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Posts Tagged ‘skirts’

It was last fall, when laurgs or someone was freaking out saying “can I REALLY mix brown and black?” when I panicked, ran upstairs and hurriedly put together outfits and take pictures, and begged you all to  mix dark neutrals. Seriously. I am working on my big “Basic Black is Overrated” post, but it’s becoming quite the dissertation and will take time.  So consider this a quick reminder.  Brown and gray are not opposites that clash.   Go mix up your dark neutrals. Trust me.

Meanwhile, I notice that someone found this blog by searching for “older women in skirts and boots.” WTF, people. Older Women compared to whom? Okay, I will admit I freaked out momentarily today that my niece was turning 25, only to realize she was actually turning 26.  Insert “old lady losing my memory” joke here.  But I hate age jokes.  It’s just another trap of sabotaging ourselves.  Ha ha, let’s joke about how we can give up because we don’t matter anymore.  Don’t tell me I’m old.  Don’t complain that you are old. Especially if you are younger than me.  I am finally getting with it for the first time in my life.  I wouldn’t trade my age for anything.

But seriously, is this the older women in skirts and boots blog?

And for the festishists, or Older Women, or whoever you are: From my Skirts and Boots photo shoot. In the third picture, I am accidentally falling over trying to pose:

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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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Watch out men! We are taking your pants

Logical fallacy: If women wear pants, men must either be in skirts or naked from the waist down

Jennie recently shared an interview with New York Times columnist Gail Collins, author of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.   The interview is here:

The world has seriously changed since our mother’s generation.  Not surprisingly, a lot of these changes involve clothing.  There’s always been a tension between feminism and femininity (must we act masculine to have the opportunities men have?) Collins debunks (again) the urban legend of literal “bra-burning” (never happened).  And asked whether a “feminist” identity is distasteful to modern young women, Collins says, “even back in the ’20s women were writing that there was something about the word ‘feminism’ that suggested bad shoes.” 

Stockpot

Woman doing housework (see apron), 1959

My name is Robin, and I’m a feminist. Who won’t wear bad shoes.  Women my age (36 in 2009) know we can aim for pretty and powerful.  We’re not shocked when it’s a struggle to have both, but we know we deserve it.  If we want, we can run the world in skirts and heels . . . or at least we should be able to.  And we’d love to argue about why we’re not. 

Just don’t force us into skirts and heels.  Because seriously, it was not that long ago that women were supposed to wear dresses all the time. They might wear pants at home, but there aren’t even that many pictures of that before 1960.  Because if they were photographed (or depicted in art at home, see left) they would have put a dress on.  Does that seem absurd?  As Gail describes:

. . . when I went to college we weren’t allowed to wear slacks out of the dormitory, except if you were going bowling. And later on, the younger women had demonstrations and they all went out in slacks and a lot of them had picket signs, and they got rid of the law. But when I was there I just signed out to go bowling every night. I was absolutely not one of the great cultural heroines of my time, I guarantee you.

How. Dare. She.
BOWLING. Seriously. I guess pants were better because they ran and bent over? What was up with this? Mom?

Skirt vs. pants is still a big debate for many working women. Does it sex us up, or reduce us to an gender-specific expectation? And if we play along, is this necessarily a bad thing? At least we have a choice (or do we — when we hear that a Federal Judge might really prefer female attorneys to appear before him only in skirted suits).  If we dress  like men to be treated as well as them, do we concede that the Masculine is the default, the power ideal? (Because gender is something extra that women “have” and men are “normal?”) More importantly, will it make us look fat and dumpy if we tromp around in heavy, practical shoes? Heels are so slimming.

hard to be a man

Anti-suffrage cartoon circa 1910. The man and children are unhappy because the woman is leaving the house to go cast her vote. I don't think this was ironic.

Gail Collins is a little ambivalent about the clothes issue. Which is fine with me, because she’s awesome.  But around here, it’s important.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got some flack for wanting to buy her dresses right away — but it turns out, sturdy cotton knit dresses can be comfy and fun for girls.  She’s so cute! Then I’m conflicted when she argues too much about which PRETTY DRESS she’s going to wear in the morning. She is only 2, and there are more important things in life.  But it’s GOOD (and I’m getting to this, with Teens and Twilight) that she’s opinionated, self-possessed and determined — even when it comes to flowered pants. Should I worry that she wears too much pink? On the other hand, should I encourage my son to wear dresses (at least just for play?)

Gender-blindness may never happen, and we aren’t even totally “equal” yet.  And even for women who aren’t personally interested in equal career opportunity, the world needs it:  Opportunity builds confidence, confidence builds esteem. Girls’ self-esteem helps them stand up for themselves.  This keeps them safe and free from domestic violence and predation (TWILIGHT ARGH).  As adults they’ll be confident enough to demand equal healthcare and equal pay. 

We’ve still got a long way to go on this road.  Does it slow us down to wear a dress along the way? As Collins says, there are “walls you are never going to climb over, and separating women from really ridiculous but incredibly sexy shoes is one of those.”

. . . Unless you can climb over those walls in heels.  I’m not saying you have to try.  Just don’t tell yourself you can’t.

Slacks “loose trousers” first recorded 1824, originally military; O.E. slæc “loose, careless” (in ref. to personal conduct), from P.Gmc. *slakas (cf. O.S. slak, O.N. slakr, O.H.G. slah “slack,” M.Du. lac “fault, lack”), from PIE base *(s)leg- “to be slack” (see lax). Sense of “not tight” (in ref. to things) is first recorded c.1300. The verb is attested from 1520; slacken (v.) first recorded 1580.

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Hem Hem, High Inquisitor Decree #36

Can you tell? I hemmed my skirt by 2.5 inches so that it falls on the knee. If you look closely you can tell because with the second picture you can see where my calves start to narrow as they approach the knees.

eddie bauer denim skirt purchased at the outlet mall this summer when it was really really hot. i don't own any skirts and i needed to wear something other than my ONE pair of shorts.

eddie bauer denim skirt purchased at the outlet mall this summer when it was really really hot. i don't own any skirts and i needed to wear something other than my ONE pair of shorts. yes, i look like a ghost.

did it make a difference? i do feel smarter though because i think the skirt did feel kind of long and awkward. i have to hem pants i buy anyway so it makes sense that the skirts i buy off the rack are too long.

did it make a difference? i do feel smarter though because i think the skirt did feel kind of long and awkward. i have to hem pants i buy anyway so it makes sense that the skirts i buy off the rack are too long. hmm formatting is hard.

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J. Crew Vintage Cord Pencil Skirt, Scattered Petals Top, and Cardigan; Model with shaved legs

J. Crew Vintage Cord Pencil Skirt, Scattered Petals Top, and Cardigan; Model with shaved legs

I hate getting out of bed in the morning.  It’s not that I don’t like mornings. I just really like bed.  As a result, I often end up without enough time to get ready for work.  Back in my Season of Schlumpiness, “no time in the mornings” was my main excuse for not dressing better.  I was too busy to wear skirts (unshaven legs) and I went to work with wet hair. And have I mentioned the time I was in a federal trial, removed my shoes for security at the courthouse, and everyone saw that I was wearing white athletic socks with a black suit and boots? I could’ve been wearing nice black trouser socks. But I didn’t have time to buy and match socks.  Reader, this was before I had children.  I really had no excuse.

I hear “I don’t have time to worry about clothes” almost as much as I hear “I don’t want to spend the money.”  So here’s my challenge: think about what you could do if you got up 15 minutes earlier every day.  On my alarm, this is less than two snoozes.  It’s time I’d have if I skipped a prelimariny e-mail check with accompanying Facebook distraction.  15 minutes is enough time to get a fresh start on getting ready in the morning.  It is not so much earlier that you will die with exhaustion if you don’t sleep for 15 more minutes. Trust me. 

On Monday, you could shave your legs.  I haven’t shaved my legs daily since I was an actual cheerleader (dudes, I just realized this was twenty years ago. TWENTY).   Daily is a lot and I don’t necessarily recommend it (No comment on whether I recommend cheerleading).  If you start to slack and shave less than once a week, it can impede what you wear. So shave.  Moisturize.  Celebrate by wearing a cute  knee-length skirt  .

Practical, vinyl, adorable bag from Queen Bee Creations

Practical, vinyl, adorable bag from Queen Bee Creations

On Tuesday you could take time to pack.  “No time to get my stuff together” really holds me back. Pack your gym bag. Pack a lunch.  If you stay at home, re-pack your diaper bag.  It’s empowering to carry only what you need and leave the rest.  If you don’t have the right bag for your toting needs, yay!  Go find a new bag.  Some of my favorites are from Queen Bee Creations  in Portland.

On Wednesday you could iron.  Who doesn’t have one or two “I liked that when I bought it, but now it needs to be ironed” pieces lying around? Iron it. Wear it.  If you seriously can’t stand it to iron, get rid of it. If you are surprised that it was worth it, keep ironing — or commit to getting it professionally pressed.

On Thursday, you could leave the house early.  Drop off or pick up dry cleaning.  Take pants in to be hemmed or shoes to be polished.  Drop off your donation box (some good places to donate women’s clothing are Goodwill , Dress for Success,  and in Olympia, The Wardrobe  ).  Take time for those little errands that keep your closet in good order.

 On Friday, you could take a walk.  Go outside, breathe some fresh air., and think about how you feel.  What did you wear this week, and are you happy with how you look? If you don’t feel Fabulous, what would help? Make time for it over the weekend.

Getting up earlier is on my list of “If Michelle Obama can do it, so can I” lifestyle challenges.  I will confess that I am not great at it.  I even tried a real rewards chart with gold stickers, and I lost somewhere (with one single sticker on it).  It’s a constant battle. But the nice thing about it is, whenever I decide to get back into it, I have those extra 15 minutes waiting for me. No excuses.

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Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

I work in an office with central air conditioning; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sane enough to write this post.  It is a record-breaking 104 degrees here today.  I just read that only 14% of the homes in the Seattle area have central air. My home does not.  It is 90 degrees down in the living room where the thermostat is.  Hotter upstairs where the computer is.

I don’t like to say “Thank Goodness I don’t have to wear a suit to work every day,” because really? If I was in a place in my career that required suits, I’d bring the suits.  Day after day, I would make the suit look great. I would wear the best damn suits and shoes in the place and I’d be grateful for the opportunity to looking Suit-tastically Awesome.

But Business Casual is feeling pretty good in the heat. I broke a sweat before leaving the house, again while dropping my daughter off at daycare, and even more in the parking lot of my building.  I don’t know that anyone else has this exact wardrobe problem this week.  But I’m kind of proud of myself for not melting, crying and/or caving and waering my Alfani Petunia flip-flops to a deposition, so I decided to tell the world about what I’ve worn so far.

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

 

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

 Yes, I had a bit of a Bargain Binge at Target and Fred Meyere. It felt like they just HAD to have that perfect $20 cotton sundress.  I got a blouse, skirt and dress (without trying it on). The skirt works — above — but is a long story that I don’t want to tell just yet.  The other stuff, I have to return, and how no fun is that?

. . . to be continued with my Thursday and Friday outfits.  I think tomorrow I’ll revisit the linen pants with a sleeveless silk top. Friday it is supposed to be a tad cooler. I might wear a short-sleeved dress.

Hot.

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Us, Dressed Up

When you’re invited to watch your little girl cousin, grown up into lovely Princess of a woman and marrying her best friend in front of all their loved ones — it’s time to get dressed up.  My family had been looking forward to this wedding for months, and we were each a little worried (in our own way) about what to wear.  I know we’re not alone.  For people who don’t dress up for work or daily life, getting ready for a special event can feel like putting on a costume.  Even if you go shopping just for the occasion, it’s hard to feel like yourself if you haven’t worn a dress for a year.

From left: niece, sister, niece, sister, Dad, sister, Mom, Me, kids. My Dad is sometimes asked if he's unhappy that he had four daughters and no sons. Does he look unhappy?

From left: niece, sister, niece, sister, Dad, sister, Mom, Me, kids. My Dad is sometimes asked if he's disappointed that he had four daughters and no sons. Does he look disappointed?

Everyone in my family was pleasantly surprised, then, to see each other looking individually and authentically fabulous this past weekend.  Even in dresses.  Even in heels (some of us) and even in New Accessories — we didn’t look or feel fake.  We fit in with the other guests.  We admired but eventually forgot about our clothes because we were busy having fun.  When my mom commented on this today, I tried to think of why this worked out so well for us.  For anyone else stumped or intimidated by this summer’s Dress Up occasions, here are my observations on how we stayed true to ourselves:

Anne's Wedding 025

1. Wear clothes that fit.

If you haven’t dressed up for awhile, your old Nice Clothes might not fit you anymore.  If your clothes don’t fit you won’t look your best. You’ll be uncomfortable with your body and won’t look like you. 

2. Don’t expose too much.  Virtually all women look their best showing some knee, but take care pushing it to a shorter length.  Whether you bare shoulders or show cleavage depends on your comfort level.  If you find yourself tugging at your dress or reaching for a sweater to cover up, find something else to wear — you will feel more like yourself if you’re not overexposed.

3. Get the right foundations.  The time to worry about bra straps and pantylines is when you’re shopping in the Intimate Apparel department. Buy the right underwear, and you won’t be worrying once you’re dressed up.

Beautiful pattern and cut! (She was hiding behind everyone else in the other picture)

Beautiful pattern and cut! (She was hiding behind everyone else in the other picture)

4. Dress head-to-toe.  Some Convicted Casual Wearers will concede the skirt, but refuse to pay a little more attention to the rest of their look.  Then the dress doesn’t fit with the rest of you, like you’re playing dress-up.  Wear at least one piece of jewelry.  Whatever your look is, take a few extra minutes to smooth it out and polish it up. Stick to the general style and colors that you’re used to; avoid anything bright or glittery.  Unless it is your Prom, or you want to look as uncomfortable as you did at your Prom, don’t go crazy on Special Event Hair (updos, back-combs, or heavily sculpted curls).

5. Get new shoes. Budget as much for your shoes as you do for your dress.  Don’t try finding a pretty dress to match your 5-year-old black Dansko sandals.   Old clunky shoes will bring down your whole look. If you don’t know where to start, ask a salesperson for a cute shoe to go with your new knee-length wedding-guest dress.  They should steer you away from career pumps or trouser shoes.   Seriously consider heels; there are comfortable ones made for all sizes and shapes of feet (even orthopedically-challenged).  Don’t wear any heel too high to walk steadily — you won’t look like yourself if you wobble.  If you can’t do heels, wear the prettiest flats or sandals you can find and paint your toenails.  

6. Avoid trends.  Trends are for people who know how to wear them. If you don’t have a natural feel for it (and don’t care enough to study up), stay classic and conservative.  Be careful with affecting a culture or style that is not Of Your Demographic.  This is real life, not a music video.

7. Bring it.  Sway, smile, spin around once or twice to watch your skirt flutter.  Take pictures, kiss the bride on the cheek, hug your relatives.  Compliment all the other well-dressed women you see.  Raise a toast to the happy couple and enjoy the day: You are you, and you are fabulous.

Authentic Bride: Annie, Being Annie

Authentic Bride: Annie, Being Annie

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