Month: April 2015

Reality bites

Reality television and I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship, like if we were a couple our Facebook relationship status would have to be “it’s complicated” because on the one hand you have shows where there is an actual skill or talent required to compete like say Project Runway, Top Chef or Rockstar: INXS  but then along comes the other hand and it is filled with abysmal crap and awful people primarily involving plastic-enhanced housewives from some town or another, homophobic, allegedly Christian serial duck killers, or people who have more children then there are residents in towns in North Dakota and it makes you yearn for the days when TLC and A&E actually meant something and did not stand for the networks most likely to air a freak show, and not the good kind where Jessica Lange totally massacres one of my favorite Bowie songs which I am begging her never to do again, at least not with a fake German accent.

Reality television is cheap and quick to produce and for those two reasons alone it will survive the apocalypse just like all the world’s cockroaches and Dick Cheney will somewhere in Wyoming with a stockpile of canned goods, an arsenal of weapons and a defibrillator or two (you know he’s a Doomsday prepper ) just to make sure. It’s been over twenty years since MTV’s Real World first burst onto the scene and we all stopped being polite and got real with each other and well there is just no going back now because fame-whoring* has become an actual full-time job with endless growth potential as anything/everything Kardashian-related sadly proves.

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One day after a particularly challenging day at work I sat on my couch, snuggled with my dog and watched three episodes of Vanderpump Rules without moving not because I liked it in any way but because my brain was completely fried and watching a bunch of fake waiters and waitresses come up with insane ways to stir up some shit for no reason with their fake friends at their fake workplace was way more entertaining than thinking about people who do that stuff for real. Oh-Amy herself was a cocktail waitress during her college years at a trendy upscale Mexican bar and nothing even remotely exciting happened there in two years except the one time a couple of dudes got into a fight over the Vikings (the sports team not the seafarers) and knocked over some tables but mostly it was dullsville albeit the best way to make the most amount of money working the least amount of hours that was legal which was the only reason why I did it.

Pretty much all of the early reality shows were must-see TV for me. I loved Project Runway despite Heidi Klum’s fingers-on-chalkboard-voice that used to scare my dog sometimes almost as much as when the smoke detectors would accidentally go off. If Project Runway was on I was watching it in real-time because I did not have TiVo or any of those other fancy DVR things so you had to be present to watch and I was, without fail, for the first few seasons until they skedaddled over to Lifetime and it became boring like most shows do after a while.

Interestingly enough even though I was born without the bridal gene I do still like and watch Say Yes to the Dress despite the fact that even if I did have that particular gene I would probably never say yes to any of the dresses especially the skank-tastic Pnina Tornai corset ones that cost about as much as a one-way ticket on the Orient Express yet look like they came from Forever 21 or Love Culture and that is definitely not a compliment, backhanded or otherwise, Ms. Overpriced Wedding Dress Designer Lady of Kleinfeld’s.

But there is one rather newish genre of reality TV shows that I am more than a little bit into these days and that is the tiny house movement and all the shows about them including Tiny House Hunting and Tiny House Nation that air on FYI. I first found out about this small house phenomena last year when the DailyMail (quite possibly the world’s worst yet coincidentally most popular online newspaper) ran a story about a cool cabin in the woods of Wisconsin and I fell in love, not so much with the idea of moving to Wisconsin mind you, but with the adorable little cabin situated there.

Now I live in an average-sized suburban dime-a-dozen-rambler and have rooms that exist for no real purpose other than a place to dump my mail (dining room) or store my great aunt’s china (living room) I have had since I was ten years old that apparently none of the millennials in my family will ever want because they have no feelings or sense of duty like us olds so the idea that people are living in a house the size of my bedroom is mind-boggling. One guy in Portland with a child actually considered a 93-square-foot home with a kitchen/bathroom combo that I can’t even describe before designing his own place complete with a composting toilet, something that I prefer not to even think about because the Romans invented sewers for a reason and it was an excellent one. Nonetheless I admire these people and their less is more lifestyle even if I can’t fully embrace it, yet.

*Fame-whore: someone who contributes absolutely nothing to humanity yet for unknown, inextricable reasons, certain segments of the population apparently want to keep up with them.

StitchFix me up

Have you ever noticed that when you want to go buy some really cute new clothes you can never find anything even remotely interesting yet the minute you are officially not shopping, like say because you want to pay off your debts so you can make a lifestyle change, you find about a million things you need to have right now? Because that shit happens to me every time I try to practice fiscal restraint. For months I have not really shopped (Target clothes do not count, especially not the super cute Lilly Pulitzer stuff coming out in two weeks) and then when I did start to check out my favorite stores a few weeks ago there was not one single thing I could muster any enthusiasm for. I mean usually after months of wearing winter gear the first summery item I see in a store I want then and there, even if I have no chance of wearing it for months. Now either I had suddenly aged out of the frivolous clothes shopping experience that I have spent a lifetime cultivating or the stores were the problem, and because I believe very strongly in the theory that it is never me and always them, the stores were to blame and I was going to have to try something different to get my shopping mojo back on track.

Pink and green, a color match made in fashion heaven!

Pink and green, a color match made in fashion heaven

Since I am not a millennial I have not hopped on the monthly subscription box bandwagon, especially not the skin care/cosmetic ones like Beautybox or Birchbox as that seemed like a pretty slippery slope for someone like me who is not only a SephoraVIB times eleventy but has now also achieved Ulta Platinum status in less than a year because Ulta is pretty awesome and not just full of discount store brands anymore. But then I started to hear about StitchFix and was intrigued, I know a couple of people who have received fixes, both with mixed results, but I am a glass half-full sort of person when it comes to clothes and my usual stores were bumming me out so I decided to dip my toe into this new fangled shopping pond and carefully filled out my style profile.

Oops, looks like I forgot to mention that I am not currently pregnant!

Drats, looks like I forgot to mention that I am not currently  pregnant

After you answer a lot of questions you get to look at pictures of clothes and accessories and say whether or not you like them, kind of like Tinder but with clothes so way better and just like I would probably feel about the dudes on Tinder I hardly liked any of them. I also pinned a bunch of looks I liked to Pinterest which is a popular online scrap-booking thing that I try to pretend doesn’t exist like SnapChat yet neither is showing any signs of disappearing from the planet as MySpace and those annoying AOL CD things that used to be everywhere have graciously done. Between the profile and the pinning, I figured my fairly boring fashion tastes would be pretty easy for my stylist to figure out.

 

As Iggy Azalia would say "Fancy" and just like her music this look is not for me

As Iggy Azalea would say “Fancy” and just like her music this flowery lacey look is not for me

 

Now this is a little more like it, except for the scarf, can't do those, my hair just gets all caught up in them

This is a little more like it, except for the scarf because as Darryl Hall & John Oates would say I can’t go for that

Now I might not care two whits about this Aussie wanna-be rapper lady with the Kardashian-inspired inflated ass but I do kind of like this video, because it’s an homage to one of the best movies ever, Clueless which gave the world Paul Rudd and for that we must be forever thankful and I am.

I put the delivery out a few weeks since it was not very spring-like yet and I was working on losing some of my winter weight* all the while maintaining my no clothes shopping/more fiscally responsible existence. Then I got the email that my Fix was in transit and I have to admit I was pretty excited. My mail person usually comes before I leave for work except of course for this day because I actually wanted to go to the mailbox instead of forcing myself like I normally do. I go to work and forget about my box of goodies until later on when I come home and see it sitting next to my door while my mail is jammed inside, which is either super-sweet or super-judgy of my mail person since they obviously know I am not a regular visitor to my mailbox and this may be their passive-aggressive Minnesota way to let me know what they think about my lack of responsible postal behavior.

The box is not very large but has already caught the attention of the two cats who live with me because they can smell cardboard from a mile away like they are supposed to be able to sniff out rodents only they don’t because they suck at doing cat work-related things and are complete and utter slackers.

This was definitely not in my style profile

This was definitely not in my style profile

I take the box into the spare bedroom and remove the tissue wrapped items inside. I make a conscious decision NOT to look at any of the paper work until after I examine the clothes and try everything on. The first thing I see is a black one-button knit jacket thing, interesting. I own about ten jackets and could not remember the last time I wore any of them. Next up is a cute black sleeveless pin-tucked slinky material shirt followed by a bright red short-sleeve blousey-thing that I would never pick out in a million years. When the third shirt is also made of a similarly slinky material I start to wonder if the stylist ever looked at my Pinterest board that I spent like a whole half-hour of my life working on because it sure doesn’t look like it.

The last item in my Fix is a pair of legging-like pull-on black pants that made me wish I had started my one salad a day winter weight reduction plan a whole lot sooner. I honestly was not looking forward to putting any of it on, but I had just bought an awesome shirt at Madewell that the super helpful sales-teen brought me to try on when they did not have the size I wanted in a sweater of the same color and I loved it, so perhaps I should just leave these things in the hands of the professionals, even if they are seventeen?

Shirts, pants and a jacket oh my!

Shirts, pants and a jacket oh my!

Full disclosure, growing up in the fashion wasteland also known as the 70’s, there was one thing I hated wearing more than anything else and that was polyester clothing. I can still remember a fight I had with my mom because she wanted me to wear these maroon pull-on pants to some event that were itchy and scratchy and I hated them yet I wore them but my intense dislike of petroleum-derived clothing has not changed a bit since that day and they are definitely not at all the way I like it.

The black pin-tucked shirt is awkward to put on, the head hole is way too tiny and I don’t even have a larger-than-average head. It’s cute enough, but too tight so not a keeper. I try the bright red short sleeve blouse-y thing next and it too is a little tight and makes me wonder if the size I think I am and the size I really am are two completely different things. Scary thought. Luckily the grid pattern shirt fits fine and is so flipping cute I can ignore its humble man-made beginnings and just love it for what it is now and not for what it once was. I put on the knit jacket and as the Brits would say am gobsmacked at how professional I look which is kind of sad considering I am a professional and have been for many years. After the hit-and-miss sizing issue with the first couple of shirts it is with great trepidation that I pull on the pants and they are AMAZE-BALLS!! Super flattering (even given my obvious problems with winter weight gain), comfortable, slim but in a good non-constraining kind of way. I love these pants so much that if they were a guy (preferably one that looks like Paul Rudd) I would marry them at first sight no questions asked.

So not my normal look

So not my normal look which is surprisingly okay

After I come down from my amaze-balls pants high I decide to look over the paperwork and that is when I find out in a note from my stylist Lily (probably not her real name) that the reason none of the items in my Fix looked at all like what I had pinned was that I forgot to send the link which is kind of a problem yet I didn’t care because had the other two shirts fit I would have kept them as well and gotten the 25% discount you get when you keep all five items. The items in my box ranged from $68 to $98 with the amaze-balls pants being the most expensive and grid patterned shirt the least. You get to set your price limits so there are cheaper and more expensive options to choose from. StitchFix gives you three days to try the pieces on before you decide what you want to keep and what you want to return. You can choose how often you want to get the boxes or just do it once. Overall I was pretty pleased with what Lily the stylist and StitchFix chose for me and would definitely do it again in the future since sometimes it is kind of fun to have someone other than you pick out your clothes once in a while.

* A couple of years back when London had the summer Olympics they also had a very cool David Bowie fashion retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum (one of my faves) and Kate Moss did a fashion shoot wearing one of the thin white duke’s jumpsuits but it had to be altered because she was too big for it. Can you imagine how skinny Bowie was in his Ziggy Stardust days for Kate Moss, the woman who epitomized heroin-chic in the modeling world, to be too fat for his clothes? 

 

Just imagine how skinny Bowie had to be in the 70’s if Kate Moss was too fat for his clothes.