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Archive for January, 2010

Checking In

If we go to a cage fighting bar you might be able to pick this guy up.

Hi all, I’m still alive. I’m just busy and lazy. I’m feeling a kind of general blah doldrums and am also in a clo rut. I’ve been dreaming of track suits and Spanx lately. I’m also on a purge cycle and not doing any acquiring so I don’t have much to report on that front. My favorite activity these days consist of staring in the mirror and plucking out my grays. My record so far is an hour. It’s really meditative and addicting but maybe a little bit disturbing too. But it’ll pass, I promise. Until then I thought I’d post about a couple of things that are coming up (I don’t speak for Robin of course. I’m sure her mind is active and she will be posting about interesting topics!).

I wonder if they have the top one in fuschia.

First is the Fabulous Ladies Night. We’ve been talking about Fabulous Party forever and have never actually done it. It’s because none of us want to take the initiative to host it. So instead, we thought we’d make a Fabulous Outing. My friend L is currently scheming to put together a group and date to go out one night. We think it will consist of art, drinking, dancing and getting picked up by cute guys. If you are interested in attending please let us know. The only requirement is that you wear at least one fabulous item. The idea is to channel the inner flamboyant you. I for one plan to wear fake eyelashes. We’ll all have a good time and laugh at people and post pictures later.

Also, we’d like people to know that we welcome guest contributors. I’m currently in the process of convincing my lovely friend C to post a piece on power clothes. If you are interested please do not hesitate to contact us.

Lastly, at the end of February L and I are taking a trip to Vegas. If I haven’t come up with things to talk about here by then I’ll surely have outrageous fashions to report from there.

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Recap… Wait, Nevermind

You think I am kidding but no, I would really wear this.

Happy new year, friends, followers, colleagues!

Now I know we’ve entered the latter half of January already and I’ve posted 2 entries this year but I’ve felt that I had to somehow acknowledge the passage of 2009 and the beginning of the new year by a punctuating post that summarized my lessons and victories from last year like Robin did. Because I am her Yang and I am her Robin. I mean, Batman. We complement and mirror each other here, that’s our schtick. So I thought I would come up with some nice witty smart account of what a fashion filled jolly good year I had.

I kept starting a new post and then kept going back and editing and rewriting and deleting. Why? Because my year wasn’t all nicely summarizeable with bullet points. I wanted to say, “Here’s what I learned, la!” but I would feel like a total fraud. Truth is, I got shoppy happy a lot last year and made many mistakes. Some are funny, some embarrassing but mostly they are all depressing me. It bums me out, man. I’ve had some great buys that I feel super duper happy about (my Merrell and Keen boots, my 4 pairs of striped Smartwool socks!) but I keep thinking about the clothing I dumped off at the consignment store and the Goodwill last week too.

These? These will always make me happy.

Another reason why I haven’t been able to sit down and give this blog some of my attention was because I’ve been doing some cleaning and sorting of my old belongings in the basement. Namely, my diaries and journals and angsty youth stuff. And you know what I found? Ever since around 1983, all I’ve talked about without fail, at the end and start of every single year was how I was “going to get pretty” or “dress in cooler clothes” or “lose weight.” Seriously. For the past 25 years I’ve been determined to do these 3 things every single year. Really. I am so shallow. It got me thinking though, I don’t think that there really is ever going to be a point where I think, “I’m done. I’m as pretty, thin and fashionable as I’m ever going to be!”

What’s more, my definition of “pretty” and “cool” and “thin” changes all the time! As I spiral down through memory lane, I find old pictures of myself or records of my weight fluctuations and think now that I was really pretty fit and cute in 1990. Or 1987. Or 1995. I mean, sheesh. What is 1984 Aki talking about? She has gorgeous hair. 1993 Aki has awesome legs. And you know in a few years 2014 Aki is going to look back and think 2009 Aki is a fool because she is just perfect the way she is.

The bathroom mirror in Ikea's red parking lot is a skinny mirror. Check me out.

So… This year OF COURSE my goal is to look pretty and feel good but I also realize that I’ll always be making both good and stupid wardrobe purchases and choices. I’m never going to get this clothing thing all figured out because my tastes change, my body will change, trends will change. I think this year I’ll go easier on myself in that regard. Not to try too hard. Set the bar low so I don’t disappoint myself like I do every year. I mean it’s always good to strive for excellence. But aren’t I pretty damn excellent right now too?

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J's look: Praga patchwork skirt by Free People, with interesting detail.

One of our regular blog contributors is wearing this Free People Skirt today (I think it’s this one). She is very tall, funky and fabulous, and also she works in a kind of artsy/techno job, so I think this might be the perfect skirt.  But she wonders if it’s “too Boho.” Well, I don’t know. (I do know that on me, this skirt would be too, “My Mom’s Gypsy Costume she wore for every Halloween the 1980’s.”)  My friend J is NOT “a Boho person,” she is an edgy, hip person who used to live in Prague for real.

This reminds me that adjectives are useful for describing things (Does the skirt belong to the category identified as “Boho.”) Adjectives are less useful for describing people (is this person Boho or not?)  Labelling people hinders them.

So I generally resist the shortcut, “I’m not the kind of person who ___,” or “I’m more of a ____ girl.”

Labels are categories.  Categories are useful when we need to quickly sort ideas or things.  But people are not ideas or things.  Categories taunt us: What to include? What to exclude? 
It’s big issue with moms.  Are you a working mom or a stay-at-home-mom? Are you granola or crunchy? Are you hip or funky? Moms are an exhausted, isolated, brilliant and busy bunch of women.  We crave definition and connection.  This sucks us into categories, fast.  And labels like “attachment parenting” (for instance), while useful in gathering and sorting ideas –hinder us  when we begin to agonize over whether we want to take on the label of “An Attachment Parent,” or whether a certain parenting choice is “AP.” At best we distract ourselves with mind games about who is in, and who is out.  At worst, we condemn and ostracize each other — and ourselves.

Of course we can (and should) judge what we see of a decision — of an idea, a look, a statement, a skirt. We just can’t judge the entire of a human person.  (When we do start to judge a person — as judges, as juries –we are careful about what we can consider — Race? Reputation? Gossip? Appearance? — and what we must ignore). In daily life, putting people into categories (are they good or bad? Cool or weird? My kind of friend — or not?) is a waste of time — and a dangerous one.  And the worst person to label is ourselves: Is this dress ME?  I’m not a BOOTS KIND OF GIRL. If I wore that I’d look like A SLUT.

Judging ourselves is a way to grab at masks, instead of accepting the complexity and dynamism of our authentic selves.  It limits our potential. It sets ourselves up for failure. 

My look: Sofft pumps, with interesting detail.

My challenge then is to judge and describe things — the clothes, the awesome Chevron stripes, the texture and the shape. And not to judge and describe people.  Things — especally clothes, especially style — need to work FOR us. They don’t define us.  They can’t exclude us.

And I’m saying all this because I want to say: I’m not much of a Gypsy Skirt kind of girl.  I’m more of a “interesting black pump” (what I have on today) kind of girl.  And that makes me feel a little stodgy and boring next to friend J.

But I’m challenging myself to express this without self-labelling.  I’ll let you know when I succeed. 

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What Not To Wear 2010!

Courtney is lovely, serious person with substantial dignity, a respectable job, and a family that loves her. I'm saying this because her clothes are not saying this, and I want you to know.

Best thing about a new year: What Not to Wear is Back!  Last Friday on TLC, Stacey and Clinton worked with lovely Courtney. Courtney recently lost a lot of weight (like 170 pounds) so she’s been struggling to find her new self.

Like many women on the show, Courtney had two looks: schlumpy and sexed-up.  For work she wore turtlenecks in bland colors (Robin v. 2003!) Otherwise she wore sweats and slippers . . .  except when she went out for the evening.  See left.  What’s the word for this? I don’t do “slutty.”  

It happens often on WNTW – one woman, two costumes: bare it all vs. cover it up.  Do we go between extremes when we have no idea who we are?  Like each outfit is a put-on, and no clothes are really you.

That’s why it’s always such a revelation for a WNTW participant to look in the 360-degree mirror.  It’s always painful, but so helpful, to force someone to behold themselves objectively. It’s so easy to stop seeing how we really look — I know I tend to lower my standards, day by day, comparing myself to a baseline of “Robin-normal.” My turtleneck isn’t too wrinkled and my pants fit okay! Never mind that it’s a dumb turtleneck and lame color pants.  If I want to look my best I have to get over “not bad – for ME” or “as good as I’m going to get.”

Courtney reconsiders "Casual."

So I try to think how it would look on a stranger walking down the street, and aspire to dress like we actually WANT to look. It’s where dressing well is like cooking well: It’s not enough to throw it together and live with the results. If you want your food to taste its best, taste as you go. Think about what flavors you want. Add them.  Critique.  Reflect.
What I learn from Courtney: Attitude

Clothes have always been impossible to buy because of [insert obstacle here: budget/weight/kids”].  Now that you’re not [whatever] anymore, it’s STILL hard.  This is because it’s about your attitude and expectations, not just your body/budget/job.  Courtney said it’s as hard to shop at a Size 12-16 as it was when she was size 28.  

-Classy is more attractive than revealing. Always.-The invisible thing. Baggy, schlumpy clothes make NO ONE invisible. They make them look like a big slob. If you don’t want to stand out, blend in – by wearing something well-fitting, in style and low-key. 

 
 

What Courtney looks like, herself: Sharp, classy, cute.

What I learned from Courtney: Fashion.

-Turtlenecks don’t elongate the neck. They scrunch it up. 

-Pants are the hardest item to fit well. There are so many measurements, almost no one fits perfectly off the rack. Skirts are more forgiving (remember Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie? “I can’t wear pants. I’m much too hippy.”)

-Must you wear sweats? If so, why can’t they be sweats that fit?  

 -It’s normal to need clothes in different sizes on bottom and top – even from different departments (plus size on bottom, women’s on top)  

-Gorgeous interesting dark neutrals – gold and green with beautiful texture – wow!  

So, I hope everyone saw Courtney.  If you missed Friday’s episode, check out Episode Guide with lots more great information TLC’s new “shopping list” feature is an awesome reference point for what a great wardrobe includes.  And most of the items are under $100.  

Left: Lady gave up on looking good. Right: Lady reborn and looking great.

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Old Four Eyes

(This post is dedicated to my friend Rooibos whose taste in eyewear I greatly esteem)

Have we talked glasses yet? I’m surprised we haven’t because it’s such a big part of my look. I thought I had finally figured it out and perfected it so I guess I took it for granted. That is, until now. Last night my almost 2 year old monkey found my favorite pair of Lulu Guiness glasses and warped them and broke the nose thing. HORREUR!  I might be able to get it repaired. But for now, I’m wearing my old second favorite pair. So. Let us travel down memory lane in reverse order…

My favorite pair: Lulu Guiness purchased at 5th Ave Optical downtown the day I went to the Bridal Show at the Convention Center with nutmeg, Jan 06. See the details I remember? It was about half off and around $200. It was a steal.

The next recent ones were the Pro-Design red cateyes. They were $$$. Loved them. However, the jointy thingy is loose. Probably could be fixed. Still love it. And yes, I know I look like Snape.

Before that were these rectangular ones I bought at Hub Optix in Pioneer Place down in PDX from a guy named Sam. My memory is elephant like. Still love them so I am wearing them now on account of the loose jointy thing on the red cateyes.

Here's where it gets hazy. This is my driver's license photo from 2000. I was wearing these Harry Potter glasses, which I've since gotten rid of.

This has to be 1999 because my niece is a baby. These were my Calvin Klein tortoise shells with green accents, plastic. I got them at the Bon eye place.

This is from when I used to be a greasy haired salary man in Japan.

From my poetry reading art house cafe days.

So. My next glasses. Since I haven’t bought any in 4 years do I go splurge and buy a super nice ones (Not that the ones before weren’t super nice because boy were they expensive)? Or since I know my kid will probably destroy them again get cheapo ones at Target? What to do, what to do…

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Gray Lanvin Dress
Gratitude, elegance, warmth

I’m not much for resolutions, but every January tempts me to bring my life back into focus.  A friend suggested picking three “New Year’s Words” to describe what you wish for yourself — for your life — and focus on what you might aspire to.

The words can answer a question or they can just stand alone, embodying your values and hopes for yourself (they don’t have to be adjectives): 

I want 2010 to be . . . 

 This year I’m going to be . . . 

 I want more …. in my life 

 Ideas? Anyone? 

For inspiration: 

Azzedine Alaia

luminous, gracious, vitality

Azure

Joyful, vivid, authentic

 

For Jim A.: at OSU Beavers game in November

Relaxed, cool, laid-back, popcorn-eating

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I can haz more socks

Hi. Are you sick and tired of me and my Smartwool socks? Well I just got another pair yesterday.

Don’t worry, I’m preparing a slightly meatier post about mistakes of 2009. If Robin can do it, I can too.

Stay tuned.

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