Wednesday, July 25, 2012

wedding story in many parts

Did I mention I'm getting married? Oh, a wedding, a wedding! How thrilling and exciting! 

I have found on the internets a real dearth of information on what's out there for real weddings—what about people who are not on their first trip down the aisle? What creative ways can couples express themselves without resorting to super weirdness? (please don't google "Alternative weddings" —just trust me on that one). And most importantly, how do I do this without picking up a copy of Bridezilla magazine? 

I can't be the first one to ask such a question—thus, I am putting out here, on the internets, the data dump for my wedding, and the absurd process that goes with it, in case anyone else is similarly hard up for ideas.

Immediately I can tell you this is not going to be a Charles and Diana thing, that ritual holds nothing for us. Already we're struggling for a purpose to put this thing together. I mean, we're already completely besotted and espoused to each other in spirit, we know we're already there! Must we really go to the effort of choosing colours and flowers and which chicken or beef dish we supply for an ever-growing list of guests? 

It turns out the answer is no: we don't have to each have 9 bridesmaids and hold a topless dancer bachelor party. We don't even have to do the chicken dance. It didn't take us long to conclude that we can make this a celebration of whatever the f*ck we want, and celebrate it in whatever fashion our little hearts desire. 

We decided that the best part was that we get to be together and hold hands and giggle whilst we plan. You see, Himself and I are all about being disgustingly barf-inducingly ridiculous together. That's just how we roll. Yay! I knew I married this guy for a reason! We sat and we talked: what's important to us? What do we want to share with others, what do we keep to ourselves? 

It should come as no surprise that this Bitch has put Dressing Up at a very high priority on the agenda. We have so many options, elopement is but one of them. I reluctantly declined this as I would never turn down an occasion to show off a fancy dress, even if it's in a colour that does not favour me best.  And even if we weren't going to have a big fancy marriage party, Himself requires a good suiting. 

In no particular order, also on the list is fancy food. Also is chat with our closest friends. Also is cupcakes. This is pretty much how we arrived at the decision to throw a big party for a number of our closest friends, requiring them to dress up and come chat with us, whilst consuming cupcakes and other foods (it's a pretty short list of requirements).

I'd totally go to that wedding! 

There are many parts to this story, part 2 is the Suiting of Himself

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Boys on Film

S.B. said to me last night, watching this movie: "Ryan Gosling's suit is too small." I said, "No, honey, it FITS."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

culture club

What if your upward career momentum were hampered by your choice of fashion at work?

I realize that this situation is commonplace in many businesses -- for example, the one who looks like a slob will be passed over for promotion many times while the one who looks neater, cleaner, smells better might find herself in an office with a window. This is not news to me, this is what the fashion industry is selling: your image is your key to success. A neater cleaner version of you is going places! Doing things! Upward and onward!

But what if it's not a case of a clean shirt versus a wrinkled shirt? What if it's a case of this,

versus this?

It's not that the asymmetrical draped tangerine silk top is inappropriate. It's not that the silver foil bandage skirt is overly sexy or offensive, and we're not talking about a job at Target. Both of these ladies look great, they're covered in all the right places. The big difference is perception: one looks like an engineer, and the other one doesn't.

Part of me rebels against this concept like a teenager in high school - the punk rock chick on the inside is totally not OK with being told what to do, no matter how sensible it might sound.

Back in the real world of today, I know that looks count for a lot and we all judge each other.  Let's face it: when you think about sciencey types, you're thinking conservative, navy suit, red tie. I think this perception thing is a cultural issue. In the geek culture, geeks are supposed to look geeky. They're not supposed to wear big heels and fabulous accessories.

Part of the reason this irks me so deeply is because it doesn't really make sense. I know that in a business world, it's important to look appropriate and follow the rules. It makes sense to dress nice for company, embrace a Jackie O look when appropriate. Make the emphasis on your brain, not on your blouse when you're meeting new people. So what's wrong with expressing creativity when it has no bearing on your work product?

Are we willing to embrace the hypocrisy of conservative wardrobe all the time, just for the sake of being accepted or promoted? Is it a noble aspiration, to rise above narrow-minded perceptions of other people? Or is it just stubbornness and stupidity that will ultimately relegate the fashion outcasts to the ranks of the non-promoted?

Personally, I struggle with this -- anyone who knows me knows that I'm very comfortable with not wearing a filter, I don't spend much time indulging in overly-self editing behaviour inside or out. I know that my personality has earned me the trust and respect of friends who I trust and respect, and will continue to earn me the company of people I admire.  I have made peace with the fact that I'm not like the other engineers, which means if I were forced into a khakis-and-polo-shirt fashion pyjamas mould, I'd probably come out more like this:

Love that belt! 

I also know that I have many clients who don't care about how I dress because they deal with me over the phone. I don't get repeat business for my style points. 

I was confronted with potential hypocrisy this morning when my youngest appeared ready for school in a questionable outfit. I would never ever tell her little self that her navy blue floral romper did not go with her leopard fur vest, because I respect her creativity (and I've put some pretty crazy stuff together myself). I will leave it to her mean-spirited girl friends to tell her that she looks good or bad, as I know they will some day. I have a feeling that she'll decide for herself if the world judging her for her outward appearance will be important to her or not, but I'll support her in expressing herself within the safe boundaries of being her age. At her age she's still allowed to dress like a crazy old lady, and I think it's great. She's too young to put on a uniform, she has a whole lifetime of uniforms ahead of her, and I'll talk her through that when the time comes.

I did point out that she was walking a fine line with respect to the school dress code, since her romper was pretty short and had spaghetti straps. I had a feeling this would not fly with the fashion agenda in her elementary school (and was potentially a bit revealing for my taste as well). 

I sent her back to adjust it. She came back wearing a plaid dress over the top of it all.

You go, girl. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Simon Doonan PSA

Dear Simon Doonan,

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Please, can you shout your advice from the highest of gay rooftops again and again? 

Judging by some of the comments, it appears that some of your detractors are big fans of Greige, and probably also khaki, putty, biscuit, and oatmeal. We hope that someday they will want to throw off the shackles of fashion pajamas and submit to your Bird Of Paradise mentality.

Meanwhile, please feel free to not tell us if this feather skirt makes our butts look big.

Your humble fans,

the Bitches

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mindful Fashion

A couple weeks ago, while getting dressed for a meeting and trying to figure out how best to complete my outfit, a voice rang out: "You have too many shoes."

I looked behind me to see if perhaps my husband was talking to me or if either of my dogs had suddenly been blessed with the powers of human speech. Nope.

"And, while we're at it, too many jackets," the voice continued, clearly taking on a strident tone. "And what's up with all the cashmere sweaters? Christ on a cracker, you could clothe yourself and probably a few of your friends for an eternity on what you have hanging, stacked, and piled in this closet."

It was like being hit on the head with a pair of Frye Harness Boots, but there was no way around it. The Voice was right: I have too much shit in my closet.

Don't get me wrong. Madonna's "Material Girl" was written for me. As an unabashed materialist, nothing makes me happier than discovering, touching, holding, buying human-being crafted items, in all their infinite incarnations of usefulness and beauty. And when it comes to fashion, my Add to Cart mentality is alive and kicking. Dancing, even.

Still. How much of it do I really need? Not only that, how much of it do I really like? Wear? Want? Finally, how much of it is of a quality high enough to provide the folks who make it with a decent living? (Yes, Virginia, semi-socially conscious epiphanies are possible with Dolce and Gabanna trousers hanging in your closet. Okay, D&G, and they were on sale.)

So here's where I took that epiphany: We are rapidly approaching the time of year when people make resolutions to change certain aspects of their behavior. What if I resolved to change the way I approach fashion and what would that change look like?

Here's what I came up with:

1. Buy less, spend more. You read that right: SPEND MORE. Not just on quality, but also on wearability. Yes, we Bitches are loathe to pay retail, but we are also familiar with the dirty little flip side secret to the so-called bargain bins: that 10 you clutch to your breast at 2 can quickly morph into a 2 at 10 when you find yourself dealing with split seams, pilled wool, shrinking, stretching, fading, and other hidden horrors to which your endorphin-flooded brain was totally blind because it was busy sending signals to your clutchy lil' hands to grab, grab, grab!

Instead, what if I took those dozens of times a year I spend "only X amount!" and tuck it away until I reach a big pool o'cash for something totally covet-worthy and well made? I can hear the Voice now: "That's right, Bitch, do not spend your money on anything that isn't of the utmost highest quality, I don't care if it is only a tee shirt. Or that doesn't play well with the other children in your closet. Don't tell me you need a pair of patent leather Mary Jane pumps, even if they are only $45 at Payless, when I can clearly see everything else in your closet is rock and roll boho.

2. Apply the reduce, reuse, recycle principle to my wardrobe by shopping primarily consignment. You know, those shops where another gal's discarded wardrobe—freshly cleaned and in like new condition, of course—is now your new treasure. And where you can sell your own cast offs and make extra cash to boot. I've been shopping 2 Time Couture here in Albuquerque since they first opened and the place is a revelation. As is Act 2 in Santa Fe. A few consignment-scored items currently hanging in my closet include an ivory cable knit Vince cashmere sweater, an Atelier slim-cut black wool blazer, an Anac By Kimi jersey tunic, a Hugo Buscati cropped silk tuxedo jacket, a whack-on-crack-patterned silk Diane von Furstenberg dress, and a pair of never-worn black and white Ferragamo Alerja wedges. All of which I nicked at prices between 50 to 80 percent off original retail.

The sucker who paid retail for these Ferragamos: $400. Moi: $90.

3. Finally, I will try to buy only from those designers who are committed to manufacturing in the United States or their country of origin and who pay their artisans a decent wage as a result. Why do politicians make so much noise about revitalizing America's manufacturing industries? Because they create and keep jobs here at home, and the lack thereof is one of the most pressing economic issues we face today. It can be done. I just completed a book on a U.S. founded, owned, and operated manufacturer of industrial equipment who for the past 75 years has not only sourced all their materials locally, but has manufactured their final product right here in the U.S., even though they sell all over the world. Yes, that product is priced at a premium, but it lasts forever and it allows the company to provide their over 100 employees with a compensation and benefits package nearly unheard of today.

I simply do not see why the same thing cannot be done in the fashion industry. And not just with luxury goods like Hermes and Chanel or high end designers like The Row, but at the pret-a-porter level, too, everyone from companies with name brand recognition like Frye, LL Bean, American Apparel, and Nanette Lepore to boutique designers like Filly and Angel Court Jewels (how badly do I want that blue velvet Lonely Hunter dress or Waters necklace? Thiiiiiiiiis badly.) Both are among a handful of designers who manufacture their goods right here at home. You can check them out here.

And then go listen to your own Voice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beauty For a Cause

It's that time of year again. Yes, to shop until you drop, but also to give until it hurts. This year, Beauty Bloggers is holding a charitable auction of dozens of covet-worthy beauty products that runs from November 28 until December 12. All proceeds go directly to benefiting Doctors Without Borders.

Check it out.

Of course, you can always donate without bidding on a single product (see info at the top of the page). And keep your hands off Moi's Shalimar :o)