Sunday, October 19, 2014

It Ain't All Glam

And If You're in Toronto on Tuesday, October 21… (scroll down)

We are always so tickled when we get notes from old friends, or new friends, or friends-to-be who describe our lives as glamorous or exciting.  It does look that way, doesn't it?

Sometime in the '60s, there was a photograph in TV Guide of Barbara Walters and three of her co-presenters taken from behind, and it was hilarious to see that Walters' dress was gathered in the back with what might have been a huge binder clip.  The three other co-presenters were shown in similar disarray, but all of that would have been unseen by the camera and the millions of viewers.

A little humility is good for everyone now and then, so we thought we would do a little exposé of our own.

We were called to a "go see" a few weeks ago, and were asked to wear ladies-who-lunch type clothes. Valerie was going to wear the pinstriped suit above, but when she took it out of the closet, the hem on one of the pant legs had come unsewn.  There was no time to fix it (actually, in an emergency, tiny safety pins will do nicely - if you happen to have half a dozen nearby), so she wound up having to make do with a different suit.  (The horror!  The horror!)

Just the other day, Valerie got out her sewing kit and sewed up the pants leg.  How glam is that, folks?  (How many times have we told you we need an intern?  And you thought we were kidding!)

And remember these polka dot earrings (inherited from Jean's mom)?

A few weeks ago, one of them dropped to the floor at just the right angle so the metal clip glued to the back separated from the plastic front.

Don't believe what these glue companies tell you.  It may be strong enough that you can attach your hard hat to a steel beam and suspend yourself from it; it may be strong enough that a gorilla couldn't pull the clip off, but if it hits the floor at the Murphy's Law angle, the best glue in the world isn't going to keep the two parts together.  And then you'll have to file the remaining dried glue flat (with your only nail file!), glue it again, and sit there stock still while counting to sixty, not daring to even breathe, hoping that you've maintained the proper pressure, and that you haven't gotten any of the glue on your fingertips.  Readers, is that glam?

Then there was this way cool faux Thierry Mugler canvas jacket with the portrait collar and nipped-in waist.  You know how buttons can leave puckering?  This jacket circumvents that with a zipper.  Well, Valerie did not align the left and right sides of the zipper, and when it got to be time to undress, the zipper went all the way to the bottom, but would not open.  No amount of fidgeting, or zipping up and down, or forcing or cajoling would make that zipper budge.    Ever the boy scout, Valerie googled stuck zipper, and was advised to try a graphite pencil, or WD 40 or bees' wax.

Really?  Readers, would you put WD40 on your jacket?  And would you put pencil graphite on your zipper if you were likely to wear the jacket with a white shirt the next time?  As weird luck would have it, Valerie has a bit of bees' wax in the house (from another amusing DIY venture),

and rubbed a generous amount on the zipper.  No luck.  In desperation, Valerie pulled down first one shoulder of the jacket, then the other, and then - fingers crossed - shimmied till the jacket came off over her head (too bad there's no video of that), and then tried fidgeting with the zipper again.  (The advantage was that it was not upside down this time, and there was more room to maneuver.)  Hallelujah, it worked!  Above, you can see just a few flakes of bees' wax on the teeth of the jacket, and nearby.  Is that glam?

And then there was the ring.

This faceted horn ring had a positively amazing lustrous polish when she bought it, and Valerie foolishly thought it would look that way forever.  Well, almost forever.  At least three weeks.  But she dinged it and dinged it, just by carelessly flailing her hand around, and soon it was looking - well - dinged.  She tried this, that and the other, and finally had to ask a jeweler, who told her to get Johnson's Paste Wax, and to buff it with a dremel attachment.  If you have a car, a $14 dollar can of Johnson's Paste Wax will probably polish your car once.  But if you have a ring, that same $14 can (since no smaller size was available) will probably polish one hundred rings for one hundred years, dremel or no.  Strangely, the local Home Depot did not carry JPW, nor did the local hardware store, so Valerie had to let her fingers do the walking.  (Bet no one under 30 remembers that advertising slogan.)  She called three places and finally hit pay dirt.  By the way, if you don't have a dremel, forget using paper towels, and your jeans won't work either.  (This is the voice of experience talking.)  Get one of those nice soft buffing cloths - the kind your father used to use on his shoes.

Jean's "Tales of Woe":  Although you can't see them in the opening photo of us on Saturday night having cocktails at Lever House, I was wearing these double skull earrings, to get in the mood for the rapidly approaching All Hallows Eve.

Here I am, in the midst of my incantations over my Frida Kahlo Margarita at Lever House, where you can glimpse the earrings.

As we are getting ready to go and are discussing what to include in this post, my left earring just falls to the table with a clunk, leaving only the hook in my ear (which I retrieved and memorialized digitally). Ha! Had the mishap occurred on the street or on the subway, it would have been lost forever.  Luckily, once I got home and had access to my needle-nosed pliers, I quickly fixed them.

Earlier this year, I had a wardrobe malfunction involving my beloved customized Dansko clogs.  The horror!

Valerie and I were in line outside the Metropolitan Museum waiting to get into the press preview for the Charles James exhibition at the Costume Institute. Just as the line finally starts to move, I feel like I'm stepping on a cork or a large fish.  To my horror, it is the heel of my right clog that had chosen just that moment to dislodge.  (To make things worse, it was right then that Bill Cunningham came by.  What to do?  But to tell the truth, we don't remember Bill publishing any photos of long lines, regardless of whether anyone on the line has lost a heel.  So snap away, we know we're safe from publication.)  Of course, the hoards of press are all moving forward to get in, so I just picked it up and walked with all my weight on the front of the clog, hoping that no one would notice.  Trying to keep with the flow of the crowd, neither of us thought to take a picture, so you'll just have to rely on my feeble attempts at illustration below to show you the "Before" and "After".  [When we're rich and famous, I can commission amazing superstar illustrators like Joana Avillez to get me out of fixes like this.  In the meantime, you're stuck with me, dear readers!]

Since the exhibition was dark and everyone was looking at the clothing, nobody bothered to look down and if they did and I was facing them, nothing looked amiss. Once I got home, I took the shoes to my fabulous shoe repair guy who replaced all of the platforms on both clogs.  As you can see below, the clogs are as good as new.

Earrings (especially polka dot earrings) appear to be vexing both of us! If I had the missing back to this white and black polka dot pair, I would Gorilla glue it into place.  Since I don't have it, the pair sits in the box in my drawer, crankily scolding me for not fixing the problem and taking them out on the town.

Here is the next project that keeps haunting me: this terrific pair of black Bakelite clip-on earrings that I recently got at the Big Flea at the Pier.  Since I always lose clip-ons, I refuse to wear them until I can get a jewelry repair expert to convert them to pierced earrings.  So, they sit in the box next to the polka dot earrings and gripe about how they never get to go out and how they used to live it up in their heyday in the 1930s.  Geez.  Even when the top is on the box and the drawer is shut, I can hear them mumbling. It's sort of my private version of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" or "The Black Cat"!

So the next time you think somebody looks effortlessly glamorous, think again!

Idiosyncratic Fashionista Speaking at Ryerson University Tuesday, October 21.

If you're in Toronto on Tuesday, October 21, Valerie will be one of several guest speakers at Ryerson University's DIVERSITY NOW 2014 panel discussion. (Unfortunately, Jean had a prior commitment.)  Admission is open to the public.  We'll be at Ryerson's Cineplex Theatre #13, 10 Dundas Street East, on the fourth floor.  We'll be talking about the challenges of diversity in fashion.  Do come and share your ideas and questions!


  1. Oh well, okay two still lead an exciting and interesting life

  2. Catching up on your latest adventures, which of course has me laughing and at the same time adoring your hats.