August 25, 2011

Comfort Inn

When adjusting to a major life change and maintaining balance by staying home during most of one's free time, a comfortable uniform for work and play is ideal. I'm talking about me here. I wear this outfit a lot lately. And I'm pretty sure it rules.

How perfect is the t-shirt? Have you ever seen a more prefect specimen in heather gray? The crew neck, the sleeve length, the overall length, the fit, and what you can't see here is that it's not a basic cotton. It has this incredible smoothness, almost a sheen, like a heavy silk or even some poly or acrylic or lycra or acetate or something I don't even know about. (I do not know because the tags are all washed out.) Basically, it's very, very smooth on the surface. Imagine a bathing suit material mixed with the softest vintage t-shirt and that is what it feels like to me. It is made by Bally, and I picked it up secondhand at Crossroads in the Castro.

Speaking of soft and smooth, these pants are also both of those things. Pleats, loose fit, low rise, zipper on the hip. There were a ton of these on sale at Gap. I probably should have bought more of them, and in other colors. They are great pants.

You should already know about these mesh top shoes

I also got this coat during that shopping day in the Castro. It's linen, and lined. It seemed quite overpriced compared to everything else I bought in this used clothing haul. I say overpriced because I had no idea what this brand Nakkna was, and no one working there could tell me either. They just said to me, "It's avant-garde, you know," when I inquired as to how they determined the used selling price. I looked it up when I got home and felt justified for my spending, somehow.

It is a pretty great coat, and needed to be mine. Costs be damned! Right? No? That's not how this works?

This post was written while listening to Beck's 'Modern Guilt.' But the truth is, I don't have guilt feelings. Not about buying clothing at least. No I do not need it but I need it you know? I need it the way a musician needs instruments and the way a chef needs good cookware. No I do not make anything of value by wearing clothing on my body. No I do not sell my "style," though, come to think of it, many bloggers have, and that is wonderful in its way. Maybe there are other ways to circulate something of value though. Ways that do not have to do with money. I use the tag "sharing" a lot. Because I want to share, and I want to be shared with. 

We all have to balance our own budgets, a highly personal matter. But what's the big secret? That you have more than you are comfortable with? Or less? I am content with my livable combined income gained through the privilege of heterosexual marriage and able-bodied-and-minded employment. And I want more. Not a lot, but just a smidge more. And right now, with a mountain of debt I prefer not to think about and no prospect of ever shedding it, and with a studio apartment and some decent furniture, and with a life filled with love, and with some decent shit to wear that I feel good wearing, I am great.

But this cold has got to go. I think the sinus pressure is making me write weird things on the internet.

August 15, 2011

What's Actually In My Bag

If you are like me you don't give much of a shit about what is being toted around inside the purses of other ladies. The contents of a purse are personal. I recall growing up that wallets and bags were sacred places. To look inside someone else's was a violation.

When I bought resale clothing to pay the bills, a bag was a potential hazard to be handled with care. Who knows what could be lurking in the dark recesses of leather or pleather? And oh, the things we found. Bags also acquire a smell, a combination of the owner's essence and the contents bleeding into the crevices. I'm much more aware of the previous owner of a used bag than a used garment. It seems to take longer to make a used bag your own.

But this is my used bag, the one I've carried the most frequently this year. Inside are my things. Last night the contents were all exposed, because I was moving them from a day backpack (we went to the woods) back into this black leather bag. It was during that moment of exposure, with the contents of my bag scattered on our bed, that Michael laughingly insisted that I "do one of those posts where you arrange everything from your bag!" The joke here is that the true contents of my bag are slightly embarrassing.

So without further ado, I present to you, the contents of my bag arranged neatly and photographed.

 We have here (clockwise from top):
  • Newest sunglasses, Vintage Ray Bans 
  • Peet's coffee thingy from Michael's morning coffee. I don't save these. I'm a little fuzzy on how and why it came back home with us.
  • One playtex regular absorbency tampon, unscented
  • One iphone
  • Pack of spearmint Orbitz, approx. 4 months old
  • CDG wallet, birthday gift :)
  • Ortho tri-cyclen lo for prevention of unwanted humans. iPhone assists here with daily alarm.
  • Used Kleenex tissue #1. I just don't see the sense in throwing these out after only one use to dab at my daily excess nostril moisture. It's not snot, it's condensation. Brought on by changes of temperature or excess wind. Scientific fact.
  • 2 Hair elastics
  • 3 Bobby pins. And let me get this straight, you UK gurls call these "Kirby Grips"? Is that right?
  • Empty water bottle from breakfast (burrito) purchase
  • Yet another hair holding device, a tiny claw clip
  • 3 Naturacare applicator free, regular absorbency tampons. These are much preferred to the Playtex, ladies: Organic unbleached all pure and natural cotton for your vag. I guess I keep that old synthetic cancer 'pon in case I'm in a situation where going applicator free seems unwise. I waver on my hippiedom. 
  • Heavily used Burt's Bees basic minty lip balm
  • Old wadded up napkin: I typically have a grip of these on hand, in addition to the Kleenex. It's my way of not having to actually buy more tiny Kleenex too often. I take a paper napkin or 3 in my purse when leaving any restaurant or cafe. Always be prepared, that's my thinking.
  • Currently using Burt's Bess hand cream. Must. Always. Have. Lotion.
  • Hot pink tape measure. Yes, I carry a tape measure with me. 
  • Another Kleenex, you get the picture.
  • House keys
  • Lint
  • Another Orbitz, this one even older I believe. Berrymint or some shit. I don't like gum.
  • Preparation H Totables. Because a certain kind of relief can only be provided by the soothing powers of witch hazel and aloe.
  • Mini Kleenex pack you've been hearing so much about
  • Pilot G2, .05. A great cheap pen. 
  • Sephora mauve lip gloss/stick. Wait, make that "Sephora LIP ATTITUDE in GLAMOUR."
Repacked and ready to get on with my glamo(u)rous life:

I threw out the water bottle and coffee thing. But those napkins and Kleenex are definitely still good.

August 12, 2011

Basic Shapes

An outfit for going out. Where going out = walking to a taqueria, having 1 taco and 1 beer, walking to a cute bar, having 1 Jack and ginger, walking home. And um, stopping at another taqueria on the way home for a veggie burrito, half of which is about to be today's lunch. I may have had 2 dinners, but I did succeed in my goal of portion control at each.

Luckily my shit eating habits of late and my propensity for baggy clothing correspond nicely with one another. I wanted to show you guys my outfit, even if I didn't feel up to attempting nice photos. My life is no editorial anyhow. Try to see past the dated blogger aesthetics to the clothing itself. 

Mirror shots are still cool with me.

Seen here: Alexander Wang sweater, Zero + Maria Cornejo silky tank top, H&M pants from long, long ago; all bought at secondhand/consignment shops. Those shoes are some real nice Via Spigas. Don't hate. 

I hope you all have a happy and love-filled Friday and weekend. Michael had a major birthday and so we will be celebrating. I've gotta go frost a cake now. Catch ya later.

August 4, 2011

The P Word

Thrifting with the right friend makes the whole experience sweeter. You can encourage one another to embrace the ridiculous, knowing it'll only set you back 5 bones, or less (ideally). Such was the case last week when my bff and I descended on her favorite St. Vincent de Paul in LA.

I haven't had such a good time and such good results actually thrifting (not resale, there's a difference, it's in the price) in so long. I was starting to lose faith that it could still be this good. But just look at these pants! Paisley!! I know homegirl thought I was stricken with thrift store "crazy eye" (a condition brought on by intensively scrutinizing discarded fashions in a dimly lit warehouse for over 40 minutes) when I pulled these off the rack like I had unearthed a rare, precious treasure. But I've actually been in the market for some paisley for about 8-9 months now. Yes. 8-9 months it has been since I thought, "I know... PAISLEY!"

And so it was.

Windblown: I'm doing it wrong.

These are the perfect tapered trouser cut, and were had for a fair $3.99. Perfect for my "just escaped from months of unemployment" budget vacay allowance. Loose through the hips and thighs, and very high on the waist. Lightweight cotton. Vintage GAP.

Also scored was this coat. Brand: Dumas (?), price: $9.99. Featuring: almost unacceptably big shoulder pads, shawl collar, no closure, straight cut and drapey along the body, baggy sleeves, a length not already featured in my closet. Results so far: Perfect for the lack of any real season that is life in San Francisco.

Seriously, why do I actually still need a coat in July? For a couple weeks this was bumming me out. But LA helped, and now I'm fully embracing it. It's fall (ie the best season for dressing) all year here! Why would I ever complain about that??

And look, I took the camera out of the house. It's still quite empty inside our place right now, so I thought I would treat you to some color and texture while I commence the standing in front of walls. Fuck a blogging cliché, walls are still my favorite backdrops. Maybe I'll feature more of San Francisco's many beautiful walls in the future. But you'll never catch me in the middle of the street. It's not that middle of street photos don't look great. They certainly do. They literally put the "street" in "street style" (har har). But they always look so dangerous to me!

That said, thanks to my homie Dylan for the pictures. He was standing in the middly of an alley street taking these and was unaware of an oncoming car. I warned him of course (see below), and he is safe and sound. But it just showed me that the stakes are high, and the dangers very real, in this cutthroat game we call fashion blogging.

August 1, 2011

Bloggers in the Bathroom with Brands

The following internet non-events have taken place over the past couple of weeks. They are interlinked and disagreeable to my sensibilities.

First, I received a slightly spammy but nevertheless slightly intriguing email to check out some girl's blog. I did. It was all faux dramatic narrative and teenage avant aesthetics and skeletal figures, alcohol, and mystery. I remained intrigued momentarily, not for the content, intentional controversy, or imagery, but for wondering how and why this exists in the world. I showed Michael who said the best thing: "Oh, that's just some kid playing on the internet." Indeed.

Yet on her blog I followed some links and ended on another, different, blog. Different because this one was all sunkissed skin and shiny things and platforms and always outdoor photos, always. It was young and thoughtless, like so much of the internet. 

Just add blogger.

But on each of these internet-space visits to other people's portrayals of their fabulous, cool, mysterious teenage lives, I saw that they had recently visited the same space IRL. One notable, name-drop worthy luxury hotel. Inside said hotel, a whole gaggle of girl bloggers convened in a bathroom to take photos of one another in their dress-up outfits. The fact that I am writing about this is serving the higher purpose.

(((Am I failing to resist this PR stunt? Can one be critical, engaged, and sincerely concerned in an era when the only thing that counts, absolutely, in the last instance, is numbers? Page hits, clickthroughs, backlinks, advertising revenue increases for someone somewhere, and the intrigue of lithe barely legal bodies drives an insatiable urge to consume without thought, without regard for others, to be on-trend at all costs.)))

And then I was invited to compete to join this bathroom party, so to speak. I received an email offering me the "chance of a lifetime" to be part of a group of bloggers that convene on a webpage to show off free shit they've been showered in by brands. The agency sending me the email had arranged the PR stunt in the bathroom at the famous hotel. They are elusive and cool, sort of. They are assholes, but self-aware assholes. Their email told me that I would violate copyright law if I reposted it here:
"This email and the information contained therein is copyrighted, privileged and confidential. It is intended for the addressee(s) only. The unauthorised use, disclosure or copying of this email, or any information it contains, is prohibited."

Really, you can copyright an email message? I actually just now read this very tiny print at the bottom of the email as I was preparing to copy and paste it here. But it's better this way, because that email was littered with unnecessary links. Perhaps you also received this email, my fellow readers who write blogs? I thought briefly of participating, to try to do something from the "inside." But that is stupid. We are all on the inside. There are no cool insiders, no rebellious ones, and no "plucky outsiders" anymore either. We're all in this bullshit together.


Via some PR site. Blogs are relevant!
The above quoted phrase comes from a great post I recently came across (via a Susie Bubble/Luxe Chronicles twitter conversation), "Bloggers in Bed with Brands". The post includes further information worth viewing, especially the documentary "Made in LA." I was compelled to comment when I noticed that this blogger (who I just found because of the Susie Bubble repost to twitter) received mostly negative comments for this post. After involving myself in comment conversation, one responder asked if I, the arrogant, pompous, bitch who bothered to defend the gist of the original post, critical and cautious about the trend toward bloggers as their own brands, had ever worn Topshop?? (For the record: no. But Forever 21: yes, regrettably.) Because of course then, my purity would be spoiled and my ultimate hypocrisy revealed. This is a tired argument because it is not an argument at all. It's internet trolling. It's when someone thinks "ha ha, trumped 'em" when really they just missed the entire point.

Fashion blogging is so over, such an old trend. So 2007. Young, attractive girls sell their bodies as ad space to the highest bidder and fan the flames of desire in other young girls. This goes for men as well, but is clearly much more widespread among young women. Non-events are held in which things that look shiny and cute on camera such as mini-cupcakes, champagne, and frilly dresses with platform shoes abound, while the digital camera wielding masses clamor for the money shot, literally. This is not art. It is not fashion. It is not style. It is only one thing: marketing.

In a few more years, no one will remember that it even happened. The most apt comment on the "Bloggers in Bed with Brands" post noted that it's just like celebrity endorsements, "...who can tell me who was the face of Versace in 2004? And do we really care who was the face of Versace in 2004?" Exactly. We will forget these children and their Jeffrey Campbell sponsored frolicking, and we will wonder why we are still stuck in such a dismal state as communities crumble and unemployment stagnates. As global inequality continues to increase, and as infrastructure and social welfare further weakens, as we face grown up problems and our frail bodies lament our lack of healthcare, we will wonder, what else might we have been doing with our knowledge, youth, beauty, intrigue, and fascinations? How might we contribute, matter, live meaningfully, and thrive, not in our wealth but in our well-being?

This isn't about criticizing any person or any brand or any blog or any one thing. This is thinking out loud about how choices are connected to wider-reaching outcomes. It's about picking at that sliver of an opening where freedom of expression and self fashioning slides seamlessly into an always deeper reaching marketing campaign to drive corporate profits and thus maintain the status quo: the accumulation of wealth among a tiny percentage of humans.

I want to continue blogging, but a branded identity attached to my person is not the goal here. I remain interested in the possibilities of talking openinly about clothing, beauty, and style. My forum has been co-opted, like all the others. Oh well. I still seek out those driven by the desire for something more, something else. Not a way out (there is no outside), but a better way.

There is no "chance of a lifetime." Life is what is happening right now. The chance for transformation and to feel differently is present in each choice, big or small. Nothing changes because of a free drink, dress, or trip to a vestige of past relevance. Please don't be fooled by the shiny images.