New Name and a Dress: your most important relationship…?

I’m at the stage in my life when all my friends seem to be having kids and/or getting married. I’ve been to three weddings in the last month.

Watching these celebrations of relationships,  I’ve become aware of my own relationship… with my body. Are we destined for a happy life together? Let’s see… In preparation for these recent weddings, I have:

  1. stopped eating bread
  2. drunk Puritee every night for a month in an attempt to trick my metabolism
  3. eaten meals off a side plate to cut down my portion sizes
  4. lived off Special K for a week
  5. Eaten nothing but protein for a four day stretch

Is that nice? I think not. In fact, if my bod was a child, I’d be in trouble for maltreatment. Seeing my dieting attempts in black and white makes me think it’s all a bit, you know, crazy. And why have I bullied my body this way? I think you can guess: so I wouldn’t feel upset when I saw the wedding photos.

When I first heard about one wedding, I was feeling brave and bought a lovely outfit: champagne pleated skirt, red silk t-shirt, knockout gold wedges. I want to look fabulous, I said to myself in an encouraging fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why did I end up in a floor-length dress and cardigan? Because I couldn’t face catching a glimpse of my upper arms in a mirror. I punished my body for not losing weight, and hid it in fine knits.

I was bridesmaid at another, and bought a very slinky purple number – my derrière got some attention, let me tell you.

 Your curves look great in this, I told myself. But even after the Special K and the waist cincher, the day of the wedding found me sobbing about my side view. What’s wrong with this picture…?!

This sounds terribly self-absorbed. Weddings are about other people, after all; I know it ain’t all about me! But there’s something about weddings – including the sheer amount of photographs – that ups the ante. We women put more pressure on our bodies to be thinner or more tanned. Ever burst into tears trying to pick an outfit for a night out? Blamed your body because a dress wouldn’t fit right? Well, chuck in a bride, a groom, and a four-tier cake and that feeling is magnified ten-fold.

As someone who blogs about fashion, I feel I should be positive about my body – show it off and big it up. I just find that really hard. Pearl W was teasing me the other day about the fact I used to leave my head off blog photos:

Baby steps! I’m not saying it’s right to feel this way – it strikes me as really sad – but I know I’m not alone. A lot of us have complex relationships with our bodies, often starving them, depriving them, resenting them and hating them. Would we ever treat someone else like that? I doubt it.

Of course, it doesn’t help that we can’t move for media-proffered diet tips. Even Kate Middleton was rumoured to be on the Dukan Diet in the run-up to her wedding, and not a day goes by without someone somewhere commenting on her weight. (It’s that she’s “too thin”, but the emphasis is still on her size, no? All she’s done is pre-empt criticism that she needed to drop a few pounds.) I see the whole Kate phenomenon as emblematic of what many of us women feel – that eyes are on our bodies, judging. And that losing weight for a wedding should a given, whatever it takes.

 

I wanted this to be a chipper post, I really did, but it’s been on my mind lately and I’d love your feedback. Last night, Claire tweeted something in response to a convo about weight loss that gave me a slap round the face:

 

She’s dead right, as I’m sure you know: forcing your body to change isn’t always the answer – accepting yourself should be.

Christopher Hitchens said, “We don’t have bodies; we are bodies”, and I can’t help thinking that sentence holds the key to it all:  if I started thinking of my body as my self, rather than something that I own, I might be a little kinder and more forgiving – impending nuptials or no.

So, where does that leave me? Weddings are lovely, of course, but to quote Samantha Jones:

“I’ve been in a relationship with myself for…years and that’s the one I need to work on”.

After all, we’re together now, for better or for worse…

 

What kind of relationship do you have with your body?

What tips have you got for those who need to work on it?

 

This post is one of a series of monthly posts by the Feminist Fashion Bloggers.
Read the rest of the ‘Dating and Relationships’ roundup here.
Join the discussion in the Google group here.

How Would You Wear…a Maxi Dress in Autumn?

Hello! How nice to see you again! The next FashFem post is out on Wednesday, so I’m easing myself back in with a post about, you know, pretty clothes and shiz. And you know I like to ask your advice from time to time.

I’ll be glad to see the back of summer. Or more accurately, summer clothing, which is all the things I despise: flimsy fabrics, sleeveless styles, and endless rails of frickin’ white linen. And don’t even get me started on bikinis. I’ll take cashmere and corduroy over cotton any time.

Having said that, I admire those who ‘do summer’ well. Part of me would love to dress like Courtney Cox in Cougar Town – colourful tailored dresses worn with covetable heels, tanned and toned bare arms and legs. Every year around this time think to myself, “Why didn’t I do summer like that, instead of swanning round in vintage nighties and flipflops, fanning myself cool with gas bills?!”

I wish to god I could purchase CC's upper arms. Not literally. That would be creepy and serial killer-ish.

Well, I’m a little behind on this one, but I decided to play the game before my beloved autumn well and truly descends: I bought two maxi dresses. Whoop! I have to say, they’re a dream to wear, but I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted. Everyone seems to live in them except  me.

And, as a bonus, I’m told that maxi dresses can actually be trans-seasonal – bargain. So, my question to you is…

…how would you style these two babies up … for autumn?

Dorothy Perkins

Sainsburys!!! (last of the big spenders...)

Which summer clothes will you be wearing in A/W?

Tell Mrs B all about it in the comments…

 

Wardrobe Staples Revisited.

Can you hear that sound? That’s the sound of me back-pedalling, frantically.

Last week I got all snooty over at The Loudmouth Lifestyle, with my post ‘5 Wardrobe Staples I Can Live Without‘. Black shoes, white shirts, breton tops…I spat in the face of them all. I was particularly dismissive of trenchcoats and jeans, saying the former made me look like a bag of potatoes and the latter made me feel like a plumber.

But lo! Who is this wearing jeans?!

I’m afraid to say you are not imagining things – it is I, Mrs B. I don’t know if I tempted Fate from the Denim Gods, or was persuaded Emily’s guest post on packing for a UK holiday, but I tried some on. After months of wearing peg trousers my legs looked quite shapely, as did my behind. I thought the dark colour was flattering, and truth be told, I felt quite good. And what had I said not two weeks before?

Never fear though – I shall not be wearing mine with a hoodie or Converse trainers. No, my vintage heels and pussybow blouse keep the ‘me’ in the equation…

Mr B calls this photo 'Touched up by a triffid'.

That’s not all. Suffering from shopping withdrawal, I scouted through the wardrobe at my parents’ house. And what did I find? A trenchcoat. To be fair to me, it’s not your average trenchcoat. Its tulip shaped-skirt keeps it just this side of flattering, and I think it scores extra style points for being one of the brightest colours ever seen by the human eye. Most importantly, I don’t think I look like a sack of vegetables. Or a detective. Score.

I’m not a total cop-out, though. To be honest, I was drawn to the coat because of the colour, not the style, and the jeans because of the shape, not the fabric. I still maintain that people shouldn’t feel they have to have these things in their wardrobe, and they should feel at liberty to find their own style staples. There’s no point buying something that doesn’t fit your shape, fit in with your lifestyle, or fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. Keep your character. What was my advice on coat-purchasing?

Looking at this coat…I have stayed true to that philosophy.

Do you think I get away with it?

Have you ever changed your mind about a type of clothing?

 

Guest Post: A Year Without Mirrors

With thanks to Kjerstin (A Year Without Mirrors) for sharing this intriguing and very brave idea…!
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Thanks, Mrs. Bossa, for this wonderful opportunity to write a guest post!

I’m a feminist fashionistette who once worked in corporate fashion, but was lured to graduate school by a passion for women’s issues.  These days I’m writing my dissertation about clothing size standards. Several months ago I decided to avoid mirrors for a year (while planning my October 1st wedding!), and I’ve been blogging about the experience at www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com.

My no-mirrors experiment was actually motivated by a fashion emergency: my growing anxiety over wedding dresses. I put a lot of pressure on myself to both (1) find the impossibly perfect wedding dress (ideally… modern-yet-traditional, flattering-yet-brave, luxuriously-yet-inexpensive, unique-yet-classic, etc. etc.), and (2) to look insanely gorgeous in said dress, once found.

At some point the search stopped being fun. I hated feeling vain, insecure, and indecisive.  Never one for subtle life-changes, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection.

I’ve always found pleasure in expressing myself through clothes. You may have noted above, my style is all about combining opposites. I revel in mixing bright colors with neutrals, feminine with masculine, flowing fabric with sleek lines, old with new, preppy with bohemian…. sometimes all at once!  Thus, it scared me to wonder if shunning mirrors might make life boring.

Thankfully, this hasn’t happened, but it’s taken careful strategizing and a few attitude adjustments.  Here they are.  (Note – you DO NOT need to abandon mirrors to try these things out, though it could be fun!)

1: Feel your fashion.

How many pretty-but-painful items line your closet? Instead of focusing on how good something looks on you, first figure out whether it feels good.  In the beginning, not being able to see myself felt like cruel sensory depravation.  Then I started focusing on senses other than just sight. This led me to try new styles, and to abandon trends that hurt.  My walking commute demanded solid, supportive (preppy!) boat-loafers instead of delicate uber-feminine flats.  High-rise, high-stretch (high-comfort) jeans now softly hug my tummy and hips instead of cutting off circulation at “muffin-top”.

2: Buddy system.

Focusing on feel does NOT mean abandoning style or flattering clothes.  (Hey, snuggies are comfy but lack that pleasing je ne sais quoi!) Once you find fashion that feels good, check with a trusted friend to make sure you look as good as you feel. It’s a simple as that.  (If you shop alone, consider staging a fashion show at home…or starting your own blog featuring your favorites!).

3: When in doubt, copy yourself!

Once you find something you love, get one in every color.  When faced with buying a new outfit for my wedding shower, I bought the EXACT same Rachel Roy dress that I’d worn for my engagement photos, but in a new fabrication (and at a steep discount!).

Since I’d purchased the first dress before my no-mirrors experiment, I knew it was flattering, and had fabulous photos as proof.

4: Abandon control.

Back to weddings…  I found my dress.  I bought it the day before I stopped looking in mirrors, and – to be honest – I really wasn’t sure about it.  It has ruching (I hate ruching), has uber-girly flower appliqués, (including one in the back that looks, to me, like a bunny-tail!), and it wasn’t made in a famous design house (I’d always fantasized about name-dropping a bit, if only to myself…).  But it felt comfortable, was clearly flattering, the price was right, and my mom got goose-bumps.

Buying my dress was a first step letting go of wedding style perfectionism and it felt great.  And now I’ll be completely reliant on others to help me navigate dress fittings, choose a veil, jewelry, lacy underthings, and shoes (not to mention the all-important old/new/borrowed/blue items). Others may disagree, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough.  Even on your wedding day (well, as long as we’re not talking about the groom!).

How would your life change if you avoided mirrors?

What tricks would you use to get you through?


Guest Post: How I Rock Vintage

With thanks to Cyrillynn (Any Second Now) – fellow Depeche Mode fan and all-round fabulous dresser.

 

Firstly, I would like to thank Mrs. Bossa for allowing me the chance to do a guest post on her fantastic blog!  This is something that I have been working on for awhile, so what better way to share than as my first guest post.  I wanted to honor her love of vintage by expressing my love of something similar.

 

AN ODE TO THE ROCK T-SHIRT

With so many t-shirts out there bearing some kind of “saying”, the rock t-shirt has received a confusing wrap. Are they are or they not fashionable? It depends on who you ask, and I personally love them. I have bought a t-shirt from every concert I’ve been to since I was 14.  My first two were Duran Duran in 1984 and Depeche Mode in 1985.  Both still fit and now have that “worn in” feel that clothing companies can only hope to emulate.

I’m heavily influenced by 80’s alternative, which sneaks its way into my outfits in the form of a spiked belt, bracelet or rock t-shirt.  Designers like Vivienne Westwood and Stephen Sprouse have infused punk into their lines, and that’s what I love to do with my own wardrobe.  They basically took the t-shirt and made it into a fashion statement.  One of my favorite newer designers, Idil Vice, has created an entire line of clothing that takes the rock t-shirt to a whole new level by placing those rock and punk images on other pieces of clothing like dresses and skirts (like the one below).

The rock t-shirt not only showcases my musical tastes, but it allows me to have greater expression.  I can wear them either completely casual, all the way to glammed up.  They become conversation pieces and can actually bond people.  When I went to a recent concert by OMD, I wore a Joy Division shirt.  There were three other people wearing the same shirt, and we all gave each other a knowing nod, understanding why we were wearing the shirts.  I received several compliments, including an acknowledgement from OMD’s lead singer, Andy McCluskey (he said “Look at you in your Joy Division shirt!”).  Wearing the “right” rock t-shirt can say “I am a connoisseur of music” without you having to say a word.

(Just to give you a bit of history, OMD toured with Joy Division back in the very early 80’s.  When the lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide back in 1982, OMD wrote a song in his honor.  Joy Division later changed their name to New Order).

I came across this article from Cleveland.com called “Vintage rock T-shirts not only make a fashion statement but make a good investment, too“.  Looks like I’m not the only one with a love of the rock tee.  People are not only snapping up shirts from bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, but even the random Styx or odd REO Speedwagon shirts seem to be a hit.  The article explains that vintage and current rock t-shirts are not just fashionable, but can bring in some cash if you are so inclined to give them up.  True vintage t-shirts have increased in value, especially on auction sites such as eBay, fetching up to $1000!  But beware of the wannabes being sold by sites who mass produce them and pawn them off as “vintage”.

“You can always tell by the tags: The originals have much smaller tags and if the tag isn’t as worn as the shirt, you’re probably buying a fake.” – Erica Easley, author of the rock shirt history, “Rock Tease.”

Who knew that my vintage concert t-shirts that I spent $15 on at the most back in 1985, could be worth so much?   Looks like I have a gold-mine in my closet!

 

(Top image courtesy of The Anti-Fop from Google Images. Middle image courtesy of Cleaveland.com.)

How do you feel about rock t-shirts?

Do you have any hidden gems lurking in your closet?


Guest Post: Packing a Capsule Wardrobe for a UK Holiday!

With thanks to Emily from Sugar & Spice for this guest post – I selfishly begged for it because of the changeable weather this summer…

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In April, my mum, sister and I took a trip to Scotland for three short wonderful days. We walked for two of the days and spent the rest of the time sitting in little cafes drinking coffee and eating cake. There are times when I holiday in the UK that I would not want to be anywhere else. Indeed one of the days we were in Perthshire, it was beautifully sunny and even reasonably warm given the time of year. But packing for a UK holiday can be far more challenging than packing for a holiday in the sun where the weather can be pretty much guaranteed. Indeed I wrote about how to pack a capsule wardrobe for your holidays over on my blog recently (http://www.sugar-and-spice.com/2011/06/how-to-pack-capsule-wardrobe-for-your.html).

 

Layering is the key to a capsule wardrobe for a holiday at home:

Thin layers are even more important – thin vests and thin t-shirts (long or short-sleeved, depending on preference) will probably be as warm, if not warmer, than one thicker layer – if it’s warmer than expected, you can wear the vests or tees on their own but if it gets cooler, you can pair them up

Jeans are a godsend for UK holidays – they work well in the cold and in the warm

Socks take up very little room and yet will make all the difference if it rains or the sun refuses to shine

One or two jumpers/cardigans should probably be enough – just make sure that they go with everything you have packed

Dresses are an easy addition to your holiday wardrobe – if the British weather comes through and you have a lovely week away you’ll be so glad you packed your dress, if it rains, you can add a pair of leggings and a cardigan and still feel like you’re on holiday

Leggings – thin, light, and essential for cooler evenings – and days!

There are a few essentials that you would be foolish to leave home without for a holiday in the UK:

Waterproof shoes – i.e. wellington boots

Waterproof jacket (and trousers)

Umbrella

Capsule for UK Staycation

 

Have I forgotten anything? Feel free to add your UK holiday essentials.

And finally, a huge thank you to Mrs B for asking me to write this post for her while she takes a much needed and well-earned break. (Come back soon, please Mrs B!!)

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See also: Mrs Bossa: Wardrobe in a Winter Wonderland

 

My Guest Post is on The Loudmouth Lifestyle!

Before I decided to take a break, I wrote this guest post for Stephanie of The Loudmouth Lifestyle. (Check out her outfit posts, by the way – she is gorgeous and always looks so happy in what she’s wearing).

Here’s the screenshot – click through for my post ‘5 Summer Staples I Can Live Without’, if only to find out how I managed to shoehorn potatoes and a toolkit into a post containing Brigitte Bardot…