Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

New York Magazine looks at the history of ugly shoes.

looks at a new study that examines stereotypes about what men and women look for in a potential mate.

Brain Spam
raves about Revlon's Colorstay Sheer Overtime Lip Color in this review.

The New York Times
says we're "overdeodorized".

I couldn't agree more with Jezebel's assessment of the new Cavalli for H&M line.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Finds: Winter Gloves

Back in August when I was choosing what clothes to pack for school, I decided to leave my gloves, hats and scarves at home, assuming that it would never get that cold before Thanksgiving, when I'd be back to pick them up. Oh how wrong I was...

By Halloween temperatures were dropping into the 30's in the evenings and no matter how bundled up I was, my exposed hands left me chilled. Since then, I've decided that I need to upgrade my glove collection, which currently consists of a basic pair of black wool gloves and a pair of brown leather ones. I've been eyeing a lot of the more glamorous elbow-length styles, which would look fabulous under a cropped jacket. And I was planning on asking for a pair of cashmere gloves for Christmas, but with two months of cold weather between now and then, I'm not sure if I can wait...

Here are a few of my favorite gloves in stores right now:

Nordstrom Long Cashmere Gloves, $42

Isaac Mizrahi for Target Tweed Glove, $17.99

Urban Outfitters Leather Gloves, $38
Alice Temperley for Target Fingerless Gloves, $14.99

Target Cashmere Mittens, $19.99

Urban Outfitters Long Lady Gloves, $18

Portolano Ruched Cashmere Long Gloves, $57

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Teens and Fame

When Jake Halpern set out to write “Fame Junkies,” his book about what is now a universal obsession with celebrity, he was surprised to uncover studies demonstrating that 31 percent of American teenagers had the honest expectation that they would one day be famous and that 80 percent thought of themselves as truly important. (The figure from the same study conducted in the 1950s was 12 percent.)

This fascinating factoid comes from a recent New York Times article on Tila Tequila and the rise of a new class of people: the talentless famous. In this age of MySpace and Internet voyeurism, reality TV shows and obsession with all things celebrity, any regular person can gain a following through strength of personality and outrageous behavior. We've democratized fame in so many ways, and the millions of people who thought that their lack of talent, brains, beauty or charm would prevent them from ever being well-known now have hope that they too can be the next Omarosa, Kim Kardashian or Brody Jenner.

But I was shocked to read that this trend has permeated society to the point where a whopping 31% of teens honestly believe that they'll be famous. It would be fascinating to learn more specifics on what these kids think they'll be known for, and how many of them just want to be famous for being themselves. I wonder if traditional routes to fame (sports, music, acting, politics, business, etc) are being pushed aside for the "internet sensation" careers. Reality TV and the internet have certainly made it far easier for people to attain fame quickly, without having to undergo the years of training or working multiple jobs to continue following their passion. In addition to not needing skill, you don't have to work hard to gain your fame. What could be more appealing to the instant gratification generation?

I wonder if this frenzy to be famous comes in response to the incredible academic pressures placed on this generation of kids. The competition to get the best grades, be involved in every extracurricular activity and sport imaginable and get into the best colleges is higher than it's ever been. The "every child is above average" attitude is held as the standard for students, and those who can't perfectly follow the path laid out by their parents and schools are made to feel like failures. If you don't succeed in school, if you feel like you're slow or unpopular or just different, you might be searching for an alternative.

The stars of the Internet age are famous for embracing their outrageous personalities and the qualities that make them strange or different; they only have to be themselves and people love them and admire them. On top of that, they don't really have to work and they have fun all the time (or at least appear to). You can imagine how refreshing that idea must be to a kid who feels like he'll never live up to the standards of his parents and teachers, with their narrow view of success. If you don't see yourself succeeding by following the traditional path, you might view internet/TV fame as a serious alternative. If Perez Hilton can do it, why can't I?

It's unfortunate that our society sends a message to teenagers that being famous for being famous is a viable alternative to going to college and having a regular, boring job. Kids need to learn that there are a million ways to live their lives, but being famous for 15 minutes doesn't guarantee happiness (in fact, it almost seems to guarantee an unhappy and unfulfilling life). Many of these "celebrities" are already old news and it will be interesting to see if the backlash against people who are famous for no real reason grows, or if we're doomed to see a generation of Tila Tequilas.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Age-Appropriate Dressing

Since filming has commenced on the new "Sex and the City" movie, images of Sarah Jessica Parker's outfits have flooded the Internet. It's no surprise that the show's fans are fascinated by glimpses of Patricia Fields' costumes, since Carrie Bradshaw's famously kooky wardrobe sparked as much discussion and adoration as the show itself. From the photos I've seen thus far, it appears that the crazy outfits of the movie may top anything we saw in the six seasons of the TV show, and frankly, there's a whole lot of ugly going on.

Sarah Jessica Parker is a beautiful woman with an amazing body that can pull off just about any style, but when I look at these pictures, I find myself focusing on the sheer inappropriateness of the outfit for any woman over the age of 25. Sure, this would look pretty terrible on anyone, but it really comes off as trying too hard on a 40-something. And shouldn't a middle-aged woman know better than to dress like she fell into the dumpster behind Forever 21?

Before all of my older readers start furiously typing angry comments, I'd like to say a few things. First, I'm not advocating that when women hit 40, they should replace their wardrobe with a closet-full of Chico's, covering themselves head to toe in neutral colored linens lest they show any hint of sensuality. I think women of any age can and should be beautiful and sexy (Helen Mirren is one of my fashion idols). But there are styles and trends that are undoubtedly more acceptable for certain age groups, with good reason. As I discussed in my previous post "When Did 40 Become the New 15?" it never looks good when a middle-aged woman adopts such teeny-bopper trends as flouncy cotton bubble mini-skirts. We can forgive teenagers for wearing Uggs and Crocs and Juicy sweatsuits because they're young and silly and don't know any better. But adult women (and by adult, I include anyone over college-age) most definitely should.

Some of the benefits of age are an increase in maturity and confidence, two very sexy qualities in a woman. There's an expectation that by the time you hit your 40's, you have a personal style, and there's no need to cover yourself in the latest trends head to toe in order to feel like you look your best. Incorporating trends is one thing, but when your clothing begins to represent a costume (as SJP's do here), it's no longer attractive. I know that these are costumes, but walk around New York and you'll see women who actually dress like this. I don't care if they're 21 or 81, it doesn't look good.

I see so many women of all ages who look like walking billboards screaming "Notice me! I'm young and sexy and trendy and I'm trying really, really hard for you to look at me and like me!" It comes off as desperation, which is the most un-sexy quality you can have. And then I think of someone like French Vogue editor in chief Carine Roitfeld, who is one of the most fashionable women on the planet and oozes rock and roll sexiness everywhere she goes. She's not dressing her age (51) or any other age, she's just dressing as herself. While most of us don't have access to a closet full of couture every morning, she's a good role model for dressing for oneself and not for the acceptance of others.

While I know it turns a lot of people off, I find the issue of age-appropriateness to be fascinating. So much of it comes down to the attitude of the person wearing the clothes, and not the clothes themselves. But an egregiously bad choice of clothes, no matter your attitude, can convey a negative message about you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reader Question: In-Laws and Wedding Plans

Hi Meg,

I have a question for you. I just got engaged to my boyfriend of four and a half years. His sister recently got married (2 years ago) and his parents paid the entire bill for her wedding, showers, anything she needed wedding related..and so on. My own parents are in absolutely NO condition to pay for our wedding. In fact I make more money than my parents combined and will most likely end up paying for them, not the other way around. His parents continue to make remarks about my parents paying for the wedding. One: How can I let them know that this is absolutely not an option and that we plan on paying for this ourselves? Two: How can I avoid being in his sisters' spotlight the entire time? (anytime I make a remark regarding the wedding, I have to hear "well Samantha had this and Samantha had that," etc) I'm going mad!
Hope you can help!


Wow, this is a sticky situation you're in. But I think there are definitely solutions. The most important thing to remember is that it's YOUR wedding, not your in-law's, not Samantha's. I think you need to have a serious sit-down conversation with your fiancé and his parents and let them know what your plan is for the wedding. You should feel no shame (and should actually be quite proud of yourself) to explain to them that you (not your parents) intend on footing the bill for this wedding. Your parents will be helping you in many ways, but you're taking on the financial burden. There's no reason why they shouldn't understand and respect this, just as long as you present it the right way.

During this conversation, you also need to tell them that while you thought that Samantha had a beautiful, wonderful wedding, this wedding is yours, not Samantha's, and you're going to do things differently in some ways. Tell them that planning a wedding is stressful enough alone, but you're finding it more difficult when you're constantly being compared to Samantha and how she planned her wedding.

Of course, you'll want to talk to your fiancé first and make sure both of you are on the same page before you speak to his parents. Present your views as the views of both of you, which will make your argument stronger. And throughout the conversation, tell them how much you appreciate their financial and emotional support during this process.

The worst case scenario here is that they continue what they're doing and annoy you for the next however many months until the wedding is over. This obviously sucks, but as long as you try to block it out and stick to your gut to have the wedding you want, you can definitely handle it. But these sound like decent, well meaning people, and I have a good feeling that if you talked to them honestly about the financial situation and your feelings about their constant comments and comparisons, they'll change their behavior for the better.

Anyone else have advice or tips for LV?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fashion Globalization

Sometimes it's easy to forget that at the end of the day, fashion is a business just like any other. To continue to grow and thrive, the fashion industry must adopt to societal changes, whether it's understanding and utilizing the online marketplace, or shifting the focus of individual brands from couture to handbags and accessories to meet the needs of a luxury-hungry middle class. But in certain ways the industry has stubbornly fought or ignored change. Take, for instance, the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among fashion editors, critics, designers and more obviously, models. While fashion is being democratized by the TopShops and H&M's of the world, there's a strong pull in the opposite direction to keep fashion elite and exclusive.

Designers (or more specifically, their parent companies) have recognized that it's not only women and men in U.S. and European fashion capitals who have the purchasing power to buy high-end fashions, and in the last 10 years we've seen an expansion of designer stores across the globe. But allowing people to enter the confined fashion world as consumers (or, more often in the case of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as underpaid and overworked producers) is a far cry from truly accepting them and encouraging them to participate in the industry.

As of now, the fashion industry has largely succeeded by selling an image of upper class, white American and European beauty to shoppers around the globe. For the most part, people have accepted this ideal (see Gemma Ward on the cover of Vogue India for recent proof). But my guess is that as certain nations and populations, like India, China and the UAE, continue to gain economic power, high-powered consumers are going to demand more inclusion in the fashion world, and will create their own alternatives to this hegemony by launching new magazines, organizing their own fashion weeks, etc. They're going to want to see people who look like them, who reflect and understand their own culture.

I started thinking about this after reading that Valentino announced that he was re-showing his Spring 2008 collection in Abu Dhabi. I don't know for certain whether this is the first major fashion designer to re-stage a show in the Middle East, but it's definitely not a regular event. But this announcement made me really wonder why it shouldn't be- after all, Abu Dhabi is one of the richest cities in the world. Yet, aside from hosting boutiques by many top fashion houses, it's almost totally ignored by the fashion community. It'll be interesting to see whether Valentino uses the same models as before, or if he includes some Middle Eastern women on the catwalk.

I think there's hope that the fashion industry will begin to diversify, as they can only ignore the untapped wealth outside of the U.S. and Europe for so long. Racism and cultural elitism are undeniably linked to the history of fashion, but at the end of the day, a brand is still a business, and I think they'll be forced to change their elitist practices if they want to survive in an increasingly competitive industry.