The Heels & Public Transportation Dilemma

So just this morning I decided to wear heels to work, which I have been protesting for several months partially because of the snow but more so because it is really quite difficult to stand on the bus/train in heels. It’s not the most pleasant feeling for your feet. What really irritates me are men (or boys, whatever you want to call them) who will jump in in front of you just to be able to get the one available seat. Seriously, you can see me walking into the train in heels but you are going to race me for the one available seat? How does that make sense? Also whatever happened to chivalry. Does it only exist in Texas? I know for a fact when I go back home that men will open doors and offer a seat to a lady before they would ever dream of rushing in to take a seat themselves. So, now that I don’t live in Texas, it is always a debate in the morning, do I want to wear heels and risk having to stand for 30mins in a train or a bus just to get to work. Because let’s face it if I’m going to wear heels to the office I’m not going to change into them, I’d have to start and end the day with them. It’d be a shame to only wear them in the office. And so the perpetual dilemma fashion over practicality? I mean as much as I love my dress flats/ballet flats, they just don’t have the same elegance of a beautiful pair of heels. But I also like my feet to not want to kill me by the end of the day… or even the morning after one of those train rides.

Sunday Morning Reads

I have a tendency to flip through my Sunday T Magazine a bit quickly because I should really be doing homework and not reading the paper for fun – especially not the style magazine of all things but I very rarely can resist. It is my favourite part of the Sunday paper, I just adore looking at all the beautiful clothes and new styles but I often find that I don’t see many articles that truly catch my attention (I’m more a science section fan in that regard).

So imagine my surprise when I found the article “Butch Fatale” and my delight when I saw the fabulous outline of Rachel Maddow. As a member of the queer community it is always a pleasant surprise to see any such thing put in to the news. Especially into T Magazine, I mean that’s a pretty great place to be. It’s interesting because the article speaks of how lesbians very often overlooked in the gay community and for that matter pretty much everywhere else. I mean there are always more than enough lesbian stereotypes to go around the table but if anyone should ask what would image would you conjure of a “hot” lesbian, I don’t think anyone could answer it. There are just too many differing views. And honestly with lipstick lesbians running about how do you even know if they’re gay? But Daphne Merkin makes a great assessment when she said that the lesbians finally have a real icon to turn to in Rachel Maddow. Maddow has captured the hearts of gays & straights, men & women… in fact, I’d say she’s bewitched pretty much anyone who leans a touch left. I’d say that’s score one for the girls that so very often get overlooked. I mean who wouldn’t want to be funny, smart, well-respected and a bit of a wallflower if you could be like Rachel Maddow? I certainly would. In the words of Daphne Merkin, I am offically a fan that “Lesbian Glamour Steps Out of the Closet” in the form of Rachel Maddow.

My next fabulous find of the morning was a piece on the absolutely classic, timeless packaging of Chanel No. 5. Perhaps it is simply because No. 5 happens to be one of my all time favourite fragrances or perhaps it is because there are certain packages that I just adore (Chanel No. 5 being one of them) that I love taking a look at how it came about. I mean I think Gabrielle Chanel was one of the most forward thinking women of her time to be able to come up with such timeless classics. I mean to understand how to imprint something into one’s memory in that way takes talent that very few people have. I always tend to relate these things to the only other thing that I think has such a timeless quality and that is the little blue box of Tiffany & Co. I know being part of the queer community that this may sound a bit like a pipe dream but I have always said whoever gets me a little blue box or a little red box (Cartier, of course) will have my hand. While I may not be entirely serious about it since I do believe in spending the rest of your life with the person you love, not just anyone that gets you the ring of your dreams but it would definitely make me think twice before refusing should it not come from the person I was hoping. Granted this is all theoretical since I am nowhere near decisions like that but I think the fact that so many of my very near and dear college friends are getting married that it does make it stand out a bit more. Not to mention in the midst of the recession things like engagement rings and Chanel just cheer up the spirits a bit. At least they do for me.

A New Age For Politics

Now I am pretty upfront that I’m not exactly an Obama fan-girl (skeptic would probably be the best descriptor) but I’m starting to come around to actually liking the guy a little bit. In fact Obama fan-girls/boys still irritate me and bring out the “devil’s advocate” voice in me all the time. But I have to say I am a fan of some of the things that are happening. One very trivial example would be not wearing coats in the oval office. While it may be a trivial example I think it just shows a President who is a little more relaxed with formalities and more interested in doing what’s best for the country and you don’t have to be in a full suit & tie to do it. I’m not saying wear jeans to work but loosening up a bit is not a bad thing, in my opinion.

Not to mention there has been much progress in the past week or so. I am pleased.

So Thursday morning I was reading this lovely article about how Wall St has been freely giving away bonuses this year despite the fact that they cannot stay out of water without tax-payer dollars bailing them out. And I was just lamenting to a friend about how I wish someone would say something to those people in finance who believe they deserve a bonus for actually making their companies fail because quite frankly, I’d say the opposite is true. These are the same people that got unreasonably large bonuses for doing things that we have found to be completely unethical and made of naught. The money just wasn’t there and they made it up, so why should they be rewarded for this? I cannot explain how pleased I was to read this article later that afternoon which appeared in this morning’s paper. I am really glad that President Obama is actually taking a hard stance on this, granted I wanted a little more brimstone and fire a la Maureen Dowd but you know, I’m still happy that he is showing his displeasure.

Perhaps I will end up actually liking Obama I do really like some of the new moves that Obama is making even if I am not (and am determined never to be) a “fan-girl”. I certainly reserve that fundamentally American right to criticize our politicians but I have to say I think this is a great start to what I hope is a new era in politics.

The Suit Makes A Comeback

I have to say that I was thrilled when I opened up my Thursday Styles section to find that suits are making a come back. I have always loved a classic well tailored power suit, probably more well known as your typical interview suit. It’s just my thing. I think they look absolutely wonderful.

Granted I tend to side with the folks that are fans of pantsuits. I think that skirt suits are beautiful, sure but for some reason I always associate it with secretaries. Could be that I saw too many old movies where secretaries are in fabulously beautiful skirt suits but it’s true. And maybe I’m being a bit too controversial in my light fluffy post about fashion and how I’m excited about suits making a comeback but I also think the skirt suit brings up some gender discrepancies for me. I think the pantsuit comes off as more powerful and more formal. Although in the article I was reading there were quite a few that disagree with me but it’s just my opinion.

The Ever Present Obsession with Losing Weight in America

Imagine my distress as I am reading this morning in the paper about a new method of stapling your stomach where the surgery does not require cutting. I am quite serious and this appears to be quite real and if you’d like to read the article you should click here. I have always found it distressing when women (or men) want to get surgery in order to lose weight. Perhaps I am wrong but I just feel that the healthy way to do it is through diet and exercise. And I do realize that everyone’s body is different and it can be more difficult for some than it is for others which can be disheartening but I also think that it is our own responsibility to take care of our bodies. You cannot just allow yourself to balloon out and then expect a surgery to fix it.

Now I am no exception to the rule, I have my own set of insecurities about my own weight as do most women that I’ve met in the US. (Quite frankly many women from other parts of the world seem to have a healthier view of their bodies, perhaps not leaps and bounds healthier but it’s not quite as hyped up as it is here in the states, at least when I base this on my friends circle.) And I know that in recent years I have really let go and I really need to kick it up a notch but I am not going to let my hectic schedule talk me into a surgery that could possibly be damaging to my health. I mean how much do we know about “shrinking” your stomach. Somehow that just strikes me as a bad idea that could lead to all sorts of negative side effects and serious complications should you not be able to comply with your dietary restrictions.

It’s funny because I don’t think Americans have *always* been obsessed with being slender. I look back at the time of Marilyn Monroe and in those days having curves was sexy. In fact, that was the typical image of a model, it wasn’t those stick thin coat hangars that we call models these days. My theory (and I could certainly be wrong) is that this all changed when Audrey Hepburn came on the scene. No actress/model/famous woman had ever made it so glamorous or “cool” to be thin as she did. I mean let’s face it Audrey Hepburn is still an icon of class and beauty that is unparalleled. (I may be biased, I am also a little in love with her). But it saddens me to think that my most favourite icon of all time could have been partially responsible for this drastic shift in what is a beautiful body. I mean before her time women were supposed to have hourglass figures, which I will admit can also be a bit unrealistic but I think it gives a little more room for imperfection than the coat hangar look.

Don’t get me wrong I love Audrey Hepburn and I think that thin women without an hourglass shape can be beautiful too I just think it has lead to an obsession with losing weight and being thin. It would be great if we could get rid of the stigma of not being stick thin but also maintain an idea of what healthy is so that this country wouldn’t have such a problem with obesity. I believe there is a happy medium and somehow I think that we should be able to attain it.

Finding The Perfect Bra

Was not something I would have considered in the realm of possibilities before today. In fact I had a lot of doubts going in to the store but a couple friends had advised me to go so I figured on a lark it couldn’t hurt and I was desperately in need of new bras. Part of my hesitation to go comes from the fact that I have a long and rather unfortunate history with bra shopping. Ever since I began developing breasts I have had a love-hate (ok, it’s really been more of a hate-hate) relationship with them.

I remember almost to the day when my mother first told me we had to go buy a bra. She and a few other adults had begun to notice that it really wasn’t ok for me to be running around playing with the boys without a bra anymore. That was possibly the worst day of my life. I simply did not want to go, I thought it was horribly embarrassing and for the most part I just wanted them (my “not-breasts”) to go away. Then again I was only 10 at the time and when we got to the department store to “size me” it appeared that the closest thing to my size was a 32B. Yes, I developed rather early and a little too much for my taste. I know most girls would kill to have a rack like that when they are just starting to approach puberty, all they want is to be “real women” and I’m sure many of my friends were jealous but that was not me. I was a kid already trying to find her way caught between two cultures and now having the added burden of having even my body shape looking completely different from my peers was not one I was ready to face. I mean I already looked different being that shrimpy Indian kid with the small bones who looked a few years younger than everyone else and whose family had tea time and all sorts of un-American traditions. I mean god forbid you speak to my mother when she got up on her British English high horse, I’d rather die than have anyone else hear that or when she would decide to start spouting German because languages come so easily to her. So imagine my dread when I now have these things attached to my body that don’t even feel like they’re mine and all they do is differentiate me a little more from everyone else.

By the time I was about 16 I was wearing a 32D and they were still a little too loose around the band and wee bit tight in the cups but honestly it’s a bit hard to go down in band size when the cups need to go up too and you’re just that small a person. By this time it had been years going to get new bras and everytime I discovered that they were getting bigger was just massively disheartening, not to mention disconcerting. Especially because nothing ever fit right and all I wanted was to be normal and have normal sized breasts, just like everyone else. I mean part of the problem is never having a mother who understands why I hated bra shopping so much. She was lucky, she had perfect 32 or was it 34B’s up until she got pregnant with me, but she was also one of those women that was like, oh it would be so nice to go up maybe a cup-size. It’s so easy to say that when bra shopping isn’t like going to Guam because you can’t find anything that fits you, let alone anything that might have actual support and not look like a “granny bra”. I think she was always trying to convince me that having large breasts is a great thing but it was coming (to me) from a completely backwards position. I mean always dreaming of large breasts and then trying to convince someone who has always had them that they’re great generally does not tend to work because you’re coming at it from two different angles. On the other hand almost 2 years ago I went off to India to train for my job and made a very good friend. And for the first time in my life met someone with the same body issues that I had, except she’s a little better adjusted to it than I am but we have nearly identical body-types, the variation is minimal. So needless to say meeting her helped change my perspective forever and also gave me a badly needed friend to talk to about such things. Now nearly 10 years later, I realize there is no such thing as “normal”. And I am so grateful to my friend for convincing me to go get fit for a bra and make sure that you get alterations done if necessary. It is the single best piece of advice I have ever received in my life. Everything else I can figure out on my own, this is the one place where I needed someone to guide me and I luckily found someone to point me in the right direction.

Now strange as this sounds the thought of letting some stranger see me half-naked… or well with my top off just sounded a little upsetting. The reason I say it’s strange is that for anyone who knows me well knows that I get a full body wax every 3-4 weeks and well that requires a whole lot of naked around what could be a complete stranger. I started that about a year ago but the women I have gone to see have been consistently the same person in each state. There was one woman I went to in CT who was ok and my waxer here in Chicago is amazing, I just love Jane. She runs her own little shop called <a href=””>A Little Spa</a>. And I really started waxing by accident (it’s a long story) and this is just different. I think it is partially that I have simply been so uncomfortable with my body for so long it just seems like an invasion of personal space and that most of my body issues come from being uncomfortable with the way my breasts look/feel/are.

At any rate I just had a fitting at INTIMACY OF CHICAGO • Intimacy on Michigan • 900 N Michigan Avenue • Chicago, Illinois • 312.337.8366 with Rochelle (who I recommend to everyone). And it was possibly the best thing that could ever happen to me. I never believed that a bra could change your life but if you ask me right now I would say, “A bra can change your life”. It has only been one day and I feel 10lbs lighter, I look a million times better and my clothes have begun to fit me correctly! The best part is they don’t use measuring tapes they have a holistic method to picking out a bra and Rochelle is simply amazing. She took one look at what I was wearing and said, “Hmm the band looks right but… oh yeah we need to go up in the cups” and came back with absolutely the perfect size on the first try! The first try! So now I wear a 34H and I feel incredible and I even got a couple of really cute but yet super supportive bras out of the whole ordeal. And yes I spent a decent bit of money on it but let’s face it bras are expensive (especially if you aren’t in the A-C cup range because they aren’t as common). Honestly I believe that finding the right bra can change your life, it gives you more self confidence and it feels better. It is absolutely incredible to wear a bra that actually feels good. It’s actually a first for me and I don’t care how much money I have to spend, I’m never going back.

Losing Weight in All the Wrong Places

So I don’t know if this happens to anyone else. But I have this huge problem that whenever I begin exercising regularly and actually losing weight the first place it goes from is right under my bust, which just means that my bras, which I already have a hard enough time finding, don’t fit properly anymore. Not only that, it’s irritating because my bras don’t fit right and then my shirts don’t fit right and honestly, I don’t need any more cleavage. In fact, I’d like to *lose* all that extra cleavage. But no, for the life of me losing some a few inches around the bust is nearly impossible and the stomach takes a nice long time to start to tighten up but just above my waist right under my bust I lose weight like it’s my job. Wtf?! Some days, I just wish you could pick which area you were going to lose weight from. That would be stellar. I think I need to go to a specialty bra store. I should just suck it up because this is massively uncomfortable. Then again, I’d have to find a specialty bra store which is a task in and of itself. Who has time for this crap?

France Takes on Anorexia

You know I have always had an affinity for France that I really can’t explain, I have just come to accept that I am a francophile and if I had my way I’d live in a small town on the southern coast of France doing absolutely nothing. But that’s not really the point of this post. Granted I’m a little late keeping up with this news but I am so pleased to write that France has actually passed legislation banning “death messages” to young women who starve themselves to be thin. I find this to be particularly progressive and encouraging because Paris is the seat to so many prominent fashion houses. I just love it, I love that they value the health and well-being of their people enough to do something this progressive. Yay! Click here to read the BBC article on it I’m so excited that they are promoting healthy body image instead of starvation on the hopes that you may become a model. Seriously people, looking like a coat hanger is way over-rated.

Quantity vs. Quality (in my closet)

So I was just reading Well Heeled which happens to be a blog I like a lot and she had a post on this great topic about Quality vs Quantity in terms of clothes/fashion accessories. So it got me thinking about how I function, enough so that I thought about posting.

Typically my closet resembles quantity over quality but not necessarily. My “work” closet is in a bit of distress right now because I recently changed sizes and I’m trying to go back – that whole metabolism change has been gradual and evil to me since I hit college and I’m still working out the kinks. Unfortunately until that gets worked out I’m being a super spend-thrift about clothes. But here are some things that I consider worth spending money on:

1. A good winter coat. I received a fabulous black Burberry wool/cashmere blend last year that will probably be a little loose on me in years to come if I can whip myself back into shape. BUT the plus side that means I can layer more underneath it and at the moment it fits perfectly, looks super chic and is tres warm. The warm part being the key since I have lived in cold climates for the past 7 years, I intend for this baby to last me at least 10, maybe even 20. For example, the coat I was using before my fabulous present was my father’s black wool Austin Reed that his brother had used for a couple of years and then he used for a good 10 years (maybe more) and then lived in our closet for another 20 – cause they moved to Houston, you don’t really need a coat in Houston – and then I kidnapped it for about 6 which is when it really started to fall apart. So I mean that goes to show that a good coat can hold up over time and is worth the investment. Not to mention it can make you feel exceptionally pretty. 😉

2. Shoes, I find that I tend to buy pricey-ish (think Steve Madden) but not overly pricey shoes. If I get heels I want them to be heels I can walk in. I love public transportation and I loathe having to tote shoes around so I can put on my work shoes. I want shoes that will hold up when I walk all over the city. And quite frankly I just don’t think Manolos or Jimmy Choos or whatnot have that kind of a life and I think you can find very beautiful shoes that you can replace a little more often without feeling so guilty.

3. Watches, this may just be my own pet thing but my favourite accessory is my watch. This could just be because I wear watches all the time. Some day I hope to own a Movado but unfortunately I don’t think I’m responsible enough with my watches to justify that kind of expense at the moment. Currently my favourite is Skaagen and my last one has finally gotten just a touch too much wear and tear after 5 years to consider an upgrade. I believe this will be my new Christmas present to myself.

4. Jewelry, I don’t believe in junk jewelry. Most of what I own was either custom made by jewelers in India (and I don’t believe that anything under 24k is worth wearing if it’s gold) or is from Tiffany’s (or of that caliber). I don’t wear jewelry very often but when I do I want it to look good. Granted I do have a pair of $10 Jem earrings and a few pieces of costume jewelry that are purely for entertainment purposes but on the whole I don’t believe in junk jewelry nor do I purchase it.

5. Sweaters, I definitely believe that good merino wool or cashmere sweaters will always look good. I mean even if you lose a bit of weight and they get a bit looser typically you can still pull off an elegant look with them. Not to mention staying warm and looking good in winter are worth the investment.

6. Scarves, real winter scarves are so worth it. They are a fabulous accessory and let’s face it the average person really only uses their favourite scarf all winter so it’s not like you need a million of them. A few choice scarves that are warm and beautiful make a fantastic accessory. (And if you can afford the trip to India or are going for a better reason than shopping, the pashmina’s there are dirt cheap and adorable).

Band-aids Are the New Fashion Statement

Imagine my surprise when I open up my favorite section of the Thursday paper to discover that band-aids are the new hot accessories and mascara has started vibrating. What will they think of next. I mean I can sort of understand the desire to get the sympathy vote via the bandaids but to make up an injury just to accessorize does seem a bit much for me. Not to mention the idea of vibrating mascara baffles me. Perhaps I’m not looking at the benefits closely enough but I’d imagine you’d have to be a good deal more careful with your daily make-up routine in order to use something like that. And I have to wonder who has the time in this modern fast paced world to spend extra time in the morning before work. But perhaps this is catering to a different sort of clientele.