Archive for May, 2012

May 30, 2012

The vintage invasion

Such a fabulous synthesis of all matters developed in this post: the 60´s aesthetics, its consumerist and alienated vibe, and MIB III

The Men in Black movies have gained the hearts of audiences around the globe due to having developed its own kind of let’s-contain-a-wicked-alien-invasion sense of humor. However, in addition to a new threat from outer-space, the third picture of the brand also represents the strength of another kind of invasion taking place in the real world: that of all things vintage, and particularly, those that evoke the 60´s.

In fashion, it is not uncommon to relive past decades and styles (the 20´s and the early 90´s are also having their moments right now: see geometric flapper dresses and crop tops with high-wasted bottoms). Nor it is unusual for the entertainment industry to indulge in thematic manias — see the on-off thing that goes on with vampires or the recent obsession with fairy tales, with its noticeable and strange Snow White sub-branch. However, the 60´s are everywhere, not just here, or just there. Mad Men. Pan-Am — I had never noticed before that those two series actually can produce a poor quality rhyme. Marilyn Monroe. Kitchen appliances: big and small, from refrigerator to blender. And now, they have invaded a sci-fi blockbuster. Sci-fi, friends. Why do we so badly want to relive the 60´s?

Maybe the 60´s represent a time of prosperity we all kind of miss in our days of global financial crisis, environmental pressures, situations of such complexity that leave to us — to me — a strange feeling of not knowing exactly what our share of effort should be in trying to make the world a better, safer place. By then, the surge of consumerism was a symptom of good things – it had already been a while since the end of WWII, Europe was getting back in shape and America was getting heaps of money from it – and having the extra nickel for the superfluous desires was cause for celebration, while the possibility of alienation was a breath of fresh air.

Other than that, who doesn´t want to look and feel like Joan Harris or Don Draper? Let us just please contain our excitement and refrain from excessive drinking while at work; also, when out on a picnic in the park, let´s not forget to collect the trash afterwards.

Betty Draper shakes the leftovers off the picnic towel… and onto the grass

Let´s finish this post off with this blog´s picks of objects and looks, straight from this season´s take on the time tunnel:

For work…

…for lunch with the girls…

…and for your vintage kitchen.

May 28, 2012

Ushuaia, or: “you’re so adventurous for a fashionista!”

One of my passions is travel, and one of my challenges in this blog is to bring up interesting conversation that touches up the matter that is promised to be touched up in this blog — femininity and its interpretations — while sharing my jet-setting memories.

Ushuaia is, as they say themselves, the end of the world. By that, local Argentinians mean it’s the farthest city in the south on the entire planet. The small town is a 4 hours flight away from Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and has as its greatest promise plenty of penguin sightings and breathtaking views of some exotic landscape.

I travelled there imagining it could be a very poor and uninteresting village, with nothing to do outside the eco-safaris. Although I read in a lot of places that the food there was amazing and the city was really nice, I just did not anticipate how actually comfortable the place is. Do not expect anything chic such as a Vail Village — they do not have that kind of money — but more like a small, colorful, happy place in spite of the freezing temperatures, as it may snow there even during summer. Tons of duty free shops, invitingly priced outerwear stores and excellent food, including some of the best meat and fish you may ever eat in your life, complete the fine scenario fit for everyone’s type of vacation: the adventurous friends, the whole family or the romantic couples.

So, there I went, to the beautiful Ushuaia, to walk with penguins at Isla Martillo, hike the beautiful Glaciar Martial and kill myself for the incredible views disclosed along the Senda Costera, a 8,5 km trekking trail (plus 2 km absolutely lost, and another 2 to get in and out of the trail) at the Parque Nacional de la Tierra del Fuego. I come back from my vacations truly excited and tell everyone at work about everything I’ve seen and done. In return, I get this comment from a co-worker: “I’m pleasantly surprised to hear you did all that. I could never imagine you interested in nature or sports”.

Please, do take your time savoring the judgment that was passed upon me through that pseudo-innocent sentence. Firstly, the dude felt like his approval of how my vacation time was spent was an actual benefit to my existence. Secondly, the reason why the gentleman mentioned he could never imagine me interested in nature or sports is the fact that I enjoy fashion and wear high heels. Seriously? High heels, silk and splashes of animal print for work denote one’s distaste for trekking and eco-sightseeing?

I do not wear my Jimmy Choos to the mud, as I don’t take my Stella for Adidas leggings to the office unless they’re inside my Stella for Adidas organic cotton bag and I’m attending my yoga classes later in the evening: yes, news flash, you can actually wear appropriate, high-tech and amazing designer clothes while doing even some quite radical sports (unless you figure the ladies who ski in designer outfits will never out race you because they are so well dressed). So why can’t I do it all? Why do people expect us to be so superficial and limited  when one of the things we overtly care about is fashion? Does that happen to you as well? I firmly believe this kind of thought disguises a deeply rooted sexism: if you like clothes, you’re a girl, and I don’t expect you to be adventurous because that’s a thing for guys — I’ll just think you’re a sissy!

It’s funny — it’s like when you’re still in high school or college and the other kids think you have never had sex because you have the good sense of not showing large amounts of skin or acting in exceedingly sensual manner while attending those specific environments. Remember Grease? That kind of thing.

So, while you think about how stupid and rude people can be even at their most thoughtful attempts at trying to be nice, I’ll share with you a little bit more about Ushuaia:

food – I was very impressed. Seriously. My first stop was El Almacen de Ramos General, a nice pastry and coffee shop with some choices of sandwiches, soup, some nice meals and cheese and meat platters. The location is very convenient: really close to the Muelle Turístico or the tourists’ pier, where all excursions begin and are booked. The pastry is divine — croissants, other choices of bread, and delicious pies with delightful presentation. Breakfast is amazing and for about 10 USDs, if I’m not mistaken, you can take breakfast for two: share with someone you love the heartiest choice in the menu comes with a gigantic, delicious panini, a choice of pie, orange juice, hot beverage (I might have ordered an extra one for my beloved companion), and two choices of pastry, including some options filled with incredible dulce de leche. Inexpensive, close to your stuff, and will make you happy…

The other place I must mention is the delicious Bodegón Fueguino. It just might be the best meat I have had in my life. Order anything you please, it will be delicious and melt in your mouth perfect, and the potatoes, God, the potatoes. Any kind of potatoes, they will just bring you the ideal version of it. Finally, don’t forget wine is a happy choice in Argentina. The Bodegón gets a little crowded, so you might have to wait in line for maybe 30 minutes if you go there after 8:30 PM, but it is worth it. If memory is not failing me, you should spend a happy 20-30 USDs per person on your entire meal.

On the heftier price tag side, I chose the Kaupé — a nice place, food well prepared and flavorful, with killer views of the city and the Beagle Channel, but definitely not worth the money. For about 80 USD each, we had a 6 courses OK meal, complete with wine pairing and some highlights (such as the wine pairing): the incredible desert Helado de Limón en Salsa Caliente de Champagne — a lemon sorbet paired with a warm champagne sauce — was definitely a wow moment. On the less amazing times I had, I recall the Centolla Natural — king crab presented in such a basic fashion it kind of pissed me off (some people, however, love this dish just the way it is, as I see from the Trip Advisor comments).

By all means, have dulce de leche and wine. Bread is also a treat in Argentina in general — they stick to European recipes more closely than their South American buddies — have some croissants with the dulce de leche in the morning and stop counting calories. Eat beef – ojo de bife, lomos and other local cuts. And be merry.

convenience – the Muelle Turístico is very easy to find — just follow Maipú Avenue until you get there. It is near the Tourist Information Center, a place I highly recommend visiting because they do share very useful information in there: bus/vans schedules and prices, maps of all kinds, advice about the many sightseeing choices and companies that will help you with that. Nearby you will also find a stop where vans will hourly take you to and from the major sightseeing points (such as the Glaciar Marcial or the Parque Nacional de La Tierra del Fuego) for as little as 6-10 US dollars per person — the Lakes Escondido and Fagnano should be a little bit more expensive.

I do not find that one needs a guide for the Parque Nacional or the Glaciar Martial, and those come at very high prices, so my advice on that is: take one of the vans. To the Glaciar, I would risk saying it’s all the same to get a van or a cab (in terms of how much it will cost). To go back to your hotel, just enjoy a nice meal at one of the restaurants at the bottom of the Glaciar — such as the nice La Cabaña Casa de Té — and ask the waiter to fetch you one, or call a “remis” (prices pre-determined according to destination — I did not see a significant difference price difference between either).

la penguinera – the most amazing thing I did in Ushuaia was visiting Isla Martillo with PiraTour. After about 1 hour and a half on the road — killer views will be made available during this part of the tour as well — plus another 40 minutes visiting a nice museum with some interesting information on local sea life, you will finally take a 15 minutes boat ride to an island filled with thousands of penguins. Thousands. Many penguins. Very close to you — like, you know, centimeters away. Like, you could grab them, hug them, lick them, or kick them if you wanted to and the guides allowed you to do so — they will not.

Children should go insane with this tour. My advice: do not be cheap on this one. Choose PiraTours and pay the price — it is more expensive than other penguin choices, but the only one that will actually allow you do descend on the island and walk with the penguins. And that, I tell you, is priceless.

parque nacional de la tierra del fuego – this is really worth your while. Take the entire day off and leave plenty of time to rest in the evening before dinner — if you enjoy this place the way I did, you will possibly have extremely sore muscles by the time you re-enter your hotel room. Do not forget your photo id and check the rates that apply to your ticket before you get there — should be the equivalent of 30 USD or something.

I took the van at about 2 PM and arrived at the park about 30 minutes later. We jumped off at the last stop — close to Lago Roca — and wandered a little until we found our way to the Senda Costera, the longest trail at the park, about 8 km long. I thought I could do it easily in about 2 hours — last van would pick us up at the park entrance at about 18:30, so I felt pretty comfortable about the timing. I was fooled by the idea of a coastal trail — most of it at the margins of the Beagle Channel — and thought my entire path would be as easy as a stroll by the beach.

Well, the trail is not hard, but it’s, you know, a TRAIL. That means it goes through a forest, a path of rocks and mud and branches, and it goes UP. And then down, and then… UP. As time went by and I figured I wasn’t nearly at the pace I needed to be if I wanted to complete the entire trail in time, I doubled my speed and started producing internally a mass of heat so intense I didn’t even need a cardigan over my t-shirt, even though temperatures were low enough to produce flurries. To complete the mess, we got lost for a good 40 minutes before we got to the correct trail, so the clock was truly ticking. And finally, when the trail was over… we realized it ended about 2 km far from the van’s pick-up point, and to make things worse, the way to get there was… up. By then we had only 20 minutes. I was crazy sore. But we made it. There should be a kind of record for that. Our prize was that the lovely driver did take us directly to our hotel as a courtesy (instead of leaving us at the bus stop near the Muelle Turístico).

In spite of my stories of getting lost and really tired, this is a very structured park, with many trail options — some short and easy ones too. I do not believe a guide is necessary, unless you have a real hard time with the language. I took beautiful pictures and have incredible memories from the entire path, and I highly recommend some trekking in this park to everyone who visits Ushuaia.

glaciar martial – after previously destroying my legs and most of the rest of my body at the Parque Nacional de la Tierra del Fuego, I decided I needed more and climbed up about 400 meters — but you just don’t understand how slippery and inclined that was — from the Glaciar’s awfully old lift to about as near to the top of the mountain you can get without additional gear — sticks will most definitely help you on this one. The walk is about 1,2 km long and has some challenging moments, but the view from the top is so worth it. I do believe the path would have been much easier for me had I not crushed every bone and muscle in my body the previous day, but still, to go all the way up has its challenges and adventurous moments for everyone, I guess.

So, I hope you have enjoyed Ushuaia from my narrative. I sure did enjoy my time there — yes, in spite of not wearing heels for the entire length of the stay.

May 21, 2012

Social networks and the great cosmopolitan adventure

If my memory is not failing, at the year that came out the movie “The Social Network”, about two law suits founder Mark Zuckerberg has faced concerning the circumstances under which Facebook was created, the Time magazine had the youngest billionaire in the world elected Person of the Year (yep, I was right – my memory is not failing me). While on the big screen, the guy is portrayed as an unethical and tactless genius-but-jerk who steals ideas and actual money from his closest friends, the paper redeems him and turns him into the person who brought the world together and saved internet from the nameless perverts that thrived in the anonymity of the web.

Although I do find I am absolutely not capable of passing judgment on Mr. Zuckerberg’s character or lack thereof — I have not met the guy or done any research on him — I can say I find social networks a sort of Bentham’s Panopticon, a new take on surveillance upon which everyone embarks with a smile because, well, it’s fun. The Panopticon was conceived by philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century as an allegory of the perfect prison: a completely see through building, where inmates cannot see if they are or not being observed. Without knowing if there is anyone actually watching at any given moment, each person strives to behave according to rules at all times. Apparently, the folks at Time magazine are huge fans of the idea.

The clever difference between the Panopticon and Facebook — or any other social network that should currently be in fashion, such as Google’s Orkut used to be, or twitter also is in its own different way — is that joining the thing is a completely voluntary choice, related only to reward: getting to know other people, sharing a lot of stuff, having constant feedback from your friends and mostly, showing off. Yep, showing off. Things you would never do in person, you do there. Sharing your art with every single person you know: your drawings, your photographs — including portraits of yourself, tapping your inner model — your skills as a musician. Sharing your happiness with your ex-boyfriends, telling the world you have such unique skills and interests, and also that even your daily routine is so special: would you take time to invite your boss to grab a bite and show him the pictures of your mother’s 63rd birthday celebration? Well, if you make them public in your profile, chief may see them all. What about travel? You haven’t really gone anywhere if you didn’t post any news from your adventures. Well, what’s the problem? I’m not doing anything wrong.

No, you’re not. And that’s the entire point — you’re not doing anything wrong, are you? So why can’t you share it? Why can’t we watch it?

Somehow, I see Bentham’s Panopticon and Kant’s Categorical Imperative as ideas that somewhat relate. If Bentham’s concept was self-surveillance forced by the publicity of acts, Kant turns publicity into a voluntary test on your own ethics: if your motivation for your action is not compatible with it being made public, what your are doing is wrong. This maxim supports his entire work, upon which international and legal order find ample justification until our days. His project of cosmopolitanism was based upon the exchange of hospitality for trade and truth; the problem that comes with that is to discover what the truth is when reality is subjective: what tells a border control officer that one person is a potential illegal immigrant and should not be allowed to enter a country? How many questions — and which ones — must he ask until he feels he knows enough to send back a person who has spent maybe thousands of dollars on a plane ticket? How many tweets will ensure that the 14 years old girl from your brother’s class in high school did actually offer herself to most of her male classmates? Or perhaps the number of Likes her justification will get might redeem her reputation.

Well, if Kant did not invent sovereign borders, he did contribute immensely to how they were legally shaped, and now that society has transposed its existence to a virtual, global environment, the Categorical Imperative is all the rage. Transparency, the liberal obsession, is catching us all by transmuting into displays of uniqueness and promises of recognition. As we dive into the paradise of surveillance, offering and being offered tantalizing amounts of personal information, we give into the temptation of judging without recalling our own publicity comes with judgment as well; and as we project our own opinions into others by telling ourselves, “I’m not doing nothing wrong — so why can’t I share it?”, we — maybe dangerously — forget that we are, indeed, unique.

May 17, 2012

Ancient is the new contemporary: living femininity today

From personal experience, I would guess the demographics of cooking look rather funny. Thinking of a population pyramid, I would say the base — young people up to their mid to late twenties – contains equal parts of men and women who can and enjoy cooking; the middle — early thirties to late forties — is marked by a significant reduction in cooks from both sides; finally, the top of the chart should have a lot of women who can cook (much more than in the previous sections) and a significantly low — let´s approximate to none — amount of men who are apt to perform this activity.

I think this joke of a chart (well, literally, it was meant to be a joke — and a stylized representation of the facts as well) shows two interesting cultural phenomena taking place in our contemporary female gender scene: the first, the growing interest of men in the traditionally feminine environment that is the home, the daily domestic activity of preparing food for yourself and the family; the second and the one with which we are more concerned here, is the lack of interest in the stove from the women born in those wacky seventies and had early access to microwave ovens, versus the refreshing, though timid return of the younger ladies to the kitchen.

I guess what we see here is a difference between cooking as an obligation — even, perhaps, an instrument of forced categorization or blunt repression of the female in the domestic environment — and cooking as the pleasurable, daily experience of preparing your own meal. But is there any more meaning to this move?

I believe society in general has been interested in artisanship as a whole. Brew your own beer, sew your own clothes, do it yourself — whatever IT may be. Hands are again being seen as useful parts of the body that are able to create new stuff, as opposed to simply being the things you use to grab your wallet from your bag or pocket and pay for everything you need done. Tools are now cool, and manual activities are even recommended for their therapeutical properties. Of course, everything comes updated with a new hurried pace that becomes our crave for speed – hence, Jamie Oliver (I´m picking on him, but I am actually a fan. See sidebar for proof).

What I think is more interesting, though, is the fact that traditionally feminine activities are being sought by men and women alike, such as cooking. They are not simply brewing beer or, I don´t know, making their own footballs or something — the gents are entering the kitchen, the space that once was dedicated to the loving wife, and they are helping with the dishes too. On their side, the ladies are also turning their passion for fashion into a channel for displaying their creativity as well as their personalities, taking sewing classes or developing their own jewelry.

These creative endeavours with material consequences on our daily lives — clothes and accessories we can wear everyday, or the food we eat at least at night at home — are of extremely feminine nature, of the most traditional kind. They are an expression of love, care, attention to detail, both in a personal and a collective level. And if once they were considered as an intellectual production of a lesser degree, they are now finding redemption in the admiration and engagement by individuals pertaining to both genders.

May 14, 2012

Envy the penis no more – the cultural answer to the coveted ability of peeing while standing

It hit me the last time I went to the ladies´room: we have no reason to envy man´s ability to urinate while standing. Yes, although we do not share in this extremely practical possibility — at least not without some stretching and some strong thighs — we have culturally made up for this biological disbalance, and I now believe we have in fact an important advantage in the excrementing area at large.

We, the ladies, wear dresses and skirts. And while I recognize the fact that some men do occasionally wear skirts — and they may even do that without necessarily falling into the homosexual or exceedingly artistical varieties, as our vetust Prince Charles clearly demonstrates — most men do not, and will not. And that, my girlfriends, is a socio-cultural trait developed to our supreme advantage — particularly when it comes to the penis envying matter.

Although it is more comfortable for women to sit down to do their things — and let us be reminded of the fact that man do have to do it as well for you know, a portion of their excrementing activities — the skirts and dresses expedite immensely our time in the stools. No zippers or heavy jeans involved — only a feeble piece of undergarment on our ways. We do not need to concern ourselves with the cleanliness of the floors versus the pants dragging around our feet when we just lift up our skirts and keep our clothes away from the dirt — think public facilities in winter days: as clean as they might be, the blend of wet snow and shoe soles always results in muddled rooms (of course, in  days such as these you may not be bare legged as it should be cold as hell, but my point was to illustrate that restroom floors may also be dirty as a result of a process unrelated to the activities performed in there).

So there, there. We have constructed such amazing response to our supposed anatomic disadvantage and have not even noticed. Such a sense of modesty we ladies have. Free your genitals, my girls — surround them with flowy skirts and enjoy the amazing advantages of femininity.

P.S.: I promise I´ll give you a break on scatological remarks such as these for a long time — perhaps infinity. It’s just that this insight seemed too groundbreaking not to be shared solely due to its poor taste.

May 11, 2012

Thoughts concerning a contemporary lady´s approach to fun

Have disappeared for a while. I am bored.

I have begun this blog out of absolute boredom, and now I realize a bored person cannot say anything that much interesting anyway. I am not saying I do not truly find the subject of femininity important — I do, and I do think there is room for developing some thoughts about it a little outside of the box.

So if I am bored and I am a woman and this is a blog about femininity, we may take this as an opportunity to tackle the matter of leisure, excitement, and the female. Classically understood, the equation girl + fun equals shopping + design + beauty. At times, colorful and creative alcoholic drinks and art shows can be added to the right side as well. And chocolate.

Lately, I have perceived a slight distinction in this, say, traditional-feminine-magazine approach to women having fun, and it sort of goes like this: anything that qualifies as charming is girly. So, femininity has turned into pampering and attention to detail, particularly where design is concerned. Even the traditional realms of ladyhood such as beauty saloons have suffered an extra dose of new age femininity, now announcing extras such as cocktail hours or being decorated by renowned designers – Maria Bonita, a “brazilian” salon in NYC, offers free caipirinhas accompanying a wide variety of treatments — click the link and enjoy the Gilt City offer (ending real soon).

I find this a very interesting move for a number of reasons. First, it approaches ideal feminine to ideal masculine, as the subject becomes less relevant than the aesthetics involved in presenting it: no longer a matter of luxe, either, a characteristic I dare say was rather masculinely treated not a long while ago unless when related to fashion. A luxe car can be sold to a man in a way and to a woman through an entirely different strategy, but the object of publicity is no longer mostly a masculine crowd and must be taken into account even in early product design stages. Same will occur with restaurants and bars, hotels, and a wide variety of social events.

Men are, however, still seen as ogres in their hearts. A fine example of this basic feeling towards the gents is this guide to male feet grooming presented by the weekly journal edited by masculine e-boutique MR PORTER, featuring notes such as “if the skin in your soles is tougher than an elephant´s hide, seek the services of a professional” — try to find a same sort of direct, harsh advice directed to women; it is sort of unthinkable that a chic lady that purchases Louboutins for her feet would need advice related to the thickness of her sole´s skin or the need of eventual nail trimming and prepping before choosing to wear a pair of sandals.

Credit: Red Carpet Fashion Awards

There is, however, a line that still separates feminine and masculine aesthetic as well. A range of colors, an approach to light, a choice of lines, and a level of boldness in mixing it all — I will dare say again, the feminine encompasses it all. The masculine is still limited by its own, characteristic (another daring comment) stiffness. A critical evidence supporting my argument was recently provided by  Mr. Marc Jacobs in the recent edition of the Met Gala: no one, and I say this confidently, has yet truly sold the concept of men wearing dresses to either a male or female crowd. And if Marc Jacobs is one of those who are trying and failing, I am not optimistic any of the others will accomplish that deed anytime soon.

May 3, 2012

Too much feminism for our times

What modern mother hasn’t cringed at the pink and passive fairy tale princesses served up to her impressionable girl? The Disney versions of Snow White and Cinderella, Belle and Rapunzel are heroines of such vapid foolishness one wonders how they survived into the 21st century. The answer is that they are rooted in a tenacious and remarkably unaltered cultural tradition, the fairy tales first published two centuries ago by the Brothers Grimm.

These are the first lines in a post published by The Economist´s literary an cultural blog, Prospero, titled Fairy tales: The Anti-Grimm. This is kind of old news (it is a month old already) but well, a month ago I hadn´t yet started blogging. OK, back to the quote, I am no mother yet, but I find myself a fairly modern woman I have not yet cringed at Snow White or Cinderella.

The news are interesting: “the discovery of a huge new trove of unedited German fairy tales”, collected by a certain Herr Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, containing stories about fragile men as allegedly idiotic as Grimm´s heroins supposedly are.

This take on feminism is not of my liking. The radical views of those particular depictions of femininity as gender-selective moral bullshit sounds as simplistic as affirming missiles are designed in the shape of dicks – and therefore war should be reduced to a basic matter of determining who has the largest penis. I agree with the author as he affirms that “far from being transcendent examples of universal values, as Bruno Bettelheim argued, these tales were edited and fixed at a specific historical moment.” That is precisely the point: the Grimms and their tales are products  of their time, and that should be duly noted, and not necessarily diminish their work in importance or greatness. Values are contingent agreements on ideal moral conducts. They are a collection of norms that legitimize acts in a political society and they emanate from intersubjective understandings regarding the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Grimm´s depictions of femininity are evidently old-fashioned, but not necessarily harmful to young girls. Their heroines are as romantic as the late 19th century required; most of the time, they are perfect in their disturbing beauty and graceful hearts, and it is due to their generosity that they fall into the perils of which they are later rescued by the princes. They are not stupid. They are innocent and kind. And although they do display fragility, they are not cowards. They fall victim of their kindness, go through harsh and challenging probation and stay true to their hearts — and yes, at the end, reward comes in the form of a rescuing prince. A man.

This reward is not just simply a man — the reward is love, love that is conquered by their gentle souls that remain unscathed no matter how terrible and unjust the situation that falls upon them. I cannot agree this is a bad value to share with my future siblings.

Having said that, it is just as interesting to see that as early as in the 19th century, boys were also being rescued by girls as the tales passed on through oral accounts. Yes, that does suggest a striking asymmetry between the values of the cultured German bourgeois and the people with their “uncooked” stories, confirming that the romantic depictions of the ideal feminine as fragile and innocent and the ideal masculine as strong and honored were rather confined to aristocratical or more generally elitist environments.

I believe modern times have not in fact called for a very different definition of feminine and masculine, but of how men and women should relate to masculinity and femininity. A key aspect of educating the children to come is to free them from having to fully embrace a gender and fully reject the other, nor in themselves and even least so in everyone else. This may perfectly include watching Cinderella — it is a beautiful story in my opinion, and it does not incite murder or anything I find particularly hideous — you just should expose your child to different other heroines and heroes too, and never point any of them as the right one.

May 2, 2012

My fashion routine

Well, as none of you could possibly know (since this is my fifth post), I have a daily fashion routine which painfully instigates me to buy things like a mad person — I do not surrender to these sordid impulses however, since they are, well, sordid, and as previously mentioned, would turn me into the equivalent of a mad person. This routine is actually well represented in my “fashion” menu, but let us go through the details:

The Outnet: every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I check for their new stock. From Fridays to early Mondays (how early depends on where you are in relation to NY or London), they usually will offer additional discounts that may reach extra 40% off selected items. This is an amazing website for those who live in any side of the pond, as they have the US site taking care of the Americas and the International site, catering to eastern hemisphere fashionistas. Import taxes aside (you should check on those before ordering anything if outside of the EU or the US and Canada), it may be an honest worker’s (hello, Labor Day!) chance to purchase that McQueen dress for 10% of its original price tag.

In its first two years, the Outnet has held insane birthday sales that would basically give away incredible designer pieces worth over 1500 US dollars for… one dollar (or euro) plus shipping on the first birthday sale, and two dollars (or euros) with COST FREE shipping on the second birthday sale. This year they did not entertain us with a third lavish fashion party, no. Well, I must say I did get as lucky as hell with those mad giveaways. Of course I also did work hard for it: as in none of the cases the website announced the starting time of the sale, in both years I basically spent the night awake and set for running towards my computer the second I got their email announcing it was finally on. The first sale was on a first-come first served basis, and I was lucky to purchase a Miu Miu dress after less than 2 minutes had gone by from the moment I received their message containing the link to the sale. I spent the rest of the night trying hopelessly to score a second bargain, as the website basically crashed from all the incredible audience it got all at the same time. Second sale was more organized: they randomly distributed up to 2000 tickets to anyone who signed up for the sale. I signed up with about 100 emails. Yeps. Got two tickets which developed into a Calvin Klein Collection dress and an Alexander Wang winter coat. That’s a way to vamp up your closet!

Net-a-porter: well, my next step in my daily fashion routine is to go through this wonderful e-shop’s new arrivals. These will come on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and will cost you heaps of money you may not have near your wallet at this particular moment in time. They can make you smile, though.

To collect my prizes at Net-a-porter, I will wait for the months of July and December. This is when end-of-season sales will happen there. If you are strong enough, start shopping about three weeks from the sale’s first go-ahead: that’s when they usually will add further reductions + new items to the sale. Shoes and bags will begin at 30% off, going up until 70% and sometimes 80% off – however, there will be little of the bags left for you to purchase by the time prices drop like this. Clothing will go from around 40-50% off at the beginning till the same 80% by the very end of the sale.

I am now in a mad addiction for Calvin Klein Underwear, which I find very useful to buy on Net-a-porter sales (because at the Outnet you will never find your size, or the matching pair of briefs and bras). Other than that, I did buy my first Jimmy Choos thanks to their lovely job in reducing these shoes’ ridiculously high price tags.

Red Carpet Fashion Awards: so, this blog was my introduction to fashion. I used to take a look at what actresses wore at the Oscars or maybe the Golden Globes and Cannes, but that was pretty much it. I think it was through RCFA that I got to know the previously mentioned e-boutiques, as well. I guess the consistent critique with a rigorous eye for detail has sort of shaped my aesthetic, as I now abhor tights and find myself very bored at black pumps (I don’t however share in the hatred for white shoes). I also find their work very respectful, as I understand it’s hard to say someone is outstandingly not well dressed without being offensive.

The Man Repeller: now this is really good fun. I am a fan of Leandra Medine, although not necessarily of how she dresses. I don’t share in the love for bullet or eye shaped jewelry or muscle tees (these are for the thin ladies in my opinion) nor I think she always creates beautiful shapes from her juxtapositions, but I do believe she has an amazing eye for shoes and well, the girl has balls (which does explain perhaps the man repelling thing, at least in many cases). I think this is one of the most free and feminine fashion blogs around; a woman who dresses exclusively for herself, who is completely aware of her status as an eccentric, and who embraces it nonetheless. Is eccentricity a tougher path for women than for man? I just thought of that question. Well anyway, this blog is truly worth your while, as the author is a very talented and funny writer and her looks, very inspiring (although you may not necessarily reproduce them literally). She has also got me laughing a lot at myself as she described a pair of Prada sunglasses that is one of my greatest obsessions as white furniture on your face — look at me, doing my man repelling. Well I do like some out of the ordinary pieces, but Ms. Medine will take that sentence to a whole new level I cannot afford to reach (as in I don’t have enough cash to reach it and as in I don’t want to repel my boss because I need him to promote me so that I have enough cash to reach it as well).

Yeah, well, that’s it for my basic fashion routine. As for advice, well,

(i) don’t purchase anything unless you truly feel you need it AND it’s a bargain. Otherwise you — and by you I mean your bank account if you are a mere mortal like me — will not survive this daily scrutiny of web boutiques

(ii) don’t buy stuff you cannot try on and exchange later — if you do, be sure you know your size and measurements (and the garment’s) really well. Be critical of what you wear and don’t buy online a shape you never wore before (unless, again, you can return it if it does not fit). If you have particularly difficult proportions — such as breast size or stronger thighs: be extra extra careful, and perhaps opt out of purchasing items that may be ill-fitting in those areas on e-shops. I have a pair of shorts I cannot fit into after losing 10 kilos, I’m just hoping the last 5 will do the trick. They are extremely loose around the waist, and still too tight on my legs…

(iii) decide how much money you will spend on clothes on each semester (or trimester, or month, I don’t know your level of addiction to renewing your wardrobe) and stick to the plan. Look for the sales, friend, the sales. Who cares it’s last season. Everything will be last season a season from now anyway.

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