SHARING MY WORLD WHILE SAVING OUR HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World — 9-10-19

What’s the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery or came into a huge fortune? 

Repair my house!

Which decade do you think had the best sense of style?

During the 1960s and early 70s I loved the long, loose blouses and bellbottom pants. I love the fringes and tie-dyed colors. I loved that anyone could wear anything and it was fine. It was the style-less styles.

Even for men, you could wear wide lapels or narrow ones, wide or narrow ties. Flowers and plaids. Just about anything. Right now, clothing is okay, but it’s pretty dull.

July 1963

Everyone is in style because how wrong can you go with tee shirts and jeans?

Would you rather be half your height or double your weight?

Half my height would make me shorter than the Duke. I’m only five foot one at this point. At twice my weight, I’d be unable to move.

So sorry. Neither!

If you wanted to get away from everyone totally, where would you hide?

I could stay home. Nobody comes to visit us here anyway.

What do you do that you love?

It used to be blogging. Right now, nothing feels special. I’ve been sick enough to not even get out of bed today. I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t get out of bed when I wasn’t in the hospital. It’s only Monday, but it feels a lot later than that!

DOLLS IN FASHION – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

I have no fashion worth discussing — but my dolls are well-dressed! I need to take better pictures, but there are so many. I get discouraged looking at all of them.

YOU’VE EITHER GOT IT OR NOT – Rich Paschall

Style, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps you have noticed that it seems to have died out.  You are probably glad of it too.  You did not like it.  You may even have been insulted by it, so it is so long and farewell.  It should be like many style statements we have seen over recent generations.  It is here for a while, then reason sets in.

Of course, we are talking about that so-called “fashion trend” that saw young men wearing their baggy jeans below their rear ends so that we could see their boxer shorts.  I am sure this did as much for makers of boxer shorts as it did for sellers of baggy jeans.  Perhaps these guys have started to realize just how crazy this was.  There may have been some cheap thrill in letting us see their underwear, but as a practical point of view it could not have been dumber.  At least you know these guys were not going to cause trouble.  It is tough when you have to waddle away from the scene of the crime.

Maybe the lack of a Justin Bieber tour helped to kill this idea.  Let’s hope that his next tour (if there is one) does not bring it back, or some equally strange wearing of clothes.  The alleged singer-songwriter stopped his Purpose tour without performing all the shows.  We are not sure of the Purpose or style yet, but we know he is unpopular at certain venues, but I digress …

rollingstone.com

When I was younger we had our strange fashion trends, which I am sure were heavily influenced by the entertainment industry.  If someone looked cool in the movies or on television, then I guess we wanted to look cool too.  I was too young to be influenced by the first wave of the British Invasion.  It did not matter to me what John, Paul, George, and Ringo were wearing.  For clothes choices, I got whatever my mother thought I should have.

As I got a little older I realized, as all kids do, that a little (or a lot) of whining would probably get me a few of the things I liked.  By high school, it was white Levis, madras shirts (plaid) and penny loafers.  I thought this ensemble was cool.  I guess I still do.  For a while, it was “skinny jeans.”  I don’t think we called them that, but they were the type that was difficult to put on and the opening at the bottom of the pants leg was barely big enough for your feet to go through.  I guess we thought we were sexy, like the boys showing off their boxers in more recent times.  Skinny jeans also seem to be quite popular at present, but mostly, it’s young girls.

It was just a few years and then that whole “preppy” look I loved so much was out. A whole collection of things that would not stand the test of time followed.  When skinny jeans gave way to “flares,” that is pants that had wider leg openings at the bottom, and then bell-bottoms we had a whole new look.  Yes, I got those, including the “hip huggers” style.  Those had a lower cut.  Neither my parents nor my grandparents ever wore any such items.

Your wide pants might go with a variety of looks, but maybe not with your Nehru jackets or shirts.   These items may have retained their popularity in India, where they are named after  Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who served from 1947 to 1964, but they were a brief trend here.  The jackets and shirts with the “mandarin collar” would make you look like a priest if you wore something dark.

Your 70’s hippie look did need “tie-dyed” t-shirts.  I guess those just keep coming back around the style block.  They were always popular with the Grateful Dead crowd and then with Phish, the Grateful Dead for the 21st Century.  I am glad to say I never owned one.  You may think that picture of you with beads, tie-dye shirt, bell-bottom pants and sandals that one of your friends posted on facebook on “throwback Thursday” looks really cool, but I have news for you…

All of this was followed by the regrettable trend we called “leisure suits.”  The polyester creations featured jackets that looked like shirts trying to be jackets.  Unfortunately, a number of pictures of my youthful self in these suits can be found.  My friends who escaped the camera at the time are pleased to point out how unfashionable that look is today, using one of my pictures as an example.  The worst looks were the ones with the leisure suits featuring a polyester, flower-patterned shirts with big collars.  Thanks to the internet and some Boys Club photo albums, I may never live that down.

It would have been easy to be an Urban Cowboy next.  Who does not love a classic American western look?  Following his success in making us all want to look like something out of Saturday Night Fever (which I saw more than once), John Travolta soon convinced us we should change to jeans and ride a mechanical bull.  Yes, the fashion bull kept galloping through our lives and many of us got trampled by it.

It probably would have been better to stick to standard looks that stay in fashion generation to generation.  Frank Sinatra always looked cool.  He has style throughout the ages, even if it was all pretty much the same.  A sharp suit and a fedora hat would have been good, but not as good as a tux with a carnation or other fresh flower and a hat tilted to the perfect angle.

If you do not understand, here’s your primer:

BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong

Bi-Weekly Photo Challenge: Black

I remember the year that dark brown was the new black and another year when orange was the new black. Personally, I’ve always thought black was the new black and more than half the clothing I own is black.

In Israel, a co-worker asked me if I was secretly a nun because I wore so much black. In a country that hot, black wasn’t a popular color, but I came from New York where black was always the most fashionable color for dressing up … with other dark colors close behind.

Why? Well first of all, if like me, you tend to wind up wearing your lunch, black hides everything. I used to own a lot of white blouses and one by one, they got a sufficient number of tomato-based stains on them to become officially wearable only at home with the dogs for company.

Almost all of these pictures were taken by Garry with a couple of exceptions, as noted.

 

I had one fatal encounter while wearing a white silk blouse — oh what a beauty it was, too — involving dipping one breast directly into the pasta bowl. It wasn’t a great fashion moment, but it sure did make everyone laugh!

That was the last time I wore a white silk anything, not counting my wedding dress. I didn’t eat anything at my wedding, not because I wasn’t hungry but because the photographers — video and still — owned us for the day. I tried to set some food aside for later, but my cousin got hungry and ate it. There was no food left on the table because we invited 90 people and 120 showed up.

The primary problem I have with all my black clothing is I can’t find anything in my closet. It has a light, but everything looks the same. Even clothing that isn’t black is dark — dark red, deep blue, denim — and half the things I want to wear, I can’t find. They are there. I know they are. But they are all lost amidst the other dark items closeted there.

Moreover, I can’t resist a nice pair of black pants. Because they go with everything. Blouses? I can wear many colors as long as they aren’t pastels (which look really awful on me) and if the pants are black or denim or navy, all will be well. When I was working, not having to match tops to weird color bottoms was the difference between getting out the door in time to arrive before someone missed me … and not.

I got rid of about a quarter of my wardrobe recently, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. I think I need to lose at least another 50% to make it work. Between one thing and another, clearing out my closet is not at the top of my agenda this year.

WHAT IS THAT THING YOU’RE WEARING? – Marilyn Armstrong

“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”

I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.

The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “duh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one.

More weird is when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the plot. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking. Or running from or after serial killers while wearing 4-inch spike heels. My feet hurt looking at them.

Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this:  “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”

Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in the wardrobe probably came from a second-hand source, for all I know their local Salvation Army shop.

The cast dives in looking for something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get slightly better wardrobe or wear their own clothing. Wearing ones own clothing on TV shows and movies are quite common. I understand why.

The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show think we won’t notice.

My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe. They figure if you and I notice, we won’t care. In any case, we’ll keep watching. And they’re right. It’s a bottom-line world. The wardrobe is an area where corners can easily be cut.

The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming.

It’s not just costumes, either. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors. Ultimately, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?

You notice it on long-running shows that had good scripts and editing, but not anymore. Quality drifts away. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. Obvious to a normal person, but apparently incomprehensible to network executives. Disrespect for viewers is at the root of much of the illness besetting the TV industry.

They should be nicer to us. We’re, after all, the customers. Aren’t we?

ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been thinking about shopping.

Does anyone remember in those last ten years before online shopping came into full flower? That was when you’d go into a nice shop and discover there was no one there. No one to help you find the right size or style … or even the correct department. More than half the cash registers were closed and the people who worked the counters were actually working multiple counters so wherever you were waiting, they weren’t there.

I remember not buying a watch in Kohl’s because there wasn’t anyone at the jewelry counter and the cash register was closed. I looked everywhere and I didn’t see a single store worker.

There was absolutely not a soul willing to help me find the right size or choose a different color or size, or even say, “That looks nice.” Or do anything that might encourage me to buy something.

Shopping went from being fun to being work.

By the time online shopping was readily available, most of the brick-and-mortar stores had cut down their staff by more than half. Returning something meant standing in long lines for the one individual who handled all returns and you’d better have saved that receipt!

They did themselves in. They treated their customers like WordPress treats us … and the results were exactly what you’d expect.

When the day there arrived offering us a real choice, shoppers were ready. Instead of fighting for a parking space and wandering around a mall trying first to find the right store, then searching the shop and discovering there was no one on the floor to talk to. Hoping to get some assistance in finding an outfit and realizing there wasn’t any.

All of which was followed by another ordeal, searching for an open register.

Suddenly, you could order clothing and return what didn’t fit or what you didn’t like. In the meantime, just to make what was already difficult just a bit harder, many city malls began charging customers for parking.

Free gift wrapping was not free. You couldn’t even get plain boxes to wrap without paying for them. The quality of the clothing went down while the prices went up. There were no more departments where you could get clothing altered, either.

It wasn’t just the Internet that ruined “real store” shopping. It was the attitude of the store’s owners and managers. They decided they “owned” their customers and we’d show up anyway, no matter how bad the service. It must have been a rude shock when they realized not only did we have a choice, but we weren’t coming back.

So they can blame their demise on Amazon and the Internet, but they can also look in the mirror and realize when you treat your customers badly, eventually, when times change, they won’t be your customers.

It’s a lesson that cable companies are learning, cell companies are just beginning to learn … and it won’t end there. I fought with my cable company for years to get them to give me a package I could afford … and when I finally gave up and cut the cable, suddenly they filled up my email with all kinds of tempting packages — for ONE year only.

After which they would do what they always did: jack up the prices by 100% and we’d go through the same thing again. There are only so many times you can anger and disappoint customers without expecting them to hit back in the only way that matters: financially.

You never own your customers. They own you. Eventually, they will let you know how they feel about you. Count on it.

BRING BACK THE GAP – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Gap

The Gap had the best jeans ever. Although I loved the cut of the button-down version, sometimes one didn’t have the time to hustle the buttons, so I generally had to settle for zippers.

Zippers are quicker.

They have been in the process of closing many (in some areas, almost all ) of The Gaps.

Not that I could afford them since I stopped working. They used to have sales, so their $60 (probably now $90) jeans dropped by as much as 75% and I would load up until the next sale. They were not only attractive, but it was good, soft, solid denim. The shops were a bit erratic. You never knew if they were going to have your style or size.

Still, it was good knowing they were there. Just in case I or someone I knew  (like Garry or Owen) decided to go and buy good jeans to last a lifetime. I remember one of Owen’s birthdays, I took him to the Gap and bought him a couple of pair of jeans, a great denim jacket, and a few cool shirts.

Plus one hoodie which I seem to have inherited. It’s just worn out enough to be the perfect Gap hoodie. And it’s got to be at least 20 years old … and it’s still got another ten or twenty years in it. That is the joy of quality. As long as you don’t change sizes, the clothing lasts forever.

This is probably why Garry has so much clothing. He can still wear his dress Marine Corp clothing from when he was 17. I think I hate him.

Now, it’s all “Old Navy” which is going independent and of course, the wildly overpriced “Banana Republic.” Although these three companies produce essentially the same stuff, it’s not exactly the same product. There are quality and style differences.

Old Navy is okay, but they don’t have the range of sizes the Gap had. The jeans are thinner and frankly, Wranglers look at least as good. Often better. They certainly wear better. Old Navy is also weak on styles anyone older than 18 would wear.

I could never afford The Banana Republic, even when I was working. Though these days, it’s hard to know if that is the name of a store or the name of the country in which I live.

Bring back The Gap!

I need those boot-cut button-fly jeans! Or maybe not. Are they elastic?