Category Archives: fashion

The optimism of white blouses and little white sundresses…

There’s something about warm weather and lightweight white clothing that I love.  It just seems quintessentially summery and so carefree.

The reality though, is that, sartorially speaking,  there is nothing more stressful than wearing white clothing. You can’t  sit anywhere safely, and forget about eating Mexican food or pizza. A new white blouse is a sure fire way to make a meal an exercise in tension and regret. 

For a long time, this was a non-issue, because I lived in a part of the country that was foggy and damp most of the year. A wardrobe  entirely made up of grey and black was perfectly suitable (and stain hiding.)

Now, living in a place that is unrelentingly sunny, my previous clothing choices conspire to make me look like a hole in reality, and really age-inappropriately goth. Also, it’s just hot. So lightweight clothing becomes more of a necessity unless dissolving into a pool of sweat is your thing*

Of course, the very first day, while wearing my very first new white shirt in years, I immediately got a stain on it. 

This is when I realized the importance of carrying round these things.

If you’re one of those people who move through life in a choreography of grace and precision, this product is unnecessary. 

However, if you’re like me, or pretty much everyone else I know, these things are awesome. And come in packs of three. 

How often does awesome come in packs of three?! (Actually, I’ve never given this serious thought, so maybe it happens all the time. Suggestions welcome.)

*it is not my thing. 


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Fashion schizophrenia

I suffer a bit from fashion schizophrenia. I love the tailored, almost sci fi looks as much as the vaguely Stepford/granny/Victorian couch prints that are in this fall. Really can’t decide, and I don’t think those two aesthetics blend well.

The problem may be that I like characters. So I can’t tell if I find the clothing itself compelling or because it looks like a costume for a character.

I suspect it might be the latter. I tried on a skirt that objectively, was not a great look for me. It was a high waisted navy, midi skirt.

But there was something about the silhouette I found deeply interesting and I didn’t know why.

Then I realized it was because it made me look like a nun in training.

Reader, I did not buy the skirt.


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This is carrying whimsy a bit too far…

Gnome shoes

I don’t even know where to begin with this

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Discovery #1 about moving from SF to LA

About a year ago, I left San Francisco for a new job and a new city.

I know many, many people have traveled much further and more frequently for the same reasons, so forgive me for my completely self indulgent navel gazing on the matter, as my move didn’t even require a time zone change.

Nevertheless, I’m going to note what I’ve learned in the past year, in no particular order.

#1 My Jacket Collection Will Never Exercise Its Full Potential in LA

Bitching and romanticizing the persistent fog and damp of San Francisco is a common pastime of its inhabitants. But a major positive about its unique weather is that you can dress for one season; fall. A scarf and a nice jacket is always appropriate. And one of the best things about a jacket is that you can pretty much be wearing your rattiest t-shirt underneath and no one will know!

But now, I am coming to the reluctant conclusion that the days of looking like a romantic Edwardian of a vaguely literary persuasion are over. Wool is pretty pointless here, and it is frequently so sunny, that dressing in dark colors just makes me look like a humorless German designer or a displaced aging goth.

So it may be time to donate some jackets.


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On complicated clothing

Fashion, like all art forms, cannibalizes from the past (or the imagined past). The popularity of “Mad Men” over the last few years has meant more tailored, structured clothing, an aesthetic that also extends to lingerie.

Now cute, “vintage” sets can be purchased without having to deal with the creepiness of wearing someone else’s used underwear.

For example, from Anthropologie.


Adorable right?

But as I struggled with no less than EIGHT hook and eye closures*, I realized that women in the past were expected to spend more time getting dressed, and clothing in general has become progressively more comfortable and less complicated. In fact, you could probably draw a direct correlation between what was considered “feminine and stylish” to “restricting mobility and time consuming”, even now.

I thought about how cute it was, and then I pictured myself getting angry every morning as I spent fifteen minutes trying to put on my damn bra.

There’s the person you imagine yourself to be vs. the person you actually are. The latter always wins out.

*Now I realize that for those of you whose cups runneth over, rather than being half full, perhaps a sturdy eight hooks is the minimum required. I salute your superior dexterity and better native temperament because I really haven’t noticed that busty women were significantly crankier than small chested women.

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Clothes, they make a man. Well a person. Something, anyway.

I love going through racks of clothing, even though I often leave without buying anything. I’d love to say this is because I’m fiscally responsible. but more often than not, it’s because I can’t tell if I actually like a piece because I think it’s a good piece, or that I’m simply enamored because of its dramatic potential.

Highly styled items always feel like costumes to me. For example:

1) Expensive apocalyptic wasteland! With the frayed edges, exposed seams, asymmetrical hems, and colors of dirt and rock. Also a popular look among zombies.


2) Sci-fi heroine! Black, grays and whites, sharply tailored, or expertly draped. Looks fabulous on tall, skinny people and resembles upholstery and sackcloth on everyone else.


3) Gypsy queen! Extravagant colors, metallic thread, jewelry involving crystals and mystical icons. Lots of fabric from places like India, Indonesia, and Tibet…someplace where dirt floors don’t mean you’re camping.


4)Aging trophy wife. Bright colors. Over processed hair. Over worked face. Expensive clothes that is usually a bit gaudy. Big jewelry. I don’t think I need to show pictures as there are entire television programs on Bravo that not only exhaustively illustrate this look, but conveniently, are proof of the impending apocalypse, when look 1) will inevitably come in handy.

6)Escaped from the Asylum. This is fashion that I don’t understand and feels like it was put together by crazy people.


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Downton Abbey and Maggie Smith, my patron saint of costume dramas

So like everyone else who grew up with a love of costume dramas, I am hooked on this show. It finished its second season on the BBC in the UK and is now running on PBS in the US.

It’s a soap opera, so they’ll probably drag some story lines on for way too long and never resolve others. But the clothes are such fun! If i were back in high school with my lack of self awareness and embarrassment about all the wrong things, I would totally be cobbling together my version of the look.

As it was, my anachronistic style cues back then were “Anne of Green Gables” and “Room with a View”, looks from an earlier time than “Downton Abbey”.

Actually, about twenty years earlier! How oddly apropos, since that is about how long ago high school was for me.

“Room with a View” featured Maggie Smith as does “Downton Abbey” and I think it’s so nice to have consistent company in my multiple costume drama phases. I now decree that all fussy, disapproving characters always be played by Maggie Smith. She has a patent on silent disdain, and everyone else just ends up looking like they’re doing a Maggie Smith impression.

I’ve periodically looked up other actors from that long ago movie and I do think Maggie and Helena Bonham Carter have held up the best, even of the latter often dresses like a crazy person.


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