It's in the Jeans
Meg has a funny post about jeans on her site this week. Reading it made me wince, as I'm sure I would receive a citation for the slightly-too-long, slightly-too-baggy, not-particularly-flattering-to-the-female-form Caslon stretch denims that I'm wearing right now, but boy are they comfortable. And as I look out the window at the working public of Philadelphia passing by, in their heels and loafers and suits and skirts, I'm thankful that I have the luxury of wearing Sketchers and jeans at all, no matter how ill-fitting. Meg's final point is a good one, though—one that made me want to join her Jeans Police:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women are not shaped equal, and each is entitled to a great pair of jeans!
As I write this I am reminded of an ill-fated marketing concept Levi's tried years ago: cut-to-fit jeans. I ordered a pair, and while they did indeed fit me right out of the mailer (unlike any other pair of Levi's I've ever tried on), they weren't exactly what I'd call flattering. (They also didn't fit for more than a couple weeks, because the horror of having to buy expensive, unflattering cut-to-fit jeans—and worse, to have to endure a tape-measuring by a mall salesgirl—gave me the incentive I needed to go on a diet.)
I'm also reminded of a recent headline on the cover of Us or People or one of those other celebrity/style magazines you find at supermarket checkout stands that screamed "Jeans for Every Figure!". Upon looking inside, I found that by "every figure," they meant "every figure *in Hollywood*". Granted, Hollywood has body types of every persuasion, including stomach gainers with long legs, curvy hourglass vixens, apples, and pears, but generally they're all at or below ideal weight. (Certainly all the celebrity/actress/model types that were pictured in the article were.) Yes, it's true, certain styles and brands of jeans will look better on some body types than others, but just about any brand is guaranteed to look good on a stick.
And now that I'm thinking of jeans and magazines, some terrible fashion advice from Teen magazine (is that still around?), circa 1979, comes to mind: "If you have a large rear-end, wear jeans with smaller pockets to de-emphasize it." DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, TAKE THIS ADVICE. Everyone sees the pockets, notices that they look smaller, and assumes that it's not the pockets that are smaller, it's your butt that's bigger. That's right, smaller-than-normal pockets make your butt look BIGGER, not smaller. Get the biggest damn pockets you can find, by all means. And broader shoulders, if you can. (More valuable than either of those: an honest friend to go shopping with you.)
And finally, a jean quote from the movie Party Girl (funny how many jeans-related items I have filed away!):
Mary [to Derrick, who's going through her clothes rack]: "Don't mess those up, they're in order."
Derrick: "Mary, they're jeans."
Mary: "Yes, Derrick, they're jeans. And they're in order.
I have about 20 pairs of jeans. At least. Some in a box labeled "size 8s and 10s" that I hope to be able to wear again some day, some (size 10 and 12) hanging in order in my closet currently, and some (size 12 and 14) that are in the back of my closet (or rather were; now they are in moving boxes along with the rest of the clothes that are not in active rotation), just in case I go on a donut binge or get pregnant and need to leave the house. Some I really should throw out, because they aren't flattering anymore (or never were; a few random pairs purchased without a try-on at Costco fall into this category), and some I really should try to buy in another wash or color, they look so good. (Unfortunately, that never really works; I have yet to have two pairs of jeans, even when of the same style, size, and manufacturer, fit exactly the same.)
I've struggled with this, but I find that I am unable to stop myself from sharing with you my imagined slogan for the next great jean company I hope will come along:
The perfect jeans for those of us without perfect genes.
Yes, I really am that corny.
The Days of DMs are Over
News flash: Dansko clogs have replaced Doc Martens as my comfort shoe of choice. Is this a consequence of turning 35, or just coincidence? Your guess is as good as mine. I hung on to my fuchsia DMs through seven moves, but as I've only worn them once in the past five years, I've moved them to the Sell pile (which is really the give-away-to-charity pile, since I doubt I'll get around to selling anything). I'm considering getting a pair of plum nubuck closed-back clogs to replace them.
At one point I had 11 pairs of DMs, but I've been slowly whittling that number down over the years. My second pair—a set of shiny black shoes—was the first to go, when the leather in the heels cracked and split open. They were loved too well. A couple pairs that didn't fit as well as they should have—and thus were loved too little—were given away in practically-new condition. I've clung to my remaining 6 or 7 pairs as if giving them up would mean finally admitting that I'm uncool, but alas, it's time for my green distressed-leather 8-eyes, my green distressed-leather shoes, my brown oiled leather 8-eyes, and my matte black leather steel-toed 8-eyes—my first pair ever, purchased in London—to join the fuchsia pair in the Sell pile. I'm keeping the shiny black 10-eyes for now, though the skirts I usually wear them with will probably look just as nice with the Danskos.
In the "but wait, I'm still punk!" department, I got my hair cut last week. After two years of cutting it myself, I finally made it back to Toni Kim's chair at Hugo Salon in Wheaton, MD, and she gave me a right proper shearing. I now have super-short, stand-on-end, spiked-like-I-like it hair that's screaming for Manic Panic purple dye. Even my Korean mother-in-law calls it "very modern." Yeah, baby!
With all the cute little restaurants that Princeton has to offer, we somehow managed to eat at the same one twice today. Just after I last posted, we went across the street from the hotel to Teresa Caffe, where I had the pasta special (it's a pasta that I can't pronounce the name of, but it looked like rigatoni) and a glass of Merlot (I know, I know—that line from Sideways kept running through my head about how "WE ARE NOT DRINKING MERLOT!", but I had a craving for a glass of red, and the choices were limited). Al drooled a bit over the linguine with clams but decided he wasn't hungry enough to eat it, so he ordered the salad special.
Both dishes were very good, on par with the kind of food I'd expect to get in Napa restaurants. The wine was OK, not stunning; I might have appreciated it more if it was the kind of wine I actually wanted. What I was looking for was a light red, the kind that's more transparent ruby than dense purple. I know I've had a wine like that in recent memory, but god knows what it was. [I know that any wine connoisseurs who happen to be reading this will probably be groaning at my ignorance; if you have any wine suggestions, feel free to comment.] Even better than the pasta, surprisingly, was the dish of olive oil dusted with Teresa's signature rub (apparently also used on their meats) that was served with foccacia, crusty white bread, and chips made from what I assume was day-old sundried tomato bread. It was amazingly tasty on the foccacia, and I dragged some of the white bread through it before dunking the bread in my pasta sauce. Yummy.
Though today was about as hot as yesterday, it was much less humid, so after lunch we modified our midday plan slightly and took a drive instead of holing up in the hotel room. Our first stop was the driving range in Cranbury, where we hit a couple buckets of balls and tried to keep Austen from shrieking (I discovered that letting him play with a club helped, as did the old standby—holding him).
From the driving range we noodled around a bit, taking the long way back to Princeton via a route that passed a Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer's Market. It was similar to the one that used to be in Westminster, Maryland, only a bit smaller, and we arrived just in time to buy two pretzels, some fruit, two jars of pickles for Al and two half-sours from a barrel for me, and an excellent root beer before the place closed. I ate the two pickles on the spot and about a pretzel and a half over the next hour, along with some Haribo raspberries that I bought yesterday at Ricky's Candy, Cones, and Chaos on Nassau Street. Not exactly the most nutritious dinner... but that's basically what it turned out to be, since about fifteen minutes after I finally stopped munching pretzels and raspberries, Al declared that he was hungry. He wasn't able to forget about the linguine with clams and wanted to go across the street to Teresa again.
We did just that, only this time I got the salad, and Al got the pasta (though it was me who got the wine again, this time a peppery Cabernet that also didn't fit my light cherry flavor craving). I had the Insalata Farrauto, a small spinach, granny smith apple, and gorgonzola salad (hold the pine nuts, since I'm allergic to them) which was perfect for my overstuffed-with-sugar-and-starch stomach. I think I would have sliced the apples rather than diced them so that it would be easier to get a little of each flavor on the fork at once, but other than that small criticism, the salad was very good. There was no foccacia in our bread basket at dinner, though there was some sundried tomato bread, so it seems that my assumption about the lunchtime chips was correct. Though I missed the foccacia, I'm secretly glad it was left out, since I don't think I really had room for it anyway (and god knows if it was there, I would have eaten it).
Al's Linguine Vongole, of which I had a small taste, was outstanding—so much so that I'm actually considering eating at Teresa a third time this weekend, before heading home tomorrow. Aside from the red pepper flakes, which were a pleasant surprise, it tasted exactly as Al had hoped it would, so he was very, very happy. Sadly, I have no pictures of super fresh clams on a bed of garlicky al dente noodles to offer; I was busy keeping the Boopster's hands off our plates rather than taking photos of them. (The high chair was not as appealing to him as it was at lunchtime.)
Since it was still early and we were too stuffed to go to bed anyway, we decided to take a walk down Nassau street to investigate some of the other restaurant options (for future reference; obviously, we couldn't eat any more tonight!) and hopefully burn a few calories in the process. Almost every place we passed was packed, every outdoor table filled with diners, interesting-looking plates, and buckets of BYO wine. On the return trip, as we prepared to cross the street in front of Ivy Garden, I had to resist the urge to poke Al in the ribs when we were passed by a gentleman wearing THE PANTS. I was just thinking that his looked like they had marlins on them instead of whales when I heard him say, "gah, I got a spot of duck sauce on my pants." I assume it was his wife who responded, "nobody will notice, dear—they'll just think it's a marlin."
The Bandolier Idea is Brilliant
From Al, a Wired News article about practical options for carrying a bunch of different electronic devices at once. Several LOL moments, including this one:
The problem is that if you strap all of your devices to your belt you don't look a damned thing like Batman. You just look like yourself, only with lumps of plastic holding up your belly like little flying buttresses.
The Man Gets It
I am wearing my tan knee-length shorts, a black v-neck t-shirt, and my new shoes.
A: That outfit looks really nice with those shoes.
L: Thanks, honey.
A: Did you notice that I said that the outfit goes with the shoes, and not that the shoes look nice with the outfit? Because IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES.
The Perfect Gift for a Proper Philadelphian
Overheard in the Starbucks yesterday, a conversation between two professional-looking women who were probably in their late 20s or early 30s:
Woman 1: How about cuff links?
Woman 2: No, he'll never wear them. He says nobody wears cuff links anymore.
Woman 1: [untranscribeable snort of shock] What? Does he LIVE here?
Why I'm Working on Replacing My Wardrobe
Have I mentioned that I'm in the process of replacing my entire stock of tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.) with offerings from Gap Tall? I'm doing this because now that I have three shirts whose sleeves reach my wrists, I WANT MORE. Suddenly all the shirts and sweaters that have always been a little short in the torso and the arms look even more ridiculous than they did before, because now I know that there's an alternative.
I used to complain about how nothing ever fit me, but somewhere along the line I got used to it. Somewhere along the line I also acquired a bunch of tops purchased from the men's racks at Gap and Old Navy (one of which I'm wearing right now), which solved the too-small-in-the-arms-torso-and-shoulders problems I was having, but which did nothing to make me look like a girl. Most of the time I look like a teenage boy, which is probably why it's not surprising that Aura pointed out to me, when I went downstairs to get something out of the laundry room and found Aura and the Beaner reading books, that whenever the Beaner sees a the pre-teen boy hopping over the fire hydrant on page 3 of Tana Hoban's over, under & through, he says, "dat Mommy!"
I am doing my best to pick out girlier options on the Gap Tall website, though I do still find myself gravitating to the simple t-shirts and thermals commonly found in the closets of teenage boys. I should also note that a couple attempts to go girly have been foiled by other tall shoppers with faster mousing fingers than I—apparently size M and L go VERY quickly among the tall—and that the Gap doesn't always have the widest selection of girly options. Ideally I'd find another online tall store that let me return anything that didn't fit my body or my style to a local brick-and-mortar store, as Gap does, so I could have a wider array of fashion options. (I'm done with returning purchases by mail.) Any suggestions?
The After-Effects of a Tank Girl Haircut
I am coveting these boots. I have visions of transforming my wardrobe into something Gala would wear, because honestly? That's what I feel like inside. It's only on the outside that I'm a Gap Tall-and-blue jeans-wearing 38 year-old. What if the inside were to manifest itself on the outside? It sorta already does, in my hair, but lately I've been considering a more drastic leap.
Would the Beaner still recognize me as Mom? Would Al still want to hold my hand in public? And, most importantly, would the boots cause blisters?
Yeah, I'm so punk.
Gap Tall Has Failed Me
I feel like Goldilocks, in search of the perfect t-shirt. WHY is it SO HARD to find something that won't leave my ass crack exposed when I sit (or my belly button exposed when I stand, for that matter) while at the same time being flattering? Is my waist so long, my tits so small, and my ass so big that there is no happy medium to be found anywhere? There has to be something between this:
I mean, come ON.
Sock It To Me!
I've got a lot of things I want to write about on the parenting front, but I've been sitting on them because I'm not sure I want to share publicly. It's a funny thing how sometimes you'd rather share with random strangers than with those closest to you; in those cases, since many close friends and family members read my blog regularly, I usually choose to keep the posts to myself. I either write them in a paper journal, or I post them in a private blog just for me and Al, as I did when I was pregnant.
I've been going the paper route since the Beaner was born, but I'm thinking it might be time to start another private blog. Whether I do or not, I need to get it all out for both posterity and sanity, and *then* decide whether I want to share. While I'm on this subject, a big thank you to anyone reading: Y'all have been really good about not trying to offer advice via e-mail or other posts when I turn off comments. Thanks for understanding my need to spew into the void sometimes.
Anyway, what I'd intended to post about tonight was SOCKS! I've been posting photos of my shoes (more specifically, my Dansko clogs) in the NaBloShoeMo pool for the past 26 days, and lately I've also been showing off my socks... mainly because I was induced to buy a new pair of Dansko mary janes* by the NaBloShoeMo craziness, and mary janes just CRY OUT for creative sockage.
Either my Danskos have become boring, or my socks have become interesting, because lately most of the comments on my shoe photos have been about the socks. This morning BipolarLawyerCook suggested that I start a sock pool for December, and I immediately searched Flickr's groups to see if there was a group called Sock It To Me.
Well, there is now!
If you're not totally sick of blogging/photographing your shoes every day and have some interesting socks to share, come post in the pool starting on December 1. You don't have to post a sock photo every day; just post when you're wearing a pair that you wish more people could see.
* I consider myself conservative on this front; I suspect many more women bought many more pairs of shoes after seeing all the cute offerings in the pool.
These Things Weigh on Me
A conversation I just had with my husband:
lorihc [2:48 PM] this is really cute, and I get the joke, but I couldn't wear it
al [2:48 PM] :slightly_smiling_face:
lorihc [2:48 PM] makes me too sad
[2:49] sad for the lollypop?
lorihc [2:49 PM] yeah, for both of them
[2:49] let them play!
al [2:49 PM] :slightly_smiling_face:
lorihc [2:49 PM] also makes me think of parents who force their prejudices on their kids
[2:49] racism etc.
al [2:49 PM] y
[2:50] it's not the lollypop's fault that he is a sugary treat
lorihc [2:50 PM] yeah
[2:50] I get what they're going for: he's a bad influence
[2:51] if the lollipop were smoking or something, I could see it
[2:51] but they're playing with blocks!
al [2:51 PM] y
Compression is My Fashion Now
So I've had a bulging vein in the back of my right leg for oh, I guess a few years now. Maybe as many as 12 years? It's hard to remember, because I mostly ignored it until maybe two years ago. I think this vein was around when I was pregnant; I certainly remember having a painful bulging vein in my inner thigh, just above the knee, when I was pregnant, but that went away afterward. In any case, that thigh vein re-emerged last year, around the same time that the one in the back of my leg—which either was joined by others or collapsed so spectacularly that it looks like more than one—went from annoyingly itchy to occasionally painful. (It's also ugly, but since I don't see it myself, and I'm not trying to attract anyone who doesn't already share a bed with me, I didn't really care what it looked like.)
I started talking about maybe getting it looked into around this time last year, but as I am lazy in general and particularly when it comes to addressing non-urgent medical and dental issues, I didn't follow up on referrals I'd gotten from several hockey teammates who'd had veins looked at/repaired/removed. This year, for some reason, I decided I would start tackling some of the nuisance health issues, including the itchy, painful veins (the thigh vein in particular was making it super uncomfortable to drive).
I think it was in July that I went for my first appointment at the practice recommended by one of my hockey teammates, where I met a nice doctor who explained The Compression Facts of Life to me:  no insurance company will pay for any vein repairs until compression has been tried for at least 6 to 8 weeks;  if I have any procedure to remove the offending veins, I'm going to need to wear compression hosiery not just for a couple months after but forever if I have any hope of preventing further vein collapse; and  pretty much everyone should be wearing compression socks all the time. He lifted his pant leg to show me his, and mentioned that his wife wears them also. Vein doctors, man: They've seen the consequences of gravity, and they take no chances.
Al has about 5 or 6 pairs of compression dress socks in his drawer, mainly for use on airplanes (where it's legitimate even for healthy people—actually especially for athletes—to worry about Deep Vein Thrombosis), and I will admit to having tried them to alleviate vein pain. I always gave up after a day of wearing them, though, because they were really hard to get on and because they didn't seem to help that much. It turns out that you have to wear them all the time to get any benefit, which means you have to put up with the struggles to get them on and off. Luckily the sporty ones my vascular doc recommended are a bit easier to manage than Al's dress socks (though not by a lot).
The doc prescribed 20-30 mmHg compression (the highest amount available without going to a specialty pharmacy or retailer with a prescription) and recommended several brands. I can't lay my hands on my paperwork just now, but I do remember that the first brand he recommended as being good but not too expensive did not come up in any Amazon searches, and two of the others were 2XU and CEP (which he said were great but two to five times more expensive than other brands).
I started out by buying three or four pairs of socks from different manufacturers via Amazon, and have since made another three or four orders of two or three pairs each. I also bought one pair from my local running store. I've got a nice array of brands (and colors) and a few weeks' of experience wearing (and washing) them, so I'm now ready to share my opinions on which ones I'd buy again. Also, since [a] it's been a very hot summer in Philadelphia, and [b] I now understand that compression is going to be part of my life perhaps for the rest of it, I am working hard to rock the socks as a deliberate fashion statement with shorts and skirts. I've drawn the line at dresses, tho, and skipped the socks on a day when I planned to go straight from work to a nice dinner with my husband.
One more note before I get into which sock features I liked and which ones bugged me: I have relatively small feet (7.5-8 US/38.5 EU) and relatively large calves (15"/38cm), and my lower leg measures 19"/48.2cm from where my heel meets the floor to the back of my knee. Your sizes and mileage may vary.
2XU Women's Compression Performance Run Socks
Color: Candy Pink/Nectarine
Price: $22.49 Compression: 20-30 mmHg
I go back and forth about whether these or the MoJos (see below) are my favorites. I like the overall quality of these ones the best, the compression feels significant (they're the hardest to get on and off), and they have specific left and right foot designs. They also leave plenty of room in the toe box, so the socks don't pull on your toes. They're usually quite expensive ($40-$60, though price varies by color and seller), which explains my initial color choice: I picked the one that was cheapest at the time. I liked them well enough to order three more pairs (one of which hasn't arrived yet); the Vibrant Blue/Canary Yellow ones cost more at $37.46 but are awesome under black skinny jeans that tend to ride up a bit, revealing the flash of bright blue underneath. The White/Vibrant Blue combo ($21.95) is boring, but the lower price was hard to pass up. The Fern Green/Lime Green ($20.99) is on its way, and I'm hoping it will be the same pleasant surprise the Vibrant Blue was. In summary, the great colors and construction make up for the fact that the slightly narrow band at the top comes too close to the back of my knee and always leaves a mark.
MoJo Recovery & Performance Sports Compression Socks
Price: $19.95 Compression: 20-30 mmHg
A bit thick, but overall my faves for their below (not behind) the knee rise and wide top band. The band leaves a mark around my leg that kind of stings when I finally take the socks off at night (probably from circulation returning), but it's not terrible. I ended up buying a second pair of these pink ones, as well as dark grey and hot pink Coolmax versions, tho I wear the gray ones less often.
A-Swift Performance Compression Socks
Color: Rainbow Stripes
Price: $18.99 Compression: 20-30 mmHg
The most fun to wear—I've gotten several compliments, and they make me feel happy—but they seem to be unisex-sized, which means the foot is too big and the leg is too long. The band hits me behind the knee, which is uncomfortable. They're still my go-to weekend sock because they make the biggest statement. I tried ordering another "fun" pattern from this manufacturer—polka dots—but the pattern makes my legs look diseased, they have the same sizing issues as the rainbow ones, and the seams around the dots leave imprints on my skin at the end of the day. I only wear them under pants, and only when all my other socks are in the wash. I might try ordering another pair of the rainbow ones in size small, though.
A-Swift Performance Compression Socks
Color: Black & Gray Argyle
Price: $19.99 Compression: Didn't say, but guessing a bit less than 20-30 mmHg
I don't wear these very often because they're thick (too warm for summer, really), the argyle pattern imprints on my legs, and they come up to the back of my knee (uncomfortable), but they do look nice with my gray golf skort.
CEP Ultralight Compression Socks
Price: $59.95 Compression: 20-30 mmHg
Size: Women's 3 (III)
CEP is one of the expensive brands my doctor mentioned. I couldn't find these on Amazon, and I wasn't that bummed about it, knowing that they'd cost more anyway. But I happened to be walking past my local running store one day and decided to pop in and see if I could get more socks without the 2-10 day Amazon wait. CEP is the only brand they carry currently (they used to have 2XU, the guy said, but settled on CEP as the better product), so it came down to finding my size and then seeing what colors were available. White/Green was it. (There was a really nice Pink/Black, but it was a size smaller.) Where CEP really wins is the calf fit: it was excellent. Super comfortable with a great wide band at the top that didn't hit behind my knee. Where CEP fails is in the footbed: the heel seam is very rough and rubs against the arch of my foot. I felt it as soon as I put these on and with every footfall of my run. Because these are so lightweight, they're also more transparent than other compression socks—so you can see the ugly veins through the thin white fabric. I don't care so much about how the veins look when I go sockless with dresses, but I consider hiding ability to be one of the nice side benefits of wearing the socks. If they don't hide the veins, and they're not comfortable on your feet, what's the point? I'm not sure I'd buy another pair of these, especially at this price.
AbcoSport Compression Socks
Color: Blue and Black Stripes
Price: $16.99 Compression: Box says 20-25 mmHg in one spot, and 12-20 mmHG in another
These were my first experiment in ordering a size small in what appeared to be a unisex-sized product, and it paid off in foot fit without making the calf too tight. This pair comes least far up my leg, stopping a couple inches below my knee (and right on one of the bulging veins). I thought this would be an issue, but after wearing all day under pants the socks didn't fall down, didn't cause any more pain to that vein, and didn't leave too bad a mark thanks to the fairly wide back (and, I suspect, thanks to the slightly lower compression). The stripes are nice, but they don't carry all the way down to the foot (which is black with a gray heel and toe), so they don't provide any fun flashes of pattern/color under pants. Trying to figure out whether they'll go with any of my shorts or golf attire.
Danish Endurance Graduated Compression Socks
Price: $17.99 Compression: Listing didn't say; Danish Endurance website says 16-24 mmHg
Size: US 7.5-9.5
When I first put these on I knew the compression couldn't be right—way too easy, and too comfortable once on—and I remembered why I'd rejected this brand when I placed my first compression sock order. This suspicion was confirmed by the Danish Endurance website, which listed the socks as offering 16-24 mmHg compression. They were by far the most comfortable socks to wear all day, tho in this size they come up too high and hit behind my knee, and the narrow top band rolled. My veins also hurt at the end of the day, which made me realize that the 20-30 mmHg socks had been making a difference in pain level after all (as the doc said they would). I'd wear these for running, because  the stronger compression actually feels not so great to me when running,  these are lighter weight and thus likely not to be as sweat-inducing, and  it saves a more fashionable pair for day wear instead of sending them to the wash right away.
That's the roundup for now; more on the perils of wearing compression gear in a future post.