Normal Transmission will resume shortly

This week I found myself for no reason standing in the middle of a public thoroughfare with the world spinning around me and my hands over my eyes trying not to scream. Something very bad was going to happen or so my heart was telling me.

I have saved three pairs of shoes this week. I can’t write about these just now. Now I am going to take a wee bit of time to save myself.

Meantime, enjoy this intermission.

The Dress Code Bullies & the Mini Skirt Use By Date

Gary Castles Suede Boots - Verdict: Age Appropriate| Lili Gaufrette Tartan Skating Skirt - Verdict: Age Inappropriate

About three weeks ago I found myself reading a column in Jezebel that made me extremely cross. Instead of putting the article away and staying in a good mood, I decided to finish the article and then tweeted it for examination and evisceration.

Just in case you wondered whether you had passed your mini skirt Use By Date, wonder no longer.

Below is a handy guide to make sure that you are always dressed conservatively and appropriately for your age.

I cannot help but wonder that anyone pronouncing that  Helen Mirren is too old for a bikini is simply cultivating a fine crop of sour grapes.

The famous Helen Mirren bikini shot

Having a quick look down the Wear By list, I can see that I commit a number of fashion faux pas on a weekly basis.

Let us have a wee look at the outfit that I wore on Thursday last for Red & Black Week.

The mini skirt is out as I am well over 35 years old.

I am just about okay with the knee length boots. Woohoo.

Shame that I cannot wear my leather trousers or my leather shorts. There really should be a fetishists exemption for Age Appropriate Dress Codes. (Side Note: Perhaps there is a Fetishists Exemption as Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world got married last week – in a white wedding dress. No one dared say anything about her green face but there was a fair bit of snark about her boring husband.  Elaine, from Brazil, first broke the piercing record in May 2000, when a Guinness World Records official examined her and found 462 piercings on various parts of her body, including 192 on her face alone . “People often just want to look at me or touch me – some even want to kiss me” she says. How boring can her husband be if he is in love with Elaine, really? )

Image copyright Elaine Davidson 2011. All rights reserved. via

The problem with what-to-wear articles and so-called dress codes in general is that the end result is not better dressed, happier people but conservatively dressed, self-censoring people.  Outside the armed forces, dress codes other than those imposed to optimise a corporate brand image or to ensure compliance with safe work practices are imposed by people with their own issues trying to foist their appearance preferences on others.

This brings me neatly to the second article that upset me this weekend by Emma Soames in the Guardian. It was regurgitated reprinted in the Sunday Life pull out section of the Sun Herald newspaper yesterday (12 June 2011).

Ms Soames takes the view that the culture of baby bump celebrity has gone too far and rather than sticking their bumps in the public eye, famous pregnant women should show a bit of decorum and cover up.  She says:

Nothing sums up better the changing attitudes around women than the way they now handle themselves when pregnant. Now a bump is worn, nay flaunted, with pride. If my generation’s glass of body consciousness was near empty, this generation’s is brimming to overflow. Even when things get so extreme that the tummy button starts sticking out and balance becomes problematic, women take every opportunity to display their unborn cargo, quite often showing the duff in the buff – but still wearing stacked heels, naturally. Thanks to the tireless work of the paparazzi, we know that in private the famous resort, like the rest of us, to trousers with a kangaroo pouch and flats, but in public they adopt a bodycon look that even the most let-it-all-hang-out of vegan doulas might consider extreme.

Ms Soames had her baby 25 years ago and made sure to cover herself up watching with horror the “explosion of blue veins and cellulite
on her  “formerly slim body“.

This is feminine misogyny in its nastiest and more undiluted form. If we took Ms Soames argument to its logical conclusion we would have to return to  the days of bump free yore including the 16th Century to the 20th Century (inclusive). 

No doubt if you are someone who is experiencing fertility problems the over-sharing of fecund celebrities would cause you pain. To that extent it would be quite refreshing if the media did not hunt and record for posterity pregnant and post-partum women in the public eye. But to blame the celebrity women for playing to the paparazzi and keeping their earning opportunities open (the baby photos, the losing the baby weight exercise videos etc etc) is closing the door after the horse has shut the stable door and moved into the house with you.

At this stage I have a confession to make to you. I have been as guilty of body image bullying in the past as Ms Soames.

A couple of years ago fashion writer and fellow yogi (and a girl crush of mine) Nedahl Stelio wrote an excellent article for The Punch magazine entitled:

There had been a fair amount of brouhaha in the paper about Elle Macpherson wearing mini skirts to public events. Nedahl noted

Elle Macpherson wears a mini so fabulously it’d be a horrible shame for the general public if she stopped. There are other shots of Elle you’ll see in the gossip rags this week, honing in on her cellulite in this mini. But honestly, if you were getting your photo taken at 10 shots per second, I reckon your legs would look funny too. We can’t expect perfection all the time, but Elle, at 46, is fairly close. Someone like Janice Dickinson on the other hand, who’s 54 (isn’t it funny that all her plastic surgery made me think she was older) could perhaps put those legs away for once. But it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Blanket rules for everyone in society just don’t work anymore. They’re far too generalizing and antiquated if you ask me. Isn’t it all about how you feel and the image you want to project?

From now on I am going to lay what I shall call the CocoleeFashion Filter over each and every snarky article a female columnist writes about the appearance of other women.

I shall be applying the same filter to myself because I have also made similar nasty comments about other women in my time. When Nedahl posted the same article on her blog I made some really uncharitable and unkind comments about Elle MacPherson (killer bod but time to cover your knees and cut your hair, Elle) Kylie Minogue (dressing younger now than twenty years ago) Michelle Pfeiffer (a wee bit dessicated round the decolletage). The only person that I said anything at all complimentary about was Michelle Obama (Toned, confident, killer smile & sharp as a razor to boot. In other words, don’t just rely on your looks, make sure that you on the whole package).

I am completely ashamed of myself for writing these things because I know exactly why I made them – at the time I was deeply unhappy and I was being bullied about my appearance by someone else, not a man but a woman.

That is the thing about bullying, it perpetuates itself and gathers momentum if it is not nipped in the bud.

As Anecdotal Anna noted in her post entitled  the Fairy Tale of Sisterhood:

Political Parties do it, rock bands do it, business do it and sports teams too. To what am I referring? Bickering, conflict and generally being un-supportive of the collective to elevate the individual.

Are we really so devoid of self worth that the only way as women we can feel better is by belittling the appearance or clothing and lifestyle choices of other women?

Surely not. So the next time I look at someone and think about saying something negative about their appearance – I promise faithfully to apply the Coco Lee Fashion filter and try my utmost not to. I would urge you to join me. It might just save someone else from self-censoring and self-loathing.

Have you got any dress code pet peeves or any appearance control horror stories?


Black Jumper & Red Skating Kilt worn for Sophistique Noir Black & Red Week

Boots saved for the Shoeper Shoe Challenge #30 of 105.

Lace Skulls & The Siouxsie Law Circle of Influence

A friend of mine asked me about 15 years ago whether she had influenced my sense of style. At that time I was a bit offended by her question.

I am an individual, I am influenced by no one

I huffed, somewhat unconvincingly.

The thing about clothing choices, of course, that these are all about the influence of others upon us. If I see something that looks great on a friend of mine, I will start to think about ways to reinterpret it and appropriate it for myself.  Since many of the people that I know are bloggers, I am now being increasingly influenced by them. Bearing in mind that many of them live outside Australia, the chances of them taking out apprehended violence orders against me for clothing stalking are lessened.

A few weeks ago Siouxsie Law posted a photograph of a sophisticated skull skirt that one of her readers had brought to her attention.

I like lace and I like optical illusions so I headed off to eBay in search of a Funnyglam Lovely Skull Lace skirt. It arrived rather quickly in a silver envelope that delighted the Minx.

FUNNYGLAM Lovely Skull Lace Skirt Black

This being Black & Red Week

I should have thought to warn Siouxsie Law that I would be blogging about the skull skirt in her honour. As she said, it would be embarassing if we both blogged at the same time while wearing it.

Vintage Red Secretary Blouse from eBay Seller tamars treasures| Black seamed stockings:Love Me Paris| Shoes: Fluevogs

I noticed that Victorian Kitty was looking for some recommendations for seamed stockings a while back. I am afraid to say that much as I would like to, I cannot recommend Love Me Paris seamed stockings.

Outwardly they have so much going for them:

Love Me Paris Stockings (3 pack)

Three stockings in one pack is a great idea particularly when this pack features a cute little red bag to carry the extra stocking around with you.

John Fluevog Matte Red & Black Hepburn D'Orsay Pump| Black Seamed Stockings by Love Me Paris

The problem is that there is not enough lycra in the nylon mix and the stockings go just a wee bit baggy while on. More frustrating is the fact that the seams worked their way in different directions up my legs like ribbons around a maypole in the early summer breeze.

I have bought some Cervin seamed stockings on sale which I have high hopes for and shall report on separately.

Meantime, if you have any tried and tested seamed stocking brands (modern) that you love, please let me know. There are plans to do a Stockings Road Test in the near future – the panel are warming up and stretching their calves in readiness as I write.

Worn for Red & Black Week & for the Shoeper Shoe Challenge #29 of 105

Red & Black Week – Lawyers & Goths

It is ridiculously easy for me to wear black clothing – I have so much of it.

Black is the colour of academic dress robes, of monks and nuns, of lawyers and goths.

Gothic lawyer and blogger friend Siouxsie Law drew my attention to the fact that gothic fashion writer Sophistique Noir is encouraging all and sundry in the darker corners of the world to dress in red and black.

Easy for me – my colour combinations are very simple.  There is not much in my wardrobe that is not black, white, red, denim or sea green.  That includes my shoe-drobe.

Julio Valdes Red 80s Suede Skirt (via eBay)| Red Frankenstein Shoes by J.Lo via eBay| Black corset seamed fishnet stockings by Jonathon Aston (layered over Pretty Polly everyday stockings)|Dead teddy bear scarf by (minimink)

Actually, there are not many skirts in my wardrobe that are not pencil skirts. There are an alarming number of leather pencil skirts now too.  Not enough to warrant me renaming this blog Law & Leather Pencil Skirts but give it time.

My goth credentials are not good but I am relying on the fact that  Sophistique Noir might consider my very valid fetishist credentials and allow me to join the red and black Hall of Fame.

Here is hoping.

Worn for Shoeper Shoe Challenge #28 of 105

More Boys in boots – Erk’s Adventures in 7 inch Platform Boots (continued)

You all remember the lovely Erk, don’t you ladies?  For those of you  who have not met Erk,  you can become better acquainted with him and with his boots here. Erk is a big fan of the band Foundry Road and lead singer eXplain’s platform boots which you might get a glimpse of in this video:

He’s been off his form for a while for the reasons explained below but the boots are now back in business

A lot has happened since my initial post about my 7 inch platform boots which has resulted in the boots being grounded for several weeks.

Not long after the original post was published, I wore the boots to see cabaret uprising star Emma Dean in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

The basement venue was a challenge, mainly walking down the stairs.

Walking up the stairs is easier.

Another recent challenge was walking in the Circular Quay area of Sydney. Walking to a gig at The Basement, what would normally be a minor down grade in my regular shoes felt like I was walking down one of San Francisco’s infamous hills in these boots. Mental note to self:

Nob Hill San Francisco. Copyright Dave Glass 2007

Don’t walk in these boots in San Francisco.

I’ve had a lot of reaction from men and women about the boots. Some people have openly laughed or shook their heads as I go past them.

Some shorter women have asked me not to stand next to them while wearing the boots. On the other hand, a taller woman who is used to being taller than many guys found it a nice change for a guy to be much taller than her. Speaking of taller, a couple of security guards at the boots’ last outing wanted to borrow them for the extra height.

Extra height has been handy for music photography. With eye level now just under 6 foot 5 and camera level closer to 6 foot 8 with an out-stretched arm, I no longer have to worry about tall people being in front of me. Now, I am one of those super tall people that some people complain about being stuck behind.

One woman who I thought would have been anti boots was my physio. A week after wearing the boots at Kings Cross in mid March, I partially tore my calf muscle. Several of my friends thought I was wearing my boots at the time while others blamed my boots for the tear.

I wish I had a really interesting story about how I tore my calf muscle, spending a week on crutches and a total of 4 weeks off work. weeks of physio (three times a week) and rest was a great help. I asked my physio if my boots were a factor and I was told that they were not.

Nor was I banned from wearing them. Common sense, however, told me not to wear them during the recovery phase.

After the injury, I was worried about wearing the boots again. I was going to wear them to a venue where they were popular but I needed to be outside. To the disappointment of one young lady, rain on the day of that gig saw me leave the boots at home.  I have become very conscious about wearing the boots to some venues. Walking long distances in the boots is not good, either.

Stone spiral staircase - Photo by Revolution Cycle - CC-BY via

A couple of weeks later, the boots appeared again, this time to a venue with a spiralling staircase. (What is it about venues in basements?) Walking on the widest part of the steps, it was strange walking in the boots again but I felt fine and wore them the entire time. The two police officers I passed while wearing the boots must have thought I was mad as they drove past me as I was walking (ok, stomping!) back to my car. As an aside, I never drive in these boots.

Thanks to Facebook, I have even had my workmates asking me to wear the boots to work. Due to safety (I am rightly very safety conscious with these boots), my workplace would frown upon them.

Very soon, I am undertaking an epic three month tour of Asia & Europe. As much as I would like to take them, the boots are too big & heavy to travel with.

So how did I tear my calf muscle?

As it turns out, I was wearing my normal workboots at my place of employment. As I had done hundreds of times before, I was walking to the train to take over driving it to the city. I heard and felt the snap of the muscle as it happened. Despite epic pain, I drove the train (on time!) to the city before seeking medical treatment.

Despite this, I love the boots! It has got me a lot of attention that

I would not normally get. And no, ladies, I am not over compensating.

Erk & Emma Dean



When Erk isn’t driving trains in Sydney, he tweets (@erkpod) and podcasts at Channel Erk 


Your face will stick like that

Rather ancient Prada Pumps from around 1998 or thereabouts

Nothing went particularly well today – not in a disastrous way but in small piece of lamb roast caught in your molars way. That happens of course but it is irksome.  Here I am  sitting on the step getting my Friday night frock captured for posterity with my face a bit like fizz as my Gran would say.

Shoes: Prada| Silk Dress: Ice via| black polo neck from thrift| Stockings x 2 - Pretty Polly opaques under Vixen Liz Wide Lace Fishnet Hold Ups via

What transpired prior to the photo being taken in order to put this look on my face?

It was not the dress although the dress was wrong in an offcentre not quite right sort of way – it is a midi length with the waist  in a troublesome place. Putting a belt around my waist did not help. Since my answer to any outfit ills is to put on a wide belt (or bung on a waist cincher corset) this annoyed me.

Then there were the stockings.  The stockings looked pretty darned good on the packet:

Vixen Liz Wide Lace Fishnet Hold Ups

Once I put the stockings on, however, it became immediately apparent that these were not wide lace fishnets at all but their elder and breezier big cousin – wide lace whale nets.

It has been a wee bit chilly in Sydney. Far too chilly for big spaces in ones stockings.  I decided in a Scottish granny moment that I was going to layer my whalenets over another plain pair of stockings to keep warm. In retrospect layering black on black was a bad idea.

Next time, the underlayer should be something a bit more interesting – purple maybe, or pink

Jonathon Aston Stockings Image from

The lack of waist on the dress and the stocking experimentation failure bothered me but neither of these things were the reason for the lemon sucking face that you see above.

That was caused by one simple statement followed by an even more simple question.

I am over your shoes

said my husband.

I really fail to see why you have to have so many

he continued.

I could not think of a smart response and so I said nothing. I just glared.

Is there an answer to the question – why do you have to have so many pairs of shoes?

Worn for : Frocking Friday the Twentieth

Shoeper Shoe Challenge 27 0f 105