Beauty, Desire, or Solidarity: What’s Your Clothing Aesthetic?

I appreciate beautiful clothing and, in my own ham-fisted way, I’ve tried to write about clothing here and there on this blog.

I don’t often write about beautiful clothing because, like music and visual art, writing about beautiful clothing doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Either clothing is beautiful or it is not beautiful. Yes, more can be said, but I’m not convinced additional words add much to the aesthetic experience.

Then, along came Pinterest.

Aha! Here is a purely visual approach for thinking about, appreciating, and “discussing” beautiful clothing.

The challenge for me, when it comes to beautiful clothing, is to distinguish between my aesthetic appreciation of the clothing itself and my sexual desire for the woman wearing it. As a result, I find it easier to celebrate and “pin” higher fashion and more formal office attire, whereas with most casual wear, my aesthetic judgment quickly reduces to “hot or not”. Beautiful and hot can overlap but one is not reducible to the other.

As much as I appreciate beautiful clothing, I’m not terribly interested in fashion, which involves a dimension and expression of solidarity, wherein one celebrates a certain kind of clothing to earn or illustrate membership in a particular group. In the most extreme cases, people who are into fashion can sometimes appreciate and celebrate truly hideous clothing. When they get it right, a huge swath of people end up dressing beautifully.

How do you appreciate clothing?

Are you on Pinterest? Have you learned anything about yourself from it yet?

Third Time Is The Charm: 3rd Annual Oscar Red Carpet Fashion Roundup

Yes, it’s that time of the year again!

Because I don’t normally celebrate my birthday or holidays, this might very well be the only annual tradition I honour.

Here we go:

In the best category, the nominees are Milla JovovichKristen Wiig, and Penelope Cruz.

And the best dress award goes to … Penelope “Swooon” Cruz.

In the worst category, the nominees are Melissa LeoMeryl Streep, Nancy O’Dell, and Sherri Shepherd.

And the worst dress award goes to … Melissa “What was she thinking?” Leo!

What do you think of my nominees and best/worst picks? Who did I miss for best or worst? Please post the links. Did I pick the dresses you expected based on my choices from previous years?

It’s The Third Annual Oscars Red Carpet Fashion Round-Up! And It’s A Great Year!

Across the board, I’m fairly impressed with this year’s crop of red carpet fashion. Methinks my taste in gowns is coming back into style.

There is no surer sign of this than the fact that most everyone seems to approve of one of my favorites, Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein. I’ve always been a fan of Klein’s minimalism and the accessories and hair are perfect highlights.

I love classic and, well, Halle Berry owns classic this year.

This isn’t the most flattering shot of Mila Kunis and her gown but based on some other pics I really like it. It feels very light and, as a result, she kind of sparkles in it.

From delight to disappointment:

Ah, my dear lovely and supremely talented, Cate Blanchett. You never fail to come up with something to wear with which I can’t abide.

I know it’s her thing, but surely Helena Bonham Carter could come up with something that fits into her thing and is also flattering. Somehow the sunglasses make this look even more annoying — never mind the Union Jack garters.

No surprise here: Melissa Leo will probably end up on everyone’s disappointment list. Everyone will say the same thing: how could a doily as a gown ever be a good thing?

I really had promised myself that I would only highlight three disappointments but every time I scroll past Virginia Madsen, I stop and shake my head.

I also thought I wouldn’t mention Nicole Kidman but, again and again, I stop in bewilderment and then I notice the shoes and I’m really disappointed.

Although I picked out a couple more disappointments than delights this year, overall, I think there were far more really fine gowns, but, perhaps, not quite as many noteworthy delights as disappointments.

If I missed any notables, please add links in the comment section!

A 2010 Winnipeg Fringe Fashion Moment: Should I Wear Short Short Socks?

Before leaving for the 2010 Winnipeg Fringe, I decided I would wear pants as little as possible.

Unfortunately, soon after touching down in Winnipeg, I realized flip-flops are ill-suited for long bouts of walking. How could I possibly wear shorts and good walking shoes without looking totally dorkish?

I noticed Ray sporting the short socks, shoes, and shorts look. I decided to give it a try.

Shorts, short socks, and shoes!
Shorts, short socks, and shoes!

What do you think my fashionistas? Total dorksville or boyishly cute!

Don’t Call It A Comeback! What’s Your Theory of Retro?

A fantastically warm and sunny Easter weekend in Ottawa!

Consequence 1: Ottawa feels uncharacteristically vibrant, as everyone races outside to enjoy the weather.

Consequence 2: My thoughts turn to sunglasses.

Here are the the Marc Jacob sunglasses I will be rocking this summer:

Me And My Sunglasses

When I blew my wad at Trust Fund just before Christmas last, among other things, they gifted me these sunglasses.

I note, however, the kids all seem to be sporting this classic look from my youth:

Don't Call It a Comeback!

Which, for me, begs a theory of retro! And this is my theory:

1) Humans prefer efficient creativity and, for the most part, they prefer the familiar. The perpetual return to the previously fashionable allows people to be novel and familiar at the same easy time. Hello two birds and one curiously familiar stone.

2) A person’s sense of cool tends to coalesce in adolescence. When people are old / wealthy enough to control fashion, either as consumers or as producers, they want to look like the older cool kids they remember from their youth. Accordingly, they poach from the past.

3) It’s safe. What worked once in fashion will likely work again and, if it doesn’t, one can be absolved of the whiff of bad taste with an appeal to historical authority. Don’t blame me, blame the chumps who thought this was cool before.

Do you have a theory of retro? Am I overlooking something? Is there something I should add? Retract?

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P.s. Don’t worry. I wrote the draft of this post out in the sun and overlooking the river. I even took a picture but my crappy crap mobile seems incapable of easily transferring the data. The countdown to my first smartphone has begun. Officially.

Because Sometimes Two Isn’t Enough! Four Eyes Or Two? You decide!

I can’t remember when I first realized I had to wear my glasses all the time but I know I refused to wear them outside of the classroom until I was seventeen.

When I was selected to attend an Army Cadet Outward Bound Course in Banff, Alberta, I decided it was high time to change my glasses-wearing habits. I wanted to see the Rockies rather than the impressionistic blobs I could otherwise expect without my glasses.

I also knew that once I was accustomed to seeing myself in glasses, I wouldn’t care what other people thought about me in glasses. I could take a summer amongst strangers to get used to my bespectacled face and then return to high school in the fall impervious to any potential jibes.

As soon as I started wearing glasses regularly, I started to long for the freedom of contact lenses. Unfortunately, back in the day, I couldn’t really afford contacts and the idea of sticking pieces of plastic in my eye didn’t sit well either.

Fast forward a few years.

Soon after touching down in Auckland, New Zealand, I was cast in Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi which re-configures the traditional passion narrative by re-imagining Jesus and the Apostles as gay and American. The character I played was essentially the male equivalent of Mary Magdalene. I was meant to be “the hot piece of hustling ass” that tries to seduce Jesus but is saved instead.

Now, as we all know, hot pieces of hustling asses don’t wear glasses. I had also realized that acting without vision is a lot like playing music without hearing. It can be faked but it will never be as good as the real McCoy.

I finally got myself contact lenses.

I doubt I managed to pull off “hot piece of ass” but I’m sure I more closely approximated it without glasses and with clear vision. It’s difficult to dance provocatively in a go-go cage wearing glasses. It’s also hard to undress Jesus with your eyes if you can’t really see him.

Once I started wearing contacts regularly, I soon noticed that women — at that time and in that place anyway — were far less likely to give me “hello there” eyes when I was wearing glasses. In fact, when I wore them, I often felt vaguely invisible.

Fast forward a few years.

For the past couple of weeks, I have had a number of business-related interviews and, as a general rule of thumb, I do glasses for, well, business-related interviews.

Now I am prepared to admit it may be the the sharp-dressed-man effect and/or the unseasonal spring-like conditions but, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a sudden and unexpected spike in “hello there” eyes. And my initial hypothesis is that it may be the glasses.

So this got me a-wondering.

Because I’m wrong about pretty much everything that doesn’t involve abstract critical reasoning, it occurred to me, contrary to the lessons of American mass media, perhaps girls do dig guys in glasses.

Or at least Ottawa women. I’ve noticed that they tend to wear glasses much more often than Auckland women did. And like normally attracts like. Or maybe fashion tastes have shifted thanks to the hipster revolution.

Whatever the reason may be, I realized I really have no choice but to put the question to my blog posse!

So let the taste test begin!

I’m not sure which version of me is Pepsi and which version is Coke but the difference between me with glasses and me without seems comparable to the difference between these two great competitors. Or maybe it’s more like fork v. spoon. Taste great v. less filling?


One …
With glasses!

and two …

Without glasses!


So. 1) Overall, which do you prefer? With glasses or without glasses? 2) For business-related first-impression purposes, am I correct to think glasses are the more sensible choice?

Also. Are there any other four-eyes out there who notice different reactions from people based on whether or not they are wearing glasses?

Generally-speaking, do folks prefer people with or without glasses?

Ultimately, I prefer wearing contacts. Glasses are heavy, the field of clear vision isn’t as complete, and they get dirty. Based on the results of this poll, however, I may wear my glasses strategically more often.

Let me know what you think!

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Second Annual Oscar Red Carpet Fashion Round-Up: Olympics Edition!

There has been a disheartening lack of glamour around here lately!

As I was taking a break at my local speak-easy from writing yet another thought-provoking, artful, and soul-searching post, I rediscovered that the Oscars were on.

My first thought: “Sandra Bullock won best actress! What happened? Did she finally take some lessons or something?”

My second thought: “Hurray! The perfect excuse to inject some fun back into the blog! It’s time for the Second Annual Oscar Red Carpet Fashion Round-up!”

My third thought: “Yum! Nachos and beer are tasty!”

My fourth thought: “I’m so glad the bar doesn’t have the volume on because this look deathly boring. Deathly. Bore. Ing. Also, it kind of looks like a high school assembly.”

My fifth thought: “Woot! James Cameron and Avatar didn’t win — oops, its over!”

And that’s my Oscars recap.

For this year’s round-up, I also decided to honour another global event to which I pay little or no attention. In the spirit of the Olympics, I will be awarding a Gold, Silver, and Bronze for both the Good and the Bad.

I will also throw in some honorable or note worthy mentions.

The Good.

Demi, Demi! This may be the first time I’ve ever seen you wear something I kinda like. Not worthy of a medal but worth noting.

Penelope, Penelope! Conservatively lovely gown but we expect a bit more from you. You can’t go for the double lutz when we all know you can do the quadruple. As a result, you don’t make the medals.

Rachel, Rachel! On first impression, in a different photograph, I didn’t like this dress. The distinctiveness of the colors finally won me over. Not enough for the medals, tho.

Zoe, Zoe! Early on, you were a medal-contender with this form fitting and elegant gown. Great color too. Unfortunately, some other gowns, on closer consideration, nudged you out of the medals.

Susan, Susan! Bold! Gorgeous! Sexy! Had you ditched the frumpy bow-tied arm porridge (is that the opposite of candy?), or got him to wear a pair of pants that fit, or to wear some freaking proper shoes, you might have placed higher. Even so, I give you Bronze.

It was a close race for  Silver and Gold but in the end I had to give it to the kid I never heard of with the chutzpah.

Cameron, Cameron! You can look like a goddess and I’m pretty sure you can crush a beer can on your head better than I can. If nothing else, I’m sure you would beat me in a farting contest. And do it while looking this glamourous, if you felt like it. To thee I award Silver.

Amanda, Amanda! I have no idea who you are and I doubt I will ever see the movie you are representing but I love this gown. The bracelet is neat too. Gold medal!

The Bad:

Carey, Carey! I like the top half but the hem line and the shoes ruin it for me. Not in a bad medal worthy kind of way.

Um. Antonio? Melanie? When did you become 900 years old? You are meant to leave the portraits in the closet not parade them on the carpet. You were never really bad medal contenders but I didn’t recognize you until I read the caption.

Sigourney, Sigourney! In my mind’s eye, you will always be akin to a goddess (or at least a gatekeeping ghoul dog), however, you will never be wearing this shapeless Ancient Greek Housewife dress. And the colour? Who knew red could be so boring? But you avoid the bad medals!

Nicole, Nicole! How could something so glitzy still be so dreary? And heavy looking. And shapeless. And likely to reach oven-temperatures. Still not quite a bad medal contender!

Paula, Paula! I don’t care if you’re pregnant and you know it. Clap your hands! Don’t wear a colour this atrocious! I feel like I should practice driving a car around you. If Charlize hadn’t broken my heart, you would have placed in the bad medals.

Charlize, Charlize! How can someone so hot and so talented choose so unwisely? For picking a dress that distracts me from your super awesomeness with laughable boob molesting rosettes (and for breaking my heart by putting a chink in your perfection-ness ), I award you Bad Bronze.

Vera, Vera! I have no idea who you are but this gown is a giggle. A total giggle. And a strange color. Because I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to this space-hogging ruffle-fest, I award you Bad Silver.

Hillary, Hilary! Ever since you played that part where you had to hide your boobs, it seems any chance you get, you remind us that you have them. For going almost topless and for somehow making it unattractive (that hair may help explain it), I award you Bad Gold!

Questions! Questions! Questions!

First, what is your five (or less) thought re-cap of the Oscars?

Second, how does you Red Carpet Fashion assessment compare and contrast with mine?

Third, in your response, can you use more exclamation points than I used in this post !?!

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The Burden of The Boot: The Biggest Obstacle To Deep Winter Glam

I made a discovery yesterday: I’ve never had a job interview under snowy conditions.

As I was putting on my snazzy suit for the interview, it occurred to me: should I bring good shoes or should I not bring good shoes? This question, as far as I can recall, is not one I’ve ever considered before while getting dressed for an interview.

For work: of course, I should bring proper shoes. For school: ditto. But an interview? Might I not come across as a bit of a dandy?

In the end, I decided to bring proper shoes and simply say, “I don’t want to track salt and slush all over your carpets.” To the outside world, I seem conscientious and thoughtful and, internally, I can take secret pleasure in my well-coordinated outfit.

I decided — wisely, I think — to leave the shoe horn behind.

Now, for the most part, I’ve made my peace with winter. I don’t drive, I don’t need to shovel, and I bundle up when it’s cold. Easy-peasy.

In fact, in many ways, I’ve even come to enjoy winter.

I know! Don’t tell me! It was a surprise to me too. I even remember the moment, last winter, when I caught myself enjoying the crisp air, the fresh snow, and the luminescence of it all. In fact, it was downright lovely.

The one aspect of winter that still irks me, however, is the fact that I can’t wear a proper and decent pair of shoes. After all, what’s the point of putting on a nice pair of pants or a suit if I’m going to go thumping around in big boots all night.

I think the burden of the boot is the reason and cause for Ottawa’s general fashion frumpiness.

It then occurred to me: why aren’t there well-designed shoe bags for us deep-winter folks?

For example, I ended up toting my shoes in a ratty old PC reusable bag. This is a step up from the plastic bags I used back in the day but hardly styling. I noticed a few other people on the bus clutching grocery-issued shoe bags as well.

So I googled it and, sure enough, it exists.

Surprisingly — to me anyway — most of the options seemed more geared towards guys. I had thought the ladies would love the opportunity to add yet another styling bag accessory into their arsenal — or is two bags one two many?

Then, I thought, why don’t high-end dance clubs, restaurants, and theaters provide footwear changing areas and boot checks. I’ve never encountered anything like this in Ottawa. It wouldn’t take up too much extra space and it would keep floors clean. People would probably be more inclined to dress-up too.

Has anyone encountered a boot-check — other than bowling alleys and ski hills — here or elsewhere? Does anyone have any well-tested approaches for negotiating their commitment to fine footwear and the perils of winter.

Oh! And the interview, it went very well, but this is a fashion post! More on the interview later!

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A Question Concerning Socks: Is Two Colours Enough?

I own many socks. Many, many socks.

I don’t like to do laundry and I hate wearing socks more than once a day. In fact, if I even take my socks off, I am loathe to put the same pair on again. Because I don’t like wearing socks, I take them off whenever I can. So, I often end up wearing more than one pair a day. Consequently, I own many socks.

My socks only come in two colours: black and white. No colour. No patterns. I buy only the plainest black socks available and only the plainest white socks available. I wear white socks with white athletic shoes and black socks with everything else. Fear not: socks and sandals are always no-go.

I found myself wondering the other day: is my sock aesthetic too regimented and monochromatic? Is it wrong perhaps to wear black socks with brown shoes? I know women check out the shoes guys wear; do they also check out their socks?

So, what does your sock drawer look like? Should I consider sock diversification? Are there sock style tips about which I should be aware? And, most importantly, is the female gaze assessing my socks?

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My Greatest Clothing Purchase Ever: Or, How I Became a Hoodie Whore

In honor of the Zones Théâtrales re-mount of the Projet Rideau / Rideau projects, I thought I’d tell the story of my greatest clothing purchase ever. Ever!

You see, the connection exists because the purchase happened during a performance of Magnetic North’s presentation of the Projet Rideau / Rideau Projects in June. Intrigued? I thought you might be. Shall I continue? Oh yes. I shall. We shall.

Projet Rideau is a walking tour of site-specific theatre. There are six ten minute plays written by Ottawa playwrights for specific downtown sites. You watch one. You walk to the next one. You watch the next. And so on.

The version I saw had four English pieces and two French. The latest version has four French and two English. Two of the English plays have been translated into French.

At the time, it being June and all, it seemed perfectly sensible not to worry about wearing warm clothing. In retrospect, the evening’s weather was a sign of things to come.

The tour had limited spaces and Wayne and I got there plenty early to secure a spot in the first of — I think — three groups. I had been attending the Industry Series that day and the weather had gone from warm to chilly. I also really hadn’t had much to eat.

As soon as our group got underway, as the sun’s strength had really started to wane, I knew I was in trouble. My body temperature started to plunge and I started to calculate whether or not I could manage to sneak a quick shot in between two of the shows.

It seemed I was in for a miserable night or a night much shorter than anticipated. Neither option seemed optimal.

Eventually, it came to light that somehow our group had managed to acquire two more people than we were meant to have and the group that followed us had too few. This was an issue because one of the venues could only hold so many people.

Basically, someone waiting for the later group had decided to tag-along with us and now someone was going to get screwed. We were even accused of being the culprits — much to Wayne’s righteous outrage (seriously, I thought he was going to take our accusers out).

The tour guide politely pleaded for two people to wait and go with the later group. No one offered. We went into our next show.

One performance later, on the way out of the venue, we crossed paths with the group that was following us. The guide pointed out our next destination. It was only a short walk from where we were and we were standing only a short walk from the Rideau Center — Ottawa’s downtown chain-store fashion mecca. I shivered.

The dots connected.

I checked to make sure we could join the next group without hitch. I briefed Wayne on the plan. He agreed. I told the guide that we would stay behind and join the next group. When the guide was genuinely thankful, Wayne couldn’t resist saying something about how the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Then, we were off. I was going to impulse buy myself something warm to wear. We had twenty minutes.

The Gap was nearest. I hate the Gap, but desperate time calls for desperate measure. After a few wasted minutes, I talked to the sales guy.

Me: “I need something warm and on-sale” Him: “We don’t really have anything on sale but we have [insert generic overpriced male-wear] Me: ” I’m on this walking tour, I need something to keep me warm , and I don’t want to pay a lot” Him: “You should try Old Navy. They are great for cheap hoodies and sweaters” Me: “Brilliant! I had totally forgot about it. Thanks.”

And just like that: all that was left of us were those things that the witch left behind when she bolted away quickly in that great Bugs Bunny Halloween special.

Now this next part is a bit hazy. I think I wanted to check out American Eagle Outfitters but I went to the wrong floor or maybe I went to the wrong floor trying to find Old Navy and then ended up checking out AEO anyways. I don’t know. Wayne might remember.

Anyways, off to Old Navy!

Bam. Sure enough. Right out front there were some decent looking reasonably priced hoodies. Somehow, I felt there might be more. I pushed a little deeper into the store. Sure enough, I found a great brown zipper hoodie on sale for fifteen bucks! Fifteen bucks! The price of a pitcher of beer! For a decent looking piece of warmth! Amazing!

Me: “I won’t need a bag and do you have scissors so I can cut off these tags. I’m wearing it out.” Cashier: “You are so cool. Cooler than James Bond. Cooler than the Sean Connery James Bond” [Actual response: glazed eyes, vague polite murmur, as she struggles to find scissors].

Time check: barely, ten minutes had passed.

Pleased with myself, I decided to up my achievement points and get a coffee and a chocolate croissant. We got back to the group before their show — the one we had already seen — had even finished. Victory!

Now why is this my greatest purchase ever?

First of all, “old-me” would have “toughed it” out and had a miserable time. That’ll learn ya, Mr. Not-Being-Able-To-Guess-The-Weather-Smarty-Pants.

Plus, it introduced me to the lovely world of hoodies. Although I had borrowed — and thus eventually stole — one from a friend for a sickly plane ride home, I never really wore it. Until that evening, I never realized that a hoodie is a nice and affordable look on me.

Then, over the summer and, especially, on tour, I became hooked! They are the casual-clothing equivalent of a good blazer. You can wear it with everything and it always adds a little extra layering zip. Why wear a T-shirt, when you can wear the hoodie too! Now, I can’t stop wearing the damn things.

So, to recap: instead of punishing myself for bad circumstances, I tried to figure out how to make my circumstance better, and I was richly rewarded for it! Not only did I break an old stupid habit of creating unnecessary misery for myself, I got a great deal and a new motif for my wardrobe.

Greatest purchase ever! Does anyone else have any “greatest purchase ever” stories?

Oh. Projet Rideau was hit and miss. The concept is brilliant but the plays and performances were uneven. Pierre Brault’s show, The Rhyme of the Nicolas Street Goal, was very good. If I had any French abilities to speak of I’d probably re-investigate to see if improvements had been made to the shows. Seeing the English works translated would be a worthwhile reason too return as well.

And bring a hoodie. It will get chilly. 🙂

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