SEC football fashion — because, yes, you are supposed to dress up

2013-10-29 17.05.52If you live anywhere in the 11-state region of the hallowed ground known as the SEC, you know exactly what this photo means. And if you don’t know, you’re in luck because I’m going to tell you in one word: Football. This. Is. SEC. Football. Because we girls know that an SEC football stadium is the biggest runway of them all. New York Fashion Week? Yeah, that’s nice and all, but an Alabama football game trumps any designer’s catwalk any day. I know that dressing up for football games is sort of a Southern thing that some folks may unflatteringly link back to so-called Southern belle-ism, but I prefer to think of it as a way to be stylish and comfortable and show team loyalty all at the same time. And another excuse to go shopping. So it’s all good. (And, please, y’all give Vanderbilt some time. It’s a rebuilding year, you know.)

There are no words — oh, wait, I found some!

_9238367There are many things in this world I do not understand — why there is no actual pumpkin in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Latte, for instance — but topping the list of Things I Just Don’t Get is peep-toe boots. And specifically over-the-knee peep-toe boots. To start with, the whole concept of over-the-knee boots seems weird to me. I mean, how can you bend your knees to sit down? And when you do manage it, isn’t it uncomfortable to have all of that leather or whatever scrunching down behind your knees? I realize that worrying about the comfort level of fashion is an exercise in futility, but still. Plus, there’s the whole veering-into-hoochie-mama-territory thing that I won’t get into because one woman’s hoochie-mama style is another’s classy & elegant look. (Although, really, we all know hoochie-mama when we see it.) Then there’s the naked toe factor. Let’s take this logically. It’s cold outside. Really cold. So it’s the perfect weather to wear boots. Because you wear boots when it’s cold. (Or, for us Southerners, relatively coolish. When it’s actually cold, we stay inside and drink.) But wait! With peep-toe boots, you are keeping your legs (and in this example, your knees) warm yet at the same time exposing your toes — some of your most frostbite-prone extremities — to the cold that you’re protecting the rest of your body from. And to compound my confusion, this pair of over-the-knee peep-toe boots is from Nordstrom. NORDSTROM! Home of pretty and safe fashion with a slight Swedish accent. These over-the-knee peep-toe boots do not say “safe and pretty” to me. I’m not sure what they’re saying — “I’m a person who also wears my fur coat to the beach”? — but it’s not a language I’m fluent in. I simply do not understand. And I don’t know anybody to ask because I never have seen anybody wear these in actual real life. So maybe these are just for high-fashion models who try to convince the rest of us that sitting around in gorgeous clothes and having underlings fuss about your hair and makeup is really hard work. I’m not buying it. Literally.  

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — What Would Joan Wear?

I have a mad, mad girl-crush on Elementary’s Joan Watson. Well, more specifically, I have a mad girl-crush on Joan Watson’s closet. I want every single thing in it. Joan herself? Meh. I mean, she is fearless and compassionate and smart and can hold her on against her arrogant-yet-vulnerable Sherlock. But would she and I be friends? Not sure. She hardly ever smiles. I’m afraid she’d find me frivolous. (She probably never devotes a whole evening to catching up with The Bachelor. With accompanying wine and chocolate-chip cookie dough.) And do you think she’s been a bit cranky lately? As their friendship deepens, seems as if she and Sherlock pick at each other and are impatient with each more than they used to be. Although that’s probably just my Southerness politely raising a hand and saying nicely, “You know, y’all could say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ every once in a while. Wouldn’t hurt you.” (Also, does anybody ever clean 221b Baker Street? Their kitchen reminds me of the one in an almost-century-old house that tumblr_n0c33fwtZ61rgjdouo2_250friends and I rented in college: charmingly vintage teetering on big ol’ mess.) But back to Joan’s closet. I covet it. I want EVERYTHING Joan Watson wears. I fervently follow the blogs, Tumblr posts and Polyvore and Pinterest sets that follow her. Every week, I ponder her fashion choices: How does she make a red window-pane-tablecloth ruffly tiered dress paired with a big yellow handbag look so stylish? Is a black leather snakey-looking dress what all New Yorkers wear when chopping onions? And, most importantly, could I possible sneak the purchase of her $600 black ankle boots past my husband? (No, I could not.) The thing is, I can’t explain exactly why I like Joan’s wardrobe. I’m not a fan of her go-to colorblocking, I studiously avoid t-shirts with words and/or animals on them (I wore more than my quota in the tumblr_n0cl6zLL9J1rgjdouo2_250 (1)1980s) and some things I’d look ridiculous in (see “red window-pane-tablecloth ruffley tiered dress” above). But there’s something about the way she puts it all together that’s appealing. She’s strong, no-fuss, modern and confident — and her clothes say that. I want my clothes to say that, too. Unfortunately, my clothes usually say “This woman has too many cats and literally cannot hold her coffee.” But I’m getting there. I not only have several gray-tweed-knit-and-black-(fake)leather tops similar to this dress Joan wore recently (thank you, T.J. Maxx winter clearance racks!)  but I also have the EXACT SAME Brita filter pitcher Joan is pouring a glass of water from. Things are looking up.

Hair It Is!

About a year ago, I decided to grow my hair long. I’m not sure why. It’s Hair braidingnot as if I’d been pining away for long hair. Seems like one morning I woke up and noticed my short style was overgrown a bit and I could pull it back into a semi-ponytail and that started me thinking, “Why not?” Since then, I’ve kept it a bit longer than shoulder-length and have happily been stocking up on stretchy ponytail ties, headbands and baseball caps. Everybody likes it long — at least, that’s what they tell me. Of course, I’ve now fallen into the long-hair trap of having big dreams (“I’m going to curl my hair today!” “I think I’ll do loose beachy waves this morning!”) that go nowhere and I usually just try to brush it in the morning and then hastily pull it up by afternoon. However, when Younger Daughter is around, her natural hair skills makeHair styles her itch to try something new. It’s a well-known fact I personally have no natural hair skills whatsoever. Anytime my hair looks good, it’s a pure accident that I never can replicate. Both of my daughters, however, have a) beautiful hair and b) strong hair skills — developed in their style-deprived childhoods by desperate self-defense. Older Daughter is too busy with The Best and Brightest and Most Wonderful Grandsons in the World to worry about her mom’s hair so lately it’s been Younger Daughter who tilts her head and gets a look in her eyes and says, “Do you mind if I just … ?” Reminds me of a) when I was little and my mom let me help put her hair-rollers in (that’s early 1960s talk!) and b) when my daughters and their friends would hold all-day hair sessions in my bathroom for prom, senior photos, coronation and other Major High-School Events. And since it’s another well-known fact that my senior class (’75) virtuously donated its prom money to charity and thus I never had prom hair, I’ll take it every chance I can 40 years later.

Essentials for a Long Summer Weekend — in Mississippi

Essentials for a Long Summer Weekend -- in Mississippi

You know you are deep in Southern territory when women driving open-air Jeeps keep an aerosol can of hairspray handy. Reminds me of the time many years ago when now-husband John Pitts called me from his office in Washington, D.C. “My ink pen exploded all over my shirt,” he said. “Any advice for getting it out?” I replied with the universal antidote: “Sure. Ask one of the women there if you can borrow their hairspray and then saturate and blot.” There was a pause and then laughter. “You forget,” he said, chuckling, “that this is not the South. I bet none of the women I work with even know what hairspray is.” Putting aside the argument that Washington IS, in fact, the South, it is true that hairspray — lots and lots of hairspray — is a Southern essential. Especially in Jeeps.

September Sales Bring April Awesomeness

This is why I love shopping post-season clearance sales. These two spring/summer dresses? Total price — less than $30, which is less than I spend on a typical Starbucks order. Because you might as well pick up one of those oh-so-cute coffee mugs while you’re there. And some extra Via. But back to the dresses. Going by the original price tags, I would have spent about $200 on these. And of course, when I picture myself wearing these dresses, I also have long tanned legs and perfectly toned arms. And, if I’m fantasizing, might as well thrown in some soft and shiny hair. Sorry for the mental meanderings here — saving close to $200 makes me giddy.