Ef You DSW!!

For a few years now, DSW has had commercials featuring stylish women breezing through their cities looking fantastic and being stopped by someone who says “Where’d you get those shoes.” And then this fashion icon answers, “DSW.”

And now, Sears has rehashed this strategy. Again, said woman is moving through her life — at work, being seated at a restauant, boarding a plane, when someone asks where she got something. She answers, somewhat sheepishly, “Sears.” (You should be sheepish, what did you do, go back to 1864 and order from their catalog?)

I’m calling bullshit on this. Just like it’s not okay to have dripping wet hair on the subway, it is not okay to ask strangers where they bought something.

Here’s why:

  • It can be judgemental — the Sears woman feared judgement so that was well played, Sears. The other judgement is when you answer and people respond that said store or said item is too expensive and proceed to try to make you feel like a fool. They might even say something ridiculous like, there’s no difference between the designer stuff and what they find at the dollar store (if you really don’t see a difference, then you’re shopping in the right place, hon). And although this is acceptable hazing, the turnabout is not true. What if you told me you shop at TJ Maxx and I told you their stuff is so cheap I’m surprised it doesn’t go up in flames on a hot summer day? Or, what if I said Old Navy is called old because even their new clothes only have one wear left in them? I would be considered just plain evil. And rightly so. It’s okay to call someone on perceived extravagance. Just not someone’s tendency to buy cheap, shakeadag (made up word) clothes as my Aunt Daisy used to call them.
  • It can be presumptuous. Yesterday, I’m rocking a pretty fabulous new red lipstick that I discovered (and then later, unknowingly, my sister gifted it to me at Christmas which tells you it’s fire!) I appreciate compliments. Don’t we all? Saying, “Great color!” as you breeze by is totally acceptable. Stopping me and asking me, “What is that, MAC?” So not acceptable. Why do you assume it’s MAC? I know that brown girls flock to the MAC counter like minimally dressed teenaged girls flock to Lady Gaga concerts. But we can wear more than MAC, thank you very much! I was loyal to Diva, but that was back in 1998. Yet still, people are always trying to put me in MAC! No lie, no lieeeeee. I’ve even been at the Laura Mercier counter and when I asked for a product, the associate clarified whether I wanted it from MAC which was located clear across the store.
  • Find your own amazing — Why should I do all the work for you? Just like Drake said about Kobe’s wife, “You wasn’t with me when we was shootin’ in the gym.”  Put in the work. I’ve gone outlet shopping numerous times and when I arrive at the checkout with my find, the sales girls gather around the counter and ask where I found it. They are the ones putting the items in the bins! If they managed to overlook a pink satin Louboutin evening bag with a chain strap — and a ridiculous markdown, I mean ridiculous like someone didn’t realize the brand — they don’t belong in retail.
  • If you’re a real fashionista, you should already know — There are telltale signs for brands. The cap toe, the tartan pattern, the Tribute style or enormous patent bow; it’s unmistakable which brand it is. You shouldn’t have to ask.

Just something to keep in mind when you’re out and about and see something you admire. Sneak a picture and investigate later, look for labels or even describe the item in a Google search (It has worked for me!). I never ask people where they got something. And if necessary, I send a friend to ask for me.

An Interview With the Original Owner of My Vintage Coat

Dear original owner,

I scored your coat at a vintage shop and have a few questions for you:

Q: If you could afford this couture coat, I have to assume that you had enough money to have help. I imagine that you had a “girl” who looked like me and cooked, cleaned and took care of your kids. (So what did YOU do all day?) Could you imagine your “Girl” one day having a granddaughter who would buy your coat? My grandmother was a “Girl.”

Q: Can you imagine that married women would fight to be accepted into the corporate workforce and then some of them would choose to keep all their household responsibilities as well, thereby having two full-time jobs and thus tons of stress?! Meanwhile, their husbands tend to do the same amount of work that your husband did. Why? Well, there was a Enjoli perfume commercial back in the 80s where a woman touted:

I can bring home the bacon/ Fry it up in a pan/ And never, ever let you forget you’re a man.”

This commercial helped convince a whole generation (or two) of women to be 24-hour women. Many women accepted that philosophy quicker than a cashmere sweater at a sample sale. We’re still waiting on the men’s jingle on how they can work and cook the bacon. Although these days grass-fed beef would be more apropos.

Early 1960s coat shown via catalog ad from that time, alongside me rocking the vintage frock in 2012.

Q: What happened to the original top button? What do you think of the new blinged out button I replaced it with?

Q: Why did you get rid of the coat? Was it because it was no longer fashionable? Or, when you passed away did your children lack fashionable instincts and give it away?

Q: Did you have one of those leopard coats like Jackie O? If so, where can I find it?

Q: What size were you? If it fits me, I’m thinking that in those days, you were definitely considered a big girl. Did you feel beautiful? Did you have lots of clothing options? Did you ever diet? If so, which diets were available? I’m pretty sure that Jenny Craig and Atkins weren’t options back then. Perhaps you did Weight Watchers as your “reduction” program?

Q: How many sexual partners did you have? Did you wait til you were married and then that night think, “Is that all there is?”

Q: Our president today is a black man. What do you think of that?

Q: Did you ever hear Whitney Houston sing or Michael Jackson dance?

Q: Can you imagine two hurricanes, a tornado and earthquake in NYC in an 18-month period? It happened.

Q: Would you believe that we’re still on many of the same political issues as in the 1960s? Yup, we’re still arguing about abortion, are still talking about birth control and people are still fighting for their civil rights. I know, shocking. Hopefully in 40 more years, we can move on to other social, political and environmental issues.

So thanks for your time. I’m really enjoying your coat. By the way, who was the designer? The tag is gone. I can use the Internet — this massive public spiderweb of information — to try to find the answer. But my generation expects immediate gratification, so I hope you can just give me the answer.

Are Those Pants Taken?

There are two kinds of people — those who ask if the seat is taken and those who just take the seat. Each group seems somewhat annoyed at the behavior of the other.

  • If at a coffee shop and you spot an empty seat next to someone, do you ask that person if the seat is available?
  • If at the movies you see two seats in the middle of the row where you prefer to sit, do you head toward the seats or ask the neighboring people if the seats are taken?
  • If you’re at Chipotle and there’s a group of tourists looking confused about the menu, do you go in front of them and begin placing your order or wait patiently behind them?
  • If you’re at the yoga studio and it’s crowded, do you ask your fellow practitioners if you can squeeze into the sliver of space between them or just roll out your mat?
  • If while driving you need to get over, do you wait until others pass or just get over?

I believe in being polite, but if no one has laid claim to something, I’m not asking questions.

One day at a coffee shop, I was deep in thought until someone tapped me on the shoulder. I took off my headphones and after some stammering on his part, the coffee drinker asked whether the seat next to me was taken. A complete interruption for nonsense! And he wasn’t even cute.

My friend recently described in her blog, Reflections of a Partly-Southern Belle, feeling guilty for cutting in front of other drivers in order to shorten her commute. That’s called smart driving in my book. Maybe it’s because I’m conditioned to driving in NYC where it’s like a video game — cabs stopping suddenly to discharge or pick up passengers, skateboarders weaving in and out, bikers whizzing by, buses lurching in your lane, cars weaving in and out — it’s just a way of life to be able to react quickly. In fact, if I can tell that someone is trying to cut in front of me but they’re being too tentative about it, I shout (while in my car, of course), “What are you waiting for, a red carpet? Get in already!”

When I drive in Texas (where the Partly-Southern Belle lives), people have gotten irrationally angry at me for merging in front of them. I’ve been honked at, tailgaited and followed alongside while the driver mouths or gestures obscenities. It doesn’t shake me, but Texas is a state where you can legally carry a concealed handgun, so I don’t get all Brooklyn with them.

I was at a two-hour sale at Norma Kavali’s New York boutique. With it being a flash sale, the place was packed. The downstairs sales area was a makeshift dressing room filled with women trying on clothes. When I came back from checking out an outfit in the mirror, a pair of cargo leggings I’ d selected had disappeared. I shouted, “Who took my pants?” Nobody fessed up. The saleswoman scurried to find another pair and came back with the remaining size small into which I wouldn’t be able to get one leg.

Ten minutes later, I spot my pants on a woman with no hips. I step to her and she admits that she took them but said she didn’t know they were mine (She is a bad thief! Why would she try them on while I’m still there?). I pointed to my jacket, hanging in front of the pants; and, my purse and shoes, sitting below the pants. Then I told her to take my pants off.

It dawned on me at that moment, that what I was that feeling might be similar to how someone feels when I merge in front of them in traffic, or take their husband’s seat, or squeeze between them and their friend in yoga class.

So, I decided not to stay mad at Hipless. Instead, I helped her find a great jacket that flattered her body WAY more than MY foil cargo leggings.

Hate It or Love it? My First 30 Days of Self-Employment

1. HATE IT: Really missing my co-workers. LOVE IT: I’m not missing all of them.

2. LOVE IT: Not setting an alarm. HATE IT: Getting up at 6:30 or 7 AM, anyway.

3. LOVE IT: Shopping at sample sales during non-prime time hours being SO much better. Imagine the La Perla girls actually rooting through the crates to help you look for your size. HATE IT: No clue how much I can spend.

4. HATE IT: Not dressing in my beloved work clothes. (And I’m not much of a casual wear kinda girl.) LOVE IT: Haven’t worn Spanx in a month.

5. HATE IT: Taking public transportation every day. I don’t know why I thought I would save money on that and left it out of the budget. LOVE IT: I always get a seat and am not usually in a hurry.

6. LOVE IT: Spending more time in the apartment that I pay quite a bit to live in. HATE IT: The more time I spend there, the more important it is for it to be clean. Plus, I’m the cleaning lady now. I never thought I’d say I want a smaller apartment.

7. HATE IT: Pining to spend the day in Midtown. LOVE IT: I’m still there for dinner or appointments several days a week and I’ve been able to sit outside and just enjoy instead of rushing from place to place.

8. LOVE IT: Making it to the gym everyday. HATE IT: Vibe is all off during the day. The people are boring and the eye candy not as tasty.

9. HATE IT: Not having anyone to talk to during the day. LOVE IT: Having time to hang out with my friends and actually keeping in touch when I say I will.

10. HATE IT: Really missing the lunchtime food run to Pret, Chipotle, Dishes, Cafe Manhattan, Free Foods, Qdoba, cuban dives and street carts. LOVE IT: I can make a homemade lunch. Who am I kidding? I HATE THAT.

Paris vs. Milan — The Report

Here’s the long delayed report on my April vacation to Paris and Milan. This time, instead of writing about what I did and saw, I decided to assess each city in a gamut of random, yet meaningful categories. Folks, you’ll never find observations like this in a travel book. Check out the winners!

1. Most bonafide gingers None at all spotted in Paris
2. Most men you want to look at Tie – Parisian men win the fashion, but Italian men are really handsome. A hybrid would be perfect.
3. Most women you want to look at   Hands down, Frenchies win this. The Italian women are atractive too, but their attire negates that.
4. People spotted wearing fur even though it’s Spring A surprisingly tied category
5. Tightest clothes Damn, signoras!
6. Most plastic surgery Donatella would be so proud
7. Most blondes
10. Most people wearing all black
11. Best lingerie Paris (however, see below)
12. Most clothing designers who actually realize that women have breasts
13. Best shoes French, you don’t have to leave the US to know that
14. Best sunglasses Enormous and always on, even on a cloudy day
15. Weirdest eyebrows Tie – In Milan, they draw them in quite dramatically. In Paris, their eyebrows don’t match their hair. Quell horror!
16. Best makeup Can you say cat eye magnifique?
17. Best smelling… people
18. Best smelling…shops
19. Least rude I was done with the Italians within an hour. New Yorkers and Parisians don’t even rank as rude in comparison
20. Quickest switch to English when noticing my slow processing of information
21. Most romantic
22. Best cocktails Milan didn’t even bother with cocktails, usually only offering a wine list
23. Best tap water Always on the table in Paris. Milanese looked totally offended just by the request for non-bottled water.
24. Tastiest tomatoes
25. Best french fries Only Amsterdam is better
26. Best overall food I walked down the street eating bread in Paris and pretty much starved in Milan
27. Best sweets Neither. Both need to learn how to use SUGAR
28. Most addictive snacks Total tie. In Paris, it was crossaints. Milan, lemon gelato.
29. Best public transportation Paris was quick, clean, no complaints. Milan – confusing as fuck.
30. Best cars Milan, you fancy, huh?
31. Fastest drivers
32. Most honking They might be worse than NYC cab drivers
33. Where you’re most likely to get run over by a motorcycle They’ll jump a curve in a minute
34. Most places to easily trip and fall
35. Most iPhones Tie. It is seriously outta control. Apple rules the world.
36. Most Beats by Dre headphones Yes, those enormous ones
37. Best music In Paris, I felt like dancing everywhere. Milan had the sound of cymbals in their music– or opera, God forbid
38. Most Angry Bird fans
39. Most public drunkenness
40. Easiest access to birth control Condom machines are in every subway station!
41. Best dogs They were usually small and had long hair and accessories!
42. Cutest kids Both had some pretty cute kids, but the Italian kids were cute AND entertaining
43. Least Americans spotted Americans are generally embarrasing
44. My most used phrase I want to buy this Do you speak Engish?
45. Place I could return to over and over and OVER