Author Archives: Em

Halloween for the Office

Dear Dorigen,

As your beautiful, brilliant children have no doubt already made you aware, Halloween will be here very soon. My inner goth teenager strictly prohibits me from giving up on Halloween all together, but I refuse to spend a lot of money and energy on costuming these days and it is now almost entirely relegated to the annual office party.

If you need to make a spooky, yet professional appearance at work (or around the neighborhood), enclosed are some easy costumes I have pulled together over the years. My requirements: 1) only  one additional purchase item, 2) minimal borrowing, and 3) zero hassle with the work day hustle.

  • The Costume: Tippi Hedren from the Birds
  • Purchased: Crow
  • From my closet: Smart-enough suit, headband (to attach the bird to), work heals.
  • Borrowed: Fake blood
  • Response: I was the first one in the office that day, and had not yet added the blood to my face when another early-bird co-worker arrived. He forgot it was Halloween costume day and had to wait a couple hours until someone else arrived, so he could ask them, in earnest, if I was trying to make life-sized birds happen. This actually made my day, because 1) even though I had not yet been with the company for a year, it meant that my co-worker already knew that I was a fearless fashionista and 2) he had a point, life-sized birds on heads legitimately could make a comeback.
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Anna Wintour. I was physically unable to remove the smile

  • The Costume: Anna Wintour
  • Purchased: Wig (ok, and I also bought the Vogue)
  • From my closet: Over-the-knee dress in a small print, sunglasses (my prescription ones are red, so I used black electrical tape over the rims), necklace, fancy-looking kitten heels.
  • Borrowed: Fur coat (worn over the shoulders). Thanks Livi! 
  • Response: I got second place in the costume contest, I think mostly because I kept reading people for their fashion choices – “What? No want for color?” Also, as you know, my love of this wig resulted in a life-defining haircut.
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5th Golden Girl, Pippa Greenquist, doesn’t stand for nonsense

  • The Costume: 5th Golden Girl (I decided my name should be Pippa)
  • Purchased: Tights (they were out of the very 80’s “suntan” color)
  • From my closet: Dress with a 80’s fabric twist neckline, grandma‘s broach, various costume jewelry, 80’s pink lipstick
  • Borrowed: Hat. Thanks again, Livi!
  • Response: I admit this wasn’t my best effort, but once I explained the inspiration to those who asked, I got a lot of… “Oh, I love that show! So-and-so was my favorite!”
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Mrs. White – Clue

  • The Costume: Mrs. White – Clue
  • Purchased: Hat (thanks to my mother-in-law, who gave me a conveniently timed gift card to an antique store).
  • From my closet: Black dress, belt, tights, and heels and grandma’s pearls.
  • Borrowed: My department dressed as a group, so later in the day I “borrowed” one of the weapons we made with paper and cardboard.
  • Response: Our department won the office costume contest. We were each dressed as a different character (some mix of the movie and the game) and our boss’s costume was the envelope (brilliant).
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Darryl Revok – Scanners

  • The Costume: Darryl Revok – Scanners
  • Purchased: Medical tape and gauze
  • From my closet: Suit, button down, loafers, black sharpie (for the “inner eye”)
  • Borrowed: Tie (from my husband). Thanks Pete!
  • Response: Very few people got the reference, but this is my favorite Halloween costume ever – it was warm, it was clever, it referenced a beloved movie, it cost next to nothing, and it can be worn by anyone. Also, if someone repeated this costume, and you wanted to be even more comfortable, he is technically wearing a t-shirt in this scene, additional robe also works.

This year my Halloween costume is TBD, but I’m not worried. I’ll come up with something. Any time someone says to me, “you know who you look like?” I used to brace myself for the inevitable insult, but now I just write it down for future easy Halloween costumes. As an aside, I have literally never witnessed anyone feeling complimented after hearing the end of “you know who you look like?” even if it’s telling a guy that he looks just like Ryan Gosling.

But anyway, easy Halloween costumes basically just fall into my lap, as there are a million and one characters/people who have glasses and bangs and I am apparently very approachable. Like, recently, a young man (teenager? early twenties?) excitedly stopped me on the train; he really needed to talk to me about how much I look like Velma from Scooby-Doo (the live-action version; he specified).

So, Dorigen, do you have any easy and fabulous-enough costume ideas? Any kid-friendly costume suggestions that may require some fun crafting?

Love,

Em

P.S. If I chose to lift the minimal spending ban for Halloween, I would go as simply “plaid,” but, as it stands now, that would require a lot of purchasing on my part…

plaid. OMG. plaid.

Pullover: L.L.Bean | Earmuffs: Brooks Brothers | Bag: Burberry | Shoes: Vans | Top: L.L.Bean | Skirt: J.Crew (aka J.Crute) | Pants: Brooks Brothers

Bangs

Dear Dorigen,

I have found my haircut: regardless of the length of the rest of it, I must have bangs. I figured it out the year I was Anna Wintour for Halloween; the wig got me itching for bangs.

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It took 3 people and a trip to SEE Eye Wear to get that electrical tape off of my red Ray-Bans (they’re prescription)

So I tried it out, and it was the right call; I’ve decided that I look my best with bangs. However, as someone who likes change (who gets her hair cut just to plan how she is going to do it differently next time), knowing definitively how I look my best is so unfortunate.

It’s stifling. It’s boring. I want to change it. I tried to change it. But growing out bangs is not an easy pursuit. There are a lot of hair clips involved, oh, and a lot of uncovered, little forehead pimples for some reason. I haven’t gone full headband yet, but I’m getting there. A couple weeks ago, my bangs had grown about an extra inch and I was annoyed with the fuss, so I decided to do nothing one morning. I wanted to see what they would do independent of my meddling, so I just parted my bangs down the middle and walked out into the winds of Chicago.

When I got into the office that morning, my bangs were like two fluffs of cotton, unlovingly torn from a child’s discarded toy and taped to my forehead at odd angles. They looked so terrible that when I popped into my boss’s office for an impromptu meeting, she thought that I was about to tell her someone had died. I’m not projecting here; she literally told me she was concerned, specifically because of the state of my bangs.

Side note, later that day, after my bangs had time to mellow, I swear I looked just like Oscar Wilde: hair, white collar shirt, scarflet, a look of disdain.

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love

However, occasionally looking like Oscar Wilde by happy accident is not my reliable personal best. So, I’m going back to bangs. Not because of a few bad grow-out days, but because I am my aesthetically and emotionally best self when I have my best haircut. I already sent my hair stylist a text with a heads-up, thinking she would give me push back for caving after only 2 months, and all she sent back was “whatever u wanna do!” You’re right, Courtnie. Why fight it?! I’m coming to you! Tomorrow? I texted times.

So, I guess with me already coming to an answer about my bangs, my question to you this week is… For Project Runway All Stars, can they take this time of change as an opportunity to get a new fashion stylist for Alyssa Milano? Her clothes are some of the worst scraps of fabric I have ever seen pinned to a human being.

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cute bangs

Love,

Em

Bellies

Hi Dorigen,

I had a lovely Labor Day weekend with you and the family in Milwaukee, where, of course, the 115th Harvey Davidson Fest blazed through town. I figured a biker fashion recap would be in order, but all I wanted to do was part the cascading leather fringe, pluck off the grips of bushy fox tails, and roll up those weathered T’s to expose and stare at the many, the proud, the glorious biker bellies.

I see bellies as a confidence. When I was in High School, my gut was making its presence known and I remember wanting the world to embrace it. As a teenager, I conceptualized a pair of pants with a heart on the gut, which could be circled when placing your thumbs in your pockets. I imagined strutting down the runway with a crop top, thumbs in my fashion-pants pockets, showing love for my stomach.

I appreciate the belly story you shared. When grandma was pregnant with dad, she was running errands on Mitchell Street and, as she walked with her big, pregnant belly, the elastic on her underwear snapped and fell to the ground. As the resourceful, unembarrassed, and comically brilliant person that she was, Grandma picked up what was left of her underwear, nonchalantly placed them in the nearest mailbox, and quietly continued with her errands.

This weekend, while spectating at the Biker Rally, I wanted to swaddle my ears and my entire body, exposing only my belly-staring eyes, because of the sound, that deafening, body-vibrating sound of revving motorcycle engines, which felt like guttural growls of hunger; hunger for the road and the wind, I suppose, but also clearly hunger for being seen and heard and felt by everyone. It was invasive, but those sitting bellies were glorious.

Sending love directly from my belly,

Em

P.S. I got so much peanut butter on my puff sleeves last week that I included a jar of Jif in my daily outfit catalog.

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Fashion Music

Dear Dorigen,

A co-worker and fellow fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race recently gave me a glorious gift, a link to the Kelly “Shoes” video:

Kelly videos are hilarious, wonderful, endearing, and they are my life now. In honor of the tradition of what I am now calling “Fashion Music,” I compiled a short list of songs that make me feel fabulous, free, and oh so funky fresh. These are songs to listen to while getting dressed and/or while staring fixedly into a mirror, posing, feeding your fantastical narcissism ala Trevor Goodchild from Aeon Flux when admiring his feathers, as one does.

Enjoy…

  1. Kelly – Shoes (Pete prefers “Let me Borrow that Top”; I also love all of them)
  2. Princess Nokia – Tomboy
  3. Hi Fashion – Amazing
  4. Foe G4ng – Too Cool
  5. Alaska – Your Makeup is Terrible (I also love This is My Hair)
  6. Willow – Whip My Hair
  7. Adam Joseph – Linda Evangelista (feat. Aja)
  8. Cherry Glazerr – Whites Not My Color this Evening
  9. Dragon Boy Suede – Buy You Clothes, Do You In ‘em, Take ‘em Back
  10. Tiga – Bugatti

Love,

Em

Legging Boots

Dear Dorigen,

So, there are legging boots now and I have questions…

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Tamara Mellon’s “Sweet Revenge-Nappa S”

  1. If street fashion influences high fashion, are legging boots a response to the cartoon/digital age and cosplay?
  2. If flesh-colored shoes give the illusion of a longer leg, do flesh-colored legging boots give the illusion of wearing stilts while Donald Ducking?
  3. How can legging boots be properly sized? There are three factors here – legging size (S, M, L), legging length (Regular, Long, Short), and shoe size. If you pick only one factor to size by, then there may be two factors that don’t even remotely fit.
  4. If I wear these, and the heel breaks, do I need to take off my pants?
  5. If I wear these to the office, does the heel part fit nicely into a pair of tennis shoes or flip flips for the walk to and from the train?
  6. I once wore a pair of leggings that were so small, that every 20 steps or so they would roll down, past my butt (something I did not realize until I was deep into errands). I was wearing a winter coat at the time, so no butt was shown to the world, but if I didn’t pull up my pants, they would continue to roll down, towards the knee. I had to keep finding safe places to pull them back up while gingerly walking to the nearest store to buy a pair of emergency pants. No question; just sayin’.
  7. How does one clean legging boots? Is there an “intimates” washing machine bag big enough for a pair of pants with two shoes attached? Do you just spit shine? Use Febreze and shoe polish, and then just cross your fingers that no one sniffs you too closely? If you use starch, do legging boots become purely sculptural?
  8. If legging boots are offered in a jean print, are they then boo-jeggings? If they do not come in a jean print, would pedestrians still “boo” people wearing legging boots anyway?
  9. What is the socially appropriate age window for wearing legging boots? My guess is they can only be worn within a three-week window after one’s 21st birthday.
  10. If I wore legging boots as a guest to a wedding, would this be a more egregious upstaging of the bride than wearing white? If wore white legging boots as a guest to a wedding, would I be asked to leave?
  11. What is the capri version of the legging boot?

Love,

Em


Dear Emily,

This entire post made me cry: from laughter, and fear for humanity. A legging mule perhaps?

Fondly,

Dorigen

The Perfect Accessory

Dear Dorigen,

Three key things that you know about me have converged into an interesting moment.

  • I am afraid of heights; specifically, open spaces that are up high (e.g. waiting for the L, open atriums, short ladders), any open areas where I could slip and tumble over.
  • I no longer eat grains and have a salad for lunch every day.
  • When in California for our last visit, I made a special trip to a stone shop and picked up a couple things. Specifically, a dark brown “grounding” stone, which can help with heights and I keep it with me, always.

So, the other day, on my walk to my daily salad bar lunch, which is in a food court on the second floor of a building with a terrifyingly open atrium, I had my grounding stone in hand. I was outside at this point and I was just playing with the stone, twirling it in my hands as I walked, and then I dropped it. I was ultimately able to retrieve it, but before I did… it skipped down the sidewalk and an earnest gentleman, noticing that I had dropped something that was bouncing towards him, started to move to pick it up for me. However, when it got close to him, and he could see it, he recoiled. He quickly moved his arms back, inhaled a large breath and darted a look at me. I think he thought it was poop.

Love,

Em

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