Category Archives: Fashion

To see a world in a purse or heaven in a handbag

Click for source. Xaviera Hollander's website is worth a visit.

Click for source. Xaviera Hollander’s website is worth a visit.

So last week, I was reading a magazine which contained an interview with designer Giambattista Valli. Quoth he, on the subject of handbags: “An architectural bag provides structure. One click and you open a woman’s private universe.”

I hardly know what to say. I mean, my handbag is no more my “private universe” than my desk chair. The idea that the contents of a woman’s bag – keys, a phone, ID, credit cards and/or cash, some lipstick or gloss – the archeological remains of being a functioning modern person – could constitute her universe is just so offensive. Not to mention that it lacks imagination about the way a woman constructs meaning in her life. It’s misogyny. A part of me says, eh, it’s cultural, but the rest of me says, that doesn’t make it right. Screw you, Valli.

The other thing his little observation brought to mind for me was The Happy Hooker, a 70s era tell-all about, you know, a hooker, Xaviera Hollander, who was happy about it. I picked up a copy in a thrift store when I was a teenager. There are two things that I remember about it. One, a scene with a dog that I think was supposed to shock? And two, the pivotal scene of the author/narrator’s job interview with the madam. The madam took her purse and examined it. Its sparse contents signaled to the madam that this was a girl of quality, worthy of admittance into the life of a high-class hooker. Valli gets this, no?

I don’t. I mean, I do. It’s a vestige of earlier generations’ social signals of class, a coded mechanism for detecting who is and who is not your economic equal. I say earlier generations, but this type of social marking obviously continues. The same magazine had an article about skin bleaching in Jamaica; one interview subject likened it to tanning in the U.S. I’m way late to the discussion about the weird spectacle that is Miley Cyrus, but her appropriation of the whole ratchet thing is another spin on this topic, which is way too big for me to do justice to here.

Anyhoo. This poor neglected blog. I want to give it some love, but it’s just one of those things that’s easy to let go of when other parts of life threaten to overwhelm. I spent all of July and part of August sick with vertigo. Work has been crazy-busy since May. I’ve gotten great traction on my novel revision. And of course, there is my sweet Otto, now almost fully mobile and no longer content to sit idly by when he could be running down the dogs with a push toy or attempting to scale furniture in his room. I’ll make room for this place when I can.


Ghost of Dov

Yoinked & collaged from the ad in question.

For weeks now, I have been haunted by a pallid hipster, a smooth, concave-chested kid with sparse facial hair wearing nothing but dark-wash mom jeans. Sometimes he pulls these jeans down, mock-sexily, far enough to demonstrate that he is in fact going commando.

Of course, it’s not the kid’s fault: he’s an American Apparel model, subject to the whims of Dov Charney’s perversely anti-sexy sex-focused ad campaigns.

And I can only blame myself that this kid follows me around the internet. Evidently my browsing history suggests to Google algorithms that I am a good prospect for purchasing AA. While this is really not the case when it comes to men’s jeans, I admit that I actually visited the AA site while writing this and discovered that they do in fact carry reasonably-priced baby garments that pass aesthetic muster. I feel deeply ambivalent about what now seems inevitable, that I will purchase some of these garments in the near future (starting with a mystery grab bag!).

American Apparel…le sigh. I don’t have anything to add to the ongoing conversation about Dov Charney’s repulsiveness that didn’t already inform a short story I wrote from his first-person POV several years ago. I’ve hit another frustrating patch with my novel, so perhaps I will bust out that story and see if it’s worth dusting off and submitting someplace. Perhaps that is why the hipster has been haunting me…?

Lady talk


This is a narrative I have seen play out in various fashion-y shows on television, and also within the pages of magazines: a woman, old enough to know what’s what, is measured for a bra by a professional for the first time in her life. She discovers that the size she has been wearing is wrong! Very wrong, embarrassingly so. She is paired with a new bra, which has a transformative effect on her appearance (generally making her appear thinner), the fit of her clothes, and her self-image. It is a minor miracle.

So this weekend I read an article on bra fitting in a magazine. I measured myself according to the method described and discovered that the size I’ve been wearing is wrong! Very wrong, embarrassingly so. The size I’m alleged to wear is weird, and so I could not find it in my usual sorts of bra-getting places. I felt cornered into making a trip to Victoria’s Secret.

It’s been over ten years since Victoria’s Secret was a place I even had a passing interest in visiting. In the ensuring years, it has become a sort of tweeny haven, especially the side of the store branded “Pink.” (I remember seeing a lengthy debate on FB not too long ago about whether this is self-conscious or accidental euphemism on the part of VS; it’s probably safe to say that the nuance is lost on the target demographic). The tweens all had their swains in tow. I accidentally locked eyes with one such swain as he was in the act of shooting a yellow thong at his girlfriend as if it was a rubber band. He had the grace to look embarrassed.

I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Skeptical about my alleged new size, I purchased a slightly more realistic-seeming size without trying it on. At home, I discovered that it did not fit, necessitating a second visit to Victoria’s Secret today, for return purposes. This time I tried on a couple of options, which seemed fine in store, but as soon as I got home, revealed themselves to be not fine. It looks as if a third trip is in order. If I had been more thorough-going in my initial visit, I could have avoided all this annoyance. Perhaps I should be ordering things online?

Le sigh. The happy ending part of this little narrative had better be as satisfying as it’s purported to be on TV.

Resorting to lengthy quotes

Miss Fran

It’s been a while since I posted here, for tedious reasons related to the location of my router and my laptop’s corresponding distance from it, so when I sat down here to write, my first instinct was to bitch. And bitch I did! But such bitching is of no use or interest to anyone so I have elected to delete it.

[An aside: unless a reader is interested in bitching about Project Runway All Stars, this evening’s episode of which featured a baffling degree of praise for a powder-blue polka-dot romper with a  Peter Pan collar, a combination of words only suitable for describing children’s active wear.]

Speaking of children. My own lack of inspiration this evening led me to Fran Lebowitz’s Metropolitan Life, and a specific essay helpfully titled, “Children: Pro or Con?”

Some excerpts, from the “pro” side:

Children do not sit next to one in restaurants and discuss their preposterous hopes for the future in loud tones of voice.

Children ask better questions than do adults. “May I have a cookie?” “Why is the sky blue?” and “What does a cow say?” are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than “Where’s your manuscript?” “Why haven’t you called?” and “Who’s your lawyer?”

Children give life to the concept of immaturity.

And then the “con” side:

Children respond inadequately to sardonic humor and veiled threats.

Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in mood, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement mixer long after one’s own interest in the topic has waned.

Children do not look well in evening clothes.

All too often children are accompanied by adults.

And there you have it: children, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Lone Wolf

Click for source

I toyed with the idea of posting a wish list here. The reason was not to guide people looking for gifts to give me, as that is at once presumptuous and unnecessary: this is stuff I’m likely to get myself. It seemed to me, in part, that to do so would be kind of like curating random cool things I’ve found recently, the performance of a kind of shopping public service. But yuck. Also, I am uncomfortable with my instinctive materialism and try to battle it at every turn.

Besides, when I made the list, I realized that the thing I am most excited about this year is Christmas tamales. My mom is getting a dozen, and I am bringing a dozen home from Tucson Tamale Company. It’s going to be an epic meal, with family – along with my mom’s holiday breakfast rolls, the best part of the whole weekend.

That said, one of the items on my list is the pictured fingerless knuckle tattoo gloves. I prefer “Lone Wolf,” and make no mistake, they shall be mine. It’s been unusually cold in Tucson this month, a distressing state of affairs for thin-blooded whiners such as myself. I am the kind of person who keeps her office thermostat at 80 degrees and still has to put on a jacket, shivering, when the afternoon light shifts away from my windows. In the fall, when the weather here turns and the highs are in the mid-90s, I bust out the fleece blankets and bundle up. This sounds like exaggeration, but I assure you, it is not. It’s in the 40s or 50s now, and I’m in Sherpa boots and have a fleece blanket draped over my head  and my hands. I really need those fingerless gloves, I’m telling you, and I’ll need them even more when my new writing nook is functional.

Musical interlude

I’m not a fan of the Fiery Furnaces, but based on this, may need to check out Eleanor Friedberger’s solo album. Although I did come across this video before encountering the song on its own, so now it’s hard for me to separate the visual story from the music, specifically, the mild repulsion/affection I feel for the fashion of the 90s that the former evokes.

Mainly, those hideous heels. I like the way that the updated version of the heels is more refined and vintagey, with better proportions and relevance to a particular strain of contemporary indie fashion. I feel like I can see an evolution of the fictional girl’s style, even as certain elements remain the same.

I’m overthinking this, aren’t I? Le sigh.

Post script: I finished the damned fast-draft novel. FINALLY.

Shoe in

The light in both is really lovely.

I do love shoes, but my innate thriftiness – some may even say sanity – makes me wary of pairs costing upwards of $600. Even if I had a budget that would permit such extravagance, I couldn’t bring myself to “invest” that much, for a few reasons.

One, I am hard on my shoes. I cannot be bothered to wear driving mocs for the sake of my heels, so they get a little jacked. Two, the dogs are hard on my shoes. A few weeks ago, Banjo went batshit crazy and ate one of my boots. This is unprecedented behavior from him that I still don’t understand. Three, not to get all sanctimonious and judgey, but seriously: if you are not a celebrity/performer/product with a specific image to project, there’s something kind of craven and desperate-seeming about spending at this level of excess on this type of product, one with limited function (heels that inhibit mobility/meant to be worn for brief stretches of time—and this from a person who wears heels 75% of the time). It just strikes me as an attempt to compensate for some lack within, to assuage a spiritual bankruptcy. But you know what they say: you can’t take it with you.

Which…wow. OK then. That was a lot sanctimonious. But I don’t repent: the buyers and wearers – and designers – of such shoes have equal scorn for me.

Anyhoo. All that said, I have a real affection for artwork that reproduces or re-imagines other works. So I was pleasantly gobsmacked by the Louboutin Look Book with its artistic reproductions, which I first saw here.  This is the first blogger I found who sourced all the works, and I borrowed her side-by-side above. Jezebel published a thorough slideshow of other recent examples of fashion appropriating classical art earlier today.

As appealing as I find the conceit of this Look Book, I have to confess that I would not wear any of the products, budget aside. That little leopard purse is ugly. The black and white booties are gorgeous, but I wouldn’t wear them. I’m not avant garde, fashion-wise, so the booties with the fur sprays don’t work for me. I think the gold heels and the lavender are both kinda vulgar. None of this stuff would fit into my closet! Isn’t that a relief? No need to pine.

I’ve been thinking about consumerism of late, especially as concerns a great many blogs I read, and if you can stand the stuffiness and sanctimoniousness of it all, I’m formulating more thoughts for some future entry. But I’ll try to temper the rage with other stuff. You know, like nine-year-old boys Vogueing.