continues.

Tuesday I wore a calf-length black linen skirt, a brown heather crewnecky knit thing with decorative visible serger seams (architecture! yay!), black tights, little navy blue loafers, and the silver necklace photographed in the frippery post. You can see it all lounging on the Fashion Chaise in the photo there. (I've realized that the conflict between refusing to be pictured in my own blog and writing about a visual subject can be resolved by allowing my clothes to star in their own photos without me.)

This wasn't a fashion triumph--it was all neutrals, and the navy blue, in particular, had no excuse for being there. I'm choosing to read it as black. But all the same, this outfit is a successful implementation of some of my goals.

First, of course, I "dressed"--I wore a planned set of clothing. And it all fits--it traverses my curves rather than drowning them in a heap of fabric. It's casual enough to wear on jeans occasions while looking far better on me than jeans. And it's comfortable enough to wear all day until I go to bed, though that means that I have to be careful not to splat anything on it when I eat dinner.

That extra care feels new. The book Overdressed (Elizabeth L. Cline) reminded me that there was a time when people took off their "good" clothes when they got home every night, and aired and brushed and neatly hung each garment, because clothes were scarce and expensive and it was important for them to retain their good-clothes status as long as possible. I don't know if people still do that very often. I'm embarassed to say that this Saturday when I changed out of the jeans and tee that I had worn for gardening, I not only dropped them where I stood, but later, since my hands were full and I was in a hurry to tidy, kicked them across the floor from bathroom to living room to laundry room. This is a far cry from the reverence that clothes once received.

I would never do that to a garment that I had sewn, or to most of the garments that I've been buying lately. I'm setting that as a goal for new clothing purchases: If I'd be willing to kick the garment across the floor, I shouldn't be buying it.

I probably won't be explaining that goal to salespeople.

Another goal is to consider who my money's going to. For example, I was feeling guilty for buying several garments from a company that I categorize as a Multinational Megalith, but then I realized that this particular Megalith offers an unusually extensive selection of clothing in plus sizes. I want to encourage that. But I also want to encourage fair wages. And safe working conditions. And environmentally friendly production and materials. And small businesses, both manufacturers and retailers. And high, non-disposable quality. And local business. Whee! Sometimes it seems as if I should have a scoring checklist for each garment.

WARNING: Linkyness commences. As usual, no affiliation.

Tuesday's clothes would have gotten a decent score on that checklist. I made the skirt with natural fiber fabric that I bought from a local shop (Fabric of Vision). I bought the crewnecky thing from another local shop (The Websters). It was made by a company (Odd Numbers) that appears to be small and independent, emphasizes environmentally friendly dyes and natural fibers, and produces designs that I like.

The necklace, as discussed in the frippery post, was made by (Catherine Hartley), and purchased from (One Of A Few), small businesses, though they weren't local to me. I think that I bought the shoes at a local shop, though my memory is fuzzy there. Only the tights violated most of the rules--synthetic fiber, made by one Megalith and purchased at another. At least I bought them in person instead of having them shipped.

All of this sounds picky and geeky. I've realized that the geekiness helps me to enter a world where I don't feel welcome or knowledgeable. Long ago, in a post about Bvlgari Black, I said "I prefer geek perfumery. I like things best when I'm the one with the extra knowledge." That's what's going on here. Reading books about fashion and having quirky, high-maintenance demands for the clothes that I buy make me feel more in control.

For similar reasons, I check seam finishes and other construction details when I'm in stores that sell serious costs-more-than-a-mortgage-payment designer clothing. Construction is the rare area where I have more of a clue than the average fashion shopper. It doesn't make sense for me to touch the stuff; I'm just there to learn from the colors and shapes and styles and then run away to cheaper retailers or my sewing machine. Nevertheless, I examine their expensive interiors--gently, and with clean hands.

(It's a little weird sitting here with that disembodied outfit lounging five feet away on the chaise. It looks more ominous in person, though still ladylike, as if it might get up and demand a glass of iced tea.)

(Otherwise, that is all.)

Illustration: Wikimedia Commons.
Photo: Mine.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fashion: What happened to the scarf case?

Remember? Remember how they used to keep all those fancy filmy scarves in a glass case at the department store, as if they were jewelry, because often they were as expensive as jewelry? When I was young and broke, I used to spend time eyeing them. Now that I'm old enough to wear one and possibly to be able to pay for one, the cases are gone and the accessories department is full of big floofy cotton gauze things. And purses the price of a car.


So I bought this used/vintage (where is the boundary?) scarf on that trip to Portland, at...I think it was Magpie. It seems to have a paintery theme--see the closeup? I like it. It somehow makes me think of a Hitchcock movie.

But I want the scarf case back anyway.

That seems to be all.

Photo: Mine.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fashion: What I Wore Monday

Monday, I wore slate-blue tights, a royal blue shirt, a knee-length blue denim skirt, and black flats.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to record my tentative fashion forays in words. I can look at a picture of clothes and say, "Ooh, pretty!", but that visual experience is unsatisfying; I need to ask questions and answer questions and ramble and enthuse. Why is it pretty? Why does it work? What does it mean? Hey, my grandma had a coat like that!

I was all matchy on Monday, or at least color-themed. I think that matchiness is out of style nowadays--"nowadays" being, oh, post-1987. But I enjoy it. Enjoyment of my clothes, of any kind, motivates me to "dress"--to wear a planned combination of clothes rather than grabbing a random tee and a pair of Mom jeans.

"Combination of clothes." Heh. I dislike the word "outfit". Because it feels girly? Because it's part of the fashion world that I've rejected up to now? Because Mom's outfits were set in stone, so that poor malachite necklace was forced into a permanent monogamous relationship with that slightly-faded boatneck top, never to see the world in any other company?  But I can't think of a better brief way of describing, "a planned combination of clothes." It's a useful word.

So. What is there to say about Monday's (gulp) outfit?

Most significant to me was the fact that the skirt was short. Short-for-me; just about at the knee. In the past few years my skirts have been drifting longer and longer--I often need to lift them in order to descend stairs without tripping. It was liberating, pleasantly weird, to display the bottom half of my legs to the general public.

My slate-blue legs. Hosiery is another area where I've rarely stepped past the entrance hall of the feminine universe. When I wear a skirt, I'm usually wearing black tights, the sturdy kind that hold up to many washes. Once in a while, it's beige tights. When I was in Portland, I bought myself a pair in slate blue and another in a sort of tweedy gray. (Such daring!) I eyed the fishnets and polka dots longingly; I really think it's only a matter of time, maybe very little time, before my legs are (occasionally) patterned.

That will require that I learn to launder less-sturdy hosiery, however. Or that I become fabulously wealthy so I can just throw hose out after one wearing--a policy that sounds less shocking when you consider that the things seem to be built to ensure that you only get one wearing anyway, which is part of why I went to the sturdy tights in the first place.

Um. What? Oh, yes. Laundry. And the whole topic of maintenance. "Dress"ing requires that I do some maintenance on my clothes, and for a person who rarely even bothers to snatch things out of the dryer before the wrinkles set, that's a pretty big demand.

The other significant fact about Monday is that both my shirt and my skirt fit me. I tend to wear clothes so large that I can pull them on without un-doing the fastenings, so large that when I change position, such as sitting down so that the stomach is repositioned in a poofier way, the fabric just gives way without offering any resistance whatsoever. I think that this is what people mean when they sometimes say, "I don't like my clothes to touch me." Monday's clothes touched me. Aiee!

Clothes that "fit" are often less comfortable than clothes that are wildly oversized. And that's a big element of my past resistance to fashion--why would I want to wear uncomfortable clothes in order to look better for other people?  I find myself wanting to rush off and find quotes on the topic. C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia, on the idea that your "best" and most festive clothes should be your most comfortable. The Little Mermaid, with all those words about beauty requiring pain. An Episode of Sparrows, where Lovejoy's pride drove her to wear her best shoes long after she'd outgrown them.

OK, that's probably another post. Right now my pain-for-beauty issue is all about shoes. (Well, and earrings, but that's also another post.) Heels. Like many women who are sufficiently plus-sized to have trouble finding the clothes they want, I love cool shoes. I just love them in the abstract, because I'm not willing to have uncomfortable feet. I would love to be able to wear heels wherever and whenever, but I'm just not sure if I want to endure the pain required to get "used to" them.


That seems to be all.

For now.

(Oh, except--that's the "Cthulhu on a supermodel diet" vintage pin. Cool, huh?)

Photo: Mine.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rambling: Fat and Bones and Heels

It's been three weeks since I last posted. That means that it's time for one of those "write something!" posts.

I really should have had something to say, because we went to Feast in Portland. And ate things. Many things. At Feast and at restaurants.

Marrow bones at Little Bird. Deep-fried fish bones at Raven & Rose. Roasted goat neck from the girl of The Girl and The Goat, guest-cooking at Nostrana. A lot of cupcakes from St. Cupcake. A magnificent sandwich from Expatriate. General food glory from Beast. Thin-sliced fried okra from Bollywood Cafe. And more and more. "Mint leaves with sea urchins meringues" (!) ice cream from Salt & Straw. Khao Man Gai and fried chicken skin from Nong's. Why didn't anyone tell me that they sell fried chicken skin? I really need to read menu boards more carefully.

I am fatter.

It was worth it.

I also tried to  pursue that Fashion Thing, with less success, in part because of that fatness factor. Preestablished fatness, not the newly acquired padding. I was hoping that Portland would offer more clothing choices for the pudgy, but without much luck. I did get a bra fitting, having been convinced of the value of doing so by watching all those What Not to Wear episodes, and bought some bras that, well, fit. And stocked up on hose and tights. At Avalon Antiques I bought a vintage brooch that looks rather like Cthulhu if he'd gone on a supermodel sort of diet.

And I wore heels to brunch. Girl clothes. That was interesting.

That is all.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

NAYY: Photographs of Frippery, or, Purchases That Didn't Come In Bottles

I've made a dangerous discovery: There's this thing called jewelry. And you can buy some of it for a price similar to the price of a bottle of perfume. Not the kind made with really alarmingly expensive materials, but artistry doesn't require diamonds or platinum.

Over the past few months, I've bought some. And as part of documenting my quest for Style Or Something Like That, I wanted to blog about it.

Which leads to a side trip to explain the NAYY. I rarely talk about brands of anything but perfume on this blog, so when I do, I want to make it clear that no one is paying me, in money or swag or chicken wings, to talk about the stuff, and that I'm not affiliated with the companies in question. I do like the companies mentioned in this post, both the makers of the jewelry and the shops where I found the jewelry. While I'm not under any illusion that my blog has enough influence to result in a flurry of purchases, or even one purchase, from these companies, I'd be pleased if that did happen. So I'm going to go all linky.

I was inspired to write this post as I was gloating over my new earrings, made by Dori Csengeri and ordered from Prize in Ashland, Oregon. Since my ears aren't pierced, the nice ladies at Prize kindly arranged to get me this pair as clip-ons. Are they not gorgeous? They're what Dorothy should be wearing as she walks out of the Wash and Brush Up Co in the Emerald City. They're a combination of textiles and metal and crystals, which I find delightfully freaky.

I wandered over to the Csengeri website, a dangerous thing because I saw bigger pieces that are well beyond the price of a normal bottle of perfume. This necklace, for example. Or this pin. Or yowza! Look at this. Yum. And they're weird, they're different, they have, for me, that old-tangled-with-modern vibe that makes me also love steampunk.

I'm suddenly inspired to pair a perfume with each item of jewelry, rather like a wine pairing. Despite being the Best Green, Chanel No. 19 is a little too stern to be a match for these whimsical earrings. Balmain Vent Vert, the fierce vintage version, should also be a mismatch, but somehow I can see it as not just a predator, but a jewel-dripping king of the forest. So that's my choice.

The jewelry indulgence before that was at Jeweliette. In Vancouver. The owner reminds me of Nazrin at The Perfume Shoppe (also Vancouver) in the way that she can pull you into her bubble of knowledge, impart some of it, and send you away with a purchase that you're going to love.

She sells beautiful glittery things, including vintage-inspired jewelry made by (if I have my facts straight) Elsa Corsi, who (if I have my other facts straight) is her daughter. I find it somehow reassuring that gorgeous vintage-style glitter is still being made, and I don't have to worry about it (like vintage perfume) slowly fading away from the world. I don't actually know where I'll wear that bracelet, but I find it falling-down beautiful. I'd pair it with a perfume that's also modern but vintage-inspired, Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss.

At the same time, I got a bracelet of clear crystals on black leather. It sounds sort of goth, doesn't it? And it looks sort of goth, and it's out of character for me, and I've worn it at least three times, so apparently it is "me" whether that seems intuitive or not. It would like me to buy something in black leather to wear with it, but it's been settling for less dramatic clothing. I'd tell you who made it, but I didn't make a note. You can see them on Jeweliette's website and I'm sure they'll tell you. But what to pair with it, to get the sparkle and the playful darkness? I'm thinking Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle.

Before that I visited One Of a Few, also Vancouver. It's a shop with interesting clothing, none of which fits me. But it still wasn't one of those shops where you feel as if you should measure yourself (like a suitcase in one of those measurers at the airport?) to see if you're thin enough to enter. There were cool shoes, always a nice compensation for the nothing-in-my-size situation. And the owner was very nice. And I fell for this necklace, by Catherine Hartley. It's both a little odd and utterly wearable, a combination that I like. And the perfume that fits that description for me is Bvlgari Black.

That is all.

Edited to add: No, come to think of it, that isn't all. What are your jewelry tendencies? Whose jewelry do you like? Do perfumista sorts also like jewelry, or do most of you feel that smelling good is adornment enough? Let's talk glitter!

First image: Wikimedia Commons.
Other images: Mine.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fashion: Blogs and Stuff

I've been reading fashion blogs. My reading started, characteristically for me, with a controversial article. From a year ago. (I didn't claim to be timely.) On a site called IFB, or Independent Fashion Bloggers. As far as I can make out, the seed of said controversy is the fact that fashion bloggers who can be identified as "white, slim and pretty" tend to be more successful than those who don't fulfill all three of these descriptions. The article was interpreted as saying that this was because the fashion bloggers who didn't fulfill the magic criteria had lower quality content, and that they should step up and improve.


This resulted in a fascinating stream of comments, and responses on lots of blogs. I seem to have already chosen sides in this year-old conflict, because rather than linking to the original article, I'm linking to one of those responses, "IFB: When Good Sites Go Bad". It links to the original article and to other responses.

I'm enjoying the discussion. And the debate. And the blogs. What some apparently refer to as IFB-gate appears to be my gateway into the online fashion world. Lots of blogs with fashion'y photos of people that look like someone I could see out in the real world. Most of them even look like they eat food.

I'm still struggling to actually comprehend the clothes. It's a different culture from perfume blogs. And I'm trying to get used to information conveyed by photograph rather than primarily by the written word.  I seem to be in the position of a perfume-blog-reader who not only doesn't know what a chypre is, but doesn't know what they don't know, because the references to chypres, or oakmoss, or heart notes, are in photographic form.

But it's entertaining.

That is all.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fashion: What I like

So. Clothes. Fashion. That stuff. Today I've been thinking about the personal style thing.

For the past several years, my personal style could have been expressed as, "What does Eddie Bauer have on sale?" Or L.L. Bean. Or Lands' End. Mom jeans, tees, no-iron buttondown shirts. Whatever A-line or straight calf-length skirt was on sale when the last one wore out. On my feet, Merrels or whatever black leather flats looked most interesting when the last pair wore out.


What do I like? What could influence a personal style? I tried ambling around the web, looking for and at pictures of clothes that speak to me, trying to find clues. And I found a few. I seem to like:


This is one of those "I know it when I see it" things, but it's often about  seams--seams that do something unexpected, or inspire the response, "Clever!"

I want to show you examples, which is where I run into the problem with (1) blogging about fashion while (2) being obsessive-compulsive about copyright. I don't dare actually include the images. And there just aren't enough clothes on Wikimedia Commons. Ah, well--I link.

First to a gorgeous and distinctly clever dress worn by Mad Men's Christina Hendricks. Look at the tailoring traversing all those curves, with no excess fabric, no artless gathers, nothing cute. That's architecture.

Then there's the similarly clever gingham dress worn by Elisabeth Moss, again tracing every curve perfectly. I can't help thinking that in the fifties, there'd be better pattern matching at the seams, demonstrating even more jaw-dropping workmanship. But isn't it glorious all the same?

What else am I drawn to?

The Weird

Remember, when someone complains that a particular perfume smells like, say, a tire fire sniffed through a handful of mildewed mint leaves, my response is, "Ooh! Where can I get a sample?" My response to clothes runs along the same lines. I rarely have the courage to wear the truly weird, but I love it all the same, and the longer I look, the more my taste for weird grows.

Designer runway shows are always weird, I suppose. This one, Dior, 2011, particularly appeals to me. I can easily imagine these clothes being worn in Oz.

This glamour-steampunk look is also weird. Rich and detailed and surreal and combining so many inspirations in one.

And so is this one, in a crisper, calmer way; it's really just the hat that tumbles it into Weird. I'd like it even better if the cuffs and peplum were pleated instead of ruffles. Better architecture, see?

As I was sitting here trying to think of likely sources of Weird, I thought of NCIS's Abby, here in one of her calmer looks, with its own steampunk vibe.

Are you seeing the next pattern along with me?


That is, travel through time and space and fictional worlds. Clothes that are spot-on-in-fashion right now don't usually make me happy; I like a gesture toward another place or time. I think that this is partly perpetual rebellion against memories of the junior-high expectation of to-the-letter fashion compliance, and partly joy in drawing from a wider history of inspiration.

My examples above are from the Sixties, steampunk/Victorian, and Oz--OK, OK, I called it Oz, but can you disagree with me? And then there are these Cylons in big hats. Of course, don't forget Downton Abbey. And Downton Abbey Meets Vogue. Wow.

I'll keep looking. I'll be back.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fashion: Trapped in the Eighties

The 1980s took me from age fourteen to age twenty-five. I'm guessing that those are the critical fashion-imprinting years, especially for those who, like me, never update their fashion eye. The decade seems to have provided me with a set of style guidelines that my mind persists in seeing as "right," no matter how emphatically modern fashion disagrees.

Mom Jeans: For example, have you seen the page "Mom Jeans and the Dreaded 'Long Butt'" on Grasping for Objectivity? It's a great piece of writing. I should find it persuasive. The problem is that when I scroll through it, looking at the Before and After photos, the Before photos are the ones that look "right" to me. Yes, they show a "long" line for the hips. A longer line that starts narrower and then curves out. To my eye, this makes the wearer's hips look narrower, and narrow hips seem to be a universal desire. Plus, it just looks "right" to me, but of course I can't trust that fact. Modern hipster jeans, by contrast, produce a sort of wide slice-of-paving-stone hip shape, a shape that may well look "right" forever to anyone going through their teens and early twenties in this decade.

Now, just yesterday I nudged Himself to tell him, "There's the one girl who looks good in hipster jeans!" I was referring to a young woman wearing a slightly but not excessively form-fitting knit shirt that followed the curve from her narrow waist to the point where it was tucked into jeans that were almost at the widest point of her narrow hips. She looked great. Having her waist and a large portion of her hips outlined by a simple shirt made that curve far more visible than it would be if it were broken in the middle by a pair of jeans. But the whole look was a death-defying act that required absolute perfection of tone and curves, and not a millimeter of abdomen fluff. I could appreciate it the way that I appreciated the street performer juggling a chainsaw the day before. But to me, it has no more to do with real life than the street performer did.

(No, my town doesn't have people juggling chainsaws in the street. I'm on vacation. Woo! Nearing the end of vacation. Grumble.)

So I continue to wear Mom jeans. And, even more offensive to modern style, I sometimes tuck my shirt in. Which leads to another eighties imprint:

The Tucking Issue: When I was growing up, shirts with curved tails were tucked in. Period. Now, that's not to say that they really were always tucked in, but they were supposed to be tucked in. If you cared even a little bit about looking neatly and properly dressed, you tucked the thing in. I continue to be startled by beautifully-dressed women who, by evidence of being beautifully-dressed, obviously consider an untucked curved tail to be entirely appropriate.

The Sticking Out Issue: And then there are all the women, sometimes it seems a majority of women, who layer a shorter shirt on top of a longer one. I know that the line of fabric below the shorter shirt is a conscious choice, but I can't seem to get over the assumption that the wearer put on her layers in the wrong order, or forgot to tuck them in, or both.

What else? What else? That's all for now, but no doubt I will have further evidence of fashion backwardness on my part.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fashion: The Huh? and the Predators and the Reality TV

My mother more than once said that it was a bad idea to enjoy food too much. Because we won't get to eat after we die. Because she read that someone who communicated with the dead through automatic writing was told (by the dead) that one of the reasons that Heaven was so great was because they (the dead) didn't have to cook.


What the...


Now, there are a lot of "Huh?" levels in that, so many that it's hard to pick one. There are plenty of people who won't stumble over the belief in Heaven, though I have my agnostic doubts. I suspect that a lot of those people would, however, have trouble with the automatic writing. And then there's the idea that a God that can create Heaven and Earth can't create food without having to employ cooks. That, of course, ignores the whole side issue of people who take joy in not just the eating but the cooking, and for whom a Heaven without butter and garlic and saucepans and a good nimble gas burner would be Hell...

I'm ignoring all that.

The part that I'm addressing is the idea that we should refrain from experiencing joy because we might lose it. That, I fear, is an area where my mother's genes sometimes show themselves in my thoughts. When I make fun plans, there's always a part of my mind telling me to wait. Wait until it's safe. Wait until that "Hmm...probably nothing, but go in for this test just in case," from my doctor has been resolved. Wait until I don't blow that work deadline. Wait until I've survived the layoffs. Wait until I have a guarantee of safety and stability. Wait wait wait.

Ignoring the foolishness of panicking at every tiny threat, and the fact that there's never such a guarantee, isn't the fact of an unsafe world a good reason to snatch at good times and enjoy them right this minute? But that's not the logic that my brain instinctively goes with. My brain, of all things, seems to fear that if I have fun today, and then the world falls apart tomorrow, I'll feel...stupid.

What the what?

All that leads into the fact that I've been watching What Not To Wear.

Yeah, you didn't see that coming, did you? See, for the first time I've been seeing clothes and their companions (like vintage rhinestone jewelry, say) as a possible source of joy. And even as I buy a silk blouse here and an above-the-knee denim skirt there, I still find myself feeling the threat of...feeling stupid.

What Not To Wear--the American version, not the British one that, by the way, got a lovely brief little parody on Dr. Who, with Captain Jack's clothed state being threatened (Have you seen Captain Jack? Even clothed?)...

...Where was I? Did I mention Captain Jack?

Ah, yes--What Not To Wear, despite its sometimes-over-the-top mockery of the participant's original wardrobe, despite my doubts about reality television, seems to be doing a fine job of unpacking and sifting my own thoughts about clothes and fashion and self-presentation. And touching on that whole fear of joy. When the sociology graduate talked about clothing as being misleading and false, my head said, "It's communication. Aren't you supposed to care about communication?" When the rounder people talked about losing those last ten or twenty or fifty pounds before they started thinking about their clothes, my head says, "Is there a law that you can't be happy in your clothes right now?" And the women who are afraid to look like they're trying--that, yes, I really understand.

In junior high and high school I saw fashion as a competition to find out who could most slavishly and expensively copy the style of the instant. It was what the mean girls did in those lazy sunlit moments stretching on the savannah as they picked their teeth and bonded after eating the unpopular.

But now, well... I begin to see that style doesn't have to be a predatory act. Some of that realization comes from the beauty bloggers. A lot of you don't just write about perfume, and when you're talking about the more visual elements of beauty you're not resting up after the kill or trying to make yourselves into a clone of the leader of the pack. You're expressing yourselves. Enjoying yourselves. Finding something to say about yourselves and your society and your identity as women and your sense of whimsey and...well, stuff.

That all feels like an introduction, but I don't seem to have more to say just now. Perhaps there will be fashion posts in this blog, as time goes on; perhaps that's what I'm introducing. Wouldn't that be... well, really weird?

Table image: Wikimedia Commons
Chef image: Wikimedia Commons
Captain Jack image: Wikimedia Commons
Hat image: Wikimedia Commons
Lion image: Wikimedia Commons.