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The Cottage is great. 

The Cottage has the following components:

Living Room
Study
Kitchen
Bathroom
Bedroom #1
Bedroom #2
Little terrace outdoors

Just enough room for two – maybe even 2 1/2.  But there is one problem.

The Cottage has NO closets.  None.  Zip. Zilch.  Zero.

Oh, it has a space that holds the furnace, and next to that are a few hooks and 3 shelves.  I guess a purist could call that a closet.  It holds the toolbox, laundry soap, one unusable suitcase with which I cannot bear to part, the sewing basket, and a collapsible cooler.  That’s it.

In other words, this would be the perfect house for a nudist (except for the large windows that look out onto the Christian Church across the Open Space).  But it is a big problem for a woman and a teenage girl. 

I mean, seriously.  Who builds a house without closets??

I never considered myself a clothes horse.  I’m certainly not on the scale of 90% of the women I know who have multiple closets for their own stuff.  And I’ve been getting rid of things.  A few things are still at Pat’s, but I could part with most of them.  Those things I can’t part with will just have to stay there until I move.  Because clothes space in the Cottage is out of control.  The previous occupant left me a wardrobe, the top half of which can be used for hanging things, the bottom half of which has two shelves.  The rod in the wardrobe is about 3 1/2 feet long.  That’s it.  That’s where clothes can be hung.  And it’s packed.  I did hang hooks on the backs of every available door to make a little more space, and those hooks are now overflowing due to my pajama menagerie and 1940s movie star lingerie fetish.  So it’s making me look at my wardrobe a little differently these days.

I hadn’t really updated my work wardrobe for a couple of years, and when I left the last full-time job, I didn’t think I’d be getting another one.  As we know, life’s what happens when you’re making other plans, and so I find myself very much hoping for another full-time job just now.   Which leads me to feel the need for work clothes again – or at least interview clothes.  Which I don’t have room for.  Because I have NO closets.

I do have some nice clothes, but they’re casual and frankly, they’re designed for the Caribbean, not for Colorado.  So changes will have to be made. 

When the house comes through, I will have not only closets (4 of them!), but a garage, where I can put things like toolboxes and Christmas Tree stands.  I swear I will feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.  There’s even an attic!  I know this because the attic window is clearly visible.  However, the entrance to said attic is invisible.  It doesn’t seem to exist within the house – not in the ceilings of any of the rooms (or closets).  I’ll have to leave that discovery to my inspection person when the time comes.

But that hasn’t happened yet.  And neither has the need for a major wardrobe shift.  No house yet, no job yet.  I’m just waiting as patiently as possible, and planning ahead.  I can feel that it’s all going to come together somehow soon.  I’m on the precipice.  On the verge.

In the meantime, the best thing to do, I’ve decided, is clean out the wardrobe.  Some of those nice Caribbean things will need to go.  Others may need to go into a trunk, which will go who knows where.  Maybe into the office, once I rearrange it.  (I’ve always wanted one of those old antique trunks.)  And I’m sure I have a lot of pieces that aren’t exactly classic (read, completely out of date.)

So I guess as long as everything else is changing, my “look” (gag) might as well change too. 

It’s really just a shame that I hate to shop. 

How many of you Moms out there struggle with having a child who refuses to dress appropriately for the weather?

Kelsea is 14.  This is the first year since she was able to talk that I have been able to get her to wear a winter coat.  In fact, this year, she has TWO!  One is an army surplus jacket we got at a vintage store in Cheyenne.  The other, which looks almost identical but is warmer, is one that Pat got her for her birthday.  He had suggested to me that I find her a winter coat.  And I respectfully told him to do it himself.  I tried to find a coat she liked last year and nearly had a meltdown after 10 stores and no nods of approval, and I refused to do it again.  To my way of thinking, I’d found her the army jacket.  If he wanted her to have something else, he could go and find her something else.  And damned if he didn’t find something she liked almost immediately.

I’m happy that she looks warm.  As she has always told me, she’s a Colorado girl and the cold doesn’t affect her like it does me with my thin Southern blood.  There may be some truth in what she says.  She gets much hotter than I do in the heat, and stays much warmer than I do in the cold.  It was always disturbing to see her going to school in a heavy sweatshirt and jeans and nothing else on a frigid day, but I had come to accept it.  Being in the cold doesn’t make you sick; germs make you sick.

Maybe I’m just more aware of it because of the whole Kelsea-coat thing, but it seems like more and more kids are running around in this -9 degree weather inadequately dressed.  I saw two boys in SHORTS and sleeveless T-Shirts the other day, and it was all I could do not to yell out the car window “Go put some clothes on!! What are you thinking??”  A girl walking to school this morning had on only skinny jeans, Uggs and a skin-tight zip-front hoodie, and the same cry once again nearly crossed my lips.  Kelsea’s best friend was supposed to walk to school yesterday, but called and asked me if I could pick her up because she “doesn’t really have any shoes”.  It’s true.  She only has what I consider slippers.

I want to say “where is the parenting”?  But on the flip side, I have fought the losing battle of trying to get my child to dress for the temperature.  I know what it’s like.  I know how hopeless and frustrating it can be.  At least Kelsea does not wear jeans with intentional holes all over them, or burnout T-shirts and push-up bras, so I have a lot to be thankful for on that score.  My Mother only used the phrase, “You are not going out of the house dressed like that” to me one time when I was 16.  (She was fortunate too.)

But now that I am a mother, I will never be able to see a kid running around in summer clothing in the deadest of winter without cringing and having to turn my edit function wayyy up high.  And keep my car windows locked.  Or maybe I should just wear a gag.

Because I’m such a fashion maven – nay, an icon in the fashion universe – I know you’ve been waiting with bated (or baited, if you’ve been waiting at a sushi bar) breath for my report on the fashion trends for Spring 2011.   Well, it’s time.  Fashion week in New York, London, Paris and Milan is over, and the hustle and rush has settled a bit.

I’ve already made good use of the insight I’ve gained into the looks for spring by advising a woman shopping next to me in a local resale store. 

Here’s what you can expect for Spring 2011:

– Color?  Fuggedaboutit.  Whites, creams, the dreaded beige, a few soft sand colors, gentle peach, dusty pale blue. silver-grey, gold.  That’s about it.  Some black, as is to be expected.  The only color that’s really showing is orange.  I guess we can all wear orange on days when we have our periods.  (Oops, TMI.) You’ll see the occasional lapis lazuli blue or mossy green thrown in just to wake up the eyes.  (Versace and Pucci are showing a little turquoise.)  However, the lack of a true single color for the Spring is balanced by an old trend unfortunately revived…

– Patchwork!  The hippie look is back, and patchwork patterns are more common than a church quilt sale in rural Iowa.  Makes me wish I’d kept my clothes from the late 1970s.  However, while the patterns are familiar, the styles, for the most part, are unfamiliar – and I, for one, wish they had stayed that way.  You’ll see some examples in the “Oh Dear God No” photo section of the slideshow below.

– Texture:  I have to say, I love what I’m seeing for texture this Spring.  It’s me.  It’s floaty, silken, soft, feminine, comfortable.  Beautiful.

– Shape:  For the garments that aren’t relying on texture to create their shape, the shape is – in a word – square.  If you don’t like the ethereal look, you will be relegated to a boxy shape that looks like a hospital gown with (I assume) a back – or else a doctor’s smock.  Not exactly the pinnacle of chic.

Interesting how we’re looking at a bit of a throwback to the 1970s and the 1920s in the same season.

And so, here’s the slideshow of Spring 2011 fashions, broken into two sections: the “You Look Mahvelous, Dahling” collection and the “Oh Dear God, No” collection.

Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shopping.  Shop ’til you drop.  When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. 

As we gear up for one of our most commercial “holidays” (aka, Valentine’s Day), I was thinking about the whole shopping/fashion thing.  It helps the thought processes that this is the beginning of New York’s Fashion Week.

I was in New York City for Fashion Week about 14 years ago – it was only a coincidental business trip that took me there, not Fashion Week itself.  In fact, I didn’t even know there was such a thing, until the woman with whom I was sharing a cab from LaGuardia asked me if I was “here for the show”.   To cut a long story short, by the time I exited the cab, she was under the impression that I sold leather goods of questionable morality.  I was very glad to get out of the cab, and I’m still not quite sure what got into me when I answered her.

That same trip, I got up early to go to a meeting, and headed towards Bryant Park, which I always loved to walk through.  I discovered it filled with giant white tents, cameras, lights, and terribly skinny women, and realized I’d wandered onto the setting for one of Fashion Week’s many events designed for divas and ladies-who-lunch.  I was bemused and interested, but had to keep moving.  I wish I could have stayed; my curiosity would have kept me there all day.

While there is not a person alive who would call me stylish, I used to like to think I had my own sense of style.   I had kind of an Isadora Duncan thing going in my first two years of college.  The second two years of college saw me switch to vintage mode.  I was small and slender and the clothes from the ’40s seemed to have been tailor-made for me.  They were more affordable than new things, and they were unique.  You’d never see another woman wearing the same thing I was.

Once I hit the serious workforce, it was suits all the way.  It was the late ’80s, early ’90s, so we were in the “L.A. Law” style of suits and shoulder pads. But I left suits behind when I left my job when Kelsea was 2, and I’ve never gotten back to business style.  As I found myself gaining weight in recent years, I’ve lost any sense of style I had.  But as I find myself losing weight now, I have a sneaky hankering to find my new style.  I just have no idea what it is.  And there’s a problem. 

I don’t like to shop.

Yes, I know it’s rare among women.  But I don’t.  It’s kind of boring.  It’s overwhelming.  It leaves me with an acute awareness of our the conspicuous consumptive nature of our society, our greed, our materialism, and our attachment to things that are meaningless. 

I have what I’ve come to call a “shopping allergy” that sometimes kicks in when I try to shop.  My stomach will suddenly start cramping and lurching and wanting strongly to expel things out of various orifices.  And when that happens, I immediately get in the car and go home.

Even when I do shop now, I prefer the secondhand stores, for the same reasons I did before: I can always be assured of wearing something different, something that no one else will have – and it’s less expensive and less fadish than the stuff in retail stores today.  Although I do run the risk of wearing something that someone I meet might recognize as being formerly theirs, that’s a chance I’m willing to take.  If I can get back to the small and slender me of my twenties (hmmm), I might go back down the vintage route, but it’s nowhere near as cost-effective as it used to be, and I’ve really got to consider that these days.

If you take a look at the kinds of fashions that are being shown at Fashion Week, you wonder how women can be duped into wearing them.  One of the latest uber-expensive trends is called glunge — a combination of glamour and grunge.  And for this women pay megabucks.

Why are women so insecure as to have to “follow” fashion?  Hemlines are up one season, down the next.  One color is “in” only to be “out” the following year.  Heels – clunky like special shoes one season, 4-inch platforms the next.  And women spend on it.  And spend.  And spend.  Why?  I just don’t get it. (And I am definitely not the most secure woman on the planet.)

Researchers at Melbourne University have coined a term for a psychological disorder called oniomania.  It’s a compulsive disorder — a shopping addiction.  “Victims” of this condition experience the addicts’ high when spending, improving their self-esteem and making them forget their emotional troubles.  Once they’re home with purchases in hand, the high wears off, and as with other addictions, the addict must spend more to get their high back.

People who compensated for lack of affection in their childhoods by substituting material things tend to continue this pattern into their adult lives and relationships.  They identify themselves by the things they buy, and their self-esteem is centered around acquiring things.  They can’t deal with daily problems or emotional issues and repress feelings of sorrow, loss and failure, by buying things.  Shopping becomes a form of self-medication.  The shopaholic cannot feel, rely on or acknowledge their own identity.

It’s actually kind of sad.

So-called “Retail Therapy” has been portrayed as a very positive thing – a communal activity, a form of creative expression, a way to assert one’s self-worth, a way to improve the environment, an expression of the gatherer (vs. hunter) core persona of women.  I say, hogwash.  Women (and men) with shopping addictions are just that —  addicts.  They ignore their finances and live to get that high.

I sound harsh, don’t I?  I don’t really mean to judge.  Maybe it’s the whole ‘child of depression-era parents’ thing coming out again.  My Mother always considered the price of something, and had a mental limit as to how much it was reasonable to spend on a pair of jeans.  My Father saved until he could pay cash for any big purchase.  Credit card debt and expensive clothes are just not in my frame of reference.

Style at any price?  Thanks, but no thanks.  I’d rather spend my hard-won dollars on this:

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