Random Ranting

This is your lucky morning, because I meandered around cyberspace picking up all sorts of bits and pieces so you don’t have to. Just make another espresso, sit back and enjoy.

First of all, do we really think that Michelle Obama is a 21st-century Marie Antoinette? Uh, no. It’s true that she loves fashion and spends money on clothes. It’s true she likes growing things and puttering around in gardens. It’s true that she’s a victim of gossip and bad press. (Can you tell that I just finished watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette?) But that’s where comparisons should end. Mrs. Obama is a smart, educated and sophisticated woman who’s used to a well-off lifestyle, and if she wants to vacation in Spain with her daughter and with a few friends, she shouldn’t have to give that up just because the Secret Service has to tag along, too. And, for the record, I never begrudged the Bush First Family their time off, either. Also, for the record, after I watched Marie Antoinette, I read more about her on the Interwebs and was amazed to find that folks are STILL arguing about whether she was an evil harlot, a misunderstood saint or simply a young girl who made some tragic mistakes. I vote for the latter.

Secondly, in fashion news, have you seen these foldable black flats from Dr Scholl’s? I’ve found them in Walgreens and online but not at the Dr Scholl’s Web site. Initially they seem like a good idea: A pair of soft and packable black ballet flats you can carry in a little pouch on your wrist and slip into when it’s 11:30 p.m. and the wedding reception is in full swing and you’ve worn your pointy black pumps (which are coming back for fall, by the way, so retrieve all those pairs you relegated to the back of your closet in favor of round-toe platforms) since 2 p.m. Ah, sweet relief! But, as several folks have pointed out in the blogosphere, what are you supposed to do with your pumps once you take them off and put the flats on? You can’t put the pumps in the little pouch the flats come in. Chances are they’re not going to fit in your evening bag. You can’t ask your husband/boyfriend/date to hold them. Maybe you’ve got a car handy so you can stash them there, but maybe not. Okay, Dr Scholl’s — what’s your solution for this problem??? I predict special “pump-carrying mini backpacks” to be the next big thing.

Third, I love the way Anthropologie has layering suggestions on its Web site for extending the life of summer dresses into fall and beyond. There are some lovely and creative ideas that make me want to forget about the 101-degree temps today here in northwest Alabama and dream about crisp fall afternoons.  And speaking of fall, it is back-to-school time here in the South, where students typically head back to class the first of August. Why this is, I have no idea. But it is sort of annoying when the national press says things such as “For many families, the main focus of August is getting out of town on vacation,” as the Washington Post did this week, when most Southern families have already picked through the notebook selection at Wal-Mart and are well on the way to the school-year routine. Hey, people, we’re here, too, you know!!! It’s as if one whole section of the country is being ignored. Okay, ranting over. Thanks for listening!

Michelle Obama

US President Barack Obama (L) and his wife Michelle (R)  meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (C) during an audience at Buckingham Palace in central London, on April 1, 2009. US President Barack Obama visited Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday while his in London for the G20 summit. Obama and wife Michelle were hosted by the queen for a meeting, the day before the crunch summit on tackling the world economic crisis. AFP PHOTO/John Stillwell/WPA POOL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty ImagesOh, Michelle! Thank you for being such a class act in LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  First lady Michelle Obama arrives in Downing Street on April 1, 2009 in London. Obama is on his first trip to the UK as President and will be attending G20 world leaders' summit dedicated to tackling the global financial crisis.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)representing American women as you accompany your husband to London for the G20 summit meetings. You understand that in your position image is so important and you wore your favorite creative and entrepreneural American fashion designers — Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu — and fresh and springlike sparkles and mint green from classic icon J. Crew. You have been graceful and gracious, respectful and confident, strong and kind. You combine high-style with American frugality and your own sense of playfulness. You embody the best of what we want to be — what we imagine we ourselves could be … if only. You inspire and motivate. We have only one question: Can we go shopping with you?

Michelle Obama

Michelle ObamaI think it’s sort of quaint and refreshing that some people are worried about Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama showing her — gasp! — bare arms. I mean, this is 2009, when celebrities walk around in not much at all and steamy makeout sessions light up primetime TV. I had thought that half-naked-and-falling-out-of-your-clothes was the accepted standard for high-profile dressing, but apparently the bar is much higher. It renews my faith in the morality police that folks are raising eyebrows and shaking heads and tsk-tsking Obama for … being a grownup and choosing to wear what she wants to wear. I know, I know — the criticism is that sleeveless is completely inappropriate for Washington, D.C. winters so that perhaps she’s simply going sleeveless to show off her beautifully fit physique. And to that I say, “Yes? So what’s the problem? Good for her!” Listen, who among us would cover up if we had arms like that? Not me, that’s for sure. I think the real question is why this issue bothers some people. Seems to me that Michelle Obama is bringing dignity and respect and vitality and strength to her position as First Lady — and probably an increase in the sales of handweights, exercise DVDs and gym memberships across the country. Economic stimulus, baby!!!

For a great roundup of links and articles about Obama’s arms, go to the blogher.com post http://www.blogher.com/michelle-obama-and-positive-influence-arm-lust

Fashion

anthropolgie-2After yesterday’s inaugural, everyone seems ready for the new and sweaterthe fresh. And what place is more fun to start that in your closet? I know, I know — we’re still paying off winter’s bills and there’s plenty of cold and blustery weather to come, but at www.anthropologie.com, spring has sprung. I especially love the “Winter’s Building Blocks — From the Ground Up” feature at the Web site, which details several wear now/wear later outfits with a cute sort of architecture theme. This pretty cardigan paired with a luscious sherbert-colored blouse and neutral skirt looks very Michelle Obama to me.

12 Days of Christmas Countdown

christmas-and-new-years-2006-07-0181Happy Day No. 11 in Cathy’s 12 Days Before Christmas Countdown. Let’s face it, as mom and CCO — chief Christmas officer — of your family, things are a bit hectic right now. So pour a cup of coffee, take a break and help Michelle Obama decide what to wear for the inauguration balls. Well, not really. But at http://www.zentrend.com/mobama-style1.html you can vote for your favorite among 12 designer sketches for Obama’s inaugural gowns. A couple of them even include designs for the First Daughters — adorable! Slip on your cyber stylista shoes and have some fun before it’s back to baking and decorating 15 dozen Rudolph sugar cookies. Just like you did last year. Tomorrow in the 10th Day Before Christmas Countdown: A super shopping tip to save you money and time.

And speaking of Washington, D.C. style, did you see the photo of Linda Johnson Rice, of Chicago — president and CEO dc-dress-001of the company that publishes Ebony and Jet magazines and friend of the Obamas — on the first page of Sunday’s New York Times’ Style section? Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/fashion/14secretary.html And here’s the thing: I have almost exactly the same dress. At least, I think it is. I’m pretty sure it is. The neckline and straps are a bit different but the pattern’s exactly the same. dc-dress-0022Don’t you think? It’s a Weston Wear dress I bought this past summer in Birmingham, Alabama, to wear to a wedding — and here it shows up in the New York Times Styles section. On a publishing magnate. On a friend of the President-elect. A dress that I personally have in my closet. I mean, this woman is smart and gorgeous and rich and powerful and knows the upcoming First Family and could presumably wear anything she wanted to and she and I picked out the same dress!!!! I am absolutely stunned. Does this mean I have somehow acquired a sense of adult style? Can world domination be far behind??? And as a side note, this only further solidifies my belief that we Americans finally and with much wishy-washiness have chosen a good team.

DNC Fashion

Look, let’s all admit that most women notice what most other women are wearing. And let’s all stipulate that, unfair though it is, most women judge or form opinions or make assumptions — or whatever you want to call it — about most other women based on what most of those other women are wearing. It’s just the way things are. And it’s quite true that your style signals to others what you think about yourself and what you think about the image you’re presenting to others. That’s just the way things are, too. So, what did you think? I think that Hillary Clinton’s orange-gold-pumpkin pantsuit was all her and the exact right thing for her to wear for what she wanted to do. And I think that Michelle Obama’s basic blue (green? blue-green? teal?) jersey dress livened up with her own brooch was as strong a statement and as evocative of her story as her speech was. I’d wear the dress over the pantsuit, myself, but I thought both were reflective of their wearers. On the other hand, I wish I had the courage to be as exuberantly patriotic as Flag Woman: