a Christmas visit with the Great Tasteful Female Ancestor in the Sky

I'm in the Sky, am I? that must be why you don't call. For your information, the Sky is located on the very upper East Side where it has been since --

Oh, you want to talk about fashion and trends, and travelling. You should get right to the point. I don't waste time at my age. Well, there was a time in my life when fashion was what kept you warm and could fit in a very small case. That I'm not discussing. For the rest, you ask, I'll answer.
least favorite fashion trends:
gigantic shoulder pads, pioneer clothes in the city, looking unwashed.

do you mean grunge?
no, there's nothing wrong with a nice worn-in flannel shirt. When the trend is over, you can wear it to garden. You can learn a lot from botany. See this plant? it's called sanseveria. Its name in French means mother-in-law's-tongue. So watch it.
I meant, looking unwashed, by accident or on purpose. I bought some makeup from MAC the other day, that's a good product. I bought a colorless lipstick, protective, gives emphasis, not gooey or slimy, and it came with a skin-color lip liner which is a great idea when you are getting little lines around the mouth. These were Carine Roitfeld's idea, you know her? She was with French Vogue. Always looked like she had a really nasty boyfriend. And the sweet young man who waited on me asked if I wanted the eye makeup. I said no thank you, if I walked around with two black eyes people would think I was on a transplant list. And you know what he said? He told me Carine's esthetic is not for everyone. A girl with a good job and a nice family and looks like she can't wash her face? I would say that's not a look for everyone.

and pioneer clothes?
I don't think ruffles are a good substitute for good posture and a properly fitted bra. I hope I have passed this belief on to my family. At the bottom of a long skirt, maybe, but then you wouldn't wear such a thing on city sidewalks. Don't people ever look down?
gigantic shoulder pads?
oh, please. This shouldn't need discussing. Just look at my cousin Justine's wedding pictures.
Your favorite fashion era?
era? we're talking fashion, not paleontology. I liked the dresses and slacks from the 1930s, I liked the real short jackets that bloused and belted, I liked the little dresses from the 60's. Those were a pleasure to make, a front, a back, no insets, no gussets... I like the look of a good navy blazer over dark jeans and a pale blue shirt. I like real gold jewelry that looks like it has some weight. I don't do dainty. I liked the look of real Capezios with a full skirt at the time, looking back I'm not so sure why. If I'm at a museum, I like to look at Edwardian shirtwaists and simple handmade lace dresses, where it's all about the fabric.

Do you still sew?
No, I can't get parts for my machine any more. And the new machines are crazy, all I want is to sew forward and backward, and they want a degree in engineering to put the thread in. So no, I pin things the way I want and I take them to the tailor, who is a nice young man who thinks he's the first guy who ever picked up a needle. I tell him, I want a little dart here, tapered to there, and he says "Where did you learn that?" But he's willing, I'll give him that.
I do that too.
well, I should hope so.

do you have a favorite trend?
well, here's a sad thing I noticed. Women today will pay money for garbage, and say something like "I'll make it work." Please. A flight attendant says she'll make an ugly jacket work because she needs the paycheck. And maybe it won't work, but she keeps the job. A marriage having a tough year, you make it work. A skirt? to go to a store and buy something that doesn't fit or is made of floor sweepings, and make it work? Go to a different store, make them do some work.
Also I hate to hear that something looks "OK for the price." Would you say that about a haircut? what if you showed up at work and your boss said your dress showed too much boob and was too short and missing a button? Would you tell her it only cost 45 dollars? and if you did, would she say, oh, ok, then feel free to stay on the office and meet with clients? Shouldn't your boyfriend say you look great, and not you don't look too bad considering you probably didn't spend very much?
I think "OK for the price" or "not bad for the price" is a failure of feminism. Oh, don't make that face. A women should always be thinking, I'm worth something, I deserve something. Not that she should always be ready to whine and go shopping, but so she won't accept second-class treatment. From anyone. Anywhere.
I'm not arguing. Anything making you happy this season? In fashion, I mean.
I'm happy longer skirts are around.
There aren't a lot.
There may be more than you think, look at this one. I ordered the tall size. It's a trend-let. I'm making it work. (winks)
you said you'd tell me a travel story?
well, it always amazes me that people will travel halfway around the world to do just what they do at home. Like those people who go to the finest restaurants in Paris or Berlin, and order a Caesar salad and a steak. And then complain that the ones at home are better. Or that woman who held up our entire group at the Great Wall so she could buy socks for her kids from a street vendor. She wanted them to have socks from China. Go to any mall, I told her, you'll find socks from China all right.
What do you do when you're not being a fashion critic?
These days, if you have eyes and a wallet, you're a fashion critic. I'm learning Arabic. It's challenging. It's very evocative.
(ok, this was a surprise.)
how did you choose that?
Because I'm old. If I were 15 years younger I'd take up Chinese. That would be a little more of a long-range plan.


  1. "well, here's a sad thing I noticed. Women today will pay money for garbage, and say something like "I'll make it work."

    This needs to be the blog motto for all of us to live by!

  2. Hi, Tabs, absolutely! I'd go to Zazzle.com and put the motto on a tee shirt, except TGTFAS would be mortified.

  3. WFF,
    Your delightful prose has forced me to take a break from my unwieldy work load and ensuing blog vacation. I am going to reread this post when I have more time.(Not now.)I am intrigued by your mention of MAC, because I am constantly in search of a flattering, natural looking lip color. ( Not bleeding into lines is always a plus!)Thank you!

  4. Hi, KnitYarns! The Carine Roitfeld for MAC lipstick mentioned in the post is colorless. So it works on your own lips to emphasize their natural color, but it doesn't add any color. The pencil liner is the color formerly known as "flesh" to those of us who grew up with Crayola crayons, and has a high wax content so it glides on very nicely. I tried both and bought them.

  5. I am looking forward to going to try them. I left Saks yesterday with a tasteful experiment of Bobbi Brown on my lips. It looked fine in store, but horrifying outside. That was when I concluded that my own lip color might be my best bet.Thanks again for the levity and recommendations you have brought to my day. Your story reminds me of the time last year when I was walking out the door with my younger(11-12 at the time) son and mentioned something along the lines that I was wearing a shirt/shoes/ coat? that I didn't really like. He looked at me in utter amazement and asked in a scolding and shocked manner why I would EVER spend my money on something I didn't really like.

  6. Thanks for the laugh. I have to say that I'm intrigued by the lipstick. I was looking on Ebay and the wording on the listing for this sweater made me think of you.


  7. Broiled wool with hash! Thanks, AmW, I was just wondering what to do for supper, if we go out I'll have to iron something.

  8. It's so true that people will buy discounted things that they never liked or even considered at full price. I don't understand the draw myself. I've always been one who likes to pick up just a few good pieces each season and I get much pleasure from wearing them again the next year, and the year after that... If I do succumb to shopping heavily discounted items it is seldom a success, waste of my time and money.

    My lips have blue undertones naturally, which is why I couldn't wear an orangey lip color. I think it's good advice to try to mimic close to your own lip color, or better yet as you've done, accentuate your own.

    1. Hi, xoxo, while I've had a few "triumphal" markdown experiences, I findthatinbalance the odds are against me. And I can't wear orange or bright cherry red lipstick either, the "pop" pf color makes me look like I was in my mother's purse when she wasn't looking.

  9. Love the failure of feminism observation. Do I detect impatience with a certain sewing machine? Mine is a '61 Singer "Slantomatic", given to me by a friend; the people at the sewing machine repair shop actually love it for its lack of computer.

    BTW, still giggly over the "spot clean" ode at the Mother Ship.

    1. Thanks, Lane! I think GTFAS is missing the old treadle machine that used to live in her grandmother's spare room. None of us wanted it, and she has refused to dispose of it. In a reverse kind of way, I sympathize, my family is already discussing who'll get my mother's old colander when I go. As well they might, since I plant to spend everything else.

      Glad the "ode" gave you a chuckle.

    2. I did use my grandma's treadle until the leather strap broke-- I could not figure out anything that worked as well. So my sister has it now and grows orchids on it.

  10. What is this colorless lipstick and liner from MAC? And how are you liking it?

    1. hi, Jen, I actually stopped at Bloomingdales after I visited my elderly relative, found both products, tried and bought. The lipstick is called Tropical Mist and the Lip Pencil is called Naked. The lipstick is lovely, it's like a firmer, smoother gloss stick, no color, a little shine. Not gloppy. The liner is terrific. The kids at the MAC counter explained that you put it on the very edge of your lips, or even just outside, and voilĂ , end of "bleeding." I'm happy with both products, but you have to take into account that I live a very short walk from Bloomies and I don't know if I'd sit in traffic for hours for these.

    2. Thanks for the info. I had stopped at a MAC counter and the kids weren't much help...
      Ive decided that a nude lip is the answer for me, because I need eyeliner and mascara and Gayle says....never, ever an eye and a lip! Heaven forbid!


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