For two years Miss Behaved appeared in a local paper – I know, a real paper. Now I want to periodically share some of her here in my blog.
Spoiler Alert: You will learn nothing.
Dear Miss Behaved,
I have a moral dilemma, do I pair the Campbell-Soup red tights, with the lime green bag and my new cream seven-inch heel pumps? Or do I couple the luscious lemon chiffon scarf with the eggplant spandex mini skirt and chocolate brown flats? My friends assure me that the chocolate brown flats are the “do” of the season based on 1,203 Instagram posts. But what I really want to “do” is “don’t” and wade through fall wearing nothing more than a madras-lined raincoat and rubber boots ( only 4 Instagram posts, after an extensive search). But if I do dress for the season in little more than a madras-lined coat and rubber boots, what will the girls in my Yoga/Pilates/Tetherball class think? Will my nanny quit out of embarrassment? Is there a Miss Behaved approach to this serious quandary? Or do really Miss Behaved women wear exactly what they want?
Worried that comfort isn’t the goal after all.
Dear Looking for a Swimsuit that is Not Labeled “Dry Clean Only,”
As you suspected, Miss Behaved women adore Fashion. They love fashion designers; worship fashion editors and can name the top fashion photographers in chronological order according to their first full spread in Vogue. Miss Behaved women live for fashion magazines the thickness of old phone books. They follow every fashionista on Instagram and make up a few of their own. Miss Behaved women absorb the fashion advice, memorize the fashion photographs, have an account at Sephora, subscribe to exclusive skin care products and remember to throw out their mascara after three months. There may be larger world problems than what to wear, but we don’t think so.
High fashion is not comfortable. High fashion is not even flattering. The only thing to do while wearing a fabulous couture gown is to stand very, very still and be photographed. The photograph is then published in the aforementioned hefty fashion tome as proof that an actual person wore the garment advertised on page 1, 459. Instagram photos are also proof of concept as well as proof of existence. Readers and followers, easily influenced, will purchase the gown because the exactly right, immediately famous woman is wearing it. So THEY wear it, mince down the red carpet, stand for the photograph and the circle of life is complete.
Many Miss Behaved women find this cycle quite entertaining and more important, distracting.
What then, does this have to do with you, the confused reader of fashion magazines, the befuddled interpreter of the editorial copy, the sincere yet hopelessly average subscriber? You want to impress, you want to seem hip. But it’s difficult to cull through the barrage of information to figure out a definitive answer: boots or flats?
Remember last Spring? It all started when the assistant to the junior editor (based on either The Devil Wears Prada or Funny Face) enthusiastically recommended that the “look” for this season should be a torn dress, sheared fur coat dyed pink and yellow lipstick.
Done, it was new, it was fabulous. To make the clothing even more alluring, the models posed on garbage heaps. Very avant guard.
And we swipe through, amazed and impressed. But not even a Miss Behaved fashion maven will wear such lovely clothes to the office. She will likely wear the same navy gabardine suit she wore last spring because the suit still fits and she’s an investment banker. So the correct and Miss Behaved response after reading the breathless endorsement of yellow lipstick, is, “This look will have to wait for another season, perhaps for a visit to another planet.”
This does raise an important rhetorical question. Editorial copy for fashion and beauty periodicals is very amusing. The trend to create new adjectives out of old nouns can keep a Miss Behaved reader distracted for hours. But never will you read, yes, this year it’s all about the flats, only awkward morons will be wearing boots. Because that kind of advice would have helped.
Instead, we get dozens of photos on our feeds featuring strangers and two wacky friends standing on garbage heaps in sheered fur jackets. There are many close-ups of yellow lips.
And it’s fun until the new season rolls around and the must-haves, the ultimates, the exclusives flow in and we toss our yellow lipstick into the back of the drawer.
We do have a conclusion to this fashion romp. One intrepid Miss Behaved blogger got access to many fashion editors and even some fellow bloggers and finally asked the question.
What the hell are you thinking?
She didn’t get a real answer, but after spring shows featuring models in masks, breastplates and hot pants, some of the editors felt kind of bad. So in an exclusive statement, the fashion pundits and enablers issued this Miss Behaved apology.
We are sorry we encouraged women to blindly follow the dictates of male fashion designers who we suspect don’t like women at all. We are sorry about the mini skirt every time we resurrect it.
We are sorry about Kaytlin Jenner.
And Snap Chat
We are sorry about the pashmina craze. We too are trying to figure out what to do with all those bright cashmere shawls. Many are doomed to become the living room throw this winter. Perhaps an enviable child’s blanket. Some are on sale at Lohemans for $99.99.
We would be sorry about Manolo Blahnik shoes but the Chiropractic Association, The Loose Affiliation of Lumbar Surgeons and the Association of American Podiatrists have all taken to creating small shrines in their offices complete with bright pink Jimmy Choo pumps. We are loath to disappoint such a strong lobby by even hinting that women would be better off hiking around in Birkenstocks, an invention of dubious fashion value. We also hoped we atoned for our enthusiasm for promoted shoes you cannot walk in, by running that article on the New York specialist who will, for a large fee, inject the soles of your feet with extra silicon to make that cushion of flesh at the ball of the foot thicker and more shock absorbent so you can continue to precariously teeter through the parking lot of Saks outfitted in your favorite diamond studded sling-backs.
We are truly sorry about that quote from Donna Karan, “The new black is lighter.” (Conversely, no one was sorry about The New Red).
We all know that Fashion is cyclical. Even we were sorry about those dreary shirtwaist dresses from the seventies, recreated at a cost of $1,749.95 a pop.
We’re sorry about quoting that salesperson from Barney’s who said, with great enthusiasm and wonder “You can get a whole outfit here for just under $1,000!”
Then again, if what you usually hear when leaving a store is “I can’t believe we got out of Costco for under $1,000!” then you probably shouldn’t be reading our magazines in the first place.
We are almost sorry about that five-page photomontage that encouraged women to purchase dresses with horizontal stripes and large oversized dots. Yes we know that no one with a Body Mass Index over 5 should be seen wearing horizontal stripes, but an intelligent reader should know that.
We are sorry about last Summer’s new look; white gauzy dresses decorated with torn gauze and a few ropes all “anchored” with nasty pointed black short boots. The only reason we are sorry for this is because the headline – The new look for the office. – engendered 1,000s of replies wanted to know, whose work place?
We are not sorry about those brightly colored purses from Kate Spade because really, you can never have too many good handbags. However, we overheard a few editors talking in the restroom stalls, and they even admitted that this year’s lime green leather must have will be next year’s fashion don’t. We’re working on the spread right now.
Who then, is more Miss Behaved? The woman who possesses a disposal income of such enormous proportion that it is possible to exchange great wads of cash for frivolous accessories that are not intended to last, and in some cases damage the ecology and exploit innocent workers in other parts of the world? Or the woman who won’t?
It is Miss Behaved to love fashion. It is also very Miss Behaved to ignore it all and wear exactly what looks best on your body as well as insist that a jacket and skirt last longer than two fashion cycles.
The second question is, are fashion editors really sorry?
We thought not.
Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011.
Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at www.YourBookStartsHere.com
Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.