Archive for the ‘Costume and Self Adornment’ Category

As I readied myself for ballet class in the dressing room yesterday, I noted the pretty but low heeled shoes of another lady as she came in, and remarked that her usual footwear had heels of astonishing height, which I had always admired. She responded that even she had to rest her feet from time to time, and told me about her treasure house of shoes, each tenderly wrapped and stored in a fine box, stacked in rows in her closet. She is a robust creature–Russian, I think, though I can’t remember why–and dresses in a style that accentuates her charms. This learned exposition on shoes was the longest speech I have ever heard from her. I was pleased to hear that women continue to love their shoes, as I used to when I was young.

After the class–excellent as always–there was another discussion in the dressing room, but this time, about the care of cat litter boxes. I shared the gasper about washing out the litter box once a month–which I have never done, and neither had any of the other ladies. There should be one more cat box than there are cats in the house (2 cats=>3 boxes), said another lady. Hmm. But then another lady was floored by my mentioning the clumping litter that absorbs cat peepee. WHAT? She had never heard of such a thing. She used –uh, some kind of Magic Crystal litter, and the pee sits on the bottom of the box. The lady with the many cat boxes said she uses a DIFFERENT KIND OF LITTER IN EACH BOX. Good lord, I thought, such bounty for her cats. We didn’t even BEGIN to talk about cat food–or at least, I finished dressing and bade them goodbye. Perhaps they continued onto cat food and even cat toys after my departure.

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My little drugstore vial of face paint finally sputtered its last bit of magic juice, and so off I went to replenish my store. However, I simply could not manage to match the colors on sale with the color of my skin, and I thought–what about all those bedizened harpies lurking at the makeup counters in department stores? Surely one of them could solve the problem.
Prudently first checking online to ascertain which brand was the thriftiest (=Clinique) I made my way to Lord and Taylor’s, the Old Lady Store in my neighborhood. The make up counters are the first thing you see upon opening the doors to that place, and I found one of the harpies loitering about. I boldly begged her assistance in my quest, indicating that Clinique was my choice.
Ah, that was not her department! She dealt in Chanel, wouldn’t I like a little Chanel? At, quite literally, THREE TIMES THE PRICE.
Actually no, I wouldn’t.
So she sighed and started rifling through the Clinique samples, opened a bottle and poured a vast splodge into her hand, grabbed a paintbrush and daubed it on my face. I was a little taken aback–my usual technique is to dab a bit of the stuff on with my fingertips–but gamely said I’d take it.
As we were engaging in this business, a customer came up asking for some particular Chanel moistening agent. My harpy sadly replied that it was Out of Stock. OH NO, said the lady–when would it come in? Maybe Wednesday was the response. The lady was in despair. I thought, what, Amazon doesn’t carry Chanel? But politely kept my mouth shut.
Then it was time to purchase my paint–and lordie lordie, it took forever, she just couldn’t find it– well, finally she found something almost but not quite the same color.
WHATever, close enough.
My patience in department stores is brief, very very brief.
So I took the precious little bag and went home, thinking: I will buy online next time.
Now that I know the color.
Or at least, close enough to the color.

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There was an article in the Journal this weekend, about how much men choose to pay for their haircuts. I was entertained–the Journal employs fine writers–and as always, charmed to be reminded that men are as vain as women. We are such frail creatures, and there is something so lovable in our anxious concern with appearances, with how other people perceive us.
Some men pay $12, some pay $100–said one, “I pay $25, but I tip $10. I’m willing to tip a barber more because they have life-changing power.”
Once upon a time, I was in Brooklyn, and a friend of my daughter’s had arrived from Brussels to join her and other friends for an occasion. He was wearing a knit cap. Why?
He is an elegant man, always looking just so. He had gone to a fashionable salon in Brussels right before his departure, and he described the astonishing chic of this hairdresser, so beautiful, so modish. HOWEVER, the modish hands were not entirely STEADY, and as time went by, the subject of the extremely modish cut began to have doubts. An HOUR passed by. Eventually, the modiste declared that he was done, a TRIUMPH of modern hair art had been achieved. The top of the coiffure tilted slightly, so that had, say, a tea cup been placed on the summit, it would have slid to the floor. Many people are LOVING this look! Not so my daughter’s friend, hence the knit cap. As we chatted in the bar, he disappeared to command the talent in a local barber shop.

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Once AGAIN I have made a fruitless shopping expedition to La Mall Grande, and once AGAIN I have vowed never to return.
My shopping list was simple: a new bra.
I’m sure that all my friends will agree that I have ever been a Fine Figure of a Woman. In my youth my frame was perhaps more voluptuous than it is now, but not by many orders of magnitude. Basically, MEDIUM. So picture my astonishment to discover that the bras I favored were not available in my size in that store. Larger ones by the bushel, but none in my size. Note that I do not say there might not have been fine candidates lurking elsewhere in that gigantic mall–but traversing Macy’s was already making me quail, the prospect of further questing left me quite faint. On the way out to freedom I made a valiant effort to find a spring sweater, but found that it was already summer in that place: t-shirts, swim suits, and sun dresses everywhere.
However, I did buy 2 birthday cards in a VERY EXPENSIVE card shop.
So trip not entirely wasted.

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Yesterday at ballet class I complimented a lady on her hair, and she earnestly recommended her hair stylist, an artiste who specializes in Curly Hair.
Comrades, I HAVE curly hair.
So once home, I called the salon and got an appointment for 3 pm.
However, by 2 the bright sky had dimmed to gray and the dreaded snowfall was beginning as predicted. Did I quail? Well, yes, a tiny bit, but diligent reading of the predicted weather seemed to say that this was no big thing. That it would be warming soon, that it would all melt, that we would all soon find ourselves basking in an eternal summer of golden happiness.
I may have over-interpreted that last bit.
So off I sped to Virginia. Hmm. Bad traffic already, particularly in the other direction, the coming home direction.
Dearie me.
But onwards! My phone expertly guided me to the place (=”you have REACHED your destination”) and I entered a huge and luxurious salon. After an extended and serious discussion, the stylist led me to the chair and we began our pilgrimage. Apparently during the years that I have been going to a common and cheap hair clipper, significant changes have taken place in the svelte world of hairdressing! To begin with, there were none of those old-fashioned hair dryers to be seen! No indeed–instead of anything so shamingly 1950’s, we are now set into a stunning REM Heatstream Processor Mobile, a splendid machine with large disks that radiate a soothing warmth on the user.
Which does in fact dry the hair but in a MUCH MORE MODERN way. Before my 20 minutes within the pleasant embrace of this modern machine, the stylist had carefully scissored the hair, coated each clump with a Magic Ointment, and then given it a good shake. This “sets the curls.” (Or possibly, “sets LOOSE the curls?” I was not listening as carefully as I should have been, regarding the snow pelting down outside with bemused fascination).
Once the heatstreaming was accomplished, she pulled all the strands about, administered a pat of pomade, and off I went into the storm. The snow was billowing and traffic was fierce, but as it happened, once I successfully navigated the turn onto 495 I cared not! I had a lovely new hairdo, with each curl carefully assembled by an expert! A lady can handle just about anything under those circumstances.

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To those who claim I am impatient and intolerant let me just point out: I WATCHED THE ENTIRE MOVIE OF CLOUD ATLAS.

You will ask why on earth I should undertake such a thankless task.

Well, the alert movie watcher quickly understands that the actors have been persuaded to take many different parts in this large trundling drama, each one with its own particular makeup–some of which are so shockingly horrid as make one gasp with outrage! For instance, here is the actor who played Elrond in LotR, garishly tweaked into an oddly ghastly Asian.

So, so…wrong. ALL the actors have been similarly maltreated, but the process which turns westerners into pseudo-easterners is the most vicious. The parade of unbelievably bad transformations was mesmerizing, and it was the game of guessing who they were that kept me watching. For instance, Hugh Grant appears as Greedy Oil Tycoon—and then, as Gruesome Hawaiian Cannibal Chief!

The hours these actors spent being painted and glued—well, well, they get well paid for it, I suppose.

The worst trick is the one played on poor old Tom Hanks—oh my! He looks worse in every get up (SIX of them), and in the persona of a Simple Native sometime in the ghastly future, he not only looks terrible, but he speaks in an ineffably embarrassing sort of Peasant Slang, which a kindly watcher might wish to simply mute the sound on: “Oh, lonesome night. And babbits bawling, the wind biting the bone . . . The fangy devil, Old Georgie hisself. Mm. Now your ear up close, and I’ll yarn you about the first time we met, eye to eye.

Sigh. Still, I patiently watched the whole thing.

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There are some charming pictures of the 17th century Japanese reaction to their foreign invaders-those horrifying Hairy Barbarians!

Too too disgusting.

HOWEVER, it turns out that modern Asian ladies are not viewing this facial hair with anything like the disapprobation of their ancestors.
There was a story in yesterday’s Journal about a youthful Indonesian entrepreneur who aspired to the bearded hipster look as an aid in his romantic endeavours–but his face, like that of so many Asian men, refused to sprout anything but sparse pathetic wisps. So he started rubbing his cheeks with minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine. AHA! Luscious facial abundance! The ladies giving him the eye! And he has now embarked into a profitable career in helping other Asian youths acquire that oh-so-lovable chin fuzz.
There is no end to what young men will do for the sake of young ladies.
An interesting side note in the article mentioned a study of English facial hair fashions (1842-1971), which found that beards and moustaches burgeoned whenever there were more men competing for fewer women–as is the case in Indonesia today.

Image result for victorian beards

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