“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids.”
Do you see anything wrong with that statement? I mean besides the obvious douchbaggery behind it? Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie & Fitch only wants young, attractive (thin), “cool” people to wear the clothes his company sells.
But are all popular, pretty people “cool”?
When I was a young teenager, which is presumably the target market for stores like Abercrombie, the “cool” kids were the ones who hung out off campus so they could smoke. The girls looked like Joan Jett, and jean shorts were only considered appropriate if you were washing the car.
The popular kids, the sporty ones, hell, the RICH ones, with a tennis court and a pool in the front yard and a 30 ft yacht moored in the back, they looked like the models in the Abercrombie ads. Very, very few of them were “cool”. They were pretty, had nice clothes, nice cars and were assured nice university educations, but their lives were too easy and too pretty for them to be cool. They were popular – they ran the student council, they were on all the sports teams, other kids aspired to be like them. But did they have that edge, that spark, that thing about them that drew people to them (as opposed to perfect teeth and shiny hair)? Nah.
Overdressed The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Elizabeth L. Cline
Portfolio Hardcover, June 2012, 256 pages
On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself sitting in a restaurant measuring the cost of my meal against the cost of the clothes on my back. This entree costs as much as my shirt. This tiny dessert, more than my scarf. A multi-course tasting menu can ring in at more than a pair of really well-made boots.
Like most people I’m inclined to blame this disparity on the high price of food. But I am wrong to do so, for the problem is not that quality, well-prepared restaurant food is to expensive, it’s that the clothing that we typically buy in chain stores across the Western world is far too cheap.
As Elizabeth Cline points out in her engaging and delightfully well-written book Overdressed, we like cheap clothes. A lot. Most of us have more clothing than we can ever reasonably wear, and manufacturers feed into our desire for more by creating clothing as cheaply as possible. Who cares if a shirt falls apart after two washes when it only cost $10 to begin with?
If you watched the last episode of Mad Men this season, you may or may not have noticed a trend towards the use of the colour red strategically throughout the episode. An article on Slate works on the theory that the red, used at some point to costume each of the female leads, represents female power, as Joan, Peggy and Megan all wear red as they move on to achieve goals or more important roles in their respective careers.
Studies show, however, that the colour red works in a very specific way on men (but not women) to make them amorous. To men, red is the colour of love (which might explain the marketing machine that is red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s Day). Photos of women wearing red, as opposed to other colours, were thought by men in the study to be more attractive.
In the restaurant industry, female servers who wore red got better tips from male customers. There was no difference with female customers.
The initial study took place in 2008, and the restaurant study earlier this year. But the phenomenon likely started long ago.
So florals are big this spring. They’re showing up on everything from dresses to pants to bags.
I’ve always been big on florals. Maybe not on fabric – the wrong print can make the wrong person look like they’re wearing Aunt Bertha’s curtains – but who doesn’t love having flowers in their life? Living in a place without a garden of my own, I desperately miss having fresh flowers. I try to buy cut flowers but a certain family member seems to consider them salad.
My neighbourhood is an interesting place. Run down rooming houses full of run down people sit side-by-side beautifully renovated Victorian and Edwardian homes with $15,000 stoves in the kitchen. We have a high end toy/gift shop but the swankest coffee chain is Coffee Time – we don’t even rate a Tim’s. A seasonal, local, nose-to-tail restaurant looks out across Queen West at a community drop-in centre and soup kitchen. Rich ladies with sweaters over their shoulders emerge from vintage Jaguars to cruise the junque shops while trying to avoid used condoms and syringes on the sidewalk.
Sitting in the front window of Rhino, our local watering hole, it’s interesting to watch this diversity wander by.
Across the street at Public Butter, a vintage clothing shop, a rack of plaid jackets sits on the sidewalk. Priced as much as a new one from somewhere like Mark’s Work Wearhouse, they’re meant for the hipsters putting together outfits featuring the latest flavour of ironic. They’re less ironic when a pair of rocker guys, complete with mullets, walk past the rack, wearing those same jackets with utter seriousness.
Okay, well, technically they do, eventually.
Last night, Greg and I attended a photo exhibit called Toronto Calling, of photos of concerts that took place in the early 80s in Toronto featuring bands like the Clash and the Ramones. We didn’t actually stick around to see the photos, though, as the gallery space was packed solid with old punk rockers, so much so that we couldn’t get in to see the photos.
The era in question took place before my time in Toronto, with most of the gigs featured taking place between 1979 -1981. I arrived in Toronto in late ’87, so this was not my scene per se, although I was listening to all of these bands back home in Halifax, a no-man’s land when it came to international tours. Hats off to Billy Idol for not forgetting about us in 1984.
But the remarkable thing was that here was a group of people in their late 40s – early 50s… and there was a still a solid punk vibe going on. Piercings, tattoos, oddly-coloured hair. These folks were still flying the freak flag.
I was at a media event a few weeks ago, talking with some folks about why I don’t do restaurant reviews for TasteTO myself. “I’m pretty unique looking, you know? If I’m out at something like this and meet a chef, they’re probably going to remember the fat girl with the red hair and sparkly glasses.”
It’s either that or dead silence. Maybe someone will pipe up and say, “oh, you’re not fat” in a way that lets you know clearly that they think you are. But people seem to really not know how to deal with a fat girl referring to herself as fat.
But here’s the thing – I’m with myself every day – in the shower, in front of the mirror, getting dressed… buying new clothes. I know what the scale says, what the size tags say and what the measuring tape says. And they all say that I’m fat.
And I’m okay with that.
Personal history, genetics, and a job where I basically eat and then sit down and write about what I eat – all of that aside, I’m fat and I’m probably never going to be skinny. Technically I’ve been fat since I was 10. And I don’t really have an overwhelming desire to be thin, skinny or “average”.
Some people are naturally pack-rats, saving everything, dragging it with them from home to home throughout their lives. Others though, are purgers, overcome with the need to be free of the stuff they no longer use, need or love.
I’ve never seen the point of keeping “stuff”. Sure, I have a few items that I keep for sentimental reasons, but the overall quantity is small, and the pieces have real meaning. When we moved a few years ago, I took the opportunity to get rid of piles of things I knew I’d never use again – moving to a significantly smaller space, I didn’t have much choice – but I got rid of furniture and CDs and books without regret.
The only thing I sometimes regret purging with such strident rules is clothing.
Moreso than any other item we own, clothing has the power to tug at heartstrings and provoke memories. The dress you wore on a first date, a boyfriend’s favourite comfy sweater. I assume this is why brides spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding dress they’ll wear for a few hours and then save it in a special box, long after the marriage has dissolved.
I haven’t worn perfume for years. Nothing scented really, if I can help it, unless it’s of the all-natural essential oil variety. Allergies and chemical sensitivity see to it that pretty much anything with fragrance gives me a splitting headache.
I don’t mind this especially, as I think most people who wear scent wear far too much of it, but there are a few perfumes that I love and would love to be able to wear again.
At the top of this list would be Chanel No° 5.
I wore Chanel when I first moved to Toronto in the late 80s. Chanel was huge in the club scene then and the perfume was the closest I was ever going to get to a suit or a bag. It was a glamorous scent, not overwhelming, pretty but also mysterious.
I went through perfume phases and had a few favourites after I abandoned Chanel up until I had to stop wearing all fragrances or risk making myself sick. I hadn’t thought about that lovely square-cut bottle for years.
There’s a book called The Celestine Prophecy, a novel based on some new age spirituality, mostly rooted in some old spirituality. This post is not about that book, which has a number of detractors, as well as a number of fans, although having read the book, it’s what I tend to think of when coincidences occur.
Basically the premise of the book is based on 9 spiritual insights. The Third Insight – A Matter of Energy – is based on the theory that there are no coincidences, that things or people come to us because of a draw of energy, and the more times a theme occurs, the more attention, or energy, we need to focus on it.
No doubt every person has had the experience where something will come up in conversation, and then a day or so later, it will come up again. The phrase “speak of the devil” works on the same premise – you can be having a conversation about someone and then they’ll unexpectedly appear. These things happen all the time, but when they start happening in groupings, then it begins to get a little weird.