Monday, 30 June 2014

Keds, the Classic Tennis . . .

Classic Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Classic Tennis

NICE             NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY           NEED             NEW

Photo by Brian Davis - the Keds Era.
While in France, the shoe that is often referred to as runners, sneakers or joggers are known as "tennis" (TE-neece).

NEED: I want, I need the classic "Ked-style" tennis shoe because the ones I love have "bit the big one"! Mine are an old style that I loved - the third from the left on Brian's photograph. Later varieties had wider toe boxes and rounder toe caps. I have another pair bought two or three years later that looked more like the second from the right. I didn't like the look on my foot near as much as my first pair. I think I bought both pairs at The Bay in Canada. I attempted to wear them this year but soon found that neither would be fit outside of the garden. In fact I threw away the first purchased ones in disgust. 

Brian (of ballet flats fame renown on this blog) and I have recently discovered a kindred love of Keds; albeit he has now outgrown that part of his shoe life.

Photo by Brian Davis - the Keds Era, circa 2008.
NOTE-WORTHY: When you find a classic "something" you love, buy it in multiples. Brian has embraced that bit of advice. I haven't and although I recommend it, somehow it eludes me.

Brian's first time buying Keds story is similar to his first time buying ballet flats. story. The canvas Keds' knockoffs were everywhere as he recalls. . . 

I still remember when I was 7 years old, I needed a pair of white shoes for badminton. There were two choices at the local KMart. Keds knockoffs or another one which was a bit more rugged looking. My mom let me pick the one I wanted - Keds knockoffs of course! Many more years went by and girls continued to wear these canvas shoes, which now had a blue label on the heel. Then came the leather Keds - they sparked my interest. . . . One day while at the mall I noticed the most amazing display of women's white leather Keds at the Lady Footlocker. I stood and stared and my heart began to race. After several minutes I entered the store, grabbed a display shoe and asked the sales girl if she had them in a size 10. A moment later she came from the back and asked if I needed to see them or did I just want to pay for them. With a lump in my throat, I said, "I'd like to try them on". She immediately informed me that these were girls' shoes. She handed me the box and walked away. I tried them on (without her help) and then bought them. It was a pretty quiet sales transaction.

NICE but not NEED: I will be looking but not too hard for the Keds style "tennis" while in France. 

Another NOTE-WORTHY: It seems that whatever colour jeans French women are wearing, their "tennis" match exactly - ah, but that's another post . . .  

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Summer Sales Welcome Return to France

Basic Choices

Closet Content Analysis: Replacing the Worn Out during Sale Season
NICE             NOTE-WORTHY           NEED             NEW

I have returned to France just in time for the summer sales. However my timing is all wrong for the sales at Marques Avenue in Romans-sur-Isere. They start on Wednesday and I am on the road back to the south-west on Monday.

NICE & NEW: Officially it is the beginning of July that the sales start but I was at the Amor-Lux store in Romans-sur-Isere on June 18th where I picked up a light summer sleeveless top for only 16.00Euro. Amazing. It has a v-neck and is that pink tone in beige that is more becoming on my skin than the yellow beige tones. The armholes and neckline are edged in a satiny bias trim that is in the same tone as the body of the top. Nice!

NOTE-WORTHY: I had to buy a bigger size than my other classic Armor-Lux striped shirts. My other classic "marinieres" are a Size 2 whereas this one needed to be a 4. Yes I still fit the 2 "mariniers". When I buy at outlet malls, I often wonder about things like sizes. Could it be that this top at the outlet store was mis-sized since it was sold at a price one-quarter of what it would be in the regular Armor-Lux stores? It's a thought.

Bronze sandals purchased at Salamander. Photo by JoyD.
NEED & NEW: Availability too is often an issue at outlet malls. Since I am a popular size 7 (Canadian) / 37 (European) in shoes, I often cannot find my size. I had a beige pair of flat strappy sandals that went with everything. A strap broke and so I need to replace them. Although I did not find exactly what I was looking for, I did find a pair of metallic bronze flat sandals at Salamander for 49.00Euro in size 37, the last pair in that model.

NEED: I definitely need a pair of "sneakers" - not the thick soled walking or jogging shoes but lightweight canvas sneaker-style shoes that are casual chic and comfortable at the same time. I had a pair of white leather Keds that I loved but they are beyond repair. I just may drop into Marque Avenue before I begin my six hour journey back to the south-west tomorrow morning. Come to think of it, my beige suede flats are looking a little rundown . . . .

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Searching for Appropriateness in Dress

Appropriate Choices

Closet Content Analysis: 
Blending Personal Style into Corporate Culture 
NICE             NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY           NEED             NEW

When I study the popularity of particular posts, the notion of appropriate dress is one of the top five categories. Employees are mandated to wear uniforms, students are sent home for wearing skirts too short or t-shirts expounding counterculture perspectives, and many decisions are made to wear or not wear something based on previous societal reactions. We recognize that there are standards, but we also recognize that they are arbitrary and we appear to want advice on appropriateness.

Very often there is a defensive response to any allegation that one's dress is inappropriate. "Who is she or he to tell me what to wear? or Nobody's going to tell me what to wear; I'll wear what I want!", are the typical knee-jerk responses. Culturally, there exists a collection of beliefs around what is appropriate or inappropriate dress in every social/cultural group. Arbitrary or not, it exists and as long as there are key decision makers (your supervisor, boss, owner of the company, mother, grandfather, teacher, principal, judge), who observe these cultural points of view, you will always be under scrutiny insofar as dress goes.Valid, fair or arbitrary, those who hold economic or political power over you are able to impose their "dress code" values on you.

What we choose to wear does not "hurt" anyone. It may be offensive or distasteful but it will not cause physical harm and I imagine, we don't want to impose physical discomfort upon anyone. There must be an underlying understanding of what will cause another discomfort since so many are looking to define appropriateness. The question is asked but if you have lived in a particular social/cultural milieu, you know the answer and perhaps are probably just looking for rationalization and confirmation. All the hits asking what is comfortable casual and is it appropriate, particularly for work in a North American context, are simply searches to rationalize what he or she already inherently believes. I attempted to define casual clothing in a previous post and so, if my definition fits the questioner, he or she will follow the "advice" given but if not, then the quest will continue until the person is satisfied with a newfound answer. Online, that will not be hard to do.

The best advice is: be observant. Determine what looks "professional" in your mind's eye and then choose dress that blends your sense of style within the corporate context. If you consider the culture of the workplace, since it establishes the criteria, all will be well.

What a strange power there is in clothing.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Religious Obligations of Dress

Our belief systems can be represented in our dress and are most evident in those who choose their clothing relative to religious obligation. A colleague inspired this post. She is fashionable within the requirements of Islam from her hijab down to her Tory Burch ballet flats. 

Photo retrieved from Scan Free, May, 2014
She wears the head covering we know as hijab but I don't think I have ever seen her wear the same scarf twice. And what a scarf it must be! The length required to wrap and pin and tuck is daunting to the non-hijab wearer. Hijab is in fact more than just the head covering. I understand it to mean "all that is required for the modesty necessary in religious obligation to Islam". It appears that "what is necessary" is not only dictated religiously but also open to cultural interpretation. 

Photo Retrieved
from Catholic Brainwork, May, 2014
Christianity also has its examples of religious obligation of dress. However those obligations may be restricted to formal religious orders such as Catholic nuns or to religious communities such as the Hutterites. Whether a woman is wearing hijab or has her hair tied back under a net covering in the same way some Mennonite sects do, we immediately recognize their religious devotion. And that is exactly what the wearers want.

Photo Retrieved from Plainly Dressed
May, 2014
It is obvious that religious obligation to dress facilitates recognition, and that can have both positive and negative reactions. The negative responses come from those who have been limited in their intercultural experiences and thus lack understanding. The positive responses, specifically from others who share the same religion, strengthen the sense of community and belonging. Those who wear hijab in work situations confirm empowerment owing to the respect shown for the work at hand with no perceived notions of flirtation and possible sexual harassment. What these women wear protects them from the negative on one hand but may also provoke the negative on the other.  

Recently Pope Francis was photographed wearing the headdress of a South American indigenous tribe . . . respect for others requires us to acknowledge and accept. Acknowledgement and acceptance, that is the essence of living together.