Thursday, June 24, 2010

DSQUARED2 Mummia sandals, $1650

Sometimes I think "new" fashion has lost its edge forever & everything I like is so retro, I might as well just buy the (usually cheaper) vintage version. Then someone proves me wrong. This time, it's DSQUARED2. A friend posted these on fashionism today & my jaw dropped. These babies won't be to everyone's taste, but they are very much to mine.

What? Ms. girly-retro herself likes spinal-cord-heeled shoes called Mummia? Okay, perhaps I have a bit of goth-kid left in me, or I want to channel Lady Gaga, or I just love beautiful, insanely high heels with a sense of humor. Wit is another thing I find lacking in many new designs, but DSQUARED2 has supplied it in ample quantity here. Other bone-heeled shoes in their fall collection have names like Frank N Furter & Rif Raf. Not all of the styles work IMO; the Mummias are definitely my faves, but I'm just thrilled that someone out there is making stuff like this. I can see a couple of my online friends rocking them with avant-garde dresses (perhaps by Comme des Garcons or Helmut Lang?) I'd pair them with a very simple dress in black or blood red; perhaps a full-skirted, rather innocent number, perhaps the tightest sheath I can find. Either way, at $1650, these lovelies are, alas, unlikely to find their way into my closet any time soon. That's a lot of bones. Sorry, couldn't resist!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Portion Control Fail Waiting to Happen

One of the best things about living in a metropolitan area is the variety of food that's available, not just in terms of restaurants & farmer's markets, but also in grocery stores. The Baltimore-Washington area is very culturally diverse &, as such, there are all manner of specialty grocers here. Looking for an Afro-Caribbean food store? Kosher? Indian? Halal? Latin American? Asian? You probably won't have any trouble finding those. If only there was a Scandinavian food store in which I could purchase lefse, but I digress.

This afternoon, I needed a few ingredients for an Asian cabbage salad, & even though mainstream grocers in these parts tend to carry such items, I decided it would be far more fun to venture over to Asia Food on York Road. I picked up the necessary items, then wandered around the store for a bit, enjoying both the central air conditioning, which our house lacks, & all of the delicious-looking food for sale. Spring rolls... gyoza... steamed buns... I wanted to fill my cart, especially with frozen items. Since our freezer is about the size of a shoebox, I went for a jar of kimchi, which can be kept in the fridge, and this little bag of goodies.

I told myself I'd only eat a few. Ha. They're spicy, they're crunchy, they're salty, & they contain seaweed. These little guys were almost gone by the time I got home! Fortunately, the entire bag only had 240 calories, less than many candy bars, & they were well worth eating a smaller dinner. I'll just make sure I have a seaweed-loving friend around to share the next bag.

Getting a dressing down

Getting a dressing down, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Assuming you would wear this skirt, where would you wear it? The office? The beach? The symphony? A restaurant where dinner for two runs at least $150? Sadly, it seems many people these days would answer "all of the above". "Casual Friday" has become "Casual Everyday", or, for some folks, "Nearly Naked Everyday". Is it time to bring back dress codes? I say yes.

Old-fashioned? Bourgeois? Downright fascist? Perhaps I am, but I am also sick & tired of going to special events or high-end restaurants & seeing denim everywhere. I don't wear jeans often, it's true. The only t-shirts I wear as non-exercise attire have no writing on them & are so sleek that they could pass for leotards. I am also a theater person & a fashion addict. I know not everyone approaches clothes the way I do - as costume, something that's tremendous fun & a creative outlet. Many people have to deal with rigid dress codes in the workplace & just don't want to be bothered with such things on their personal time. I've heard all of this before & I do sympathize, but I don't understand thinking that the same clothes you'd don to cut the grass are fine for an evening on the town.

I am a regular poster on fashionism, a site that is obviously frequented by people who think & care about clothes more than the general population. Over the years, there have been numerous threads about the way people dress to go out these days, with many members saying they deplore seeing people in jeans & such at "special" events, others saying they think it's fine & do it themselves, & others wondering why anyone cares. Once, I even started a thread in which I stated that I'd like to get a group of people in tuxes & gowns to go out to a sporting event, & one member got so upset you'd think I'd insulted her personally, which wasn't my intention at all. My point was this: if it's okay to show up at the opera in denim, why not go to a baseball game in a ballgown & your best bling? To my mind, both outfits would look equally ridiculous, given their settings, yet one is now acceptable, one is not. I would not, & do not, comment if I see someone dressed far more casually than myself when we are out, yet many people do not do me the same courtesy.

I'm not suggesting we return to the days when "well-bred" women couldn't leave the house without a girdle, hose, gloves, full makeup, beauty-parlor hair, & a hat. Okay, I'm getting into hats lately, but I don't want them to be mandatory. I also don't think men should be required to wear a suit & tie at all times. It's well over 90 degrees & humid here today - there are times when certain kinds of clothing are just impractical! I just wish special occasions were a little more... special than they've become, at least from a sartorial standpoint. Dress up in your own, highly personal way, as my rocker-chic friend recently did at a wedding: LBD, black sequined beret, & killer jewelry.

It seems there is strong support for my view in the fashion industry. Okay, I exaggerate. There's one article that I know of & it's in the July issue of Vogue. According to Sally Singer, dressing down is dead & Balmain's $1,624 t-shirt was the final nail in the coffin. Later in the same issue, there's a photo shoot featuring Ewan MacGregor & Natalia Vodianova as a beautifully turned-out"Mad Men"-era couple. Will chic suddenly become "cool" for those of us who probably won't spend $1,624 on tees in an entire lifetime, much less in one shot? Will it once again be unseemly to show up at the office in flip-flops? At the very least, will those of us who enjoy dressing up (some of whom currently don't because they get too much grief if they do) feel a little less pressure not to do so? Time will tell. For the moment, thank you, Ms. Singer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Honfest, 6-13-2010

Honfest, 6-13-2010, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Whew... I think I've finally recovered from last weekend! Two good friends got married on Saturday & the event was a wedding with a capital W. The ceremony was beautiful, both visually & in terms of the words that were spoken & the music that was sung. It didn't hurt that the choir loft held a truly amazing organist & singers, & there was no shortage of good voices among the congregation, either. The reception, held in a historic hotel that now houses condos, shops, & one of our favorite watering holes, was equally lovely. I did give J a couple of looks because he sneaked off to the bar to check the World Cup score a bit too often for my taste, but he wasn't the only one & he made up for it by taking me for several spins around the dance floor later.

The weekend's festivities didn't end there, however. On Sunday, we braved the steam bath that Baltimore can be any time between May & October to attend the Honfest, a street fair held annually in the city's Hampden neighborhood. We'd never been, even though that area is home to a number of stores & restaurants we frequent. The event is incredibly kitschy, all about celebrating Baltimore "hons" - working-class women with big beehive hairdos, cat-eyed glasses, & over-the-top wardrobes. I'm all about retro, but perhaps I'd harbored a fear that Honfest would be a disappointment, attended by the sort of people who think it's a "cute" event but disparage the city otherwise. Based on what we saw on Sunday, however, I was very wrong. Suburbanites & city dwellers of all races, ages & "types" - longtime Hampden residents, hipsters, families, couples, students, you name it - mingled happily. Given the weather, perhaps I should say we melted happily. There were booths offering all manner of old-school local delicacies (Ostrowski's sausages & The Laughing Crab's fried rockfish sandwiches, to name just two) and trendier fare (cupcakes) as well. I did a bit of vintage shopping & snagged a darling Monet charm bracelet for $18, a true score. We also stopped by local jewelry designer Martha Rotten's booth, which was fabulous, although she wasn't there at the time. Martha, if you're reading this, I still want to meet you! When we were about to keel over from the heat, we made our exit & attended our friend's son's high school graduation party in the suburbs, where things were only slightly less steamy.

Speaking of steamy, we loved the costume the stilt walker in this picture in this picture is wearing, & we found out she was handing out business cards for a local... toy store. It's called Sugar. Welcome to Baltimore, Hon.