Tag Archives: feminism

Stripes and Dots

Here’s a #TBT (Throwback Thursday) post for ya, taken about a year ago (before I stopped growing out my hair and started snipping it bit by bit until it was short again). I don’t mind posting this so late because I plan on wearing this tomorrow. It still works.

black and white

Sweater: Thrifted
Skirt: Ililana (via flea market)
Tights: Roots Canada
Faux suede booties: Old Navy
Pleather cuff: Etsy

I enjoy pattern mixing (is that still a thing?), especially when the look is monochrome. If everything is black and white, it has to work! Here, I paired a well-work black and white striped sweater with a Swiss dot wrap-around circle skirt.

stripes and dots

I love adding a pop of color and I thought the red cuff did the trick. I read recently that some clueless company in Norway made their female employees wear red bracelets during “that time of the month” so managers would know why they were taking extra bath room breaks. Ridiculous! Talk about TMI and “none of your business.: Well for better or worse, I think about that story whenever I reach for this bracelet. Then, I often decide not to wear it. Well, this is purely a fashion statement. I am discouraged to hear of such backward practices from an otherwise forward-thinking nation.

pattern mixing

Back to the outfit! I bought this skirt at a flea market in Brooklyn. It was new, from a company called Ililanga, but I can’t find them online anywhere. I guess you’ll have to go to Brooklyn to see their collection of skirts and dresses. I like the length and shape but I think a midi needs to be worn with heels–so that’s what I did.

I’ve joined a linkup at Fashion Should be Fun. See what everyone else is wearing!


Filed under Fashion, Feminism

Backwards Top for Work

I put together an outfit for work recently and after taking the first shot for this blog I realized I wouldn’t be wearing the top to the office. As much as I like it, this is not a neckline for reaching across desks, grabbing paper off the copier, or picking errant pens off the floor (all of which I seem to do on a daily basis).


Top: H&M
Skirt: Una
Socks: Fred Meyer’s
Shoes: John Fluevog
Necklace: DIY
Cuff: Greenbelts

So I ran inside and flipped the shirt around. Now the neckline is more suited for a place of business. I’ll leave the low-cut tops for date night.


Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a fan of modesty*, and I’m not ashamed of who I am and what I look like. But at work, I like to be professional and focus on my job.

low back

* I don’t like the term modesty because I feel like it blames women for how they look and makes them responsible for how others perceive them. It puts the onus on us to “protect” men from temptation. That said, I like to class it up, not down, and make style more about the way I put clothes together, not how much skin I show. I could go on and on, but that’s a post for another day.

I’ve linked up with Transatlantic Blonde for WIWW. Check out what the others are wearing!


Filed under Dress Up Dress Down, Fashion, Feminism

Remembering Zelda Kaplan

The world lost a fashion icon last night. Zela Kaplan died as she lived: enjoying the nightlife and being part of the fashion community. She was in the front row of a Joanna Mastroianni fashion show when she passed away. She was 95.

Zelda Kaplan c/o Ari SethCohen

Zelda in 2011 (courtesy of Ari Seth Cohen http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com)

I never met Ms. Kaplan, but I’d seen photos of her and read about her in The Village Voice and Advanced Style. I loved her attitude and Chutzpah. I valued that she enjoyed living life to the fullest and having fun, but that she was also caring and concerned for others.

She travelled the world and was an outspoken advocate of human rights. She fought against female genital mutilation in Africa and Southeast Asia and helped educate women about birth control.

On trips abroad, Ms. Kaplan would pick up fabrics and bring them home. She designed her own clothes and was often seen around New York in tunics and hats with African prints. She slept in until mid-afternoon and was out all night. She was a regular and favorite at many exclusive nightclubs. She was always welcomed past the velvet ropes where she would rub elbows with designers and celebrities.

Most often though, she was treated as a celebrity. People wanted to be near her. She had a lust for life and an energy that people a quarter of her age couldn’t match. A lover of arts and fashion she squeezed several lives into her 95 years. She was a professional golfer and a ballroom dancer before she became the world’s oldest club kid.

She proved age is just a number and that you’re only as old as you feel. She had a life well-lived and will be missed.


Filed under Fashion, Feminism

Bare-faced Beauty Challenge

Here’s a challenge that had me nervous: Franca at Oranges and Apples proposed a “no makeup” post for Fashion Friend Beauty Friday. I don’t normally wear a lot of makeup, but I have a few standbys. I’m comfortable going without cosmetics at home or walking my dog, but to show the whole world? Wow! It’s the most I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone since I confessed my age.


wet hair

Here’s the trap I fall into: I need sunscreen, so I slather it on. Then I realize the lotion has made me shiny, so I add powder. The powder makes my eyelashes lighter, so I add eyeliner and mascara. And I’m addicted to lip balm, so I wear that. It’s not that I plan to wear a lot of makeup.

Straight out of the shower (and indoors where SPF isn’t required) is the only time I can avoid the trap. I also thought I should forgo hair products too and be 100% natural for the photos.


Sometimes though, it’s fun to get dolled up. I like wearing lipstick and eye shadow. It’s also good sometimes to take a step back and not rely on makeup. If too many months go by and I haven’t gone bare-faced, I start to feel like I need all the extras. I don’t want to feel like makeup is vital. I need to remember that I’m not made of plastic. It’s good to see skin.

I started to wear light makeup in junior high. In high school, I started to wear more and, as a result, I often passed for older than I was. As a fledgling feminist in university, I “stuck it to the Man” and abandoned makeup for a while. But I made peace with cosmetics when I realized they don’t define my beliefs.

Now, I appreciate a good concealer and I like lipstick. Interestingly, most guys don’t “get” makeup, and my boyfriends have often preferred me without it.

What’s your relationship with makeup? Do you wear it every day? Sometimes? Never? What product can’t you live without?


Filed under Fashion, Feminism

Youth, Body Image and Aging

Youth is the one thing worth having.” ~ Oscar Wilde

It’s not news that we live in a youth- and beauty-obsessed culture. Look around. Society values young, pretty people. If we aren’t young, we better at least look it (and we better be thin and hot). The market for Botox, fillers and other time-freezers show that. And no matter what age you are, you’d better be pretty in a culturally sanctioned way.

mini dress

I'm laughing because I'm wearing a mini well past my prime

So what’s that got to do with me? Well, as my 40th birthday approaches, I’ve started thinking about youth, body image, and aging. I am actually happy to be reaching this milestone. I am actually more confident than I was in my 20s.

It’s hard for me to admit my age on this blog. I don’t want to be discounted by the younger blogging community, silly as that sounds. So it’s cathartic to share how old I am (39) and when I’ll hit the big four-oh (December).

I don’t mind getting older, but I struggle with the idea of looking my age. I’m happy with my body, but I think of ways to prevent wrinkles. The sunscreen isn’t because I fear skin cancer; the sunglasses aren’t because they match my shirt.

That’s the world we live in. A youth-obsessed place.

Shorts, tights, heels? They’re going to lock me up!

I used to have age limits on what’s acceptable. As a ten-year-old, I was sure that by 30 I’d be wearing frumpy suits. As a 25-year-old, I was prepared to give away my mini skirts within the decade.

But now, as I’ve gotten older, I’m embracing things that I “shouldn’t” be enjoying. I dressed more conservatively 15 years ago than I do now. Now I don’t worry as much and I have more fun. Today, I care less about what others think of my fashion choices, the things I do and the way I act—and that’s liberating.

I’m also making a point of bucking trends. This past spring I read an article about a silly study that shared the ages at which women should stop wearing certain things. Here’s an excerpt of the list:

  • Bikini, 47
  • Miniskirt, 35
  • Boob Tube, 33
  • Stilettos, 51
  • Belly button piercing, 35
  • Knee high boots, 47
  • Trainers, 44
  • Leather trousers, 34
  • Leggings, 45
  • Ugg boots, 45
  • Swimsuit, 61
  • Tight vest, 44
  • See-through chiffon blouse, 40
  • Long hair, 53
  • Ponytail, 51

I’m on a new mission to wear all of those items, well past the “expiration date” given to them. With two exceptions: Uggs (which I think are repulsive, style-wise, on anyone regardless of age) and a belly button piercing (I don’t have one and I don’t want one; I will keep my nose ring indefinitely and keep getting tattoos and I think that counts).

So far, I’ve got to write a few outfit post of me in a miniskirt, boob tube (I think that’s the British word for a tight, strapless top), leather trousers (I will if I can find a vegan alternative), and a see-through chiffon blouse. I’m already not supposed to wear those things (But I will. Just wait!).

So it’s obvious I don’t follow others (or perhaps I like to question authority). As far as fighting aging in other ways, well, I do want to look and feel my best. I eat well and I exercise. I don’t dye my hair (at the moment), although I have. I personally don’t want to be gray and will dye it when that happens. I don’t want Botox or collagen injections. I want to age gracefully. I want to show people that beauty and aging can coexist. I want to be comfortable in my own skin. Confidence and joy are fantastic accessories.

How do you feel about aging? How do you “fight” or “embrace” it? Is there something you’ve learned by getting older? As Oscar Wilde said, “I’m not young enough to know everything.”


This a twofer: This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival, hosted by the National Organization of Women and it’s part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers monthly group post (which happens to be about Youth and Aging this time). I’m attempting to feed two birds with one hand (and trying to substitute a non-violent expression for the “kill two birds…” saying; it has yet to take off). While I wait for that to happen, check out their sites and see what others have to say.


Filed under Fashion, Feminism

We Still Love Lucy

Today would have been Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday. She died close to a quarter century ago, but in her 77 years, she changed the face of television.

lucy mural in Jamestown

Lucille Ball is most well-known for the character she played on I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show. But she did more than star in those shows; she had one of the longest-running careers in Hollywood. She was a model, a radio actress, and a movie star (of over 40 films, mostly B movies) before becoming a TV and movie producer and the star of her own shows.

another lucy mural in Jamestown

When Ball helped develop I Love Lucy, she brought her then-husband, Desi Arnaz, onboard. The two formed Desilu Productions, which made Ball the first woman in television to be head of a production company.

Desilu pioneered a number of television production methods still in use today. For example, they filmed I Love Lucy before a live studio audience with a three-camera setup, and used distinct sets next to each other. They shot on film, not kinescopes, meaning the quality of their show was never degraded. That’s part of the reason why it’s still in syndication today (well that and its astounding, universal appeal). Fortunately, Desilu negotiated to retain the rights to the film footage of I Love Lucy, meaning that after its initial broadcast, CBS no longer owned the show. As a result, Desilu made millions of dollars on rebroadcasts.

lucy and desi in Jamestown

Desilu produced several other shows too. Lucille Ball, with her years of experience in Hollywood, knew how to pick a show that audiences would love. Desilu produced The Untouchables, Star Trek, Mission: ImpossibleThe Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Andy Griffith Show, and the first seven seasons of My Three Sons.

lucy images on a brick wall in Jamestown

Lucille Ball was a pioneer in other ways too. She married a man six years her junior—and an interracial marriage at that. At a time when women married young and had kids young, Ball was almost forty when she had her first child.

Ball and Arnaz wrote the pregnancy into the show. It’s hard to believe now, but at that time there weren’t any pregnant TV characters. At first, CBS refused to  show a pregnant woman on television. They finally allowed the pregnancy storyline, but banned the word pregnant. The approved term was expecting.

Lucille Ball is known as a funny woman, but she was also beautiful, smart, and talented. She was an excellent businesswoman and influenced the path of the women in the film industry. This weekend, in her birthplace of Jamestown, NY, Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday is in full swing. My parents are there celebrating. In fact, the pictures in this post are courtesy of them. They’re all taken in Jamestown—except this last one, which I found yesterday in Everett, WA. Proof that all over the country—and the world—people still love Lucy.

lucy mural in everett washington


Filed under Feminism, General

Remembering Betty Ford

I learned today of the passing of former First Lady, Betty Ford. Sometimes it’s not until death that someone’s contributions are apparent. To me, Betty Ford was synonymous with the rehab treatment center that bore her name. I didn’t realize all the other ways in which she was influential.

As a young woman, Ford, born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, worked as a model, dance teacher, and fashion coordinator at a department store. The style  and grace that landed her those positions was evident throughout her entire life in photos and interviews I’ve seen. But beyond the polished exterior, was an honest, genuine, and open woman.Betty Ford

She divorced her abusive, alcoholic first husband after five years’ of marriage. That step alone was a brave action—expecially for the mid-20th century. She married Gerald Ford, shortly after he entered his first term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

She entered the White House as First Lady in 1974, as a stay-at-home mother of four children, but she quickly shattered perceptions of what a stay-at-home mom should be.

Shortly after becoming First Lady, Ford announced to the world that she was battling breast cancer. Her announcement was a huge win for women’s health. It seems strange today, with all our pink ribbon campaigns and events, but in the early 70s, breast cancer wasn’t talked about publicly. As a result of Ford’s candor, many more women began getting mammograms, funding for breast cancer research gained momentum, and the disease lost its taboo.

Betty Ford was also a feminist and supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. She was an activist in the women’s rights movement, and spoke out on controversial topics—from equal pay to abortion. She didn’t let her husband’s high-profile job silence her.

At a time when substance abuse carried a stigma, Ford shared her own struggles with alcohol and prescription painkillers. In doing so, she affected millions of people and helped change the way we view addiction.

Although she never ran for office, she had a high approval rating and lobbied for the Supreme Court to have a woman on it. When her husband lost the presidential election in 1976, she gave his concession speech. They were very much equals and partners. Gerald ford once said, “I am indebted to no man and to only one woman, my dear wife.”

From humble beginnings, to a position of national power and influence, Betty Ford never lost her sense of who she was. She wanted to make the world better, and she did. Throughout her life, Betty Ford was active in women’s rights and continued a public life with speaking engagements and as an advocate for the arts. Although she had struggles (addiction, cancer), she lived the life she wanted, spoke her mind, and contributed to social change. She was married to the love of her life for 58 years. She was 93. Her’s is a life worth celebrating.

As a woman who started with humble beginnings and rose to become such a high-profile figure, I think Betty Ford fits this month’s Feminist Fashion Bloggers‘ theme: Fashion, Feminism, and Social Class. Have a look at what the others are writing about.



NBC Evening News, July 9, 2011

ABC News Online “Former First Lady Betty Ford Dead at 93” by Christiane Amanpour


Filed under Feminism, General

Feminism in the Media

This month’s Feminist Fashion Blogger group post is about feminists in the media. It’s timely; I was reading the June edition of Glamour, the F-word was printed twice, in two interviews by two very different women.point of view

The first instance was in an interview with Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. Rachel is asked (by Katie Couric) if being gay influences what topics Maddow chooses to cover on her show. Maddow smartly replies that she’s never done the show as a straight person. The interview turns to how being a woman (in general) might influence the stories they cover.

Rachel responds with, “But if you were a feminist dude, maybe you’d make the same decisions. And if I were a pro-gay-rights straight person, maybe I’d make the same decisions, too. I don’t feel there’s anything about my experience of being gay that gives me more insight into “don’t ask, don’t tell,” for example. What does, is my understanding of the military. (p. 171)”

Later, in an interview with cover model Oliva Wilde, I read the second instance. Wilde, an actress, is talking about how she never wanted to become a journalist like her parents, Leslie and Andrew Cockburn. She goes on to say, “I can’t tell you how profound it’s been to realize that [my mother] is so within me…She’s gorgeous, and she taught me that a real feminist doesn’t apologize for her beauty. You can be a sexy, gorgeous woman, and be the smartest person in the room. (p. 186)”

Several things about these quotes made me smile. First, Glamour is interviewing smart women who unabashedly use the F-word. Second, by saying “if you were a feminist dude” Maddow raises the idea that feminism is open to everyone. It’s said casually, and in a positive tone that I hope will help readers of the magazine accept the idea of feminism in all forms (if they don’t already).

Finally, Wilde is a different type of role model for young feminists. She is reconciling the different parts of one’s self and saying you don’t have to look or act a certain way (or it’s okay if you do) to be a feminist. For readers who might think being feminists means giving up dresses and nail polish, I think Olivia subtly changes that perception.

Perhaps both of these mentions are incidental, but I found it encouraging and refreshing to read about these two women and see in print that they’re not afraid to speak honestly about feminism.

For everyone else’s posts about feminists in the media, check out the FFB blog.


Filed under Feminism

Guest Blogger: Deb of Real Girl Runway

I’m Deb of Real Girl Runway and I’m so happy to be guest blogging here today on Jean of all Trades.  Jean and I have arranged to switch blogs today through the Feminist Fashion Bloggers group.  Make sure to check out Jean’s post on my blog here.

I am so fortunate that I’ve had so many wonderful women who’ve influenced my life and my style.  When it comes to fashion, some of my biggest influences came from my family.  I come from a long line of stylish women.  My Mom has amazing personal style as does my Aunt.  I love looking at pictures of my family from bygone eras.

Long Necklace

My mom always encouraged me to be myself.  She is a very classic dresser but I’ve always been a more on the adventurous side.  She suffered through my crazy punk, 80’s teen years, full of crazy combinations, studs and spiked hair.  Even if Mom didn’t like something that I was wearing, she always had something positive to say.  She helped me to refine my personal style and to be unique but appropriate for all occasions.  She taught me everything I know about remixing.  When we would shop and I’d find an item I loved, her first question was always, what else do you have that you can wear that with?  She encouraged me to stretch my dollar and taught me how to bargain shop.


One of the most important fashion lessons my mom ever taught me was how to walk in heels.  When she bought me my first pair of heels, she made me practice.  She explained about the ways to walk gracefully and take smaller strides.  She showed me that clomping and stomping in heels just looked clumsy and not pretty.  It’s a lesson that’s stayed with me my entire life.  I’m not a petite Sarah Jessica Parker size. Learning how to walk in heels as a tall, plus size girl was important.

I’ve learned so many great style lessons from the women in my family.  There are too many lessons to count but here are a few:

  • Fit is the most important thing.  If you can’t alter it yourself, find a good tailor.
  • When you buy an item, think of your closet and how you can mix and match it in the future.  Buyer’s remorse is never fun.
  • Great jewelry and accessories can make or break an outfit.
  • Take off your makeup every night and moisturize.
  • Always be yourself.  Expressing yourself through your clothes is a must.

Vintage items from My Mom

Some of my most cherished fashion pieces are accessories given to me by my Mom.  They are items that she has owned for many years and I always admired.  I’ve worn some of them in my posts.  I remember Mom carrying her gold Whiting & Davis bag to parties when I was very young.  I always loved it and was so excited when she gave it to me.  Every time I wear something that belonged to her, it brings back wonderful memories.  The items that she’s given me are wonderful but the lessons are priceless.


Filed under Fashion, Feminism

Money Changes Everything

This month’s FFB group post is about Finance, Fashion, and Feminism. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts.

Money. It’s the root of all evil. It’s time (or is time money?). It can’t buy you happiness. There are lots of quotes and advice about money. Here’s what I know: Money changes everything.

Yes, that’s the title of a Cyndi Lauper song (originally performed by The Brains but popularized by Lauper). Have a listen when you get a chance.

I learned a lesson about money when I was about five years old. I’d seen my dad leave the house every day to go to work, and I saw him pay for things. He gave my mom money to buy things (she worked too, but my dad made more and that’s what affected me as a child), he bought things, he bought things for me.

Sign me up! One day, I put on my dad’s corduroy shorts, his short-sleeved plaid shirt, an old pair of his glasses frames, and even his giant shoes. I must have looked hilarious. But I took it a step further: I carried an old wallet and got my mom to put some money in it. We went to the mall, where I had her call me “Doug.” I paid for everything that day. And I was hooked. I’ve been wearing the proverbial pants ever since. Please don’t analyze that scenario! Freud would have a heyday with it. But I digress.

Money is freedom. I’m not really a materialistic or greedy person, but I know the value of money. I’ve worked since I was 12. Babysitting, short-order cook, retail sales, you name it. I worked through university, and still do. I don’t live to work, but earning money is a safety net. I’ve built a career in a field that I enjoy and that pays far above the national average.

Earning my own money protects me. I’ve seen women have to ask to buy things or hide purchases from their husbands. Not me. I have my own money and manage my own finances. If I buy shoes, my husband doesn’t complain. If he buys drinks for the entire restaurant, who cares? We have one joint account for common expenses, such as mortgage and the phone bill. That’s it. The rest we keep separate. That doesn’t work for all couples, but it works for us.

I also feel that earning power is important for other reasons. I understand compound interest and the value of investing and I’m planning for my future. I like to shop, but I also like to be thrifty and look for sales and second-hand clothing. Fashions change; money is always in style.

I can speak my mind without worrying about getting cut off (I know some people who can’t disagree with their parents or spouses for fear of losing an income stream). I have an emergency fund in case I get injured, sick or laid off. Extra money also means I can leave a job if I have to (and I have). If I’m not being treated right, I don’t have to put up with it.

I’m lucky to have never been in situation where I had to flee my partner, but without money, it wouldn’t be easy to get out and on my own.

Understanding money, having a financial safety net, and making money are feminist actions. The majority of people in the world who live in poverty are women. Now that’s a complex issue for another post, but it drives home the importance of education, equality, and financial independence.

When women have rights and opportunities, they become better educated and in turn contribute to their own success and the success of their communities. They also have better access to family planning and are less likely to live in poverty. Raising children, while important and noble, is a huge financial burden that often sets women back financially. Child-rearing can often interrupt education and careers, and it’s expensive. The need for financial security is even more important for women who raise families.

Women are often paid less than men and are discriminated against in the workplace. 70% of the world’s poor are women. And even right here in the US, over half of Americans living in poverty are women. There are twice as many women over 65 living in poverty as men.

It sounds grim, and it is. But arming ourselves with education and a financial safety net is a good start. Then, we need to continue to fight for equal pay, access to high-paying jobs, affordable child care, available contraceptives, and support and protection from violence—for ourselves and all of our sisters. Simple!



Filed under Feminism, General