Saturday, May 20, 2006

Conference Shoes

Darlings, PeaceBang has just returned from New York City, where in between getting caught in torrential downpours, she had the pleasure of walking to various appointments and observing NYC fashion in person!
It was so inspiring!
I can just tell you that the gals are wearing darling little print dresses (vintage, not icky, drab florals) with cardigans and big chunky beads and all manner of fabulous sandals. Another lovely look (since PeaceBang can't imagine where one would easily procure true vintage cotton frocks outside of the Village) is light colored suits (tailored! tailored) with slingbacks and smashing bags. A gentle grass green with some grey in it is all the rage and looks good on everyone. Not Kelly green, not acid green. And in the bags or the shoes, not near the face.

Someone asked about shoes for GA (or other conferences). I know it's hard. I am agonizing over the decision myself. My comfortable shoes are all heinous and unflattering, and my attractive shoes are mostly no good for schlepping from one event to the other. My overall advice on conference shoes is this: if they're chunky and heinous, wear a nice long pant that fits beautifully, a cute top, and don't feature them. If they're adorable and make you feel gorgeous, keep the rest of your outfit simple to highlight them.

Someone asks, "are black dress shoes okay with tan pants?"

Dear Someone,

At least, I don't think so. Unless the "tan pants" are a beautiful pair of true trousers with a shape to them, and are lined, and are elegant. Then of course, you can wear an elegant dress shoe.
It's really more about the scale and line than the color. If the pants are light and tailored and elegant, the shoe should also be elegant, in whatever color. The shoe should not be heavy and, for instance, patent leather. That's too wintery and heavy. If the shoe has a thin ankle strap and a delicate foot, by all means wear it with "tan pants" (didn't we talk about the evils of "tan" already? I'm a bit worried) and a smart black cardigan and fitted shell with pearls or beads. Bring another dark color somewhere into the outfit and you'll be fine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Two Things

1. PeaceBang deeply believes that the road to fashion HELL is paved with the sentiment, "Don't worry what it looks like, just wear what's comfortable."

PeaceBang cannot express strongly enough her disdain for this attitude.
Jesus of Nazareth suffered and died on the Cross. Am I to complain, then, if my feet pinch in heels, or if my control top panty hose cut into my flesh?

2. Don't be afraid to wear black and navy together. They can be smashing.

Dressing For Conferences

PeaceBang has had two fashion inquiries today:

1. What should UU lay people wear to GA?
2. How do we pack for a collegial conference when we would not like to be numbered among the Frumpy Servants of the Lord?

1. ChaliceChick asked me this off-line, saying that her typical weekend wear is
t-shirts, jeans and boots. Apparently a minister friend of hers recommended business casual.

CC, dear, I have two thoughts. The first is that since you're not a minister or a workshop presenter and therefore not making a professional appearance, you probably don't need to go as far as business casual. That said, there's nothing quite so depressing than watching the Jumbotron at the Service of the Living Tradition and seeing one fashion disaster after the next, or arriving at GA to throngs of ill-clad fellow UUs.

My personal heart's desire?
1. no environmentally or politically themed T-shirts
2. nothing batik
3. death to Birkenstocks!
4. no ungroomed facial hair or scraggly ponytails on the men
5. everyone limited to ONE chalice item

When we gather together as Unitarian Universalists in one city, we do make a group impression. My advice? Dress in such a way as to help us make a good group impression. If that means taking a step up from jeans and a t-shirt (and you know it does), pack accordingly.

And people, hotel rooms do have irons in them. And hair dryers.

2. Conferences are easy if you have a sense of your own style and don't feel that it's necessary to pack only practical items (i.e., polyester garments that go sproing when you pull on them). I love practical items. It's just hard to make an entire outfit, let alone five or six, from that terrific swingy jacket you got from Chico's. (We all have one of those, right? You couldn't wrinkle it even if you scrinched it into a tiny ball and sat on it through the entire flight, right?)

PeaceBang is all about planning in advance. Around this time of year she starts to think about packing for GA and carefully strategizing the maximum number of outfits out of the minimum number of garments. She combs through all her accessories and begins to consider which ones to take. She mulls over shoe choices. She does all this while working out or driving. You can do it, too. You can't always be thinking about your sermons. C'mon.

What persona are you trying to communicate? Sober religious leader? Then pack all solid colors with a few crisp blouses and get out the Barbara Bush pearls. Creative, fun religious leader? Pack one camel suit and wear it with red cowboy boots and huge gold hoops and red lipstick. Change your blouse every day and just wear the hell out of that suit.

My point is, find your look and make a statement in some way. No one expects a fabulous new outfit every day -- for heaven's sake, we're all traveling -- so feel free to repeat. Don't WORRY what the so-called A-listers are wearing. YOU are on God's A+ list! The key to confident self-presentation is to find your own look and never, ever feel like you have to compete with anyone else. Be your own fabulous self. I find that if there's a question of over-dressing or under-dressing, I opt for over-dressing.
In the Black church, the ladies say that they like to dress up for the Lord. I couldn't agree more. Dressing up shows respect. If I arrive at an event in a skirt and heels and everyone else is in Izods and capris, I figure I'm just showing some propers. Nothing wrong with that.

Hotels and conference centers are over air-conditioned. There are lots of lovely silk/cotton blend cardigans on the shelves right now. They look nice with a shell underneath. PeaceBang understands that it's hot in the summertime but she is never, ever seen in sleeveless garb unless it's in the privacy of her own hammock. Despite her deep loyalty to working out with weights, PeaceBang's upper arms still resemble her great-Baba Billo's, which is to say that the most appropriate word for them would be Slovak for "jiggly hamhocks."

The secret to successful conference dressing, my doves, is ALL IN THE DETAILS.

Get thee to a hairdresser and colorist two weeks in advance of the gathering so you have time to learn how to do your hair, and pack your hair products.
PeaceBang usually packs minimal clothing but lots of make-up and products because she finds them comforting to have around. Also necessary, as her hotel roommate can attest.

Visit your manicurist for hands and feet two days before departure. Pack a tiny bottle of Febreze so you can freshen your clothes when needed. Use that iron.
Pack Emergen-C packets for those mornings you feel less than your best, and because hotel rooms are notoriously dry, don't forget your richest moisturizer!

Lipstick! Mascara! Light make-up if you need it to look polished.

And your mother wasn't lying when she said that a big smile was the most important accessory you could ever own.

PeaceBang recommends:

Emergenc-C vitamin C packets
Travel size Febreze and Shout stain remover packets
A clothespin to hang up hand-washed dainties
Travel size Aveda hair and skin care products (expensive but worth it)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When You Should Say Something

Since we're on the subject of saying something to colleagues whose beauty techniques (or lack thereof) are obscuring their most beautiful selves, let's talk about when you should absolutely say something to them.

Let's do that instead of talking about the young saleswoman at T.J. Maxx who looked like a graffiti artist had attacked her upper lip. People, I am ALL ABOUT faking a plumper upper lip, but let's make sure we keep up with our lip pencil application throughout the day, m'kay? And let's keep the lipliner within a reasonable 1/8" and not, like 2" over our top lip, m'kay?

You should say something if:

1. Your colleague's complexion seems yellowish or in some other way badly off;
2. Your colleague begins to smell funny, and it's not perfume or cosmetic, but a metallic smell or a sulfuric smell, or a doo-doo smell. I have found all of those things to be early evidence of illness or laxative abuse or bulimia.
3. Your colleague is suddenly losing a lot of hair.
4. Your colleague is losing mobility or energy at an alarmic or very noticeable rate.
5. Your colleague seems to be gaining or losing an awful lot of weight quickly.
6. Your colleague seems to have booze coming out of his/her pores the morning after any event, and sometimes for no reason at all.
7. Your colleague, once put together, now seems drab and listless and can't even be bothered to apply lipstick or comb his/her hair, let alone accessorize.

These are all beauty issues secondarily and health issues first. Wait for a good time to ask them if they're feeling alright. Lovingly tell them what you've noticed. Ministers aren't known for our self-care skills and self-awareness -- sometimes it takes a caring outside pair of eyes to pull our attention to where it ought to be.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I See London, I See France

Glory asks about the touchy moment when we are treated to a view of a colleague's panties through a light colored pair of trousers.

After PeaceBang is able to take her hand away from her mouth in horror, she will respond to this question.

I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

:::one hour later:::

Okay, I'm back.

People of the cloth, it is imperative that we speak the truth in love to one another about our fashion faux pas. The evident panty line or visible posterior of one brother or sister in the ministry is a blushing embarrassment for all of us. There are already too many buffoon clergy characters in our literary and cultural history -- we can't afford any more in our own day and time.

When you see an egregious violation of sartorial appropriateness, you must speak up. Say something like, "Your words were really inspiring, but I'm sure you never intended to upstage yourself by treating us all to a view of your skivvies."

Or, "I wonder if any of the congregation were able to attend properly to your sermon after having seen the whole of your bazoom when you leaned over to tell the children's story. I'm sure you had no idea, but my dear, lean forward right now and let me show right here in the powder room mirror."

Or, "My dear and reverend sir, I commend you for showing up to build the Habitat house. However, let me recommend to you that before you leave the house for such good Christian endeavors, that you squat in your pants to check the fit. Having hammered shingles below you for an hour, I feel especially qualified to give you this advice."

Use humor, but be direct. Speak your piece and then beat a hasty retreat with a kind handclasp or encouraging hand on the shoulder. When appropriate, make recommendations. I would be so grateful if colleagues would help one another in this wise instead of remaining silently horrified. I live in constant fear that my clothes are pulling in the back or the front in ways that I can't see, and making me look like a sausage wrapped in casing (because I think overly large, formless clothes are the ugliest possible way to deal with a plump figure). I would so appreciate it if someone took me aside and said, "Love the blazer, PeaceBang, but there's a bit of an unfortunate tailoring here at the back that I know you can't see."

I mean, heavens... even with the constricting undergarments, the primping, the clothes, the make-up and the hair products, we're all still subject to fashion mistakes.

Also see #6 On The Booger Patrol here :, My Dears!

Glory in the Morning suggests that we shop for sandals at Target. What a fabulous idea!!

Look what I found on their website for mere pennies:

Now, I don't think that a thong sandal (anything that splits the toe) has any place in ministry aside from casual office days, but sweet Jesus, this one is cute. But you MUST MUST MUST have smooth heels like a baby and clean polished toes or bare toenails that are clean and perfectly groomed.

I will be purchasing these today, thank you very much. Terribly fashionable and very Betty Grable. I just hope they're the slightest bit comfortable.

For gals who can stand a heel, these are smashing. So classy, such a great color for every season. For my friend who was wondering what to wear with navy, darling, this is one fantastic option. Keep your accessories rich to go along with the richness of the shoe. Again, no gnarly toes or polish peeping through these, please.