About Me

[1] I have a friend who grew up with three brothers. He tells me he did not know the difference between a dress and a skirt until he started college. He thought the words were synonyms. Synonyms for what exactly, I don’t know. When I shared this with my husband, he said, “What is the difference? Is a skirt the one that’s a half?” [back to post]

[2] Each specific prohibition in the dress code (sample: no mesh shirts) clearly represents a transgression. Thus, the dress code can be read as a type of chronology. [back to post]

About this Blog

[1] By “staid professions,” I mean law, business, insurance and accounting – as opposed to the “creative professions” of art, architecture, advertising, and design. [back to post]

[2] The New York Times reported on blogger burnout in 2014, When Blogging Becomes a Slog, profiling the authors of Young House Love. I haven’t even launched this blog and I’m already a little tired. [back to post]

Like Mother, Like Daughter

[1] The summer after I finished college, I remember asking her opinion about a gingham suit (jacket and pants) and she told me that it looked like The Music Man. She was absolutely right. Gingham suit?! That’s trouble with a capital T. Fortunately, I was seeking her opinion in the store dressing room and not after making a purchase.[back to post]

[2] In case you’re wondering, my mother never dressed us in matching, or even coordinated, outfits when I was a child. To her, it would have been unthinkable. [back to post]

The Virtues of Patent Leather

[1] These beliefs could be totally wrong, so you may want to consult an authority on the maintenance and care of leather. When caught in the rain, I’ve observed water beading on my patent leather shoes and bags; I dry them off as soon as I’m inside and they’ve suffered no damage. I’m not saying I’d put them in the wash. [back to post]

[2] I love this book. Amazon reviewers are a little mixed: many big fans, but a minority of readers were deeply offended by dated or classist advice. Personally, I read the book with great enjoyment. I found much of the advice very good, and had no trouble shrugging off the parts that had no application to my life. [back to post]

The Conversation-Stopping Necklace

[1] According to my college dictionary (which was actually my father’s college dictionary), nonplussed (adj.) means being in “a condition of perplexity in which one is unable to go, speak, or act further.” I also consulted the Oxford Dictionaries on-line, and found nonplussed has a new, recently-added alternate meaning: “not disconcerted; unperturbed.” That’s right: the alternate meaning, which Oxford Dictionaries ascribes to “informal” usage, is the opposite of the primary meaning. That’s not informal use, it’s misuse, and a dictionary should know the difference.  [back to post]

Fifty Cent Dress

[1] In case you are wondering, the business side of this atelier was a challenge; there weren’t many little girls in the neighborhood to sell these clothes to. Fortunately, the material was free and the labor didn’t exact any significant opportunity costs. [back to post]

[2] Steep inflation during the 1970s did force several price increases and over time, and before we lost all interest in dolls, the 50 Cent Dress cost $1.25.  [back to post]

First Restatement of Business Casual

[1] I generally wear Stringent Casual Monday through Wednesday. Friday, I wear jeans — except in the summer, when I often wear a sundress. Thursday (which I refer to, in my head, as “Free-fall Thursday”) is the bridge between the two; I wear Lax Casual then. Sometimes I even wear khakis. [back to post]

The Case for Being Well-Dressed

[1] You are keen to aesthetics if, when passing through a public space — say, the Dupont Circle Metro Station — you take note of its design and silently approve or lament the choices made there. (Metro! So many browns, not in harmony.) You are acutely sensitive to aesthetics if you arrange your groceries in pleasing still-lifes on the conveyor belt while waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket. You have a problem if you rush to arrange your groceries in pleasing arrangements while the clerk waits for you. I fall into this last group.  [back to post]

The Virtues of White Blouses

[1] After reading Home Comforts, I asked a friend to buy Laundry for my next birthday. When my birthday arrived, she said, “I bought that book for you, but then I returned it — because I didn’t want to feed into your madness.” Fortunately, I’d made the suggestion to more than one person, and someone else delivered. [back to post]

Summer Casual

[1] The Economist ran a funny piece last winter about a Twitter feed called “Florida Man” — a persona that tweets links to the Sunshine State’s media coverage of bizarre misdeeds and crimes attributed to “a Florida man.” In trying to understand why Florida men are over-represented in the news of the weird, the Economist talked to people who’ve been reporting in Florida for years. Edna Buchanan, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Miami Herald, blamed the heat, remembering murders that were sparked by “fights over which member of the family gets the seat closest to the fan.”  [back to post]

Soft Pants v. Hard Pants

[1] I flew from Washington D.C. to Kauai’i in 2005 — a long flight with a brief layover in Los Angeles.  The Washingtonians disembarked in jeans, khakis and trousers.  The Los Angelenos boarded and it looked like every one of them — man, woman and child — was wearing a track suit.  I was amazed by their relaxed conformity; I had never seen so many people (outside of watching the Olympic opening ceremonies on TV) wearing the same thing. [back to post]

[2] As with so many good things, I see the government’s fine hand behind this progress.  So many technological innovations have their roots in research funded by the military and textiles are no exception.  Soldiers need uniforms, parachutes and tents. [back to post]

[3] Male resistance to structured pants appears to be taking root at earlier ages, as Dionne Searcey reported in the New York Times last week. Jeans? Some Boys Shout, “No Way!”[back to post]

Needs a Bracelet

[1] I just had an idea that is so revolutionary I am practically blowing my own mind.  I am going to take that brooch to a jeweler and see if he can remove the pin and replace it with a magnet.  If it’s a strong magnet, the attraction should hold through a velvet blazer, right?  Stay tuned.
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[2] For me and my beloved college room-mate, “David Yurman” has become shorthand for inconstancy.  I told her years ago that I didn’t like David Yurman jewelry. The rope motif that ran through the line struck me as heavy, masculine and repetitive. But the look grew on me, until one day, I was a fan — and the owner of a dozen pieces. So, now when I express a distaste for something, Megan will say, “Is this going to be like the time you said you hated David Yurman and the next time I saw you, you were covered in it?”  Yeah, Megan, maybe it will.  [back to post]

Tin Man

{1] My grasp on even the basics of Star Trek is very weak. My husband had lunch with Marc Okrand, the linguist who created the Klingon language for the Star Trek franchise, on February 27, which also happened to be day that Leonard Nimoy died. I said to my husband that evening, “Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence that you met the inventor of Klingon on the day Dr. Spock died?” My husband tactfully wiped his face clean of expression and said in a gentle voice, “Well . . . first, it’s Mr. Spock. Dr. Spock is the famous pediatrician. And second, Mr. Spock was a Vulcan, not a Klingon.” I tried! Leonard Nimoy, by all accounts, led a well-lived life: recovered alcoholic, devoted father, beloved colleague, supporter of the arts, philanthropist, and tolerant (if somewhat rueful and bemused) pop culture icon. On the subject of linguistics (Klingon!): I highly recommend In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent, which is delightful exploration of language and the human impulse (which apparently is both irrepressible and doomed) to try to devise better languages than those we already have. [back to post]

April Showers Preparedness

[1] There is something undeniably elegant about wearing a silk scarf that coordinates with your coat just while you are going to and fro. Remember in the movie Charade, when Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) arrives at her apartment in Paris, prepared to tell her husband Charles that she wants a divorce? And she discovers that Charles is gone . . . along with everything in their apartment. Everything. The furniture is gone, the walls are bare, the closets are empty. And as she walks (and then runs) from room to room, trying to make sense of the scene — doubtless recalling that she had just been telling Sylvie that everything with Charles was secrets and lies — she unbuttons her coat and removes a silk scarf from her neck. Her life is collapsing, but she looks so chic. If you haven’t seen Charade, you must. It’s Stanley Donen’s third most charming movie — right after Singin’ in the Rain and Funny Face. You might also enjoy Jonathan Demme’s remake, The Truth About Charlie, in which Thandie Newton recreates the scene. [back to post]

The Virtues of Large Scarves

[1] Apparently, no one truly catches a chill. It’s Health Myth No. 1 according to this review of Don’t Swallow Your Gum in the New York Times. [back to post]

[2] The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, of course. The things they know about the way we die (and injure ourselves) are amazing. It might take them 15-18 months to complete their analysis, but I have no doubt they would lay a rash of scarf-related injuries at my doorstep. [back to post]

SpringSummer Bag

[1] You may wonder why am I using the singular-plural indefinite form? Because, on the one hand, I don’t want to suggest that owning numerous handbags for each season is either typical or desirable. But on the other, I don’t want to create the impression that I only have one bag for winter and one bag for summer. I have a number of bags. But I don’t have lots of shoes! And I take public transportation to work![back to post]

A Micro-Poll to Celebrate the 50th Post

[1] While Harper and Posy have spent years validating the work of Sir Isaac Newton (First Law of Motion, Law of Universal Gravitation), there are credentialed physicists studying cats. If Harper and Posy could read, I am sure they would be pleased.
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[2] Nominations for the Nobel Prize in Physics are accepted only from persons invited to make nominations. While there is nothing explicitly excluding cats from consideration, the committee has never given the prize to a cat. There is also nothing explicitly excluding women from consideration, yet only two women have received this honor since the prize was first announced in 1901. Hmmmmmm.
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Voting with Your Wallet

[1] If you haven’t seen the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskill’s novel, North & South, you now have plans for the weekend. It’s set against the backdrop of a textile mill in Victorian England but has everything: drama, romance, suspense (a little), a proposal that goes horribly sideways (worse than Mr. Darcy’s), and even a beautiful musical score. See Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) play an improbably foxy union organizer (Nicholas Higgins) — and he’s not even the romantic lead. Every day that you don’t watch this is a day you are depriving yourself of a significant treat.[back to post]

When Work Goes to the Pool

[1] If you read the Anne of Green Gables series as a child, you may now recall one of L.M. Montgomery’s most hilarious secondary characters, Cornelia Bryant, who is Anne’s neighbor when she moves to Four Winds Harbor (Anne’s House of Dreams). Miss Cornelia is an unmarried woman whose age I would guess is between 40 and 50; all of her conversations are peppered with the most withering stories about men who live in their village and conclude with the summation, “Isn’t that just like a man?” Miss Cornelia is not, however, a man-hater and eventually does marry — but remains resolute that almost any type of irrational, inconsiderate, ridiculous, stupid, or self-indulgent behavior is just like a man.[back to post]

In YOOX We Trust

[1] Any mention of past-season clothes brings to mind the discussion of Worth dresses in The Age of Innocence. Over dinner, Newland’s mother lamented the change in times, where women “flaunt their Paris fashions as soon as they were out of the Custom House, rather than letting them mellow under lock and key, in the manner of Mrs. Archer’s contemporaries.” Apparently, the women of New York society (c. 1850) laid their French dresses aside for a season while Bostonians (more conservative in this regard) put their advanced fashions away for two years . . . because “it was considered vulgar to dress in the newest fashions.” Oh no. Edith Wharton’s masterpiece is one of my all-time favorite books and if you like a little authentic heartache in your entertainments, and haven’t read it, you will not be disappointed. I also love Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation. [back to post]

[2] If you like mysteries and are looking for recommendations, my favorites are (in no particular order): Josephine Tey (although I have a little crush on Inspector Alan Grant, the best ones — Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair — are one-offs in which he does not figure); Sarah Caudwell (even if we never learn whether Professor Hilary Tamar is a man or a woman); Louise Penny (erudite, father-figure Inspector Armand Gamache, set in the Quebec province of Canada); and Dorothy Sayers (but only the ones with Harriet Vane). Also, I love the first two Lady Julia Grey mysteries by Deanna Raybourn.[back to post]