Tag Archives: clothing

MS: Pockets and Sundry

So, Dalrock recently had a series of posts concerning pockets in women’s clothing (or lack thereof) and the general moaning from women about it.

Now, I made a transition from wearing almost exclusively jeans to wearing skirts as often as possible and quickly bumped into the whole pocket issue. Me being me, I naturally began seeking out alternatives that could be worn with skirts. I found all manner of very fancy “pocket belts” meant to be worn over skirts which are great if you like to rock that kind of look. For more simple options there was the HipKlip, which was a pretty good solution, but it didn’t drive enough business to stay profitable and they closed up shop (at least, last I heard they did). There are also medicine pouches that can be slid onto any belt you care to wear them with and other holster style solutions. However, I quickly realized that the most functional option was in fact the humble apron. Funny how when women gave up keeping the home they also gave up pockets in the process.

All this ignores the solution that women typically prefer, the purse. Because, honestly, when they leave the house women are toting around way more stuff than just their phone and their wallet. Pockets won’t accommodate everything the average woman carries, even assuming she wanted to put all of them in pockets where they could accidentally fall out or get intermingled with other items. Fashion designers are smart enough to know this and therefore don’t go out of their way to add excessive numbers of pockets. Most women just use purses and get on with their lives because it is a better solution anyway.

Another simple reason that most of women’s clothing doesn’t feature usable pockets is because the fabric won’t cope well with their addition. When darn near everything is made of stretchy polyester, adding pockets will create some really weird bulging and downward stretching when you put anything in them. I do have skirts and dresses with pockets, but they are all made out of sturdy material that won’t stretch when you put something in said pockets. Jackets are the big exception to the polyester regime and naturally feature the typical hand pockets and the weird breast pockets that only survival horror game protagonists use. The only fake pockets I’ve ever had on a jacket were on my horse show jacket, where I wouldn’t want to put anything in them anyway.

For the rich ladies there are these wonderful things called “tailors” who can make you a nice suit jacket with real pockets if you want them. Not that anyone at your job would blink if you carried a purse into the office with you, so that would be down to personal preference as opposed to the office dress code. Even for the non-rich ladies pockets are a possibility if you have any inkling of how to sew and a conveniently placed seam on the clothing you wish had pockets. Maybe I’ll write a little tutorial on how to do that.

So, overall, to the surprise of no one, women (in the media) are complaining about nothing again.  More surprising perhaps is the fact that by giving up the home and the knowledge that went with keeping it, women gave up their two primary sources of pockets: Aprons and homemade (or home adjusted) clothing.  Any woman who cares to find a solution has many options available, but they already know that.

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MS: So Which Is It?

It’s “brave” and all that jazz for a teenage girl to challenge a high school’s totally sensible dress code (which is more lenient than my job’s dress code btw). People get behind that sort of thing immediately and say that dress codes like that tell girls that boys’ ability to concentrate in class in more important than a girl’s education. Not that those dress codes ever get enforced anyway, since any teacher who tells a girl her clothes are inappropriate will immediately be fired on sexual harassment charges. So no challenges are really necessary.

But the minute a company starts trying to sell clothes that that same girl claims to want to wear to school, the cries of sexism and “that doesn’t pass a dress code”, immediately ensue.

So I guess any girl who wants to wear slutty clothes to school better take some sewing classes. Because it’s totally fine for her to dress that way, but heaven forbid if a company should sell it to her.


MS: Glasses

It’s time I did a fashion post again, and what better topic for me to tackle than glasses? Being a bespectacled gal myself, I am often annoyed by the sentiment that glasses make a girl look ugly or unfeminine simply because she wears them.

The fact of the matter is that is far from true. Our perception that women with glasses are ugly ducklings who will transform as soon as they ditch the glasses is mostly created by the media. We see it in movies like the Sabrina remake or the first Princess Diaries movie. We see the male version of this in the Superman franchise. But let’s stop to think about this for a minute, what do those glasses all have in common? Big, thick, dark rims and giant, face-distorting lenses. It’s not the glasses, it is the style of glasses.

Different styles of glasses communicate different things, which again, we mostly get from media. The media gets it from various unconscious associations between shapes and dispositions.

First, my cardinal rule about glasses: Glasses should not distort, disguise, or distract, but should enhance your face.

Second, if you are hoping I will justify women wearing hipster glasses, leave now because I will disappoint you.

With that, we shall now talk about rims.

Particular rims styles carry some specific associations. Obviously ones that were popular in certain times periods will evoke that time period.

Greaseglasses

Only wear these to theme parties. Source: Grease

But what do thick rims, the ones typically shown in these movies evoke? These women are shown as nerdy, unfeminine, clumsy, childish, and potentially as workaholics. Why? Well, think about it, these days the main reason a woman has thick rims on her glasses is because she might break them or is not aware of what looks good on her face. Thick rims disguise and distract from a woman’s face. Especially if they are a bright, garish color. Thick rims add too much weight to the face and can interfere with expressiveness. Note how in the picture above, the girl wearing glasses looks angrier than she is probably meant to, because the rims block her eyebrows and replace them. Thick rims add a lot of harshness to the face, you can’t not notice them. They distract from the wearer’s actual features by painting big windowsills around the person’s eyes, dividing them from the rest of the face. The thicker and more attention grabbing your rims are, the less people will remember your actual face.

Thicker rims can create a sense of childlike curiosity, but this only really works if the lenses also make the wearer’s eyes look larger. However, with that childlike look will come the inevitable assumption that the wearer is clumsy. This is because thick rims help keep glasses from getting broken, which a child is more likely to accidentally do.

Thinner rims are far more suited to the female face, because they contribute a daintier feel and don’t interfere so much with expressions. They direct an onlooker towards the wearer’s eyes without boxing the eyes in. Thinner rims act more like eyeliner, especially when paired with the right color and lens shape,

Lens shape is another important aspect to consider when one selects a pair of glasses.

At one end of the spectrum we have round glasses.

johnlennon

John Lennon in his famous hippie glasses.

Round glasses are closely associated with John Lennon and Harry Potter fans, or Modern architects if they have really thick rims. The circular shape is strongly associated with hippies and pseudo-intellectuals (Ones that are especially large are associated with hapless maids). They will make you seem easygoing and self important all at once. They will also draw attention to (but not exaggerate) any bags you have under your eyes, and may suggest you got them from smoking too much of something. Those with rounder faces may want to avoid them, since they will reinforce the roundness of one’s features. All that said, rounder glasses do add a gentler, more well meaning look, being more feminine of a shape overall.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have square glasses. Okay, rectangular, I don’t think legitimately square glasses have ever been worn by anyone.

Carl from Pixar's Up.

Carl from Pixar’s Up.

Undeniably masculine and very harsh, unless paired with very thin rims or no rims at all, rectangular glasses will not look good on a feminine face. If the wearer has no squareish features, the glasses will clash and stand out too much. If the wearer does have squarish features, such as Carl up there, they will reinforce them, making the wearer look more masculine. Rectangular glasses are usually associated with stricter, more authoritarian intellectuals. They add an air of humorlessness and exactness. This shape is not for the fainthearted, a permanent, cheerful smile is needed to offset the shape.

In the middle is the much easier to wear, squarish oval.

The most common glasses shape.

The one of most common glasses shapes.

This shape looks good on most faces, and manages to cultivate the best aspects of rectangular glasses without so much of the stigma. It still evokes the intelligence and a certain measure of the strictness, but leaves behind the majority of the humorlessness. However, a good smile will still be needed to accompany these, because they still do evoke the slightest hint of annoyance. In anime these are often worn by the studious sidekick of an ever so slightly annoying hero. The annoyance normally coming from the hero not listening to their intelligent suggestions. These glasses will enhance the eyes better than rectangular glasses, being closer to the actual eye shape. They add a little respectability and sophistication to the face and are good for women who look a bit younger than they are.

Towards the more circular side, we have the highly wearable and feminine oval.

An extremely common glasses shape, and for good reason.

An extremely common glasses shape, and for good reason.

A much kinder and gentler shape, these are my personal suggestion for most women (the shape, not the brand). Oval glasses are highly successful due to the fact that they closely mimic the shape of the eye and the eye socket. It makes the glasses seem extremely natural on the face. They add the intelligent look that glasses generally have, and add a friendliness due to the bottom half of the rim being shaped similarly to a smile. The top half of the rims imitate the curve of the resting eyebrow, bringing in that easy-going aspect of the round glasses. Overall they are cheerful and feminine, keep the rims thin and you probably have a winner.

There are also aviator glasses, but unless you have bifocals or trifocals and therefore need them, I would not suggest them. All they do is exaggerate the bags under your eyes and make you look old.

Determining what size your glasses should be is easy. Keep them close to the size of your eye socket and try to avoid having them extend too far beyond the edges of your face.

Color is more difficult and highly subjective. A more neutral, metallic color tends to be the best bet. However, if you wear a particular accent color a lot I would suggest trying to match that.

Chiriko from Anohana. Source: Meganekko Daily.

Tsurumi Chiriko from Anohana.
Source: Meganekko Daily.

This character’s red glasses work because they go with her tie and shoes, otherwise they would be a bit too bright. Bright colors can suggest an outgoing and vivacious personality, or can make it seem like you are trying too hard. Neutral colors are more reserved and serious. Colors of course have their own symbolism, which you need to pay at least a little attention to. Primarily you should consider whether the the color looks good on you personally.

That is my guide for selecting glasses that will look good. If anyone has suggestions I’d be glad to hear them, and if you have questions I’ll be glad to answer them.

Not all men like a woman with glasses, but if anime has taught me anything, it is that there is a subset of men who like glasses very much.

Hasebe from Servant x Service.

Hasebe from Servant x Service.


MS: Notes on Nylons

Since writing my initial post on hosiery I realize that I’ve left out some more specific details about nylons that may be helpful to others.  I come across a lot of product reviews of nylons that indicate that most younger women could use a few tips in their actual use and care.

Tip #1: Consider them to be disposable. There’s a reason that you can buy nylons in basic colors at chain grocery stores. I’ve heard that at best you can expect about 6 months worth of total wear out of any pair of nylons. So when you pay more for a nice pair, understand that you’re paying for a fancy color or design and the higher price won’t guarantee better quality overall.

Tip #2: If you’re going to wash them, there are two things you can do before washing them the first time that may strengthen the fibers. I’ve never done either of these things, so I can’t vouch for whether they work. One suggestion is to soak them in warm salt water, the other is to put them in the freezer. I hear the salt water one more often, so I’d give that one a try.

Tip #3: Actually hand wash them and hang them to dry, don’t put them in the washer or dryer. Just a few drops of detergent or shampoo should do the trick. Some people suggest using conditioner as well. Using fabric softener or vinegar can help preserve the flexibility of the fibers.

Tip #4: Make sure your nails and fingers are free of stuff that will snag your nylons as you put them on. Hangnails, overly rough skin, sharp corners on your nails, chipped nail polish, etc. Put on gloves if necessary to avoid snagging.

Tip #5: Shave your legs before putting them on. It makes them a lot more comfortable.

How to put them on:

Step 1: Sit down. You don’t want to be hopping around on one leg trying to put these on.

Step 2: Take the first leg and gather it up, your thumbs inside the leg and your fingers on the outside. You want to be able to put your toes straight in without wiggling through the leg.

Step 3: Put your toes in while holding your leg close to your body. Slowly move your leg outward, releasing the nylon as you go until you pull it up over your knee. Then stop.

Step 4: Repeat step 2 and 3 with the other leg.

Step 5: Stand up. If they are thigh highs, adjust them to the height you want. If they are full pantyhose, gently pull them the rest of the way up, gently pinching the fabric between your thumb and side of your pointer finger. Never pull with your nails and never pull sharply.

What to do about runs:

Dab both ends of the run with clear nail polish. (This is the standard advice).

Spray the run with hairspray, let dry, repeat. Some  suggest spraying the nylons down with hairspray after putting them on in general.

Dab with anything sticky that will dry clear.

I have no personal experience with any of these on account of never having gotten runs in any of my nylons. So let me know how these work if you try them.

That’s about as much advice as I can give on nylons at this point. Here’s a relevant song to finish off the post:

Sources: http://www.thesimplehomemaker.com/3-tips-on-how-to-stop-a-run-in-nylon-stockings

http://voices.yahoo.com/how-keep-stockings-getting-run-4097469.html


MS: A Tip for Quiet Girls

I want to caution anyone reading this advice that I never got asked out using this trick, but I got a lot of fun conversations using this. I call it either “the Surprise” or more endearingly but somewhat less accurately, “the Quirk”.  I’m not sure how useful this will be, but I got to thinking about it because of this post by Donal and this post on Girls Being Girls.

The basic premise of the Surprise is that it is something that allows another person to easily strike up a conversation with you. I call it the Surprise because it helps if it is just a little unusual and makes the other person curious. I discovered this before I was dating age and basically rediscovered it in college.

There are three varieties of the Surprise that I’ve discovered. The Accessory, the Item, and the Behavior. For examples I’ll tell you my story about each one of these.

The Accessory:

This is the one that I discovered very early on and completely by accident. As a child I was obsessed with dragons, so one Christmas, R (my father figure) got me a rather large, wooden dragon pendant. I wore it every chance I got, even if I had to wear it in a way that nearly strangled me. I was quite small (I’m still quite small) and the pendant was rather large, so naturally it got noticed by people. The most distinct memory I have about it opening a conversation was when my mother and I were at a restaurant waiting to pick up an order. A very tattooed man who was also waiting simply had to talk to me about my beautiful pendant and relate it to the huge dragon tattoo that he was slowly getting. I didn’t say much, being a shy child, but the door was still opened and I met someone I never would have spoken to. This wasn’t flirting (at least I hope it wasn’t), but in another situation this same pendant could have given an interested young man a legitimate opener that was related specifically to me. So he doesn’t have to open with something generic and potentially annoying.

Admittedly the Accessory works best if a) it was a gift or b) it has some sort of special meaning to you, that way you can keep the conversation going once the person opens and you don’t seem vain.

The Item:

I live in a part of the country where, if you were born there, you’re not supposed to use an umbrella. An umbrella is the mark of a tourist. However, as an artist and a student I had stuff I needed to keep dry and my trenchcoat wasn’t going to keep my bag dry. So I bought an umbrella. An umbrella with a sword handle. So, not only do I not get called a tourist, I get a lot of comments on how awesome my umbrella is. The added bonus is that when I think it will rain later and I want to carry it, I’d stuff the umbrella in my bag and leave the handle sticking out. This meant I got a lot of people asking me if I was really carrying a sword. One guy even said, “Please tell me that’s real!”. It works nicely in combination with my feminine outfits, because it’s unexpected.

Works best if it is something you actually need and therefore don’t have to make excuses to use it. Also don’t make a big show of using it, for you it should be totally normal, it’s other people who are supposed to be pleasantly surprised and intrigued.

The Behavior:

That’s a very ambiguous name, but I couldn’t come up with a better term. I used to read in between classes and did whenever I had to wait outside classrooms. However, whenever I got to wait between classes and had a flat surface in front of me I would do origami instead. I stopped reading between classes because unless I was reading a short story I couldn’t make much progress and I was frequently interrupted by others. Mostly asking me the aggravating question of “What are you reading?”, which annoyed me quite a lot because they ought to be able to read the title off the cover, but I digress. Also, I wanted to fold the origami anyway for other reasons. So that’s what I started doing. Naturally, this is somewhat unusual (okay, very), so it garnered a lot of questions from people. Why was I doing it? Did it take me long to learn? Was I trying to fold x number of them? Will you teach me? etc. I even learned the party trick of folding my origami of choice with one hand. It also came in handy on occasion. The point here of course is that it got people to notice and talk to me, without having to be loud, brash, or anything other than what I am.

This one is probably the hardest to apply, because it needs to be something that you want to do, would do anyway, and isn’t annoying or expensive.

There are things that apply to all three of these categories. The most important being that the Surprise has to relate to you, it has to tell other people something about you, something real. Don’t go out and learn to fold origami because that’s what I do, go out and learn what you want to learn. If that’s origami, fine, just make sure it’s what you want to do. Don’t go out and buy a big gaudy piece of jewelry to get attention. Think long and hard about your interests and try and figure out what other people always find interesting or surprising about you. Figure out how to show that to other people without saying a word. Make others curious about you. Is it a sure fire way to get men to ask you out? No. It just gets people to talk to you, which opens the door for friendships and romantic relationships. It just another thing that can make you easier to approach.

And don’t forget to smile. That’s the best way to pleasantly surprise someone.


MS: Slips

I’m not sure precisely when I discovered the usefulness of slips, but luckily for me it happened before I started trying to wear skirts and dresses full time. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few episodes when I wore tights and a full length skirt and was rewarded with being hobbled by said skirt. Being resourceful and pragmatic like I am, I sought some advice and found out about slips.

Now, I’m not lucky enough to own a full slip, so I’ll just direct you over to a wonderful post by BB and carry on telling you about what I do know, half slips and pettipants.

Like last time, some quick picture reference:

Half slip: Basically an underskirt, generally made from an antistatic material. Comes in many lengths, may have lace trim or a slit. Normally comes in white, beige, and black.

Illusion’s Classic 32″ Half-slip

Pettipants: Also called Culottes or Bloomers. Serves the same function as a half slip, but is split down the middle. Normally comes in two lengths, knee length or mid-thigh.

Illusion’s Classic Soft Cotton Pettipants

All forms of slips serve many functions. They keep you modest in sheer dresses by hiding your precise form and by keeping underwear from showing.  They help prevent static cling and snagging on other fabrics. It gives you an extra layer of warmth in winter. It gives you something other than just your underwear to stand in if you should need to hastily wash a stain out of your dress or skirt in a public bathroom.  Also for you married ladies they can count as lingerie.

Truth be told there isn’t a lot more to say about these than that. They go over your tights or underwear and under your skirt. Nothing more complicated than that.  Go grab a couple at a second hand shop or shell out a little more for some new ones. They’re not as common anymore and some dresses and skirts have them built in, but they’re nice to have. Especially when that built in slip isn’t doing it’s job.

I’d also talk about petticoats in this post, but presently I know nothing about those. Maybe someday.


MS: Leggings and Hosiery

I know I said I wouldn’t be around for awhile, but darnit I need something to do and I don’t feel like drawing. So I’m going to write about something generally inoffensive and something even I’ve figured out. Feminine dress. I have tried to keep the pictures in this post as modest as possible, as I don’t wish to lead anyone astray.

So, for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, cold weather is on its way. So what is a gal who’s dedicated to dressing femininely to do? Skirts and dresses can be rather, er, drafty. The answer to the question of how you keep from freezing to death in the winter seems rather painfully obvious when you hear it, but rest assured I had to ask the same question around a year ago.

Tights.

Before I carry on I’m going to lay out a few definitions, because I don’t want anyone to get confused as they read. I must emphasize that these are the names that I use for these items and are not necessarily what you would call them.

So, some definitions:

Tights: A catch all term for any tight, form-fitting piece of clothing that you wear on your legs, except socks and tight jeans.

Leggings: Tights made of opaque material. Normally leggings cover the hips and legs all the way down to the knee or ankle. May cover the feet or have “stirrups”, but generally don’t. Despite popular opinion they are not a suitable replacement for pants.

Leggings

Black and White Striped Pattern Stretch Leggings from Blue Pearl World.

Nylons: Tights made from predominantly Nylon. A group term for stockings and pantyhose. Generally more formal and/or alluring than leggings.

Pantyhose: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. May or may not cover the feet, but do cover the hips.

Pantyhose

Pin-Up to You Tights on Modcloth

Stockings: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. However, unlike pantyhose, they extend up from the feet to the mid or upper thigh. They are held in place either by a garter belt or by elastic/silicone bands.

Stockings

Have a Confetti to Make Thigh Highs on Modcloth

Now, on to the actual subject. As I said earlier, one of the first steps for a skirt or dress wearing lady to take towards keeping warm in the winter is to throw some tights on underneath. Not all forms of tights are built with this in mind, but in the age of the internet it’s pretty easy to track down leggings that are made of the right stuff to keep you warm. Especially since there has been a growing trend towards using leggings as pants, but that’s not something I condone unless there is a yoga or dance class involved.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen leggings from time to time in the mall and not been very impressed with the color selection. Lots of black and a few toned down colors. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, but if you like color and don’t want to put black with everything it can be disappointing. When it comes to all varieties of tights, the internet is going to be where you do most of your shopping. These days you can find tights in all colors, styles, and materials. Just spend awhile looking and pick some out that suit you. There isn’t much specific to say about leggings, so I’m going to spend some time talking about nylons.

These days it’s pretty unusual to see a women wearing nylons of any kind, but not that long ago they were a staple in every lady’s wardrobe. One of my teachers in high school talked about how when he was a bank manager he would have to send women home if they weren’t wearing nylons. Being a history teacher, he also talked about how during the silk shortage of WWII women would take eyeliner pencils and draw seams on the backs of their legs, so as not to look unladylike. The particularly industrious would spend all night drawing fishnets on their legs. While I’m not going to spend time contemplating why they were so quickly tossed aside, I will mention one aspect of them that hasn’t changed. Nylons make a woman look like a lady. While bare legs with healthy skin have a raw allure, nylons give that extra sense of polish. And these days you don’t even have to concern yourself with keeping your seams straight or being limited to black, white, and nude. They still take some gentle handling to avoid runs, but they are almost disposably cheap and the trick of dabbing clear nail polish on the origin of the run is well known.

So, there’s no reason to not have a pair or two in your wardrobe. If you go to a lot of formal events or like me, your legs are you best feature, then these are a necessary staple to your wardrobe. Do understand that regardless of where you get these, you most likely won’t be able to try them on or return them. So make sure to look at a sizing chart, which should fairly accurately tell you what size you wear. Some follow a small, medium, large, etc labeling, but most I’ve encountered use A, B, C, etc. to label the different sizes. The chart should look something like this:

A hosiery sizing chart.

Find where your height and weight intersect and that will tell you what size you should be wearing. Obviously the closer you are to the upper edge of a size means that it will be a tighter squeeze. Given that this is women’s fashion we’re talking about, there will be some variation in what height/weight combos will fit into the sizes. So again, if you’re on the upper edge of a size you should check with different brands.

I’ll be following up on this post with one on slips and another on legwarmers. If you have further questions on this topic I’ll be glad to answer your questions in the comments.