Posts Tagged ‘FASHION’

My Abaya

Abaya fashions

Abaya fashions (Photo credit: Lars Plougmann)

When I tell people I’m going to Saudi Arabia to teach English, they all ask the same thing: “Are you going to have to wear one of those things?” The answer is yes. As the time draws near for me to go, my feelings about donning the abaya have changed. Initially, I accepted it as just another cultural quirk to which I would adapt. Hot and annoying, yes, but not offensive.

Then I went online to see about ordering an abaya so that I would have it with me when I arrive. I discovered a world I didn’t know existed! Of course I didn’t want just any old abaya. I found myself studying the various abayas, reading reviews and trying to decide which abaya would be most flattering on me.(which is kind of like asking which flannel nightgown is most flattering…if you’re wearing a flannel nightgown, does it really matter?)

Mind you, an abaya is just a long-sleeved, loose dress. But, oh, the variety of clothing I found! One retailer claimed that their parrot-green abaya was their best seller. Another abaya promised that I would receive ‘humble complements’ when I wore it. I found abayas in every price range and for every occasion, from plain cotton for everyday wear to elaborately embroidered wedding abayas. Who knew?

I finally settled upon a simple cotton abaya, just to get me started. I have to admit, I’m not excited about my new purchase. Turns out, the abaya is not just another cultural quirk. My abaya is weighty with ideas and beliefs. My abaya brings up emotions I’d rather not acknowledge. It is a reminder of the vast cultural gulf between the place I am traveling to and the place I am leaving behind. The gulf seems unbridgeable. Does a long black dress have the power to keep me from finding that bridge? I hope not.

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You thought YOUR shoes hurt!


1. Bamboo slivers driven under fingernails

2. Prolonged sleep deprivation

3. Rap music

4. Waterboarding

5. Women’s shoes

6. The Rack

7. Airline seats

8. Women’s shoes

9. Cattle prod

10. Women’s shoes

(did I mention women’s shoes?)

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flip is higher than flop

flip is higher than flop

Summer! Time to pull my flip-flops out of storage. Hah! As if flip-flops are only for summer. What a quaint notion. Flip-flops, like jeans, are worn every day and for every occasion. What used to be bought at the dime store (now, that’s a quaint concept) for less than a quarter, is now a fashion item that can cost upwards of $100.00. How did the humble flip-flop transform herself from peasant to princess?

After WWII, American soldiers returned from Japan, bringing the zori with them. California surf culture elevated the status of those rubber thongs (yes, Ms. Millenial, a thong used to be footwear, not underwear). Zories, thongs, slaps, slippers, holo-holos, flip-flops – whatever you call them, they’re here to stay.

What has the Culture Vulture enthralled is the way that entrepreneurs have suckered us into paying so much for those rubber flip-flops. I’m not talking about the molded-arch, heavy-duty versions. I’m talking about the most basic rubber style. (you know who you are, Haviana) $25.00 is the average price and believe it or not, there are $200.00 versions adorned with Swarovski crystal elements (what used to be called rhinestones; i.e. cheap, fake jewels…but that’s a topic for another day). Apparently there are brides out there who want to wear bedazzled flip-flops on their special day but can’t find their way to Wal-Mart and don’t own a glue gun.

The Culture Vulture actually admires Haviana for having the audacity to market their product as more than just a shower shoe. Their full-spread ads in Vogue magazine are proof of the power of branding. Flip-flops as fashion statement. As P.T. Barnum famously said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The capitalist spirit is alive and well. Kudos.

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The two paths (m)

Somewhere along the road to self-love, the Boomers

were annointed with the sacred title of Teenager. Up

until that time, they were considered child or adult.

The age at which this mysterious transformation took

place occurred at some point during those so-called

teen years, but occur, it did. With the advent of the

Holy Teen, something new was created. Neither child,

woman or man, this creature became an entity unto

itself, with norms that allowed it to behave in ways

previously unthinkable. Rebellion, experimentation

and self-destruction became an acceptable way of life.

Not for children, not for adults, but for the Teen, of

course! The Culture Vulture thinks the Teen has

outlived its usefulness. The time has come to do away

with the entire concept of the Teenager. Children must

defer to the adult and the adult must assume full

responsibility for the choices he or she makes. No more

excuses, no more delayed maturation and above all, no

more crappy music, crappy movies and crappy fashion.

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Tattoo the Bride

Dress laces

Virginal Bride

Just went to the latest Generation-Ink wedding. As the dresses expose more and more flesh (remember sleeves? yeah, me neither), the tattooes become more and more prominent. Naturally, the Culture Vulture has to wonder how the modern bride decides how to display her tattoo on the Big Day. After all, this is the day of which every little girl dreams, the one day of her life to feel like a princess.(yeah, me neither on that one, as well) And what princess would feel truly lovely without Tinkerbell hovering on her bicep? Or the gang from South Park lined up across her back? The conservative bride can be identified by her conservative tattoo. Flowers and birds, but not too many. This fascinating shift in wedding customs reveals an utter lack of self-consciousness among brides of today. The tattoo is not hidden or minimized. The tattoo takes center stage, like an honored member of the wedding party. Brides of yesteryear had fun wearing Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue. How does the ex-boyfriend-tattoo fit into that quaint little ritual? Something Regretted? A sticky problem not mentioned by Martha Stewart…yet.

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Don't Mess with the U.S.!

After a recent trip to Europe, a friend asked about the difference between Americans and Europeans. One of the first things that came to mind is how we perceive time and history. Europeans have an historical frame of reference that dates back thousands of years. Kings and revolutionaries have come and gone, leaving only a legacy of battle-scarred ramparts. Castles have been built and defended, only to be replaced by Ikea. Territories have been won and lost, as well as ideologies and systems of government. They’ve seen it all. No wonder they are a bit cynical, a tad jaded. Europeans are surrounded by the past. Their daily lives are cloaked in memories of failed city-states and martyred ideologues. Ancient remnants of past civilizations are unavoidable. Cafes and markets and yes, even Starbucks, are housed in buildings that are older than the great

Hmm, what should I wear today? I know! I'll wear my flag shirt!

monuments of Washington, D.C. America is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, compared to Europe. We have the passion and optimism of teenagers in matters of  justice and the political process. We really believe we can make the world a better place. The bloom is not yet off the rose.

Another observation is that patriotism is a virtue for Americans.For many Europeans, patriotism is dangerous. They’ve seen the consequences of nationalistic fervor. Hitler could not have succeeded without the hot blood of zealous patriotism flowing through the veins of the German people. It’s hard to fault western Europeans for their reluctance to wave the flag.  Only in America, would entrepreneurs dream up the idea of selling the American flag as an article of clothing. Only in America do people not only wave the flag. They wear it.

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Man Purse Pics

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The Man Purse

The man purse has been around for years, but has yet to win many fans in the good, ole U.S. of A. Sunglasses, cell phones,keys – American men are accustomed to handing their belongings over to American women for transport.    


Men in France, fully secure in their masculinity, carry purses. From sporty canvas bags to dainty leather pouches: all styles are well represented. Which raises some interesting questions: Should American men continue to treat their female companions as pack mules? Or should they drop their prejudices and adopt the Man Purse?

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