Rabbit Holes: Fashion History

Because I never claimed that all of my interests were practical.

  • Here is an illustrated history of women’s fashion (for wealthy Western women).  It’s a neat collection of fashion plates and sewing patterns from 1784 to 1970, and tells you a lot about the popularity of different silhouettes/colors over that time.
  • There are a few interesting related threads on Reddit, where the above illustrated history originated.  I particularly liked the ones about the colors of Victorian fashion and about historical working women’s fashion.
  • One thing I was surprised no one brought up: those beautiful green dresses of the 18th century were deadly poisonous.  The green dresses from the early 1860s were particularly startling, because in 1861 there was a widely publicized case of an artificial flower maker dying a horrible death from those poisonous green pigments.  (This also solves a long-standing mystery for me about why many fashion people really resist making green clothing.)
  • Speaking of dyes, but in a less terrible and morbid way, here is an interesting history of nail polish.
  • High heels!  Who thought they were a good idea?  Answer: Persians, for riding horses.  Before the riding heel, there were chopines, platform shoes women teetered on as a region-specific display of material wealth (leatherworking in Spain, textiles in Italy).  Also, men complained about the frivolity and costs of these fashion elements that were meant to display men’s wealth and status.
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Bust-Friendly Dress Shirts: Exclusively Kristen

I adore talking with the founders of small fashion businesses; no one knows more than they do about the construction and design of their clothing!  So when Kristen Allen, founder of Exclusively Kristen, reached out to me last week, I asked her for an interview.

Exclusively Kristen is a small, made-in-America company that specializes in bust-friendly button-ups and tank tops, mostly made of natural fabrics.  (They also offer some dresses.)  Their sizes range from 6 to 20.  I wasn’t able to try anything personally yet, but I’ve got some useful information for you about fit, sizing, and what changes are coming in the future.

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Graceship New York Laptop Bag Sale

If you were interested in trying the vegan laptop bag option I mentioned in last year’s 15″ laptop bag roundup, there’s an Instant Deal for it on Vipon for $79.95 (it was $175 full-price last year and is $185 this year). Vipon has some mixed reviews of their website, but Graceship posted about this deal on their social media presence, so they’re at least legitimately partnering with Vipon on this.

If you’re skeeved out by the site, it’s currently on sale on Amazon for $130.  Meanwhile, on Graceship’s website it’s still $185.  Okay then.

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Unwritten Workplace Dress Codes

You’ve probably seen the articles going around about the reporter turned away from the Speaker’s Lobby because of her sleeveless dress.

I’m pleasantly surprised that they’re working on modernizing the dress code in question, because it’s outrageous and unfair!  Hearing about the dress code didn’t surprise me the way it seems to have surprised a lot of people, though.  Workwear blogs have told me for years that sleeveless dresses are considered inappropriate in a really conservative workplace, and there’s no workplace in the United States more conservatively dressed than Capitol Hill.

Workplace dress rules are a mess.  They all require you to know things you’re never formally taught.  Conservative dress codes are classist and discriminatory by gender, body type, and frequently race.  Casual offices are a little better, but if you went through the effort of learning the conservative office dress code rules and dressing accordingly, a lot of casual offices will treat you as if you are less competent.

If you’re like me, you just want to get all that stuff out of the way so you can be seen for your merits!  Here is what I’ve learned about unwritten dress codes for various workplaces.  Eventually, once I teach myself how to make interactive infographics, I hope to make this an interactive infographic instead.

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Secret Yoga Pants for Work: Which Are Best?

“That outfit is not appropriate for work,” my supervisor said quietly.

“Why?”  I demanded.

In retrospect, the question was hilarious.  I was wearing a too-short orange tee shirt and black cargo pants with the sides torn and the hems worn out from where I kept stepping on them.  But I was furious.  I was humiliated.  This was my first job out of college, working for a nonprofit I believed in, and I worked really hard, I followed all the rules (I even tore through the employee guidebook searching for rules that my outfit broke), and I expected to be judged for what I did, not how I looked.

That, and other experiences like it, prompted me to study the unspoken parts of what ‘appropriate-for-work’ meant.  I wanted to keep my sense of personal style, but I didn’t want to get pulled aside by supervisors anymore.  But more specifically, that experience got me near-obsessed with finding a pair of work-appropriate pants I didn’t hate.

So are there pants out there that are work-appropriate, flattering, flexible, soft, durable, lint-resistant, machine-washable, and somewhat affordable?  No, not all at once, that’s too much to ask, but you can get a decent subset of those from Ministry of Supply, MM. LaFleur, and to a lesser extent Betabrand.  (And since the Betabrand Mondo Anniversary Sale makes their Dress Pant Yoga Pant extra affordable, I wanted to get this up even though I still haven’t gotten some answers back from Ministry of Supply.  I’ll update the post when I do.)

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Post Delay!

This week’s post has been delayed because I’m being too thorough about getting some hard details about the pants I’m finally reviewing.  I expect to hear back soon, though, and I promise you this post will be giant.

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Skincare Problem-Solving: BHAs for Acne

Nothing made my acne go away.  I tried everything available over-the-counter.  Dermatologists prescribed me topical and oral antibiotics and Retin-A.  I even went on Accutane, the “scorched earth option” for acne treatment, which involved monthly blood draws and the 2/3 likelihood of a permanent solution.  None of it worked for more than a couple of weeks, which makes sense in retrospect– I turned out to have a hormonal imbalance that makes it super difficult to get rid of acne.

I tell you that to give you hope, because the ingredients I thought didn’t work for me actually did.  I just had to learn what made them effective!  Here’s how to fix common problems you might be experiencing with my personal favorite ingredient for dealing with acne– salicylic acid (also known as a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA).  This topic may be familiar for anyone who’s been reading the blog since April of last year.

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Speed Review: MM. LaFleur Rankin 2.0 Top

Please excuse the photos today, it’s pouring outside and my photo-color-adjusting PC is out of commission.  Whee, getting back into the swing of posting!

I’m generally skeptical of MM. LaFleur’s ‘bust-friendly’ filter.  Multiple shirts under that filter fit me anywhere from ‘terrible sack’ (yes, Didion, I’m talking about you) to it-would-be-perfect-if-they-added-just-a-tiny-bit-more-fabric-across-the-bust (Bourgeois Blouse).  I impulse-bought the Rankin 2.0 top anyway because of MM.LaFleur’s recurrent combination of impeccable style and convincing branding (a shirt that makes it look like I tried really hard when I actually just threw a thing on?  Yesplz.)

It arrived in the mail today, and I’m actually kind of surprised by how it turned out, so I thought I’d show you.

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