In which I totally ignore the entire ‘Obama wins Peace Prize’ thingy.

Seriously. I mean, the only rational response to that is "OK then! Apparently the rest of the world was even more traumatised by the Bush administration than we realised!". And many, many more articulate people have already raced to their computers to make that point and related ones today.

I figure a quick repost of an interesting discussion I’m having in another LJ thread, on a subject I can actually claim expertise in, would be more to the point. ‘Cause I have actually had this happen in a lot of cases where my profession comes up. I am a buyer’s assistant in a high-end womenswear buying office.

Yeah, I know, you can’t resist, can you? It’s either "Ooh, designer labels are so shallow/stupid/a ripoff!" or "Ooh, unrealistic sizing drives me nuts! The other day I was looking at a size 00, can you believe it…"

I generally bear this kind of stuff with a grin, as I happen to agree with both POVs to a certain extent. My method for dealing with the excess madness — one that is thankfully supported by my buyer — is just to relax and have fun with all the pretty clothes. Not to mention, I admit, the massively reality-challenged culture that surrounds them.

Me, I’m never gonna be in with the cool crowd. I’m a 175-lb. 38-year-old in an office-full of gorgeous kids, I am by default — and a certain native eccentricity — the fashion granny. That said, I’ve learned a lot about how to make myself look good these past five years; not just in terms of following the trends, but in choosing colours and styles that flatter…

…And, of course, ones that fit. Definitely picked up a few hints about those. So when asked "What is the deal with specific sizes for men and not women, anyway? There are just as many variations in men’s bodies as women’s!" I am fully prepared to respond…

*******************************

*grin* True, but there is also far more variation in female fashion.

[Disclaimer: The following discussion merely reflects present realities, and in no way should indicate agreement with or approval of those realities by the author. Thank you.]

 The original discrepancy arose in large part because men were the ones wearing uniforms on the job, in the military etc, so standardised sizing has until comparatively recently been a much bigger and more accepted part of their world. Standardised charts for women do exist of course, and I gather there is a movement afoot currently to use them across the genders/ages. But as long as women have (or are perceived as having) a more emotional, less rational investment in their clothing choices, so too will be their sizing irrational.

Put simply, sizing for women reflects body image. As long as you’re dealing in abstract numbers, you can make women feel however you want. You just lower the numbers, and hey presto! women feel like they’re beautiful and special in your clothes. Conversely, you can mess about with sizes for ‘above average’ women — saying 3X instead of XXXL, for instance — to help disguise the fact that they need them.

Within those various numbers you can further play around with form, function, fabrication etc., and heighten whatever the effect by hiding/minimising flaws, or enhancing/creating good points. Or just playing around with concepts generally, as on a canvas. Think about runway shows you’ve seen — it’s art, abstract art, with models simply being used as walky-talky clotheshangers for the designer’s ‘vision’. Standardising sizes would take you behind the curtain, so to speak, far too soon. ūüôā

Besides which sizing, as I mentioned above, reflects label image and marketing. Yes, this is a pan-gender issue, but it’s much more directly reflective of physical perception in women; as we age, we are seen as wanting to hide more, as needing more ‘relaxed fits’, shall we say.
One label wants to be worn by hip teens; another, by their moms; still another by their grammas. All of these women may well share one or more general measurements, but if their mom can get into their Juicy tops, teens aren’t gonna buy, and if Gramma can get into them, both mom and grand-daughters will shudder as they pass the rack.

Summer’s here, and the time is wrong

It is hot. H-O-T. The air is soup, the pavement glares, the bugs in the porchlights are the only living things moving fast.

It is so hot that I am reduced to going to work in those silk slacks I couldn’t resist at the thrift shop. The ones that are a little faded and increasingly crumply, so that it looks like I’m wearing the lining of some other pants.

I could iron them, I guess, but I am terrified of scorching the delicate fabric. Because then I would be reduced to going to work in those raggedy cutoffs that no longer fit. It is JUST THAT DAMN HOT.

When the going gets rough/just shop with somebody tough

It’s been an interesting week for rampant consumerism, here @ Shoe Central:

I got a new cell phone! *cuddles phone*. It’s a Blackberry Pearl flip (I have this thing about exposed keyboards; given the chaos that is my purse, there’s a real chance of accidentally dialling Uzbekistan in there). The back part is pink, since that was the only colour they had, but the flip is black, so my self-respect is OK.

Almost as much fun as discovering how far cell technology has advanced in three years – and gosh, hasn’t it been a lot – has been watching Shoemom discover the same thing. Took her three full days to get past the welcome screen. First thing she found after that was: the camera. Somehow it’s never the things you think they’ll be excited about, is it?

"Hey, over here! Cheeeeeese!" [clik!] "Oh, shoot, hit the button too soon."

"MOM! This is – is that my butt?!"

"…yeah, sorry. Where did you say the delete button was again?"

****************************************

I got new SQUARE-RIMMED glasses! *loves glasses* They are PURPLE! There is PERSONALITY! There is even a discreet bit of SPARKLY! I am just so incredibly thrilled to have finally joined the new facial fashion millennium! Can you tell?!

In other face-related news: MAC cosmetics. Demo in our office atrium. VERY flattering salespeople. Thus I am now staring across the dresser at a Look in a Box; everything I need to create ‘Sweet Tease’ on this heretofore totally naked mug. Wondering how on earth I’m going to learn to apply mascara well enough to justify $80. Currently, I am tossing around ideas involving something I once read about 19th-century women and permanent cosmetic tattoos.

*****************************************

–The itteh bitteh kitteh comes home on Saturday night. As alert readers may recall, Kitteh was going to be called Jemima, but the mental images re: offensively anachronistic pancake pitchwomen proved finally too weird. So kitteh is now, once and forever: Jasmine. *squeezes Jasmine and calls her…oh, never mind*

Anyway, this is going under Consumerism, Rampant, because frankly the pet industry – as represented on the Net at least – is really harshing my mellow here. All I wanted was some quick advice on settling a kitten in a new home, and suddenly it’s like I’m Madonna and they’re the entire Malawian government. I can understand protective outrage to an extent, but the blanket assumption that every wannabe pet owner is an irresponsible twit who’s never before taken care of another living creature…yeah, a bit much.

********************************************

So anyway. The garbage strike is (almost) over – it would be over now, except Shoemom wisely restrained me from going down to City Hall upon notice of delay and holding the union leaders’ heads in a used litter tray until they sobbed for mercy – the weather is heating up, the new stuff is new…here it is August, and summer’s just starting.

All cheered up!

But I’m afraid I’m becoming something of a shopaholic in the process. Which worries me not least because it forces me to self-identify with cutesy chick flicks.

At any rate, I decided to head over to the iTunes Store the other night for some serious musical medication. For good reasons; Bruce Springsteen’s latest had reminded me that my library was still missing Streets of Philadelphia, and I mean, really. After that, though, things may have gotten just the teensiest bit out of hand…I probably didn’t need all that Bruce Hornsby, let’s put it that way.

I did find a bunch of Hall & Oates classics that filled the mood-lifting bill most excellently. I have always had a thing for Daryl Hall’s voice…um, also Daryl Hall’s picture staring out at me from the iTouch while the songs play, nice bonus. Seriously, they were among the premiere pop craftsmen of my generation, and when your generation also includes Boom Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room), that is something you hold on to, believe me. 

While I was at it, I picked up a couple tracks off Duran Duran’s Arena, another key entry on my Remember Back When I Was Young and Carefree setlist. That I was carefree mostly because I had no musical taste is debatable, but I don’t care, it’s The Seventh Stranger and I get to feel gloriously hedonistic all over again.

So between the need to organise the new music, the circuit assembly this weekend, and another vow not to write another word unless it’s in the furtherance of my fictional ambitions (ha ha ha), things are getting back on track, here @ Shoe Central. Will keep you posted.

I get to have an iPod Touch!

Because…um, well, basically because I’m an evil bitch who doesn’t care about all the sweat and blood Shoemom expends to keep us in the financial black. But I’m sure she’ll get over it eventually.

I did have a really good sob story this time, if I do say so myself. Just completed five years of service to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and have the commemorative plaque and pin to prove it. (One of the niftier little side benefits of working for a 338-year-old enterprise: the commemorative pin shows its beautiful coat-of-arms. I had half expected it to have stripes.) Plus, one of my supervisors asked me to fill in for him when he goes on vacation in February.

So it seemed an opportune moment to self-reward, and I’ve needed a PDA for some while now, so the fit was a natural one. The iPhone is much too expensive when you add on the charges, and anyway I don’t want a cell phone that does anything more than make phone calls. Did a bit of online research, and everyone – I do mean everyone – sang the praises of the Touch. Such solidarity is rare enough to be un-nerving; I was starting to think it maybe dispensed soma on the side.

So Shoesis gets the old Nano to take with her on her cleaning jobs, and I get to feel a comfortable glow of sisterly solidarity. Now all I have to worry about is finding wi-fi spots here in Toronto. From what I can tell, it seems a complex business. Perhaps the universe’s way of ensuring Shoemom gets her own back, after all…?

Say, Mr. Rogers was right! I am special!

….Specifically, I am the proud recipient of a ‘You Made a Difference’ plaque for having completed the most ‘tasks’ – inventory records created/edited, basically – in the month of October. (Never mind that I pretty much only got it because the actual fastest guy was off for the last two weeks on paternity leave. I was running him really close before that, believe you me.)

The point to focus on here is that the honour came with a $50 gift card. This, as you might expect, tickled me no end, especially since no-one had any idea the prize was even being awarded in the first place. It was like the universe just suddenly went, “Dull, grey Wednesday? No problem! Here, have some free money!”

Catching the spirit of the thing, I immediately went out and blew it all on one DKNYC silk tunic tank. (No, not from Macy’s. I work at the Hudson’s Bay Company head offices here in Canada, and just occasionally we take off our parkas indoors.)

I loves me my tank, because it is kingfisher blue and twilight, and it makes my eyes look silver. It makes me look overall like the kind of person who has occasion to wear such stuff on a regular basis. Just admiring myself in the bathroom mirror @ Shoe Central I am inspired to tackle any remaining obstacle to getting it outdoors. After all, how hard can working up a social life be, anyway?

Happiness is a warm sequin

So I’m sitting here wearing my cashmere sweater.

It’s kind of like a Bucket List thing, this sweater purchase. While I have no interest whatsoever in actually seeing the movie – as Roger Ebert put it, wouldn’t it be nice if just for once, a movie opened with a white character extolling the virtues of Morgan Freeman? – I have always been kind of sympathetic to the general idea.

I¬†suppose it¬†involves some misdirected wedding-planning instincts, too; I can’t have the¬†poufy ivory dress with the rosebud-embroidered bodice (mental pattern borrowed liberally¬†from Catherine Cookson novels), so the ridiculously expensive sweater is like the¬†prize for growing out of it already.¬†You may not have a man, self, but by God you are a successful, sophisticated woman! More