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Posts Tagged ‘clothes’

Oh, just call us “husky”…or maybe, Your Highness

In beauty, behavior, culture, domestic life, Fashion, life, Style, women on October 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

By Caitlin Kelly

According to Urban Dictionary, that’s what moms tells their overweight sons to soothe them — “You’re just husky.”

20131009091610                      OMG. I wear an XL….in this brand.

Here’s a recent blog post about what fat larger women prefer to be called:

For the survey, Sonsi questioned 1,000 women. Among the most interesting findings: While the vast majority of plus-size women (85 percent) say they believe that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes, fewer than half (49 percent) say that they embrace their own curves. That, Mongello added, signals “a confidence gap among plus-size women.”

Angela O’Riley, a longtime plus-size Ford model, stylist and fashion consultant, told Yahoo Shine that she wasn’t surprised. “It’s deeply ingrained, this fashion thing. We’re all socialized from a very young age to look at fashion magazines, but nobody looks like us, so it’s exclusionary, and it sets up a vicious cycle of ‘I’m no good,’” she said. “It’s a psychological study when you make clothes.”

Regarding terminologies, 28 percent of those surveyed said they most liked the term “curvy,” mainly because their curves help define who they are. “I actually prefer ‘curvy,’” O’Riley said. “It has such a positive connotation. If you used it to describe a friend, no matter what her size, you’d think, ‘Oh, she’s delicious!’ It’s empowering instead of diminishing.”

Still, 25 percent liked “plus size,” while another 25 percent went with “full figured,” with some great write-in choices including “normal,” “average” and “beautiful.”

I think a much better idea would be to stop obsessing about the size or shape of women’s bodies.

It’s really only a matter of concern between a woman and her physician(s.)

Calling a woman who is larger than a size 12 “plus-size” is really fairly bizarre — do we (yes, I’m one of them) call leaner women “minus” size?

How weird would that be?

Enough already with the normative shaming and labeling.

Some of us are bigger than others, whether temporarily, (post-pregnancy, injury, medication side effects,) or permanently. Some of us are leaner.

And thinner doesn’t equal better/braver/bolder/kinder, a quick default way to claim superior status.

It just means your clothing labels are a lower figure than those of us on the dark side of size 12.

In my world, the size and consistent use of a woman’s heart and brain (i.e. her compassion and intelligence) far outweigh the girth of her upper arms or the jiggle of her belly.

I’ve met way too many skinny bitches to be persuaded that the most important element of our value to the wider world lies in the size of our thighs.

Here’s one of my writing pals, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, a mother of two in L.A., writing in Ladies Home Journal:

So I’ve reached some uncomfortable conclusions: There is no future in which I lose weight and it stays lost. As that realization sinks in, I put my head on my desk. It stays there for an hour.

But why am I so despondent? Over the time wasted? The money thrown away? Yes, and more. I’m crying for the shame I’ve felt, the sins I’ve committed when I imagined my life to be a blinking light, on hold indefinitely until I looked the way I wanted to.

Here’s a smart post by one of my favorite bloggers — another Caitlin! — at Fit and Feminist, a woman I doubt is anywhere near overweight, and yet…

If you tallied up all of the time and energy I’ve spent thinking about my negative body image over the course of my teens and twenties, I probably would have been able to use it to earn myself a graduate degree.  And I have to be honest with you – my body’s “flaws” are just not that interesting.  In fact, those fake “flaws” are probably one of the least interesting things i can think of.  There are so many books to read and essays to write and conversations to have and things to try and skills to learn and social justice battles to wage and adventures upon which to embark!  This world is full of fascinating and miraculous things!

The cellulite on the back of my thighs – who cares about that in the grand scheme of things?  If I care at all about my thighs, it’s because I want them to be strong enough to do things like pedal me across Europe or help me run the Keys 50 ultramarathon next year.  I really cannot be bothered at all to care about anything else.

Here’s a recent New York magazine profile of Australian actress Rebel Wilson, whose new television show Super Fun Night, recently premiered, and whose lead character, Kimmie Boubier, is one of the few heavy actresses actually allowed on TV:

Between the creation of the pilot in 2011 and today, Wilson appeared in seven films, including Pitch Perfect, in which she played Fat Amy. Pitch Perfect made Wilson an emerging star: Her character, who may be the first woman in films to acknowledge her excess weight without complaint or unhappiness, is riveting. Fat Amy sings in a big, anthem-worthy voice, she invents her own mermaid style of dancing, and she is a glorious role model without being, as Amy would say, “a twig.” “Rebel is revolutionary,” O’Brien continued.

“Her weight is vastly overshadowed by her talent.”

As it should be.

Dressing like a French woman — and shopping less

In beauty, behavior, culture, design, domestic life, Fashion, life, Style, US on October 3, 2013 at 12:31 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Clothing in history

Clothing in history (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the air gets chilly here in New York — and much of the Northern Hemisphere — we’re pulling out our sweaters and scarves, putting on wool and leather (or not, if you’re vegan.)

For some of us, that also means pulling out the same garments, shoes and accessories we’ve been wearing for years, maybe even a decade or more.

I loved this recent piece in The Guardian, by British designer Margaret Howell:

I think for someone to make something that’s going to last, there is undoubtedly an amount of love as well as skill that goes into that. And things that last are important. I’m happy to pay more for something if I see it as an investment. I would rather spend £80 on a saucepan if it means that I’ll be buying one that lasts. I’ve always felt that about things, rather than thinking something is too expensive. I’ve noticed that the French think like that about clothes – they’ll have fewer but better quality.

I agree with her.

I’m grateful for having grown up in Canada, a country whose consumer market was small enough that going shopping meant limited choice, (no Internet then). Canadians generally earn lower salaries and pay higher taxes than in the U.S., (where I now live,) so the whole notion of shopping-as-recreation never made much sense to me.

I also spent a year living in Paris when I was 25. That, and many visits back since then, also shaped how I view the buying/keeping/mending of my wardrobe.

I love beautiful things, (and have expensive taste), which de facto limits how much I can acquire. Keeping good things longer also lowers the CPW, (cost-per-wearing), a wiser use of limited funds. The CPW calculation essentially amortizes the cost of acquisition as the more you wear/use something, the less it costs you in the long run — if you buy a $30 pair of shoes that last six months, and have to go buy another pair — you’ve spent $60.

I’d rather find a $200 pair on sale for $120 and get many more seasons from them instead. I have limited time, energy and patience for shopping as well.

(Which is also why blowing $$$$$$$$$ on a white satin wedding gown you’ll wear only once is a crazy use of hard-earned coin.)

Like Howell, I’d much rather have one or two thick cashmere sweaters, (found in thrift or consignment shops for a fraction of their original prices), than a dozen cheaper ones that will probably shrink, pill or date.

Here’s one of my go-to high-end finds, found in a consignment shop, still cosy and warm after…five? years.

20130923105946

Like Howell, like French women, I prefer to buy fewer things and keep them in good shape for years.

– It saves money

– It saves time

– It helps the environment

– It’s a good practice to consistently care for your things — polishing your shoes and boots; using shoe trees to keep their shape; making sure your footwear has new heels and lifts so you don’t wear them out; mending your clothes; tailoring things to fit you properly. The idea of simply throwing something away because it needs a little work? Bizarre and wasteful.

– If you can make/mend your own items, even better!

– Doing so also employs skilled experts, like tailors and shoe repair shops

– It re-focuses our attention away from the hamster wheel of get-spend-get-spend-getmorenow!

– It reminds us to focus on what we have, and to savor it, not simply to greedily rush to the next acquisition

– Wearing vintage, thrift or consignment shop clothing is a smart and frugal way to recycle

– Vintage clothes are often better-made of finer materials like silk, cashmere or wool

– We tend to care more for things we plan to keep for many years, so shoe trees/polish/suede brush and a good sewing kit, lint roller and steamer, good-quality hangers and storage options all matter

I admit, I’m also enjoying a few new purchases as well: a thick new Patagonia fleece (half-price), a long black four-season dress and two cotton midi-skirts.

Of course, the stylish Cadence, author of Small Dog Syndrome blog — recently relocated to London — just posted about an amazing vintage shop she discovered there:

One of best aspects of quality vintage clothing is how well some of it holds up. I peered through riding boots that are decades old but look and feel more solid and better than half of what I could find new at a store for the same price.

If you haven’t read this book, it’s worth considering what an addiction to trendy/cheap/fast fashion really costs.

Here are her 10 simple tips to shop more frugally and mindfully.

And here’s a fun book I own on Paris street style.

Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories

Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Are you a big shopper?

What’s the oldest item you’re still wearing and enjoying?

I’m still trying to figure out what an older person is supposed to wear

In aging, beauty, behavior, Fashion, life, Style on June 28, 2013 at 11:58 am

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s got to be tough to maintain standards if you were once the fashion director for both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as was Paul Cavaco, a New York City fixture in the stylish world.

Harper's Bazaar

Harper’s Bazaar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I was struck by his comment, the headline to this post, as it resonates for many women I know, mostly those of us north of 40.  Good to know it’s a challenge for some men as well.

Bits of you head south. Bits of you are little less appealing, (upper arms, upper thighs), than they once might have been. The late Norah Ephron wrote a whole book, published in 2008, called I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Choices that are cute or fun in your 20s and 30s suddenly start to look cheap, tacky and weird in later decades. Grooming — hair, nails, pedicures and (yes, please!) trimming men’s nose and ear hair — becomes even more essential. Careless starts to look disheveled.

For years, I’ve loved watching the TLC television show What Not To Wear, and have learned a lot. But it’s ending next month. Noooooooooo!

So…what to wear?

Do you know about this terrific blog — Advanced Style? Ari Seth Cohen focuses his lens only on older New Yorkers with panache.

Have you heard of Iris Apfel? Now 91, the self-described “geriatric starlet” gave an interview to Harper’s Bazaar in April, 2013. I liked this:

If your hair is done properly and you have on good shoes, you can get away with anything. That and having a good attitude — try to keep yourself on an even keel. All the plastic surgery in the world isn’t going to help if you are unhappy.

My father just turned 84 and, when he dresses up, still sets a very high bar for elegance — navy blazer, polished loafers, a silk pocket square. My husband, in his 50s, is known around his Manhattan office for a splendid array of socks and ties. I bought him a great pair of fawn suede Lacoste sneakers as my wedding gift.

I see far too many women in their 50s and beyond who look like hell, as though they have simply folded the tent of style, (if they had one in the first place) and jumped the express train to schlumphood. No, I say!

I’m not arguing for the size-2-ropy-arms drama very prevalent in the wealthier precincts of America, as much a uniform as a diktat. But surely we have better options than crappy haircuts and dumpy clothes?

Russian VOGUE magazine - April 2011

Russian VOGUE magazine – April 2011 (Photo credit: jaimelondonboy)

Then what? Shop where?

For me, it’s a varied mixture of vintage, J. Crew, an H & M shift, a bit of designer, some classics: an Hermes silk carre or a pair of Ferragamo suede loafers or an Edwardian necklace.

Then something unexpected to shake the whole mess up. This week I did something utterly out of character, emboldened by a surprise check, and bought a big, blingy watch. I wear it loose, like a bracelet. It’s a hoot and I love it.

The worst sin we make as we age is to give up, to stay stuck in a style rut, to assume that color and wit and fun is something only enjoyed by the young ‘uns. There are several women on my apartment floor who are north of 80 and look great — sparkling eyes, make-up, coiffed hair, fab outifts. Bless them for being a role model.

And so I still read Vogue and Bazaar and Elle and Marie-Claire. I buy very little of what they suggest — both the sizing and prices shoving much of it beyond my reach — but I have fun keeping up, knowing what the cool kids are wearing, and sometimes snagging an H & M copy for $30 or $50 instead.

I’m more willing to invest real cash on great shoes, accessories and jewelry.

Ladies and gentlemen, how has your look changed as you’ve aged?

Any fab shopping tips/sites to share?

Pleats?!

In beauty, behavior, Fashion, life, men on December 8, 2011 at 3:20 am
Clown trousers

Even worse! Image by Eleventh Earl of Mar via Flickr

It takes some kind of skill to totally piss off your husband with one word. And a word that’s G-rated.

But I did.

Poor Jose. The other morning my first word when I saw him dressed for work in beige gabardine trousers was the P-word, uttered in horror.

Pleats?!”

Shoot me. I’m shallow like that.

We live near, and work in, New York City, a place where the streets are filled with people whose style, income and devotion to looking good can be a little overwhelming. Every time I head into Manhattan, I have to up my game a little. People you hope to work with size you up within seconds.

So when I see my husband wearing a pair of pants that screams 1986, I scream too.

It made for a very tense day. No man wants to be criticized for his fashion sense. But Jose also runs a wedding photography business and some potential clients may see things as I do.

The sad truth is that every time we step out the door we’re being judged by how we look.

Whatever your style statement — including the fact you can’t be bothered making one — it’s saying something to others about you.

If you hope to compete, and win, it matters, (even you personally couldn’t give a rip.)

How much does appearance — yours and others’ — matter to you?

The Perfect Wedding Dress

In behavior, culture, design, domestic life, family, Fashion, Style, women on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm
Cover of "Royal Wedding"

Cover of Royal Wedding

So…did you love the dress?

Anyone of us willing to ‘fess up to watching the recent Royal Wedding (hello, Grace Kelly!), knows that all eyes were on the prize — not the Prince, the dress.

As brides everywhere gear up for their spring and summer weddings, you can almost hear a chorus of shrieks and sighs over the color, style, fit, price and comfort level of that most iconic of garments, the wedding dress.

I was married May 31, 1992 in a gorgeous 1833 chapel on the Hudson River, in a day of record rainfall, wearing a dress made in about 1905, beige and white and black cotton, with a crisp cotton petticoat underneath. I loved my dress, which cost a big $300, as it was charming, comfortable, flattering and distinctive.

The marriage? Not so much. He was gone by our second anniversary and re-married within the year to a woman who attended the ceremony. Ouch!

There are few garments a woman will ever wear so subject to incredible public scrutiny and judgment, let alone meant to to carry her gracefully through such a  momentous transition.

I loved this true story about a wedding dress that traveled the world, from Florida to Massachusetts to New Zealand and back twice.

And this collection of moving personal essays , published in 2007 in Canada, about women and their dresses.

My next trip up the aisle, which I’ll get to eventually (after 11 years with the sweetie), I have no idea what to wear.

What did you wear on your wedding day?

Did you love it?

Gentlemen, what did your wife wear?

Could You Wear The Same Six Clothing Items For 30 Days?

In behavior, business on July 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm
Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Interesting anti-shopping story from The New York Times:

This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less (sixitemsorless.com). The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore, India, were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment.

Meanwhile, an even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, which began on Sept. 1, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. (Again, undies don’t count.) And next month, Gallery Books will publish a self-help guide, called “The Shopping Diet,” by the red-carpet stylist Phillip Bloch. (“Step 1: Admit You’re an Overshopper”… “Step 9: Practice Safe, Responsible Shopping”… “Step 10: Make the Diet a Way of Life.”)

Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers’ spending habits. As the economy begins to improve, shoppers of every income appear to be wrestling with the same questions: Is it safe to go back to our old, pre-recession ways? Or should we? The authors of these diets — including some fashion marketing and advertising executives, interestingly enough — seem to think not.

Sally Bjornsen, the founder of the Great American Apparel Diet (thegreatamericanappareldiet.com), said she was prompted to stop buying clothes for a simple reason: “I was sick and tired of consumerism,” she said.

I just spent two weeks living out of a suitcase while on vacation. I confess to taking more than six items, my excuse being….well, I didn’t need one. I flew business class so could afford to have more than 50 pounds with me. That sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But, (including toiletries and shoes and books), those ounces add up fast.

Thin summer clothes are the least of it!

If I did wear only six items for a month, they’d be:

Summer:

1) black cotton leggings; 2) a black cotton tunic; 3) a white long sleeved T-shirt; 4) a gray silk broomstick-pleat skirt; 5) a dress; 6) a lightweight cardigan. Numbers 1,2,3 and 6 got the most wear in 14 days, aided by doing laundry enroute.

Winter:

1) black wool trousers; 2) grey cashmere turtleneck; 3) brown cotton dress; 4) brown wool cardigan; 5) long black jersey dress; 6) a colored long-sleeved cotton T-shirt.

I like this idea, although I do think six is tough. I’d go for ten.

It also depends, for women especially, on your style, and ability and willingness to accessorize really well; (I own a gazillion scarves, which helps.)

In summer, you’ll be doing a lot of laundry (which is itself tough on clothes) and if you perspire heavily and/or live somewhere hot and humid, you’ll be wearing your undies a lot, and not much else. I just endured 90+ degree heat and humidity in three cities in a row and had to change into fresh, dry clothes every day. It’s also very difficult if you don’t have some bo-ho, home-based creative job or need to impress someone at a client meeting or job interview.

But I do applaud the notion of buying a lot less and wearing it well, cared-for and maintained, for years or more. I grew up in Canada, a land of lower incomes and higher taxes than the U.S., where credit card interest was never tax-deductible, so shopping like a crazy person — for a variety of reasons — just wasn’t something everyone did all the time. We bought clothing and shoes to last, not “disposable” fashion a la H & M or Target.

And, if you find shopping a bore and annoyance, owning many fewer things cuts that right out of your life.

If you had to pick six things to wear for a month, what would they be?

How Do I Look? Asking Strangers' Advice On-Line

In Fashion, Media on July 9, 2010 at 2:18 am
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 17:  Cheryl Cole walks down...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I find this both helpful and a little sad — that anyone so trusts a bunch of strangers and so lacks self-confidence.

From The New York Times:

Not long ago, people turned to fashion magazines for advice. Now they are turning to one another. Web sites like Fashism and Go Try It On, both less than a year old, are picking up where fashion blogs have left off, and are making fashion more immediate and personal.

The premise is simple enough: Upload a photo of yourself wearing a particular outfit. Ask a question or share some details about your look. Users then rate your outfit by clicking “I like it” or “I hate it” on Fashism (or “Wear It” or “Change It” on Go Try It On).

Would-be Rachel Zoes can also comment. It’s similar to that Web site Hot or Not, where users rate one another’s sex appeal. But these sites are geared for fashion and, more refreshingly, are largely free of the snark or harsh judgments that plague earlier crowd-sourcing sites.

“It’s for people who want a quick second opinion,” said Marissa Evans, 26, a former Web analyst and strategist in New York, who started Go Try It On. Ms. Evans employs a small team of moderators to ensure civility. “I really wanted to build a site that is helpful, not hurtful,” she said.

If you’re not sure about a look, who do you turn to for advice or feedback?

Or do you simply trust your own judgment?

Or…not care how you look?

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