It’s the Dress

barbara bush gownI’ve been watching the Inaugural Day festivities every year since Camelot. Sometimes I was rooting for the man of the hour, sometimes just hoping things would go well under him. Reagan seemed so jaunty and familiar; it made me believe all would be well in his term of office. (Pity the air traffic controllers who he soon fired! Pity those early victims of AIDS! Little did they sense what was coming – or in the second case wasn’t coming. (Attention. Help. Federal dollars.)

I felt the same with George Bush the younger, though I did wonder why Dick Cheney wouldn’t sing along to the national anthem. ‘What’s the deal with this guy?’ I remember wondering, long before the man’s ways and beliefs became familiar to us all.

I do enjoy watching it all. And like millions of us, I just love seeing the gowns.

The gown of Barbara Bush’s alone, worn by Bush Senior’s first lady, a lavish velvet edifice that is so ’80s’ you expect Molly Ringwald to open a little door  in the skirt area and step out of it!  That’s it up top. And how about Mary Todd Lincoln’s, immediately below? What I wouldn’t give to have that in our attic closet with 30 years of clothing and dress-up accessories!

mary todd lincoln gown

These deep rich blues seem like a popular color for January when the world is gone to shades of white and pigeon-grey. Hillary never looked lovelier in hers, from ’93.

hillary gown 1993But how gorgeous are the pales ones too. Like Lady Bird Johnson’s

lady bird gownAnd  Rosalynn Carter’s, speaking of Camelot. I had a bathrobe in the ’70s that looked just like this – or wait, maybe it was my wedding gown – but how cool is it that this was the SECOND time she wore this dress. Those Carters! Way ahead of the rest of us!

rosalyn carter gownOf course our current First Lady had one a real stunner four years ago, a dress that only a woman so obviously lean and toned could get away with wearing :

Michelle ObamaI can’t wait to see what she has on tonight!

And now for some Inauguration Day trivia, who is this First Lady, who wore birthday-cake pink for her gown? Way to go with that hunky date too!

she should never have gone to bangs


WHAT are we thinking?

from liz to angelinaI was looking at this ad here for People Magazine and all I could think was WHAT has happened to our standards of female beauty?

Look at Liz with those creamy shoulders and collarbones that just barely show under that satiny drape of flesh.

Then look at Angelina whose whole rotator cuff is on display, never mind just her clavicles.

Look at the difference in their upper arms!

I don’t know about you but I’ll be happy when the pendulum swings the OTHER way a bit.

Here is Angelina in evening wear. You could slice cheese with the blade of that humerus – right through her skin!

skinny arms on angelinaAnd here is Liz dressed the same way. Who looks better to you, hmmm? And who would you rather get a hug from?

liz taylor zaftig


And a Voice emerged from the crowd saying to the Prophet, “Speak to us of Speedos, Master!” And the Prophet answered saying,

“The person brought for the first time into the presence of the Speedo  at first startleth and turneth away, surprised at what a complicated structure hath been devised, not by the folks at Thpeedo, but by Nature herthelf. (Ack! Cough! There. That’s better.)

“Nature, Who causeth the mountains to shout to another over the plain and sometimes even throw rocks.

“Nature, Who maketh the trees to toss their long branches like unto crazed young girls at rock concerts, thus frightening the birds for hectares in all directions.

“Lo, even Nature,  Who hath devised the means for  the fat little birds to cling to their tree  branches, even while sleeping; which hath devised the means for The Great Large Birds With Funny Eyes to snatch The Rabbit from her clover dinner quicker than thou canst say ‘Holy Crap what was that?’

“On the body of Woman, the organs of increase are largely out of sight and yes, thanks very much the Prophet knoweth very well that he borroweth from Shakespeare when he uses that phrase. He also enjoys referring to himself in the third person and tough luck if thou dost not approve. (How many books hast thou sold? Serf?!)

“I tell you, Nature hath hidden The Woman’s complicated workings behind a magic curtain such as can be seen in the puppet shows on old Mister Rogers Neighborhood episodes. “But on THE MAN’S body it is a whole other thing:

On the body of MAN, it is All Right Out There In The Shop Window so to speak, and that being the case, this piece of men’s gear is just TRUTH IN ADVERTISING.

All these things have I said to you this day. Now please someone fetch me a beach towel. I believe I’ll Speedo up too and strut along the strand a bit myself.

Lemmings, & Ban-Tights-as-Pants?

Somebody commented yesterday on the post I did about how people do love to express themselves in their dress.  “Judging by what I see in public, teenagers dress to say, ‘Here’s who they are – and I’m like them!’”

It’s true. Go to the mall and there they are that certain segment of teen girls, middle schoolers especially, dressed alike down to the least particular. In winter it’s all Uggs all the time, and those pajama-bottom-looking sweatpants with writing on the fanny.

Or else it’s Uggs with tights, which is a great mistake.

In fact there’s a whole website devoted to what a mistake it is to wear tights as if they were pants.  Here is it’s manifesto:

Let’s be clear: The wearing of tights as pants is an abomination.


Sure, in the context of sports, ballet, hair metal and Renaissance fairs, tights function as suitable leg coverings but still:


No, these are not activities that transform tights into pants; these are historically acceptable acts of pantlessness.

Tights as pants leave nothing to the imagination.

Tights as pants are an affront to those of us who prefer not to know the most intimate details of our neighbors’ bodies.

Tights as pants are the fashion equivalent of


This gratuitous divulgence of assets repels where the tights-as-pants wearer presumably hopes to entice.

We have tired of attempts to force tights into general use as outerwear it concludes and have decided to do something about it.

I didn’t click on the link to SEE what they are doing about. You can do that if you like.

I’ll settle for closing with this harvested-from-Google-Images picture, worth a thousand words as the fella said. (Poor girl! You just never know who’s going to point a camera at you next. I hope she doesn’t recognize herself.)

Express Yaself

Once, young guys wore briefs and old guys wore boxers. Now it’s just the opposite. Once, it was sailors on boozy shore-leave who got tattoos. Now, even kids in braces and Marching Band uniforms get them. Customs change.

Girls still saunter around with vast crescents of flesh showing between their tops and their pants even though the fashion mag I just read in line at the pharmacy says it’s not ‘classy’ to do this.

People have a wish to expresses themselves, that’s all. This is who I am,” is all they’re hoping to say.

I have a 20-something friend who dresses in a kilt when he’s of a mind to, and he certainly doesn’t do THAT to shock anyone. Yes, he studied the bagpipes once, but he’s also an Eagle Scout, a wilderness survival guy and an EMT. Oh and the computer hasn’t been invented that he can’t get to sit up and beg. So try pigeonholing HIM, you know?

It was back in the mid-90s when our oldest got a tattoo and I can tell you that very few young women were doing that at the time, especially among the other double-Econ-and-Religion majors there at Wellesley College. As I recall, her dad had something to say when he heard about plans for this species of personal ornamentation. “Well, you’ll never get a job in the corporate world!” he told her tartly.

“Oh Dad, I’m not going into the corporate world!” I remember her saying with a big smile. “I’m going to head up a federal agency!”

“But why is she DOING it?” this mate of mine asked the ceiling later.

Neither of us knew – until she came back from that trip with her best college pal Sarah and saw it. The tattoo that encircled her arm just above the elbow was the same daisy-chain pattern of the wedding ring of her grandmother, recently deceased. She had carefully made a pen-and-ink sketch of the ring’s design and brought it with her to Nevada.

So she didn’t get it because of any fashion; she got it it as a symbol of something important to her.

Also I will say these many years later, she DID join the corporate world, MBA in hand. And her equally tattooed best pal Sarah is now in Infectious Disease doc at a prestigious Boston hospital.

So maybe we have to look at all fashions as mere avenues for people to express themselves.

Thoreau said it: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him put on the undies he likes, however tailored or hanging down. 🙂

Here is the girl today with that her grandmother’s wedding ring pattern and her new baby girl.

They’re Secret Ed Grimleys, That’s Why

Somebody had a comment on my post about shoulder pads, asking why you never hear about padding in men’s suits – to which I say yeah, why DON’T you ever hear about men’s shoulder padding, without which most guys would look like Martin Short’s Ed Grimley from Saturday Night Live. Or like this guy at the left here?

They need those suit jackets to look strong and mighty. If men just went around in their shirt sleeves like this guy you wouldn’t give a nickel for them. They’d just remind you of Ashley Wilkes from Gone With the Wind, and you know HE wasn’t the one sweeping Scarlett off her feet like old Rhett Butler did and why? An insufficiency about the shoulders.

Maybe that was a lesson to everyone who saw the movie. Maybe that’s why in every decade since it came out in 1939, shoulder pads have been very much in evidence.

They were in the 30s:

In the 1940s too, as seen in this family grouping where a couple of members appear to have lost their heads:

The styles remained similar in the 1950s and 1960s though what’s going on with the coquettish look and the barely suppressed smirk between these two at the airport? What’s the REAL story behind that glimpse of the lady’s dainty washables?

It’s true men’s fashions took a strange turn in the 70s….

but then they returned to form and stayed there…

Pretty convincing proof if you ask me: Guys’ and their egos just need padding – what else was the codpiece for? And now Ed Grimley himself, natural shoulders and all:

Shoulder Pads Forever

You can never go wrong talking fashion. Even if it’s just fashions in bras like we were saying yesterday, everybody’s got an opinion, right down to the babies, who never miss a chance to plunge their tiny hands down the front of your low-necked top.

Now let’s have a show of hands, speaking of hands: Who misses those awesome shoulder pads of the 1980s that were nothing but a revival of the shoulder pads of the 1940s?

I still wear the coat my mother wore as part of her ‘going away outfit’ as they used to call the post-nuptial ensemble. I have seen only one 40-second film of her and that mystery father of mine on their wedding day, coming down the stone steps at Longwood Towers where the reception was held.

I bet I’ve watched those 40 seconds a million times.There are no pictures of that snowy day; the photographer just never got there.

Mom had donned what she always referred to as a cerise-colored suit with pencil skirt and peplumed jacket under that black wool coat with its persian lamb lining. I found the coat in the attic of our childhood home after she died. The fur had deteriorated but I had it relined in heavy black satin and I wear it to this day, in part because even way back in the ’90s my kids were already slyly approaching me and trying to remove….. my SHOULDER PADS!

“But I need shoulder pads to symmetrisize my hips!” (That was my word for it: symmetrisize.)

“I need some bulk up at the here!” I told my girl Carrie who was rowing Crew in college at the time.

Her response: “Build up your delts.”

And so I have done.

Slowly slowly slowly, day by the day at the Y, in a group Strength class where the sight of others keep me going.

It’s a good system. Because aware as I am of the fact that shoulder pads are O-U-T out I still like them. And this way I get to wear ’em on the inside where NO ONE can take them away heh heh.

Pretty soon with all the working out I’ll look like this… It’s kind of a Power Ranger look. I like it (all but the petulant scowl.)