Friday, September 27, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: Return Of The Hoodie Monster


            I love this time of year. It starts to get chilly enough to wear hooded sweatshirts! People I work with will tell you that I was wearing hooded sweatshirts during the summer when it was 95 degrees out. Yet, this weather means that I can wear hooded sweatshirts ALL THE TIME!!!! And that is excellent news since I’ve been feeling pretty lousy lately with my migraine med switch (have I mentioned that I don't recommend ever taking Topamax for migraine?? just. say. no.). Hoodies are like little cocoons that you never have to come out of. No metamorphosis necessary – just a happy place to hide. A nest of warmth and the closest I can get to mimicking the brilliant avoidance skills of a turtle.
Honeycomb Stitch Cashmere Hoodie
by Autumn Cashmere $365
            I’m lucky enough to have the required uniform at my day-job be whatever I feel like wearing to crawl around on dirty concrete, don’t mind getting dirty while inspecting the quality of stainless steel fittings, and is comfortable enough that I could potentially wear from bed to work to bed again. Not everyone, unfortunately, has this luxury of being able to oversized-comfy-sweatshirt his/her life away. Thankfully, hoods don’t just come on coats, sweatshirts, and monk’s robes anymore. There are hooded sweaters, hooded long sleeve shirts, hooded scarves – I bet there’s even a dress out there somewhere (it is probably ugly as hell, but its existence is likely). I’m not going to lie; hooded sleepwear and hooded cashmere are my favorites. Occasionally the two can be combined to create a really cozy and luxurious night’s sleep. Let’s look at some stuff. 
         That lemony yellow looks soft like butter. Generally if you're putting on a hoodie, you probably aren't interested in being constricted by your apparel. I like that this style has side slits in the bottom cuff so you don't get that weird bubble silhouette that comes from a loose sweater with a tight band across the bottom. And the hood, the most important part, looks big enough to be functional. Here's a fun tip - if you're REALLY cold and in need of some mother kangaroo style smothering, put up the hood and THEN wrap your scarf around the neck. That way your hood stays up, AND your neck doesn't get cold. (This is not a tip for looks, folks, it's all about comfort. You WILL look silly, and people might make fun of you, but when you're feeling snuggled and they're grumpy and nasty, you won't care). 
'Cozy' Cardigan by PJ Salvage $67
       Do you see how happy this woman is? This is definitely loungewear, but could be weekend wear as well. It comes also in olive green. I don't like the olive so much. You could sleep in this. And then you could roll out of bed and go pick apples in it. (Again, we are not going for most stylish weekend dresser here - but this is a long shot away from actually wearing your pajamas out of the house. Can you believe I actually saw someone working at a mall kiosk in their pajama pants last week? Have some dignity. Take pride in your work. AYE AYAY).
Trim Fit Zip Hoodie by
Wallin & Bros $89.50
'Sef' Cardigan by Hugo $97.49
           Let's not exclude the boys. I think I would actually like to wear this zip up myself. It's mostly cotton with a hint of cashmere. It's a very nice way to dress down a dress shirt. And for the guys who don't really like to dress up - this might be a compromise. This other cardigan - for the guy that prefers buttons, is also nice and a tad dressier. Go for the black though. The light grey is too flimsy and it looks like a woman's cardigan. "Daddy, why are you wearing Mommy's clothes?" Not that there's anything wrong with it, but if you're going to dress like a woman, DO IT UP! 
                                                                            This next piece looks like an everyday staple. It's a hoodie that's light enough in weight that you could wear it under..... YES! ANOTHER HOODIE!!!! Double your pleasure, double your fun! Do they even still make Double Mint Gum? I have been known to double up on my hooded sweatshirts when I'm really cold. Paring this with another hooded item would be a bit less bonkers. 
Stripe Hoodie Pullover
by Bobeau $25.20
          


         

         

      Now if you really want to splurge on something (or dream about it - that's what I'll be doing) I have just the thing. The ultimate in cozy. It's technically outerwear, but it's a vest. So, you can wear it inside! You know how much I love Helmut Lang, if you know me personally or have been a faithful reader. This is the coup de grace. Black. Fur. Hooded. Covers your neck! I really recommend you click through to see all the pictures of that piece. Mon Dieu!!! The leather neck is like a cowl. So chic. If you love me a lot, perhaps you could get together as my readership and start a fund to buy this for me as a Christmas present. I can see how my friend Janet might have a problem with this, as she is a rabbit owner. None of the rest of you have any excuses. 
Fontana Hooded Leather Trimmed
Rabbit Gilet by Helmut Lang $1895
           All but the vest are available at Nordstrom. I want to share with you that I received the nicest email from the general manager at Nordstrom in Chicago in response to the blog a while back about Diptyque and their fabulous brand ambassador Michael. It just reinforced for me what a service based company it is from the top down. Having worked with a couple of really gifted managers in my sales days, I know that this is where it needs to start - in management. So, kudos to this company for having such stellar people on staff. That's it for now. I'm going to go put on some more hoodies...


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The FDA Can't Warn You About Stupidity


          Read the damned bottle. You heard me, read it. The back of the bottle of ibuprofen in our medicine cabinet has a host of information on it, from dosing suggestions, to possible allergic reactions, to warnings about stomach bleeding. I just read an article that left me shaking my head and yelling (to no one), “Are you really that stupid?!” The article was about Tylenol and the line that set me off was “They tell you it’s medicine,” he said. “They don’t tell you it cankill you.”
half the label is warnings... kind of hard to miss.

         Aside from the stories we’ve all heard of angsty teenagers trying to kill themselves by swallowing a whole bottle of Tylenol, common sense should set off some sort of alarm any time you ingest something that is a chemical your body did not produce. (And just for the record, the CDC reported that more people died in New Jersey of Septicemia(blood infection) in 2010 than died of accidentally taking too much acetaminophen in the whole US between 2001-2010). If you are taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory or pain medications, you are subverting your body’s natural healing process. Your conscious brain is not smarter than your autonomous nervous system. If you are feeling pain or having inflammation, it’s because there is something wrong. A painful ankle sprain might keep you from putting on your stilettos, preventing further injury. Inflammation – same idea – it gets you to eliminate whatever pathogen is causing the problem. Or, warns you to stop exercising overworked joints. Healthy individuals take pain medications because they are uncomfortable, not because the body is working incorrectly. It’s unnatural.
            Treating disease may have a different goal, to correct a malfunction in the body, but it still involves putting a chemical in the body that it didn’t think it needed. Why don’t people read the labels? In the end it’s not the drug companies that are at fault when you suffer from a medication you take, it’s you. YOU put the stuff in your mouth and swallowed it. It is not in the pharmaceutical industry’s best interest to kill their customer base. They wouldn’t make any money if you were dead. And doctors, well, I have a pretty dim view of doctors right now, but overall if they prescribe a drug it’s because they believe the benefit of the medication outweighs the risks and side effects. It is your responsibility to read the information that comes with the medications and decide for yourself if you agree.
            When it says on the bottle “Do not drink alcohol when taking this medication,” it’s usually because doing so will make you ill. I can personally attest to this being true. When it says you shouldn’t drink grapefruit juice with a medication, it’s not because the pharmaceutical companies are trying to take down the citrus industry. They do this thing called “research” where they find out how different medications are metabolized by the body. All of this information is clear as day on the leaflets that come from the pharmacy and usually also on the drug’s website.
If you are too lazy to read this information before you swallow, then you deserve what you get!
            So, I was taking this drug Topamax for migraine prevention, and now I’m not. It’s kind of a nasty medication – I would go so far as to recommend that if someone offers it to you as a solution for something, you should tell them to come up with another idea. One of the side effects that I got to experience when I started it (and every time I changed the dose it progressed) was something many refer to as “brain fog.” For me it’s been having holes shot through my short-term memory and then a haze to cover it all. To be honest it feels like early onset Alzheimer's. My doctor at the time assured me “that can happen with this drug,” as if it were like having an itchy mosquito bite. The drug did what it was supposed to for a little while so I put up with haziness. You weigh your options … horrible pain in your head at least half the month or being a bit of a space cadet. I picked the space cadet. Then when the drug stopped working and my doctor stopped listening to me, I found a new doctor! The common thread in this paragraph is ME. I took it, I weighed the options, I changed my mind. (And the coming off this drug process is much worse than the tapering on, so I am feeling very looney tuney right now.)
            We have to stop blaming institutions for our own choices. We shouldn’t demand regulation for things that we should be smart enough to figure out for ourselves. It’s bad enough that it says “Caution Hot” on the outside of a coffee cup. It’s embarrassing! If you want a quick fix to something, you have to expect that it’s not going to be perfect. Nothing is perfect.
           
            

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: TrashIn' the Fashion Magazines

Won't be picking this up again.

       I haven’t been travelling much, and as that’s when I usually pick up print fashion magazines, I haven’t been nose down in very many such publications. I recently, on a whim, decided to pick up Allure – the September issue. I can’t recall a time when I’ve wanted so badly to chuck a magazine in the trash. Forgive me while I paraphrase because I wouldn’t actually buy the issue. When I reached the page where it said in title headings both “How to shop at chain stores” and “How to style cheap clothes” or maybe it was “How to wear cheap clothes” – we’re emphasizing the word CHEAP here, I started to throw up in my mouth. And then the quote immediately following the line about “CHEAP” clothes was by some stylists saying something along the lines of “Everyone’s buying cheap clothes for basics these days, it’s just what people are doing,” (Again, I am paraphrasing – but that was the general idea), I wrinkled my whole face in absolute disgust and revulsion.
   
            If you’ve never read Allure before, it is a magazine that largely focuses on makeup, skincare products, and the like. It is a very girly magazine. They generally include a smallish fashion section. Who reads this magazine? You would guess from the content of the magazine that their market is everywoman/manygaymen in Anytown, USA. After reading that page, I would guess that no one would want to read this magazine. What an elitist soliloquy of swill. Did they forget that most people can not afford to purchase high end designer couture? There is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing your clothes at the mall, TJ Maxx, the Salvation Army, or K-Mart: whatever you can afford as long as you are not leaving the house WITHOUT PANTS! To label everything that is not designer as “cheap,” I find unbelievably offensive. When I hear the word cheap, I don’t think inexpensive, I think made like shit. And to counter, I would like to point out that an awful lot of what the fashion mags would consider “designer,” is, in fact, made like shit. To be quite honest, unless the tag on my clothing says “Made in Italy” or any other European country where I know the person who made it was paid an acceptable living wage, the garment was most likely “made like shit.” EVEN THEN, I have a pair of ValentinoRED ballet flats, made in Italy, cost more than I feel comfortable sharing with you, and they are TERRIBLE. The bow on one shoe came unfixed after 6 or 7 wears, I had to have it fixed at the cobbler, and now the other one’s come off. I’ve mentioned before, Alice + Olivia, Vince, Joie, Kate Spade, low end Marc Jacobs, much Louis Vuitton, need I go on, is all made in CHINA. The only thing differentiating it from something you buy at Zara is the name on the tag, well, and the ridiculous amount of money you paid for it.
            While I’m at it, I would also like to broach the subject of these “Lust or Must” and “Splurge or Steal” sections most of these magazines have. They have no problem identifying Lust and Splurge items. Defining “Must” and “Steal” however, seems to have confounded the editors at fashion magazines like Elle and Marie Claire. My idea of a must is going to the Gap outlet and finding a t-shirt on the clearance rack for $3. Granted, I realize that when trying to mimic the styling of an expensive outfit on a budget, $3 will not get you anywhere. Unfortunate for the aforementioned editing teams, I do have the sense to know that anything that costs more than $100 is NOT a must, unless you are buying a car. $100 for a brand new car? That is a must. I can’t recall the last time I saw one of these price comparison editorials that didn’t have at least a couple (mmm, more than half would probably be more accurate) of “steals” that cost a few hundred. Adding insult to injury, the proposed “steals” are usually not even a close second to the original - multiple hundred dollar ugly knockoffs. The only steal going on is the retailer putting your dollars in their till. 
            I’m not sure what these magazines are trying to tell us.  Are we not good enough to be their readers? Are we style-devoid buffoons who need a bunch of dimwits to tell us how to wear our “cheap” clothes? I, for one, am sick of the media – ANY AND ALL OF THEM – trying to tell me that my thoughts and suppositions are wrong, lying to me, and acting like they are the high court for the world’s celebrities. Perhaps I expect too much from a section of society that acts like overpaid busybodies. It seems you can’t expect much from anyone in the public eye these days.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: Fifteen Farcical Fashion Finds That Will Make You Say "For Real?!"


The inspiration. This 3.1 Phillip Lim denim
JUMPSUIT with PATCHES costs $1295.
Would you believe it's sold out at Saks?

           As many of the world’s fashion savvy have been falling all over themselves at NY Fashion Week this past week to see what spring fashion will hold (it’s worse than Christmas decorations at Halloween), I have been on an entirely different mission. I was inspired both by an email I received about 3.1 Phillip Lim’s fall line and the lovely fall weather we were having up until Wednesday to research some really unbelievable statements of this season’s trends. I searched high and low to bring you this visual compilation of the most eye-catching looks, as in “Shit, I didn’t see that nail sticking out of the wall there and now I’ve left an eyeball behind.”
           I was surprised by my findings. I expected to collect some pieces from the usual hit or miss designers: Etro, Erdem, Missoni. While all three of these big names make some really beautiful garments, you can’t deny that they make just as many hideous garments. Missoni zigs and zags colors that look like vomited Golden Corral and the two E’s put so much busy in their prints that being on acid would make you feel calm. SURPRISE! None of these three were even in the ballpark. And speaking of calm, another name I expected to be tagging right and left was Mary Katrantzou. I’m sorry, but I can’t stand her work. Even her garments – the prints - I found to be like calming seas to my eyes after the pieces I have found for you. Sure, I found stuff that was out there weird. I found clothes that were really ugly and might make you gag. To make the cut for this edition, however, they had to be the noxious elite. I want you to know some of these items have sold out. So, they’re not only ugly, they’re popular. And, almost all of them cost more than a months rent. And without further ado, let the fugly fall fashion fair commence!
I think this is what happens when a parrot flies
into a fan. Tim Ryan £1,585 at Browns London.
Okay, I lied a little. I'm throwing
 in a Missoni scrunchie, so you
can hold back your hair
while you vomit. It's $95.

And, when the head falls of the parrot, Fendi
turns it into a keychain. £425 at Browns London.
It astounds me how something so simple can
be so horrendous. Carven $805 at Avenue32.
This one sold out at Net-a-porter. ?!
YEAH! This is what I want for Christmas!
NO! Why would you dye angora that color?
It kind of just looks like she rolled around on
the couch after a chartreuse cat slept on it. 
Antonio Marras $2505.59 at Farfetch.com.
I think she got cold at the Chinese food
restaurant and just took this off the wall.
Duro Olowu $6285 at Net-a-porter.
Oy Marie! Well, there she is. I'm sorry, but someone
 needs to re-educate Givenchy on the definition of "sweatshirt."
This is not it. And it's available at so many places...
$1440 at Net-a-porter.

I really just don't understand this one.
Except, is she checking for armpit
odor? Moschino Cheap and Chic
$560 at Net-a-porter.
While we're printing people's
faces on garments, how about Elvis' face
in your lap? Ashley Williams 785€ at colette.fr.
There's not much to say about this
shearling coat, is there? Except that maybe
Net-a-porter needs to think about firing their buyers?
Roberto Cavalli $10,090. Yes, you read that right.
 
Just the perfect dress for under that
shearling. We've gone down
the rabbit hole and taken
Farmer McGregor's rose garden.
Rodarte $14,919.71 at colette.fr.
No fashion show would be complete
without a tribute to the Golden Girls.
There's no tie-dye, but it still
feels like it's swirling a bit. Or maybe
that's my stomach. Prabal Gurung
$2195 at Net-a-porter.
Animal print! If you stare at it long enough, the
black and white part looks like a head on
a body. $900 at (you guessed it) Net-a-porter.
Here's a whole look for you. I think
I'll call it "rotting art deco building."
Anna Sui cape $605 at farfetch.com.
Anna Sui pants $450 at Net-a-porter.
My favorite, to close. Christopher Kane
feather - applique cashmere sweater.
$4295 at Net-a-porter. For an additional $4770,
you may also purchase the skirt. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Era of Omniscience, But No One Knows How To Do Anything


           Telling people how to live their lives is the latest fad. “If you’re busy you’re doing it wrong.” “You can be a woman and have it all.” “You can’t have it all if you’re a woman.” “You’re not suffering enough.” “You’re fat because you don’t eat like a caveman.” “You should only work 4 hours a week.” And yet, if you go to the bookstore or look on Youtube, you will realize that no one in America knows how to do anything. ANYTHING. There are tutorials and how to books from things as complex as programming in Linux to as stupid as curling your hair with a curling iron. AND apparently, even that is too difficult, as shown by this video.


            It’s a bit of a conundrum. The majority of people will act as though they are experts on many things, several of them because they’ve read a book about the topic. Many people want to share what they’ve learned from self-help books they’ve read. And yet, evidence points to an overall lack of general knowledge. People don’t know how to use turn signals. People don’t understand what to do at traffic lights. People can’t figure out how to not bring electrical appliances with them into the shower (or there wouldn’t be warnings on everything!). People haven’t figured out that acting like a jerk at a gym can be dangerous to their own health. And people are really still denying climate change. With all of this in mind, I guarantee you hoards of the population would tell you that we are more enlightened than our ancestors.
            If you were to think back to civilization even 150 years ago, I believe you would encounter quite a difference. First of all, a more complex use of the English language would knock everyone off their feet. Outside of that, however, people had skills. They could start and use fire as a tool for light and heat. They could ride horses or walk long distances to get places. They knew that when it was cold, you put on more clothing (not Uggs and short skirts). They didn’t snack on food all day long or walk through the streets with it (dining tables anyone?). If you handed someone a manual on how to live life, I’m sure they would have laughed in your face. People had sense. Common sense. They weren’t out to lunch. Everyone today is so out to lunch Mr. Ed isn’t even coming along. Quite frankly, he'd have no one to talk to anyway with everyone staring at their "smart" phones. People can't even figure out how to reconnect. Or, maybe they don’t want to because it takes work and sometimes it hurts. Is that why they think they need more self-help books? Or that reading columns in the paper written by people who deem themselves enlightened will set them back on the right path?
            Here’s an idea. Turn off your phone. Turn off your computer. Now, go outside. Stand somewhere that’s not in the middle of the road, and close your eyes. Listen. Separate the sounds and figure out what you are hearing. No, NOT the sounds in your constantly chattering head. OUTSIDE. Are they birds? Bugs? Cars? Wind? Open your eyes. Feel your feet. What’s underneath them? Flat? Lumpy? Can you even remember what grass feels like in your fingers? What do you see around you? Colors? Textures? Take it in. WAKE UP. You are not blind. You are not deaf. (Though, many out there act as if weighted with both afflictions). And, no self-help book can help you to notice the world around you. Only you can do that. They can condescend to tell you what’s wrong with your life, but really, only YOU know what’s wrong with your life. And, only YOU can fix it. No matter where you want to go or where you’ve been, what your feet feel, what your ears hear, and what your eyes see: this is where you are; this is where you start.
            Your phone is an object, and there is no one inside it. Your memory takes much better pictures than the camera does. And the Internet is OFTEN wrong, so stop checking it every 30 seconds for news, trivia, and status updates. (By the way, whatever fun thing your friends say they’re doing when they update their Facebook status, THEY’RE NOT DOING. THEY’RE ON FACEBOOK). If you want to help yourself, stop asking other people how to do it. You already know. Your brain is still up there somewhere – I’m pretty confident in that.