Dec 18, 2019

Inside Out

Surface elements that reveal the core

Abide a moment, Dear Reader, while I reacquaint my fingers with the keyboard. They (my fingers) are stumbling about (the keys) like a newborn colt, a little goofy and lacking of purpose. Yes, it has been a while.

Happily, my feet remain nimble whilst all heeled up. Absence from Blogistan has not connoted absence from the life of full expression. With the cool weather well set in for the Atlanta winter, I have been on a little run, and have enjoyed a lovely embrace of the world. It still feels fresh and enlivening. And there is always an opportunity for upping one’s game.

Make Up.

I have found that one can keep brushes sharp and blush lines blurred by going to school. I realize I am going to sound like a Grandmother, but the online world is ripe with tuition. It is strange that I automatically went to YouTube to determine how to change a headlight on my CRV, but was late to the party on consulting online experts about how to make my bulbous nose recede with the aid of contouring tools.

It must also be said that ventures to Ulta, whether in drab or en Femme are typically met by great advice and a happy lack of curiosity about one’s motives. The general vibe I have found here is “sure, why wouldn’t you want to look gorgeous?”. Very fluid place.

Make up has in common with shoes the following: Price is a good indicator of quality. The difference in appearance between bargain brand and value vendor is not so distinct at the start of an evening. By the end of an evening, the little splash out on quality pays off on the feet and face. I have formed an attachment with Smashbox. Finding your make up muse is going to take kissing a few frogs. Well, get kissing. That’s what Princesses do after all.

In any event, spend per your requirements, but seek advice online and in the real world both.

More Make Up

So, I did not fully apprehend until recently that make up is a thing south of the neckline. Well, this is a revelatory finding I must tell you. Once you have followed the click-bait into the vast universe of YouTube facial contouring videos, do not be surprised to run into cleavage contouring features. I have been getting great value out of these learnings in part because this is make up I can apply with my glasses on. That is a real plus. Age has not been kind to my eyes you see.  But wow.

I have a swimmer’s body minus the lungs. Wide shoulders, small cup with a vast prairie of sternum in between the low dunes. Plungy bras don’t work so well for me, and push ups have tended to merely smush. I have dresses that I cannot bear to part with, but which simply don’t flow well around my bust. My necklaces may as well hang on scarecrows. I have always covered up by chest, and relied on full breast forms to create an external silhouette, to which I have contributed virtually nothing other than holding my shoulders back.

In short, I have no flesh. But, a few minutes online, a little make up applied with the right brushes, and a couple of strips of tape, and then optionally, a little silicon cookie tucked in, and presto, I am actually filling out my bra, with, well, me. And to use a retrograde expression, va va voom! I don’t want to be objectivized. I don’t want to be the subject of leering male gaze (or envious female gaze). But if it is to be, then it should be about more than my calves. And having, displaying actual cleavage touches me way beneath the surface.

Feeling that way

O, what a natural thing, putting it all together and going out into the world. And yet how becoming Petra remains an intoxicating, all-encompassing, fully immersive neutron-bomb of glory. Always with wide open plains of opportunity for experiment, optimization and, for fleeting moments now and then of real feeling beyond longing, a feeling of belonging and being and beauty.

I hope old friends and new who find this post feel this way.

Happy Holidays to you all.

xoxo - Petra

Jul 16, 2017

What was said. What I’d have loved to have said. In Two Parts.

What was Said. Part 1

Mrs. Bellejambes celebrated a birthday recently. Some of the things I picked up for her were not perfect, and one was a complete repeat of a top she already has and does not wear in high enough rotation to require a double.

Back to Bloomingdale's we go for the true up effort. Mrs. B attacked the racks while I managed the return transaction. Mrs. B is not so avid a shopper as I. She was hailing me and holding aloft hangers for quick thumbs up or down from me while I engaged with the shop assistant.

The assistant swanned off to a rack to grab an SKU number, all tall, elegant and compelling. Apart from a smile that could cause large ships to run ashoal, she was tall and stately in a gorgeous black midi sheath dress with a big knee to nape exposed back zip all perched on a pair of 5 ½” pumps. 6’3” easy and of perfect, healthy proportion.

I, at this moment am merely dying of envy.

One of her colleagues happened by.

“New shoes??!”

“Yup! Just yesterday. Love them. Didn’t even pack flats today”

Back at counter, she is now clicking away at the point of sale terminal.

Did I hear new shoes, no back up?”

Yes!” (blinding smile)

And you are on your feet all day.

Yes!!”  (big eyes)

“That is a bold choice”

Well, I am only on for 6 hours today so I should be OK

“Ah. Well, you look terrific so I hope it all works out for you”

Me too! Thanks!!” (more click click click)

I arbitrated a few fashion coin tosses with Mrs. B. She traded complements with the assistant. Mrs. B is as much of a traffic stopper as our towering new friend. Both clearly not jealous types, and naturally generous. We (You and I dear reader) envy too that happy sororities freedom to share compliments, do we not?

Our transaction done, tissued and tariffed, off we went with the rest of the day.

What I Would Have Loved to Have Said. 

Do you cover the BCBG and Alice and Olivia racks too? I want to be sure you are paid if I find anything really pretty for me while my wife takes care of business here. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eileen Fisher, but she is not in my sweet spot. Yours either, am I right?

I just wish I was in pretty mode today so I could try a few things on. And don’t hate me but I need your dress. It's a Victoria Beckham isn't it? Where is she and do you have a 6??”

What was Said. Part 2

In chap mode recently, with friends and family, all together celebrating a milestone birthday (not one of mine or Mrs. B’s) at a nice restaurant. I was seated next to the BirthdayGirl. She was bejeweled, hair piled up and pleated party dress all atwirl. It did register with me that she chose a flattering silhouette. High waist, full full skirt, square neckline, all elements conspiring to do the job of accentuating the positive and obscuring the negative. I chose a pretty typical guy compliment.

You look great. Happy Birthday

Kisskiss and hughug all around the table.

We settled in for apps and bubbles and the chit chat started up in the way it does. BirthdayGirl and myself uniquely at the table had a great long view of the room which allowed us a peek at the big glass entrance beyond the Maître D's station. Loads of light and people pouring in at dinner hour here close to the Summer Solstice. Terrific eye candy and BirthdayGirl is reliable with the play-by-play people commentary.

Some couples make an effort together. 95% of the women really knocked it out of the park. 95% of the guys total schlubs. Lots of dazzlers, just no dazzling couples. You really wonder at the lack of symmetry. I mean guys, thanks for leaving the ballcap at home but, really, would a jacket kill you?

Anyhow... The two tall women breached the big glass door. You and I of course would have spotted them a mile away. Apart from the height, there were the broader shoulders, the giveaway gaits, the weather tossed wigs, the wardrobe choices that set the ladies apart from us all and from each other too.

One conservative, long skirt, boxy cardigan, sensible shoes and the big baubly necklace. The other all rhinestone-glitter, body-conscious, clingy party frock barely covering butt all perched atop the black sheers and towering strappy platforms.

BirthdayGirl is a proud, liberal, contemporary city dweller. Her social circle is a crazy quilt of diversity. She is in most of the rooms she occupies a minority, and feels a real kinship with other minorities in part as a result of her personal experiences. She really does take joy from being in the company of people with different edges and expectations. Rather a generational hallmark in my experience and one of the perennial badges of urban sophistication.

Arched eyebrow half in my direction, the other half towards our new minority diners.

             O. My. God. My day is now fully made…”

 I returned her conversational volley.

Hmmm. Maybe she should have stayed away from the rhinestone number. It’s a little too after-dark-dance-floor for an early supper table don’t you think…?

She ran to the net and lobbed:

Her bag is wrong too. Big satchel and small dress is a never-never no-no

Yes, we big city types have that class of Cole Porter blasé repartee on tap at all times. We even use words like blasé and repartee. We are loathsome, no?

The hostess waltzed our minority diners through the buzzing dining hive and sat them nicely, somewhere out of our field of view. At which point the conversation drifted back to careers, milestones and the ceaseless examination of our various and manifest quirks of inherited and privately cultivated neuroses.

Dinner was choice.

What I Would Have Loved to Have Said. Part 2

"Oh my dear, I have to tell you. She, well, both ladies might at this moment feel at some level terrified, but that feeling is overwhelmed by every else. They feel free. They feel beautiful. They feel electric and more alive right now than any other time they can remember. 

They feel right. They will want to bottle this feeling and spray it on every other moment. They want to have this feeling, this memory as their deathbed thought.

I do not think we can hope to see anything so beautiful as these two ladies tonight.

I know this in my heart. We should talk. Really, really talk"


These things are not said. An opportunity for honest, full expression is missed. 

Turbulence is avoided and the bright blue vistas on the other, unseen side of the clouds remain a Shangri La, a Never Never Land, a Passport page unstamped. 

Dec 30, 2015

Epic. Iconic. Mine.

I find time and inspiration today, dear Friends, to finish the year with a scribble and a thought or two. Won’t trouble you with any ponderings on the import of the waning old year or the opportunities presented by the waxing new year. Today is all about fashion.

If there were a Maslow’s Hierarchy of feminine presentation, battling for the peak of the pyramid would be a handful of epic designs, pieces so desirable, timeless and celebratory of womanhood that generations of women lust for them. Me too.

The Chanel Clutch. The Louboutin Pump. The Cartier Watch. Things that effortlessly broadcast “because I’m worth it” in a way that L’Oreal needs to spell out. Pieces that, if one ever really found herself stranded in a war zone, you could pawn for an exit visa (but deep down you know you simply wouldn’t part with them). 
It is a select list, and I propose to add to it. 

The Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Dress.

The DVF Wrap was perhaps the most perfectly timed design since Noah’s Arc. Ms. Von Furstenberg had just recently pitched up on American shores from a design apprenticeship in Italy with a bag of her own early samples and an appetite for a new life.

“You know, I made easy little dresses. That's what I did. I didn't think I was actually designing them and I didn't think I was making a fashion statement.”

Over 40 years later, The Dress is still a valid fashion statement. It was in the early 1970’s a part of genuine revolution, a turbo-charger to the Feminist movement. The 20th Century woman had been chiseling away at the constrictions of fashion with tiny but important hammer thwocks for years … Greta Garbo in tuxedo. Kate Hepburn in slacks. Small platoons of bra-burners finally fed up with girdling, garters and exaggerated silhouettes largely dictated by men who displayed a nearly uniform lack of regard for comfort or appreciation of the natural and distinct beauty of women.

This turbulent era saw American women entering the workforce in greater numbers and with higher expectations than had been the case since WWII. “Libbers” carrying on the great work of the Suffragette movement confronted male power structures in the corporate world at distinct disadvantages, lacking role models, networks, legal protection from workplace harassment or broad access to child care facilities.

And on top of all that, just what the hell were we to wear to the office? The skirt/blouse combo just screamed secretarial pool, catalyzed countless coffee runs and reinforced glass ceilings. Initial fumbling fashion responses focused on aping masculine fashions. Big shoulders, straight lines, bland palettes, cuffed trouser cuts, boxy shoes and perhaps the tiniest concession to femininity, a bowed collar rather than a necktie. Nobody was having any kind of fun with this look.

Then came The Dress. I am wearing mine just now. Let me describe it. The Dress just flows. A stretchy silk / lycra blend, it goes on like a shirt and wraps up like a dream. It falls to the knee and cinches high on the waist. Gentle, gossamer fabric obscures imperfections of figure, a discrete flash of thigh delights when seated. Plunging ruching at neckline beg for jewelry and feature the natural blessings of bust without giving the store away for free. It just moves so freely, it feels like nothing and like nothing else at the same time. I could not walk like a man in this garment with a gun to my head. I, like Leisl, feel pretty. O so pretty.

They flew off the racks and invaded an unsuspecting world. A garment that celebrated female form and dressed it for comfort all at once. Suitable for the office and aching for the evening transition to dinner and dancefloor. I can’t say that Disco was ever my cup of tea (more of a Clash girl if you must know), but that thankfully fleeting cultural moment would have been entirely, unredeemably, god-awful-er without The Dress.

And talk about quick pee-breaks! Gather it up, drop the knickers, do the business and get right back to the revolution.

Patterns proliferated. Colors exploded. Lines and lengths, sleeve and collar treatments were tweaked and freshened up season to season, but the essence remains. I am Woman, hear me roar, in fashion too good to ignore.

Sparks flew and designers followed with a hall pass to create looks that vived La Difference, that did not simply ape male ape shapes, that celebrated all that you and I have within us and, on good days, on our surfaces too.

Found mine at Neiman Marcus Last Call yesterday. Had not visited the NM Value / Clearance venue before and honestly expected to kiss a few frogs and go home without anything slung shoulder-wise. Given the generally ritzy price-point zip code of good old Needless Markup, I was fortifying myself with reminders about just how expensive the holiday season has already been and how uncertain tomorrow can be.

Said defenses melted when I saw the DVF section and was reminded that somewhere deep in my subconscious I had for decades lusted after this dress (as both spectator and participant as it happens). There were a small handful left on the rack, mostly skinny 2’s or curvy12’s, but one perfectly sexy six, riotous in black, blue and white tropical garden motif.

Arms going like a veggie dicer peeling off my things and into the embrace of what I knew instantly started a journey decades ago with the sole mission of wrapping around me with the kindest, purest embrace I have ever felt from a supposedly inanimate object. Out to the three-way for a twirl and a look see. Chatted with a fellow shopper who practically teared up remembering her first DVF and said the universe would rightly be upset with me if I did not go home with The Dress.

I could not, did not argue. Aided by a substantial year end mark-down on a markdown my new beauty came home at about 35% of original retail too, score for Petra. Be assured that she looks better than the snap indicates, and even if not, the feeling compensates, insulates and celebrates everything I love about my own Voyages en Rose.

I do not suspect to ever be in the position to justify the purchase of Icons mentioned earlier in this post. Let me take that back. I have a perfectly functioning second kidney. With a tissue match I would probably sign up for the Clutch and the Cartier. And with a little frugality the Louboutins are actually in reach. I do after all have a birthday coming sometime in the new year, yes?

If I get them, you will be amongst the first to know.

Happy New Year.

xoxo - Petra
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