For Sunday: Wonder Woman spins, and spins, and spins

wonder woman spin

I think I speak for everyone who loved Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman when I say that we never got tired of watching her spin. She could turn even the most pedestrian outfit into something special.

Here are several dozen spins. Watch the outfits. It’s a whole education in late 1970s / early 1980s fashion.

Fedora versus trilby

fedora vs trilby

One wet evening in Paris last October, I impulsively bought a jaunty little hat to protect my pointed little head from the rain. It cost, I think, seven or eight euro.

Three-quarters of a year later, I still wear it, almost every day. I adore it. It’s a nice daily reminder of our time in France, and I am foolish enough to think I look cute in it.

Then I saw this on Tumblr:


fedora trilby 01 fedora 02


fedora 03 fedora 04 fedora 05

Strike me dead! I’m wearing a damned trilby.

So hipsters are turning on themselves now. A trilby won’t do; evidently you’d better wear a fedora (so long as you’re wearing a suit, or if you’re Humphrey Bogart or Frank Sinatra, or if you’re Indiana Jones, or a really cool hipster).

How does the cool fedora differ from the uncool trilby? Fedoras are bigger. The fedora has a higher crown than the trilby, and a wider brim. The trilby’s brim is generally turned down in front.  Both are named after women, by the way.  “Fedora” – the Russian “Theodora” – was the title character of a Sardou play of the late 1800s; “Trilby” was the name of a novel by George du Maurier (featuring the evil hypnotist Svengali). When “Trilby” was dramatized in the early 1900s, the lead actress wore a smart little hat with the brim snapped down in front.

Anyway: the disagreements of hipsters are endless. What are we supposed to wear?

I don’t care. In fact, I have never cared. I don’t care if I look like hell. I like bright colors, and comfortable clothes.

And I like my little hat.

And I think “trilby” is a cute name for a hat.

And I think I’m pretty cute too:

ljw 2012

Men’s clothing, and magic, and psychometry


Partner and I went recently to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, to see a show about men’s clothing.



Shows likes this – fabric, clothing – usually bore the hell out of me. But this one was amusing, and really memorable. They had one of Mark Twain’s shirts. They had one of Andy Warhol’s terrible shaggy white wigs. They had a dapper trim little tux that had belonged to Fred Astaire, and a very small dress suit belonging to Truman Capote circa 1970. They had a Harris Tweed suit that might or might not have belonged to one of the British royals in the early 20th century.



I was amused and really gratified to see these things. These were garments worn by famous people, and –



Well, and what? Why does that make them special?



Not long ago, a scientist on television showed how people impute mystical properties to things owned by famous people. He showed a group of people a fountain pen that he said had belonged to Albert Einstein, and asked if they wanted to see and hold it, and they all handled it reverently. Then he showed them a sweatshirt and told them it had belonged to Jeffrey Dahmer the serial killer, and asked them if they’d like to handle it or try it on. No one wanted to touch it.



He lied in both cases. The pen didn’t belong to Einstein, and the shirt didn’t belong to Dahmer.



But I understand implicitly what those people felt. We feel instinctively that objects take on the properties and personalities of their possessors. There are even psychics who claim that they have the skill of psychometry: the ability to read the histories of objects and their owners.



I own a Jean Cocteau lithograph – a portrait of Erik Satie – which was once owned by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. I like to think that I can feel the personalities of all three when I look at it: Cocteau’s imagination and drive, Satie’s whimsy and purity, Shostakovich’s dark humor and power.



I probably can’t feel any such thing.



But I like to think I can.


Personal fragrances; or, How to become popular by smelling like a muffin


Partner and I both cultivate a palette of personal fragrances.  He has a variety of favorites: there’s a Halston fragrance he likes, and a L’Occitane, and sometimes he branches out (I found a bottle of Sean John’s “Unforgivable” on his shelf the other day, and was very impressed that he’s branching out into hip-hop).



I am faithful to my favorite L’Occitane fragrance, called simply “L’Occitan”; supposedly it has notes of black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and burnt wood, all twined around a musky base.  I like to think it makes me smell mysterious.  On ho-hum days I get by with a spritz of L’Occitane’s Ambre, and I keep their Eau des Vanilliers in the office for emergencies, although I wonder uneasily if if makes me smell a little too much like cream soda.



You’ll notice a lot of edibles on the above list: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla.  I always noticed that, whenever I wear something that smells edible, I get a lot of attention.  (One day, when I was wearing bay rum, a person sitting next to me in a meeting leaned close to my ear and whispered, “You smell just like a muffin!”  I chose to take it as a compliment.)



I get most of my New and Trendy Information from my work friend Tab, who is considerably younger than me; I believe he actually graduated from college after the turn of the millennium.   We were hashing over the subject of fragrances, and he brushed aside my old-lady obsession with fancy scents.  “There are really only two fragrances in the gay community today,” he told me authoritatively.  “Older men -“



“Like you?” I said innocently.



“Well, yes,” he snarled.  “Anyway, we wear Drakkar Noir.” 



“And the younger men?”



“Ah,” he smiled.  “’Fierce,’ by Abercrombie and Fitch.”  He smiled dreamily.  “Whenever I smell it, it puts me on alert.  I know there’s something interesting in the vicinity.”



So, kids, you know your choices.  You can smell like burnt wood and vanilla orchids, like me; you can smell like a hip-hop megastar, like Partner; or you can smell young and cute.



Or you can smell like a muffin. 



Which – trust me – will make you popular with a lot of people.


Hipster fashion apocalypse


I don’t understand fashion at all. It’s like high-school type peer pressure, elevated to a cosmic level. If you don’t wear this style, this year, this way – well, you’re dead.



About a month ago I was walking to work and I saw a skinny local hipster waiting at a crosswalk. Shorts, porkpie hat, glasses.



He looked uneasy.



And, at a glance, I could tell you why.



He was last year’s hipster. He was just a little too out-of-date. And that’s pretty pathetic for someone in his (probably) mid-twenties.



How did I know this? I don’t know. I am horribly unfashionable myself. But I keep up, and I read things. (Mostly the New York Times and New York magazine. Holla!)



This guy looked a little too ready-made. He looked like a product. There was absolutely nothing daring or original about his clothing, His ensemble was dull. The hat was yesterday. The shorts were just embarrassing. The glasses – well, doesn’t everyone have those now? My friend Janet has those glasses now!



(Mind you, I was wearing a broadcloth shirt and pants from Kohl’s while I was observing this. I do not pretend to hipness.)



(But I can still judge others.)






I dress myself


I DRESS MYSELF is the slogan on the front of a t-shirt my friend Apollonia recently gave me. It features a picture of little Ralphie Wiggum from “The Simpsons,” wearing his bright-red pajamas upside down. “It made me think of you, babe,” she grinned evilly as she gave it to me.



Most of my friends think that, um, I don’t dress well. Last week, I was wearing a lilac shirt with a nice purple sweater, and I thought I looked lovely. Apollonia called me “Purple Boy,” and later, “Eggplant.”



And stylewise: for me, it’s like Edina said to Saffy on “Absolutely Fabulous”: “Darling, that blouse would look wonderful on anyone else in the world! Why does it look so terrible on you?”



My mother never trusted me to dress myself; she dressed me, and chose my clothes for me, for an embarrassingly long time. I never really learned colors, or style. And now I am the zhlub you see before you.



Partner knew this when he married me. When he gives me clothes as gifts, he doesn’t just give me one thing, but two, like a matched shirt and sweater. The message is: wear these together. “But maroon and green don’t go together!” I squeaked last birthday.



“Just do it,” he said. “It’ll look nice.”



He was right, of course. He has a much more precise sense of style than I do, and a better sense of color.



(But I forget sometimes.)



Here’s what I know of fashion:



  • I like cashmere. It’s soft and nice. But it’s bloody expensive.

  • Black makes me look like a seventeenth-century Lutheran clergyman. And sometimes I like to look like a seventeenth-century Lutheran clergyman.


  • A Facebook friend of mine told me that my profile pic made me look like the president of an obscure Eastern European country. I was so absurdly pleased by this.

  • I favor shirts in Easter-egg colors, but (strangely) most of the people around me think they look odd.

  • I also favor bright solid colors. Why not?



I had lunch with my friend Patricia last Christmastime. I walked into the restaurant wearing an orange shirt with a brown sweater, and as soon as she saw me, she hollered, “Happy Halloween!”



I give up.



From now on, I buy only clothes in blue, gray, and black.



And maybe lavender. And teal. And magenta.



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