Wednesday, June 24, 2009

5 Dresses

After this coming Labor Day weekend, I will have been a bridesmaid twice, a flower girl twice (once at age 4, and again at age 28) and a maid of honor once. When I was a flower girl at age 4, my mom made my dress, and it was rocking. I mean, it wasn't as hold-the-phones awesome as the She-Ra costume she made me that Halloween (she made everything except the hard plastic weaponry!), but it was pink with an eyelet collar and lovely and totally the kind of thing these two undomesticated hands will never be able to make my own daughter some day.

Throughout my adult years, my closest friends - clearly BRIDEZILLAS one and all! - have had the audacity, the sheer nerve, THE GALL to choose affordable, flattering dresses from accessible color palates with zero gawdy detailing that I could actually wear again!! I know, I know. The brides and I are still talking - but barely, and only because I've been the bigger person.

But I mean, truly, if you are going to ask someone to be your bridesmaid, all you future brides out there, please don't half ass it. Really put them out, make them spend money their twenty-something salaries can't afford, and pitch a fit if they select jewelry not in keeping with what you had in mind. Enough of this rolling with the punches!! It's your special day - PUNISH ME FOR AGREEING TO BE A PART OF IT!!!

I have only ever been asked to purchase bridesmaid dresses from one of two locations:

J. Crew

Vineyard Vines

After perusing their websites, if you aren't already familiar with them, I know you will understand my outrage.

Just once, I want to feel the burn of polyester under midday sun while standing for 30 minutes straight. Just once, I'd like to be directed to David's Bridal with the directions to get something with sleeves in puce!

When do I get to wear something your great aunt bedazzled? Why didn't you ever offer me something with armpit sweat stains that three other bridesmaids in your family have worn before me? Why can't you brides take time out from reserving caterers and hand-making wedding favors to arrange for me to get knocked up about 6 months before the ceremony and have the unfortunate luck of having to wear something like this:

Because when you're a knocked up bridesmaid, pistachio and a ribbon choker are really your only options so as to draw attention away from your shame.

And where are my toilet cleaner antler crowns?

When did I ever give you the impression I was above traditional New Jersey wedding garb?:

Why can't I show my respect for days gone by in the Old West when men were men and women were whores?:

Honestly, I don't think denim ever goes out of style:

Or lacy white plastic umbrellas, for that matter.

Franny, Kathleen, Leah and Monica - consider yourselves on friend probation. Until you can come up with better ways to humiliate me (since you've already blown your chances to do so on a bridesmaid level), I have nothing left to say to you. Just keep forcing your good taste and sensibility down my throat. Living in L.A. has made me immune to both. So ha!

Monday, June 15, 2009

She Bangs, She Bangs

The summer before 6th grade, I chopped off the long golden locks I'd been growing for many girlie years into a pixie cut so that I might look like one of the hottest singers of the 1990s...Chynna Phillips.

Shut up - she and her group Wilson Phillips are still totally relevant and if you don't believe me, ask me to play you a cover of "Hold On" from my friend Scott's short film THE ASSASTANT and once you've successfully ripped yourself away from the computer, and willed yourself not to play it for a fortieth time, we'll talk about how "stupid" it was that I wanted to look like Chynna Phillips. She bagged Billy Baldwin, for crying out loud! How hot is that?

Anyway. As you can imagine, since I was 11 and had not even half a breast, or pierced ears, or an inclination to dress myself in anything other than the unisex looks of Gap, Esprit and Benetton that were so hot at the time, I was sometimes mistaken for a boy. Mostly by waiters at ethnic food restaurants, but still. Strangely enough I also got my first date out of this haircut. Yes, I shook my sassy cut at the Eatontown, NJ roller rink and was promptly asked to the Fireman's Fair by a popular kid. I can't really reconcile that low and that high and I've finally stopped trying.

That haircut and the weirdness associated with it made me a little gunshy. I really haven't tried anything ballsy with my hair since then.

Until now. Saturday, I marched down to Hazel at the Purple Circle (whom you all would love, I recommend her above everyone else - her $60 cut outshines the $120 ones at even Ken Paves) and got...layers and bangs.

I know, that doesn't sound so ballsy to you, but to me, that's like getting tattoo Hazel, the awesome chick cutting my hair had. She also had one of those little nose rings that make you look like a terribly cool bull.

This time - 18 years later - I brought another picture of a singer with me. But this time, it was Jenny Lewis. And already, I think this cut's going to fair a little better against the test of time:

As I handed the photo to Hazel, I calmed her down.

"Don't worry. I'm not one of those delusional people who thinks that by asking you to give me the haircut of someone beautiful you are going to make me actually look like that beautiful person in all other ways."

Only I totally am.

Hazel studied the photo and said, "Oh. Jenny Lewis. She's around this neighborhood a lot."

Suddenly I got a little nervous. I feel like if Jenny Lewis walked into the salon where I was asking Hazel to cut my hair like hers, I would die. Like actually die - stroke out. And then I'd be there all slumped over in the cool barber shop chair with cool music from the 1930s playing softly in the background and I'd have the tell-tale messy, chunky bangs, and - much worse - probably still be holding the photo of her I printed at work on the color printer (and stupidly left out on my desk, prompting my boss to ask why I had it and inadvertently revealing that I'm that girl who brings photos of pretty girls to hairdressers and asks them to make me look like them).

So that colored the rest of the cut with a tinge of fear that was only soothed by Hazel's awesome stories about her starving artist roommate and Argentinian boyfriend and living in San Francisco and getting hit by a car on her bike and doing wedding hair (which sounds like a NIGHTMARE - maybe even more so than the shoulder surgery and recovery associated with getting hit by a car on a bike). We also had the entire salon to ourselves as the rest of her coworkers - all of whom were apparently close friends - had taken off for Vegas together for the weekend.

Does this happen where you work? Because it doesn't where I work.

When all was said and done, I was super psyched with how it all turned out. If you know me and aren't a creepy internet skulker (she said, as if more than 6 people read this blog), I'd like to direct you to posted photos on my Facebook.

I was thankful she'd convinced me to go not only with the bangs but also the slightly wild layers -

"Please just don't give me hipstermullet," I had begged her. And sure as shooting, she listened.

Sure I sometimes pull my hair back and think I look a little like Moe from the Three Stooges. And last night our close friend Andrew told me I looked like a little Teutonic youth - like a Von Trapp family singer:

But I like my new non-business casual tresses. And as Shley, Cara (another best bud) and I readied for a night of pool at 7 Grand (the bar where Michael Scott bags a hot Canuck concierge in "The Office"!), we joked that we were going to look like some bizarre trio because all of us now had heavy bangs. And then they actually admitted - first one, and then the other, as if it were catching - that they too had brought in a picture of Jenny Lewis to their respective hairdressers. My first thought was "phew" and then my second thought was, "we all have the same hair and that might be creepy."

Like every time I'd ever busted out into Michael McDonald's soul-rattling opening lines of The Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" (the count for this is far higher than it should be) I felt at once so cool and so retarded. What an auspicious beginning to my non-business casual future.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Was Blind, But Now I See

Amazing Grace! After what I've just now realized have been 5-6 years of sub-par vision - of squinting, pretending to enjoy long distance views, and scaring anyone driving with me at night - I finally went to the eye doctor.

Before I get into the amazing eye-wear and make-up fashion tips my 65 year-old Boca Raton-visitin' new doctor regaled me with (none of which I should heed given the point of this blog), let me cut to an important chase.

At age 29, I am wearing contact lenses for the first time. I know, you're thinking - wow. This is a rite of passage usually reserved for teenage ugly ducklings about to transform into beautiful swans, like in SHE'S ALL THAT - that movie where Usher plays a deejay.

But the strange thing about it is I don't wear my glasses that often. Oh you know, I'll throw 'em on when I'm driving, at the movies, watching TV, that sort of thing. But who wants to be at a bar in L.A. and actually see the faces of the people around you? Shley says I've been living in denial about the fact that my vision has slowly deteriorated since age 22 to the point where I need actual vision care. I hate her cause she's correct.

So all day I've been running up to my coworkers (all of whom - along with cars, buildings and traffic lights - seem to be coming at me in 3-D now) and exclaiming, "I got contact lenses!" Their reactions have been underwhelming-transitioning-into-patronizing to say the least. But you know what? Good for me for taking control of my vision health 5 years after it probably would have been a good time to do so.

My doctor, whom we'll call Doctor Wacky, also called me out. Let me preface this story with - I kind of adore my eye doctor and I don't plan on leaving him for a long time. (And if my past record is any indicator, I don't plan on going back to see him for another 6 years or so). But the man definitely fake raised a hand to slap me when I couldn't will my eye to stay open so he could fit me for a contact lens. He also refused to disclose to me my prescription.

"Why do you want to know that? Because people ask? Tell them to mind their own business."

He's a weirdo, frankly. He told me the fact that I've been living without proper vision for so many years, "tells him a lot about what kind of person I am." No, Doctor Wacky doesn't know what I do for a living, if I've ever fallen in love, what community service I'm committed to, or how I treat my mother, but he DOES know what kind of person I am.

He also is just sick and tired of pretty gals like me wearing glasses.

"You're an attractive woman, why wear glasses?" he asks me.

"I kind of like how I look in gla-" I try to answer.

"Tut-tut! Not another word. You're getting contacts AND you're getting glasses, and you're going to spend about $475 today," he tells me, sucking all the heart-racing suspense out of the visit.

So finally, in a scene from SAW or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, he forces the contacts into my eyes, ("Hey, if Asians and ten year-olds can wear contacts..." he encourages me) and lets me pick out glasses - but with a fashion warning. He tells me not to pick the paler tortoiseshell frames I've been wearing all this time because they match my hair and blend in. I need to stand out!

Instead, he has one of his coworkers show me a wide array of green and red glasses. Because what 29 year-old girl doesn't want to look like Sally Jesse??? Finally the girl shows me good stuff - one cat-eyed pair I almost bought JUST to really bring it home during my almost annual karaoke performance of Lisa Loeb's "Stay" - and I get some good ones and vow to come back for two days of training which I totally needed because I'm not an Asian or a ten year-old.

I touched my eyeball, and I liked it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fitting Rooms are for Losers

This probably won't be the first time I mention this but my boss - is awesome. For those of you not in the entertainment industry, I wish, wish, WISH you knew how rare a thing that was. Her awesome-itude was most recently put on display when, for my birthday, she got me a gift card to Steven Alan. For those of you who don't know Steven Alan clothes and don't like hyperlinks to websites, it's basically where all the cool kids shop. High quality patterned button downs are their signature jam.

So I hear they're having a sample sale (and given that tank tops there go for around a cool hunny, this is a big deal) and I make haste to what is basically their outlet store (but with a cool moniker: Steven Alan Outpost. See? Isn't that cooler than "outlet"? Girls who wear business casual shop at outlets. Not me. I shop at an outpost.) This store is in Los Feliz, home of the Fedora-wearing, Rhodesian Ridgeback-walking, Kafka-reading, New Pornographers-humming hipsters. I mean, I stick out like a broken thumb there, if we're being honest.

Dressed in jeans, a tee and some flats, I enter the TINY store right next to the Alcove and immediately begin to camouflage. Don't mind me, just sifting through piles of smock-like blouses and baggy drawstring shorts. Pay no attention to the girl not wearing make up whose hair is accidentally and not artfully messy... And finally I grab about four different things each in about 3 different sizes cause I have no clue how hipster sizes work. They're sort of somewhere between Banana Republic sizes which make you think you're really tiny when you aren't, and European sizes, which you just don't understand. Or at least I don't.

When I ask the 5'8" Broken Social Scene-singing shopgirl who weighs all of 110 pounds at her 22 years of age to please point me to the fitting rooms, she explains to me that they don't "do fitting rooms during sample sales." When I asked her how I was supposed to know which size fit she replied, "I'll help you. Plus you can try these clothes on right over the clothes you have on."

Ladies. We all know that the only thing more humiliating than trying on clothing, is trying on clothing in front of people, 90% of whom are skinnier than we are, over the clothes we already have on.

So I'll spare you the most soul-crushing moments - except for this gem. At one point, I begin to try to figure out how to put on this complicated jumper with criss-crossing straps that are ostensibly supposed to be on your back when all is said and done. Very quickly I gauge that the size small I've plucked from the racks might not cut it. So I ask 110 pound salesgirl what size she thinks I would be. After all, she said she'd help me.

And help me she did. She insisted I was a small and specifically pointed out my narrow hips. Why thank you, hipster shopgirl! So, against my better judgement I begin to try on the size small jumper - over my clothing - in front of everyone, on the men's clothing side of the store, bumping into adorable hipster guys on both sides of me.

Sure enough, I can't even figure out where to put my head. I'm flailing with my arms in the air when hipster shopgirl comes to my rescue and proceeds to try to jam the jumper down the length of my body, contorting my arms in ways I never knew possible to get them through the arm holes or whatever, and crushing my face down into my neck in a way that genuinely hurt. Finally I cry "uncle" and ask her to stop.

But she won't stop. This jumper is going on over my bosom and hips if it's the last thing hipster shopgirl accomplishes in her adorable little life. Finally, red-faced and barely breathing, I stare into the skinny mirror behind the racks of clothes in the non-fitting room and I assess the situation.

"Does the waist of the jumper always sit like this? Right across my chest?" I ask.

"No...not usually."

The yanking and pulling continues and - in words that I can only imagine broke this girl's Iron & Wine-loving heart - uttered, "Yeah, I think I should have gone with the medium."

The zeal with which she jumped to get the small jumper off me and start tugging down the medium over my outfit DISTURBED ME. Finally I forcibly stopped her and collected the one tank top I would buy (which I'm really quite happy with since I spent $30 rather than the original price of $98 for it).

The best part? As I approach the cashier he tells me that they don't accept gift cards at sample sales.

So I'll be going back next week.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh, I thought you were wearing a little...pantsuit

You're probably supposed to inaugurate your inaugural blog with an introduction to how the blog name came about, or why you started it. So since this feels compulsory, I submit to you my story:

Thursday night I was at a birthday party at a bar. (At this point in my blogging I'm not sure as to how many details I'll get into and when, so hang on to your hats! You might not know whose birthday and you might not know which bar and you PROBABLY won't care!) This bar/party combination was a good'un. I was having fun with my roommate/best pal Shley who will no doubt be a recurring presence herewith, and we had been chatting with a couple of gentlemen - a guy we've met dozens of times but still introduces himself alternatingly to one or the other of us, and...

His delightfully picky friend...the sort you find so often in LA.

Average in looks, intelligence and charm but ready to date Zooey Deschanel and Zooey Deschanel only, I'm referring to the uniquely Angeleno creature known as "the 6 who will only accept a 10." Now, this seems a cruel initial assessment of the fellow, but let me tell you that - within literally 10 minutes of knowing this man - he shared with us, "I'm so picky. I don't like anyone. Out of like 900 girls, I'll be lucky if I'm attracted to one." Interesting, as I promise you actually would have excpeted him to say, "Out of 900 girls I'd be lucky if one of them were attracted to me." But not in LA, friends!

All this aside, he was quite amusing and I felt a little sorry for the guy, especially concerned for him should he ever leave the ridiculous den of delusion that is Los Angeles for short, hairy men. BUT we passed again by the bar, he asked me to step back so he could get a better look. At first, I was sort of like, "Oh. He's sort of hitting on me. This is a weird way to do it, but bless him." But then I realized (because he definitively clarified) that he meant it not in a leering way - he didn't want a better look "at me," per se - but rather he wanted to assess better what I was wearing. When he realized it was a crisp white button down tucked into tailored jeans, with a belt, and some heeled cowboy boots underneath he said - almost with relief, "Oh, I thought you were wearing a little pantsuit, at first." Huh? "Why did I think that?" he (sort of?) asked me. And then, answering his own question, "You looked sort of business casual." I thanked him and told him people often told me I reminded them of a young Hilary Clinton. He believed me, which gave me pause.

But really if he weren't the strangely-all-too-frequent-in-LA closeted 30-something homosexual (which I'm fairly certain he was as the lady doth protest too much...I mean, really? You're a dude and you'd maybe only do 1 in 900 girls you meet? In LA???), the exchange probably wouldn't have struck such a nerve. But the closeted homos know. They knoooow. The nerve had been struck.

Was the first thing people really thought of that night when glancing at me business casual?? Ew. It made me want to set fire to a nearby Annie Sez or Marshall's. Steal a woman walking to work in sneakers' high heels from her NPR tote. At age 29, did I look straight out of the pages of a Chadwick's of Boston?

According to Shley, kind of. While not excusing "6 who will only accept a 10"'s bar routine, Shley said I could maybe use a little "zazzing up" (my turn of phrase - probably absorbed and then adopted after I read a Spiegel catalog or MORE magazine that used the same term). Shley advised:

1. Show the legs if not the cleavage - the cleavage if not the legs.

2. Finally get the Jenny Lewis bangs Shley herself had beaten me to last year when twice I couldn't pull the trigger.

3. Make my jewelry less coordinated (Ladies, unbenknownst to me, wearing earrings and a necklace is a little "work dressy." I did not know this. I am learning!)

That prescription sounded pretty reasonable. And so began this - my very new, very questionable as to whether I will stick to it journey to become less business casual and, in general, more age appropriately well-heeled. Because while LA may be an acceptable place for 12 year olds to dress like they're 25 and octogenarians to dress like 20-somethings, it was never okay here for a 29 year-old to dress like a walking mid-life crisis.

Over the next year, this blog as my witness, I intend to go from feeling never-quite-properly attired-for-the-occasion to feeling sometimes-properly-attired-for-the occasional-occasion. In a city where "California Black Tie" is the most oddly specific vaguery one can print on an invitation, I am going to figure this all out. Instead of the California dress code of "anything goes" confusing me and sending me like the non-fashionista turtle I am back into my business casual shell, I am instead going to let this crazy commitment to "anything goes" free my mind, so the rest might follow. I will come to accept that just cause I wear high heeled shoes, that doesn't mean that I'm a prostitute, oh no - no. Let's put on En Vogues' Funky Divas and do this damn thing.