Wednesday, February 27, 2013

At The Ballpark

Commenting on a recent post, Cara made a terrific suggestion -- she challenged me to dress in both male and female clothing for the same event.  Her experiment aims to discover whether my fashion style is consistent in both genders.  I realized earlier this week that there is a similarity in my appearance both ways.

I think Cara's suggestion is a great idea.  At the least, the exercise is creative and fun.  Maybe we'll even learn something.

My first effort is with casual-wear, imagining myself going to a baseball game.  I'm a L.A. Dodgers fan, as you'll soon see.  I'm eager to hear your thoughts on this -- the clothing, the style and any reactions you have to seeing me in both genders.

ADDENDUM: In early comments, some of you think my girl-self is wearing a yellow dress.  Actually, I'm wearing shorts (yellow with white stripes) with a matching yellow top.  The camera angle doesn't make that clear but I want you to know it because I think shorts are a smarter choice to wear when sitting on a ballpark bench.


Riding Down Under

It's Winter here for most of us, but those in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying warm weather.  I have a friend named Brenda who lives and rides a motorcycle in Australia.  I'm honored that Brenda reads my blog 'cause she has zero interest in fashion.  She explains she finds other reasons to enjoy my posts: e.g., the photography; the personal stuff.

Not long ago, a cool new piece of equipment was developed for motorcyclists -- a camera that mounts to either your motorcycle or your helmet.  With it, riders can take pictures without using their hands.  Very important when your hands are busy controlling a motorcycle.

Brenda has one of these cameras (GoPro) and she used it on a recent ride.  Her pictures are amazeballs.  Not only is the scenery beautiful, she captured visually-arresting images.  I love them and asked Brenda if I could share a few with you.  She graciously said yes.  I'm sure you'll enjoy these as much as I do.

BTW, Brenda has a blog that's fun to read, even if you're not a biker.  She talks about her rides like a true writer; someone who can make anything fun to read. 





Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gaining Insight, With Your Help

One important lesson I've learned in life is that there is much we don't know.  We make assumptions about unknown experiences but, until we actually have them, we don't really know them.  Frequently, I've tried something new and found it to be completely different from what I expected.  This taught me to embrace new experiences and not rely on assumptions and expectations.

Yesterday, I tried something new.  Truly new.  I wore a conventional dress with no creative input from myself.  That experience -- and your feedback on it -- has given me intriguing insights.

Some people wear clothing without thought or creativity; they merely put on what society tells them is appropriate.  Many women, however, and certainly all fashion bloggers, make conscious choices about their clothing.  They creatively select garments, consider how best to present them, and mix them with other pieces to make an "outfit".  This laudable effort differs from the unthinking approach taken by others, for whom clothing is simply covering for their bodies.

Despite being raised a boy, I was always actively conscious of how I present myself.  I deliberate on the clothes I pick, I style them with aesthetic choice, and I'm always pondering what reaction my appearance is likely to elicit.

Yesterday, I wore a conventional dress without any effort to style or individualize it.  I didn't even wear jewelry.  I wanted to see how that felt.

This almost didn't happen.  On my way back from court in the morning, I stopped by my favorite thrift-store and browsed the dress-rack.  A dress called to me because it's purple (my color), it's big (my size), and it has stripes (attractive).  Then I noticed how traditional the dress is: its design is distinctly prim and conservative.

I am not conservative.  I have always been bohemian, with an inclination toward flair.  I embrace bold designs; I love bright colors.  Normally, I create my look with conscious choices on its elements and their interaction. 

This dress prevented any of that.  It, itself, is a complete outfit, designed to display a traditional feminine look.  In this sense, the dress is more of a uniform than an outfit.

Because the dress isn't what I'd normally wear, I put it back on the rack and kept shopping.  But I wondered, what would it be like to wear such a conventional garment?  What would it be like to dress like a woman who merely wants to fit in and not stand out?  How would it feel to cede control of my appearance to society, rather than my own judgment?

I walked back, debated this in my head and decided to learn the answers to these questions by actually wearing the dress.  I wondered if the experience would change my beliefs.

The primary insight I acquired -- which you helped me reach -- is that I have an individual style that is independent of gender-presentation.  Regardless of whether I'm presenting as male or female, I create outfits that are self-expressive and not conventional.  I don't wear clothes like a uniform; I create looks with aesthetic considerations.

Your feedback was fascinating.  You made several terrific points.  One thing I learned, which I wasn't aware of before, is that you see me having a style I didn't know I had.  My adoption of female clothing is so recent and rudimentary that I assumed I didn't have a style in women's clothing; yet you perceive one and accurately observe when I do (and don't) show it.

One commenter suggested that I try dressing for an event in both male and female clothing and see how the two looks compare to each other.  That's a terrific idea.  I think I'd exhibit a consistent style despite the different gender-presentations.  Which leads me to believe that I'd be the same person as a woman that I am as a man.

Whoa... let that sink in a bit...

One thing I wrestle with, the depth of which I'm not sure you grasp, is my struggle with gender-identity.  When you're raised as a boy and told that you can't be a girl, you wonder what life as a girl would be like.  That prospect is unknown.  It is a mystery, of great importance but elusive understanding.  What would my life be like as a woman?

The answer to this is obvious but, despite being obvious, is a challenge for me to accept -- I'd be the same person as a woman that I am as a man.  I'd have the same inclination toward sartorial flair; I'd gravitate toward bright colors and bold designs; I'd make the same aesthetic choices.  I'd reject wearing boring clothes like a uniform; I'd express my individuality with eclectic and unusual accessories.

All this knowledge from just wearing a dress...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Something Different

As you know, I recently bought a cute pair of Mary Jane pumps in a nice shade of purple.  They're a different style for me so, when I thought about building an outfit around them, I thought I'd continue in that direction. 

This is a new area I've never explored before -- more conservative and traditional than usual, albeit with my favorite color scheme.  I kinda like it, even though I don't normally lean this direction.

You're the experts -- what do you think?




The Oscars

Did you watch the Oscars last night?  What did you think?

I'm a big movie fan, so the awards mean something to me.  But I was disappointed by the show.  The host was lame (and sexist).  The tribute to James Bond movies was weak.  Even the usually teary In Memoriam segment overlooked a giant (Andy Griffith).  And it was sheer nepotism to devote so much time to a movie from a decade ago ("Chicago") merely because the producers of the ceremony previously made that film.

What do you think?

Here are the winners:

Best Picture: "Argo"
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Best Director: Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
Animated Feature Film: "Brave"
Cinematography: "Life of Pi"
Documentary Feature: "Searching for Sugar Man"
Documentary Short: "Inocente"
Original Score: "Life of Pi"
Original Song: "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Argo"
Best Original Screenplay: "Django Unchained"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

In The Kitchen

I want an apron.  A frilly, retro-styled apron.  Something nice to protect my pretty clothes when I'm hard at work cooking dinner.  Which is most nights because I like to cook.

At first, I didn't think aprons would be hard to find -- but they are.  I looked for a month with no success.  I tried all of the retail department stores; no luck.  I tried food specialty shops, like Williams Sonoma, and left empty-handed.  The only aprons I've seen are plain and boring.

I found aprons with style at one place, Anthropologie, but they are way too small for me.  I doubt any adult woman could fit into one; they must be for girls.

Do you own an apron?  Do you know where they sell them?

While we're on the subject, I thought I'd photograph today's outfit in the kitchen.  Of course it's too nice an outfit to wear during cooking, but maybe the unexpected juxtapositioning will be interesting.  Here goes...



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pro Photos

I ran across some wonderful photographs taken by professional news-photographers and want to share them with you.  These are all of actual events.  The first photo, which won First Prize in the World Press competition, looks like a painting but is a real picture of a real event.

Do you have any skill with a camera?








Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Jersey Turnpike

The New Jersey Turnpike has a reputation for being the ugliest road in the country.  A fat slab of concrete surrounded by smelly chemical plants.

I believe there is beauty in everything, so I tried to find some.  Here's my best shot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Be A Man (Part 3)

challenged you to dress up in male clothing and see how it feels.  Two brave gals tried and now a third has given it a shot.

Piper, who blogs from Chicago, just posted pictures of her experience as a man.  Piper went the whole hog, with glued-on facial hair and clothes from her brother.  She looks very convincing, if you don't notice her elegant long fingernails.

Piper wore this outfit in public on Halloween.  She said it was odd using the Ladies Room where she initially confused fellow patrons.  That mirrors my experience, at a Halloween catering hall party dressed as Alice Kramden, when I used the Mens Room.

Piper also reports the guy she was with felt "weirded out" by her appearance.  Again, no surprise.  Crossing the gender divide messes with a fundamental part of people's psyche.

Piper has a nice blog where, normally, she looks very feminine.  If you're not familiar with it, check it out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fate Smiles On Me

I never spend more than $20 on women's shoes.  I know that's a ridiculously low sum, but it helps me feel better about buying stuff that doesn't get used much in real life.

A few months ago, I passed by an Aerosoles store and, amid boring styles, a beautiful pair of purple Maryjane pumps with gold stitching caught my eye.  They are gorgeous!  Suede, a beautiful shade of purple, and the gold is a lovely accent.  I truly fell in love with the shoes.  Plus, I've been wanting to add a pair of Maryjanes to my collection 'cause I've never had one.

I was crestfallen when I saw the price -- $89.  Not even close to my limit.  I would have stretched up to $30 or even $40, but $89 was an absolute no.

Cut to today.  I'm browsing the Aerosoles website and, with no hope or expectation, head to the Clearance section.  There they are!  My shoes!  At... [drumroll, please]... $19!!

Shoot, score!  I snatched up a pair before they could run out of them. 

Here's how lovely they look.  Fate means for me to have them.  Has this ever happened to you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Neon Socks

I was walking through the mall, looking for bath oil, when I tried Bloomies.  They didn't have any so I wandered into my favorite part of all stores -- the hosiery department.  A colorful display of mannequin legs caught my eye.  They were adorned with super-bright neon socks.  I found them irresistibly cute.

When I saw the price (a six-pack for $15), I snagged 'em right up.  I wear them around the house now to see pretty color on my feet.  Nothing boosts your morale better than bright colors.

Would you wear these?  They're darn cute.  And I'm proud of the creative way I photographed them.  (The Betty Boop and Pudgy dolls are gifts from Kathy; the handbag cookie-jars are gifts from my former-secretary Nancy.) 

What do you think?


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hidden Readers

An unusual aspect of blogging on the Internet is that we never really know who's reading our stuff.  We see comments from some readers but others, for whatever reason, never leave a trace.  I assumed they didn't exist until recently when I was shown otherwise.

In the past year, two or three readers who lurk under the radar have contacted me, by e-mail, to express their thoughts.  I was shocked to hear from them because I didn't know they were out there.  They mentioned details of old posts and I felt odd -- suddenly realizing we'd been having a conversation I was completely unaware of.

This is not a bad thing.  To the contrary, all of these readers were complimentary and kind.  Normally, I try to re-pay readers with comments on their blogs and reciprocal acts, but these people were previously unknown to me.  I felt guilty that I'd not been nice to them before.

One such reader lives in the Midwest.  That's all I know about her.  I don't know if she's 8 or 80.  She uses a pen-name (Finnley Mae).  She contacted me by e-mail.  She knew that I can't wear normal earrings because only one of my ears is pierced.  (I pierced it back in the Seventies when a guy doing that was a BIG DEAL.)  Finnley Mae offered me some spare clip-on earrings she owns, which are hard to find.  I gratefully accepted her offer.

Her package arrived.  I was surprised at the large size of the box.  Opening it, I discovered 75 pairs of earrings.  75!!  Holy cow!  What a treasure-trove.  From a virtual stranger.  I am deeply touched and appreciative of this gesture.  Thank you, Finnley Mae.

Here are pictures of a few of the earrings. 

Do you have any secret readers?  Are you one?