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102. Flip Flops–The Depth of Fashion

30 Mar

Here in Seattle, the weather is about as fickle as Mary on Downton Abbey. Will it rain? Or snow? Or be overcast? Or sunny? Or marry Matthew? Yes! Sometimes all in one day. That’s one of the first things they teach you at Pacific Northwest Orientation: Layers.

Even so, with a glance out the window, I’ll see some folks in parkas, some in sandals and shorts, and some–inexplicably–wearing all of the above. What I rarely see is people wearing flip flops. Birkenstocks? Yes. Tevas? Boy howdy! But flip flops? Not so much.

I’ve been aware of the Southern predilection for wearing those foot-slapping sandals for quite a few years now. One time my sister tried to convince me that they were the height of fashion. But I’ve seen nary a flip flop shod model making his/her noisy strut down any runway anywhere. And if one ever did, I feel sure they’d be wearing the “shoes” ironically. To be fair, I’ve never seen models in Berkies either, nor do I expect to.

What I hadn’t realized until I was home this past Christmas is that flip flops are considered all-weather footwear. At least by more than one member of my family (and y’all know who you are), seeing as they were wearing them in what I’d definitely describe as “sweater weather.”

I might’ve asked why, but I’m psychic enough to predict the answer: “They’re comfortable.” To which I would telepathically respond, “In winter?” Surely frostbitten toes can’t feel all that great (if indeed they feel at all). At least with Birkenstocks, one has the option of wearing socks. Not that I’d advise this or actually do it myself (full disclosure: I have). But at least you can protect toes from the elements and/or conceal one’s winter pedicure hiatus.

Perhaps sensing a lack in the marketplace, some industrious soul came up with a flip flop sock. Which is great if you want your feet to resemble some sort of tree-dwelling creature or perhaps a reject muppet.

To be fair, I should mention that Southerners deck themselves in all manner of fancy flip flops. These are not your typical shower shoes. You’ll find them in a rainbow of colors (alas, the ones with the faux rainbow stacked heel seem to have gone the way of pet rocks). They’re embellished with rhinestones, flowers, “pearls”, you name it. Still, y’all, they’re flip flops. Lipstick, meet pig.

Perhaps I’m not giving flip flops a fair shake due to a childhood trauma. When I was 10 or 12 years old (or possibly 11), a girl named Natalia came to live with us for the summer, for reasons that are still unbeknownst to me. Natalia loved two things: her flip flops and Phil Collins’ cover of the Supremes’ classic “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

My sister and I were not overly fond of Natalia. I can’t remember exactly why, if the two aforementioned character traits aren’t reason enough. Also, she was a tattle-tale. Anyhow, I’ve come to associate that relentless “flap, flap, flap, flap” noise as the sound of Natalia (read “doom”) approaching. And I feel the urge to dash away quickly lest I be further aurally assaulted by that dreadful song, which is, of course, now playing in an endless loop in my mind.

Sorry, y'all, I don't.

Do you wear flip flops? If so, why?

Images from Etsy: Flip flop sign by Expressions of Kim (another Kim, not me), Flower flip flop by Petal ‘n Pearl Boutique, Crystal flip flop by All Things Glamorous, “I Do” flip flops by Bridal Flip Flops.

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81. Pantyhose (Preferably without Runs)

27 Feb

You don’t see a lot of folks wearing pantyhose in the Pacific Northwest. Here, there are two choices: tights or bare legs (or the ill-advised, unfortunately named “jeggings”). It’s not that they don’t sell them at Nordstrom and such places; they do. I’m just not sure WHY, seeing as I can’t name a single person I’ve ever seen wearing them. But perhaps I’m not going to the right places, such as office conference rooms or fund-raising events on the Eastside.

I, myself, have quite the collection of tights. Some of which have never been worn due to: A. not matching anything I own and B. my innate inability to brazenly wear clashing patterns and/or colors. I’m still too much of a Southerner to disobey the 12th Commandment: “Thou shalt not go out in public looking tacky.” Before y’all start reminding me of all the freakishly unattractive ensembles the People of Walmart wear, I will say that those people are heathens.

While pantyhose come in all the colors of crayon box (the 64 pack, not the giant economy-sized one), Southerners tend to stick with the basics: nude or black, almost always opting for the “control top” variety. I’m not sure how those became so popular, seeing as what most Southerners (myself included) need is a “control muffin top.” Of course, with a little ingenuity, this problem is easily solved: buy pantyhose a size “taller” and pull them up to right under the boobs. The ladies in my family were wearing Spanx before their “founder” Sara Blakely was even born. We just didn’t bother to make millions selling them. Didn’t folks already KNOW how to do that?

One day, my sister, Jenna, was in a store checking out the Spanx display, wondering if it was time for an upgrade. Next thing she knew, her homemade Spanx and her elastic waist pants had something like a reverse magnet effect and her pants ended up around her ankles. She immediately: A. looked around her to see if anyone had noticed and B. pulled her pants back up. Probably in that order. Then she went right back to perusing the Spanx as if nothing had happened – just one of the eight million and twelve reasons why I love my sister…

Abstract art?

I’ve always been curious about the “panty” function of the hose. You know, that teeny patch of cotton in crotch. Is that really supposed to be sufficient?

In the Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, Jill Conner Brown tells about a time when she was too pregnant for panties and getting dressed for a party. Her husband walked in and…

Jill writes: “(He) was surprised that I wasn’t wearing anything under my tights: ‘You’re not wearing any panties?’ I just said, real offhand, ‘Oh, you never wear panties to a party,’ and kept on doing whatever. He just stood there, slack-jawed, for a full thirty seconds, considering the implications, I suppose. I had moved on, forgotten about it, and he was still standing there, gaping. ‘You don’t? Nobody does?’ ‘Nobody does what?’ I asked him. ‘Panties to a party – doesn’t anybody wear ‘em?’ He was looking sort of dreamy and clearly thought he was being let in on some big secret of all womankind: that every party he’d ever been to or would ever go to – there wasn’t a pair of panties in the room – and he was the only guy who knew.”

I beg to differ.

There are still some workplaces where women are required to wear pantyhose, which I consider a cruel and unusual punishment, especially in the summertime. I would get worked up into a rant here about how unfair this is to women, but when you see a car salesman on the lot at noon on an August day clad in a suit coat AND tie, you’ll see that everybody’s equally miserable.

I’d love to hear what y’all think about pantyhose.

Also, could someone please explain why there’s such a thing as “sandal-toe” pantyhose? Like people can’t see the seam? And what exactly are “support” hose supposed to support?

Photo credits: “I know I’m a Queen” T-shirt design available at Scribblin’ Sisters.

“Abstract art?” I saw this lovely display in the restroom of a department store in Mississippi. I was happy that I had a camera phone, but sad that the photo quality was, well, not exactly “quality.”

65. Crochet–Getting Crafty, Granny Style

3 Feb

Photo by Poppy
Flickr Creative Commons

You can’t throw a sugar packet in a Seattle coffee shop without A. Hitting a knitting group or B. Being chastised for mishandling some of our Earth’s precious resources (sugar, paper). Knitting has gotten quite trendy here in the last decade, thanks mostly – I think – to the catchy moniker “Stitch ‘n Bitch.”

Well, y’all, Southern ladies have been stitchin’ ‘n bitchin’ for centuries. Where do you think all your grandmother’s doilies and afghans came from? Walmart? I think not!

Before I get much further, I must confess that I have never knitted, nor crocheted, and I don’t exactly know how to differentiate between the two. As near as I can figure, knitting is for useful items (sweaters, socks, etc.), crocheting is mostly for decorations.

When I was growing up, crocheting was at an all time high. In the 70s, there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be prettied up with a bit of crochet. Is that an extra roll of toilet paper? No! It’s a lovely doll with a crochet “skirt.” Is that your blender? Goodness, no! Apparently an adorable chicken wandered in and took up residence on the counter. Is your broom wearing a skirt? Don’t be silly. That’s Twiggy. You know, the model? She lives here now. In our closet.

I don’t know where the obsession for turning everyday things into art projects came from. Possibly the same handbook that taught folks how to make the ubiquitous Barbie doll bake sale cake. (Don’t tell me you haven’t seen one.)

I, myself, got caught up in the crochet/knitting craze back in the early 00’s when ponchos were all the rage (remember that exhilarating five minutes?). I hooked up with someone on ebay who knitted custom ponchos (and matching hats!), and went a little overboard, buying poncho/hat combos for my mom and sister and three for myself. It was almost like having a grandmother. Though I don’t imagine most grandmothers are compensated through Pay Pal.

During the height of my own crochet frenzy, I sprang for some beautiful (and none too cheap) Alpaca yarn at the Puyallup fair. It’s around here catching dust somewhere, probably still hoping that it will spontaneously become a scarf one day. Alas.

Over the years, I’ve toyed with the idea of picking up needles and learning how to knit one, purl two. And maybe I will one of these days. Just don’t expect to see me showing up to stitch ‘n bitch night anytime soon. However, if the stitchin’ is optional, count me in!

Do you crochet? If so, could you make me one of those fancy TP covers so I can deck my bathroom out in retro style?

57. Western Wear (Boots, Bolos, and Beyond)

16 Jan

The Holloway ladies: rocking the Urban Cowboy look.

I am a sucker for a man in a western shirt. Although, I must admit that I prefer a guy who wears said shirt ironically. He’s a few steps beyond the “all hat and no cattle” types. More like “no hat, no cattle.”

During the blessedly short-lived Urban Cowboy phase, I had it all: hat, western shirt, Wranglers, belt, boots. Only thing missing was a lasso and possibly some spurs. Today, if you checked my closet – once you got past the stampede of dust bunnies, store receipts, and discarded tags – you’d find one imitation western shirt, three cowboy hats (two pink, one purple) and four pairs of cowboy boots (if you count Frye harness boots, which I do).

Dior "cowboy" boots,
a bargain at $1032!

As most Southerners know, a little western wear goes a long way. Boots and Wranglers? Yes. Just don’t go adding the hat, bolo tie, gi-normous belt buckle and fancy embroidered shirt unless you’re actually participating in a rodeo or perhaps a strip club act. And ladies, please refrain from wearing shirts declaring your status as “rodeo queen” in rhinestones. That’s just tacky on a number of levels.

If you plan to sport western wear, try not to look like you just walked out of the dressing room of your local Cowboys R Us. At least one or two of your items needs to appear lived in (and not in that pre-distressed Old Navy sort of way). If you don’t have time to wear in (or out) your gear, try shopping at Goodwill.

This probably goes without saying (but when has that ever stopped me?): don’t go around sporting designer cowboy duds like a diamond-encrusted bolo tie or these Christian Dior “cowboy” boots. That’s a good way to get yourself mugged or worse…mocked.

Do you regularly sport western wear? What’s your favorite accessory?

36. Wrangler Jeans: Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Wear Levi’s

7 May

Why do Southern people love Wrangler jeans? No, I’m asking you: why? Ok, I’ll admit to admiring the way they hug the backsides of bull riders. But, honestly, I think any jeans would do. Even Walmart brand, if there is such a thing.

Wranglers are supposed to be tough, the Clint Eastwood of jeans. So maybe folks feel more macho with that lasso-esque label on their butt. Still, this doesn’t explain why women wear them. Then again, maybe it does.

I can’t recall whether or not I’ve ever actually owned a pair of Wranglers. I’m sure my sister would remember. She has an uncanny talent for recalling anything you’d rather forget. I do distinctly remember trying on a pair once. This was at Mildred’s, a sad little clothing outpost not far from where I grew up. I can’t remember anything they sold apart from the aforementioned Wranglers. Underwear? Neckties? Ball gowns? Help me out, Richland people…

I never considered myself the Wrangler type. I mean, I’ve yet to attempt roping a steer. Heck, I haven’t even chased after a greased pig. I think you kind of have to earn Wranglers, in the manner of a Boy/Girl Scout merit badge.

When I was growing up, getting caught in Wranglers knocked you at least two rungs down the social ladder. In my mind, anyway. I didn’t even want folks knowing I occasionally wore Lee’s. (eek! now you do!)

I was all about Chic jeans (pronounced like “small yellow bird,” not “oil baron.”). And Jordache (with requisite comb in the back pocket). And my personal favorite, Gloria Vanderbilts (although my dad claimed he couldn’t afford those fancy Gloria “D.” Vanderbilts. Perhaps because he wasn’t John D. Rockefeller?)

Now that I’ve been an ex-pat Southerner all these years, I kind of think I ought to get myself a pair of Wranglers. Embrace my heritage, you know? But where would I even find a pair? I’m guessing Nordstrom doesn’t carry them.

Do you wear Wranglers? What do you like about them?

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