Archive for January, 2012

January 23, 2012

It’s Raining Again Boys!

Boy clothes - rainy days

Today it was a rainy, miserable winter day here in California and watching my co-workers come to work got me to thinking – just what do guys wear when it rains?  

Now this probably seems a silly question, especially coming from a woman born and raised in thePacific Northwest, but quite honestly I had never given it much thought or notice.  This probably says more about the camouflaging capabilities of typical raingear rather than a lack of attention on my part.  That and the fact that in the rain I tend to burrow into my coat, obscure my vision with an umbrella, and focus firmly on the ground…primarily to avoid shoe-destroying puddles.  

To answer my own question I took a good look around today from the comfort of my nice warm, dry car.  What did I discover?   Well, while women are fairly straightforward and predictable, men, bless them, pose something of a conundrum when they dress for wet weather.

For women rain gear is a question of both function and fashion.  Most women tend to have two types of raincoats – one sporty/weekend sort of raincoat and then some sort of variation on a trench coat for more dressed up/work day use. If you have a coat fixation like I do… well then you have probably have several variations depending on your mood, outfit, purpose, etc.  It goes without saying that women are very protective of their hair and make-up, so umbrellas or roomy hoods are preferred to avoid embarrassing hat-hair or, worse yet, wet hair and face.

For example, my sporty coat is a traditional yellow guide-style hooded number with nifty wind and waterproof features that make it ideal to wear on the boat – its hardly fashionable but it always keeps me DRY.  My two work day favorites are by Anna Scholz – a ruffle-skirted, steel gray for practical/sensible me, and a bright lumo-yellow ruffle trimmed confection for fun/fashiony me.  I prefer to carry an umbrella over having something else on my head, but I admit that I am notoriously bad about losing them (Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines must have at least a dozen I once owned!)

I discovered that most guys just wear some sort of generic, sporty raincoat available at outfitters like Eddie Bauer, The North Face, and the like.  Casual and practical.  I didn’t see many overcoats or trench coats, but then I work near a university and our own staff is very very casual so that is not unexpected – you would expect to see more of those on the suit-and-tie set.  The oddest thing was that I also didn’t see very many hoods, hats or umbrellas, even though it was pouring down rain.        

It not surprising that for most guys – if they bother at all – the functional aspects of their outerwear is far more important than the sartorial considerations.  What I did find surprising was many guys’ weird mix of practicality and utter disregard.  Some of them clearly don’t give a fig about fashion OR function!  Apparently there is some strange man-think that says it’s not manly to protect one’s self from the rain, at least not actively, or completely.   This sort of logic leads a guy to put on jacket and then run through the rain, hood flapping down their back with a newspaper or something over their heads.  Today I saw a guy running through the rain with his i-Pad over his head!  Now while it may have had a cover on it, let me just say, as someone who spends her days in the engineering side of electronics, this is ill-advised.  Electronics do not like water, not even a little…I just hope this rocket scientist doesn’t work at our company…ya’ know what I mean?

Mystified by this weird thinking I consulted my resident guy, Mr. Commando.  He clarified that yes, some guys genuinely believe that only girly-men need umbrellas or hats.  It is apparently hard to look “cool” carrying an umbrella or wearing a hat.  But I found it hard to believe that having a wet head was cool.  He agreed that there are better options than showing up to work with a wet head.  His personal preference is to use an umbrella.  How logical.  I do so love this man.

So what should the fashion-savvy guy wear in the rain?  Well I think the traditional trench coat is great – who couldn’t stand to look like Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant?  I would strongly recommend getting a trench in a dark color as opposed to the traditional light tan/beige/khaki.  As great as the lighter color looks, it gets dirty very quickly and goes from looking sharp to shabby almost instantly.  Not ready to be quite so old-school?  I really like the look of this Burberry overcoat – fewer traditional details and a dark shade to give it a little modern edge.  On both of these options it is essential to flip up the collar for the ultimate in classic cool.  

If you are out mucking about and actually *doing* stuff in the rain then by all means get out your sporty jacket, ideally with a functional hood, and put on some Hunters or Wellies while you are at it and totally work that out-doorsy look.  (Women simply dig this look, but most of us won’t admit it to a man.) 

As for head gear – wet heads, soggy newspapers, and soaked i-Pads are soooo not good.  Why not put on an outback hat or a wide-brimmed fedora?  Now THAT is cool and kind of sexy.  Note I said wide brimmed fedora – none of those coy, hipster narrow brimmed ones, thank you very much, we are going for actually functional, “I am not trying” cool here.      

And last but certainly not least – an umbrella.  While the small foldy-uppy ones are great for stashing away, they do tend to be flimsy and they are decidedly NOT good for sharing.  There is nothing worse than being only partially covered by an umbrella – all the water that isn’t coming down on your head is being concentrated and channeled to the rest of you.  Instead, a golf umbrella or similar larger sized umbrella will be much studier and much more roomy.  Guys this is your chance to be chivalrous – carry a nice big brolly with room for two!  After all, chivalry is always in style.

January 12, 2012

Shoes That Feel Like….Butter

It is no secret that I simply adore shoes.  But frequently I find they are like those boys we fell for in our misspent youth – gorgeous and irresistible, but deep down we knew they were wrong for us and they would eventually break our hearts.  It’s the same with a beautiful shoe – I will fall in love, even when I know they will be too high, will pinch, or will have some fatal flaw that will torture my toes and leave me aching.  I will wear them and as I take them off my bruised feet will swear never again; then they will sit prettily in my closet luring me to wear them again…and I will.    

Keeping this footwear codependence in mind with a vow to change this time, I started the hunt for shoes for a recent event.  I needed dressy sandals – fabulous looking with a bit of height but comfortable enough to do some major walking and quite a bit of standing.  While this requirement meant a comfort style was going to be the best choice, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – most comfort styles are stodgy and a bit depressing.  And the most stylish comfort shoes are still too high a heel for my tottering little self to manage these days.  So, I needed something fashionable in a mid-heel, and if that didn’t make it challenging enough, throw in my desire for luxurious materials and good craftsmanship and I was looking at the nearly impossible.  Or so I thought. 

Then I happened upon a pair of shoes that might just be the ones; platform sandals that were nearly, but not quite flatforms.  They were a truly lovely proportion – a good platform height, but with a stance that was not so flat that it had that heavy, awkward look that many flatforms have.  Made by Butter Shoes, they came in a suede that looked amazing especially in a rich magenta.  They were pricey enough that I couldn’t really justify magenta when I needed black, so I controlled myself and ordered the black along with several other designers’ options at varying price points. 

When these sandals arrived they outshone every other pair I had ordered.  With suede so soft I felt like cuddling them!  When I put them on I totally understood the brand’s name – they did indeed feel as soft and rich as butter.  The other competition didn’t have a chance.  And when I wore them I was amazed – I walked and stood comfortably, I even danced! 

Butter Shoes are a super find, especially for a girl like me with my love of retro/embellished/quirky footwear.  They have a fairly comprehensive line from flats to high, stiletto heels and even some cute boots.  While they have many lady-like and retro-inspired numbers, there are some terrific modern takes such as the flatforms, as well. 

The designs are feminine, flirty and fabulous while still feeling modern and being wearable.  What make these shoes really exceptional are the details in each design. Whether it is with interesting embellishments or just terrific materials – shiny patents, lush suedes, unusual metallic treatments, colorful tweeds, or fun quirky material combos like grey flannel and gunmetal sparkle, each shoe has something that makes it special.  Even if it is just a peep toe, an unusual ruffle detail or a bow set at a jaunty angle, there is something a bit different.  Add to that a color palette mixing both great basics and fun colors like a zingy turquoise or an intriguing purply-blue/navy; along with metallics and some great prints such as a fab leopard  and you get some really “ah” and “oh” inspiring footwear. 

For Spring 2012 they are showing great on-trend color block designs as well as some really cute shoes in Liberty print florals and they are doing these looks in both high heels and flats – thank you!!!  Also, if you are looking for evening or bridal shoes, they have a sister line – Something Bleu featuring designs with great silhouettes and the same element of specialness.  There are a few numbers with feathers that are on my watch list for my own wedding.

Check out their website at buttershoes.com where you can see more styles and locate stores.  They have some key pieces for sale on line at retailers such as Anthropologie.com and a wider selection at Endless.com; also, for bridal and bridesmaid inspirations, check out BHLDN.com.  The price point is squarely between fast fashion and high fashion, in the $250 to $350 range for shoes, but these are collectible and covetable enough to justify the occasional treat.

Needless to say, the first experience left me wanting more, so back I went to Endless.com.  Loving that platform design I found a few more options that happened to be on sale (cue the angels singing…ahhhhh).  They were still a splurge, even on sale.  But every pair is beautiful and unique, and with the wonderful materials and comfortable design they will be worn to bits. 

Now for a confession – I succumbed to the lure of those magenta numbers – yes I know, I already have them in black, but really they are too fabulous not to have, especially when they feel so good.  Better yet, they were ON SALE!!!  And every woman who sees them says the exact same thing – OOOOOHHHH!!! 

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