Style goes to the dogs

There have been some recent changes here at Frump Central. After years of enjoying the freewheeling lifestyle of people without children or pets, Monsieur Frump and I have been granted temporary custody of a dog.

Meet Charlie:

Absurdly cute, isn’t he?  A little blurry, maybe.  (And I thought fashion photos were hard to get in focus!)

Charlie’s humans are in a bit of a bind, so he’ll be bunking with us for another week or so.  The responsibility was a little intimidating at first, since we think nothing of leaving the house for twelve hours at a time.  I wasn’t at all sure that our house had been sufficiently dog-proofed.

But Charlie is at least twelve years old, so he’s pretty mellow.  He doesn’t get into things much.  (Unless you count that little incident with the heartworm medicine.  “If you didn’t want me eating it, why did you put it in a tempting flavor-tab?”  That’s Charlie’s take on it, and he’s not exactly wrong).

But I digress.  Mister Frump is now officially the alpha dog, and I am second in command. It’s nice, sometimes, to have a reason to leave the office at a reasonable hour and come home to take a dog outside.

True, I’ve had a little less free time for assembling new outfits, shopping for fall items, or tweaking my beauty routines.  Instead, I have been observing the life (and style) lessons that a dog can teach. For instance:

  1. A black fur coat is very slimming!  So what if fleas and ticks can hide in it?  This is the price we pay for fashion.
  2. Beauty sleep is important.  Even if you have to go outside first thing in the morning, 6 am is still too damn early.
  3. Don’t fade into the background.  Stand right in the middle of the room and let the world admire you.
  4. Treadmill, shmeadmill.  Walking outside will put a spring in your step and keep you young.  Plus, you can stick your nose into all kinds of wonderful, wonderful things.
  5. How can you be bored when something as simple as a tennis ball provides hours of fun?
  6. Being cool and aloof may be stylish, but where’s the fun in that?  It’s much better to show everybody how you feel.  There’s no shame in whimpering when your loved ones leave and quivering with excitement when they return.
  7. It’s our creature comforts that separate us from the beasts.  Wolves may have slept on the forest floor, but that’s because they didn’t have access to fleece blankets.  Or sofas.
  8. If you greet the world with a cheerful smile and a sunny disposition, nobody will mind your smelly breath.  Well, OK:  they won’t mind too much.
  9. Don’t be afraid to age gracefully.  A little grey around the muzzle lends an air of sophistication.
  10. Just because you slow down a little with age, don’t think you can’t still have fun.  With the right motivation, you can still break into an enthusiastic trot.
  11. Listen to your doctor.  If the vet says you need arthritis medicine, don’t try to be a hero. Take the pill and continue to enjoy an active lifestyle! And a spoonful of peanut butter helps the medicine go down.
  12. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining a simple style.  Leave the cute sweaters to the little Paris Hilton dogs.  Classic dogs look best unadorned.
  13. You are awesome, just the way you are.
 Do you have pets?  (Or have you ever served as pet foster parents?) What do they add to your (life)style?
Posted in Humor, Life | Tagged | 24 Comments

Wardrobe setbacks (and a silver lining)

When we get dressed in the morning, we create our persona for the day. As we go into the world, we hope to communicate positive messages about ourselves.   Depending on the day, we may hope to appear confident, competent, professional, powerful, playful, approachable, sexy, or something else.

So when we have wardrobe setbacks — and inevitably, we will — we worry that our public persona will take a hit.  On my bad days, I fear that I will appear scatterbrained, disorganized, sloppy, depressed, powerless, or just plain clueless.   Not in control of my own life.

Last week was a week of wardrobe setbacks.  The timing was especially inconvenient because it was also my first week of the new school year.  Is this the end of the world?  No. It’s important to put things in perspective, especially during a week when the news is dominated by unsettled politics, a solemn anniversary, and near-cataclysmic weather events.

But life goes on.  Petty grievances and annoyances are part of life.  So I’m going to share my litany of insignificant woes, but I’ll try to moderate the volume of my whining.  Or, as Elvis Costello might say: instead of being disgusted, I will try to be amused.

So let us begin the litany of woes.

Woe # 1

Because I have failed to buy cute rain boots and a stylish raincoat, OF COURSE it rained on the first day of school.  And on the second day of school.

On the third day, though, it didn’t rain.  It poured.  As in — cats and dogs, rivers running down the street, you’re soaked even with an ugly raincoat and umbrella.

I knew this would happen, every time I walked by a rain boot display and failed to act.    I had dreamed of getting a fabulous rain outfit so that I could look like “A” over at Academichic.  Here’s what she looks like on rainy days:

It’s just so unfair, isn’t it?

But since parts of Vermont and Pennsylvania have been under water recently, I will refrain from going on and on about how my workplace has a serious drainage problem, and how discouraging it is to have to walk outside, every day, multiple times, lugging all of my teaching materials with me, in the pouring rain.

Nobody in Vermont or Pennsylvania wants to hear it.  So what I really must do is get off my butt and pick up some decent rain gear.

How about some boots like these?  (Ooooh, second from left:  is that a leopard print I see???)

I just have to overcome my own natural resistance. Simply put, I’m too damn cheap to buy rainy day clothes.  Because it doesn’t rain every day.  Unfortunately, this is how I think when it comes time to let go of my hard-earned dollars.

Woe #2

Clearly, the dreaded closet gremlins have been visiting my house in the middle of the night. Because some time during the summer, inexplicably, both of my pairs of long trousers became just a bit too tight. How does this happen?  I’m simply baffled.  All I did was eat, drink, and not run all summer.  Why does that make my clothing change size?

One of the pairs — the old, worn one, naturally — is still wearable. The other, newer pair is not.  I mean, I can button them. That’s something, right? But those ugly, pulling “whiskers” extending out from the crotch area are just not a good look on anyone.  So at least for the near future, my viable wardrobe has just shrunk significantly.  But wait: there’s more.

Woe #3

In an effort to expand my wardrobe, or at least to maximize it, I made my annual trip to the tailor right before school started.  Not for the trousers.  (Don’t even talk to me about letting them out.  I always lose any excess weight while training for my Fall 10K.  The fact that I am not doing the 10K this year in no way changes my belief that these pounds will melt away).

No, I went to the tailor to have a jacket fixed and a top shortened. Getting to the tailor is not easy for me when I’m working.  I had to leave work early to rush over there, only to discover, after returning home, that the hem of the top was crooked.  And by crooked, I mean that one side hung visibly lower than the other.  My choices were: stand on a tilt, forever, or leave work early ANOTHER day to go back.

Which I did.  And my tailor can fix it, no extra charge.  But I now have to get through all of this week, one top short.  On top of the one pair of trousers I’m already short.  But wait, there’s more.

Woe #4  

This is the big one, folks.  I am fighting back tears as I write this. My very favorite, most flattering, most versatile, most wearable denim pencil skirt — a cornerstone of both my work and casual wardrobes — may have just bitten the dust.

I’m talking about this one:

Which now looks like this.

Can you see the discoloration on the right hand side?  It started as a harmless food stain, incurred while carelessly eating lunch at my desk. But in my efforts to remove the stain, I appear to have (noooooooo!) rubbed away the blue dye.

I don’t know if you can see it, more clearly, here:

but it’s visibly disfigured.  My eye goes right to it in the mirror. Which means I probably shouldn’t be wearing it, at all, ever again.

Can we all observe a moment of silence, please?

(                                                              )

Thank you.

The skirt was purchased on consignment, at least 5 years ago and probably more.  It  came from a Gap outlet store, but there is no model number on the tag.  So even if I knew how to deploy savvy online shopping tactics like Ebay, I have nothing to go on.

I think this falls into the irreplaceable category.  Unless any of you folks out there know something about dying fabrics.  I’m kind of afraid to try.

So now my wardrobe is even more depleted.  My most reliable wardrobe workhorse is gone.  Poof.

The Good News

Aside from whining here, I think I’ve borne these losses with grace and composure, so far. It helps that I’m trying a new system where I plan out my outfits for the entire week, based on the extended weather forecast.  I’m even including a couple of alternates in case of emergencies.  I also usually try on the outfits the night before, to make sure that everything’s OK, so I don’t get unpleasant, time-consuming surprises in the morning.

(If you’re curious, my old wardrobe system was to stand in the closet for 20 minutes or longer every morning, trying things on and throwing them on the floor in disgust, getting later and more stressed by the moment).

So I discovered the trouser problem early and was able to adapt.  I simply took the unwearable pair out of rotation and wore one of the alternate outfits, pairing the tight-but-still-wearable trousers with a longer top (so that temporary emergency unbuttoning could occur, if needed, when I was sitting safely behind my desk).

Unfortunately, I didn’t discover the skirt disfigurement until morning, because I didn’t try that outfit on the night before.  This also happened to be the worst day of the rain — the flash flooding, River Runs Through It day.  And it was forecast to be clear.

So my extended-forecast-based wardrobe plan was useless.  I had planned to wear the denim pencil skirt with a cute top, wrap and sandals.  But then I was stuck with sandal-submerging rain and a disfigured skirt.

But some good fortune crept in.  The wrap covered the spot on the skirt!  And I own a pair of leather boots that go with the outfit.  And the temperatures were cool enough for me wear them.

So here was my outfit on this terrible, awful, no good, very bad day:

(Please excuse the disturbing cut-off head, but believe me when I tell you: this was the best shot I could get all day).

I even got a compliment on this outfit from my office mate!  So that was something.

The Very, Very Good News

I have an update for the squeaky shoe saga from last May!  You may recall that my only pair of trouser and skirt-appropriate shoes had been sidelined by an ugly creaking noise.  On the same week that I went to the tailor, I discovered an honest-to-goodness, old-school cobbler shop right down the street from where I work.  Who knew????

Let me tellya, the place was mobbed.  Everybody needs a good cobbler!  Is this a lost art, or what?

I had pinpointed the source of the squeak — in both shoes, now — as being located just under the ball of the foot.  I thought maybe the cobbler could fix the problem, or replace the soles, or something.

Well, he couldn’t.  The soles of the shoe do have a strange design, sort of fused to the shoe and not intended to be removed or replaced.

But you know what he told me?  He said:  remove the insoles, sprinkle some baby powder into the problem area, and put the insoles back.

“Just regulah baby powdah,” he said.  (We are in New England, after all, and I told you he was old-school).

“That should work,” he added.

And lo and behold, it does.  The powder absorbs the sound.  I don’t know how long the effect will last, but I can just carry baby powder with me, right?

Thank God: I don’t have to buy a new pair of shoes.

I still have a pair that fits with both skirts and trousers.

Which would be great if I still had my favorite skirt and trousers.

(Heavy sigh)

I think it’s time to hit the consignment store.

Have you ever been blindsided by unexpected wardrobe woes?  How do you cope?  

Posted in Fashion, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Inventions we’d like to see

There’s been a lot of talk in the beauty industry lately about multi-tasking products. You’ve probably seen ads for some of them:  eye creams that disguise and treat, self-tanners that also moisturize and exfoliate, toothpastes that clean and whiten.

But I think we can do better. We are living in a modern, industrialized culture, after all. Humans have traveled in space. We can shop for a dizzying array of products that we don’t need, online, 24 hours a day, without changing out of our pajamas. Drive-through hamburgers are available at every major intersection.  And there’s enough reality TV programming to fill every channel, around the clock, for the rest of our lifetimes.

Surely it’s not too much to expect a few modest technological advances, just to make our daily lives a little easier.  Here’s what I’d like to see:

  1. Computer screens that emit anti-aging ions.  Because if I’m going to be tied to my screen 18 hours a day, I’d like to have something to show for it.
  2. Bras with straps that provide a soothing shoulder massage.
  3. Contact lenses that instantly make your eyes look awake and alert.
  4. Magic bracelets that deflect complaints, whining, and negativity from others.  You remember how Wonder Woman used to block bullets with hers?  These would work just like that.
  5. Hand cream that contains sunscreen, anti-aging ingredients, and a space-age polymer that prevents these ingredients from going down the drain every time you wash your hands.
  6. Underwear that doesn’t ride up, down, or sideways.  It should also make you feel so invincible that you look everybody in the eye, never being the first to blink.
  7. Shoes that make you a good dancer, instantly.
  8. A coffee-based cleanser that makes your face look as bright and awake as the first cup of coffee makes you feel in the morning.
  9. A special concealer that makes pimples, undereye circles, and age spots invisible to ex-boyfriends, potential employers, and mean girls.
  10. A salon-style hood hair dryer that descends from the ceiling of your car, drying your hair while you commute to work.  Because honestly, people, hair-drying just takes too damn long.
  11. A shampoo that washes away negative thoughts and pointless worries.
  12. Clothes hangers that will automatically select matching items, blinking at you with color-coded lights on mornings when you just can’t deal.
  13. A magnetized wristband with all vital statistics about our clothing sizes.  When we go shopping, we would no longer have to find the correct size by rifling through dozens of ****ing plastic hangers that get tangled up in each other, trying to read labels in fiendishly small print. The magnetized wristband would attract the correctly sized items right to it.
  14. Time-released cosmetics.  No need to touch up during the day!  Lip gloss, blush, and concealer would refresh themselves.
  15. Dental floss that tastes like chocolate.  Somebody has to remove the dread from this chore.
  16. Shoes that inject a cooling, soothing gel into your feet all day long.
  17. Tights and stockings with an anti-itch substance built right in.
  18. Cologne that’s only detectable by those who like the scent, or who aren’t allergic to it.
  19. A special belt that lets you eat all day long without your waistband gradually feeling tighter and tighter.
  20. A night cream that erases all worries about the next day.  You wake up feeling completely optimistic.

Now it’s audience participation time.  What inventions would YOU like to see?



Posted in Beauty, Fashion, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

Ice cream, cocktails, and bras: Oh, my!

You will be relieved to hear that I am not among the “one in eight” women who is wearing the wrong bra size.

I learned this yesterday.  I learned it while standing in a temporary dressing room, enjoying a festive, carnival-type atmosphere with more than a hundred other women, as Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun blared in the background.

And I had a cocktail in my hand.  Oh, yeah.  That’s right.

I was participating in an event known as The Perfect Cup, which has been touring several cities this summer.  It’s a great big brassiere-themed extravaganza, sponsored by — incongruously enough — an ice cream treat company known as “Skinny Cow.”

Now, I’d heard of the Skinny Cow company before, because I eat some of their low-fat ice cream treats.  But I never quite associated them with lingerie.  In fact, when I’m shopping for foundation garments designed to show my body to its best advantage, the word “cow” isn’t usually what I’m looking for.

But the folks at Skinny Cow have decided, for whatever reason, that helping women to find the right bra size is part of a good business plan.  And who am I to argue?

This is The Perfect Cup’s second year, so please forgive me if you’ve already attended, or blogged about it, or read the blogs of other participants.  For me, it was new, and quite a revelation!  And I wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for the awesome Mr. Frump.  He came across an ad for this event while surfing online awhile back.  And anything involving ice cream, coupons, and free stuff is bound to catch Mr. Frump’s attention.  (Bras probably capture his attention, too, but the less I know about that, the better).

But anyway, he saw the ad and asked me:  Do you want a free bra fitting?  And a free bra?  And free ice cream?  And cocktails?

He might as well have asked, would you like to instantly become as fabulous as Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Susan Sarandon put together?  So he signed me up, I received my online “ticket,” and I was ready to go!

The event came at a good time.  The last couple of weeks have involved an unfortunate flare-up of my lower back pain — and this time, it meant business.  (And no, going dancing in heels awhile back had nothing to do with it, I’m sure, so you can stop wagging those fingers at me, thank you very much).  I’ve been staying close to home, faithfully resting, sitting with my special back pillow on a back-friendly chair, and doing the exercises prescribed by my new best friend, the physical therapist.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend the event.  But as luck would have it, I’ve made tremendous progress very quickly.  My therapist assured me that a 50-minute car ride was within my capability, and that I can walk as long as I feel comfortable, and that — when I don’t feel comfortable — I can do my standing exercises anywhere.

So with the blessing of the medical establishment, off I went.  Mr. Frump handled the driving, and he even circled the block twice to find nearby parking, to minimize my walking.  (Have I mentioned, recently, that he’s awesome?)

Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting.  But I think I pictured a low-key event:  a small room with a curtained-off dressing room monitored by two little old ladies with measuring tape.  I was not prepared for the bra-centric extravaganza that awaited.

The first surprise was being asked for my ID at the door.  I wondered to myself, “What, do they think bras are too scandalous for minors?”  Then I remembered:  there are cocktails at this event!  And I haven’t had a drink in almost two weeks because I’ve been taking enough Advil to choke a horse!  But I am down to almost none!  So now I can!

So I was in a good mood from the start.

It’s hard to capture the joyful chaos.  I felt funny taking photos, worried that I might be kicked out under suspicion of selling sales & marketing secrets, or something.  These hastily-taken snapshots will have to do:

There were women everywhere, of all shapes, sizes and — I was relieved to see — ages.  Yes, there was a bar, but also an ice cream bar, an hors d’oeuvre table, and a get-your-big-bag-of-freebies table.  And since bra-fitting was, at least ostensibly, our entire reason for being here, there was a huge fitting-room area staffed by fitting consultants.

There was even a bra museum:  glass cases filled with pivotal bra designs, with placards documenting great moments in bra history.  (For example, did you know that the first running bra was made out of jock straps?  Me, neither!)

Our odyssey through this space was quite well-organized, facilitated by a large, friendly staff,  and monitored by a sophisticated system involving wristbands and handheld scanners.  Nevertheless, I still wound up going through backwards — bar first, then snacks, and only THEN bra fitting.

Oh, well.  My festive, sangria-style drink kept me company while I waited in line to be fitted.

When it was my turn, I was greeted by a very friendly, very professional woman named Stephanie.  Now, I can only assume that Stephanie is employed by Warner’s, the official bra company of The Perfect Cup, since she — like all the other fitters — seemed fairly adept at bra fitting.  I am going to take it on faith that she’s not a temp employee, trained that day, though I suppose this is possible.

But I don’t think so.  Stephanie whisked me off to a dressing room, wielded her tape measure, and took the measurements.  Now, I know this isn’t rocket science.  In fact, I’ve done it, myself, following instructions in one of my many “how to dress your best” books.  And I guess I did OK, because Stephanie came up with the exact same measurement that I did.

“So I’m not one of the women wearing the wrong size, huh?” I asked her.  But interestingly enough, she told me this:  many women actually need bras of different sizes than what they measure at.  “I’m amazed at events like this,” she told me, “how many variations there are in what sizes fit best, no matter what the tape measure says.”

Interesting, huh?

But here’s what impressed me.  Stephanie gave me 3 bras right away.  I assumed that these were the three standard styles given to everyone, perhaps with a variety of different shape variations within the basic size.  But after I was in the fitting room and had started changing, she appeared outside the door and said, “I have a fourth one that I’m going to hand to you over the curtain.”

Now, maybe this is just coincidence.  But the fourth bra was the one that fit me perfectly.  And I mean it.  Perfectly.  Sort of like my favorite bra that I already own, but better.

Do you have any idea how many bras I have to try on when I go shopping by myself?  Sure you do, because you’ve done it yourself.  Maybe this was just dumb luck.  But I think that, just maybe, Stephanie knows how to eyeball a girl’s “girls” and know what shape she needs.

Of course I wanted to ask her how she did it.  I wanted to grill her on all her bra-fitting secrets.  But alas, there were many, many other women waiting for her time.  So I just thanked her and waited as she wrote down the bra’s model number on a little card.  “Take this to the goodie table, and they’ll give you a gift certificate for it.”

And you know what?  They did.  It was right there in my goodie bag, with my ice cream coupons, my chocolate-flavored lip gloss, and my Perfect Cup T-shirt (which I will wear….. where?)

One disclaimer: The gift certificate is only good for a Warner’s bra, at Macy’s.  Fortunately, my far-flung burg is not that far-flung, so there’s a Macy’s 10 minutes away.

So now, with my serious business finished, I headed to the bar for a second drink (Perrier, this time).  I even hit the ice cream table despite the fact that I had a dinner reservation in fifteen minutes and was not the slightest bit hungry.  There were five different flavors of Skinny Cow ice cream cups (the other “perfect cup” — get it?) “Take one of each,” the woman at the table urged.  “We’re closing soon, so you might as well!”

Since ice cream melts in your purse on a hot July day, I only took one.  And you’ll be happy to hear that I gave it to Mr. Frump, just before we adjourned to the lovely restaurant next door, with the perfect sidewalk view for a perfect summer evening.

I didn’t even mind sitting on my special back cushion.  All in all, it was a pretty fun day — even for one who hasn’t recently been housebound.

The funny part is, I had been thinking about going to Nordstrom for a bra fitting this summer.  I’ve been expecting my favorite bra style to be discontinued, because this always happens when you’ve been relying on the same style for more than two years.   I knew the statistics about how many of us are wearing the wrong size.  I’d heard that, at midlife, it’s beneficial to visit a bra expert and get a really good fit.  I’d heard you could look 5 pounds lighter, instantly!

Well, I don’t know if this particular event provided quite the same level of individual attention that a Nordstrom fitting would have.  Certainly, the fitting rooms were not nearly as luxurious.  But damn: Stephanie did pretty well!  And there’s no way in hell the bra at Nordies was gonna be free.

And if I gained five pounds from the snacks, cocktail and dinner, the bra will hide it, right?

Have you ever had a “professional” bra fitting?  With or without cocktails and ice cream?  Do tell!

Posted in Fashion, Humor | Tagged | 20 Comments

Our Toenails, Ourselves (Reprise)

If you’ve been following the Great Back Pain saga here at The Frump Factor, you will be happy to hear that I made it through both of my summer parties this week without resorting to frumpy footwear.  I wore the black and grey shoes — which looked and felt surprisingly good!  (How did I forget that I owned these for so long?)

Furthermore, I was able to do this without the help of drugs.  Unless wine counts.  (But the wine was purely for medicinal purposes, you understand).  Thanks to all of you for your shoe advice and moral support.

What I didn’t tell you was that I was also supposed to re-do my pedicure before these parties.  That was simply not an option, so may I just say: thank God for the long-lasting properties of Maybelline’s Express Finish nail color!  My pedicure for the parties was over two weeks old and still looked good.

But we all know that even a great pedicure isn’t forever.   While I am not exactly pain-free yet, I was finally able to re-do my pedicure yesterday.  I won’t pretend it was easy.  I won’t pretend it was fun.  I won’t deny that there were a few awkward moments when I had to pull myself up from the bathroom floor, hanging onto the doorknob with one hand and the sink with another.  But I did it!

To honor my great achievement, I have decided to re-run an old post about my love of pedicures.  I’m hoping that I can get away with this because I wrote this almost a year ago, when my regular readers could be counted on one hand (thank you, loyal readers!)  For those of you who are newer followers, I hope you will enjoy this ode to summer.

Our Toenails, Ourselves

It is now officially pedicure season.  Living in the Great Frozen North of New England, this makes me absurdly happy.  It’s part of the joyous seasonal change — just as the hummingbirds return to nest and feed, so do our poor, shrivelled toes emerge from months of hibernation in wool socks and clunky boots.  No longer shivering in sub-zero temperatures, they are now out in the open and ready to party!

I love watching the spunky young toes almost as much as I enjoy watching the seasonal wildlife.  There’s such an endless variety of colors out there — from elegantly sexy muted tones to bright, cheerful splashes of pink and red.  Even the names of the polishes sound joyful.  Tropical Temptation!  Party in my Cabana!  Speedy Hot Tamale!

For those who are color-challenged, pretty nail polishes are a relatively low-cost, low-risk way to experiment.   (For the record, I am now in a “plum” phase, having moved through the beiges, the browns, the pinks and the oranges).  There are always new colors to try, and the financial commitment is small. Even if you’re overly practical and frugal like me, and hate wastefully discarding a color that didn’t work, just trade with a friend!  Have a pedicure polish swap party!  With Margaritas!  See, aren’t you having fun already?

Part of my love affair with pedicures stems from the fact that they happen in summer, when I am on vacation from my teaching job.  In fact, I started giving myself pedicures after a particularly stressful semester when my job was still new.  After having spent months obsessing over every aspect of my work, and taking no time for myself, a pedicure was the perfect antidote.  Instead of poring over books and student papers, I had time to soak my feet, buff away the rough skin, tend to the nails, and wait for two coats of polish to dry.  I found the ritual to be therapeutic.  The fact that it seemed rather frivolous was part of the fun.

Now my teaching job is no longer new, and I obsess a little less.  But I still take joy in the start of pedicure season.   I’ve even started doing pedicures from time to time during the school year — when my toes are hidden — just to prove that I can.  (Ha!  Take that, student papers!).  And yes, I’m still strictly a do-it-yourselfer.  Many women love the pampering of a salon pedicure, but the thought of strangers handling my feet just makes me twitchy.  I will do my own pedicure until I can no longer reach my toes — or until the calluses and rough skin take over and I can no longer beat them into submission with one measly Pedi-egg.    The soothing process of the pedicure, and the bright, shiny results, are still enough to make me smile.

Watching for the re-emergence of colorful summer toes is so much fun, I almost can’t believe that it didn’t always happen like this.  However, I seem to recall that, in my younger years, toenail polish was only for the truly high-maintenance Diva.  Unless I’m mis-remembering, it seems that  most women didn’t bother.  (Though I suppose it could be that most women I knew didn’t bother — maybe because most of them were low-maintenance, or under the age of 18).

In any event, though, polished toes are certainly the norm now.  Just to check, I did a little research at a local strawberry festival yesterday.  Now, New England strawberry festivals are not exactly a hotbed of high fashion.  (Who are we kidding?  New England is not exactly a hotbed of high fashion).  However, my preliminary results indicate that over 80% of all open-toed-shoe-wearing women had colorfully polished toes.  If I limit the sample to women under 70, the figure is closer to 95%.  (Of course, this being New England, there were a whole bunch of sneaker-clad women who may have skewed the data.   We will just ignore them).

You get the point.   Polished toes are here to stay.   I think the change really started about 10-15 years ago.  That’s when I started my do-it-yourself pedicure habit.  But when I discovered that my mother was doing the same thing, well, that’s when I realized a cultural shift had occurred.

My mother raised me with a feminist sensibility, encouraging me to keep personal appearance in perspective, cultivating other skills and interests.  She turned an understandably disapproving eye to most of the beauty input I received from the popular culture of my adolescence (braless Farrah fighting crime; former Playboy bunnies cavorting on “The Love Boat.”)  Even though we do share fashion and beauty tips, as mothers and daughters will, when my mother is around I still try to maintain the illusion that I don’t think about such things very much.   (Case in point:  She doesn’t know about this blog).

However, ten years ago, Mom had a major surgery.  It was a pretty scary one, actually.  A few days before the surgery, she did her toenails in her favorite shade of pale, metallic plum.   Then, on the day before the procedure, she received instructions from the hospital telling her to wear no nail polish.

Apparently, she mulled this over at great length.  Why on earth would they forbid nail polish, she wondered?  Could there be some reaction — loss of circulation, perhaps — that would be masked if her nails weren’t clear?  Did this apply to both fingers and toes?  If her fingers were clear, might it be ok?  Should she remove her polish?  Should she call the hospital and ask?  Or should she just say nothing, and risk having her pedicure unceremoniously stripped away while she innocently slept under the influence of anesthesia?

Ultimately, she decided to keep her mouth shut, and she emerged from the surgery with her pedicure intact.  “It was actually rather important to me,” she admitted, with some embarrassment, after the surgery.

Hey, I get it.  We know that beauty fades.  We know that life is temporary.  We know that, ultimately, we will lose everything.  We even know that, by the time we are old enough to realize what our physical bodies mean to us, they are already in decline.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, everything ends in decay.

But not today, dammit.  I am here.  Pretty toes and all.

How about you?  Do you prefer colorful toenails, or do you dare to go bare?  If you choose pedicures, do you enjoy the salon treatment, or are you strictly DIY?  Share your story!

Posted in Beauty | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

This post brought to you by Advil

I’ve always promised myself that, if I ever feel compelled to blog about physical ailments, I will try to make it a) entertaining, and b) relevant to the theme of my blog (such as it is).

So here is my attempt.  You be the judge.

For the past several days, I have been walking like Mrs. Wiggins from the old Carol Burnett Show.  For those of you who don’t remember this classic, view the clip below at the 2:00 mark.

It’s lower back pain.  Yes, I’ve had it before. Yes, I know that I’m supposed to do a regular stretching and strengthening program, involving both the lower back and the abdominals, to prevent it.  I did that for several  years, after my last bout of Mrs. Wiggins-itis.

But in the last year, I’ve slacked.  I’ve also done stupid things like hunching over a netbook, in uncomfortable slouchy positions, at all hours of the day and night, blogging and tweeting and Facebooking and Bloglovin’ and God knows what else online.  So mild stiffness and pain have been my friends for awhile now.  And like the Slacker Queen of Denial that I am, I’ve ignored them.

But then, last weekend, I:

  1. went candelpin bowling for the first time ever (wicked fun, as we say in these parts),
  2. planted flowers,
  3. went for a long walk, and
  4. went for a long car ride.

It was I who got into the car, but it was “Mrs. H-Wiggins” who got out.  And  she is still with me, four days later.

Now, I’m trying to keep my complaints to a minimum.  Especially since my friend Pam over at Over 50 Feeling 40 – God love her – still went vintage shopping with a broken rib!

But man, I just have to say: I never realized how many of my basic beauty and style routines require bending.  Here are a few examples:

Hair product application

  • Usual technique:  Bend forward at waist, with head hanging upside down, and scrunch product into ends.
  • Current technique:  Bend no more than five degrees to the side.  Wince.  Scrunch.  Repeat on other side.  Let the back go.  Nobody looks there, anyway.

Makeup application

  • Usual technique:  Apply, in this order: moisturizer, foundation, eyelid concealer, undereye concealer, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, eyeshadow (2-step contouring process), mascara, blush, lip gloss.  Do all of this while slightly bent  forward toward bathroom mirror – because otherwise, I can’t see – with belly pressing lightly against sink for balance.
  • Current technique:  Skip 2nd step of 2-step eyeshadow process.  Skip eyeliner.  Skip eyebrows.  Stand back from mirror, no bending, and hope that mascara doesn’t wind up on cheeks by mistake.

Getting dressed

  • Usual technique:  Try on an outfit.  Reject outfit, remove, throw on floor.  Choose second outfit.  Approve outfit.  Put on jewelry.  Change mind, change jewelry.  Realize that jewelry isn’t problem, top is.  Change top.  Throw old top on floor.  Change back to old jewelry.  Pick up clothes from floor (maybe), drape on chair to hang later.
  • Current technique: Know that once an outfit is chosen and put on, the commitment is made.  There will be no changes.  Put on bottom-half items – underwear, skirt, and/or pants —  with same basic process:  brace self with right arm against wall, hold clothing item in left hand, hanging straight down toward the floor.  Find right leg hole (if applicable).  Gently lift right leg no more than 4 inches from floor and place inside garment, hopefully in the correct leghole.  Pull item up as far as knee.  Then, switch hands, lower item toward floor again, and repeat process on other side.  When both legs are inside the garment and stabilized, pull garment up and fasten.  Sigh.  Rest for a few moments.  Realize that favorite top is still on floor from yesterday.   Leave it there.  What falls on the floor stays on the floor.  Select and put on second-choice top. Realize that favorite necklace and earrings are in downstairs bathroom.  Screw it.

Putting on sandals:

  • Usual technique:  Put sandals on feet.  Bend at awkward angle to pull straps through buckles.  Swear because some genius at the sandal factory didn’t punch the holes in the straps properly, so it’s very difficult to a) find them and b) push the little pointy pieces through.
  • Current technique:  Perch on edge of sofa, bracing left arm against the side.  Lean to the left, bend right knee, and try to lift right leg up so that it rests on sofa with knee pointing forward and foot pointing backwards.  Swear, because this hurts.  Try to pull straps through buckle.  Finally succeed, on third try.  Try to find correct hole and push metal pointy piece through.  Swear again, because that bleeping bleep at the bleeping sandal factory is clearly trying to bleeping kill me!  Call for Mr. Frump to fasten shoes.

I will never take grooming rituals for granted again.  I’ve watched enough people enduring surgeries and long hospital stays, involving IVs and/or arms and legs in casts, so I know that my little challenges are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  I’ll be better in a few days.

But I can’t help being a little petulant, because I was supposed to go shoe shopping this week!  I’m scheduled to attend a graduation party for a very special young woman on Saturday, followed by an out-of-town family party the next day.

Fortunately, I’m improving enough so that I know I’ll be able to go.   I’m planning to wear a brown, knee-length pencil skirt and somewhat dressy top – with or without jacket, depending on weather.  Unfortunately, my only shoe choices are:

1)  My flat, brown, everyday sandals,


which – though not completely fugly, at least not in my view – are not nearly special enough, or

2) These open-toed shoes with a heel:

which I’m scared to wear even when I’m at full strength, and am certainly not going to wear when I’m having back pain, or

3)  These ones, with slightly less of a heel,

which may be a compromise – but which may just be too clunky, or not quite comfortable enough.

I had planned to look for a cute flat, or peep-toe, or wedge sandal – something that could dwell in the magic kingdom between dressy and casual.  But I don’t see any way that I can try on shoes in the next two days.

So what I’m going to have to do is try on all my different outfit possibilities, with all the different possible shoes, and see how they look.  Which seems like a great idea, but see “Getting dressed,” above.

Fugly sandals it is, then?  Bringing up every unflattering stereotype of middle-aged frumpitude that I can possibly think of?  I mean, why not just pick up a nice pair of nude knee-highs while I’m at it?

Oy, it makes my back hurt more, just thinking about it.

Advice?  Thoughts?  Beauty and style tips for the temporarily motion-impaired?  You know what to do!

 

Posted in Humor, Over40 | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Wardrobe by Mother Nature

For the past few nights, a huge frog has been hanging out on the sliding glass doors leading to our back deck.  From our viewpoint inside the brightly-lit living room, he looks like an otherworldly, frog-shaped apparition hanging there.  I’m pretty sure it’s the lights that attract him, or rather, the lights attract the bugs which, in turn, attract him.  We know this, because we have a front-row view of him catching those bugs.

It is the most awesome thing ever.

Of course, I also say it’s the  most awesome thing ever when the hummingbirds return to our feeder every year, or when the flowering trees start blooming again, or when we hear the Barred Owls night after night outside the house all summer long.  (Sometimes, they are so close that their calls sound like dangerous, raspy gargles rather than eerie, distant,  hoo-hoo-hoo-HOOs).

And when the bear walked right up our driveway, it was definitely the most awesome thing ever, even though I wasn’t here to see it and can only rely on secondhand reports.

In other words, I haven’t lost my ability to be enchanted by the natural world.  I’m less enchanted by spiders and wasps, hollering for Mr. Frump like a helpless little girl, casting aside decades of feminist conditioning faster than you can say “glass ceiling.”  But that’s another story.   When it comes to nature, if it can’t sting me or crawl on me in my sleep, and if I can enjoy it while also still enjoying a daily hot shower and indoor plumbing, I’m a big, big fan.

A nature scene from the neighborhood

As I’ve been cleaning out closets and preparing to shop for summer clothes, I’ve come to realize just how much my choices are influenced by the natural world.  Sure, there’s the obvious seasonal aspect of style — casting off winter layers to embrace summery fabrics and colors.  But until recently, I never realized just how much of what I love, style-wise, echoes the patterns and forms found in nature.

Here are a few examples.

Tropical Prints

For the longest time, I picked up every leafy, tropical-print item that I could find.  I still remember my first one, purchased back in 1986, when “Hawaiian shirts” were still a joke.  I loved it and wore it to death.  Ever since, there’s always been at least one tropical print item in my wardrobe.  At the moment, though, the one pictured above is my very last one.  I’ve done some ruthless wardrobe editing recently, realizing that I’ve unwisely purchased many ill-fitting items just because I loved the prints that much.  However, given the current trend toward bright colors and patterns, I think I’ll be able to replenish my stock pretty easily!

Animal Prints

Once the “cougar” jokes started, I began to be a little paranoid about wearing these.  It’s so easy to go overboard into the land of “too much.”  Plus, I think the market got saturated with them just a bit, and there were some pretty tacky looking, poorly made ones out there.  But as you can see, I’ve still managed to amass quite a collection.  (And I didn’t even include my beloved leopard print gloves!)  When I go shopping, I gravitate toward these suckers as if they’re magnetized.  Voom!  Within seconds, I’ve found them.  And I’m pretty sure I always will.

Miscellaneous Organic Prints

Even when I’m not wearing a tropical or animal print, there’s a good chance that I’m wearing a print that still evokes nature in some way.  While thinking about this post, I took a look in my closet and was genuinely surprised to see that I don’t have a single pattern that could be described as geometric.  Instead, they are all swirly and soft — not quite leafy, not quite floral, but evocative of both.  Here’s what I mean:

This was a fairly eye-opening experience to me — especially since I’ve always maintained that I hate florals.  Uh, no, not exactly.  I just like leafy,  flowy, borderline abstract florals rather than stuffy, prissy florals.  But mostly, I love leafy and grassy shapes, it appears.  In case we needed any further proof, allow me to present today’s two new purchases from Macy’s.  (Yes, I used coupons!)

(Please forgive the freakish perspective of the second image.  More adventures in self-photography without a tripod.  But you get the idea!)

Accessories: Straw and Woven Materials

Yes, I’ve heard all the jokes about hippies and basket weaving.   Well, throw me onto the hippie bus, then, because I love this stuff.  That’s why even my leather belts look like straw belts.  That’s why I carry that huge faux straw tote bag in the summertime even though it attracts bees (I’m not joking!).  That’s why I hang on to those glorious shoes even though I’ve only been brave enough to wear them outside once.  (They were surprisingly comfy and walkable, but I’m still too nervous to walk around in backless shoes with a heel like that).  That’s why, if I could have a house filled entirely with wicker furniture, I would.

Accessories:  The Birds and the Bees

On more than one occasion, I have been charmed out of my hard-earned money by jewelry depicting wildlife.  Exhibit A:

the turtle necklace purchased in Hawaii, and Exhibit B:

an assortment of bird and butterfly pins.

I have to admit that I very rarely wear any of these, because once I’ve put them on, they seem a little too childish or unsophisticated.  (Actually, I did recently start wearing the Southwestern Road Runner pin, because it’s just abstract/geometric enough for me to feel comfortable with it).  But I adore them all, and won’t get rid of them even if they’re never worn.

Accessories:  Natural Materials

Just as a walk through my closet was informative, so was a look at the jewelry collection.  I knew I loved beads, but again:  I was surprised by just how much of what I own is made of natural materials.  Or made to look like it’s made from natural materials.  Or made with patterns suggesting elements of nature.  Here are some examples:

So there you have it.  Despite my fear of spiders, I seem to be a Nature Chick.

Now it’s audience participation time.   Do you echo the natural world in your wardrobe?  If so, how?  If not, what personal passions are reflected in your style?

Posted in Fashion, PersonalStyle | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

12-Step Couponing

They say admitting the problem is the first step to getting help.

They say you have to hit bottom before you’re ready for recovery.

Well, I hit bottom at approximately 4:56 pm today.  It was at this moment that I realized:  Even though I was getting out of work early and had time to spare, even though I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to go clothes shopping, and even though the weather just got warm and I desperately need to buy a few things….. I was not going shopping.

I was not going shopping because I’m expecting department store coupons in the mail, and apparently I will not shop without them.

I didn’t realize my couponing had become a problem.

I didn’t know my couponing was spilling over into other aspects of my life, making me a potential danger to myself and others.

Hell, I didn’t even know that “coupon” was a verb.

But there it is:  Extreme Couponing, right there in the TV listings next to Hoarders and Bad Girls and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.  The TV has spoken.  Problem Couponing has become our latest addiction.

It started out so innocently.  As I relaxed on weekends with the Sunday paper, the glossy coupon section offered harmless fun.  Fifty cents off here!  A dollar off there!  I would clip freely, carelessly, enjoying the light buzz of anticipated savings.

Then came the department store coupons.  I seem to recall a time when you could use these even if you paid cash — without the guilt of running up store credit card debt.  But clearly, this was a ploy,  just like the creepy guy hanging around outside the middle school offering free drugs to kids to get them hooked.  These no-strings-attached department store discounts were my gateway coupons.  I felt such freedom, such power, when I used them.  I still remember a $75 pair of boots that I acquired for $60 over ten years ago.  I floated on air that day and never wanted to come down.

And then one day, suddenly, all Macy’s coupons required use of the department store credit card.  Well, surely, I thought to myself, I’ll just stop using these coupons, right?  Because that’s how they get you, right?  I can pay cash — without a discount — any time I want to, right?

Wrong.  I can’t remember the last time I made a significant Macy’s purchase with no coupon attached.  Plus I now also use Kohl’s coupons, which — I don’t know if you’ve noticed — are mailed out constantly these days.  And you expect me to shop without one?  Feeling like a total chump because I know they’re coming in the mail?  C’mon, just give me one more day!  That’s all I need!  I’m in control, I promise!

I blame Mr. Frump for starting me down this sinister downward spiral.  I used to laugh at him for using coupons so often.  If a business was locally owned, and if we were regular customers, I’d try to convince him not to use their coupons.  “Honey, those are to attract new customers,” I’d tell him.  “We should support our local businesses and not abuse their discounts!”

Ha!  Like I had any choice.  The die had already been cast.

Now, I’m the one whose wallet is bulging with coupons.  I can’t find my debit card, my health insurance information, or my damned driver’s license, but by God those coupons are protected!

Today, I seriously thought about stopping at the mailbox on the way to work to look for those department store coupons and, if they were there, removing them while leaving the rest of the mail in the box.  I didn’t do this, but who knows — tomorrow I might not be so strong.

Tomorrow, you might find me hiding my coupons from family members.  Stashing them around the house.  Lying about how many coupons I’ve used.  Getting the shakes at the mere idea of paying full price.

When it all comes crashing down some day, when I’m found dead in a seedy motel room, clutching a stack of shredded coupons in my shriveled hand — please take care of them, ok?

Buy yourself something nice.

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Posted in Humor, Shopping | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Mammopanic! (with a side of shopping)

There’s nothing like a normal mammogram to make you want to go shopping.  Especially when it’s one of those dreaded mammogram “call-backs.”  Not that I’m an expert or anything, since this was only my second mammogram ever, even though I’m 45.

I know, I know.  But I had my first one early — before age 40, so I thought I deserved extra credit points and permission to delay the second.  Plus I was waiting for the whole 40-versus-50, should-we-or-shouldn’t-we, Great Mammogram Debate to play out.  (I’m also still waiting for colonoscopies to be replaced by those nifty handheld scanning devices from Star Trek, but that’s another story).

But anyway, I finally did it.  And of course they wanted to track down the old films from my previous mammogram, almost 9 years earlier.  And of course, breast tissue changes in that time (in case we hadn’t noticed).  So they needed a second mammogram, to look more closely at those changes.  This is — of course — perfectly normal and no cause for panic!

Yeah, right.  It didn’t help that, at every stage of this process, my regular doctor’s office called just to make sure that I followed through on all the testing recommendations.  (Clearly, I’ve been flagged as reluctant mammogrammer and, therefore, a flight risk). So there have been multiple calls to my house, multiple messages left, from multiple practitioners, asking me to call back about my mammogram.

I don’t know about you, but the phrase “call back about your mammogram” fills me with panic.

Which is why I found myself frantically calling the mammogram center from my car at 3:56 pm on a Friday afternoon, terrified that I’d miss them and have to wait all weekend to find out why they called me and if they had any results.  I did this even as the rational part of my brain realized that my chances of dying from breast cancer are much lower than my chances of dying in a car accident while stupidly using the phone.

But now it’s done.  I’ve been let off the hook for another year.  And now that I know what to expect, maybe I won’t panic next time. (Note to self: call-backs can be harmless).

So on the way home, I stopped at one of my favorite consignment boutiques.  Even though I say it’s one of my favorites, I must admit that shopping here is not usually as much fun as I think it will be.

Part of the problem is that the store is really, really small.  They have a pretty good selection, but items are bursting forth from every nook and cranny  — overflowing from hangers, perched on top of the racks, hanging from hooks on the ceiling.  The displays are appealing, but I always feel like I have ADD when I’m there.  I try to move methodically through the sections, but something always glitters at the edge of my peripheral vision — calling me over — so that I get distracted and have to keep retracing my steps.

The store is also often crowded, making it that much harder to maneuver through the merchandise (to say nothing of the limited fitting rooms).  So even as I feel torn in a million different directions, certain that I’m missing something great around the corner, my progress is often impeded by those pesky other shoppers.

I always try on several items when I’m there, but I always feel like I’ve somehow missed several other possibilities.

All of these things happened today.  The store was crowded even though it was a Monday, during work hours (hey, I’ve done my homework; I know when to shop).  In addition to the usual random assortment of mid-day shoppers, there was  a young woman shopping for a dress with her parents.  Soon she tried one that was absolutely stunning, which caused a crowd to gather.  (“Oh, my goodness, that’s gorgeous!”  “It was made for her!”  “Look at that fit!”)

The only one who wasn’t convinced was, naturally, the young woman herself, much to her mother’s consternation.  (“What are you waiting for?  What do you think you’ll find that’s better than this?”)

Meanwhile, I was busy trying to shoehorn myself past the entourage and into the fitting room, carefully toting an armful of what can only be called completely dysfunctional tops.

Every last one of them presented some stupid, annoying obstacle.  Two of them had floppy little ties around the neck that didn’t lie right.  Another had a built-in sash that — for the life of me — I could not figure out how to tie.  (It was so long!  And so low on the blouse! Was it supposed to wrap around?  Were there holes for it to fit through?).

The last top I tried had one of those built-in camis underneath.  You know the kind I’m talking about, right?  The kind that gets all tangled up, or turned inside out, so that you can barely figure out how to get the darn thing on?  Yes, that’s the one!  And if you foolishly persist — untangling it, differentiating the armholes from the neckhole, and wriggling into it — then you have to use Houdini-esque maneuvers to fight your way out of it.

And you know — as a wriggled my way out of that last top, I had the strangest sensation that I’d been here before.  I think I’ve tried on many dysfunctional tops in many consignment stores.  Do you think that women give up these clothes precisely because they are such a pain in the ass?  I’ll bet they do.

In any event, on this particular day, having just emerged from the mammography center, I was not thrilled to segue from boob-squishing to torso-contorting.

So I decided to move on.

I did grab this vest for $9,

but I broke all the rules because I don’t love love it.  I like vests.  I need pieces to layer and add interest to outfits.  This has colors that will blend well with what I have.  And the vest fits me well.  But I didn’t LOVE it.  Plus, it’s by Talbot’s, which has always given me pause.  I’ve just never seen myself as a Talbot’s kind of gal.  We shall see.

On the way out, for good measure, I tried on a really cute shoe that was perched on top of a rack.  It was a stacked-heel sandal, the kind that I want to wear with jeans.  It felt comfortable.  Holy cow!  So I took a step.  And guess what?

It squeaked.

Time to give it up and head home.

Posted in Fashion, Humor, Over40, Shopping | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

The squeaky shoe gets the boot

* NOTE: Update with solution at end of post! *

I am aggravated beyond belief that my ONLY pair of non-boot, non-sandal, trouser-and-skirt appropriate brown shoes has started to rebel.  They squeak!  Or at least, one of them does.

The culprits are pictured here:

It’s a puzzling and inconsistent phenomenon.  They didn’t always do this.  When it first started, it was only the right shoe, and it only seemed to happen with certain socks.  Since then, though, I’ve heard it on both sides.  With many different socks, or none at all.   However  – and here’s the kicker – it doesn’t happen all the time.  WTF?

I’m not talking about a subtle, quiet, noticed-only-by-me squeak.  No.  At work, I have caught people looking up from their work, or from their private conversations, because my approach is so very audible.  It’s hard to describe the sound:  it’s more like a creak, maybe.  Somewhere between the sound of a creaky rocking chair and a wet sneaker on a tile floor.

I am seriously annoyed.

What causes a shoe to squeak?  These were not cheap shoes, but granted, I’ve had them a few years.  One of the heels is starting to show a little bit of wear.  They’ve also always been just a touch too big, which I suspect may be the culprit.  (I’ve long considered getting additional holes punched in to the top strap, so that I can fasten them more tightly.  But I’m starting to think this would be a waste of good money).

Maybe the shoes are getting too stretched out.  Sometimes – but not always – they seem to get noisy only after I’ve worn them awhile.  Maybe something is coming loose.

Or maybe this is just a form of social protest.  My abuse of shoes has been well-documented (on my feet all day, up and down stairs, walking with great force, outside in the elements, etc.).  My shoes are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.  Ungrateful bastards!

So here’s what I’m wondering:  Should the squeaky shoe get the boot?  It seems absurd to discard a perfectly good pair of shoes for this reason.  But I’ve stopped wearing them because it annoys me so.  There’s nothing worse than dressing carefully for the day, trying your best to appear confident and in control, only to feel absurdly conspicuous every time you have to walk somewhere.  (“Scrich!  Scrich!  Scrich!”)

Do you have any inappropriately noisy shoes?  Can you share any insights into the causes of squeaky shoes?  Have you ever discarded a pair of shoes for noise-related reasons?

My mother always told me that the wrong pair of shoes could ruin an outfit.  As Mother’s Day approaches, let me say:  You were right, Mom.

* UPDATE*

A few months after I wrote this post, the owner of a shoe repair shop gave me the solution to this problem. To stop this squeak, all I have to do is lift up the insole and sprinkle some baby powder into the area right below where the ball of my foot will be. The powder seems to absorb either the impact or the noise.  The effect lasts for several wearings, and when the squeak comes back, I simply re-powder. Genius!

Posted in Fashion, Humor | Tagged , , | 28 Comments