Archive for the ‘Clothes and Fashion’ Category

Back Story

Monday, December 17th, 2012

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A picture is worth a thousand words…give or take.

I know I cannot be the only ’70s kid who wished, admittedly or not, that hers was a family of performers. Come on, I’m sure the “Brady Six” breathed life into the final season of the Brady Bunch. And it’s Friday night line-up partner, the Partrige Family? It would have been so cool to be part of a family like that! Then there was the Donny and Marie (Osmond) show, following fast on the heels of these prime time programs and Saturday morning’s animated offerings, which included the Jackson 5ive.

Alas, life did not imitate pop-art in my case, at least not until this weekend.

When my loving spouse suggested an early ’70s themed holiday card, I ran with it. Vintage and thrift store finds rounded out the treasures I pulled from my keepsake and costume crates (my mom actually made the patchwork blouse Olivia is wearing for me when I was just a little older than she is now!). And I asked the “gang” to humor me by performing Brady Six “hits,” including Time to Change – a.k.a. as “Sha na na na…”) and Keep on Movin’, with the camera rolling. Those shots turned out to be among the best of our morning’s work.

Strange Society at 10,069 Feet

Monday, July 9th, 2012

My teen daughter, Reiley, and I hiked Mt. Baldy yesterday. For the uninitiated, it’s a relatively short trek (6.4 miles round trip) from the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort, but steep – beginning and ending on poorly marked trails over slippery gravel. Consequently, much of our own hiking conversation, as well as our exchanges with other hikers, consisted of deliberations on just when would it end, and tallying slips and falls.

That changed when we reached the top. There it was all about socks.

P4210040The Mt. Baldy summit consists of a large gravel mound pock-marked by wind breaks constructed from rock. It’s not unusual to find virtually all of those who reach the peak huddled behind these stone structures to avoid the customary high, cold winds. I’m happy to report that, yesterday, it was cold, but far less windy than usual on top. Hikers swarmed around the windbreaks appeared less interested in avoiding the wind than the sun while they enjoyed summit munchies and conversation.

One large group was particularly chatty, and loud. It included a woman whose voice featured an annoyingly authoritative tone and carried as if by intention. Her afternoon discourse was on the necessity of “changing” one’s hiking socks at mid-day, which she explained referred to the practice of switching socks from one foot to the other at mountain top before heading back down. Our hiking sock expert supported her instructions by reference to a sales associated at REI.

“Huh?” I thought. In all of my years hiking, not to mention many, many conversations with my sister, Terri, who works at REI, I have never heard such a thing. Of course, in addition to wearing sock liners, changing socks everyday during a multi-day hike can help prevent blisters. Similarly, carrying extra socks to change into in if your feet are likely to get wet – either due to weather conditions or sweat – is prudent.

Reiley interrupted my musings to ask if I’d ever heard of “that,” nodding to “sock lady” for emphasis. “No,” I said, looking over my shoulder at the woman and her hiking companions. Yep, every one of them was taking off his/her boots and socks, apparently with the intention to swap socks from one foot to the other.

Even funnier, as we crossed the summit to head back down, I noticed other hikers crouched in shelters nearby the sock lady’s group were also changing their socks! “Look!” I whispered to Reiley.

Later, I did a little research on hiking sock protocol. There is a lot of information on sock selection out there, followed by a good deal of advice on how to avoid blisters and other hiking-related debilities, but not a word about the utility of swapping socks from one foot to the other.

Resources:
Routes to the top: http://www.simpsoncity.com/hiking/baldy.html
On the value of clean, dry socks: http://www.walkingandhiking.co.uk/how-avoid-blisters-when-hiking.html
100 things you may not know about walking, hiking, running: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_4_34/ai_114783538/

Legs or Cleavage, but Never Both

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Unless you're a super-heroine, Marilyn Monroe (look alike), or very, very young.

courtney_stodden_marilyn_monroeMy sister and I returned to the club scene well in the wake of fashion gaffes by St. John's own Kate Winslet and gawks spawned by Courtney Stodden's Marilyn Monroe impersonation. Contemporary fashion police cited both of these women specifically for NOT heeding the maxim of sexy, not slutty, dressing: show legs or cleavage, but never both. Though we both erred well on the side farthest from slutty, there was  plenty of evidence in the casinos and on the dance floor to suggest that modesty is unlikely to will out in Las Vegas.

I know, I know...we must have been crazy to expect Las Vegas club style to reflect sophistication, let alone grace. Still, it got me thinking...To whom, exactly, does the "legs or cleavage" rule apply? And where, in a culture where Disney proteges appear nude or nearly so in public as a rite of passage, are young women supposed to learn how much skin it's appropriate to bear? The waters are muddied further as soon as we admit that we'd prefer a world in which any woman is free to wear what she wants, playfully experimenting with her identity and exploring her sexuality.

Unfortunately, we do not yet inhabit that world.

To that end, annual Slut Walks provide venues for standing up to women's oppressors, those in society who persist in blaming aggression against women on what they wear, how much they drink, and where and how they choose to spend their time. Slut Walks represent a 21st century incarnation of Take Back the Night, a 30-year-old tradition of marches and related demonstrations against rape and other violence against women. The first slut walk channeled women's outrage against Canadian Constable Michael Sanguinetti's admonition that "...women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

On April 3, 2011, 3,000 provocatively clad women gathered and marched  year in Toronto. A year later, Slut Walks had become the most successful feminist action in 20 years!

So can we say that the "cleavage or legs" maxim is passe? I personally wouldn't go that far. I would hazard to suggest that the 50-ish woman in the spandex sheath mini and five-inch heels is no more asking for it than she is necessarily trying to regain her youth.

To be honest, I have only very rarely been positioned to judge a middle-aged woman's evening wear. Rather, it's weighing in on the length of my teen daughter's hemline or the necessity of a (sports) bra for my seven-year-old. Admittedly, I do opine too quickly and adamantly at times...Yet, I trust that I overall convey that while the age- and occasion-based norms governing how we dress provide important guidelines, any one of us is perfectly within her rights to violate them. When we do deviate from such social norms, we invite criticism, but in no way justify rape or any other form of violence.

Resources:

Take back the Night: http://www.takebackthenight.org/

Slut Walk and Feminism: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/slutwalks-and-the-future-of-feminism/2011/06/01/AGjB9LIH_story.html

First Day Back at Work.

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

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Last week was my first day back at work – REI – since Everett was born. It was a short four-hour shift that went surprisingly well. There were no tears on my part, and I successfully pumped during my fifteen-minute break.  Maz, meanwhile, did a great job watching the baby, though he had a bit of a struggle with the bottle.  He managed to get Everett to take 2oz, but it took well over an hour to accomplish.

That night, I more than made up for the time I missed. Everett ate every hour from midnight to 5am! It turns out that there is a term for that behavior: Reverse Cycle. When a baby misses Mom, he makes up the missed time overnight! Who knew?!

Anyway, since I have a bit of a shopping habit, I didn’t waste anytime getting Everett a nice souvenir from REI.  Luckily Maz doesn’t mind my spending money on our little pride and joy.

Everett’s New Bum

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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My mom used cloth diapers with me (as well as the rest of my siblings), so I thought I’d give it a shot. After my sister Juliann convinced me NOT to launder the diapers myself, I arranged for a service. But they are so bulky! I nearly threw in the towel and quit the service, until I read more about the dangers of disposable diapers – not just for the environment, but for my child. Newly re-committed, I purchased new, snazzy diaper covers today. Everett looks thrilled, huh?

37 Tank Tops

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

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I just finished putting Olivia’s clean clothes away, and was amazed that her collection of tank tops easily consumes nearly half of the hanging space in her closet. “Wow, Livy,” I said. “That is A LOT of tank tops for one little six-year-old girl!” “Let me count them,” she said. “Okay,” I was happy to agree.

When Olivia reached 30, I stopped her. (I simply couldn’t believe she has that many tank tops.) We counted them a second time, together. Grand total? 37, including her two “dressy” sequins tank tops and a couple of halter tops, but not including the ribbed number she was wearing or any that may have been back in the laundry already. At first, I was aghast as you may be about now. Then I paused to think about it. I rarely wash her clothes more often than once every two weeks or so, and Olivia easily wears two tank tops each day (one during the day, and a clean one as a pajama top at night) in the warmer months – i.e., nearly year ’round here in sunny Southern California – which is 28. Throw in a couple of dress-up tank tops, halters, and camisoles, and you’re easily cruising toward 40.

Considering my tank-top usage is comparable to Olivia’s, and, with the exception of bras, I do my own laundry even less frequently, I’m afraid to consider just how many tank tops are hanging in my closet.

New Specs

Monday, May 16th, 2011

DSC_0497Today I picked up these sassy new specs. I selected them at an eyeglass frame trunk show held last week in my ophthalmologist’s lobby. Emilio Pucci frames at a drop-jaw discount. I even scored a new pair of super light weight Maui Jim sunglasses to run in.

It was still a splurge…Now that I wear glasses routinely while working, I’ve decided to treat them as an accessory.

It wasn’t always this way.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve seen double up close. My parents took me to the “eye doctor” when I was in kindergarten, I think. (I’m sure they chalked it up to jealousy, considering my younger sister had been wearing glasses since she was 18 months old, and likely hoped that the visit would be covered in full by insurance.) Doc told my parents that my eyesight was  “better than perfect.” I could see so well at a distance, in fact, that I was simply more aware than most of the normal focusing that happens when we read and otherwise use our eyes at shorter distances. Lucky me.

My “heightened awareness” got the best of me in graduate school. You try “focusing” for hours on end, when tasked with reading what amounted to, at least, a book a day! One of them was Barrington Moore’s 592-page tome, The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. I got my first prescription “reading glasses”; however, the tendency to get headaches when I wore them full-time or lose them if I saved them just for reading meant that they were rarely worn and ended up in my nightstand drawer. Ditto the others that I dutifully selected with some regularity over the next two decades – all expenses paid by insurance.

Until a year ago last November. Yep, just about the time of my brother Craig's first birthday following his death. One night, I was sitting on the couch, reading, as usual, in relatively dim light after everyone else had gone to bed. The next, I had to struggle to make out even the bold-faced words on the page. Some combination of stress and grief? Maybe, according to my new ophthalmologist. It’s much more likely simply a coincidence. What Dr. Seuss might call my “focuser” simply tired out the same year that my little brother died. It just becomes more difficult to focus as we grow older. (I can tell you that it sure doesn’t help to be hyper aware of this inevitability.)

I still have practically better than 20/20 vision at distances beyond the computer screen, so I’ve been wearing progressives. Thank you Ben Franklin for your early insight. No headaches. Never lost my glasses. And my kids tell me I not only look younger in new glasses, but I also look smarter. What’s not to love?

Work Out Clothes aren’t Just for Working Out Anymore

Friday, April 8th, 2011

For years, I was adamant that “running clothes” was equivalent to “old clothes,” or what my mother would have classified as “play clothes” when we were growing up. My standard running attire consisted of well worn in baggy “soccer” shorts, a t-shirt one step away from becoming a rag, a cotton-polyester blend hooded sweatshirt on cold days, ankle socks, and the only item I ever consistently spent money on: running shoes. I upgraded the ensemble when we moved to New York, substituting shorts for somewhere near first generation technical running tights I ordered from a Road Runner Sports catalogue. (After running exclusively in California for over a decade, old school sweatpants with drawstring waist and elastic ankles just felt too baggy and much to heavy.)

Although it was years before I seriously invested in running clothes, this change of clothing proved to be the beginning of the end. Once I’d experienced moisture “management,” a pocket for stashing my ID and cash, and cotton gusseted crotch that makes panties unnecessary, there was no going back. I currently have a work-out wardrobe suited for: climbing, running, snowboarding, swimming, and yoga, nearly all of which is suitable for going out after working out. No need to shower and change. I just splash water on my face, put mascara and pink-tinted lipstick on, and I’m ready to go.

Take today, for instance. The kids and I spent their last day of spring break snowboarding – in between an early morning writing session for me, getting the boys off on a Boy Scout camping trip on the way home, and just making a doctor’s appointment before meeting up with my colleagues for pizza and beer with prospective graduate students. I donned a V-neck Nike base layer almost as soon as I rolled out of bed, pulling it on over the cami with shelf bra I slept in. I was still wearing it when I arrived home after dinner to join my daughters for a “girls’ night” movie. Not bad for a technical tee that cost less than $20.

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Just add shell, waterproof pants, and boots! Nike long sleeve base layer over cami with Arc'teryx PrimaLoft jacketwith Nike fleece lined "running" tights.

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Ready for dinner. Nike long sleeve base layer over cami with CAbi reversible vest and Lou Lou jeans and Toms classic slip-ons.

Washboard Brain

Monday, April 4th, 2011

IhubbardIt all started with the Victoria's Secret swimsuit catalogue. Not the one with the tankinins, miracle bras, and “magicsuits,” designed to shape and support. The one with the miniscule triangle tops and very stringy bikini bottoms.

My loving spouse came up behind me while I was looking and asked, “Wish you were 21 again?”

“No,” I responded, “Though I sometimes wish I’d had more fun then.”

“What do you mean? All you did was go to school, make chocolate, and work out.”

True. I was in graduate school at UC Davis then, where I worked as a research assistant and chocolatier at a local ice cream shop. When I wasn’t going to class, studying, or working, I ran or rode my bike – for miles along the flat roads separating crops, nearly each corner marked by a short line of wooden beehives. I was still silently reminiscing when he continued, “You never had a flat belly like that anyway.”

Again, he was right. My sisters and I have all been blessed with just enough extra in the middle to “give” when pregnant, and so avoid stretchmarks. For that, I am grateful. He was also on a roll…

“You have a ‘washboard’ brain,” he said and planted a kiss on the top of my head.

I know, “Ah…”

Of course, I’d rather be smart than flat-bellied. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if my beloved’s rose-colored glasses blessed me with both.

After all, there is something about a wedding gown…

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

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… prettier than in any other gown in the world.  ~Douglas William Jerrold

Terri in the dress at her wedding on the 4th…prettier than ever, with an attitude to match. Congratulations, “baby” sister!