‘How Do You Shop?’

posted in: Fashion 6
Fashion plates from the 1880s. Image: Wikipedia.


My friend Soph asked me awhile back how I shop for clothes.

I really liked the question because I like my clothes and hadn’t ever really been asked about how I pull everything together. I told Soph that I get my clothes mostly at designer discount outlets like Nordstrom Rack (my sister Rebecca is with me on this), or I buy things at fancy department stores when they’re 70 percent off.

But beyond the “where,” I thought about the “what.” What do I wear? What don’t I wear? Thinking it through, I realized I have a firm set of rules in mind when I’m purchasing clothing. Sometimes, gals like to swap this sort of information, so here we are.

After roughly 25 years of dressing myself, there’s stuff I wear and stuff I do not, full stop. I might be at a killer sale rack and see a dress that’s just my size, but if it features one of my “no’s,” I bounce. Who needs a closet full of clothing that only slightly works? Worse than that: Who wants to have a closet full of clothing you don’t actually like?

And I’m happy to say that at this stage in life, I know what does and does not work on my body. This saves a lot of time when I’m out amongst the racks, believe me. Note: Please do not take my “doesn’t work” list to mean the items are bad; they might be perfect for you, just as what clothing works for me might be disastrous on you. Oh, fashion! You fickle so-and-so.

Here’s what doesn’t work on me/for me/anywhere near me: 

Chinese collars
Anything that gives me cleavage
Drop-waist dresses
Cap sleeve anything
Sleeveless shirts/dresses (with rare exceptions)
Ninety-percent of denim clothing (this includes jeans)

Here’s what does work:

Tailored pants
White dress shirts
Gold hoops
Pumps (black, usually, but I make my forays)
Black cardigan
A red accent somewhere (often this is my lipstick)
A great coat

To be honest with you, I kind of like the girl who wears all the things on my “no” list. I mean, chiffon and t-shirts?? Sounds fabulous! But for me, the simple thing is best, the well-made pants and the “crisp white shirt,” as Sophie put it — that’s the way for me. And I feel good.

How about you?

Marianne Fons, Fashioner of Items.

posted in: Family 0
An actual toothbrush? Who needs it! Photo: Jonas Bergsten.
An actual toothbrush? Who needs it! Photo: Jonas Bergsten.

After thousands upon thousands of miles, innumerable flights, check-in counters, trains, cars, and so much shoe leather, my luggage has officially died.

My beloved silver Zero Halliburton suitcase used to have three different handles: the pulley-uppy retractable one, the grippy handle on top, and a similar grippy handle on the side. These handles were, as one might agree, useful for moving the piece of luggage through space. The pulley-uppy handle snapped off months ago. I would’ve gotten it fixed but I have this habit of needing my suitcase every other day. It wasn’t too bad; I could grip the top handle and wheel the thing along with not too much notice. I had to stoop slightly to the side but I almost looked cool with that little lean, like I was all, “Whatever. Planes.”

Well, the top handle broke off today at Midway. It’s over. My luggage is suddenly a horrible, heavy box. If that last handle snaps I will be forced to carry my suitcase like a baby, which is the exact opposite of what a piece of luggage is supposed to do for a person. The last handle — the one on the side — is what I’ve been using, which means I look like the worst casting decision in history for a production of Death of a Salesman. We don’t know what is good and what is bad, but come on.

When I told my mom that my luggage had given up on life, that the handles were off, she chirped, “Well, I could fashion you a handle.” We laughed, because how awful a fashioned luggage handle would be. Duct tape? Duct tape wrapped ’round and ’round the luggage when it was closed and twisted into some hideous, gnarled, sticky tape-handle? The thing is, my mother would not only figure out how to fashion a handle on a piece of luggage, she’d make it look pretty good and insist that the sticky side of the tape was all tucked in so you wouldn’t get sticky on your hand.

“It’s surprising I don’t like camping,” she said. “I loved The Swiss Family Robinson. They always had to make things out of what they had. They had to fashion things. I love fashioning things!” I said I knew it and I admired the quality in her. “Mom, you could fashion a hat out of a cinnamon stick,” I said, and it’s true.

“Remember when Jack was at the cottage and he had forgotten his toothbrush?” Mom said. “I told him, ‘Jack, I’ll just fashion you one!'” We all thought that was pretty hilarious at the time, but it wasn’t a serious offer; we keep extra toothbrushes at the lake house. But tonight, Mom and I tried to think how one might actually fashion a toothbrush.

“You could cut up a sponge!” I cried. “For the scrubby part!” I thought this was a rather inspired place to start.

“Yes, that’s it,” my mother said, miles ahead of me. “And I’d take dental floss or twine and wrap it around the sponge square so that you’d have nubbies, you know, like bristles. And then I’d get some drinking straws — three of them, for extra support — and I’d wind those together, too, for the handle. Then wind the sponge onto it and there you go: a fashioned toothbrush!”

My broken-down, put-er-out-to-pasture suitcase might be useful for something, but I don’t know what. A planter? A swimming pool for kittens? Does that mean I would be fashioning a planter? Fashioning a kitten swimming pool?

On Models In New York City.

posted in: Fashion, New York City 1
If a fashion magazine raises a barn in the woods and no one is there to photograph it, does it still shelter livestock?
If a fashion magazine raises a barn in the woods and no one is there to photograph it, does it still shelter livestock?

High-fashion runway models are strange-looking creatures, indeed.

I am not criticizing these women. They came out looking how they look and no one should be made to feel bad for how they look, even if some of us get taunted in school and some of us end up with Ford Modeling contracts worth millions, all by luck of the draw. No, I don’t wish to make anyone feel bad, but I see models around this town, frequently around Union Square (there must be an agency over there, the area is so thick with tall, bony women in platform boots and stocking caps) and I’m here to tell you: they are a kind of physical oddity. Spotting one is like spotting a cat with six toes or a parakeet with a second tail; you look, you look again, and as you walk away, you think, “Woah! Weird!”

My mailbox plops out Vogue to me each month. I don’t know why. I have never subscribed to Vogue. I like to think they send it to me because there’s some roster in the sky listing All The Editors In America and down in the “Q’s,” I’m there. Probably I accidentally clicked a “Gift With Purchase” when I made a dinner reservation or something and that’s why I get it. My feelings toward fashion magazines these days could best be described as cold, but sometimes I flip through Vogue, anyway. There on the pages are the women I see around town. (I’m not saying I run into Joan Smalls or Karlie Kloss at the store; I see who I think are probably models. They all buy bananas and sparkling water, by the way.)

To look dewy, lithe, and fierce in a picture means to be gangly, stick-like, and strikingly angular in real life. In order to have a leg that is deemed worthy of plastering on a billboard a half-mile wide in Soho, you need to have a leg that is about as big around as your six-year-old niece’s wrist, assuming your niece is small-boned and physically active. My point is that to look even somewhat normal in fashion pictures, you have to look abnormal in person. More than abnormal. What is more than abnormal? Hypoabnormal. Hyperabnormalis.

They look like aliens, okay?? I’ve been trying to avoid saying that, but they look like bizarre, insect-like aliens who wear mostly black and have expensive cell phones. Don’t believe the lies!

Take heart, ladies. I know the fashion spread voodoo. I, too, have looked at fashion spreads and thought, “Wow, she looks so good in that outfit; I must lose weight.” But you are not (and I am not) an insect alien. If either of us were, we would know it. And we would be working as models in New York. They have a secret society, I think, so we would’ve been contacted by now.

Just be happy you’re healthy, if you’re healthy. If you’re not, see a doctor. Make those biscuits from yesterday either way and then eat them.

**Note: The picture in today’s post is from Vogue Italia. They used the Amish people as inspiration for their shoot. I found this so ridiculous when I saw it, the rotation of the Earth slowed for a moment.

The Handbag Effect.

That's her.
That’s her.

In Nebraska, you get an extra scoop of ice cream at the ice cream shop just because you’re nice. That actually happened.

You can’t get a good piece of fish anywhere, but what’s wrong with you? You’re as landlocked as a person can get in the United States. Eat steak.

In Nebraska, you can visit the International Quilt Study Center — a.k.a. Valhalla for quilt geeks. You’ll receive a near-stately welcome and be rendered speechless when you enter the galleries. Perhaps for the first time in your life you will see quilts given the honor and solemn respect they deserve. This is way, way better than eating substandard fish or even well-ordered steak. Please go there.

And if you’re carrying a Celine handbag within state lines, you will be mobbed in Nebraska.

Look, these are things I know and I tell you because I care about you.

My mother and I stopped by an outlet mall on our way into town. Mom needed pantyhose. We figured at the outlet mall we could get out and stretch our legs, find a cup of coffee, get those hose. And so we exited for Nebraska Crossing, a sprawling, newly-constructed discount compound. I’m not a huge fan of outlet malls; the shopping experience always feels a bit like a mouthful of styrofoam. But it was a warm day and there was a Brooks Brothers store on the grounds, so I was game. I like Brooks Brothers shirts.

So Mom and I are going along and twice in two different shops, I was complimented on my handbag. I am currently toting around a rawther nice handbag, it’s true: it’s a Celine Phantom bag from last year. It’s oxblood-colored (strangely tempting to use the UK spelling there — “oxblood-coloured” — but I wouldn’t dare) and is not the mini-version of the Phantom that has been showing up lately. This beast is the full monty, the real deal, and it’s head-slappingly gorgeous, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I am. The bag was a gift, and that’s a story for another day, when you and I have a quality Zinfandel and about an hour to kill at an airport bar.

My mother found her pantyhose and that was all we bought the whole time we were at Nebraska Crossing, but we looked around the place for well over an hour, enjoying being together and not working. The last store we popped into was the Michael Kors store. We walked in and were just about to walk out when a twinky young sales assistant approached me.

“Oooh, I love your bag,” he said, eyes fixed on the smooth leather. “It almost looks like Celine.”

“It is Celine,” I said with a smile.

My answer appeared to throw the young man into physical pain.

“NO!” he gasped. “Braden!!!”

A second twinky sales associate levitated over. Both of them were 90lbs soaking wet, both barely in their twenties. They flapped their hands and were jumping up and down, touching my handbag and clutching their chests.

“That is seriously Celine,” said the first young man, fingering the tiny logo at the top of the bag. “Seriously, seriously, seriously Celine.” He was almost in tears. He looked at his friend. “Phoebe Philo is life.”*

“Can I hold it??” the second one asked me.

Of course he could, I said, and I let the boys try out the bag. One of them joked that he was going to take off with it and made a little motion of turning and running, which was slightly less funny to me than it was to his friend.

Two other sales associates came over, both girls this time, both every bit as hysterical as their colleagues. I now had a veritable gallery of youth cooing and fluffernutting over my handbag. It was fun for a moment, but then a terrible wave of depression came over me. These kids cared too much about this. I darkened right there before them, though they didn’t know it. To be complimented is one thing; to be conspicuously gagged over for an object you happen to possess is another. It was intensely uncomfortable, being the carrier of such wanton material love.

But I took a breath and allowed it to run its course. Because I know what it’s like to grow up in the sticks and see an artifact From Beyond. When you have your sights on leaving cornfields for skyscrapers, it’s a big deal when a high-rise shimmers into view. You gotta inspect it, you gotta fuel your next year of high school with that image or experience. For some kids on the prairie, it’s music From Beyond that keeps them going. For others, it’s pictures of Istanbul or Belize. For others, it’s fashion. It’s Celine. And it’s not fair to judge a kid for the obsession, not fair to make his love small or light; to him, it’s entirely serious, possibly life-or-death serious.

We left, and my mom, who hadn’t seen the full freakout, said, “What was that all about?”

“Fashion,” I said, and we went to find the car.

*Phoebe Philo is the British designer at the helm of the house of Celine.

“I Love Your Necklace.”

posted in: Art, Family, Fashion 5
Robust, not fragile.
Robust, not fragile.

Most days, I have on a gold necklace. It’s the same one all the time; I hardly ever take it off.

This is necklace, in my view, is gorgeous and conspicuous. A woman is allowed one, maybe two conspicuously gorgeous accessories on any given day. She can switch out the conspicuously gorgeous accessories as she wishes, but more than two at once (e.g., nice earrings and a handbag) and you’re breaking a cardinal rule made by Big Mama Chanel. Chanel — who we can all agree was a real pain in the ass — said that before you leave the house, you should take off the last thing you put on. (I’m pretty sure she was taking about accessories, not shoes or pants.) And she’s right. If you find yourself wearing a necklace, earrings, a couple bracelets, a handbag of consequence, and a selection of rings, you end up looking rather…accessible, if you catch my drift. Can’t have that.

My necklace is my secret wardrobe weapon. It ensures that I am never over-accessorized. This is because my ensemble on any given day starts at the necklace; not the other way around. Because I never take it off, the piece anchors my look. (Verily, it anchors my very soul.)

The medallion is a solid gold coin from Canada. My grandfather on my dad’s side did some business up there many years ago. The company he worked for screwed him over (this is what grampa told the adults in my life, who then vaguely explained it to me and this is how family lore is created) and grampa is dead now, but before all that depressing stuff happened, the man bought a few of these gold coins.

My mom and my now-deceased grandfather had a complex relationship while my parents were married; the relationship remains complex to this day, even though it now only exists in the abstract. It’s like that with most people who knew my grampa; he was not a kind man. I’ve been assured from several well-intentioned sources that he mellowed considerably toward the end of his life, but to me, being mean your whole life and then being nice toward the end is like apologizing immediately after slicing someone’s throat: you feel terrible and you help with the paper towels, but someone is dying and it’s a little late, darling. Carnage wreaked.

But Grampa, feeling expansive one day, decided to have one of his Canadian coins set by a jeweler. And so he did, and he gave this piece to my mother. She did not wear it then; she did not wear it ever. It sat in her jewelry box for decades, sleeping the days away in the box’s velvet lining.

Mom and I were looking in her jewelry box several years ago she came across the coin. I gasped. I had never seen it before. I thought it was beautiful.

“Zounds!” I exclaimed. “What’s that?!”

Mom helped me unclasp the gold chain I was already wearing and we slid off the little seashell I had hanging from it. We replaced it with the medallion. As soon as I felt that coin around my neck, I felt like I had discovered America. The weight of it on my breast was thrilling; actual gold is heavy, it turns out! The shine, the yellowness of the disc communicated a first-prize win, a blue-ribbon. I felt like I had received a gold medal for simply being alive. I think we should all get a medal for that very reason; life is too hard to not get an award just for surviving more than a few birthdays. Mom saw how much I loved it and it is on permanent loan.

It’s only a piece of metal. But my necklace is the closest thing I get to a talismanic object. I wear my necklace around my neck and my heart on my sleeve and that’s all the adornment I need. Well, then there are my diamond earrings, but that’s another jewelry story for another day.

Note: Chanel also said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” This declaration was made in 1930, presumably from a chaise lounge inside La Pausa, Chanel’s home on the French Riviera. A person has to admire Chanel the businessperson, but no one has to like the woman herself. I mean, ew.

Shoe Story.

posted in: Fashion, New York City, Tips 2
A British housewife puts out items for salvage during 1942. Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection
A British housewife puts out items for salvage during 1942. Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection.

Last night, I left a pair of gray Celine ankle boots outside the iron gate into the apartment building where I lived until this morning. If you happened to be walking west of Avenue A on 10th St. around 9pm last night, you would’ve seen them, placed nicely side-by-side against the brick wall. They were free to a good home, but you wouldn’t have wanted them. Even Celine boots aren’t worth much when they’re as trashed as those boots were. I blame Manhattan.

I’m hard on shoes, though. I didn’t know that was a trait one could possess until it was pointed out to me a few years ago. I don’t remember who did the pointing, but it must’ve been someone I cared about because I remember looking down at my feet and seeing my dinged-up shoes with scuffs deep like wounds and I remember feeling embarrassed about that.

It’s great when you make changes in your life based on feelings of self-confidence, but frequently it’s shame that compels us to change. Shoes are important. They communicate silent messages about how you feel and what you think about the world; certainly they affect how you move through it, figuratively and literally. I decided that I wanted to be the sort of person who cared about not just her shoe style but the state of the shoes themselves. I resolved to buy the best shoes I could afford, always, and take good care of those shoes.

And so I did: I’ve been a committed shoe-maintainer for many years, now. I visit a cobbler regularly. My cobbler in Chicago is located in my favorite building in the city, the Monadnock. Not only is the architecture of the Monadnock great, the lights in the building’s arcade are low, like gaslights, and there’s lots of wood and glass; the floor is mosaic and my heels make a great little tic! tic! as I walk the hall. The cobblers in the shoe repair shop know me well; they’re all Mexican and I get a “Buenos dias, Maria!” when I walk in. Orlando always takes my shoes and looks at the heels, first.

“Ohh, ohh. Yes, this bery bad,” he’ll say, and then cluck his tongue. There’s usually some catch to the repair he has to make. It’s not because he’s trying to take advantage of me; it’s that most of the shoes I buy are unique in construction or shape, e.g., the heel of the YSL pump is metal, the toe of the Marni pump is cloth, etc. We agree on a price for the fix and I come back the next morning to shoes that not only look better but feel better: maintaining great shoes is one of the most glorious feelings I know. I’m serious. There’s something so adult, so capable about a pair of resoled, polished shoes. Some people buy fancy shoes at full-retail prices and then they don’t take care of them. I buy fancy shoes on sale and take great care of them. I like my way.

So what about these Celine boots?

Oh, they were goners. I had them fixed twice. The seam over the instep was coming apart again and I could see my sock through the top. The stacked wood heels were chipped and battered, the leather was rubbed to discoloration. I walked miles and miles and miles in those shoes and they served me well. Very sharp, those boots.

Take care of them.



The Cashmere Snuggie

"Oh please, please, please let me be a Balenciaga pre-season resort collection sweater one day! Please, god!"
“Oh please, please, please let me be a Balenciaga pre-season resort collection sweater one day! For the love of BAAAA. BAAAA.”  — A Cashmere Goat.

Who among us (other than the vegans among us) can resist cashmere? The cold is punishing; the wool is combed. The chill is evil; the fibers are thick. My white cashmere turtleneck is in heavy rotation this winter and it’s starting to look ever-so-slightly dingy, like fresh urban snow. But as I only have a couple pieces of cashmere in my wardrobe, I have no choice: even dingy cashmere is better than boring old wool and infinitely more fabulous than some kind of sporty, wicking PolarTec. Oh, the humanity!

My pocketbook contains a dash o’ cash, a personal debit card, a business debit card, and only one credit card. That card is for a department store whose name rhymes with Schmacks Smith Flavenue. I have a very low limit on the card to keep me from getting into debt. I hate being in debt and simply won’t accept it as an option if at all possible. Though fashion often feels like an emergency, it usually isn’t and not worth going into debt for. Not for long, anyway.

But as cash flow is a little weird right now with the move to NYC, I thought I’d use my slightly-dusty credit card today for a purchase I actually needed. Charging something has its benefits and today’s errand was a good example. But o, sweet, mysterious Fate: whilst looking for that other item, I found a full-length cashmere robe/nightgown/caftan thing so head-slappingly on sale I bought it faster than you can say “snorgle.” The garment is 100% cashmere. It’s pale-pink. It zips up the front. The only way it could be more adorable is if it had feet and a hood. I would’ve paid double if it had, but I’ve got it on as I type this and it’s working out just fine.

So that I don’t go to sleep — wait, wait. No. So I don’t drift to the Land of Nod on pale-pink cashmere gossamer wings thinking I allowed PaperGirl to be only about buying a nightgown, here are three fascinating facts about cashmere you should know. You really should, because check it out:

1. Cashmere comes from the soft undercoat of goats bred to produce the wool. Something like two-and-a-half goats are needed to produce a single sweater! That’s one reason it’s expensive. The other reason it’s expensive is because this undercoat has to be combed by hand, in the spring, by men in newsie caps who smoke pipes and say, “Aye” a lot and drink dark beers at lunch.

2. Everything in No. 1 was true except the very last part about the men.

3. I would like some hot chocolate right now. Do we have any hot chocolate?



“Do You Have Poison On?”

Rather lovely, the poison ivy plant.
Rather lovely, the poison ivy plant.

Weird stuff happens in New York City. For example, yesterday morning I opened the door of the apartment and littered on the two flights of stairs down were dozens of Mini Twix wrappers. Dozens of them, tossed like so much confetti! It was as though all the Mini Twix in the East Village were like, “Yo! Party at [REDACTED] and 1st Ave!” and I was seeing the aftermath. I’m happy to report they were very, very quiet. I didn’t hear a peep. (‘Cause Peeps weren’t invited — hey-o!)

Today, something even stranger happened — stranger, even, than a candy party in the hallway. I was walking near Thompkins Square Park when a young woman came up behind me and asked me one of the more disorienting questions I’ve ever been asked:

“Excuse me, do you have poison on?”

You know that search box feature in the upper righthand corner of your computer screen? When you need a file or a word or an image from your hard drive, you type it into the box and bloop! there you can make your selection. Our brains work similarly. When you’re out a date and your date orders the branzino, you might not instantly know what she’s having for dinner. You do the search box and in .0000003 seconds you come up with some old file with a weird filetype that has something to do with…fish! It’s a fish, right? Yes. Branzino is fish. Thank you, search box.

When that girl asked me if I “had poison on,” I could practically hear my little search box whirring into overdrive. Poison? Poison. Poison ivy. Poison the band. Poison the deadly substance. Hamlet. Poison on. Poison on…what?? What is poison on? Poison drips, poison oozes — poison does not go “on” anything. Are there headphones somewhere? Playing Poison? It would be impossible that “Cherry Pie” would be coming from my iTunes, but perhaps someone’s nearby? Is “poison” a new drug the kids are doing and she’s asking me if I’m either selling or interested in buying? Also: no? There were also data rejections of the “Poison Ivy” character from Batman and poisson.

I looked at the girl harder, my search box wheezing and puffing, shuffling through great stacks of data. “Get context clues!” it shouted, “I’m gettin’ nothin’ in here!” Pipes were bursting, coal was being shoveled into the furnaces within my gray matter. The girl was kempt and pretty. Mid-twenties, black, nicely dressed. This was no help. If she was clearly insane, I could just shake my head and keep walking. The search box could be satisfied with “she crazy.” No dice.

“I’m sorry,” I said, searching her. “Uh, poison?”

“The perfume. Poison. Do you have it on?”

It was almost orgasmic.

“Oh!” I cried, way too happy to give her an answer at this point. “No! No, I don’t! But man, that is such a great perfume! I love that perfume! No, no. Not wearing Poison. No Poison on.”

“Thanks — have a good one,” she mumbled, giving me a slight “Sorry I asked” look. Hey, lady, you’re the one who’s talking to strangers about poison.

My sister Nan used to wear that every day in high school, by the way.



An Open Thank -You Note to Ms. Camilla Skovgaard

Bi-Sepia Ankle Wedge Boot w/Saw Sole by Camilla Skovgaard, now onsale. Visit camillaskovgaard.com, baby.
Bi-Sepia Ankle Wedge Boot w/Saw Sole by Camilla Skovgaard, now onsale. Visit camillaskovgaard.com, baby.

Dear Ms. Skovgaard:

I purchased your Bi-Sepia Ankle Wedge Boot w/Saw Sole last season from a designer discount retailer. You’ll be happy to know your boots were still hella expensive! I knew when I saw them that I was in trouble: they were singular and ferocious. I also needed a boot desperately, as I had actually worn through the leather of my old pair. They went into my digital shopping cart at once. Little did I know what a phenomenal purchase I had just made.

Yesterday, slushy, wet, fat snow came down in New York. It stuck to everyone’s hair and made all the wool in the city smell like wet dog, which was super. Though you are based in London, I have a hunch you’ve been in NYC a few times and have seen the state of the streets here. The state of the streets is not good, especially at the curb of any intersection in lower Manhattan. When the big snow grater in the sky opens up, Olympic-sized pools of evil slush form in these canyons and you find yourself quite literally at an impasse.

Unless you’re me. In your boots.

When my sister first saw them she rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, so you’re going to break your neck.” True, your boots do not look practical for snow and ice. But we know better, don’t we, Ms. Skovgaard. We know you have created the perfect city winter boot precisely because of the height. It’s like walking on wooden blocks 5” above the slush and snow! These things are freaking stilts! My socks never get wet! I can practically wade through the slurry! And I look hot doing it!  

But that’s not all!

The saw sole is genius. I have never found a lady’s boot with this kind of traction, and that includes ladyboots found in the Circle B farm equipment store in my midwest hometown. The rubber teeth on these boots are for serious urban-winter walking. I do not slip. I do not stumble. I do not slide. I crunch. I stomp. I skump. (I don’t know what skumping is, but I don’t know what’s in that NYC slush, either; all I know is that I don’t get any on me when I’m skumping around in my sick, sick boots.) Your brilliant design of the heel must also be noted: as you know, it is very, very narrow. I was alarmed at first, thinking the extremely narrow heel would cause balance trouble. Quite the contrary. It acts as a damn ice pick if I have to scale a small (dirty) snow drift either here or in Chicago! Sometimes I hit a skump of ice with my heel first to get purchase and then I vault over it with a push from the other leg. Can you hear me right now? Slow-clapping and whistling my approval?

This is my second winter with my boots, Ms. Skovgaard, and I am as pleased this year as I was last. I feel like a character in a video game because a) I look like a character in a video game and b) I feel like I have special powers that not everyone has. Not that they shouldn’t have them, too. Everyone should. I hope this thank-you note leads to even one more pair of your boots sold.

Hats off to you and your team. Hats off, boots on and on.

Mary Fons





It's like a little alligator chomping my joy.
Like a little black alligator chomping my happiness.

The riot of pink in the picture above is a dress, and that’s my leg, and that big black annoyance hanging from the bottom is the new anti-theft system recently deployed at Bloomingdale’s in Chicago and, I assume, everywhere else. Sorry the picture is reversed — I was trying to get a shot that didn’t get too friendly and was up close enough to allow you to examine the device. I partially succeeded. Sorry, Mom.

Department stores have long used electronic sensors on their garments as well they should. Thieving from a store is not cool and those honks and buzzers that sound at the door when someone tries to take a non-paid-for item of clothing past them have surely deterred countless people from trying to do so. But there’s a new game in town because there’s a different kind of theft the Bloomie’s folks are after: buying something, wearing it, then returning it.

In the ephemeral world of fashion, I can see how this would appeal: wear an item once, take it back, get another, etc., like you’ve got your own little revolving closet. I’ve never considered it because a) it didn’t occur to me, b) too much trouble anyway, and c) ew. But it apparently happens all the time, so the Bloomingdale’s corporation has invented an anti-returning system and though I am hardly a thief, I believe it is the death of shopping. At least at Bloomingdale’s. At least for me.

Here’s how it works: There’s a big black tag on the item you purchase (see photo.) It stays on the item after you pay for it. They don’t take it off at the store like the other sensors — yes, the other sensors are still on the garment, too. When you get home, if you intend to keep the item, you take off the big black tag. You break it off, actually, because you have to twist and pull the top of the bottle cap thingy and it shatters in your hand. Once the plastic is broken you cannot return the item. I’m not sure if you get store credit, but I’m pretty sure you..don’t? I don’t know because I decided to keep my pink dress, but then, I had decided to keep it before. In the store. When I bought it.

Oh, Bloomingdale’s. You so strangely killed my shopping joy. You know how when you lose your favorite bra (don’t ask me how this can happen and I won’t have to tell you) and you have to replace it? In no way is it fun. It was so fun when you found your favorite bra! You bought it! It was like your best friend and you were so happy because you chose it, or it chose you! Then it goes missing and you have to trudge back to the store and find it, or search online and find it, and when you hit “buy” or when you plunk down your money, it’s depressing. The thrill of buying something new is gone.

That’s how I felt with that damned tag. I got home. I was so excited about my dress. Then I saw that tag and instantly, I had second thoughts. Did I really want it? I bought it, but did I really want to buy it? This was for keeps. This was like getting pinned by a boyfriend. The gods were pressing me: Mary, you loved this enough to buy it but do you really really really love it enough to keep it? FOREVER?? 

No! I… I don’t know! It’s a dress! There are lots of dresses! Maybe I should return it! But I was going to wear it! But it’s forever! But! Bloomingdale’s, I hate you! I like this dress but now I hate it!

In my frenzy, I grabbed the tag and twisted and smash! the tag shattered and the dress was really really mine, as opposed to almost being mine before. Total and complete fail, Bloomingdale’s. I fear that all the shops will go this route soon and when you are faced with this, friends, you will understand.

I wore the dress that night but you know what? It drapes strangely on the hanger and it’s never the dress calling to me when I open the door to my closet. Most dresses say things like, “Mary… Pick me… I’m fun…” This one says something more like, “Mary… We’re married and we’re going to visit my mother for the weekend…”

And it’s hot pink! Oh, dear.

“Lobster Girl… Won’t You Pinch Meeeee…”

posted in: Day In The Life 0

One night, not so long ago and definitely in this galaxy, I had on red pants and a red shirt. That night, I made dinner, which necessitated me putting on oven mitts. They were also red. They still are!

I felt like a lobster. So I began to sing a little song, which I do when I’m happy. If I’m singing, you know I’m happy. My little song went like this:

“Lobster girl…
Won’t you pinch meeeee…”

That was it.

Ready to pinch!
Ready to pinch!