Archive for the 'Fashion (or not)' category

What I Am Reading: Shoes!

Oct 02 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not), What I'm Reading

Latest object of lust

Marilyn sang about diamonds, but I firmly believe shoes are a girl's best friend. Even on a frumpy, bloated, bad-hair-day, I can still rock excellent shoes that make me feel sexy, pretty, and even powerful.

When I saw Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us, I knew I had to read that book. Rachelle Bergstein's book begins at the start of the 20th century with an Italian boy named Salvatore Ferragamo. It proceeds to the present day (with occasional flashbacks to European courts and Chinese women with bound feet), exploring what the shoes of each era said about women.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

The chapter on the original power pump and the femme fatale highlighted how many films about these bad girls begin with a shot that pans from their naughty shoes up to their face. Can there be any doubt of Barbara Stanwyck's intentions when she trods down those stairs in pom-pom trimmed heels in Double Indemnity? Lana Turner may be wearing virginal white, but those peep-toed pumps scream "sex." No wonder men make bad choices around her. No wonder the postman keeps ringing...

Another chapter covers boots, specifically those of Nancy Sinatra, the ones made for walking. The backstory behind the song almost makes you forget how grating it can be.

The book is not just for high fashion; it includes the story behind athletic shoes. Another chapter explores Vans, Chuck Taylors, and Doc Martens, the shoes of the grunge cool kids.

No book about shoes would be complete without referencing Sex and the City. In the show, shoes became a symbol of a woman's power: "I don't need a man to buy these for me, thank you very much. I make my own money and my own choices." Stilettos as a symbol of female empowerment? Why not?

The boys get some attention, too. Not as iconic as the white suit, Tony Manero's loafers from Saturday Night Fever still rank discussion. After all, Tony window-shops for shoes to the beat of Stayin' Alive less than a minute into the film. Maybe shoes are not just a "girl thing" after all.

If you want a fun look at women and shoes through the 20th century, this book is for you. I had difficulty putting it down, but it was time to put on my big-girl-shoes and go to work. After all, I need more money to buy shoes 😉



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What I Am Reading: Clothes, Inc.

Sep 13 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not)

Last week I trolled Amazon for something new to read. The omniscient suggestion algorithm there led me to Over-dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. I hit the one-click button and downloaded an entertaining yet disturbing book that leaves me with few great answers.

The book starts with the dilemma many of us face each day, a large closet bursting with clothing and a feeling that we have nothing to wear. We then journey through a brief history of clothing, from the days when store-bought duds cost a significant portion of income through the middle of the twentieth century, when more expensive brands brought the promise of higher quality to those who could afford them. Over the last 20 years, mass-market clothing took the world by storm. Inexpensive off-shore labor and cheap materials allowed our clothing to become disposable. Why spend time or money mending a $7 shirt? Spending more no longer means moving up in quality, as most manufacturing has been outsourced. We are left with a two-tier system with the H&M items at one end and the high-end designer clothing at the other.

Particularly sobering were the visits to Salvation Army. There, only 1 in 20 donated garments goes on the floor for resale, and the best of these may go to resale boutiques. The rest get compressed into half-ton bundles that are sold for processing into industrial materials, like wiping rags, or shipped to third-world countries. At present, less than 1% of our cast-offs goes to landfills; however, as cheap fashion becomes available in Africa and the Asian nations that manufacture the garments, disposing of our old  attire will become more problematic.

Our addiction to cheap wardrobes brings other problems. Most inexpensive fabrics contain petroleum-based fibers which cannot be easily recycled and use nonrenewable resources in their manufacture.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer in the final chapter. The author explores small local designers who can produce more unique clothing options, as well as making our own clothing. I must confess, I sewed a lot of my own clothing through high school and even into my residency (the birth of my first child stopped this hobby). I loved being able to buy a pattern from a designer I could never afford and make it from the fabric of my choosing. By the end of this book I felt like I should start up my habit again.

Of course, I simply do not have the time to make a blazer anymore (yes, I stitched at that level), given my professional responsibilities and blogging habit. I do mend and hem  my own stuff, something many women interviewed for the book do not attempt.

I guess I am lucky because my experiences making clothes let me judge quality well. I value natural fibers like wool and cotton plus the odd smattering of rayon and silk. I try to buy most of my suiting pieces to these standards. Accessories can be high or low end; I rarely toss out jewelry or scarves. But I cannot completely avoid cheap clothes! I now feel a bit guilty about living in knit dresses from Target, the most expensive of which can be had for about $25. However, with some degree of care (washing on the hand-wash cycle and drip drying) these polyester garments have resisted major pilling and destruction for up to 3 years! I have "designer" knits that have held up less well (and there's the real problem).

Bargain by Bruno

I am now working on my shoe habit. I have often picked up cheap shoes, figuring that if they ate my feet I could pass them on to Goodwill without guilt; after all, they were less than $20! Now I try to purchase well-made ones that are worth reheeling and repairing periodically. There is no challenge in scoring cheap shoes at Target, but getting $400 Maglis for $80? Now that was something to brag about!

Just as we have begun to examine our cheap food habit, we need to explore the disposable and wasteful aspects of other purchasing habits. Over-dressed has no easy answers, but it will make you think.

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Academic Archetypes

Jul 19 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not)

I just read a nice post on fashion in academia. Holy oxymorons, Batman! Daniel Myers' essay on Inside Higher Ed should be read in its entirety, but I have quoted the highlight below: academic fashion archetypes. If you see yourself, grab a credit card and head to the mall-it's makeover time!

 Twenty popular faculty styles **

1. I’m not an Oxford professor, but I play one at Notre Dame.

2. This outfit worked at IBM in 1957, so why not wear it every day?

3. Why tuck in my shirt? I’ll just have to do it again tomorrow.

4. Bow ties say “intellectual,” are not the slightest bit nerdy and, as a bonus, they emphasize my growing midsection.

5. Versace Monday, Armani Wednesday: I’m sure to get a red hot pepper on

6. I don’t have time to iron. I was up all night changing how we understand the fundamental building blocks of the entire universe.

7. That hole burned by 18 molar hydrochloric acid isn’t that bad. Why waste a perfectly functional pair of pants?

8. If you can get it at Sears, it’s still in style.

9. Suspenders and a belt. I teach security studies after all.

10. No one will notice I’m wearing black tennis shoes with this suit.

11. I need those elbow patches. Reading is hard work!

12. Polyester is the new black.

13. My gigantic glasses from 1987 are still in perfectly good shape. I think I’ll just replace the lenses.

14. Peace and love. It’s still the ’60s, isn’t it?

15.This leather jacket will let them know that I’m cool, man... I mean, dude.

16. I’m a low-level administrator, but I really, really, really want to be a high-level administrator.

17. I wanna wear jeans! But I’d better make it formal by adding a blazer.

18. It’s not that dirty. It was on the top of the laundry hamper.

19. My black pants aren’t too short. How else am I going to show off my new white socks?

20.To tweed or not to tweed? That is the question. And the answer is: To tweed!!

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What to Wear

Jun 06 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not)

I just found this great infographic on dressing for job interviews. While directed toward various corporate sites, you really cannot go wrong with most of these combos in academia. If the image isn't loading, just click the link below.



View full image

Looks That Land the Job


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Another Hypothesis Shot Down

May 29 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not)

I used to believe that a bit of bling could make everything better.

Then I saw these:

Ugg Classic Sparkles

Step away from the Bedazzler now, please. You can click the image to purchase these boots, but why would you?

Why would anyone?

One response so far

More Wardrobe Advice

Apr 16 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not)

As I browse the long-term San Diego forecast, I see the possibility of a bit of rain. Yes, I always keep a tiny umbrella in my bag, but sometimes you need a bit more. If it can be stashed in my day bag, even better! Of course, I also want to look good, even in the rain.

I really like RainRaps:

I will be sporting the navy/turquoise one for now (others may be in my future). I love how much lighter it feels than my trench coat, especially for spring and summer showers in the warmer climate I now inhabit.

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Packing for #EB2012

Apr 13 2012 Published by under Fashion (or not), Travel

Many of us will travel to San Diego in a week for Experimental Biology. You have spent time registering, picking a hotel, making travel arrangements, and considering sessions. Now it is time to consider your packing.

San Diego makes it easier; most of the year the temperature runs about 70 and the sun usually shines. Could we get rain? Sure, but really bad weather is not a strong possibility. You should have a fold-able pocket umbrella in your suitcase anyway. Check the weather forecast right before you finish packing; they don't get particularly predictive until the 5-day time-frame.

Conference travel involves at least 3 types of activities. These include travel, attendance, and presentation. With a bit of planning, you can get appropriate apparel for a 5-day trip into a case that fits in the overhead compartment of an airplane. What do you sacrifice? Shoes. If you need more than 2 pair (one to wear on the plane and one to ride in the case) it's unlikely that you will get by with just the roll-aboard.

On travel days, comfort may be the primary consideration; however, you should also consider what happens if checked luggage does not immediately make it to your final destination. Having a clean set of underwear and all personal necessities available can make that delay tolerable. Also consider wearing something you could wear to a session; nice jeans with a shirt and jacket can work for almost any meeting session and can be just as comfortable as sweats. OK, not sweats, but you know what I mean. Also, wearing a jacket avoids taking up valuable suitcase room. Nice slip-on shoes also work well. You want something that won't slow you down too much when you hurry for a connection, but not something so complicated it will take you half-an-hour to redress in security. The people behind you in line will be more of a threat if you wear above-the-knee lace-up boots (trust me, I have seen this happen) than any terrorist.

The rest of the meeting you have two things to avoid: looking sloppy or slutty. You are meeting potential colleagues and reviewers; if I receive your next manuscript, do you really want me to remember the girl with the dragon tattoo or your unusual navel piercing? When you present, a suit-like ensemble is ideal, especially if you are young or female. Like it or not, dressing professionally will make you seem more authoritative. Pissed that people may judge you by your clothing? It happens whether you like it or not.

Finally, remember all the chargers for your gizmos and never let anyone check your presentation. Posters should only enter the luggage compartment if pried from your cold, dead fingers.

This advice has been compiled into a brief slideshow below. Enjoy, and may you and your luggage always arrive together. See you in San Diego!


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Weekend Musings

Mar 23 2012 Published by under [Etc], Beauty, Fashion (or not)

This time of year, I usually glue myself to a television to watch college basketball. Disillusioned after the first-round loss by my Missouri Tigers, I have just lost interest. This leaves me tie to get some stuff done, like preparation for Experimental Biology. More about sessions and science later; this weekend I will prepare  my wardrobe.

When I accepted the panel invitation, I knew which dress I would wear. It is pretty and comfortable and it makes me feel great.

But it needs shoes.

I have multiple DSW coupons in my bag, and I am heading for the store tomorrow morning. Of course, our DSW lies in the same shopping center as Beauty Brands, so my first pedicure of 2012 is scheduled as well (I may lose a pound or two after they trim cuticles and callus). Then more shopping may occur.

At some point, I have to put together a few slides for the social media outreach panel. I can always do that on the plane.

2 responses so far

To Bling or Not To Bling

Nov 22 2011 Published by under Fashion (or not)

December 2011

The December issue of Lucky Magazine (Jessica Simpson is on the cover) includes a guide to holiday parties. While primarily designed to show us new clothes and shiny baubles we can purchase for such events, it also answers some eternal questions.

What do I wear when the dress code says "festive?"

Does "holiday attire" require an appliqued sweater?

They also give you advice on what to do if you guess wrong. Underdressed? Stain your lips with wine, unbutton a couple at the top of your shirt, and consider leaving your coat on. Overdressed? Wipe off some makeup, loosen your up-do, and remove some bling.

They missed the real answer; the lie.

When in doubt, overdress. If you find yourself uncomfortable in a room of Santa sweaters and jeans, you can tell them about the next party you will drop by that night! Yes, the holiday season is lousy with parties! Create a blingy-er event later in the evening! Or, if you are at a late get-together, you are coming from a swanky drink -and-appetizer reception.

Of course, if you show up in costume for a non-costume party, I really can't help you.

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Autumn in the Air

Sep 20 2011 Published by under Fashion (or not)

Really, I bookmarked a couple of sites for a post today on a serious topic. Really.

But a cold front will be moving through, and the high tomorrow will only be 74 if the weather dudes are to be believed. Still warm, but a clear sign that mild fall weather wants to visit us.

A paycheck will be deposited soon. I could justify a new pair of shoes...

Jobst Loafer $85 (Click for NineWest Site)

This lovely grown-up loafer from NineWest comes in black or brown leather. The 3 inch heel is sturdy and stacked, not a wobbly stiletto. These look more grown-up than a penny loafer, but not overly formal for the office, especially an office where spit-up may land on my shoes at any moment.

The fashion gurus say high-heel loafers are making waves this fall, and this pair featured in a recent issue of People Stylewatch.

OKC has a NineWest store. That's like a sign from the deity. OK, a sign from my deity!

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