Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I used to participate in the occasional focus group, and one I did many years ago for face cream introduced me to the phrase, "down-aging," meaning that women are looking and acting ten years younger at 40, 50, 60 than they did a generation ago. While I think it's great that we no longer are forced by convention to follow arbitrary dictates once there are a certain number of candles on the cake, tossing the rulebook out the window always results in some floundering.
In our youth-obsessed culture, it's just assumed that we all want to look 25 years old. It seems to une femme that women who have a large part of their identity tied up in being conventionally attractive seem to have the toughest time letting go of styles that worked for them in their youth. In my humble opinion, there is a point where hanging onto the fashions that worked in our 20's starts to backfire, and makes us look not only older, but sometimes even ridiculous. (The exception seems to be those fortunate women who develop a unique and timless style early in life, and hang onto it through the decades.) Even if our weight remains constant, our bodies and faces change with time, and what was flattering for us a couple of decades ago may no longer be so. Too much skin, too much "flounce" (ruffles, lace, eyelet, cutesy details), too much makeup, too many trends worn simultaneously...all of these are traps for the not-so-young woman.
But on the other hand, throwing aside all concern for contemporary style can result in looking dated, frumpy and disengaged, which for women (and men) working in a corporate environment is an economic risk when outsourcing, downsizing, realigning and streamlining means we're often in competition for jobs with recent college grads.
These are a couple examples of "after" work looks that appealed to me.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Sad because it brings back all of the years I wasted being obsessed with getting thin, with hating myself, with eating disorders, with putting my life on hold until I achieved a certain size, and with believing that gateway to happiness would open at x pounds.
Angry because some 15 or 13 or 8 year old girl is going to read this magazine, and it's going to reinforce our media/cultural designation of what "fat" is, and she's going to waste years of her life fighting against a normal woman's body, or worse, develop a serious eating disorder. Angry because purveyors of weight loss plans that don't work (and just make us fatter in the long run) are going to get richer. Angry because it validates the sense of entitlement some men have to a) have a wife who always looks like a taut 20-year-old, and b) to try to control what she eats or use her imagined fatness to maintain power over her. (Maybe that's not what's going on in their relationship but when someone decribes a husband who scolds her--"uh, uh, uh"-- for what she eats as "supportive," red flags go up all over the place for me, having been in those kind of relationships myself.) Angry because the normal changes that a woman's body goes through during and after pregnancy are considered ugly and something to hide.
And before anyone goes into "she just wants to be healthy!" territory, weighing 116 and wanting to lose 10 pounds has fuck-all to do with "health".
As Harriet Brown at Feed Me! put this so well a few months ago, writing about Rachel Hunter's comment, "Who doesn't want to lose 20 pounds?":
This kind of fat trash talk is my least favorite. It's the equivalent of the air kiss, the baring of the throat by the subordinate animal. It's a social custom denoting (supposedly) good taste and submissive femininity. The words themselves aren't the point; it's the intention behind them. And the intension is to erase the self, to make yourself as small and thin and weak as possible.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Pawfection Softening Paw Balm, $28.
Polished Paws Nail Polish, $14.
The mind, it reels.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
for dinner at eight
She loves the theater,
but doesnt come late
She'd never bother,
with people she'd hate
(You'd better believe it, sister!)
Thats why the lady is a tramp
Doesnt like crap games,
with barons and earls
(Heck, just put me in front of the quarter poker machine, I'm good.)
Wont go to harlem,
in ermine and pearls
(Who wears ermine anymore?)
Wont dish the dirt,
with the rest of those girls
Thats why the lady is a tramp
She loves the free,
fresh wind in her hair
(But those Santa Ana's gotta go!)
Life without care
Shes broke, but its ok
(Ramen noodles, baby!)
She hates california,
its cold and its damp
(We only wish!)
Thats why the lady is a tramp!
Probably the least sexist song ever sung by Frank Sinatra. The way it reads to me is "this woman plays by her own rules, and conventional people slut-shame her for it." Back in the days when popular lore dictated that Good Girls Don't (though that's been shown to mostly have been a myth), there were a number of things that would make a woman's morals suspect. Being divorced, being too independent, wearing "too much" makeup or form-fitting sweaters all were cause for clucking and castigation. The same sweaters that might have raised suspicion back in the fifties seem almost modest now (or maybe it was those rocket-nosecone bras that made them seem so risqué).
But the reason I actually led off this post with those lyrics was because I had been certain that in there somewhere was a line about "prefers cashmere to furs." And I wanted to write about cashmere. What the heck, I'm going to write about cashmere anyway.
My cashmere habit began many years ago on my first ski trip with my then-boyfriend-later-to-be-husband and his family. His mom loaned me a moth-eaten, navy cashmere crewneck sweater to wear as a warm layer underneath my flimsy parka. I couldn't believe something so light could be so warm! And soft! One taste, and I was hooked.
I've purchased several cashmere sweaters over the years of varying quality and price. While some might be more stylish, you can't beat Land's End cashmere pieces for a good quality/price ratio. Like all of their clothes, the workmanship is quite good, and their cashmere is soft, but sturdy and doesn't pill or look shabby after several wearings.
This cashmere cardigan in heather grey is one I wear quite frequently during the cooler months. The styling is classic, it goes with everything, and was a go-to layering piece for a majority of our Paris trip.
One of my favorite styles is a V-neck. I recently realized I didn't have one in a neutral color, and just ordered this one in black.
Bloomingdale's Sutton Studio line also offers some nice styles and colors, and if you can hold out until they go on sale in January, you can get some fantastic bargains.
Wrap sweater, $149. (Love this color!!)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Riding boots are hot right now, which means there are a lot of choices available. I prefer a simpler boot, without a lot of extraneous buckles, straps or hardware to look dated in a year or so. Here are some options, all under $200.
AK Anne Klein
A hacking jacket is another horsey item that translates well to a classic work wardrobe. Ralph Lauren made his bones on equestrian-inspired wear, and hasn't lost his touch.
Scarves can also be easily incorporated into one's regular wardrobe. To keep from looking like the Queen Mum, pass up the elaborate knots and throw over your shoulders casually, with a "this-old-thing?" insouciance.
Or, the Mother of Them All, Hermés.
I know jodphurs have made an appearance on the runways recently, but frankly, that's one item I'd skip. Not only are they rarely flattering, but they're tough to wear without looking a tad...costume-y......or worse.
Monday, October 22, 2007
The only candy I still nostalgia-binge on is Brach's Autumn Mix (regular candy corn, chocolate candy corn and the waxy candy pumpkins that are so sugary they burn the back of your throat). For the first two weeks of October, I eat it for a few days a handful at a time until I'm sick, throw the rest of the bag away, and buy another bag a few days later. Rinse, repeat.
Our neighborhood gets into cheesy holiday decorating, especially for Halloween.
The Enchanted Candy Corn Forest:
Le Chat Noir practicing his Halloween schtick on my dogs:
Dead Pirates seems to be a popular theme this year:
God, I hope that's a broom...
Consequently, our neighborhood is a big draw for trick-or-treaters, and we usually get between 250-350 kids showing up at our door each year. Yes, we buy our candy at Costco.
While I no longer dress up beyond donning a witch hat, there's one area where I still give my creative side free rein: pumpkin carving. No plastic, pre-carved, electric pumpkins for this femme! Only the old fashioned, messy, candle-lit version will do. I choose my pumpkins carefully, looking for those that have some irregularities or interesting shapes. This gets tougher each year, as the pumpkins available seem to be bred more and more for uniformity. I often have to splurge on the more exotic varieties to get some gourd diversity, and wait to carve until just a few days before the holiday to avoid mold. Like a mad murderess, I savor the whole process, that first barbaric stab of the knife, the smell of pumpkin guts as I evicerate, the design that seems to spring from the shape and personality of the gourd itself, and especially the finished product. While my jack-o-lanterns are a bit rough due to my freehand filet knife technique and would never impess the Martha Stewarts of the world, I do think they have a lot of personality.
I had taken more pictures last year with the jack-o-lanterns lit up, but lost them when our hard drive crashed before we could back up all of the picture files.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The fabric is lovely, the workmanship fabulous, but the fit, not so much. The sleeve length is perfect, but the body of the shirt fits like an oversized potato sack. If I'd ordered the plain back instead of a center pleat, I'd consider taking this into the tailor and have some darts added, but alas, it's getting a one-way ticket back to Wisconsin. Frankly, I can get a much better fit straight off the rack from Talbot's.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Just say No, Jennifer, just say No! Seriously, she looks like an overgrown toddler on her way to eat cat poop out of the sandbox.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
In the 90's, Bobbi Brown swept in with the natural look, and we swapped our peacock colors for taupes and browns and beiges. At some point, I realized I was spending quite a bit of time each day applying makeup that ultimately was rather drab and boring, so for the waning years of the 20th century, my makeup philosophy could be summed up as, "why bother?"
But in the last few years, the pendulum has swung back to the middle, makeup-wise. Even if time weren't my primary consideration, my days of Supa-Glam have passed. It's this femme's humble yet staunch position, that once we hit un certain age, complex, overdone make-up detracts rather than adds. (And I don't care what your age, the current fad for "raccoon eyes" just looks tacky and needs to go!) What I strive for these days is minimal makeup that will have a maximal effect.
Concealer: I never used to bother with this, but lately I've started using a little Clarins on my undereye circles. I like this product because it doesn't collect in the fine lines or look cakey. Wearing glasses tends to cast a bit of dark shadows on the eye area anyway, and a little light concealer helps counterract this, and keeps me from looking like I was up partying with Barnabas Collins all night.
Liner: I used to be hopeless with applying eyeliner. Then a couple of years ago I was over at Barney's doing some Balenciaga bag reconnaissance for a friend, and got corraled into getting a Nars makeover. Usually one steps away from these things looking like a freak show, but the woman who worked on me was quite good and took me seriously when I told her I preferred a more natural look. She showed me an eyeliner technique that looks great and has yet to fail me. Using an eyeliner brush like this, you dampen some dark powder eye shadow, load up the brush and then tap along the upper lid, aiming for the base of the lashes rather than the eyelid itself. Apply your eyeshadow over the liner for a softer look. Works like a dream. Even so, this is relegated to "special occasion" makeup, because I just don't have time to do this in the mornings.
Shadow: Hardly ever wear it anymore either. One I like, except that it tends to crumble, is Nars "Dream Lover". It's a lighter and darker shade of greyish green, which I just mix and use on the lid and to just above the crease.
What I do wear most days is mascara. First, I curl my lashes because they tend to be long and will leave smudges on the inside of my glasses if I don't. Then comes the Diorshow. I've tried a lot of mascaras, cheap and not, and this one goes on without clumps, doesn't flake, and doesn't irritate my eyes. It's harder to hit that trifecta than you might imagine. I keep it to a light coat or two, just enough to open my eyes up a bit.
Brows: I plucked the crap out of my brows back in high school in the 70's when the look was to have almost no brows at all, and they mostly never grew back. I tried pencilling to fill in, and brow gels, but now that I have a hair stylist who will also "do" my brows (a little trimming, shaping and coloring) I don't have to do anything to them on a daily basis except occasionally round up the strays. But of all the brow products I tried, Bobbi Brown's brow gel is probably the easiest to use and gives the most natural looking results.
Well for someone who doesn't wear a lot of makeup, I do go on about it. We'll save lips and cheeks for next time.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
So now she reminds me of a silent screen starlet,
Or even perhaps her namesake.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Next up, Les yeux.