Monday, January 31, 2011

If the Suit Fits...

It was with great interest that I read the interview with Abby Joseph Cohen. I am always interested in women of achievement, and she sounded like an interesting person. But I was distracted from her achievements when I noticed (immediately!) that her suit didn't fit her, and that her pants were all wrinkled. If I were a partner at Goldman Sachs, I would take myself to a nice NY Designer and have some elegant understated suits made. Suits that didn't look like they were men's suits, but smaller.
I used to work in Washington, in several law firms and for lobbyists. The women in the law firms who were partners wore very conservative suits, but the women lobbyists wore dresses and jackets and suits that fit. They had a much better developed style sense. Maybe because they wanted to be noticed and listened to? Something to think about. When we wear clothes that don't fit us, it distacts those very people who we are trying to impress. It dilutes our influence, it distracts from our message. When we wear clothes that 'suit' us, that fit our bodies and project the image that we want, we feel more confident and in control
When you watch the State of the Union, it's easy to pick out some of the women members of Congress who wear bright colors and well fitting suits.
The lesson I took away was to stop dressing like a mouse if you want your voice heard. Wear a color! Stand out! And make sure your jacket fits.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spring Projects (I hate Winter)

Let's be clear about Winter. I am through with it. I am working on Spring Projects and not going outside until everything thaws. That's my goal.
I am working on the following projects:
A brooch for my jackets and hat brim, using the zipper trim packet
just for fun. I am also completing a pair of blue linen capris and planning some blue tops to go with them, because I like to make coordinates. But almost everything I have goes with everything else anyway, because I stick with the same colors.
It makes life easier.
I am thinking of buying the following pattern for spring:

Hey McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, and Simplicity, I have a question. Why aren't all of your patterns available in ABCD and DD cup sizes? Why don't you make all of the patterns available in all of the sizes? Why are some only available up to size 18, and others up to 26? As Cindy-Lou Who said, Why? If you can make size 16, you can make 18 and 20 and 22. If you can make size 8, you can do 6. I can alter my patterns to make them larger or smaller, but I am over 50 and have been sewing since I was a child. Don't you want to make sewing easier and more fun to attract younger sewists?
I think you do. So take my advice. Make every pattern available with all of the cup sizes and make every pattern available in all of the sizes.
I am only buying patterns that have them from now on, as a protest.
Sincerely, Mrs. Hunting Creek

Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Tie, Optional - BANNED

Black Tie, Optional

Attention: Wedding Planners
RE: Black Tie, Optional

Dear Sir or Madam,

The category “Black Tie, Optional” is not a valid dress code for weddings, engagement parties and anniversaries. It has been BANNED by the FIT, Nobel Committee and the Cotillion Society of America.

For all events, the following Dress Codes should be used:

Formal: White Tie
White tie or evening dress, is the Big Deal Dress Code. You are going to an Inauguration, or have won the Nobel Prize. (Your Mother is So Proud) According to Wikipedia (and who would argue with Wikipedia?)"The chief components for men are the dress coat, white bow tie and waistcoat, and starched shirt, while women wear a suitable dress for the occasion, such as a ball gown."

Semi-Formal: Black Tie
The Semi-Formal code has two components: Day or evening. For day wear, men should wear a black tail-less coat with formal trousers (Think JFK at his inauguration - and he also wore a Top Hat, because it was outside) After 6pm, the men wear black tie (commonly called a Tuxedo).Ladies would wear a short dress or cocktail dress.
A long dress is evening wear, and formal (White Tie, see above).

And then there is Casual. There are all kinds of casual, which is where a great many people get in trouble. My daughter called yesterday asking for advice. "What do you wear to a wedding that says the dress code is Black Tie, Optional?"
"There's No Such Thing," I told her, firmly. "It's either Black Tie, Semi-Formal, or it is Not!"
"I think they really mean Casual, but they also want to imply, no jeans."
"If they say Black Tie, optional, their guests could wear anything" I countered. Because there is no such thing." We decided that people who put that on invitations should be given difficult in-laws as their punishment. No wait, two sets of difficult in-laws.

Casual is situational. It can be kind of dressy but not, like Business Casual, or Playboy Mansion Casual, nighties and jammies encouraged, or couples Caribbean Resort Med Casual, which is clothing optional - the most casual of all. This is why we have Dress Codes. Imagine your horror if you go to an event in your nightie (because you thought it was Pajama Optional Dress Code)and everyone else is in Evening Gowns. Remember Bridget Jones in her Playboy Bunny costume at the party and you'll get the idea. Be kind to your guests. Say Formal, Semi-Formal, or Casual. They will thank you. Really.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Roma non fu fatta in un giorno

Looking at the Do It All Mom Calendar, I make the snarky comment to Mr. Hunting Creek that I can’t find the Do It All Dad Calendar. “There won’t be gender equality until there are “Do It All Dad” Calendars.” He says. “The problem with women is, you let men get away with too much.”
I protest, “But then nothing would get done!”
He smiled an enigmatic smile.

He’s right. I hate when that happens. I decide immediately that I am starting a movement.
I will call it the Do Less Parenting Movement. (I originally titled it, Do Less Mom Movement, and was corrected by both son and husband that that was sexist. Duly noted. They’re right again. I hate when that happens.)

Hey, how are you doing on your resolutions, Day 6? I thought I’d update you on a resolution I made a couple years ago, to stop buying fabric. As mentioned, I went cold turkey when accused by my otherwise charming children of exhibiting addictive behaviors regarding fabric and pattern purchasing, meaning, don’t get in between me and any Italian Silk when there is a sale. (Seriously, you might get hurt. Just sayin’)
Well, I did go cold turkey, and as of this March it will be three years since I have purchased fabric for myself. THREE YEARS. But I know that they say that it only takes one drink. I mean, Yard, to fall back into bad habits, so Mr. Hunting Creek and Ms. Hunting Creek remain ever vigilant that no new fabric enters the house until all old fabric is sorted and organized.

The forces of disorder, being the dog, son and Mr. Hunting Creek’s coffee mugs, are making it difficult to keep the outer order in the living room. Also my desk and sewing room are looking pretty rough. But I remind myself that Roma non fu fatta in un giorno, and start picking up clutter when ever I see it.

I realize that looking cute every day is a manifestation of the first mantra: Outer order contributes to inner calm! It’s all the same thing. Now to go vacuum up the dog hair.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Accessory Mystery Revealed!

Lazy me. I saw muff-bags in the Complete Book of Sewing and thought, "What the heck is a muff-bag?". Several alert and energetic readers sent me links and pictures. (And my daughter commented,"What, is your Google-finger broken?")

Myra from Adventures in Baby-Sewing sent the following link, which shows a very attractive muff-bag:
Pictured at the top.

And I am fortunate that I did not title my post with what is a muff-bag. because it turns out to have more than one meaning. A NSFW meaning. Goodness, someone get the smelling salts for Miss Talbot. Conveniently stashed, along with streetcar fare and a compact, in your muff-bag.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Accessory Checklist 1943

One of my Christmas gifts this year was The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot, copyright 1943. (My copy looks not only as if it has been through the war, but that it may have actually fought in the war. It is slightly battered but still holding together. Constance still has a lot of fight left in her.)
In order to keep my Resolution to look cute every day, I consulted with Miss Talbot for her time-tested advice.
Constance says:

January: To brighten your winter coat, wear a huge flower boutonniere of violets, or gay varicolored felt flowers. Carry a muff-bag, and repeat the flowers on the bag. Match your gloves to the flowers.

February: Remove flowers and make a new print turban and dress or blouse with scarf ends. Pull the ends through to show at the opening of your coat. Wear gloves in the predominating color of the print.

It just so happens that my sister also gave me a lovely Felt Flower brooch that I can attach to my winter coat! I'm right on schedule, accessories-wise. YES! I have no idea what a muff-bag might be, but I'm sure that my handsome black leather clutch with fur trim will suffice. It was a gift from Mr. Hunting Creek and he has exquisite taste.
I'll have to get cracking on the 21st century version of a turban. I think I'll wear a chic black hat with a brooch that coordinates with my outfit, should I venture out for my monthly culture Resolution (Go out to the movies, plays or museums,)
I do have gloves and scarves in several colors, so Constance would be proud.

How are you doing on your resolutions, my fellow Resolutionaries? Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one single step towards your goal. Also, go and get that new varicolored felt brooch for your coat. Miss Talbot says so.

Monday, January 3, 2011

You Say You Want a Resolution

The important thing about Resolutions or goals or whatever you want to call them is that the successful Resolutionary makes those resolutions specific and precise. None of those namby-pamby jackwagon goals like “lose weight”, or “get organized”. Those are resolutions that are bound to fail, usually by February 3rd.
Instead, the dedicated Resolutionary studies other, successful Resolutionaries, and steals, I mean, borrows their successful formulas. Why reinvent the wheel? It isn’t going to be easy, but a resolution is not a dinner party.
Good Resolutions should have clearly defined tasks and timelines. They must hold each Resolutionary accountable. It’s so satisfying to check a task off of a list. Holding that in mind, make that list of tasks so that you and your fellow Resolutionaries see clear consistent progress toward your goals, whether those goals are Invade Russia or Paint Bedroom.
So put on your berets or Fidel hats, your Che T shirts or Mao suits and let’s make our action plans.

One goal of mine is to be happier, but that goal is too vague for success. One way to make this both achievable and realistic is refine the goal and make it more specific. I need to have some idea of what would make me happy. Philosophers have been debating about what happiness is since the dawn of philosophy, but I think with a little soul searching we can make a task list for this one. Gretchen Rubin’s blog details every day what she does to achieve her happiness goals. One of her mantras is:

Outer order contributes to inner calm.

This might be my mantra numero uno for 2011.
I conferred with Comrade Hunting Creek, who is totally into task lists, checkmarks, gold stars and Resolutionary Agendas. He got out his legal pad, and started making lists. No vagueness there!
“You need to get rid of a ton of books”, he said.
I agreed. That’s doable. I’m sure it is safe to donate my college textbooks to a good cause, considering I graduated in 1980. No likelihood of a post graduate pop quiz at this point.
“Also fabric.” What! Get rid of my fabric? Did they ask Picasso to get rid of extra canvases? Did he have too much paint? I ranted. Comrade Hunting Creek waited.
“You know, you can’t possibly, ever, in three lifetimes sew all of these patterns, or use all of this fabric.”
You said that before and I bought you off with a pool table, I countered.
“I will finish setting up your sewing studio and you’ll see. It will make you happier to have a clean, organized space.” He is bribing me. I might, grudgingly, part with some fabric. (Don’t tell him I said so.)

Getting into the Resolutionary Spirit, Comrade Hunting Creek suggested the following Resolutions for Chez Hunting Creek:
(After all, it takes a gulag)

Get rid of things we don’t need.

To make this an achievable goal, we need to break this down. We decide to do the following:
Sort one room/shelf//drawer/ closet until we’re finished every week. Fill a box or more of stuff to donate. Actually donate it.
So far we’ve already gotten rid of six boxes of books, and gotten rid of one entire bookcase.
Well done, comrades!

Clean out closets and drawers of clothes that we don’t wear.
I protest faintly that ALL of my clothes are too big now, but if I get rid of everything I will be shivering naked in the snow, like our French Comrades in 1812. Comrade Hunting Creek is unsympathetic. He says, “Just buy some new clothes already!”
No problem, comrade. Consider it done.
I decide my second 2011 mantra is:

Look cute every day.

(Which I totally stole from Trena at Slapdash Sewist, but a Resolutionary has to do what it takes to make the Resolution Happen, whether it is stealing good ideas or marching in Long Marches. Whatever.) Looking nice does make me feel better. I have noticed that when I am wearing nice clothes I feel better about everything. This is a totally doable resolution. I just need to stop my bad, work at home habit of wearing whatever is clean and least wrinkled right out of the laundry basket and organize that closet. See above resolution.

Winter is such a bummer for two California kids like us, so we also resolve to do some fun stuff like go out to the movies once a month and entertain more.

Resolution number three is thus:

Go out at least twice a month, to movies or plays or museums.

Number Four:
Entertain at least once a month. Brunch, lunch or dinner. Just do it.

Now that the house is approaching that magical state of Outer Order, we can ask people over and not worry about them turning us in to Hoarders TV SWAT Team.

Lastly, we decide we need to use some of our cookbooks. Let’s make a new recipe every week, I suggested. Comrade Hunting Creek looked skeptical. Just one, I said.

So our last resolution is:

Make one new recipe every week. (Desserts do not count, said Comrade Hunting Creek.)

My sister gave me the new Sunset Cookbook, so this one will be easy to do. I already make a weekly menu plan, so I can work those new recipes into the plan.

Your Resolution List list will be different than mine, but that is the beauty of the real life, doable actionable Resolution. Fellow Resolutionaries, you have nothing to lose but your chains!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 1/1/11

Happy 1/1/11 - what a lucky number! We are doubly lucky to not live in 1986, when this shirt dress was the hottest thing going. Look at those shoulders! If you were a big-shouldered, slim-hipped gal, that was your era.
I'm mulling over my resolutions and goals for 2011. It's always instructive to think of both what you want to start doing as well as what you want to stop doing. I think it should be a short list, with clear cut goals and a breakdown of how to accomplish them. (I don't get paid to be a Project Manager for nothing.)
What are your goals for 2011?