the nosering

On September 14, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I can’t say how it began, the wanting of a nosering. I was around 17, and can’t remember any special trigger or role model. Can hardly remember even seeing or knowing anyone who had one, or, at least, anyone who had one that I liked. A description in a book, perhaps? It came upon me suddenly, I think, as these things* often do, and I waited patiently to see if it would fade. Two years of tireless fantasizing about a tiny gold hoop later, I got my nose pierced, with nary a moment of doubt or disappointment. It was a strange experience because the piercer has to get very near your face to do the job, and the guy who pierced my nose had eyes uncannily like mine, so we were both sort of astonished and distracted the whole time.

*Ex. Right now I want a pair of antique scissors, as a turn of the century florist might have used. Who can say why?

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My being 19 is very poorly documented. I can’t find this one picture. I am maybe 23 here? I’d just been snowboarding. You get the idea. I’ve had it for a while.

So at 19 a tiny hoop melded seamlessly into the architecture of my face (it was instantaneous), and I loved it, and I love it. I hardly see it now (or, am hardly conscious of seeing it), and I think I am not alone. I’ve had friends notice suddenly, many interactions in, wondering if I’d only just gotten it. They mention it and I feel something like surprise, too, having more or less forgotten about it. At which point I say, oh yes, I’ve had this for ages, and feel the pleasure of remembering having once made an excellent decision.

It fits, seems to be the indication. It’s me.

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From this look, a favorite.

I like so much finding these things that are me. This Meghan life paraphernalia. My long-lost style brethren.

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a while…

freckles

On June 15, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

When I was a child I liked the idea of having a number of features I did not have. I didn’t necessarily dislike the features I did have, quite the contrary, it was more that I wanted to have some others, too (sort of simultaneously, or interchangeably). Why, for example, could my eyes not be one of my favorite colors, purple or gold? At least some of the time? And shaped more like almonds, please?

What pleasure if I had had auburn hair that fell in loose waves. Why could I not be a bit older? Say, 37?* Some of it was a greener grass thing (wanting straighter hair, for example, which I would not have for anything now), but for the most part they were just preferences plucked out of who knows where. Some chimera of admired people and characters. I remember ardently wishing I had copper scales instead of skin at one point, for a long while.

*For some reason I was very keen to be 37. I don’t know how I came upon this number (at around age 8 or 9 this would have been), or why it stuck, but basically I’m still curious to see what happens, and have high hopes for 37.

And why, why, could I not have even a smattering of freckles?

I have zero freckles.

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This was my favorite blanket, elaborately cross-stitched with Raggedy Ann and Andy. It’s rather raggedy itself now but it survives. I am maybe 6 here. Already showing a penchant for capes. I think all children instinctively understand the appeal of the cape.

I have only a few so-called beauty marks which could not be mistaken for freckles by any stretch. And hyperpigmentation from scarring, which let’s not even talk about.

Freckles are decidedly in at the moment and a lot of fine examples are showing up, reminding me of my old wishlist.

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There is such charm in freckles. Often associated with youth but I have found them wonderful on older skin as well. Older women, especially. Older mixed race women especially. They fall now solidly into that category of things I think excellent on other people.

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I have since learned that I can fake all of the things I once wanted the option of having (I still want those options, basically – I am so consistent as that**), provided I am willing to put in the effort. Which usually I am not, but once in a while, for fun…

I didn’t realize then how easy my concept of interchangeable features would one day be to implement.

**It hasn’t escaped my notice (well, not now, but it did escape my notice for many years), that freckles, purple eyes and wavy auburn hair describe Barbie’s friend Midge, which doll I wanted in a certain incarnation for a few years running, and found unutterably beautiful.

At the same time isn’t it a fine thing to be just as I am? Just more-or-less-with-a-few-tweaks-here-and-there-because-after-all-there’s-always-room-for-improvement as I am?

I think so.

Faux freckles are on the horizon. For one afternoon, at least. Golden eyes, too.

One thing at a time.

images via pinterest

the full skirt

On October 26, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
Do not look upon all this that I am telling you about the clothes
as uncalled for or spun out, for they have a great deal to do with the story.

                                     – Cervantes, Don Quixote

Some mornings I wake and wonder: if I could wear anything that day,  truly anything I want…what would I wear?

Then, I wear that.

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IMG_7800I recommend it.

There are certain eras of style that resonate with me, notably including the Victorian era (technically 1837-1901, a lot happened but I like the later years) and stages of early America, roughly the 1840s and extending maybe a decade on either side; the era of pioneers and the gold rush, of saloons and prairies.  We still have prairies…but I mean the ones after which the dresses are named. You know the ones.

I love this shape, the full A-line. I’m glad to see more and more knee and calf-length bell skirts out and about (see minute 1:45), and plan to get in on that, too.  I embraced the historic aspect here, pairing the skirt with an old-fashioned top and hairstyle, but imagine it with no crinoline and a T-shirt. I don’t see why there would be anything unwearable about it. Who cares about this “wearability” anyway? If you want to wear it? This shirt would be nice with just jeans…but there will be other days for that.

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For me style is sometimes less about looking polished or “stylish” and more about a very specific kind of wish fulfillment or direct expression. In the first case clothing often feels to me like armor that helps me to interface with the world in a way that preserves my individuality and independence; a contemporary uniform that makes it easier to behave like my best public self, designed with the purpose of being worn in this culture, in this era. In the second case of style as fantasy, style as an interpretation of a vision that would get some strange looks on the street, clothing is the opposite of armor, the unprotected translation of self. Such looks are designed with really no purpose save the delight of the self. They are manifestations of my own projections of myself within myself.

Looked at another way, I have a tableau in mind, just like any magazine editorial, and I am the model and creative director in one.

Looked at another way, style is personal.

IMG_7806Civil war era reproduction camp skirt (thrifted) with crinoline (eBay), lace top (thrifted, which I ought to have steamed), obi sash/belt (eBay), Bass oxford pumps (thrifted), Pearls of Joy 10-11mm pearl studs, lace parasol (a gift), vintage Timex watch.

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Wear what you want.

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reading: Friedan, Sontag, babies

On October 1, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan – I had only read excerpts of this up to now, and I wish I had read it in its entirety sooner. This book is interesting, relevant, elegantly structured, and–to me, and I think to all American women–important. Friedan explores the causes and repercussions of what she calls the feminine mystique, an American phenomenon bound up in the history of feminism in America. It is a story about our mothers, our grandmothers, our great-grandmothers, and that means it is a story about us.

“The feminine mystique says that the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity. It says that the great mistake of Western culture, through most of its history, has been the undervaluation of this femininity. It says this femininity is so mysterious and intuitive and close to the creation and origin of life that man-made science may never be able to understand it. But however special and different, it is in now way inferior to the nature of man; it may even in certain respects be superior. The mistake, says the mystique, the root of women’s troubles in the past is that women envied men, women tried to be like men, instead of accepting their own nature, which can find fulfillment only in sexual passivity, male domination, and nurturing maternal love.”

There is a lot more to it, and it is with great sincerity that I urge you– especially the women among you– to read the whole thing. At least read the wikipedia page. This was written in 1963 but the cultural pressures it chronicles have no small degree of influence today, as evidenced by the prevalence of and often rabid responses to articles about ‘having it all’ and ‘all the single ladies’.  (Coincidence that both the articles I’ve chosen as prime examples are from The Atlantic?) I suspect that any given reader would resonate with more of these 60s observations than they would expect. Man or woman, this history is influencing your life, whether you know about it or not. I think, in this case, it is good to know.

The Volcano Lover, Susan Sontag – I picked this up after watching this incredible Sontag interview, wherein she is so unabashedly contentious, so ungenerous to the interviewer (to whom she has taken a transparent dislike), so unexpected, that I took an immediately liking to her. How refreshing! How inspiring! I like her book, too! I don’t know who Camille Paglia is, either! [Or, I didn’t. There is an interview with Paglia in the link as well, which seems to demonstrate quite neatly that she is unhinged. Both interviews very entertaining in their way.]

The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent, Michel Cohen – A sensible care guide from a French pediatrician, the gist of which is: don’t panic (try this instead). I don’t have a baby but I may someday, or may in some other capacity be called upon to know what to do with one. I like to know what to do. Also, babies and the cultural stuff surrounding them are interesting to me, just academically (why do I feel a need to defend myself? Perhaps because I mention it in the wake of Friedan…). I deem this eminently practical and thorough, with an excellent amount of detail (meaning, not too much) and the encouragement of a relaxed approach. If I did have a baby, I would keep it on hand.

 

ode to the 80s

On September 24, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

If you’ve read about me, you’ll have gotten at least the general impression that I like the 80s.

In truth, it would not be inaccurate to say that, as an aesthetic and musical phenomenon, I love the 80s.

Hm. Here is one Halloween (long ago!) as an 80s aerobics instructor, which has been to date the greatest dancing outfit ever. Fear not, there were leg warmers.

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149101_773255048521_7798540_nActually I think I was too conservative in some of my choices here. Loving the big eyebrows, though.

A girlfriend going to an 80s party asked me recently, “What were the 80s, exactly?”

To which I replied something along the lines of, “I’m so glad you asked…”

The Vietnam war is over, the tense political and economic atmosphere has dissipated somewhat, especially for the generation that grew up in its shadow and perhaps never fully understood or engaged in the war. The economy is looking better, Wall Street suits begin to make more money than they can spend, the dollar is strong. Racism is still an issue (obviously, still is) but much improved from the 70s, and there is a lot more cultural exchange. Feminism also an issue (also obviously, and still) but these are the daughters and granddaughters of the revolutionaries of the 60s, often raised by feminists, gifted more confidence and more opportunities. The children have come of age, they have disposable income, they want color and they want to have fun, just like Cyndi Lauper says. Really, they want to dance.

The 80s are all about being too much. Too loud, too bright, over the top. Garish, tacky. Fun. They are a big eye AND a big lip. And too much blush. Big earrings AND a big necklace. And all the bracelets you own. Accessories are key.

Bright prints mixed with bright solids, bright prints mixed with other bright prints. Garish prints. Geometric prints. Clothes are either really tight or over-sized, or a combination of both. The off-the-shoulder sweatshirt à la Flashdance. Bright leggings. Crop tops. Shoulder pads.

The miniskirt is born. Neon as a fashion option is born. Hip hop is the new thing. Wedding and prom dresses have never been so big and so festooned, and are likely never to be so big again. Madonna is queen, Michael Jackson is king (with David Bowie, that pioneer, still a strong influence). MTV rules over all.

Big, curly hair, side ponytails, crimpled hair. Ostentatious hair accessories. The scrunchie. High tops, leg warmers. Jane Fonda’s workout video is all the rage. Everybody loves music. Sunglasses acceptable at all hours of the day. People dress to make a statement, to be seen. Everything is like a parody of itself, a cartoon.

Nothing is too much.

73742_773258955691_7506927_nWhat’s not to love?

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