Summer bliss

Life is short and summer is shorter, so this month it’s all about

the beach, nearly every week

ice cream, nearly every day

long field trips at lunch

breakfast on the patio, complete with feathers

grilled lime and garlic chicken wings

the farmers’ market

casual or fancy sandals?

white pants

becoming an expert in synchronized diving and women’s gymnastics

pretending the purple-blooming flowers are not weeds

skirts, summer dresses, frocks and tank tops

soft hum of the ceiling fan

Yard sale haul

Maple sniffed today’s Crayola-colored finds like it was a pile of tuna fresh from the ocean. Oh, the scent of strangers! I had barely washed, dried, and folded the clothes before she was back in the laundry basket; secondhand smells and fabric softener all intriguing, apparently. Life is composed of small pleasures, so I let her do her thing but insisted she rate every outfit I tried on. Two paws up, though I could tell she was iffy on the green sweater.

Some neighbors around the corner were having a yard sale while also trying to move a couch out the door. I tried to help and explained that I was a neighbor, not a yard sale freak ready to sue them for a back injury. They didn’t need me, but I needed their black leather jacket that I bought for a cool 5 bucks, channeling Lisbeth Salander. I bought a studded belt too because she would have. Still working on the chest tattoo.

Today’s haul: two pairs of colored denim, two bright cardigans, a striped green sweater, one flouncy red dress, a leather jacket, studded belt, and a James Taylor CD, which I find it hard to believe I didn’t own before now, all for $20.

Not blazing a fashion trail

Every time I wear a blazer to work, my co-worker suspects me of abandoning ship.

“Do you have an interview?”

No, but I like this look Christina Aguilera was sporting on “The Voice” recently: a crisp white shirt with a black blazer; simple, but elegant with a rock star edge. I cobbled together a couple of similar pieces, rolled up my cuffs and strutted to work, despite making one glaring oversight: I am not Christina Aguilera. I do not have her blond mane or her painted face or her curvy figure. Most notably, I do not have her swollen breasts. You can thank me later for sparing you a close-up.


Do you remember Tid-Bit crackers? Maybe a dozen of us bought them in the 70s. Nabisco made them until they ditched them to focus, I suspect, on the less-than-brilliant Cheese Nips. I miss them. In honor of them, some tidbits:

*Another week of global warming in Boston. Another day of sifting past the boots and winter coat to find a skirt.

*I compliment a student in the elevator on her kickass tights. “The best kept secret?” she says. “Stripper stores.”

*I wander to the deli near the park at lunch to see everyone working in the financial and theater districts, along with the students from at least three nearby colleges, have the same idea. Frisbees are flying. I fail to make a reservation for a bench on the Common but find a spot between tourists. In blinding sunshine, I eat a pickle in the park; this is not a euphemism.

*I read an article in the campus newspaper insinuating a staffer was fired for looking at porn on his work computer. The phrase referring to his supervisor “keeping abreast of the situation” makes me chuckle.

*I just finished reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains; I could hardly concentrate.

Back to the 80s

I was volunteering at a high school the other day—an eye-opener in itself for someone who doesn’t hang out at high schools much—and the fashion floored me (seriously, I almost took to the floor breakdancing). Heart-dotted leggings, neon jackets, and fluorescent headbands abounded. Side ponytails, mandatory. Friendship and stretchy bracelets up the arms. It could have been any day in 1986.

Then Madonna busts out with “Vogue” and “Like a Prayer” at the Super Bowl.

This morning, I watched a kid on the T work a Rubik’s cube. Blue, red, turn, turn, red.

And “21 Jump Street” is now a movie—without Johnny Depp or Richard Greico (really, what is the point?).

People, what is going on?? I know all trends return, but so help me God if they start peddling those giant banana clips and acid-washed jeans. I will defect.

The joy of boots

Isn’t it awesome when you find the perfect snow boots and you order them and then Amazon tells you, Oh, by the way: these are out of stock, so you won’t be getting them anytime soon. Like ever. So, after much research and online comparison shopping (hmm, this review says they fit snugly; this review says they have no arch support; this review says they have too much arch support, but they’re the best boots ever) you settle on Dream Boots #2 only to discover when you’re trying to put them in your shopping cart, that they won’t go in the shopping cart because they don’t have your size. 

So, finally, you go back to Zappo’s because browsing there is like shoegasm after shoegasm, and you find that Dream Boots #3 are well reviewed, fashionable, and on sale, so you shove them in your cart and click Checkout before anyone can buy the last size 8, and then they arrive the day before a foot of snow is predicted and you spend half the night waterproofing them even thought the next day not one snowflake falls from the sky, but you don’t care because it will snow again in New England—probably in June—and you will have snow boots ready and waiting for you like your own personal militia to protect you from the elements. Or you’ll wear them to the beach and look ridiculous, but by God you will wear them. 

I’ve missed you, puffy

The puffy coat made its season debut this morning after I wrestled it out of the closet. It requires its own closet, but I am not so flush in the closet department, so it has to share. Anyway, its arrival means 1) it’s cold and 2) the return of the Puffy Coat Mafia. Look out, people.

Also, this may be the winter I break down and buy snow boots. How I’ve managed to live in New England without them for years is a mystery, even to me.


I just got the slickest pair of riding boots at The Tannery, the shoe store with the friendliest cadre of Middle Eastern men. They’re cute and comfortable (I know! Impossible, right? Wait, you thought I was talking about  the men didn’t you?) because they’re made by Born, so you can actually walk in them instead of strutting around for like five minutes and having to pull them off ’cause they feel like your calf is getting a mammogram. I trekked all around Providence with them recently with nary a blister to be found.

Wait, let me take a picture of them…


The thing about boots though is that when the first crisp day of fall hits, you run out to buy them, but it turns out the next day feels like summer, and where are your boots? Standing legless and forlorn useless by the bed. Of course, if you hadn’t bought the boots, it would have turned fall—and stayed fall—overnight. So, I figure it’s a win-win: I got boots and it’s summery.

Now I just need a horse.


Winter is cold for unadorned necks. I’m always looking for new ways to keep warm while being fashionable, and I found my latest accessory obsession on Etsy: the necklush. The name alone enticed me, and when I perused the website, I was sold. The thick scarf is made from loops of cotton fabric and comes in a variety of colors. I went with a neutral gray, so I could wear it with most outfits. You wrap it around your neck a few times, like a long, luscious necklace, and voila! A unique scarf that  keeps your neck warm and trendy.

In fact, when a co-worker told me she spotted a woman on the T with a necklush, I felt like a trendsetter. More likely, the trend was already well under way, but whatever.

One cozy accessory: the necklush

And a follow up I just stumbled upon, also on Etsy, is equivalent neckerchief for dogs, because every dog wants a cozy neck. Well, maybe not St. Bernards and other shaggy types, but little shivery dogs need help staying warm—and looking cool when trying to measure up to a muscular greyhound or those adorable Yorkies. And now, they can buy their own knit neck attire at the click of a paw.

One toasty dog

One toasty dog

Dress, meet trench coat

How cute is this raspberry trench-inspired dress? Um, super cute. The price, however, is not. At $128, I could buy out Old Navy. Thankfully, the dress did me no favors when I tried it on yesterday. Cute, but not $128 cute, even if I was planning to use my accumulated Anthropologie gift cards to buy it. That’s the thing about buying online, which I almost did; the dress looked so fetching in the catalog and even rosier in person. Just didn’t look fetching on me. I’m sure my bad hair day had something to do with it, which should not have happened seeing as I just paid say, half a dress, for a cut that doesn’t er, cut it.

Anyway, a summer dress crossed with the classic trench elements is still a brilliant design. I can hardly wait for the debut of the puffy coat skirt.

Keep the 80s in the 80s

Alert: disturbing fashion trend on the rise. Have you noticed that the 80s are creeping back into our everyday wear? Who thought this was a good idea? I know, it’s been in the works for a while at hipster stores like Urban Outfitters that’s trying to market a decade of mediocrity to a new generation of naive youngsters. It started with the reappearance of the jellies—cool when you were eight, but not now when you’re old enough to realize they’re plastic shoes. Then it was the Flashdance-inspired leg-warmers-turned leggings. Ugh. Now, I’ll admit it, I like a good retro Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt and rainbow sneakers now and then, but this all-out Madonna-era resurgence needs reining in.


Perusing the new Forever 21 the other day (yeah, don’t say it), I was horrified by a whole room (a wing!) of graffiti-splattered Ts and fluorescent pink shirts with zebra stripes—a look that should have died with the “Where’s the beef?” phrase. I suppose next we’ll be scavenging for those black rubber bracelets you wear up your arm and multi-colored friendship pins. The hair barrettes with the ribbons that were as long as your hair cannot be far behind. Well, OK, those were really cool. But again, while totally fun in their day, not a look one should bust out in ’09. Or ever.

Skirting winter

Ever since You’ve Got Mail, I’ve been a fan of the cute sweater set and skirt look. Except that in real life, winter is cold and not skirt-friendly. Also, I’m not Meg Ryan. Also, also, they require tights, and wearing tights makes me feel like I’m being strangled by an anaconda. A soft, patterned anaconda, but an anaconda nonetheless.

But, yesterday, upon hearing that it would reach a near 50 degrees, I reached into the back of my dark closet (land of pretty dresses yearning for spring) and said, “Winter, you will not defeat me.” I pulled on some toasty tights despite the persistent feeling of leg strangulation, along with a cute orange and blue skirt and a blue v-neck, and I was good to go. The warmth enticed me to walk instead of taking the bus.

Ten minutes in, I felt a splattering on my calves and remembered why I don’t wear skirts in the winter: winter breeds mud and mud loves to attach itself to my snake-strangled legs. Now, in addition to fending off the anaconda, I had freckle-like spots everywhere and looked like a patient in the throes of a funny-colored chicken pox outbreak. This would never happen to Meg Ryan.


She’s (almost) all that

I go to a lot of author readings where the writer is introduced with a bio that goes something like this: “Ms. All That graduated from Harvard and has written numerous books, several of which have been included on the New York Times bestseller list. She is the winner of a National Book Award and most recently, a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” She has also written for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly, and, and is a regular contributor to NPR. She teaches creative writing at NYU and is an expert on Vermeer as well as fashion in the Renaissance Age. She’s also a veterinarian in her spare time.”


You’ve probably been to lectures where the speaker was introduced in a similar way—a litany of work, awards and distinctions that make you wonder when the person buys their yogurt or bathes. I went to one such reading this week—I won’t mention the author because she was lovely and deserved the accolades—but just when I felt like this Super Woman was making the rest of us look like slackers, I gave her the once over and took solace in the fact that at least she can’t dress herself to save her life.

Ms. All That, it turns out, wore all black in a way that was not as chic as it sounds: a long drapey garment and shapeless sweater with black pants an inch too short and black loafers. Loafers. Come on, throw on the heels! It would be interesting to go to a reading where the author shows up not in comfortable shoes and a cardigan, but in strappy heels and a knockout dress. Let’s raise the level of readings, people.

Anyway, I may not be all that, but at least my outfits are cute.