Fall Haul

Last week I wrote that I was desperate for some new fall fashion, that I had gone so far as to pair a thin cotton sundress with leggings and hope nobody would notice that these two outfit components belonged in entirely different seasons.

So I went shopping.

I was hoping I could find everything I needed at the thrift store, because I like the low prices and—honestly—because you get that little extra cachet when someone compliments your outfit and you can say “Oh, this? I got it thrifting.” (It’s like getting to say “I am the best person at recycling and looking good.”)

I did not find anything I liked at the thrift store. Most of the stock was still summer wear, probably people who were dropping off their sundresses after realizing they didn’t work with leggings.

So I went to Old Navy, a trusted resource in inexpensive clothes for slightly pear-shaped people. (That should be their next slogan.)


The Real History of Madewell, 1937

Last time I mentioned Madewell here you guys had a lot of feelings about so I am very excited for you to read this Dan Nosowitz piece, How Madewell Bought And Sold My Family’s History.

I stopped dead on Broadway, in the middle of the sidewalk, and stared, not up at the beautiful wrought-iron SoHo buildings, as would befit someone who’d moved to New York in the past month, but at an ordinary sign advertising a small clothing shop. The logo, a casual cursive scrawl with both E’s capitalized, jumped out at me like a beacon from a lighthouse somewhere deep in the back of my brain. That was the logo emblazoned on my baby clothes, the logo my great-grandfather created. It was, I thought, forgotten family history, the factories having shut down shortly after I was born in the ’80s. After a moment I took out my phone and called my mom and asked her what the hell was going on.

Nosowitz’s great-grandfather, a turn-of-the-century Russian immigrant, started the real Madewell, a workwear company (in the um, actual sense) in 1937. Mickey Drexler bought the logo, and the right to put “1937″ on all their shit, in 2006.

This piece is a wonderful reclamation of family history as well as a meditation on the (bastardized) notions of authenticity in consumerism. It totally upended my readerly expectations and I’m obsessed with it.


Online Shopping Is the Devil, and I Won’t Do it

I don’t really buy much online, though I always intend to start. It’s on my mental to-do list of things I should do to save money, like doing my own laundry instead of dropping it off, or cooking every single meal at home. Everyone I know swears by it. “You don’t have to go to the store! You don’t have to deal!” they say as they open boxes full of new things from the comfort of their own home.


Fall Fashion

Yesterday I tried to wear a black-and-white sundress over a pair of leggings. Then, to make things worse, I added a cardigan.

We are officially into the second day of fall, which means that I hate all my clothes. I look in the mirror and think “I have roughly the same body that I’ve always had,” but none of the outfits that I carefully folded and sorted in ROY G BIV order seem to fit.

Or they do fit, but when I look in the mirror I see the person I used to be wearing clothes that have long since pilled. A shirt featuring Community’s Troy and Abed as Calvin and Hobbes. A pair of salmon-colored pants. (Never, ever buy a pair of salmon-colored pants.)


Say Yes to the Dress, Pt 3: The Conclusion

Part one of my search for a wedding dress with and for my friend K. took us to the flagship Saks 5th Avenue. Part two took us to Kleinfeld.

In between, K visited more stores here in New York and in California while visiting family there. She went back to Saks but found, to her dismay, that the Austin Scarlett dresses she had liked so much were gone. There was nowhere to go but forward.

Amsale, Madison Avenue, 1:00 PM,” she texted me. “You in?”

Oh, I’m in.

Two of K’s friends — thin, made-up professionals next to whom I was Frumpy, the 8th dwarf — joined us in the salon, which was as quiet as a planetarium and evoked a similar level of subdued awe. A docent named Dia offered us water. “Or champagne,” she added. Who, if offered free bubbly, would opt for tap? Champagne all around, please. Under ordinary circumstances, the wine is probably reserved for celebration after a dress is selected. No matter. It set the tone. We were there to make an expensive purchase and we toasted what we hoped would be an alignment of the stars.

It became clear quickly that there was little point in asking, “And how much is this one?” Unlike in Kleinfeld, where for whatever reason every dress was out of the given price range, Dia only pulled gowns under $4K. That worry alleviated, we could focus on fit and look.

huge satin number with the modern equivalent of an 1890s bustle didn’t make sense for a desert wedding but I loved it anyway because it was so delightfully ridiculous. Other very pretty gowns hid her bass, and we are all about the bass these days, or laid lace on top of mesh, which is pretty from far away but a bit bizarre up close. In truth, the dresses were lovely, though, which makes decisions hard. They were all fine! All figure-flattering! All in her price range! Is the bride really supposed to break down weeping because one ivory tulle confection speaks to her in a way the ten before didn’t?

“Dia, you’re the expert,” I said. “Do people cry in real life, or just on TV? Are they overwhelmed and exhausted? Are they ready to be done? What’s the crying about? Is it a necessary part of the process?”


“I Stopped Carrying a Wallet When I Became Homeless”

I suppose I could use my old wallet, but it’s full of a life I no longer lead. The owner of that wallet once had an apartment, a full time job, and disposable income, an abundant life that utilized all of the slots.


Beauty Products Will Destroy You, & Not Just Financially

Because apparently we’ve gone from Feminist Socialist Revolutionaries around here, with Mike gone, to a Blog About Shoes, Dresses, and Cosmetics, here’s some delightful news: nail salons are germ-factories and lipsticks are full of lead.

It’s not just lead we’re slathering on our mouths, either. According to Mother Jones, a variety of lip-products tested contained all sorts of elements from the Periodic Table:

In a small study out last week, researchers asked a group of teenage girls to hand over their lipsticks and glosses and tested them for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium. Though metal content varied widely from brand to brand, they found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount—20 percent of the daily amount that’s considered safe in drinking water or more—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese. Depending on the lipstick, in some cases women who slathered it on (14 times a day or more) were meeting or surpassing the daily recommended exposure to chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Lead, a metal that humans should avoid exposure to entirely, was detected in 75 percent of the samples.

Mother Jones, it goes without saying, doesn’t wear makeup. If you must, though: “The FDA’s 2012 test found less than one part per million of lead in Wet n’ Wild, Bobbi Brown, and Shiseido brand lipsticks.”

Great! Now what about our nails? They / we are doomed, too, according to the New York Observer


Sleep Gadgets That Work?

Recent events have established the crucial importance of sleep: we, especially those of us in lower income brackets, don’t get enough of it, and the lack of it can contribute to our untimely deaths. But even if we do have or make the time, and invest in a good mattress, and practice appropriate sleep hygiene (no laptops in bed, guys), sometimes sleep remains elusive.

Refinery 29 has rounded up seven sleep gadgets that are effective and worth the money.

Sleep feels like a college I will never get into. Like, my teachers are all, “Sure, apply to Sleep. You never know!” But then they leave brochures for Insomniac online night classes on my desk, because who are we kidding? Over the past few months, I decided to throw some technology at the problem. Don’t get me wrong; I’m well-versed in natural remedies and the importance of sleep hygiene. I work out, my supplements are stocked, and my phone is chock-full of guided sleep meditations. Usually, that stuff (plus, some classic breathing techniques) does the trick. Sometimes, though, I need a little extra help. 

These range from goggles that counterintuitively pulse lights at you called “Glo to Sleep” ($30) to a “Serene House Angel Ultrasonic Scentilizer Aromatherapy Diffuser” ($191) which sounds like it should do your laundry for you and then dip your feet in oil. Babygirl is also a fan of a white noise app I downloaded for free from iTunes so, you know. For what that’s worth.


Saying Yes to the Dress, Pt 2: KLEINFELD’S

Ringing the Universe Room were more racks of dresses than there are stars in the heavens: ivory dresses, cream dresses, dusky rose dresses, apricot dresses, even a couple of goth-style black dresses for effect. (No one tried them on.)


Aspiring To Be An Effortlessly Cool Woman With $400 Shoes

Emily Gould continues to write essays that unearth all the feelings under our barely-conscious money behavior, i.e., essays that we wish she would have written for us. This one is an excerpt from that one book, Women In Clothes, which is an anthology filled with writing by women that focuses on “style and its deeper meanings.”


Ask An Assertive Person, Vol 1: Discounts

I’m unafraid to ask for student discounts, corporate discounts, damaged-item discounts, and the nebulous “Is there any way to get a better price on this item?” discount at chain stores and other places that I suspect will want to accommodate me.