Tag Archives: fashion

When Truth Hits You Like a Freaking Lightning Bolt Out of the Noonday Sky

woman in the hat selfie

woman in the hat selfie

I was walking today, just doing my tourism thing in Capitol Hill and walking in the general direction of my destination but not too set on it. Like, I’m open to other adventures and stuff because if traveling isn’t about having adventures then I’ll just go ahead and eat my socks.

So I was walking today and noticing how the buildings in my neighborhood are so put together and made of brick, and how they all kind of remind me of senators from the 17th-18th centuries or whenever they still wore wigs. And I was just walking along doing my thing when I notice some free stuff on the road, like there’s a cardboard box full of cookie cutters and a desk and then there’s also this hat.

It’s just a sunhat that’s Columbia brand and either dark khaki or light green but it looks like it’s in pretty good shape, and I have pretty fair skin and was planning to be in the sun all day so I thought this was a fairly wonderful find. I put it on and was so stoked about it and kept on thinking to myself, “I found a new hat!”

And I wore the hat around all day and it was kind of a funny thing, you know. Like, I don’t usually wear hats. In fact, I’m a little weird about them. I think the people who wear them have some sort of ego complex. I always think, “Who do they think they are wearing that hat? Where do they get off accessorizing to such a high degree?”

But today, I was the woman in the hat. I wore that hat around all day and loved it. But the thing is, if someone saw me today they would just think that I was a hat-wearer by nature and that this was just something that I do, even though nothing could be farther from the truth. They wouldn’t know the difference. They would just think, “There goes a woman in a hat.”  Or they wouldn’t think anything at all and would just continue on with their lives like I do when I pass people on the street.

I assume I see people the way they are, but the reality is I know nothing. I don’t know what they usually eat, what their friends are like, if they come around these parts often, or if they wear hats. I can only see them in one moment and in one place. Maybe she just got that tattoo against her boyfriend’s wishes. Maybe he’s had those shoes for six years and can’t bring himself to throw them away. Maybe she just got back from a 11 month trip around the world and is experiencing massive culture shock.

I don’t know. So that’s the truth that hit me today: that I am the woman in the hat and I don’t know. Also, my hat is pretty awesome.

P.S. The selfies are out of control

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True Life: Bilbo Baggins is my Fashion Icon

Bilbo Baggins in the shire

Photo courtesy of: geeksunleashed.me

There’s a certain jacket I like to wear. It was green once, but has since faded to some kind of grey. The elbows are getting holes in them, and the cuffs are slowly fraying back into balls of thread. I wear this jacket almost every day, regardless of what other clothes I’m wearing or even the temperature outside.

I purchased the jacket for the Hungarian equivalent of $4 on a chilly afternoon in Budapest in May 2010. Some of my closest friends and I had managed to convene partway around the world, and we were doing what we knew best: bumming around and thrift-shopping. The jacket wasn’t really my style – or hadn’t been, at least – but I tried it on and felt something special happen. I felt a transformation and knew that it was my glass slipper, my magic pair of jeans like the ones from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. My friend immediately confirmed the glass-slipper effect, and even though I was slightly broke, I put up the thousand forint required and walked away with an instant favorite piece of clothing.

Over the course of the next three years, it developed a host of memories and some magical powers, powers to tie me to the future and the past in the same moment, to render me both invisible and extremely conspicuous, and to allow me to speak freely and confidently on subjects I know nothing about. It’s been with me to a few different countries, through different stages of my life, various loves and crushes, and a couple career visions. As it’s taken on so many memories and supernatural abilities, it’s lost a bit of its color and the ability to hold itself together and put forward a sharp appearance.

But that’s okay, because we support each other. Where would the memories go, if they weren’t contained in this article of clothing. Where would they fly away to?

Towards the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, with the dark rising in the entire world, all fates rolling towards one impending doom, Bilbo sets out on another journey at last after disappearing from his 111st birthday party. Here’s what Tolkien has to say about those last moments.

He walked briskly back to his hole, and stood for a moment listening with a smile to the din in the pavilion and to the sounds of merrymaking in other parts of the field. Then he went in. He took off his party clothes, folded up and wrapped in tissue-paper his embroidered silk waistcoat, and put it away. […] From a locked drawer, smelling of moth-balls, he took out an old cloak and hood. They had been locked up as if they were very precious, but they were so patched and weatherstained that their original colour could hardly be guessed: it might have been dark green. They were rather too large for him.”

This is the piece of tattered clothing that most people would be inclined to throw away, but it is Bilbo’s own personal suit of armour and the equivalent of my Hungary jacket, the one that ties me to past selves. I can remember every piece of clothing I wore on my journeys, and some of the stories that happened in them. These garments journey with us, to different countries or worlds or states of being, and for me at least they retain some of those journeys and become portals through which I expereince the past and imagine the future.

It’s not fashionable, but it’s meaningful, and I think that’s even better.

I pulled the quote from a full text version of The Lord of the Rings that can be found here. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: Oh Travel, Why Are You So Magical?, wornstories.com, a website about clothing and memory, and Step Out of the Van and Into a Postcard

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An Open Letter to My Reba McEntire and Brooks and Dunn T-Shirt

The real heroes.

We’ve come a long way haven’t we? I remember when you were all trussed up in wrapping paper beneath our tree. You were a Christmas gift from my big brother, and you were from a thrift store and a handful of sizes too big. When I ripped the paper off of you that sunny morning in December and saw those three pairs of eyes twinkling from the breast of the shirt, I knew I’d found a couple of buddies that would stick with me for a long while.

Oh Reba, oh Brooks and Dunn, we’ve had a lot of good times. You came with me up to Boston and we showed those people what real Americans are like. I wore you underneath a duck-patterned prairie dress to a formal party and we danced the night away, worrying only about when the music would stop, and not caring about pit stains. Life’s too short to worry about pit stains.

Now we’re here in San Francisco, another city on the bay. And I’ll be honest with you Reba, Brooks, and Dunn: I’m tired. My computer woke me up this morning at 6:30 because it was whirring so loudly, panting like a butcher on the 4th of July. A couple of hours later I went into “the city,” which is what the folks up here call “San Francisco,” and had an interview at 10 o’clock for a job that I’m not sure I even want. While on the way to the train station a young British hippy asked me if I wanted to buy an apple. He had two tiny apples in his hand and I said no and he said thanks for smiling and nice hoodie.

I wish you could have seen him. More strangers talk to me up here than most anywhere else I’ve been, but it’s not too bad. What would you do, Reba? Would you sing them a song and lift their spirits? How did you know what you wanted to do, and when you figured it out, how did you get it? Can you really have it all?

One day I’m going to have it all too, but right now I’m tired. I’m going to finish my coffee while staring at you three, your eyes sparkling back at me and then maybe I’ll get the big idea and we’ll all have to admit my brother is the genius we always knew he was.

You’re the real heroes, you the t-shirt dwellers, the silent inspirers. How many have you cheered on to victory with your never-ending mirth? No matter what the Californians say to you up here, no matter what they think of you or what kind of names they call you because you’re not from somewhere that has a San in front of it or some other liberal name, just remember that to me you are special. I love this t-shirt and am going to wear it more often so people around here can get some freaking cultural education.

I came not a moment too soon.

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An Example of a Cover Letter with Ideological Overtones

The most noble of scavenging birds of prey. A worthy master.

To Whom it May Concern:

I was rooting around in a dumpster when I found a good piece of chewed gum in a receipt from your store, American Eagle. I am passionate about scavenging birds of prey, so needless to say I was intrigued by the company name. The next day, I concealed myself in a bush for several hours. When someone passed by, I frightened them by leaping mightily and yelling “booga booga booga.” I then demanded to know what American Eagle is. An oily teenage boy told me it is an apparel store that can be found at my local mall, Walnut Springs.

For the next thirty minutes, I loitered suspiciously around the Walmart parking until I found a sneaker clad man who wasn’t paying attention while putting his groceries in his trunk. While he was distracted with unloading his Go-Gurt and Cheetos, I slithered snake-like into his backseat. When the sedan began moving and reached the main road, I bolted upright, hissed, and commanded him to take me to Walnut Springs Shopping Center. The man complied.

Once there, I slithered out of the sedan—it was green—and made towards the entrance of the great temple of consumption. Heat rose off the asphalt and sweat accumulated the corners of my body. I almost didn’t make it, but finally I reached the gates of Babylon itself and entered with the rest of the sausage people. Once inside, I found a crude map-like representation of the holy shrine, and deduced that American Eagle was even closer than I imagined. It was right behind me.

Good God what horror. You declare yourself worthy to name yourself after the greatest and most noble scavenger of all time, and yet what kind of frivolous merchandise do you peddle? Jeggings? Skinny Jeans?  Shirts emblazoned with nothing more than pathetic incarnations of the American Eagle logo? The walls covered with scantily clad adolescents cavorting at various music festivals, suggestive twinkles in their eyes…the whole thing was a disgrace. Only I know what secret these young gods held: it was that they had taken part in the communal pissing-on of everything that is good and noble.

For that reason, I’m applying to work at American Eagle in some sort of ideological reconstructive capacity, with the title of Master Re-ideologist. I will have the creative power to redesign any aspect of American Eagle that I see fit and sack anyone who does not meet my standards. Your company, dear sir or madame, is quite frankly an abomination. You are lucky that I’ve come along to save you from the destruction and/or complete loss of your own souls.

We’ll be in touch.


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A Nerd Fights Her Destiny

The bane of the science classroom.

I spent most of sixth grade sucking up to my teachers by leaving them anonymous thank you notes along with homemade muffins. My social status suffered accordingly. The day before summer break, as I watched the popular crowd milling in the hallways, I promised myself seventh grade would be different. I would prance with the best of them. My yearbook would be so full of signatures  I would have to buy extra pages. I was going to be gloriously popular and it was going to be awesome.

Summer zoomed by, and all of the sudden I was stepping into my first class of seventh grade. Big changes were afoot. In the back of the classroom sat the cool girls, radiating indifference and social status, already discussing the coming weekend’s social happenings. Next to them was an empty chair. If I could just sit there, I and the cool girls would be BFFs and giggle together until we died. All of my dreams were coming true.

Suddenly I heard, “Emily! Emily! Sit up here!” It might as well have been the call of the grave.  Two friends from my former life as a frumpy nobody sat at the very front of the classroom and beckoned to me, as friends do. They were of my own social class, both of them nerdly and pleasant, but I was completely aware they could not help my popularity level.

Tempted by the familiar faces, I hesitated. I looked again to the vacant seat, longing to be next to the cool girls despite the fact I could almost  taste their animosity and knew I wasn’t welcome there. Overcome with fear, I finally turned towards my geeky and less good looking friends.

I wish I could say this was the deciding moment, that from then on I didn’t want to be popular. But I did, devastatingly so, and it was only my blinding cowardice that kept me from palming my old friends in the face and approaching the preening girls at the back.

I made my way to the front of the classroom where my fellow nobodys eagerly pulled a chair up to the head of the table, which jutted directly into the aisle. Mr. Harrington taught right behind me, and the extent of my back damage due to swiveling and craning is still unknown.

But I made the best of the awkwardness, and used my proximity to the teacher to ask an astonishing amount of ridiculously off topic questions, like “What is color?” in the middle of Ch.8: Rocks. Thankfully, because of my location and intense focus on Mr. Harrington, I never felt the weight of the class’s collective eye rolling.

Despite my initial disappointment, I was actually living out my dream of being the ultimate teacher’s pet as well as beginning my life as an attention monger. Soon this opportunity to nerd out mitigated my desire to chase popularity. Why sit in the back and put on lip gloss when I could lead an entire classroom on rabbit trails and goose chases? Though I still occasionally wished to be popular, I believe this class was the point at which I learned I was probably happier as a nerdy and obnoxious student than a social ladder climber. In the end, I couldn’t resist my destiny. Abercrombie would have to look elsewhere for new customers.*

*Full disclosure: I shopped at Abercrombie until sophomore year of high school. Oh the shame……

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