Archive for April, 2012

Hats

Happy anniversary Will and Kate. It’s been one year since my friends and I watched the wedding, and one of the (usually) sharpest among us, upon hearing that the maid of honour Philippa was about the enter, asked where Kate’s sister Pippa was.

Oh, I’ll take any chance to relive that.

Anyway…

Male readers may want to relive the sight of Pippa’s bottom as it sashayed into the Cathedral, but to mark this one year celebration, I am going to address another hot topic of the royal nuptials: Beatrice and Eugenie. Or the hats. Oh, those hats.

I’ve often wondered how men feel about hats, probably because I often wonder how I feel about them. In theory, they’re great. They have a practical benefit and a stylistic flair; this is especially key in the cold and damp weather that comes with London living.

Speaking of cold weather, I think men love knit beanies. I gather this when girls put them on before leaving the pub on a winter’s night and men just smile stupidly (the more stupid the smile, the more he fancies her). I also think certain fedoras, trilbies, whatever they’re called, are a sexy solution to bad weather – and as a recent trip to Vegas proved, a decent dance prop.

But extreme hats? I think we can all appreciate the artistry, but honestly… Beatrice and Eugenie were a subject of conversation, but who wants to be spoken about like that?! Also, can we for a minute discuss the fascinator? This may be the best named accessory on earth for the sheer fact that it is so fascinating, and by that I mean it sort of makes women look like those primordial deep water fish that have light bulbs and other fishing rod type ‘bait’ hanging off their heads. Do men understand what we’re trying to achieve with these things? Do we?

The thing is, the more extreme our choices, the more aware we are of them, and of ourselves, and about other people’s potential perceptions. Sometimes this feeling is welcomed; other times, it’s downright uncomfortable.

I give you two anecdotes.

Once I tried on a drapey, buxomy Vivienne Westwood situation at Liberty. When I left the dressing room, the wise salesperson said that while the outfit was ‘different,’ I emerged with my head held high so he recommended it without hesitation. My confidence, and its preservation, were the deciding factors.

Secondly, I studied art history at uni with a much beloved feminist professor. We were discussing the Cabanel painting of the Birth of Venus in contrast to another of its time, Manet’s Olympia. My professor taught us that what made Olympia so modern and (at the time) shocking was the eye contact and mental engagement of the subject, whereas Cabanel painted his model with her mental organ pinned down by her hand. In a weird way, I’m tying this back to hats. Your brain, probably the most sexy body part you’ve got, is inside that head of yours, so cap it off with something worthy of what’s going on in there. Don’t pin it down with ridculous cheap looking details. Go for quality. Go for something that makes you feel confident and then sashay into a room like Pippa down the aisle.

Or Philippa as the case may be.

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Hosiery

How this header amuses me in a blog devoted to styles that attract men. Women hardly know what to call what department stores have labelled hosiery (Is it the primary school ‘tights’; the wartime ‘nylon’, the retro ‘stocking’ or that old standby ‘pantyhose’?).  It’s like haberdashery. Great word, but who uses it?

And if women struggle with what to call hosiery, could men possibly care?

Possibly.

Men love a great set of pins, so how we highlight them matters (See high heels, first and foremost). And here, women have a range of possibilities from the predatory to the pragmatic to the playful.

Starting with the good, a woman looking to attract a man cannot go wrong with fetish favourites like fishnets (careful – this can look slutty if you don’t stick to a narrow weave and black or nude); you’ll also succeed with hose that have a seam up the back. And for the ultimate home run, wear garters.

Garters?

Wait – it’s time for more vocabulary. Oh it’s difficult for Americans and Brits. What Yanks call garters are what Brits call suspenders, and what Americans call suspenders, the British call braces. (Then we have the American braces that you wear on your teeth, which are to the British a singular brace. This just gets exhausting!)

Tomato, to-mah-to – doesn’t matter – a garter/suspender makes men go mad. But since those are often not for public display, I’m assuming you’ve already got your coat, love, and pulled. If instead you’re on the prowl, you could try those stockings that have suspenders printed on them (a Rihanna favourite). I think men get the cheek of it, but not sure they’re sold on the execution. At any rate, you’re implying you’ve got the real thing in a drawer at home, and they’re at least black, so give it a try.

Next on the list, the practical. Listen, I live on a cold island; it’s not even rare to see tights in summer. I advise keeping it streamlined with the black opaque classic, darker colours and minimal patterns. Pair any of these with boots and you’re firmly in men’s good books (Boots are among the easiest of wins, mind, but that post is coming in Autumn… she writes, hopefully, in a cold, rainy London April.)

If Spring ever should come, fashion pages promote brightly coloured and kaleidoscopically patterned tights, which only seem to work on Kourtney Kardashian mostly because even in pregnancy, she is miniscule. To this look, I say no. Resolutely.

Here’s why. First, you know how I feel about patterns. Second, while I admit I see the occasional woman with great legs and a flair for fashion work these hose with the right clothing, the high street is crowded with failures. Women, who look like girls, appear thick-legged, infantile, silly – or just plain over-eager to jump on a trend.  None of these are good looks.

Style should not be, as Joe Pesci feared, ‘funny like a clown.’ We are women. We deserve to be taken seriously, whether in a relationship, in a career or in the bars, streets or shops of the places we live.

Enough of Scorsese, let’s get Biblical (thank you, Corinthians):  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I wore the tights of a child. But when I became a woman, I put away childish things.

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Brazilians

Many of you have asked me to weigh-in on pubic hair and I’m going to maintain my default position. Men vary in their preferences; contrary to feminist outcry, many seem to like, as Amy Poehler calls it, a muff the size of a slice of New York pizza, whereas a more vocal segment prefers us a bit more bald down there. I really don’t have time to speculate on the societal implications of female grooming because I think the simple fact is, when it comes to go time, men stop caring altogether. If they are going to have sex and are at the gate, they are not minding the topiary.

This may be a good thing. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that the less groomed we are, the greater our chances of meeting someone. Conversely, too many women tell tales of being fresh from the waxing table, overeager to showcase the undercarriage to someone undeserving of its debut. #baddecisions

But I digress. This post isn’t about those kind of Brazilians. I’m talking about the Brazilian kind of Brazilians, the ones from that country with samba, sand, cachaça and Carnival. Football. Thongs!

You know – the country that enjoys an unparalleled reputation for being sexy and carefree, where the natives are gorgeous and in our minds, nearly nude most of the time.

Want to attract a man? Say you’re Brazilian.

In the meantime, accept that you will lose out to a Brazilian at some point in your romantic life, even if it’s just for five minutes, when you’re trying to make out with someone on the couch and Gisele Bündchen comes on TV wearing angel’s wings and a bra encrusted in conflict diamonds. Or maybe it’s her new (slightly cockeyed) understudy, Alessandra Ambrosio. It doesn’t even have to be another woman, for God’s sake. Remember the football. Brozilians, with names that start with R and end in O, can steal a man away even faster. Regardless, we can watch their gaze drift, their fantasies form and kiss their attention goodbye.

Not cool, Brazil.

And in real life, even if you meet a man who is dating a violently psychotic Brazilian whose Latin temper gets the best of him, these men will still brag, black-eyed, to their mates that first and foremost, she’s Brazilian. Fade in, fade out: cue aforementioned day dreaming sequence.

This post is not about sour grapes though. I’ve been to Brazil and I loved it. I was struck not by the abundance of beautiful female bodies, but by the surplus of female body confidence. Because by my admittedly caipirinha-handicapped count, even on the beaches of Leblon, I saw more ‘real’ women than busty beach volleyball player wannabes. The best part? Those women packed their brown bellies and dimples into thongs and paraded down those shores as proudly as the women who gave their nation its sterling reputation.

It’s also worth noting that in Brazil, a beach snack is a slab of squeaky, greasy cheese, served ON A STICK out of a makeshift oven. There is no greater display of confidence than wiping fat drippings off your cleavage in the baking hot sun.

I think we all have something to love about Brazil, be it squeaky cheese or women who believe in being healthy, strong, happy in their skin and a little hot in their Latin temperament (though I think we could do with less throwing).

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Karaoke

On Easter Sunday, I observed the religious holiday by having a feast with wonderful friends and going out on the pull. Naturally. Reverently.

I realised some things about myself that night:  A) When they say lapsed Catholic, oh Lord, I have lapsed; and B) While most women are drawn back to a man’s flat with promises of champagne, or drugs, or sex, the sure-fire way to get me over the threshold is karaoke.

Yeah, I said it – and I’m not proud. Do men like karaoke? I very much doubt it.

How could they?  Let’s suspend the bit about being too drunk, too shouty, too pitchy (who am I? An X Factor judge?) and downright foolish and for now, just focus on song choice.

In this modern age, potential suitors look to playlists the way we used to use bookcases. A quick scan of titles tells you a lot about your new friend.  Is he progressive? Adventurous? Is he stuck in a bygone decade? Is he broad-minded, with a collection spanning genres or is he narrow in his tastes (and if so, do you like those tastes?)? If you’re me, you even try to deduce political leanings (danger, reader: don’t be like me. This one can go horribly wrong, especially when you insist on pressing the issue). For example:

Easter suitor: Do you like country?

Me: Meh. Do you have Dixie Chicks?

Easter suitor (Reverently): Fuck no.

Me: Are you a Republican?

Easter suitor: Yes.

Me: Silent for a minute (note: room is grateful for a minute). Well, that’s ridiculous.

Easter suitor: Maybe, but I just got Apple TV to work.

Me: Let’s play Devil Went Down to Georgia then and call it even.

You see?  These types of conversations will get you nowhere, unless you count somewhere as showing people just how a doe-si-doe should be done. (Why do they make American children learn square dancing in grade school anyway?)

The thing about karaoke is that it highlights the worst of your playlist – your most populist leanings, your guilty pleasures, your self belief in your own vocal range (Reference Jolene or What’s Up? by those notorious 4 Non Blondes.) Is this an important side of you to be seen? Eventually. On the first night of a potentially blossoming relationship? Hmmm…

And worse than NOT liking the playlist is the potential for liking it too much.  Ah, limerence, that deceiving stage in a relationship where every little sign says ‘this is the one.’ ‘He likes a mean Old Fashioned, too!’ ‘He takes his coffee black!’ ‘He likes film.’ ‘Finally, I met someone who knows I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys is a decent and romantic jam!’ (Though really, does anyone know what ‘That Way’ is?! Why doesn’t he want to hear her say it?!)

No matter – I think I’ve made myself clear. Karaoke cannot possibly attract men.

Or can it?

Because what men do like, or what I pray (reverently) that they like, is a woman who can have fun, not take herself too seriously, shake her ass and showcase a bit of a scream. Especially when she’s cold kicking it to Welcome to the Jungle.  For example.

And for the record, Easter suitor asked for my number, though I will consider carefully before accepting a date with a Republican, even when he describes himself as ‘fiscal.’

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Samantha Brick

I’ve been quiet this week. It wasn’t so much a case of writer’s block as it was me trying to choose from a myriad of topics that you asked for via Twitter (thank you) or that were swirling in my mind. And then, it happened. Samantha Brick.

If I’m honest, I don’t get that exercised about Samantha Brick.  I know loads of arrogant people who think they’ve got more than they do when it comes to any number of traits (note here, for the record, that this behaviour is generally more tolerated in men than women). But in my attempt at crowdsourcing, many of you asked for my opinion on her, and since she’s the most timely, I’m giving it.

Samantha Brick is right about something, she certainly can attract attention. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been clogged with jokes, she’s the focus of articles, has made the rounds on the couches of several talk shows and has been parodied six ways toward the long holiday weekend.

But what are we on about?

As a petite brunette, I have watched average looking tall blondes (who meet the description of Samantha Brick) get a pretty non-average amount of attention (see Mills, Heather), especially among men from cultures where tall blondes are an exception. I don’t think she’s a fantasist, but I do think her already swollen ego is likely validated by this attention, her inflated arrogance inflames her friends, and so the circle repeats. She angers us, perhaps because she removes that trademark arrogance from the equation and simplistically blames her attractiveness as the offender.  More accurately, she blames women for being offended by her attractiveness.

I will say here that I am not a ‘sister-for-sisters’ woman if a sister is an ass (see Palin, Sarah), so I am not going to bash her for blaming women, nor will I bash the women who are being so vile to her so publicly.

But I will ask why we care.

Not to get all Jerry Maguire on you, but the world is a cynical place. I used to see cynicism as the hallmark of a thinker and while I believe there’s truth in that, I also see that becoming increasingly cynical (also a hallmark of getting older) has not necessarily served me and it’s not serving us.

Not only does it deprive us of some joy, which can at times be hard to come by and should be cherished, but it makes chumps of us, too.  With Samantha Brick, The Daily Mail provoked us (The Daily Mail?  Who’d have thunk?) and we bought it.

And my, how we bought it.

When a woman spoke with confidence about her beauty, however overestimated, we cynics shot her down.

Similarly, we cynics helped expose the overestimations of the Invisible Children KONY 2012 campaign.  Was Jason Russell’s creation flawed? Absolutely. But when a private citizen stands up to make a difference, why did we derive such pleasure by criticising his methods?

These headlines represent real people; not profiles, not avatars – people with flaws and failures.  So, hiding behind 140 character limits and Facebook status updates, we sense weakness and like chickens, collectively and digitally peck these people to death.  I’m not so concerned that it hurts them, but I am worried that it diminishes us. And since I have no desire to see Samantha Brick, like Jason Russell, break down and masturbate in public, I’ll instead offer this suggestion.

Eye roll, sigh heavily, take and spend the social currency – and then move on. No one will remember your snide remarks and ‘I told you sos’ simply because we are all too busy formulating our own. There are more enriching things for a thinker to focus on than grandiose amateur fundraising acts or vapid statements made by an excruciatingly ordinary woman (it’s a fairly common pathology, narcissism – see Mills, Heather. D’oh!).

For example, we might want to start with reading better newspapers.

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