Jeggings, Leggings and Tights, Oh My!

This fashion trend has all but used me up emotionally; I am so drained by this love of the jeggings, leggings and tights as pants trend. Women are wearing them both in the streets as well as the office.  Living in the city of Baltimore doesn’t help either, everybody under the sun from your soccer mom, to your urban chick, to the working professional feel the need to wear these things with everything and most of the time without the proper upper attire, which in a nutshell is anything that covers your ass. For my male readers who may be asking, ‘what the hell are jeggings?’ I’m happy to share they are the jean equivalent (I just realized I’m actually wincing as I type this!) of leggings, thus the brilliant collabo that became jeggings. So, let’s talk about why this isn’t appropriate gear outside of the home. Whether you are skinny or as my Mom says, ‘pleasingly plump’, there are no good reasons to wear jeggings and/or leggings. If you are too skinny it looks like two toothpicks sheathed in some color with a baggy seat, and if wearing the ever popular black, all bets are off because your legs might very well disappear altogether. Next up, if you have ‘healthy’ legs like myself, the fabric stretches and becomes shiny and transparent, revealing more than your need to change clothes. Jeggings, leggings and tights are all made to be worn under dresses or with tunics, but not shirts. Tunics typically reach the knees or right above the knees, at a minimum, they are the length of a mini-dress. Tunics do what shirts don’t, cover your ass! Let me tell you, I’ve seen high school girls running around Baltimore in leggings that look like tights, that’s right, tights… like the ones you wear in cold weather under your skirt. Many of these girls are in great shape and have the ‘video vixen’ figure, with no fat to be found anywhere, but with some of the backs you see on these girls, tight though they are, I silently cringe because they’re revealing too much. Not only are they rocking these non-pants, they’re doing so with half shirts on, looking like they’re wearing gym attire. Now I’ll lay off the high school girls a little bit, because they are young and if they’re lucky, are looking at the world as their oyster and not giving a damn about what I have to say, but let’s swivel that lens back to the 30 and up crowd who insist on wearing the same get-up as their teen and twenty-something counterparts…all I can do is shake my head and ask for you to please consider a longer shirt the next time you slap on a pair of those bad boys. I get it, they’re comfortable, but please oh please leave them out of the work place…can we at least make that deal? No more lumps, bumps and camel toe on the job. No more baggy asses from overly worn leggings whose thread counts are quivering with the effort to keep the seams together. No more seeing your panty lines. No more seeing your underwear pattern. No more thinking a blazer and five-inch stilettos with the jeggings, leggings, and tights are making them appear more professional…in fact that’s not the case at all. All of the above are fantastic reasons why being a slave to trends is not a good look, I’m just sayin!

*Disclaimer: Today I saw one too many jeggings, leggings, and tights and clearly it was too much for me to handle.

Fall is Here!

So that exclamation point after the title might lead one to believe I am exuberant about fall, which is not the case this year only because the segue-way between summer and fall kind of blurred in August and most of September due to tropical storms muddying the lines. I was hoping for one last hurrah in the sun, heading to my friend’s apartment complex-they have a  pool- before Labor Day weekend slow-roasting under the sun (with my SPF of course), getting my last splash of color and heading into fall with arms wide open. Clearly that wasn’t the case, the end of summer has been a washout and fall is officially here, so rather than lament what seems to be its early arrival weather-wise I’ll go ahead and embrace it since after all it is my favorite season.

I think my love of this transitional season comes natural since I was born in October. I love how, particularly if summer was a scorcher, the weather shifts ever so slightly. On the first morning I wake up to crisp morning air tinged with a slight chill, my body hungrily drinks it in, the fresh air filling my lungs like a syringe and plunging it through my body purging the last vestiges of summer malaise causing a burst of energy, a scattering of the summer-fun cobwebs from my brain a and clarity to my thoughts. At these times I miss being in school, college to be specific. Sarah Lawrence is in Westchester Co right outside NYC, so on fall mornings when I had an internship in Spanish Harlem, I would relish the slight briskness in the air as I walked to the train station because it filled with me anticipation of the day to come. Riding the Metro North to the 125th street stop I would eagerly stare at the winding loops leading into the city, eyeing the hubbub below, enjoying watching people move with a purpose, noticing the fashion transitions: tank tops giving way to jean jackets, bare necks now laced with thin scarves, bare legs now covered in tall boots, long pants, or tights. Remembering all of this, I can conjure the crackle of renewed energy in the air like fall leaves underfoot; I want that feeling back, the one that inspires me and leads me closer to a purpose, a goal, a plan.

I know I don’t sound too optimistic right now but please know that I am hopeful, just feeling thoughtful. Baltimore has such a different energy from NY, it is very much a zombie-land thanks to the severe heroin problem that plagues this city, but there do exist bursts of energy, like raw jewels, in little pockets that you have to search for hence the city’s old moniker Charm City (we should so campaign to get this slogan back). Since to me fall is all about renewal, I’m going to challenge myself to go to new museums, restaurants, theater venues and other yearly city events to reinvigorate my point-of-view. I look forward to sharing some of those experiences here. If you are a Baltimore resident and you hear of an event that sounds interesting, please let me know, I’m open to suggestions.

A Cautionary Tale

So it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve laid down some observations, a little thing called brain drain from a particularly grueling to-do list at work has led to a slow down of my opinion pieces, but today I witnessed something ‘special’, a white girl running her hand through a black woman’s locs (aka dreadlocks). Why, you say, is this so ‘special’, I mean they could have been in a relationship or they could have been good friends who don’t mind these types of intimate encounters, but people, this was none of the above. Let me break it down for you…

Today during lunch a black woman and I were in the midst of a discussion about our hair. Both of us have locs and were talking about how dusty we felt they looked due to ‘new growth’- for those not familiar with that term this is the untwisted hair at the scalp (or new hair) that has grown in since our last hair appointment, and the light halo of fuzz- which is basically loose sprigs of hair at the crown rubbed free during slumber. We’re busy talking when all of a sudden this white woman dives into our conversation or rather our airspace, since she didn’t say anything at first, and runs her fingers through the other woman’s hair. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, and in fact it kind of wasn’t a big deal because this happens all the time in every state I’ve ever lived and the culprit is always a certain kind of white woman- meaning not familiar with any other culture but her own. Let me be clear, this is not a rant against my white sisters, rather it’s a word of notice to women who aren’t your hair stylist, friend or girlfriend, who have no relationship to you besides colleague or acquaintance, who for reasons only they know deem it acceptable to run their fingers through another woman’s hair. Usually, like today, the running of the fingers through the locs, braids, weave, or any kind of natural (meaning hair free of straightening chemicals) is augmented with ‘ooooohhhs and ahhhhhs’ about texture and ‘how cool’ it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a compliment any day, so try telling me ‘your hair looks lovely today’ and taping your hands at your sides if you must.

So why does this type of behavior rev up my irritation? It’s because, in my opinion, there’s an inherent feeling of entitlement that comes with being a certain type of white woman in America and sometimes this entitlement leads one to imagine an intimacy that is not truly there. This type of behavior is not indicative of all white women and not one of my white girlfriends has ever done this to me, probably because they grew up in diverse neighborhoods or schools or perhaps had a close black girlfriend who may have kindly schooled them at a young age. Now to shed a little more light on today’s specific incident, the woman whose hair was being fondled just kind of glanced at me; I looked away from this familiar scene and sauntered off since I figured she’d say something if she was bothered. The perpetrator of this crime is painfully unaware in other culturally sensitive arenas too, for instance when she is talking on the phone to the Spanish-speaking international student body, she always opens her conversation with “ahhh-low” which is her version of saying hello in Spanish, she then follows that up with “speaka zee englaise?” I swear this is not a joke! Meanwhile I’m shaking my head because she’s speaking as if English is her second language, except it’s her first and she speaks absolutely no Spanish. She has no idea that what she’s saying is totally ignorant in the dictionary sense of the word. While she’s busy trying to sound like she’s connecting with people, she’s really pushing them away. I’m guessing that my current reading material, The Help, the de rigueur book right now due to the very popular movie of the same name, has brought into focus some of today’s observations. This book follows the story of three main female characters, two black maids (aka ‘the help’) and one white woman who has grown up with maids during the early 1960s. In a nutshell, these maids and others tell their story of working as ‘the help’- sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, it just so happens that the woman who compiles the stories is white but not down with the status quo. This book was written by Kathryn Stockett, a white woman from Mississippi, this is an important detail because she was able to capture the voices of all of her characters without turning any of them into caricatures. If this author was able to so succinctly write about these women’s experiences, although fictional, then I have hope that we all can have a conversation about those similar experiences we all share, no matter racial/cultural background.

Now back to this woman from earlier today, she is perfectly nice but oblivious, which is why this is a cautionary tale. If she was to run her fingers through my hair, I would be more than happy to school her, what she needs to know is this: since none of us are the same, she might come across a whole different scenario with someone else; no one ever wants to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Behind the Chair at Fashion Week

Top: Mezei

Bottom: Weave by Mezei; Designer: Irina Shabayeva, Season 6 Project Runway Winner

My brother Mezei was in NYC last week doing hair for some of the designers participating in Fashion Week. Even more exciting for me, he was invited to do hair for the always original, wild print and pink-loving clothing designer, Betsey Johnson. This is Mezei’s 3rd year working Fashion Week and I still find it hard to believe that he’s there! Not because of his skills but because when I think of the rural/suburban corner of Maryland that we come from, thoughts of being able to work or attend Fashion Week are akin to a pipedream. All these years later, my brother’s presence at this monumental fashion event seems almost unbelievable, except for the fact it is very much real and he has the backstage passes to prove it.  Of course I always badger him about what he sees behind the scenes (controlled chaos), who he sees  (this year Beyonce), and what he does (execute the designer’s vision). So how did a guy born and raised in a small Maryland town end up doing hair for the likes of Bestey Johnson at Fashion Week? Was it because he always dreamed of doing this and so, with a plan of action, worked tirelessly toward this end all his life? No, he started off as all hair stylists must, in a local beauty school. He then worked for years behind the chair in various chain salons in the Maryland/DC area and for a time, that was enough. Thanks to raw talent, the support of friends, and continued education to expand his knowledge base and create his personal niche (color), Mezei has catapulted himself into a known player in the hair field. I’m so impressed with his development, especially knowing the challenges he has faced over the years. It has always been a dream of mine to attend Fashion Week, I don’t care about being seated in the first row; I just want to be a chameleon voyeur. My brother achieving that goal and doing one better, having behind-the-scenes access has in some ways fulfilled that desire.