Blondes Have More…What, Exactly?

Let’s talk about John Frieda. Bless that man, really, because I am quite loyal to the brand. I use Precision Foam Color in 10N Sheer Blonde Extra Light Natural Blonde to color my hair at home, and I follow up with Sheer Blonde Go Blonder shampoo and conditioner. But the last time I bought my shampoo and conditioner, I flipped the lid and noticed a message just for me:

20140727_170839

 

It’s true that I don’t need a dance floor, mostly because I’m a pretty atrocious dancer and I only have late-night dance parties by myself where no one can point and laugh. And I certainly make friends everywhere I go. After a lot of awkwardness and silence, where I think a bunch of things but never say them, because I’m an introvert.

Of course, the marketing strategy here is not terribly complex. They’re reinforcing the stereotype of the fun, carefree, blonde. They’re encouraging people to post on Instagram using the hashtag #MyBlondeLife. A quick perusal of the hashtag shows a variety of blondes and beach, pool, liquor and (oh, hey!) even a shot of someone’s underwear-clad crotch. Yay!

My next blonde-affirming messages, picked up today:

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I am so over the blonde stereotype. Why are the messages like that? Why can’t it be about how intelligent, driven or thoughtful blondes are? I have two major reasons for being blonde, and neither of them have anything to do with being fun and carefree. One is that it suits my skin tone. The other has to do with cultural identity, since I’m Scandinavian, and my family is populated with blondes.

In my eyes, the stereotype is offensive. I have heard enough dumb blonde jokes to last a lifetime (often told by people who are–sorry to say it–much dumber than me). The worst of the blonde stereotype and the worst of the woman stereotype seem to line up: sex maniac, frigid bitch, vapid airhead, party girl.

Interestingly enough, there is no corresponding marketing for the John Frieda brunette and redhead products. I checked, because I wondered if this was a dumb idea done once, or three times.

So let’s make the #MyBlondeLife hashtag a little more real, shall we?
#MyBlonde has a PhD
#MyBlonde has agency
#MyBlonde goes out every once in a while and drinks responsibly
#MyBlonde can make a logical argument and stand her ground
#MyBlonde works hard at her job
#MyBlonde is a 4.0 student
#MyBlonde is a caring wife and mother
#MyBlonde volunteers her time in her community
#MyBlonde is Khaleesi, mother of dragons, and she will kick your ass

Am I overreacting here, or is this stupid bordering on offensive? Let me know in the comments, or just leave me a #MyBlonde hashtag!

Mutton Dressed as Lamb

“Ewe mutton without garnish is a tough bite, to be sure; but methinks she’s dished herself off to day, lamb-fashion.” –Splendid Follies, 1810

At the request of a friend who is turning 40 this upcoming week, I have decided to address the topic of “age appropriate dressing”. Just thinking about this topic, however, makes my eyes go bloodshot with anger.

Let me explain. As women, we spend 30+ years of our lives trying to come to grips with ourselves and our place in society. We get over the objectification bullshit, recognize our own beauty, discover what we’re good at, embrace our brains and personalities, and make peace with some of our demons. (Mind you, this may require a few more years, but at least we get a good start on it.) And then society steps back in and says “Congratulations on being a grown up! Now here’s a list of things you should never do with your clothes and your body now that you’re here.” It is as if a cut-off date has been assigned to your attractiveness; once you are 40 you are no longer sexually desirable, therefore you need to get in line and stop acting like you are.

I think the cardinal rule for dressing over 40 is one you should have been following through your teens, twenties and thirties as well: Dress in a way that flatters you and makes you feel beautiful.

Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani: 44

Are there fashions you should avoid when you’re 40+? Probably. But you probably know this already. It’s likely that you need to give up on anything that shows your midriff. Take a miss on rhinestones and glitter and random sequins for daywear. Avoid mom jeans. Am I giving you anything new and revolutionary here?

But maybe you, like my friend, need a little guidance. So, even though I haven’t hit 40 yet (9 more months for me!), I’ll tell you how I see it.

First of all, take a careful assessment of the way you look. I will admit, sometimes I put something on and it’s like I truly see it for the first time. I have a pair of trousers that are 12 years old that I still wear, because they are quality pants in a classic style. I also have clothes that are less than five years old that went in the Goodwill donation bin because I realized they were really not doing me any justice. Our bodies change as we get older, and maybe you need to raise the neckline or lower the hem, not because a low neckline or a short hem is wrong, but because it draws attention to things that have adjusted unflatteringly with time. However, there is no need to have a kneejerk reaction and go polar opposite of what you’ve enjoyed in the past–like lowering all the hems to the floor and raising the necklines to the chin.

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts: 45

Second, be comfortable–don’t look comfortable. I think the best piece of advice my maternal grandmother gave me was “wear heels as long as you can.” My paternal grandmother, at the age of 95, wore silk blouses and pleated wool skirts most days. Comfort wear can be a slippery slope. Yoga pants are for the gym, pajamas are for the bed, ratty tee shirts are for gardening. Keep your boundaries intact. If you can’t wear heels, try a wedge or a cute pair of flats. If you’ve made it through childbirth/kidney stones/a mammogram, you can certainly manage to wear a pair of trousers without an elastic waistband.

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay: 50

Third, wear trends, but don’t worry about being trendy. Abandon clothing that declares its own name (your chest is not called “AE”, your butt is not named “Pink”). However, if you have your heart set on a novelty Dr. Who tee, buy it! Wear it with a dark pair of jeans and a corduroy blazer. Juxtapose classics with your trendy items. Every item you wear shouldn’t be a trend–keep it in moderation. Oh, also, if you’re going to wear a “trend” item, make sure it’s a trend NOW, not when you were young. Throw out your scrunchies and your claw hair clips. Even if stirrup pants make a comeback, leave them be.

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore: 53

Lastly, work with the professionals. Every stylish woman, especially when she’s getting older, should have a tailor. Case in point: I fell in love with a perfect, high/low, military style coat, which had some unfortunate goth bondage-style straps on the back. I bought the coat, then took it to my tailor, who took the straps right off for a reasonable price. Just a touch of tailoring can make a cheap dress perfect or a slightly dowdy outfit flattering. I would add that it doesn’t hurt to have a good hairdresser (no Supercuts!), a nail salon where they know you, a massage therapist and a dermatologist. Oh, and a shoe repair place if you buy good shoes.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel: 92

I plan to not only age gracefully, but fashionably, saucily, jauntily, and even outrageously. And if I do it right, maybe someday I will be granted Iris Apfel status. If you’re shocked and don’t feel like your age, then let the world be shocked as well! Don’t believe the “rules” of the internet, but use the wisdom you have gained about what looks good on you, no matter what age you are.

Keeper of the Keys

Today my work key ring broke.  I have two sets of keys: home keys and work keys (which I keep in my car with my ID lanyard).  Choosing the appropriate key ring has become a bit of a chore, because the criteria is extensive.  My work keys include keys to my classroom, my classroom storage room, the copy room and administrative wing; they’re too heavy to keep on my lanyard.  I need them at various times throughout the day, and I also have student workers who use them to go make copies.   One of my workers in particular tends to put my keys into his pocket and forget they’re there.  He’s almost left for the day with my keys in his pocket.  Plus, I am not the most organized of teachers, so I misplace my keys regularly.  So, therefore and thus, my main criteria are durable, visible, and big.

I’ve decided to replace my key ring with the same type that I had before (after all, it lasted for a year and a half of heavy use, and one I bought for my home keys didn’t last more than 3 days). It’s Areaware’s Reality Key Chain by Harry Allen.  It’s thick and rubber, with no movable pieces, but it has some heft and is easy to see.  I think I’ve also decided I will get the matching skeleton key key chain from Areaware as well.

I like the bright rainbow colors and the tactile appeal of these key chains.  Plus, they’re really hard to lose!

Anyone have a good suggestion for another key chain that meet all my criteria?  I’d love to know.  Put it in the comments.

Old School Cans

I have weird ears. 

Not only did the right one launch a vengeful attack against me by getting an infection just before I was set to fly, essentially deafening me for my entire vacation and MFA graduation, but the insides are too small for most earbud headphones.  Those iPhone ones?  Torture.  I had an emergency headphone situation at Christmas where I was flying cross-country to see my parents, and forgot my headphones at home.  I had to buy some Skullcandy Chops In-Ear headphones from the airport shop.  Frankly, they annoy the heck out of me every time I have to wear them.  Unfortunately, certain situations (like working out at the gym, etc.) require these low-profile headphones, so I wear them with the mantra that “it could be worse.”

However, for at-home use, I had a massive craving for some old-school can headphones (aka full-size headphones or “circumaural” headphones).  However, my budget isn’t up for my dream Sennheisers.  I’m enough of a music nerd to really care about sound quality.  My father raised me to care about such things–how else would I know about Sennheiser and Harmon/Kardon?  Research was required to find a decent pair of cans.

I went to my favorite nerdy techy review site–CNET.  I read a bunch of articles on headphones, but the one that helped me make my decision was part of their “best of 2014″ series talking about the best over-the-ear headphones.  The article pointed me toward the Panasonic RP-HTX-K1 Monitor Stereo Headphones.  The price is affordable at just under $60 (and if you do a little searching on the internet, even lower–just sayin’), and offer comfort, sound quality, and “retro styling”.  

I must admit, the “retro styling” really sold it for me.  I have a weakness for such things, and I didn’t want just a plain black pair, which is generally the color choice for the less expensive headphones.  I liked that the Panasonics came in a variety of colors.  I chose the green pair.

Cans

If I went back in time, this would be the jacket photo for my 1970′s folk music LP.
 
I’ve been really happy with the Panasonics, even though they can get a little sweaty on hot summer days.  Overall, they’re everything they’re purported to be: great sound, comfortable, retro, a good choice for those on a budget.  My weird ears are pretty happy.

 

Brand It!

I know enough about this whole blogging thing to know that eventually the word “branding” will pop up. As in, “what’s your blog’s branding strategy?” I started thinking about this while in my car running errands this afternoon. What is the “brand” of Furnished Souls?

Let’s start with the name. For branding, the blog’s name should set its goals and effectively communicate the brand. Umm…nope. Not happening here.

My blog name actually comes from an e.e. cummings poem, and is intended ironically, as the women he writes about are stuck in an “acceptable” routine where they are busy, but create nothing of consequence. (Read the whole poem at Poetry Foundation.org.) It’s exactly the kind of woman I don’t want to be. The women I write for (for I always picture my friends reading) are thoughtful, interesting, funny, clever, sarcastic, beautiful and imperfectly quirky.

Ironic obscure poetic reference for a blog name = Branding FAIL.

Choose your look, sayeth the gurus of branding.

The color palette of this blog varies between some colors and lots of colors. I get bored. I try to do the starkly minimalist backgrounds, but always go back to things that are colorful and over the top. And then I start designing blog banners on Photoshop…

Sorry, faithful readers. I have no colors. Wait, I just adopted colors for the blog in my head. The blog’s colors are now BLUSH and BASHFUL. (Name that movie reference!)

At least I should know the purpose of the blog, right? That’s the heart of branding!

It’s a fashion blog! But it’s not, really. I’ll never be the Man Repeller or The Sartorialist. I can’t even bring a great OOTD on a daily basis. Guaranteed you will never see a full-body picture of me in a romper and high-heeled clogs with a sun-dappled tree in the background. Sorry. Plus my style is kind of quirky–sometimes vintage, sometimes conservative, sometimes a little rocker or alternative. And when I recommend for other people, I try to take their personal style and body type into consideration.

Maybe it’s a budget blog? But that’s more out of necessity, because I’m a teacher in my real life, which means I am economically ground in the gears of the system of THE MAN *rant rant*. I show people how I shop and how I utilize the internet to get greater bargains on the things you want but can’t afford. But it’s not really about that, either.

Technically, I guess Furnished Souls would be considered a lifestyle blog. I am so uncomfortable with that term, though! I automatically think of Gwyneth Paltrow, the guru of GOOP, or Martha Stewart, with all her good things.

Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.
Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.

To me, “lifestyle” means that you have it all together–or at least act like it. It’s those ladies on Facebook who post pictures of their fresh-baked loaves of bread on their immaculately clean tables, who talk about their adorable precious children and thoughtful husbands. Lifestyle bloggers are people who seem to never make a misstep, and if they do, it’s adorable and anecdote-worthy. I do not fit that description. I am actually pondering having a recurring feature here entitled “Where It All Went Wrong”, chronicling my own fashion failures and how I might have fixed them.

I am not even in a relationship, but I have the feeling if I tried to “consciously uncouple” like Gwyneth, it would involve a lot of wailing, mascara panda eyes, and undignified snotting.

Upon reflection, I think I could best be branded as a “life” blog. It occurs to me that my trip to run errands and my blog are much alike. I had to do four things: take my diploma to the framer’s; pick up a package of Korean beauty products from the post office; go to Bed, Bath and Beyond; and get lunch. From my place, the framer’s and the post office require a left turn, BB&B requires a right turn, and lunch was in between. Yet, my route ended up being framers to BB&B to post office to lunch. Totally inefficient, yet I got it all done, and had more time in my car to listen to fun summer tunes and enjoy the sunshine. And isn’t that great sometimes?

Comeback + FauxCo Chanel

If you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You are far more patient than I deserve.

So, what have I been doing in this long time since I posted new content? Well, let’s SUM UP.

1. Started the Bedeck blog, focused only on accessories.

2. Abandoned the selfsame blog.

3. Started a master’s degree–an MFA in Creative Writing, to be exact.

4. Worked my butt off teaching full time and working on my MFA full time. Two full time gigs = complete and utter exhaustion and life stoppage.

5. Became addicted to Korean Dramas.

6. Wrote a novel about artists in the 1920′s for the aforementioned MFA.

7. GRADUATED! (This happened last weekend.)

So, now I have my life back, post-studies, and want to start blogging again. LO AND BEHOLD, YOU HAVEN’T ALL ABANDONED ME! My tears of joy are real.

Some things will be startlingly familiar–there will be fashion inspirations and icons, comparison shopping so you can find fabulous stuff on the cheap, some fug, and some snark. It’s all coming back. Plus, now that I am obsessed with all things Korean (as opposed to when I left off, when the British were all the rage in my head), I’m going to bring you into my little Korean world, with KPop, KDramas, and a skincare industry that’s light years ahead. (Teaser: I just started an 8-step [sometimes more] Korean skincare ritual. Video to come…) I promise I’ll try to restrain myself.

To celebrate my comeback and set the tone, I shall recreate what I am wearing on this sunny Saturday, and call it my FauxCo Chanel look. A little restrained, a little sexy.

FauxCo Chanel

The key to this look is the ribbed white tank. It must cling, just a little bit, and dip down in the front, just a little bit. It’s got to be a little sexy, or else the outfit goes wrong. The point here is juxtaposition. Add linen or cotton shorts and a sheer or lightweight cardigan (I have a slightly nubby one with a loose weave which reminded me of Chanel tweeds). A pair of metallic wedges are comfortable, yet stretch out the legs visually and make them very sexy. Then pile on the pearl necklaces. They should be very long, like the flapper necklaces of yore. I have two; one vintage 1920′s faux pearls, and one long freshwater strand that my brother and future sister-in-law gave me.

A note about fake flower pins: wear them in multiples. They’re cheap and obviously fake; that’s their nature, so wear them for impact, not for verisimilitude. One flower is a cop-out. Buy them in threes, so you can make giant topiaries. I lined my three flowers up on the left side of my cardigan, slightly offset, starting from mid-shoulder down; you can also align them in a triangle shape.

I recommend a neutral pink lip and some cat eyeliner (cat eyeliner = winged victory).

Classic meets a faker, and you get FauxCo Chanel.

Thanks for coming back and reading this post! I hope to offer up many more in the days to come!

Another Online Diversion–Just What You Needed…

You’re already on Pinterest, right? We’ve talked about this before. It’s not the diversion I’m talking about, but it is related, as I found this diversion on Pinterest.

It’s called Tagxedo. It’s similar to Wordle, only you can make your word clouds into shapes! Also, you can plug in a web address or your Twitter name, and it will make a word cloud out of that source. Here’s the cloud I made from Furnished Souls:

You can also enter text in paragraphs or a list of words. It’s very fun, and another good way to waste time on the internet. Enjoy!

How Lovely…

What with all the craziness of life recently–starting grad school, vacation to NYC, etc.–I have yet to get around to this wonderful piece of news: Revival Girl (aka Angela) from the blog A Grand Revival nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award!

A Grand Revival is well worth checking out, as Angela renovates her home on a budget. She is stylish and classy both, and I LOVE the fact that she used the movie Amelie for her wedding inspiration. Thank you so much for the nom!

To accept the nomination, I must:
*Thank the person who nominated me and link back to them in this post. DONE!
*Share seven possibly unknown things about myself.
*Nominate fifteen bloggers whom I admire.
*Contact and link back to these bloggers.

I love this idea, so with no further ado…SEVEN SECRETS…SORT OF.

1. This may be the first post that I’ve mentioned it in any detail, but I just started my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing this summer. One of the main aspects of this program is writing a full-length novel. Currently I am working on the plot–here’s some teasers as to what this novel will involve:

Paris in the 1920′s and The Lost Generation.

The surrealist photography of Man Ray.

Playing cards.

Pickers.

Should be interesting.

2. I’m obsessed with the British television show Green Wing. I have watched it on Netflix more times than I care to count. And I ‘ship Mac and Caroline HARD.

I have mentioned this before. What I have not mentioned is that it is beyond frustrating that I keep talking about it AND NOBODY WILL WATCH IT! I AM ALONE. ALOOOONNNNNE.

It is one of the funniest shows ever. EVER.

3. In high school, I wanted to be a professional singer. Opera or lounge, not pop.

4. I can’t dance. I’m quite good at swaying to music, but dancing–especially with a partner–is likely to be a failure. I can’t let someone else lead.

This cat is a better dancer than I am.

5. I’m a vegetarian. But I don’t make a big deal out of it to others–everybody gets to make their own choices. I don’t know how to cook meat, and the smell of bacon makes me nauseous.

6. I think the sexiest clothes are not necessarily the most revealing or overtly sexual. Except for fishnet stockings and garters. They’re trashy and sexy.

7. When I try to garden, things die. My mother is a fantastic gardener, but I can’t even keep a potted plant for more than a month. My mom keeps trying, because I love looking at gardens, but I cannot seem to get that bit of magic right.

And now, the blogs I would like to nominate:

1. The Lipstick Gal
2. The Tiger’s Eye
3. Bewitchery
4. Sadie & Daisie
5. Underscoredesigns
6. Let’s Leave It Up To Fate
7. I Want Your…Blog
8. Tattoos and Running Shoes
9. The Kitchenette
10. Outrunning Autism
11. People Places and Bling
12. Scandinavian Vintage
13. That’s Normal (Blog still in development, link is to Tumblr)
14. Anonymous Hedonist
15. Over My Styled Body

Fantastic blogs, all!

And I’m still in the process of discovering new blogs and people to follow, so if you have any suggestions to round out my list, I’d appreciate it!

Kimono Three Ways

I obsess.

I find something I like and I want to listen to it, read it, or watch it over and over again. Right now I’m obsessed with these things:

Fun. Some Nights

Electric Guest This Head I Hold

Green Wing on Netflix

and Tamsin Greig (as Caroline Tod) in particular.

And right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Girls on HBO. I am not sure I actually LIKE any of the characters, but I find it compelling. So I have to watch.

A lot has been said about the fashion (or lack thereof) on Girls. (Check out Vulture’s Girls paper dolls!) I am kind of digging Jessa’s personal style, which tends to the Boho. I’m all about Boho this summer–I think it’s the maxi dresses that bring it out in me. In particular, Jessa’s kimono in the park outfit has stuck out. I wouldn’t ever wear a bathrobe out in public (which is essentially what she has going on–robe, tank top, Uggs), but I love the idea of a kimono, a topknot, and dark red lipstick.

She uses her employer’s lipstick without her permission, which seems so audacious and even upsetting, which is so part of her character. Bold lip, bold personality.

I came up with a “kimono 3 ways” set. An all-out costume-y kimono, a bathrobe-style kimono (like Jessa’s), and a wearable kimono-style dress (that you could even put a tank top under). Dangly chain earrings, hair up, MAC Russian Red lips, and you’re doing a passable Boho Jessa impression.

Kimono 3 Ways

My own personal bit of Boho today? (Aside from my maxi dress…) My vintage 1976 Egyptian scarab reproduction ring. It was sold at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the first tour of King Tut’s tomb in the USA. And it swivels. Awesomeness.

So…Boho? Kimono? Or just plain no? Also, any obsessions right now that you want to share?