Tag Archives: fashion

The Tribe of the Giant Bags

I need someone to explain to me a trend in the fashionably accessorized…

What is with the ginormous bags?!? They’re huge. You could, I expect, carry not only toiletries, phone, wallet, and car keys in one, but possibly a full wardrobe change, several firearms, and a positive menagerie of pets. Maybe that is it? It is like a new version of homeless chic. You may not be able to afford a place to live after purchasing that Coach bag, but you won’t really need a place to hang your hat… or pants… or anything because it all fits in the bag. Doesn’t matter if you look like a staggering hunchback due to the imbalanced weight dangling from one shoulder or the other… you are en vogue!

I looked up the word “purse” in the dictionary. I ignored the part about the lips being drawn together to express displeasure or irritation (but I could see how discomfort might come into the issue with some of these bags). The definition that pertains in this instance is “a small bag used especially by a woman to carry everyday personal items.” Who needs that much stuff every day while out?!? Holy cowhide! Look at this gal. I’m fairly certain that if that bag actually contained anywhere near the material to fill it, it would outweigh her.

I have referred to myself as an accessory moron, but if there is one area in which I am even more of an imbecile, it would be with regards to handbags, purses, clutches, evening bags… I am not only uninformed, I am totally uninterested. The most likely outcome of me carrying some sort of luggage would be that I totally forget to take it with me and leave it hanging on a chair, in a chair, on a table, under the table… you get the idea. I am not of the mindset to carry my belongings in a stylish receptacle. In fact, I’m likely not to carry a receptacle at all, stylish or not. The only exception is for situations like conferences or travel when I might have a carry-on or utility backpack that is capable of housing all the necessities, but more often to stow the various items and information gathered at booths and tables and vendors along the way. Even so, what do I really need to have with me? I honestly cannot imagine requiring on my person while walking freely about town enough stuff to require the space of a large attaché or small suitcase.

However, that is not so much the issue as  the question of why do purses now resemble luggage? I mean, seriously, I remember a time when purses of the larger variety were restricted to individuals who carried the necessity of changing an infant or toddler (aka, the diaper bag) or to those individuals of an uncertain age (aka, grandma bag). You know what I’m talking about, because mother’s who are trying to travel or just run errands with accompanying offspring cannot do so without many parcels  and items that the rest of us generally don’t require (snacks, drinks, activities, diapers, wet wipes, pack and play cribs, physical restraints…). As for grandma, I never did understand all that. There might be wallet or billfold, checkbook, glasses, tissues (in varying states of use…ew), a collection of candy, gum, and cough drops, hair brush, hair spray, compact (with or without make up)… houseplants and maybe a floor lamp… The words “Just a moment, I have it in my purse…” were generally guaranteed to foreshadow a 20-30 minute archeological dig through a voluminous shoulder bag.

So, when did this become fashionable? I suppose technology can assume part of the blame as people seem more and more incapable of functioning without a laptop or tablet that might be larger than a pocket or clutch. Without the accompanying larger devices though, I’m baffled. I’ve seen young… young people squealing at non-human decibel and frequency over gargantuan constructions designed, I’m certain, to hold most of their worldly goods. What are they actually doing? If they pack the thing to its capacity, they are likely to cause significant and permanent spinal deformity that would draw pity from Quasimodo. You cannot convince me it is necessary for the individual who can actually afford the monstrosity to carry everything she owns, unless… maybe that is it. Due to the cost of fashion, the purchaser is no longer able to afford lodgings and is forced to convey their possessions and all necessities with them at all times? Has our world and society become such that all inhabitants should have a bug-out bag with them at all times? Maybe they actually live in there? Now that would be a trick. I might actually take up the habit of carrying some sort of baggage when they manage to harness some sort of mystical force or scientific breakthrough to create Timelord type technology that makes it bigger enough on the inside for me to crawl into it or possibly a bag of holding capable of also serving as my residence. At that point, we can talk. Until then (and without chiropractic services on retainer), I’m pretty certain that I shan’t be able to join the tribe of the giant bags.

Rock the body…


I believe I have spoken of my own fashion despairs in the past. I am an accessory moron, and I will likely never quite grasp the aspects of chic.

I can recall pouring over the various fashion magazines and teen tomes that addressed all the latest when I was actually of an age to start exploring my own personal style. I even followed certain fads and fashion trends back in the day… I will spare you the mental images of me in the 80’s, but suffice to say I tried my hand at a variety of different looks. However, I have to admit that no matter what I did, I can say with some amounts of confidence that it always carried the aspects of someone going to a fancy-dress party rather than any style that I could own as mine.

Through the years, I’ve actually been told that I have the stature and build that can get away with following the trends. Be that as it may, I always feel when I try to embrace the fashions that I see displayed on so many others that I am a set of clothes walking about the world with a dowdy frump of a woman hidden inside. Or worse, the cute outfits on little petite things, and I try them and look like the linebacker from the football team in drag… yeah. It never feels comfortable the way my rattiest jeans and t-shirt do.

All that said… I do have an eye for these things. I see looks and outfits and general styles that appeal to me. I find them looking sharp and smart and wish that I could wear it myself with the same aplomb as the model or my friends and colleagues who manage it so well. I observe the writhing humanity about me on a regular basis and recognize that some of them obviously struggle with this as much or more than I do. I have to admire some of them for the bravery they espouse by merely trying to exhibit the fashions of the day. And then… I am also very certain that there are people who must not possess a mirror, or at least, they’ve never actually gazed upon their own image after dressing. I know, it’s catty and horrid and possibly engaging in the shaming of some type or other… but seriously… let me preach on it.

As I have said, I spent a good deal of time in my teens and adolescence trying out the latest trends. What all that playing about with fashion taught me was that just because something is the latest thing doesn’t mean that it is meant for my body. For instance, pleated jeans and tapered legs were all the rage at one time, but I assure you… NO ONE LOOKS GOOD IN THEM. That diamond shape that is created by the “mom jean” and little skinny ankle cuffs is not flattering to any body. And don’t get me started on skinny jeans… Additionally, while I do not think that you have to always “act your age” as they say, and people can stay young by acting young… there are limits, people. There is such a thing as dignity, and no matter what they say and how physically fit you are, no one should be wearing a micro-mini in their 40’s. In fact, I would say that to be perceived as an elegant and sophisticated individual, the whole miniskirt phenomena should probably have left the wardrobe before the 30’s were in the rearview. There are exceptions and leniency for certain people who really do have the “rockin’ body,” but the problem becomes that the skin of our knees gives away our age and is not so very attractive no matter how well we try to maintain otherwise, and it sadly has not a thing to do with weight or fitness.

There is also, for me, the leggings argument. I’m going to say this once. LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Oh, I’ve seen the video of the gal who says “Well, they aren’t a shirt… or a hat…” Yeah, I get what you are saying. They go on the lower half of the body. That doesn’t make them pants. It just does not, anymore than my panties, tights, socks, or support stockings are. Just because you wear them on your legs and lower bits does not mean that they should be your external wear and exhibited to the general public. No one wants to see cameltoe or every dimple of cellulite in the hindquarters. And guys, unless you are with the Bolshoi or Met company… I do not want to be able to tell your religion by looking at your crotch. Invest in some support and wear some pants. Have a little common sense and modesty. Leggings are great for wearing under long sweaters and tunics and sometimes skirts (though, seriously watch that! The 80’s were not that flattering, remember). Running tights, bicycle shorts, yoga pants, and other sport bottoms are fine… at the gym or on the track or in the yoga studio. They really are not that attractive worn out in public.

There are people in the world that seem to look amazing in anything they throw on their body. It’s still not advisable to go to a black tie event or even a nice restaurant wearing stretch pants with an oversized sweater or your latest phenomenally expensive workout clothing purchase to a job interview (See TNC: Dress for Success). It just isn’t on. Have some respect for the occasions, the workplace, and most importantly yourself.

I do not care what shape you are in… or are not in for that matter. Just because Vogue exhibits models that occasionally look like they have just been rescued from the camps at Auschwitz does not mean that everyone should aspire to a body mass index closely approximating emaciation. Additionally, as foreign as the concept is to many of us… and definitely to myself… there are people who are embarrassed by the fact that they feel too skinny and just can’t gain weight. It happens people.

A lot of high fashion designers (I’m talking the haute couture stuff that would never be realistic anywhere but a runway) tend to sculpt their creations around forms that tend to resemble clothes hangers… the wire kind. It is just easier to make fabrics drape and show off the form of the costume rather than the form of a normal, and varied, human form. Which brings me back to where I was going originally. We all see things in advertisements and billboards, red carpet events televised and entertainment media. We like them. We wish we could emulate them, but most of the time, we are looking at people who have entirely different body types than the ones we currently possess (or are likely to possess at any given time). It’s the nature of the species to admire ideals and aspire to emulate, while often lacking the natural foundation approximating the type. It’s fine, honestly. Beauty and attractiveness and health actually occur in many different forms.

It is entirely possible to be stylish, smart, and fabulous without exactly replicating the fashion of a different body type. It merely requires throwing out the trendy expectations and evaluating what actually flatters your own shape. There are too many out there who are bound, bent, and determined to wear a look that does nothing but accentuate the negative (think bound and bent some more)… and in the end people notice nothing but the clothing because it is positively screaming, entirely missing the person wearing them. Regardless of what anyone thinks, this is not the attention or assumptions that you should want. There are others who give up on looking stylish because their bodies will never look like that of starlets and supermodels. Those souls tend to hide under clothing that once again, does absolutely nothing to exhibit the amazing qualities of the person wearing them. Clothing is like window treatment. It shouldn’t be the entire focus. It should merely accent and draw the eye to the view.

Sure, it might be easier to choose wardrobe if one has won the genetic lottery, but even if you don’t look like the latest runway angel, that doesn’t mean that you have to relegate yourself to the sackcloth and ashes line. Additionally, while pursuing physical fitness goals is great for health and can help with some wardrobe concerns, it doesn’t solve all problems (ask anyone who lifts or does body building about finding a shirt with long sleeves that doesn’t look like they might turn green and shred the material at any moment). No matter whether you’ve got a rockin’ body or not… Just remember to rock the body you got!

The New Cheese: Ballad of a wardrobe moron

I am accessory idiot. I admit this freely, but not without shame. I am a mature, educated, professional woman. I should be able to dress myself to impress (or at least not embarrass). However, I am severely deficient in any fashion sense or style. I can stare at a rack of accessories like a monkey doing a math problem and bring myself to near tears knowing that I will never appear to the advantage and picture of professional confidence that I see in so many of my colleagues in the world. I watch videos of remarkably clever ways to use scarves (that have nothing to do with 50 shades of anything). Even with all the tutorials in the world, I still manage to look like a homeless person who is a cross between the hangman’s victim and an overflowing laundry hamper.

I have gazed with envious eyes at my peers, friends, and (yes) rivals who seem to have that gift for putting together just the right outfit and look that says “See the confident, competent, professional/social, attractive individual… ME!” Instead, I always feel like my appearance say, “Look at me… I just got back from a lynching by Claire’s Boutique!”

It is not that I’m completely tasteless. I hope not, anyhow. I have picked out and assisted in wardrobe choices of others for their important event appearances to very positive outcome, but when I focus my skills upon my own person… Oh the humanity! It is a train wreck, truly. I’ve watched longingly the shows on various networks where fashion experts take some poor unfortunate soul and make them over to maximize their assets and camouflage the less than optimal facets of their figures with, of course, a few thousand dollars as a shopping budget.

Hell, they can keep their money if they would just take me and my aged, hoarder-like wardrobe in hand. Actually they could take the majority of it in hand and quickly transfer it to the trash or donation bin. In fact, if I remove the outdated, holey, and worn through, I’m left with the outfit in which I came into this world … not a pretty picture. Certainly, it is not suitable for business meetings… well, at least not my chosen field of business and none of the meetings I’ve been attending.

In addition to this, I’ve never had the gift that some women (and men) have of looking professional with long hair. You know what I am talking about… untidy bun of hair (not artistically messy), untamed wildness that looks like I just crawled out of bed no matter what I do, or hastily pulled back into a ponytail. My hair will defy any apparatus and all products. It will insist on expressing itself in what appears to be a collection of overgrown vines in the wilderness or a feral human analog. Mainly due to this unsightly and inconvenient characteristic, I keep my hair short. Very short. While there have been other contributing factors to the choice of my boyish hairdo (see The Breakfast Club), I find that I have a much better chance of appearing professional if my hair requires little to no effort on my part. As my hair does not currently lend itself to ornamentation and combined with my stature could appear a bit masculine, I try to enhance my femininity with appropriate jewelry and facial adornment (of the cosmetic variety, not piercings). My makeup tends to be subdued and natural, because the 80’s are over and were not particularly flattering when I was actually living through them. I try to enhance what I was given without appearing to be auditioning for Ringling Brothers. Jewelry is another of those strange issues for me, however. I cannot seem to become proficient in utilizing the various accoutrement of the bling bling.

I am of a rather large framework. I have been told that means that I should scale my accessories accordingly, but I honestly cannot seem to look at the outcome and not see a gypsy fortune teller in the sideshow. Everything looks too big, too gaudy… just too. I have, over the years picked up some beautiful pieces, but I’ve never been able to use them successfully in an ensemble. I get a brilliant idea for a look and assemble it with all the appropriate pieces. Upon looking in the mirror, I generally dismantle the whole caboodle in horror because I cannot bring myself to be seen in public. Another drawback of my stature is that I have to take particular care not to appear too massive or intimidating. Power suits that look phenomenal and so elegant on my more petite sisters in the business world can make me appear like an amazon warrior in a badly staged version of Victor/Victoria. Seriously, I have to be very cautious in the use of too much black or other intense colors. I want to get appropriate attention, not make everyone scurry in terror or hide under their desks.

Never are all my deficiencies so evident to me as when I must prepare for a meeting where there may be a lot of eyes on me, where I may be held in representation for my program and staff as a whole, or when I am trying to make an outstanding first impression. I agonize over the right choices and generally the night before any such event, it will appear to all intents and purposes that my closet has vomited… repeatedly… all over my bedroom. My strategy over the years has been to choose at least three different outfits. Why? You ask. Well, that would be because in the light of the day, the fashion statement decided upon before retiring may not feel like the right statement. So, I give myself three options. I have been, if not thoroughly successful at least not a complete failure.

So, I continue to agonize over my lack of savvy dress sense, but at least I’ve not been naked without my homework anywhere but my nightmares. In the meantime, if any of the hosts of those makeover shows happen to stumble on my blog, please feel free to save me from myself.