Monday, October 5, 2009

King Kong versus Godzilla versus Mothra

One thing about being a stay-at-home mom:  for the first three years of your child's life, you never--and I mean never--get to wear dresses. Your kid's life becomes your life. This includes running in the park, climbing play structures, and sliding your snug derriere down tiny slides and tunnels because your kid is too scared to rough-it alone. Your poor clothes take a beating, too--in the form of improvised napkins and handkerchiefs.

Becoming a neutered, swollen, snot rag can really destroy a woman's confidence.

And then enters preschool. Suddenly, you have--gasp!--downtime. And the ability to wear something pretty while pushing a grocery cart, doing laundry or going to the bank. 

Now that the Caped Crusader is beginning his second year of preschool (and now that he knows how to properly use napkins and tissues), I decided to take my chance on a few charming dresses. I prowled the thrift store without the slightest idea what I wanted. But I should have known myself a little better, because the moment I touched them, my fingers registered gold:  SILK!!! There were three. I tossed them into my basket. 

But in the dressing room, my image in the mirror was not dainty, it was ghastly. These three dresses looked hideous and frightening. There was no way I could wear such horrifying (come to think of it, they weren't horrible), ugly (no, not ugly)--what in the world were these things??? 

They were corny! As in vintage horror movie cool. I was instantly drawn to their possibilities. I looked at the tags. One dress hailed from China, the other two from JapanLike the old-school King Kong flicks, these dresses had something going on. They were interesting. I just had to tone down the beast and unleash the butterfly. 

So grab some popcorn and watch the ugly clash for the title of The Prettiest Dress. This is a three-way battle between:

King Kong!


And Mothra!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Iron Maiden

I had tickets to a hot date--with my girlfriend. For the first time since giving birth, both of us planned to celebrate the momentous occasion of a Girl's Night Out. Freedom from our kids! Freedom from our men! Absolute Unencumbered Freedom. 

Our destination:  one of Portland's hottest auctions; a huge money-maker that generates over $500,000 in a three-hour evening from the city's biggest philanthropists. Neither of us were planning to bid on its luxury offerings. $15,000 for a Tahitian get-away? No problem. $10,000 for wine tasting at Chateauneuf du Papes? Uh, huh. $5,000 to sponsor a child? Suuure, just let me double-check with my accountant. 

But after a few glasses of wine, there are exceptions. Always exceptions. 

(Like the previous year when Handsome and my girlfriend's husband attended this popular auction and the duo was last spotted holding the stems of three wine glasses whereas, I, relegated to the job of auction volunteer, was stone-cold sober; and only later when Handsome approached me and slurred, I'm sorry, did I learn that my faithful husband, in an elated drunken state that had been rapidly propelled into a frenzied nirvana by the rhythmic chanting of the auctioneer succubus, raised their paddle--and won--four bottles of wine for the low, low price of $3,000.)

Um, yeah. The men were definitely staying home this year.

I, on the other hand, needed a dress. And not just any ordinary dress. I needed a dress that could blend in with the haute couture crowd. 

I practically lunged at the brushed-gold number hanging on the rack. It had the right amount of bling: neither understated nor overwhelming. And I loved the detailed stitching on the back:

But the straps kept falling off my shoulders (don't you hate that?), and the shiny fabric highlighted and over-accentuated my curves (which bordered on unflattering in some areas). Yet most heinous was that my ladies--my beautiful, life-giving ladies--looked like they were crumpled up and tossed into the trash. 

This dress offered zero support--which was promptly explained when I looked at the tag: BCBG. Wait a minute... this dress was made for Juniors! Probably a girl wore this to her prom--and with ladies as firm as green mangoes to boot!

Then an idea hit me. Maybe, just maybe it would work... I needed to rush home and pilfer through my supplies closet. If it was a match, I had this number's number. I could prove I was still the boss of this garment.

Let's see what I did...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Transforming Miss Thing into Mr. Kid

You've probably guessed by now that I'm not the only Second-Hand Rose of the household. Handsome and the Caped Crusader are in the business, too. 

In fact, this used-clothing lifestyle was instigated by the Caped Crusader's arrival. When he was an infant, I'd pack him in the stroller and walk to the thrift stores to pilfer through mountains of kids clothes. Gradually, I built a marvelous arsenal of clothing (sizes 1T to 10) that includes Hanna Andersson, Gymboree, Gap, Mini Boden, Ralph Lauren, and Columbia Sportswear.

And occasionally, I'd spot something so cute in the Junior section I'd throw it in my shopping basket--even if it was a pre-teen girl's jacket. 


Yep, the pre-teen girl's jacket. An important accessory to the Miss Thing outfit. Miss Thing wears jeans cut so low, le crack du derriere makes a daily appearance. Miss Thing also wears jackets cut so high, Mademoiselle Bellybutton plays peek-a-boo. 

But is this really her fault when the fashion industry insists on cutting girl's clothing just like women's? I've personally witnessed the debut of one too many le cracks from toddler girls who innocently bend down to pick up blocks with chubby fingers. Now that's madness. 

But back to the Miss Thing jacket. 

I believe it's out of style hence the over-abundance of midriff-loving garments at the thrift stores. And preschool parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles can take advantage of this out-dated look.

It's very simple. Just cut off the arms:

Finish the edges with your machine:

 And throw it on your kid like this:

The Caped Crusader loved his Miss Thing jacket. His first remark when he wiggled into it was, "Oh! So cozy!" And he wore it for ten days straight until its inevitable demise into the Black Hole of Children's Clothing and Favorite Toys. 

Its last sighting was at preschool. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Miss Portland

For those of you without kids, a playgroup is just how it sounds: it's a group of kids and their primary caregivers who get together on a weekly basis to play. And we do indeed play. 

Playgroup is my mid-week haven. It's a day when the Caped Crusader will run off with friends while I reclaim some precious time to sit on a couch and chat about some seriously random stuff with really cool moms. I love it. And I desperately want our playgroup routine to remain the same for, oh, about the next 14 years. 

But something recently happened which threw a wrench into our smooth sailing tribe:  one of the moms decided to get pregnant. 

Hmph! This was not part of the master playgroup plan. I mean, the playgroup is its own entity--it has needs. And a future damp, googley-eyed worm--this toothless, hairless human--was the one holding the wrecking ball.
The thought was so beautiful and sweet that, in between giggles, the other moms and I decided to celebrate the intruder's entry into this world with a baby shower. And I required a dress for the special celebration.

I found one (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! SILK!) at my neighborhood thrift store. The dress and I exchanged a steady gaze. There was something vaguely familiar about it... Like an old friend...

Then it hit me. This was a dress I might have worn in my Miss Portland days--my carefree, twenty-something years when nerdy-cool was hip and the standard accessories included a barrette, thick-framed glasses, white tights and Mary Jane shoes (and if you wanted to upgrade the look, you donned several tattoos and/or body piercings). This was a time when I used to make miniskirts out of vintage polyester fabric, and pair them with tight raver shirts and fake patent leather Mary Janes, so stiff I could tap dance in 'em; then I'd hop into Handsome's hand-me-down car, named The Corn Tortilla, and we'd head straight to the 1201, the hippest (and possibly smokiest) bar in town.

This dress was the '90's revisited! And it was soooo Portland. But--yikes!--the dress' youthful vigor was too much for my nearly forty-year old self. 

This Miss needed to be tamed into a Ms. And I needed to prove to my old friend who was boss. Let's see what I did...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Tease: End Result

The dress before...

And after!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Disappointing, I know. Not much has changed (except the accessories and larger slit in front). And the After photo is blurry to boot. I've let you down!

But sometimes life is just one giant pile of disappointments. And the real let-down is that this Cinderella didn't go to the ball after all. Yep, no party. Zilch, zero, nada.

Whatever happened?! you ask.

Allow me to tell the tale...

It began when our upstairs neighbor's (we live in a condo) water heater broke at 2:00 am and flooded our dining room except Handsome and I didn't discover the flood until 8:00 am when we woke up and tried to feed the Caped Crusader breakfast; so then I had to call the restoration company who immediately came over to dry our walls with giant fans, heaters and tubes which then forced us to live in a hotel for 10 days (tab picked up by our insurance) to which our upstairs neighbor exclaimed that we were lucky to be in a hotel like it was some kind of planned vacation (yeah right, you try removing a four-year old from his routine where he freaks-out about monsters and needs the right kind of bed and the hotel bumps you from room to room including a one bedroom, one bathroom suite where the Caped Crusader insists on sleeping in the bed and Handsome and I are relegated to a lumpy pull-out sofa and forced to urinate in the kitchenette sink because Sleeping Beauty is a light sleeper and tantrums when woken up), and all the while I'm working eight hours a day calling restorers, dealing with insurance, making photocopies, and driving from the hotel to our condo to check out the progress and meet with professionals; and on the day of the party which I was very much looking forward to (especially the part where we drink because, man, I seriously needed a drink) I drove from the hotel to our condo four times collecting items and meeting with people and then drove the Caped Crusader during rush hour to his grandparents for an overnighter so Handsome and I could attend the event until everything came screeching to a halt.


And that's when I knew Handsome and I would never be attending said party because I still needed to pick up Handsome from his work, drive back to our condo and collect the forgotten dress shoes and jewelry, drive back to the hotel to shower and get ready, then scoop up the Caped Crusader's meds and drop them off at the grandparents (all during rush hour); so the end result was that, no, we didn't go to a party, instead we were stuck with a $500 deductible because our neighbor's insurance claimed that she wasn't negligent for the water damage done to our unit.

Let's tally the results:

Total Cost:  $9
Fur collar:  free (closet shopping)
Earrings:  free (mother's jewelry chest)

Outfit's MILF Potential (1-10; opinions vary):  I emailed my friend, an employee of Metro who wears a beard and lots of polyester, a photo of the outfit. This was his reply:

Well, I'm going to give it a 6 which sounds terribly low, but I think it's ultimately a good thing, right? A MILF 10 would simply be unpractical for anyone wanting to get through their normal day without that pack-of-construction-workers-checking-you-out thing.

The sexy parts are the shorter sleeves and the slit with red pattern. The cool design elements are the shape and how it's gathered in the middle. 

The MILF deduction points came from the rather stern look of the collar and the earrings go more toward the glam end of the spectrum (in combo with the collar), so the needle is farther from the MILF side of the gauge. 

Overall, the outfit is glam--something to wear on the runway, to the opera, or Monte Carlo (in Monaco--not the burned-down discotheque).

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Tease

When taking care of a small child, it's so easy to fall into the Soccer Mom rut. It's so easy to opt for comfy shirts, sporty pants and athletic shoes. It's so easy to favor one shelf and one drawer in the closet. And it's so easy to slight all the pre-motherhood clothing that hover in the corner with hanger marks and dust around the shoulders. Yet too many years down the golden path of relaxed simplicity can dangerously lead to polyester pants and permed hair dyed the color of Easter eggs. 

So I'm trying. I'm trying hard to escape. 

Enter the dress-up functions. This one, in particular, was an auction my girlfriend obliged me to attend ("My daughter's preschool is having their auction and you're going!" Her finger pointed at my chest like a gun).

Okay, okay, Captain! Sheesh, I'll walk your plank.

It would have been sooo much easier to stay at home and become a blob on the couch with a bag of peanut M & M's. But the image of polyester pants and blue hair slapped me into action.

All my pre-motherhood dresses looked so lonely and morose in the closet (Did they even fit anymore?) that I had to walk down to my local thrift store to check out the latest inventory.

When I spotted the black silk (Ah, bingo! Silk, lovely silk!) dress hanging quietly on the rack, I thought: tasteful, discreet, Very Mom. Perfect. But when I tried it on in the dressing room--whoa!--I looked like Jane the Neutered Librarian. 

Okay, this dour dud needed to turn up The Sexy a notch (or five). But I certainly didn't want to look like a vamp, especially during a preschool fundraiser. My outfit choice was locked in a tightrope situation. This was political.

Frustrated, I threw the dress on the bench, and that's when I saw it:  yards and yards of dancing red fabric. Where did my modest black dress go?

Hey! This sly Jane knew what it was doing. This dress was not neutered. It was a total tease!

Now this was a dress I could wear to the auction. But I needed to release a little more of its wild side (tastefully... very tastefully...). And in order to do that, I needed to show who was boss.

Let's see what I did...

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Bomb

The first time I donned a bomber jacket, Handsome-then-boyfriend, looked at me, his heart jumping backflips, and said, "You look like a Rude Girl!"

"A rude what?" I asked, not knowing anything about Mod culture and lingo. In his early college days, Handsome used to wear skinny ties and an army-green parka, and he scooted around on a Vespa.

So when I spotted this Juicy Couture rendition of a bomber jacket, I had to get it. Heck, it was only seven bucks. And I desperately needed something for those chilly park days with the Caped Crusader. My pretty lady coats, all made pre-motherhood, were being stained to death by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sliced apples.

At the store, I slipped the bomber jacket on and did a few twists and turns in front of the mirror. The coat was nice and heavy. One requirement met. It fit nicely. Another requirement met. But... Something wasn't quite right... Don't get me wrong, the jacket had potential. But it just wasn't quite me.

First of all, this bomber jacket looked like it had shunned its raucous friends and joined a sorority of cheerleaders. I mean, what was up with the hot pink label and heart sewn inside??? And the mega plastic buttons--they looked like they belonged to a cartoon character. And the outer flap was annoyingly in the way every time used the zipper. There was also the issue of two large holes on both sides of the jacket--it looked like the fabric had frayed apart at the seams.

But with all those problems, I still knew that the bomber jacket was mine. 

Let's see what I did...