Thursday, October 20, 2005

The tale of the traveling shoe (and other bedtime fashion stories)


I thought I had packing down to an art.

One carry-on, no need to check in the luggage. I planned my wardrobe on a theme. All cool colors and basic styles, as to allow maximum mixing of clothing and overlapping of accessories and eye shadow tones.

Never again.

Immediately off the plane in Albuquerque, N.M., and I busted the heel off my black pump on the airport’s faux-brick floor. The thrifty packer that I was, I’d only brought one pair.

This sent the rest of my day veering out of control, a frenzied shopping quest to replace the shoe before my journalism conference the next morning.

Three blocks from my hotel, I discovered Ruby Shoesday boutique ( Fell deeply in love with an Audley London pink and gray wedge. It then broke my heart with a price tag that rivaled my car payment.

I called my husband, seeking financial support, but instead he laughed, saying wedges look like cars with a drop kit, or pumps with a gob of mud stuck underneath them.

Plus, he reminded me, they didn’t match my wardrobe theme.

I decided to never again attempt to defeat the Universal Law of Travel that dictates the smaller the traveler, the larger the luggage. I’m going full-out body-bag next trip.

New Mexico has a complex culture of style. On one hand, there are the sexy Audleys.
Then there are the bright colors splashed on every painting, piece of jewelry and, yes, item of clothing. In one shop, I found a rainbow beaded denim jacket. As if that wasn’t gaudy enough, they added fringe. It was the most painful thing I’d ever looked at. Until I turned around and was accosted by an embroidered vest to match.

Then there was me. Just minutes after stepping off the airport shuttle (and onto my busted heel, ouch), a woman asked me where I came from.

I was taken aback. “Do I scream tourist?” I wondered. “And is that a good thing (a la beaded vest) or a bad thing (never seen the heels break off a pair of designer wedges)?”

Back to the airport. I understand that airport travelers are exhausted. They’re fueled by the
empty preservatives of airplane food. They’re paranoid and humiliated after having stripped off their shoes, belts, coats and – is that an underwire bra? – at the security checkpoint.

But the airport is still a public space, i.e. not your bedroom. And the last time I checked, pajamas had not leaked into the mainstream as acceptable day-wear.

On the way home, gate B6 welcomed me with slippers, sweatpants and wrinkly T-shirts. As I sat next to a middle-aged woman wearing a doggie-print PJ top and matching cotton bottoms, I began to think that embroidered vest wasn’t so bad after all.

Photo by Flickr user Jason L. Parks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Guys and their hats


Guys love their baseball caps to the point that it’s grotesque.

Apparently I’m attracted to white-baseball-cap-wearers. I don’t know what’s actually on the cap or if there is perhaps a sports team they all commonly root for. But every guy I have ever dated wore a white baseball cap. Heck, even my brother and dad wear white caps.

The white baseball cap has its own set of uniquely disgusting problems. It comes down to this: Guys do not wash their caps. They do not know how, and they do not want to.

Because of this, their nasty hats stink after a while. The odor rivals shin guards (which any soccer player well knows is a scent that can burst a nostril).

One guy actually told me once he didn’t want to wash his because it had “a good luck stain” around the rim.

I had to clarify that his “good luck” was comprised of sweat. And dirt. And hair grease. And everything not nice, and it was all rubbing on his forehead for eight hours a day.

He did not see a problem with that.

My husband has a few caps I’d like to set on fire. Instead, my mom loaned me her baseball-cap washer – some contraption you can place over the hats so they won’t lose their shape when you wash them.

Turns out the contraption doesn’t go in the washing machine. It goes in the dishwasher. Where I put my plates to get clean so I can eat food off of them.

I could imagine the hat filth swishing around the dishwasher with my forks, tainting their prongs, and seeping into the fibers of my water bottle.

Looks like my husband will continue wearing dirty hats.

Good luck to him.

Photo by Flickr user riekhavoc.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Adelaide Jane: Dressin' up


My friends and I were behind dressing room curtains at Rockin’ Robin’s when tiny Adelaide Jane and her mom arrived.

It was Adelaide’s first ever dress-up party – the 2-month-old’s “initiation” into girlhood. Like when the Lion King held Simba over the cliff and the village animals sang “The Circle of Life.”
Except it was my sorority sister’s infant in a pink gingham dress, clutching her first designer purse, with “Love is a Battlefield” on the jukebox. It was so moving, I almost cried.

Adelaide, too.

Back in the ’80s, when I was the muscle-less ball of baby, my mom said she could only get me to stop fussing by dressing me up in different outfits and taking pictures.

So Sunday evening’s dress-up party at Rockin’ Robins Retro and Resale in Niwot ( was like a pacifier for me.

It’d been a super rough week. First, I dropped my mascara wand on a public floor and had to spend the rest of the day with lopsided lashes. (Note to self: Wake up five minutes earlier so you don’t have to get ready at work.) Then, I wore my fave vintage pumps to a family picnic in the mountains, and my heel broke off. (Note: Don’t wear pumps hiking.)

But, alas, the Fashion Goddess was watching over me. She guided me to Rockin’ Robin’s where, miraculously, I found those same pumps (and for $38 less).

I also found a chunky blue necklace that looks like one Julie Cooper wore on an episode of “The O.C.” Except mine was 45 years old. And cost $12.

I swore I wasn’t going to buy anything. I also knew I would break that promise.

Robin Abb rents out her consignment store for dress-up parties. After my devastating week, I obviously needed one. So I sent out an emergency Evite to my girlfriends. We had full reign over Abb’s jukebox, lighted dance floor and clothing racks.

We’re talking go-go boots, Kimonos, cowboy-print pants, ’80s prom dresses and even something we found called a “silver sparkle tent” with one pocket. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I doubt I ever will again.

So there we were, behind the dressing room curtains when Adelaide Jane showed up.
From stall No. 1, my friend Jenelle welcomed Adelaide to the Wonderful World of Dress-Up, looking like a silver-coated fortune teller. I left stall No. 3 sporting a tri-ruffle skirt that I think I owned in fifth grade.

Then, out came Tiffany. Sheepishly. She’d been devoured by a skin-tight red pleather dress that would’ve caused the gals on Colfax to blush. Rockin’ Robin had picked it out for her as a joke.
Tiffany asked Adelaide not to hold it against her. First impressions are sometimes misleading, Tiff said – an important lesson for any future fashionista to know.

I think I saw Adelaide smirk.

Either that, or she needed to be burped.

Photo by Flickr user ohsohappytogether.

Friday, September 9, 2005

I need to move


A funny thing happened at mile 60 on my bicycle last week.

I began praising padded spandex shorts while contemplating the benefits of a fanny pack. As the sun swelled, I started to think of how I could really use a visor.

It was as if I had peddled away all fashion sense.

Maybe it was the 104-degree heat. Or a creepy survival mode to distract me from my burning hamstrings.

I was in Napa Valley on a weeklong cycling excursion. In other words, biking by day to negate the caloric toll of enough wine to intoxicate a medium-sized French village.

Just days earlier, I had composed a “negative ode to bike shorts,” swearing I would rather die than purposefully pad my bum. It seemed counterintuitive, after all the hours spent on the Stairstepper, de-padding it.

Then I dropped $80 on a black cycling “skort.” (Apparently I de-padded myself too much. Had to learn how to walk again with a numb gluteal region.)

Granted, the outer skirt concealed the 8-inch thick sponge between my Lycra-suctioned legs. But the experience of willingly purchasing spandex really pushed my fashion boundaries.

I thought I’d come back from Napa with chiseled thighs and a suitcase of fine wine.

Instead, I’m stuck with overpriced spandex and a more lenient eye for style. I don’t know which is scarier.

Photo by Flickr user Tom Olliver.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Skirting the issue


I wore a jean skirt hiking at my dog’s third birthday party. Let me break down that sentence for you.

1.) “Dog birthday party” – Just because he’s covered in fur and feasts on bird poop doesn’t mean he’s not my baby. My toy poodle Quinnen’s party was themed “Take a hike.” That meant Quinnen and his doggie entourage on a Boulder Canyon trail. Quinnen sported a sailor costume. The blue complemented my outfit and his rhinestone collar. He looked extra masculine with his goatee.

You see, Quinnen is red, but the hair on his chin grows in white – obviously begging to be a goatee. He’s been wearing facial hair for about 6 months. Last week, his hairdressers at the Paw Spa in Longmont said they’ve had three other poodles come in requesting goatees. My dog is such a trend-setter.

2.) “Jean skirt during hiking” – I loathe shorts. I don’t own any. None. I work out in boot-cut yoga pants. Much cuter than frumpy, knee-enhancing shorts. (I used to joke that I could smuggle illegal drugs in the fat folds around the knees my mother passed down to me.)

There’s something about the bell shape of every pair of shorts I’ve ever tried on that just makes me feel (and look) nastily masculine. Even in middle school, I got sent to the principal’s office for refusing to wear shorts in PE class. That was during the Umbro craze. I wasn’t above ratted bangs and a spiral perm, but, still, I knew better than to Umbro myself.

Photo by Flickr user Looking Glass.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Dressing for the occasion

My style icon of the day. Photo by Flickr user Go®gO.


Sometimes I feel like I have multiple personalities that hinge on whatever stories I’m going to write for the day. You see, I usually choose my outfit based on who I will be talking to. And as a general-assignment reporter, that is always changing.

Today, my look is Glamorous Geriatrics. I am an 80-year-old woman in a tan June Cleaver dress and close-toed orthopedic-style pumps. Taking it over the edge is a brown knit top I’m wearing over it, and my bracelet that looks like wood wall paneling. This outfit actually made me break out in a few new wrinkles.

I’m writing a story about a church fundraiser and spent my morning sitting with an older woman on her porch watching the stream bubble by.

I spent all day Tuesday at Penny Lane.. That meant a brown wife-beater, holy faded jeans, sandals and vintage jewelry.

I dress down for high schools, up for awards ceremonies and I pull out the designer names when I am doing fashion interviews.

Some might call it schitzo. I like to consider it versatile.

Monday, June 6, 2005

The mother of bad gifts


With gift registries, there is no excuse for a bad gift anymore. Yet the bad gifts keep on coming.

My friend got a 3-foot-tall wooden, painted bald eagle statue for her wedding – from the groom’s mother. The bird has some kind of glittery stone for its eyes, and its creepy gaze seems to follow you as you walk around. The poor newlyweds don’t know what to do with it. It’s too big to hide in some cupboard and too hideous to perch on the front porch. It’s from the parents, so my friend can’t use it as firewood.

I don’t get how things like this can happen. Why don’t people stick to gift registries? You couldn’t be any clearer: “This is exactly what I want. Here’s the price. Not only did I do the shopping for you, the employees will even wrap it and send it to me, so you literally have to do nothing but pay, and I will be overjoyed.”

Yet that’s not enough. And the bad gift turns into a problem the receiver has to deal with.
It’s like people think they know your needs and tastes better than you.

“What do you mean, you want a vacuum cleaner? Who cares about clean carpets when you have a massive carved bird to welcome you home?”

My friend has decided to set her eagle in the front lawn and hope, with all of her might, that some teenagers or drunk fraternity boys will steal and/or vandalize it. Then she can tell her mother-in-law, “Darn, it’s broken. Or missing its head.”

And if the fraternity boys never come, I do have a few cans of spray paint in my garage.
Hey, that’s what friends are for.

Photo by Flickr user Robo Android.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Why my (ex) in-laws want me to name my first-born son Ross

Originally published 6/2/2005

Ahh, how the Polish in-laws do love shopping at Ross.

I call the last two weeks of my life the Polish Invasion. I housed my husband’s parents and, with that, ate more Polska kielbasa than my American digestive track could handle. I won’t elaborate.
The in-laws were absolutely floored by the possibility of buying Calvin Klein jeans for less than $20. They discovered you can swathe yourself in marked-down BCBG, if only you have the determination to dig through the cluttered racks.

They visited the Ross stores in Fort Collins and Boulder at least – I am not kidding – 14 times in their 15 days here. While I was flipping through their vacation photos, there was even a picture of my father-in-law standing in front of the store giving a thumb’s up.

He was wearing the discounted Tommy Hilfiger button-up he’d bought there the previous day.

So deep was their love that, apparently, the sales associates thought my parents-in-law were moving in. During my mother-in-law’s final Ross excursion, she was browsing through the jackets. She came across a black jeans jacket that caught her eye. Then she realized it was her jacket, which she had accidentally left at the store a week earlier. Someone had found it, hung it on the rack and tried to sell it.

My mother-in-law was concerned that her coat must not be very cool if no one wanted to buy it after one week on the racks.

I told her she should be more concerned about those shoes she bought that didn’t have a price tag on them.

Photo by Flickr user capn madd matt.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Prom at 26


For my 26th birthday, I went to the prom.

While the faces around me celebrated the end of their senior year, I celebrated the end of my first quarter-century.

This magical night started with me, two friends and my mom out for dinner in Loveland last weekend. A group of nervous, primped-up high-schoolers sat down next to us. We asked where prom was this year, and they said the Ranch near Windsor – coincidentally three minutes from one friend’s house.

We joked that we should crash the prom. Then we did. Well, all but my mom.

When I called my mom from the center of the dance floor (where the students were actually too self-conscious to dance), she kept repeating, “You are not at prom. Tell me you’re kidding.”

I wasn’t. I’d like to think I looked youthful and spry enough to fit in. But I did notice I was the only girl wearing a long black dress. Apparently the colors this spring in the Thompson School District are pink, red and white. I was bombarded with tiaras, shawls, layers and ruffles. I think I saw one girl’s entire breasts, her neckline plunged so low. On guys, I saw more bow ties and faux-haws (semi-mohawks) than my eyes could handle.

My favorite was a girl wearing clear heels that glowed red and blue when she walked, sort of like those sneakers for toddlers, except hers didn’t make goofy noises (I don’t think). She got them at Journeys Shoes in Fort Collins. There’s also a Journey’s at the Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont, in case you’re shopping for glow-in-the-dark pumps.

Then there are Strutz Shoes. These heels put another meaning on walking with a spring in your step. They feature a patented Heel Shock Absorber – basically a spring in the heel. Strutz claims this makes the shoes more comfortable by dampening the stress when you walk (

At prom, I wasn’t that fancy. I wore checkered pumps that totally clashed with my dress. They earned me a few disgusted glares.

Maybe I need to find a new scene where I can dress up.