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Notes from the Soggy Underground

Four seemingly unrelated observations that consumed my soggy journey home tonight. (No doubt a Jungian scholar could tease out a few useful connections.) 1. Regarding John Travolta’s nonresponse to “Going Clear,” I’d love it if just once a zombie-celeb actually read or watched some criticism of Scientology before rushing to the defense of their cult. 2. Umbrella, subway, smartphone, tipping, and sidewalk etiquette certification should be required of all NYC residents and visitors. 3. This spring’s fashion can best be described as Blade Runner Chic. It’s all futuristic noir, 1940s-style punk, Victorian blouses, white-blond shocks of hair, dark pompadours, impossibly narrow silhouettes, bright lips, black-rimmed eyes, platform shoes. I dig it all so much that I cut my hair and bought (more) red lipstick. 4. I’m still laughing about people’s responses to the shearing of my mermaid tresses: “Your hair was far too long before.” Even my shrink said this. Word to Mattel: Can the plans for Fortysomething Barbie.

Flotsam, Meet Jetsam

It’s that time of year. I have all these fashion topics I want to discuss and feel guilty for wanting to discuss them. On the list: my newfound love of lacy Victorian blouses (especially paired with leather skirts); my lust for thick white platform sandals despite how they make feet look bandaged by an overzealous World War I nurse; my deep relief that flares are coming back in style (skinny jeans make people look like they have a load in their diapers); my new appreciation for florals with a dark background (used to hate’em); my abiding love of bold pastels and Brazilian prints and YSL and red lipstick and striped socks and enormous earrings and pencil skirts and trench coats and ponchos and crisp white shirts; my abiding hatred for rich-girl hair and fringed jackets and the color mustard and crop tops and boxy blazers and flat black Nikes and jumpsuits (even overalls), not to mention tattoos and piercings anywhere but the ear (there, I said it); my deep impatience with the resurgence of ’90s fashion (it was drab and unflattering then, it’s drab and unflattering now); my raging internal debate about whether to cut my hair to my shoulders; my admiration of women who go grey (and my unwillingness to do so myself).

Of course, beneath this magazine-lady maelstrom lurk hopes that only a long-awaited spring can spark: fancies of bare legs and dinners al fresco and first kisses (and fucks). When the weather finally brightens like it did today, it’s possible to imagine a love to fit all the pretty dresses in the world.

Rain and Rubies

You know you’re a writer at heart when you’re relieved it’s raining. I’d have complained to the high heavens had it snowed but a sunshiney Saturday would have made me feel just as bad, if also foolish. All I want to do is curl up with another Helena Rubenstein biography and write a section of the larger project gathering dust on my desk. If my city were still the Audrey Hepburn movie it’s been all week long (radiant smiles, radiant sun), I’d have felt too much pressure to carpe diem to actually carpe diem as I wished. Now if I venture out at all, it’ll be to catch that Helena exhibit one more time before it leaves the Jewish Museum March 22. Purples and reds; Polish rubies and art deco ivories; a rainbow of self-portraits and silks. What better weapons to stow in the imagination’s arsenal? Anyway, I am the scion of another enterprising Polish Ruby (my great-grandmother Masha Rubenfire ruled boudoirs rather than vanity tables), and I like to think she and Helena live in the same tree, impatiently shaking fruit at we grown children stumbling through this world without them. Tucking that bounty into my skirts is the only properly grateful thing to do.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy