Aug 9, 2010

Look ma ... hands!

When en Femme, I feel as though my garments guide and govern my movement to a large and welcomed degree. For the most part, these movements are familiar and easy. High heels engage the hips and bring one foot in front of the other. The dress or skirt hem reminds me to slide in and out cars and booths with knees more or less gathered together. The line of the skirt, too, defines the length of my step, shorter always than the drab khaki stride. The dance of longer hair on my neck and shoulders pulls my head up, and eyes forward. O, and the bra and the breast forms, remind my shoulders back, and my belly in.

On balance, with practice, and delighting in doing these things well, my movement en Femme has become more reflexive to me, done thoughtlessly and evidence suggests, more convincingly to innocent passers-by of my too infrequent parades.

There remains however, one intersection of fashion and movement that vexes. It has to do with pockets. More specifically, the lack of them.

My guy pockets get plenty of work. iPhone in left hip, keys and coins in right, wallet on the right rump. Pockets always ready too, at any moment, for the thrust of a hand. Walking, talking, idling, considering my immediate future or visualizing the ball flight of the approach shot to the 16th green over the creek, the pocket is there to hold the hand and help still the world. Pockets are, it seems to me, the supreme fashion adaptation to the needs of my typical day. At the very least a close second to the mighty zip fly.

On those a-typical days when Petra takes flight however, her aerodynamics auger against this useful adaptation. Smooth at the equator, sleek from knee to belt buckle, clean of line and cut close to form. A rich landscape of detail but barren of pockets. I, like you, carry a bag, and so am provided with a lovely place for my things. What to do with my hands remains a bit of a struggle though.

Heavy drinking has been scientifically tested and found to fail. If you get to the place where you cannot tell whether the lipstick mark on the wine glass is smudged or blurred, you have likely already lost some measure of feminine grace. And yes, the whole pee-break thing may cut your day short.

The feminine wardrobe itself does provide some occupation for the hands. Centering and setting the skirt, tucking the blouse here and there, shooting a sleeve, sorting out bangles, clearing bangs left and right from the eyes, the odd discrete tug at the tights, all the constant background maintenance activities required to keep pretty standards. The wardrobe also provides some relief too, temporary rest stations: the strap of the shoulder bag being a fine place to hang a hand from when click-clacking from A to B. The very act of growing a wardrobe gives the hands something to do as well, carrying yet another bag from cash desk to car.

In cooler weather where pockets are provided by a smart jacket or belted trench, the pockets call out to me, but when I fold my nails palmwards, and slide my hands in, I feel as though I am ruining my own effect. The shoulders come forward, eyes go down, balance suffers marginally, and my beauty, such as it is, is diminished. This posture may work for super models, but I am neither super or a model. On with the gloves therefore, and back to the issue of where exactly do the hands go?

Like many people idling about, my phone is near to hand, email, web, Google Reader always ready with a nice new blog entry from a friend. The phone provides a good way to blend in and look natural, like all the other self absorbed, toy obsessed, deadline driven earthlings around us. Even here though, the phone changes in my hand. Or hands I should say. I am, in guy mode, a one hander. Select, pinch, scroll, browse, all easy one thumb stuff. The iPhone in Petra’s clutches is less responsive. Petra is a two hander. For starters, my lengthened nails cause me to recalibrate where my thumb and index finger pads are. And the keypad becomes a nightmare. Text message speed and accuracy goes from Eagle Scout quick to Girl Scout drop out.

There are upsides and compensations though (of course). Nails, big bracelets, petal sleeves, pocket book, all of these things demand a little attention en Femme. Movement becomes more measured, more conscious, (hopefully) more graceful. When I lose focus even for a moment, I run the risk of prying a nail loose in the depths of my purse, jamming a forkful of food, tines-up, into my pie-trap or unsettling my wig with an errant flip of the hand.

The use of the hands are, I suspect the last frontier of natural feminine motion for me. I have paid attention to my own hands, and feel as though they are not well enough deployed, a tell, a tip to the world that I am not as I appear to be, an imposter. I am going to make a point this next little while of paying greater attention to the hands of the many beautiful women I see day to day. I do hope to pick up a pointer or two along the way that will help my hands find more natural occupation on my next Voyages en Rose.

Pointers and observations on your own experiences in the form of comments from all readers welcomed with open hands of course.

Photos: Ann Taylor where I find too much stuff I want to put my hands on.


Jerica Truax said...

Hi Petra!

I have to say I don't really miss pockets much....I really like having a purse...I can keep so many more things with me than I could before with just pockets hehe.

As for where to put your hands, gosh girl I can completely understand. I feel completely weird about it and I end up with one hand on my purse an the other swinging by my side most often.

The same happens when standing, I'll usually clasp my hands in front and let them hang or do the one hand on the purse and the other dangling then too.

Walking definitely seems a lot harder to me in flats. I'm always more self conscious in flats hehe

Couture Carrie said...

Petra darling ~ that last dress you pictured is one of the ones that GP bought for me for the campaign :)

As for hands, you are not alone... I often bring a clutch to events simply so that I have something to hold onto!


Lynn Jones said...

Ahh, the lack of pockets. It threw me for a while too. Still, it does mean you do need a nice bag to go with the outfit ;-)

Anonymous said...

Well one thing you will see is that women's hands are *much* more active. Gesture is very much a part of feminine speech, so much so that it was a focus of teasing for me back in the days before I learned the right way to conduct myself in guy-mode.

Watch closely, you will see :)

Greg said...

Of course, guys' hands are larger and uglier than ladies' hands; they can be a dead giveaway as well. I always used to keep mine as elevated as possible, to avoid veining...

Tights Lover said...

I often wondered about this myself. My hands are constantly in my pockets. It would be a tough habit to break at this point if I tried, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Thats funny! Im really detailed when ti comes to my hands..whether im nervous or relaxed I always try to see what my hands are doing.. if theyre hiding or are they feminine enough.. love hiding them in pockets if I dont have a purse with me!

Miss Neira

Anonymous said...

Petra, what a brilliant subject! And well told, as always.

Allow me to suggest a couple of uses for a girl's hands that I find necessary. First, simply to adorn the posture, an arm resting on a hip, wrist limp, elbow in enhances rather than detracts from the feminine silhouette.

But primarily, hands are for talking. Women gesture a lot more and touch their conversation partners. Pockets are a manly standoffish accoutrement, by contrast.

phylisanne said...

as every one else i love the idea of no pockets when i am wearing my skirt or dress and i love having my bag with all my things inside .and as for my hands when i am riding in the subway i try to keep my hands out especially around my bag .phylisanne

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