Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2011-02-22

Get into it: Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February

My friend Jessie Dress is a miracle. Not only did she design that awesome redo of the fatphobic PETA ad, she starts some amazing projects to gather people around things she’s passionate about. Example 2: Co-founder of Austin’s Femme Mafia Chapter.

I present for your joy and eye candy her latest idea, Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February. It’s basically a community outfit blogging project, mostly by queer fat femmes and their friends and allies from different body types and sexualities. Jessie said, when launching it, “I want to see your hot ass! I want to see people wearing work clothes, or house clothes, or going out to dance clothes. I want to know where you got what you’re wearing, and what you did to make it fit your body and your life.”

I have been an almost daily contributor to the blog. I put all of my entries on my own tumblr, peppered throughout the month.

I participated for a few reasons. One, I am friends with Jessie and I like making her happy. Another was because my bestie Mackenzi pointed out to me when I was trying to do the math to afford* a Sweettooth by Cupcake and Cuddlebunny dress that I have more clothes than anyone she knows and many of those outfits she’s never seen. So it was an impetus to pay attention to what I’m wearing, take stock and purge some of my wardrobe.

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Shark dress. My first contribution.

I learned a lot from outfit blogging almost every day. It is really hard to get a full outfit picture taken unless you have friends who are willing to be patient with you. It also helps that I work part-time at a store, so on those days I got a fellow Shop Girl to help me out.

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The first time I repeated an outfit, but I remixed it with a different cardigan/tights combo.

I also learned not to put so much pressure on myself. One day I took a picture of what I was wearing and I suddenly understood why some celebrities only leave the house after taking a photo of their outfit. I thought my business casual outfit was flattering, but not so much in a photo. I didn’t love the outfit and I decided not to blog it.

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I think a creepy angel head belt is totally to opposite of business casual.

I watched my bouffant get bigger as time wore on for the busiest party/gig weekend of this month, from Rebel Cupcake on Thursday through Nerd Love on Monday. There was a lot of hair action.

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Right in the middle of that period of time, wearing my Femme Flannel outfit.

I contemplated posting my loungewear, but when I’m wearing loungewear I’m typically working or lounging, not messing around with a camera.

Catifabulous did a write-up of the project in the blog Sociological Images. Fatshion February definitely had some limitations in terms of the participants (namely, very few people of color and above size 24 folks), but I still think it was fun and gave me a fresh perspective on my wardrobe.

I liked looking at all of the different ways people wear their clothes and the stories they tell about them. I also like to know where people get their clothes and how much they spend on them. I included that info on my outfit blogs when I knew what I spent on something.

I never realized this, but I typically compose outfits consisting of one item that is pricier and many other, under $10 pieces. I also never noticed that I privilege jewelry that’s at the top of my heap, so I’ll wear the same four or five necklaces in rotation until I go hunting through the box/shelf/many jewelry organizer bags I have. Accessorizing is often something that is an after thought for me.

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My favorite outfit of the month is almost always for Rebel Cupcake. This was my ‘fit (except my sparkly pink heels) for RC: Erotic City. Also pictured, Mackenzi.

And it’s not too late to get into it! The Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February tumblr page explains how to submit!

*See, I work at a resale store and sometimes I make some store credit, so I rarely pay cash for my clothes. This makes a big difference in the life of the broke artist.

2010-02-11

Winter is Style Phobic

Yesterday my Femme friend Rachel posted to FaceBook that she doesn’t understand how to dress for snow and solicited tips. Femme Family Madam of Beauty, Bryn, responded “Snow = Femmephobic”. An FF Butch ally complained about snow being butchphobic because of the giant duck-like snow boots she is forced to wear.

Let’s be real–winter is just plain stylephobic. It’s a lot harder to be cute in the cold, what with all of the layering and the arduous task of putting on coats, gloves, hats, and special shoes just to leave your house. I grew up in California and didn’t experience my first real winter until I was 21. A decade later I’m still not over the novelty and annoyance.

I have come up with some ideas as to how to inject style and sass into your winter blah blah blahs for not a lot of money.

1. Get an accessory that can transition the everyday into glamour.

Your coat and accouterments are the first thing everyone sees on you. It’s also the one outfit you’ll wear every single day. Making it a good one is important.

This year I found a great way to transition 3 late fall weight coats (or California winter coats) to be really stellar and glamorous outerwear: a $10 Old Navy khaki trench, a getting sort of crappy houndstooth coat I was thinking of giving away and a mid-range mod print black and white coat. I bought a vintage fur stole* for $20. It wasn’t in fabulous condition, so I felt totally fine stitching it up, closing it with a pin and throwing it over any one of those coats. Instaglamour!

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I wish I had a better shot of the coat but I think the Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha cameo totally makes up for it.

I also bought a really gorgeous pair of teal leather gloves for $10. They were GAP in origin (but I got them from Re/Dress). They really pop against any kind of neutral coat, they’re water proof, and they actually work to open Macy’s poop bags, which is not true of most gloves. I believe in good leather or leather-like gloves only if they are cheap because expensive gloves get lost.

I feel complicated about hats so I try to have a coat with a hood in late winter. I’ve been seeing girls wear really floppy beret style hats this winter, with their bangs able to show and still function as a hat. I like having big hair so it makes it hard to deal. I have earmuffs that wrap around the back of my bouffant.

I shop like a magpie so pretty much anything sparkly gets my attention. A sparkly scarf is my day to day in the deep winter. Glenn Marla here models a glittery ascot. I’ve seen many of my hippest queer friends layering their scarves this year–so even if it is a thin glittery overlay you can put more layers under them. One girl showed up to a gallery opening with I think at least 5 scarves around her neck.
Glenn & Me at Heavy

Nothing says “I’m bringing a little winter cheer to this bitch” like wearing bright accessories in the depths of February.

2. Become a Maple Chaser.

When you’re confused about what to wear in the winter, look to our Canadian cousins. If anyone knows how to dress for insanely cold weather, it’s people who live it 5 months of the year. I like to cruise my Facebook friends to see what the Canadian fatties are wearing and then pester them with questions about where stuff comes from.

A visiting Canadian walked into Re/Dress this winter wearing the most gorgeous full-length fuchsia down coat. She also had fuchsia hair. I see a lot of well-dressed folks at the store and it takes an especially foxy outfit to stick in my memory like that.

It was likely this coat from Lands’ End. It’s still not on sale, but it might be by the end of winter.

3. Get some bangin’ outerwear.

I scour all year long for good outerwear (this is how you can get stuff for cheap). I found my calf-length down coat at a Marshall’s last January on sale for $40 when I was in there looking for some impulsive-make-me-feel-better-cheap-lingerie to buy. A plus size new with tags calf-length down coat is hard enough to find, let alone for $40. It is always worth it to rifle through the coat section of those places.

Sometimes it is a good idea to splurge when the time is right. My friend Miasia bought this coat from an online Parisian retailer. It’s INSANELY gorgeous, warm, and she got it on sale. I forget where it’s from or how much she spent but I say worth it. It’s form fitting, flattering, unusual and wool.

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Even Macy gets some amazing outerwear for the coldest months. This waterproof for the snow pink lame’ and silver coat was $2, new with tags at the goodwill (originally from Target).
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4. These boots were made for walkin’ not fallin’.

I am a faller. I hate falling. I don’t understand people who don’t wear snow boots. They have treads and are waterproof and keep your feet warm. I think snow boots get a bad rap as being big crazy duck shoes. They don’t have to be sporty like that! Online footwear shopping is your friend for snow boots.

My first winter as a working girl, I had to travel to do closings, so I needed a pair of boots I could tromp around Manhattan in that went seamlessly with my work wardrobe. I found a pair of Lands’ End fleece boots that are completely black, inconspicuous and have lasted for 7 years. The lovely part I’ve found is that, since they are black, they work equally well with tights, leggings or work pants.

Right now I am in love with these stylish Fitzwell Lesley’s. They’re spendy, though.

On the other end of the spectrum, Deb, the owner of Re/Dress, introduced me to these totally cute boots.

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I believe these are Tretorn Women’s Glad Rubber Boots. They’re about $48 and Deb reports very warm and keep her feet very dry!

Your boots do not have to sacrifice fashion for function!

5. Make the big reveal a good one!

As for the stuff underneath all of those layers, I like to wear polyester vintage dresses in the winter. They are extremely warm (nothing like a fabric that doesn’t breathe). I also tend to layer tights under leggings and wear wool socks. Because when wool gets wet, wool stays warm. (I learned the tights instead of long johns trick and wool socks bit from my winter camping training in Girl Scouts.) When you wear tights under your clothes it also doesn’t matter as much if they have runs or holes in them because they’re hidden.

When you dig your car out from 4 feet of snowdrift wearing tights and you fall in a snowbank, you dry off really quickly, where jeans will retain the freeze far longer. I’ve found this year’s crop of tights from Target and Avenue to have a good longevity.

I also like to put my scarf on right after I put on my perfume (just one neck spritz)** because when it comes off it retains a subtle whif of fragrance which is a really good olfactory seduction.

And no time is more of a special time for cleavage as the winter. Frankly, there’s just not as much and I like to do my best to defeat that.

I end this post with one of my favorite songs of the now (even though it’s a little old). It IS hard to be a girl in all seasons!!

*It was sold to Re/Dress by World Famous *BOB*, I bought it with store credit I got for trading in my white fur collar/muff/hat set that I never wore because it was too pristine. In turn, Australian burlesque performer Lillian Starr bought my set from Re/Dress. The beauty of resale!

**Always being mindful of people with scent sensitivities–that’s no joke! If you know someone who has one NEVER wear perfume around them. My mom is scent sensitive and perfume is like migraine-inducing kryptonite.

2009-08-18

Girl You Look Expensive: Alysia Angel

This is a continuation of my series Girl You Look Expensive! (Read the whole back story and intention behind the post here.) I was super excited to see the ever sweet & swoonworthy Scream Club (beware the flashy flashy gifs at the link) perform a hyped up remix of this song last week.

Meet my charming and gorgeous friend, Alysia Angel:

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The details on my outfit in the photo are:
dress xxl target $12
shoes vintage sling back 70’s “mushrooms” .99 value village
polka dot scarf .99 value village
white tiled reversible bag (gold on the other side) $2 goodwill
teal bracelet 0.00 found in a free box

And a brief and wonderful sample of her writing, on Femmes and Class:

    Dimes to diamonds

I have a closet of carefully selected vintage dresses, the waistbands torn out and
re-sewn to add inches to accommodate the roundness of my body, the
hemlines raised to accommodate the shortness of my stature, the plunging
necklines that free up the girls, putting them on a very huge display. I love
thinking about those sweet little fancy soldiers, lined up in a walk in closet,
in RGB color scheme. My head swims, dazzled by the teals, pinks,
reds, the wrong way for fat people but oh so right for me stripes,
eensy weensy polka dots, mandarin collars, tiny little white buttons,
cap sleeves, op art prints and the joy of putting these dresses on my
body. I love the shimmery feeling of a $5 vintage dress. Femme to me is
sexuality, vulnerability, strength, deliberate bold fashion and power.

Femme and fashion feels like a released Papilionoidea,
glittery and sharp, flowing from my clothes like honey.

In 20 years I haven’t changed a thing about my approach to buying
nearly everything second hand, making it my own, reinventing what
personal style means. I have dedicated myself to fashion without ever
looking to magazines or books for help. I have dedicated my body to be
a canvass, a color palette, a target for material. I am a slave to a
“perfect” dress, a perfect pink shell top, a kitschy vintage pin, a
large and gorgeous clutch, a hot pair of heels, an accordion skirt in
an interesting color. My eyes are on alert, always scanning, trained
on certain fabrics, prints, colors, and size. My fashion is a divining
rod for beauty, personal and to be shared. My sexuality and my fashion
are forever entangled like eyelashes on the first girl I loved in high
school. The one I fucked in her water bed, silent, sleek, and secret,
still the sweetest kisses of my entire life.

Her words are syrupy remnants at the bottom of delicious desserts you’ve long ago finished and can’t wait to enjoy again morphed into a gorgeous string of song.

If you want more (and I’ve been reading her Live Journal for awhile–you definitely want more) she’s selling this really stunning chapbook for only $15. Hand made from cover to cover. Even if you’re not a big reader, this stunning piece of art will look amazing on your coffee table or as a gift to a close friend. But chances are you’ll pick it up and never be able to put it down. She’s that good.

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$1.50 for shipping in the US, $3 outside the US. This book is a first of a series of 5 books. You can make payments via paypal to alysia.angel at gmail dot com.

2009-07-27

Girl You Look Expensive: Taueret

In the last few months, I have read and heard a lot of musings about Femme that begin with sentences like “There’s an unspoken expectation that Femme means consumerism” and “Femme is more than how many labelwhore handbags you own” and on and on about how Femme is so much more than spending money.

I find statements like this troubling. Partially because I think when people make arguments against “unspoken” anything, they’re making assumptions, usually out of insecurity. Assumptions and insecurity are the kryptonite of community building and connections. I also find it annoying because I think it’s falling into the WASPy* notion that we can’t or shouldn’t talk about money.**

The part of being Femme that I’ve found to be the most rewarding are the DIY*** aspects of putting yourself together. I haven’t known any other way to be Femme.

When I came into Femme, I came into it knowing lots of people who shared their resources. When I compliment someone on their make-up, for example, usually I get a response like “Thanks! It’s MAC blah blah blah” or “It’s wet n wild blah blah blah can you believe it?” Or if they didn’t offer where they bought something, and I wanted to know, I’d just ask. I’ve never had anyone bristle at the question and it’s been a great way to piece together my sense of style.

As fat girls, especially, since plus size clothes are so much harder to find than clothes under size 14, it’s always been my fat femme sisters who told me where to find things, how to modify things to fit, how to wear things to make them flattering, and most importantly, how much stuff costs!

Femme cannot be bought. Period. But the process of putting together a style that makes you feel comfortable in your skin does sometimes take some scrapiness and bargain shopping. I love bargain shopping–I call it Femme Hunting. Half the time the process of getting together an outfit is fun in and of itself.

So it is in this spirit of opening dialogue about Femme Hunting that I present my new blog series: Girl You Look Expensive****. I’ll find a fierce fat femme, interview her about her outfit and post it here. The idea is how you can look fierce and fashionable without spending a lot of money.

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My top was free. Like, really, really free. It’s a t-shirt that I got at a Divabetics event at ReDress and then altered. My skirt is from Torrid via ReDress and was, like, $9. My shoes are glitter peeptoe flats and were a whopping $5 on sale at Payless. My bangle and ring are cheapie H&M. My earrings were $12 and are the most expensive piece in this ensemble. I bought them from a fierce young Black womyn artist on 125th Street in Harlem.

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There are folk who are constantly talking about how femmes are totally materialistic and into consumerism and how it’s rare and special for a femme to have a budget, be eco-friendly, diy-fierce, or even poor. That idea is really classist, all on its own. It makes the assumption that all femmes have the resources and income and desire to spend small fortunes on their wardrobes. It makes the assumption that femmes who have fierce things spend a bunch to become that fierce. Untrue.

I am lucky that I live in New York City and have cheap and fashionable clothing resources available to me. As a femme of Color, I also have a shit ton of pressure imposed upon me to dress and carry myself in a certain way (clean and poised). I have the privilege to dress as funky as I want, have natural hair, and still be seen as human in the POC and queer communities. Julia Starkey’s essay “Fatness and Uplift” is a great resource about the cultural standards imposed on Black womy/en, especially when we are fat. Read it.

I also refuse to judge other femme’s priorities. Most of the Femmes With Money that I know are super humble and generous. And crafty and aware of their privilege.

I have a great balance of cheap and pricier items in my wardrobe. My friends and I don’t brag about how much our fierce crap costs or about silly brands, that just isn’t how our community works.

Places I love to shop because I’m young, fierce, fat, and poor:

ReDress NYC (Duh! Fierce fierce FIERCE)
AJ Wright (Great deals on handbags, shoes, and dresses!)
GirlProps (Cheap and cute accesories)
Etsy.com (Handmade goodies, totally worth $1 or $100)
H&M (I’m fat, but I swear by their jewelery and I know lots of plus size folk who can fit into their stuff)
Payless (But only during BOGO)
DSW (I love the purple sale tags….)

Taureret is starting a Radical Fatshion Zine. There’s a group on FaceBook if you are interested in joining and donating your skills!

*Defined by urban dictionary here. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=waspy
**In this society, as women, as queers, as folks who don’t have access to making a lot of money, it is really important that we get rid of the tendency not to talk about how we manage our money or how we make our money. A lot of us just don’t have skills or weren’t raised in households where we were taught how to do that, or know any other way but living paycheck to paycheck. Let’s be real, a lot of us don’t have the option of doing anything but living paycheck to paycheck, but even some of us who do have an abundance don’t know how to manage it. When you have to get creative with money, that’s when having an open dialogue with community members is really helpful–about bargains, work arounds, making do and mending.
***Do it Yourself.
****Named for Jenna Riot’s song of the same name. http://www.myspace.com/jennariotmusic

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