Friend Friday Guest Post: Size Matters.

For this week’s Friend Friday, the lovely Cynthia from Be Fabulous Daily has written a guest post for your delectation.  
Click here to read my guest post on her blog ( there may be a delay, as we’re in different time zones!). Enjoy!

Mrs Bossa xx

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A few weeks ago I posted a personal style retrospective and mentioned in passing that, during grad school, I had started buying my clothing somewhat oversized. Reader Terri suggested that I should write about why I thought I did that.

Then, while I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago, I posted this outfit,

which prompted a comment (also from Terri, who likes to ponder the interesting stuff — you should read her blog) that the conference was bringing out a side of me that she had not previously seen. Well…maybe that was the side that sometimes gets mistaken for a man.



What?


Yep. I’m a tallish girl (5’7″). I have always primarily worn flat shoes (for a lot of years, I wore 8-hole Doc Martens almost exclusively). I walk with a long stride. I have wide, square shoulders — no gently sloping Victorian cameo shoulder-line here. Put a blazer and pants on me, and no matter how much makeup I’m wearing, someone’s going to panhandle me using the wrong pronoun. I got addressed as if I were a man by a street dude on the boardwalk in Biloxi, wearing that same (quite girlie, IMO) red corduroy blazer that’s pictured above. There’s just something about my body and my body language. Despite being a 36D with a near-ideal “hourglass” 40/30/41 set of measurements, I can very easily read as ambiguous.


So on to Terri’s question. Why wear oversized clothing? In graduate school, I wouldn’t say I was deliberately “butch”, but I definitely worked my size by wearing oversized clothing that increased my perceived mass. But in light of the above, shouldn’t I be dressing to minimize myself however possible? The answer is, it depends on what my goal is. If my goal is to be perceived as dainty and feminine, perhaps I should dress to minimize. But what if my goal is to be perceived as a successful scientist and a leader in my field?


We all know from numerous studies that being tall results in increased lifetime income. This is true both for men and, to a lesser extent, for women. Another thing we know, from anecdote if nothing else, is that increased bulk is perceived as serious. A friend of mine recently told me of a good friend of hers, a smart and talented but very slight Asian man, who was shooting to move up in management status in a biotechnology company, was essentially told by the powers that be at his company that he was too small to be in management. Among the large thick-bodied American silverbacks, he did not have sufficient weight to have authority. As a young woman starting out in the world of science, I had to do something to create weight and authority. So for years, I’ve worn slightly larger than me clothing to create a larger than life persona. For a while, I even gained quite a bit of weight to fill the larger clothes.

But there are other reasons behind my oversized style, as well. I’m very resistant to sexualizing myself or my clothes. I grew up in the Midwest, among pretty conservative and privacy-loving people. I reached adulthood before the current trend of 5″ heels and high hemlines hit. I feel pretty strongly about appropriate attire. There’s no reason on earth for me to be sexy from day to day — it doesn’t serve my main goals, and might actually harm them.

So now it’s gotten to a point where, if I put on the traditional trappings of “sexy” femininity, strappy dainty shoes, lacy clingy fabrics, little clothes that expose a lot of skin, I feel like a gorilla in a ballerina costume. Steph recently wrote a long post about finding the styles that suit us both inside and out. I don’t know if this external style is the most flattering to me as a woman, or if it’s somewhere that I consciously wanted to go and considered all the implications of, but at this time in my life the style where I’m most at home is large and graphic and authoritative and not too sexy.

For more about why I dress the way I do, check out Be Fabulous Daily.
Do you transgress against parts of the gender ideal when you dress? How? And why?


Friend Friday: Is copying the highest form of flattery?

This week’s Friend Friday post (organised by Kate, of Modly Chic) is about copying – how would you feel if another blogger copied you?!

1. What are the ‘unwritten rules’ about copying content that we bloggers should all abide by? 

Don’t copy! Be inspired, yes, but don’t lift someone else’s content – and always link back to the post that inspired you. Yes, there is a lot of content out there. No, there are no trademarks. But this is a supportive community, and blatant copying would undermine that.

2. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But when is a post imitation and when is it copying?

It’s hard to be completely original in content, format AND style – for those who manage it, kudos. But to copy all these elements just ain’t right! If you don’t have an element of originality, it’s copying: you can’t get away with writing the same post with just the odd tweak.

There are a lot of fashion blogs out there, and finding your ‘angle’ is one of the biggest challenges.  Take outfit posts, for example: you can do ‘daily wear’, or ‘look at my bargain finds’, or ‘something for you to drool over because you can’t afford it and I can’, but essentially they are all posts of people wearing clothes, so it’s essential that your unique style comes through. A lot of bloggers, myself included, like to do a run-down of certain high street collections, and in this case I think you have to have a clear ‘voice’ or an unusual take. Kate at Make Do Style does this well – there is a lot of humour, knowledge and variety in her posts.

3. Taking another blogger’s idea (perhaps for an outfit, or DIY tutorial) is pretty common in the blogging world. Do you think it is necessary to credit the original source?

If you can credit the source, do. Not only is it good form to reference anything you post as content, it’s also only fair to direct traffic back to the person who inspired you. Pictures are more problematic, of course, but I think we should still acknowledge that it came from ‘somewhere’. Jen from A Little Bird Told Me does this really well, I think – she occasionally posts outfits inspired by other bloggers, but she always acknowledges this in a positive way. It’s inevitable that we are inspired by each other’s approaches, and each other’s sense of style – that’s one of the reasons the blogging network is so fulfilling.

4. How have you improved your blog by comparing it to other blogs? Have you made changes due to something you have seen others doing?

The blogs I’ve been reading lately seem to be taking a more ‘cerebral’ approach to fashion, which I’m really enjoying. I think the standard is being raised all the time because of the sheer size of the blogging network; Friend Friday has been a great way of making you aware of other bloggers work, and IFB’s Links à la Mode introduces a real element of competition (when I first entered a post, there were about 25 entries a week – now it’s more like 100). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times, but I decided early on to take a positive approach; it’s the perfect opportunity to ‘up your game’ – a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone!

5. Have you ever had one of your posts copied by another blogger or publication? How did you handle the situation?

It’s never happened to me – I always imagined it’s more of a problem for the higher profile bloggers (like the recent incident with Coco’s Tea Party, where the content was just lifted and passed off as her own – bit of a risk, no?!), but I suppose the rest of us are more vulnerable as we don’t have the same weight of readership as witnesses. I’ve very occasionally read posts that really remind me of something I’ve written, more in format than anything else, but we are all trying things out and finding our way, and I’m sure I’ve been more heavily inspired by some people than I realise. I recently wrote a post on Vogue that was triggered by Penny Dreadful Vintage and I felt uncomfortable enough about that…so I imagine if I was ripped off I may not handle it well…

How heavily are you ‘inspired’ by other bloggers? 
Do we need to acknowledge every starting point for our posts 
or is it all fair game? 

 

Snood Operator…

I’ve been really busy lately (planning sneaky bits of feminist activism amongst other things), but when I got a sudden windfall, I managed to shoehorn in a quick shopping trip to buy some ‘practical items’. Now, I don’t have the best track record in this area – I cave in when faced with temptation, as I mentioned in a previous post – but I have to say I’m quite proud of my efforts this time; sensible brogues, a chic winter coat and…a snood. This snood is my new favourite possession.


When the temperature drops, I’ve always found it hard to stay warm and feel ‘cool’, but this winter seems to be the first in ages where it’s possible to do both. I’m sure by now you’ve chosen your winter coat – did you give in to camel or shearling? – but what about your poor extremities? Come and look at my ASOS plunder…


First up: hats. Not many hats fit me – the double curse of having a big head and bigger hair – so when I find one I like I believe in going wild. Don one of these babies and feel all Russian:

If they’re a bit much, how about this chic little number? Elegant, retro, and keeps your ears warm.




And speaking of ears…you remember your earmuffs from childhood, don’t you? Mine were rubbish – didn’t stay on my head at all or keep me particularly warm. Well, may I now introduce you to the mother of all earmuffs – and, incidentally, the only thing made by UGG that I’ve ever wanted:



So that’s head and ears sorted then. But what about chests? Many of the sleek new coats on the high street have a deep v-neck, which makes scarves all the more important. Forget your knitted numbers, however – faux fur is much more elegant:



If you can find an item that keeps both your neck and your hands warm, then so much the better:



This item also doubles up; it’ll keep you snug and help you recover from that nasty neck sprain:




Maybe, in this busy day and age, you can’t be bothered faffing about with scarf and a hat – what a drag, right?! Well this is where my newly-beloved snoods come into play. Mine was a bargain purchase from Primark (£4 again) but if you had a bit more cash to splash, you could plump for something a tad more luxurious…


Or perhaps cute is more your thing? These pompoms should do the trick:


Cheer up, love. Your winterwear is fun!

But for those of us that really feel the cold (can I hear snorts of disgust from Sweden?!), how about this? (I suspect it’d have the added effect of making people want to hug you all the time, so that might swing it either way for you).



As for hands and feet. Well. I’ve long given up hope of ever owning the Burberry shearling boots. One of my current faves is a pair of Fairisle socks. However, take advice from one who knows – don’t wear these with brogues unless you’re on your way to the 18th hole.

My other favourites are grey socks. They may not sound exciting, but they allow you to get more mileage out of your strappy shoes (see below), keep your ankles warm when wearing peg trousers, and give a sly nod to Prada. What more could you ask from such a modest garment?

If you’re looking for warmth, you may want to cover your thighs too.

Mittens make me feel like a kid, unfortunately, whereas most gloves (leather excepted) make me feel too old for my years. Which is why I’ve decided to forget gloves and grab a muffler. Cute yet classy, it may be the only winter accessory that you can wear with a pesky cape and keep your lipstick in.

Comes in two colours – great for twins who want to avoid a fashion faux pas.



How do you tread the line between cosy and chic? 
Which is the first to go – fashion or the flush of warmth?




All item images from Asos.com.



Mrs Bossa Cringes at Vogue.

In a recent post, Penny Dreadful asked her readers for advice on which magazine subscription to buy, and it got me thinking about the reasons for my own choices. Much to people’s amusement – and my frugal grandmother’s horror – I now get Elle, Vogue, InStyle and Harper’s, and love getting them in the post (apart from when the subscriber cover is inferior – Elle, I’m talking to you).  

InStyle’s cute ‘Ways to Style the New A-Line’

There’s no denying that each one ‘reaches a part that others can’t reach’ – for example, I love InStyle’s ‘Your Look’, where they style up key pieces for the season (above) – but I recommended Vogue. As the first fashion magazine I ever bought, and the one I find the most ‘aspirational’, it still feels like a luxury buy, a real treat. 

The first ever Vogue I bought. Remember this skirt?!


While looking at November’s issue, however, I had to laugh to myself at the sheer drama of some of the writing:

Steady on now! She’s a lovely-looking girl, I agree, but rein it in…

Do you read Vogue? What do you love, or hate about it?! What do you like about the other glossies?

O vintage shops, how you call to me, call to me…

You know how it is. 

You hit the town, telling yourself you can only justify buying something practical – in this case, a black cardigan. But after two hours of listlessly rifling through uninspiring dark knitwear, you get bored. “This isn’t what shopping is about!” you exclaim to yourself. Then your eye is drawn to something in Yves Klein blue. Something silk. The practical black cardigan couldn’t be further from your mind as you race to claim this dress as your own…

This is the way it went for me, at Dirty Blonde vintage shop in Stoke Newington. I have to say, they had some really special items, including an entire colour spectrum of dresses, and a beautiful array of silk shirts. As you know from my one of my last posts, I have a thing for silk at the moment, and when it’s such a stunning colour, and it fits…well, how was I expected to resist? 
The shoe boots are M&S Autograph, via Oxfam.
The drape and folds are beautiful.
So, no black cardigan then. But at least I’m not a selfish spendthrift; I also managed to nab a fabulous BCBG skirt in orange leather for my sister’s birthday present…
So, dear readers, do you think I’ve been naughty or nice? 
Which shops always manage to weaken your resolve?