Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fashion Fail

I erred.  I'm human.

But I know I can learn from mistakes, so let me confess this one and see if you can help me.  I'm truly lost at sea here.

A week ago, my favorite retail store (Fox's) had an annual event with new fall fashions.  I went and enjoyed myself.  (I've gotten over my fear of shopping in public.)  I found and bought a pretty cropped sweater in black with white spots.  It's a cute piece.

But I really have no idea what to do with it.  I spent a lot of time contemplating options and came up empty.  The best I could do was wear it over a dress, and that's not working.

Later the same day I spotted a cute pair of red faux-alligator heels with a pointy-toe.  Normally not something I'd wear but they're flashy and I want to be bold.  Plus, they were only $8.

My mistake was, in my eagerness to savor these two purchases, I put them together.  Big fail.  They don't go at all.  What was I thinking?  Was I thinking?  Yes, but with a lame brain.

Normally I can't wait to post outfit-pictures and put 'em up quickly.  These, however, have been sitting on my computer for a week.  I'm half-embarrassed to show them and totally-dissatisfied with my lack of fashion ability.

Let's assume we break the outfit up into two halves, the top and bottom.  That cures the basic error.  How could I wear this cropped sweater?  And what would go with wild pointy-shoes?

Your advice is not only welcome, it's solely needed.  Help!!





Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

In The Company Of Women

I saw a comedian perform tonight and it was a blast.

A new concert hall opened up in my town.  I noticed in a local newspaper that a young female comedian I know was performing there tonight.  I had nothing else to do, so I went.

The comedienne is Carly Aquilino, who was raised here on Long Island.  She started as a hairdresser to runway models.  Her natural comic talent was soon recognized and she was encouraged to try stand-up.  Less than a year after launching her act, she was given a spot on the TV show "Girl Code."  I love that show: it's a funny description of female culture.  Carly is my favorite person on the show.  She's the one with bright (artificially-) red hair.

When I arrived at the show tonight, I was startled to see that all 400 people in the crowd were women.  I was LITERALLY the only guy there.  I would have fit in better if I'd worn a dress.  And everyone was in their twenties.  Obviously Carly appeals to young women.

There were no women by themselves; they travelled either in pairs or in groups.  I, a guy in his fifties attending alone, could not have stuck out more.  I did admire many of the gals' beautiful outfits and some amazing makeup jobs.  Everyone was playing with their phones and taking selfies.

Carly was hilarious.  She really appeals to this crowd and has natural talent.  She joked about girlfriends, drinking, booty calls, baby showers, texting, sex, sexting and dating a black guy.  She knows how to work an audience and interacted well with the crowd.

Have you ever seen her on TV?  Have you ever gone to a comedy show?

Meeting Sarah

The world is full of interesting people; you just need to look for them. 

Sarah is a blogger who lives in New Orleans.  I started following her blog (called "Destrehan's Daughter") about two years ago.  She's in her thirties and works as a video producer.

Due to Sarah's location, I never thought I'd ever get to meet her in person.  But I just did!  She and her husband are in New York to visit the city.  They're seeing all the sights, one of which is officially listed in the NYC Tourist Handbook as "My Dinner With Ally."

We went to Sarabeth's and had a lovely meal.  You really get to know people better and more quickly in person.  During our discussion, Sarah addressed a broader range of interests than I've seen her discuss online.  Our conversation hopped from one fun subject to another.  Her husband, Jeremy, is equally charming and wore a snazzy bowtie.

The world seems to get smaller and smaller.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Favorite Bracelet

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a colorful bracelet which has quickly become my favorite.  I wear it all the time now, but you probably haven't noticed 'cause it's small in relation to my full-body pictures.  I felt the piece deserve more attention so I'm giving you some close-up looks here.

At first I thought it was just an abstract design but then, looking more carefully, I discovered it's a peacock!  What a wonderful animal-choice for an array of colors.

Do you have any item of jewelry you love?



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Halloween Party

For Halloween this year, I'm travelling halfway 'cross the country to attend a party given by my close friend Ashley.  It's a costume party and the theme is Dead Celebrities.

I gave that theme some thought.  I want to create a costume that's fun and interesting.  After days of pondering, I came up with my choice -- I'm going to dress up as The Best Actor Of All Time (Humphrey Bogart) as he appeared in His Masterpiece Movie.  If you don't immediately recognize him, you need to dive into cinematic history.

The character's name is Rick.  He owns a café in war-torn Casablanca.  Rick has painful memories of a woman he met in Paris (Ilsa) with whom he fell madly in love.  Ilsa disappeared suddenly, without warning or explanation.  Now Ilsa is waltzing back into Rick's life with a new man on her arm.  Not just any man, but the biggest war-hero with a big request for Rick.  Rick is torn by his bitterness toward Ilsa and his hidden morality.

What happens?  You'll have to see the movie to find out.  You've probably heard some of the many famous lines from the film, such as "...Here's looking at you, kid."  These are some of my favorites:

"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

"Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake."

"I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue."

"Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time."

"Go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor."

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."



Have you seen "Casablanca"?  What do you think of this idea for a costume?
The character of Rick resonates with me.  He's aging, weary and cynical, but privately sentimental and sincere.  He's lived a lot, seen a lot, and been betrayed by those close to him.  Yet he hasn't given up his innate trust and hope for love.
As the proprietor of Rick's Café American, Rick wears a white dinner jacket with shawl collar.  For my costume, I found a white dinner jacket with shawl collar.  And black bowtie.  The final touch are two Letters of Transit in my jacket-pocket, enabling people I choose to escape capture and fly to freedom.
After the purchase, I realized the white dinner jacket will be useful in my double-life as an international spy...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Psst... Can You Keep A Secret?

How big are we allowed to dream?

There's no female experience I don't wish to have.  No rite of passage, no mundane chore, no major event that is outside my desire.  Of course, most female experiences are beyond my reach at this point, but that doesn't deter me from pursuing facsimiles of them.

A prime example was my Prom Project.  I loved doing that post.  Preparing for it was exciting, dressing up for it was fun, and recording it was rewarding.  The faux-prom fulfilled me deeply.

There's another, similar idea I've had for a post for as long as I've blogged -- but I've been too anxious to execute it.  I worry you might misunderstand my goal and intent.  For that reason, I'm reluctant to even mention it.

So I'm not going to name the experience but...


Friday, September 19, 2014

It's A Man's World

That's a ridiculous statement, isn't it?  And yet, when I was young, it was uttered without irony.  People said it and believed it.

We still have gender-discrimination today -- but it's more subtle.  Less obvious than in the past.  Back then, one could say something extremely sexist and expect to get away with it.  Rarely was sexism challenged.  Today, a woman might object to rude remarks so men have learned to keep those beliefs hidden, trotted out only in the company of other prehistoric cavemen.

I was contemplating this societal development last week when I read an interesting article in The New York Times by critic A.O. Scott.  Noting that our culture is reflected in its entertainment, Scott observed a shift in male roles on television:

"TV characters are among the allegorical figures of our age, giving individual human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations.... Tony [Soprano], Walter [White] and Don [Draper] are the last of the patriarchs.  In suggesting that patriarchy is dead, I am not claiming that sexism is finished, that men are obsolete or that the triumph of feminism is at hand.... In the world of politics, work and family, misogyny is a stubborn fact of life.  But in the universe of thoughts and words, there is more conviction and intelligence in the critique of male privilege than in its defense, which tends to be panicky and halfhearted when it is not obtuse and obnoxious.  The supremacy of men can no longer be taken as a reflection of natural order or settled custom."

It's easy to recall other common statements from the past.  I remember this one:

"It's nice to have a man in the house."  Why?  So he can sit on the couch and ignore the pile of dirty dishes while watching football?

To be sure, sexism hasn't disappeared.  Lately, women have been protesting street harassment which still exists.  Smart blog posts like this one ( Kiersten ) address the subject with serious concern.

How do you feel about sexism?  Do you believe it still exists?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I finished work unexpectedly early today.  Contemplating how to spend the free time, one activity leaped to mind -- fashion-blogging!

I pulled out an interesting dress I thrifted last week for seven dollars.  I like its bold Harlequin print.  I figured it could be the centerpiece for many outfits.

I surrounded it with complementary items and hope the ensemble jells.  What do you think?




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things I Saw Today

We had amazingly nice weather in New York today.  I enjoyed the day by riding to see friends at a vintage motorcycle show at the Queens County Farm Museum.  It was an odd mixture of old bikes and cute animals.  Did you have fun this weekend?




Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fall Plans

Fall is a great season.  For many, it's the beginning of a new year.  Schools start, jobs open up.  The weather becomes more bearable.  And for those into fashion, new clothes and trends emerge.

I'm thinking about new projects.  Fun new ways to enjoy myself.  So far, I've come up with three ideas.

First, I want to meet more of my friends in person.  Next month, I hope to see Ashley and Beth in Minnesota.  I hope the snow hasn't returned by then.  I'd also like to head south to Atlanta to visit my dearest friend Jen and her daughter Juni.  If Elle is around, I'll say hello to her, too.

Second, I want to conceive more interesting blog-posts.  What I'd like to do is vary the backgrounds of my outfit-posts, principally by going outdoors.  I did that earlier in my blog-life, like the pictures shown here, but it's hard.  When I'm alone and taking pictures by myself, I need privacy which is hard to find outdoors.  If I had a friend to assist me, seclusion wouldn't be important, but finding friends willing to act as photography assistants is more difficult than you'd imagine.

Third, I'd like to find a way to convince my friends to allow me to be with them looking as feminine on the outside as I am on the inside.  Chatting over tea would be so much more fun in a dress.  Having the opportunity to be myself is the pinnacle of my aspirations but it's proven hard to create.  In real-life, people expect me to look like a man despite having conscious knowledge of my femaleness.  I'm sensitive to others' comfort, so I don't push and disrupt their expectation of me.  What I need to do, somehow, is learn how to expand their view of me to allow for greater self-expression.

What are your plans for the Fall?  Any fun new projects?  Any advice for me in pursuing my goals?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Booting Summer

I saw a model in a fashion magazine wearing boots -- in Summer.  I didn't know that was allowed!  I love boots and they look very chic with flirty Summer dresses.

That inspired me to create this post.  I pulled my high-heeled velvet boots out of storage and paired them with something cute.  I styled the outfit two ways -- first like a traditional fashion-blogger and, second, like a Bad Girl.  I can be a Bad Girl, can't I?  Every woman has a Bad Girl buried deep inside her.

Which style do you prefer?




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Playing With Dolls

When I was growing up, not only was I raised as a boy but, because I kept protesting to everyone that I was girl, my parents policed my behavior and forbid any feminine activities.  Obviously, things like dolls were strictly verboten.

If I think about the typical female experiences I didn't have, I get sad.  To combat that weltschmerz, I try to re-create those experiences now, even though many say I'm "too old" for them.  My attitude is it's never too late to have a happy childhood.  I'm not dead yet, so I can do whatever I want.  You saw this attitude demonstrated when, on a dare three years ago, I rode my motorcycle wearing a pink tutu.  I've decided not to let disapproval or incomprehension by others stop me from pursuing my dreams.

But... I lack information and wondered if you can help.  I have a few questions which, if you're kind enough to answer, would provide me with important information I really want to know.  Okay?

Is it fun to play with dolls?  What, exactly, does it involve?  HOW do you play with dolls?  Is having a playmate better than being alone?  How many dolls did you have as a child?  What kind were they?  Barbies?  Bratz?  When did you stop playing with dolls?

Thank you for your help.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How To Be Happy

Class!  Class!!  Settle down now.  And Megan, get back in your seat.

I'm going to let you in on a secret.  A secret to happiness in life.

I'm older than you.  In the five decades I've been around, I've picked up some wisdom.  When I apply that wisdom to my current life, I find it works.  Let me share a nugget with you.

We hold the keys to our happiness.  We make multiple choices, many of which directly affect the amount of joy in our existence.  Often we make bad choices, with unfortunate consequences, because we mis-prioritize things.  For example, sometimes we foolishly value convenience over experience, money over friendship.

I've learned -- and scientific research backs this up -- that having friends is critical to happiness.  Friends supply us with emotional support and a sense of belonging.  When we're young, we have ready friends because school puts us in close proximity to others.  But after we leave school, that proximity disappears and it's easy, in fact it's normal, to lose our friends.  We go to work, go home, go to work, go home -- a recipe for isolation and loneliness.  Sure we may have a partner but one person cannot meet all our needs.  Especially our same-sex needs, like the ability and willingness to chat about clothes, makeup and gossip.

Recognizing this, I made a deliberate effort to add more friends to my life.  And it's worked.  The effort began with my search for online ways to connect to promising people.  I found blogging.  Before 2010, I didn't even know what blogs were.  Now they're an integral part of my life.  Through blogging, I've met dozens of lovely people, some of whom have become close friends.

One of these friends is Ashley.  Ashley had a blog and we chatted regularly for several years.  She retired her blog but we keep in touch.  She's available through Twitter and Facebook -- and the occasional handmade card in the mail.  I cherish those.

I've raved about Ashley several times here, including recently when I praised her funny story about shopping for Missoni clothes at Target.

Some people are unwilling to travel to meet others.  I don't understand that.  If someone is important to you, don't you want to deepen your friendship?  Meeting someone in person is A BIG DEAL because it tells you stuff you'll never get through online communication.  Like how tall they are (Gracey), what their accent sounds like (Lynne), how nice they are (Lorena), the depth of their intelligence (Michi), how stylishly they dress (Megan) and their sense of humor (Meghan).

I live in New York but am willing to travel to see friends.  It's a question of priorities.  Sure, it's difficult to find spare time (I'll bet my work-calendar is more crowded than yours) and, like everyone else, I need to watch my spending.  But I accord this a HIGH priority.  Which,  to me, is not only rational, it's smart.

This Summer, I rode my motorcycle five hours upstate to meet Aimee and it was delightful.  We shared fun experiences.  I'll remember that weekend forever.

So when Ashley tweeted that she's having a Halloween party, I considered going out to meet her.  Which is a fairly big deal because Ashley lives in Minnesota.  I don't even know where that is!  But I know they have these big metal tubes that fly through the sky and can carry you anywhere.

Going to a Halloween party at Ashley's is guaranteed fun.  Halloween!  Costumes, games, excitement!  I'm actually trembling with eager anticipation.

After finagling an invitation to the party, I committed to going.  Next month, I'm jumping on a jet-plane and flying to a new place to meet a new friend whom I've never seen before.

That's our lesson for today.  Savor friends.  Order your priorities to make time for them.  Class dismissed.

Have you ever travelled far to meet a friend?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Excitement Down Under

I was surprised at the success of my last outfit.  I drew attention to the bottom-half of my body by wearing an attractive skirt (with a dazzling chevron print).  To keep the focus there, I kept the rest of the outfit complementary but plain.  That was the first time I emphasized Down Under.

The same approach generated this outfit.  I found floral leggings at Charlotte Russe for $12 and thought they'd be a great centerpiece for a new outfit.  Like last time, I'm keeping attention on the leggings and not adding any distractions.

What do you think?  Your opinion counts.

Before I close shop, let me mention two things.  The pink handbag was a gift from my friend Megan who has a fabulous blog.  You should go visit it.  Megan is a chic dresser with impressive credentials in the (real) Fashion World.  (Check this out if you don't believe me.)

Second, everything I've learned about women's clothing has come from you.  Other bloggers have taught me invaluable fashion lessons by their example.  One who stands out in that regard is Lisa whose blog is here.  Lisa's choices and outfits mesmerize me.  I study them to figure out how she creates her magic.  In a real sense, Lisa inspires and educates me.  Thanks, pal!





Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Naming Names

I'm named after my father.  Technically, he is Ralph Sr. and I'm Ralph Jr. but, to distinguish us, my family called us "Big Ralph" and "Little Ralph."

I have to tell you that being called Little Anything is annoying to a teenage boy.  I also wasn't thrilled to have an obscure ethnic name when everyone else was Jim, John or Bob.

Currently, I know a dozen Megans/Meghans, including my good friends MeganMeghan and Megan.  What's it like to have a common name?  Is the inevitable confusion a pain?

My favorite name is possessed by my good friend Aimee.  She explained to me that it's the French version of Amy.  Her ancestors are French Canadians.

Do you like your name?  Is it common or obscure?  Did you ever want to change it?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Different Lives

A female photographer created an interesting series of portraits.  She imagined herself married to several different men, living several different lives.  She took pictures of these alternatives.

I find this fascinating.  Here are a few of her "lives" and a link to the story.