As many of you know I am a lawyer in recovery or rehabilitation (per Kate Carruthers). Accordingly it is with some relief and a  fair bit of fatigued surprise to read that the silent dress code police are alive and well and picking on women in the legal profession.

My thoughts on dress code bullies have been documented elsewhere in the past in relation to:

Female Politicians

Women over 40

as well as female lawyers.

In an age when people send out formal letters by text incorporating phrases like ‘How u going?’ I find it incredible that folk in the legal profession consider that their time is well spent peering at heel heights, hem lengths and hair colours.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why law firms are losing out on work?  The traditions and standards of dress that were once so respected are perhaps now seen as anachronisms of an elitist age.

 

Amicae Curiae

The Culture of Professional Dressing 

There’s been a lot of talk on this blog here and here amongst others, of women’s (and some men’s) experiences as legal practitioners, in terms of what to wear.  We could ask why these posts are so popular with readers.  Is it because women love clothes?  (I mean – you know what women are like, right?)  Perhaps.  However I have another theory.

It’s about culture – in particular, the dominant culture of the law. Read on.

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Birthday Buses Rock (and roll)

Perhaps finishing the bottle of wine before icing the birthday cupcakes was inadvisable

A very long time ago now or so it seems my husband and I had an infant boy.

The infant boy and I would go for long, long walks as that was the only way that I could find to stop him crying.  During these walks I would observe that there were moments of calm when a motor vehicle rumbled past. At certain times the moments of calm would be interspersed with full body vibrations to match the deep baritone of a single decker bus. It was as if Barry White had transmogrified in to a vehicle and trundled past in a kaftan.

My infant boy is now my 8 year old son  who LOVES buses regardless of  colour or country of origin.

He loves Clapham London omnibus buses

Bondi bendy buses

and wonderful wooden traditionally correct yellow school buses

For a long time now my husband and I (but mostly me) have been concerned by the fact that my son has not yet had a Proper Birthday Party. A PBP if you like.

Having not had a PBP for 8 years I determined that this year we would give the Noisy Boy a party to remember. It would be big in the bus department.

We had the very place in mind.

The Sydney Bus Museum used to be located in tram sheds in Tempe south of Sydney. Somewhere in time the museum moved to Leichardt around about the time that the organisation porn emporium known as IKEA moved in.

Now the Museum has received development approval to open as a museum again but the opening time has been pushed forward from late 2011 to possibly sometime in 2012-ish.

I found this out by speaking to a lovely chap called David Bennett who is the Marketing and PR Manager of the Sydney Bus Museum. When I explained over the phone just how much my son loved buses I could feel a kindred spirit energy sizzle through my iPhone. “I’ve always loved buses” he said “we aren’t officially open but if your son wants to come along and have a look, I am happy to show him around”.

Have you ever wanted to burst into tears all over/hug someone whom you have never met?

Best birthday surprise EVER the noisy boy told us with his eyes sparkling.

Thank you David and the gentlemen volunteer guides of Sydney Bus Museum. We will be back next year for that party on the buses.

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For more information on the Sydney Bus Museum click here

 

SHOES: A TOTES HEAVY PHILOS

A guest post by @hazelblackberry

“It used to go like that; now it goes like this.” – Bob Dylan, 1966

The first time I started this post, I started it a completely different way. I changed my mind. It’s a shame because I developed this hilarious motif of me as a blossoming flower which then got linked to a Triffid. Haha! Oh.

Anyway, this is how I’m starting it now:

“…I am not all that fussed about shoes. This is because I cannot walk in high heels and don’t understand how anyone can; thus I don’t understand the fetishisation of them. – Hadley Freeman, The Guardian, Monday 16 April 2012

First of all, if you don’t know Hadley, go straight to The Guardian’s website and read her entire back catalogue of Ask Hadley because she is like, totally brilliant, and then come back here.

Go on. Off with you.

<waits>

<waits>

<waits>

Well if I’d known you were such slow readers…

While I adore and revere Hadley, and slavishly adopt her every throwaway comment as my mantra, this statement of hers leaves me cold. Like Hadley, I have never learnt to walk in high heels and I marvel at how anyone can. (Though if you want some good advice on getting there, check the guest post by the marvellous @shrydar on this blog for some hot tips.) My highest heels are about a towering two inches and whenever I wear them I feel like a galumphing fool. Still, I wear them because I get so many compliments.

And, really, this is where, unlike Hadley, I am fussed about shoes. People notice them. They’re not an adjunct to an outfit, they’re an integral part of the infrastructure, binding one’s look together into a stable edifice. When someone compliments me on my shoes, it’s as rewarding as being complimented on my jewellery or clothing – I feel that someone else, even for a moment has noticed and appreciated my style, my individuality and my flair. Okay, so they glanced down, said “nice shoes” and walked on – I can infer from that what I damn well like, okay?? And no, you can never – never – conclude that I ran after them, breathless, panting, wondering if they’d like to catch up with stylish, wonderful moi for a discreet cocktail or two at a suitable time and date in the not too distant future oh you’re married, oh, oh my god, haha, I totally mistook you for someone else!

So shoes matter. As the eye sweeps over us, we tell a story to the world and a memorable ending is just as important as a captivating or arresting (excuse me, Mr Officer) beginning. In much the same way as some songs peter out as though the band either did not know how to end it, or couldn’t be bothered – I’m particularly looking at you, Custard – so an unsuitable or thoughtlessly applied shoe will cause an otherwise carefully contrived look to…to…not quite happen.

And, yes, I did say “contrived” look. What’s wrong with contrivances? Whether it’s casual off-the-beaten-track traveller girl or sporty chick or dynamo office profesh, every day we’re presenting ourselves in the way we want to be seen. Even the “I don’t care” pair of sloppy tracky daks accessorised with greasy hair plainly says I don’t care, especially if paired with bare feet or old thongs. Sloppy tracky daks, greasy hair and some sparkly high heels, however, screeches “either mentally deficient or deranged and possibly armed”. You see?

The other, implicit part of Hadley’s statement, with which I also do not agree, is the idea that to care about shoes, shoes must be fancy. No, I say, nooo. A thousand times no. I said it a thousand times. I didn’t type it. The plainest shoe can still be stylish or pretty or, quite simply, apt.

Can I just chuck in here –  not acksh a q as I’m going to go ahead and chuck it in – that just as important as the way we want the world to see us, is the way we want to see us. Whenever we’re assembling clothes, shoes and whatever accessories for an external view, we’re also reconfirming to ourselves that yes, this is who I am.

(We’ll avoid the heavy philos of pretending to be something you’re not.)

The thing is this: who I am, who you are, changes according to when it is, where we are, who we’re with, how we feel. It’s not inauthentic or any of that crap; it’s thoughtful and good judgement. It recognises that, like a dazzling stone cut by a master gemcutter, we have many facets. Yes? Yes. So glad you’re with me.

Logical conclusion: many non-Sybil-like personalities require many non-Sybil-like shoes. Unless, of course, Sybil had a fahbulous, darling array of hoofwear, then we might be able to consider a closer alliance. But I’m getting off the point. What I wanted to say was this: many aspects to me, many many many shoes to capture that. And, uh, the odd item of clothing to go with it.

So, what kind of shoes do I have? I’ve got flats in many colours (none made by my mama), I’ve got knee high boots, flat riding boots, strappy sandals, thongs, sneakers, comfy hiking boots, Birkenstocks,  ballet flats, patent leather, orange, teal and red shoes, even the dreaded Mary Jane’s – because I think they’re cute.

And what do my shoes say about me? That I can be sporty, outdoorsy, fun, practical, sensible, a bit elegant, sassy, very confident, naughty and niiiice. (And that I may be trying to hang on to my childhood a little longer than strictly necessary.)

And just who do I think I am? I reckon I’m all of the above, at one time or another. And, what’s more, no matter who I am, I’m pretty bloody terrific.

(Good thing Pete Townshend wrote ‘Who Are You?’ long before this ever saw the light of day. He’d be all, like, “Whoah, total lyrical rethink required here.”)

And on that note: what’s on the floor of your cupboard?

Who the fuck are you?

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About Hazelblackberry

She has even more shoes than me or at least buys as many.

Shoes do not maketh the woman but they sure as hell give her a strut.

Walk on girl and shake that tail bone!

 

Walk Like A Man – How to Cross Dress with Dignity

For a chap with a passing resemblance to  Russell Crowe, Ronaldo Silva had the beginnings of a promising woman reports the Huffington Post

Donning a slinky lilac dress, a flowing black wig and white bra, drug trafficker Ronaldo Silva managed to slip past prison guards and make a sultry escape at Penedo jail in Brazil.

After switching clothes with his wife during a prison visit, Silva daubed red lipstick over his masculine mouth, and with a slick shave of his arms and legs proved to be a dead ringer for one of the inmates’ wives

It was only after Silva was spotted wobbling down the street in ill-fitting heels that the Brazilian was rumbled.”

Ronaldo Silva - Drag (Fail) Queen

As the New York Post put it “Running drugs is nothing compared to walking in heels”.

It is easy to scoff if you are accustomed, as I am, to running and walking in heels, high heels and extremely high heels.

That is until the foam boot is on the other foot.

The Foam Boot

Have you ever worn a walk around suit? Me neither. I thought it would be kind of fun, like that episode of Sex and The City where Miranda takes a fancy to the man dressed like a sandwich who mutters “Eat me” when she walks past.

Of course, I had no idea how much of a challenge I was up against stepping into a character. Not only was I wearing a fat suit but I was also going to resemble a balding bespectacled  version of Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours.

There is a fan in that there head up above. It didn’t work.  The only thing that I could vaguely see through was the mouth and by ‘see’ I mean daylight filtered through and occasionally a shadow or two flitted past.  At one stage a drunk guy screamed “I am going to punch you in the head” at me. He could have been screaming at the moon. As it turned out, he wasn’t man enough to take me on. This was a relief as once inside the suit I was completely and utterly at the mercy of my boss who lead me round the suburban streets around our shops by the hand, giving out balloons.

Luckily I did not  have to look at all the people who were staring at us. All I had to do was concentrate on not falling flat on my face. This was much harder than I could ever have imagined. In order to do so I had to lift my feet up and saunter like a rubberised John Travolta.

It wasn’t easy.

Walking in heels is a doddle in comparison to walking in big rubberised character man hooves.

The New Comfy Shoe

So if you are a man new to walking in heels, do not fear. Help is at hand (or foot).

Here are some of Caveat Calcei’s Favourite Trip n Tricks to Walking in Heels

1.  Get Thee to a Beach (this tip from Manolo Blahnik)

I have spent much of my life walking on tip toe as does the rest of my family. Dorsiflexion (or standing on my toes) comes naturally to me. If it feels weird practice is by walking on the balls on your feet either in a swimming pool, in salt water or on a sandy beach. The motion is the same.

2. Work on your core stabilisers

Take up yoga/pilates. Good balance and strong core muscles will keep you upright while negotiating pavement bumps, vertiginous curbs etc.

3.  Stalk don’t walk.

Think Lady Gaga working the Alexander McQueen Armadillo Shoes in her Bad Romance Video When you take a step forward straighten and extend your leg—it’ll help you move gracefully and elegantly.

4.  Slow down

The higher the heel, the slower you should saunter. Racing forwards will simply make you overbalance and look silly. Act nonchalant, enjoy the view from up there and ignore the fact that everyone else is rushing past you.

5.  Dance around in front of the mirror

Yep – you heard me. Hoist yourself into a pair of heels from the bedside and launch yourself at the wardrobe with a big smile on your face. You’re worth it darling 😉

Bebe Bailey Red Patent Leather Stilettos

A Smashed Thumb and the Reimagining of Jangly Bangles

Generally I like a fair number to most of the people whom I meet. Of the other people I meet, if I don’t get a vibe from them I am still prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Once in a blue moon I meet someone who makes my spine prickle with active dislike. An innate primordial need to be kind and accepting makes me feel a bit ashamed of this and  I will try hard to overcome my gut instinct. This is usually a mistake. Even this girl at primary school with me in Paisley who had been to voice coaching lessons and insistently on correcting my pronunciation of ‘toilet‘. “It’s turrlet” she’d announce loudly. “No it’s no” I would say back  “It’s toil-let“.  “It is too turlett” she snapped back “my electrocution teacher told me so“.  This exchange started a feud that lasted until we got to secondary and a dislike of short, freckled, pigtail wearing majorette types.

In my final year at university I met this bird who I could cheerfully have throttled ab initio. She had spent her summer holiday before the term started in the United States and had come back with a posh Edinburgh version of a Sheena Easton accent.  She sat behind me in class and scribbled furiously during lectures for subjects that I was having huge trouble understanding let alone trying to compile contemporaneous notes for.  Worst of all, she had two armfuls of jangly bangles.  The stainless steel ones you used to be able to pick up from stores in the seventies 10 for 2 quid. The ones my gran used to present me with regularly. The ones I used to love wearing until 1990. With her relentless scrawling and clinking this lassie completely put me off bangles for years. Until this week in fact.

This morning I rolled my eyes when I read Fox in Flats Style Dare for the week:

DARE you to throw a party all week…on your arm!

Rules:

  1. Keep your own ‘arm party’ pumping for 7 days straight.
  2. Tell us all about it as you go.

Suggestions:

Pile on a plethora of bracelets, bangles, watches and chains.

Day 1 – Amethyst for Healing my Smashed Thumb

On Saturday I jumped out of my friend’s car after teaching yoga to avoid a bus ramming her up the arse outside Padstow station. Slamming the door and waving a cheery goodbye I realised that I’d managed to bounce the car door off my right thumb in the process.

It looks  a lot better today than it did yesterday or the day before:

My son wandered in this morning while I was trying to ignore thoughts of when the nail is going to fall off.

I want to pick your clothes Mummy’  he says, opening my mirror wardrobe with alacrity and rather too much velocity.

This should be interesting (I thought).

Will this work?” he asks himself, picking out my turquoise leather vest and an orange short shirt dress. I raise an eyebrow. “Hmm, maybe not”  he answers himself.

Ok Mum, here you go” he says laying stuff out on the bed like an experienced high end ladies wear retail assistant. “I want you to wear these necklaces and the green shoes because those go“.

The Selection Process

And the end result? Not bad – although we couldn’t find that many bangles.

Not sure that the green heels worked with the turquoise but no one looked at me funny. That makes a change round here lemme tell you.

I Love Billy Bright Green Satin Stiletto Sandals

Next up – my husband’s theory on hit men, mudras and thumbs.

Dare to Dance the Tide

Sometimes it is a struggle to write.

 

Life, love, the universe – there are many obstacles to blogging.

In the same way that I am more likely to exercise if I make a date to do so with a friend, writing becomes exponentially easier if I am accompanied by pals.

To this end, the various fashion dares set out by Andrea over at Fox in Flats in the last year have been awfully good fun. More importantly the Fashion Dares managed to get me through blogger’s bump (the slightly less sophisticated second cousin of writer’s block) on a few occasions:

The Dress Dare (wear a dress a day for a week)

Dress Dare:

Day 1 – George Dress

Day 2 –  M&S Kaftan/Tunic Dress

Day 3 – Tokito Black & White Dress

Day 4 – eBay Sizing Disaster

Day 5 – Seduce Kimono Dress

Days 6 and 7 – Cupcakes and frocks

Then there was the Colour In Dare: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

New year, new job, work uniform.  Can I still go in for the Fashion Dares?  Only time will tell.

For more fashion dare blogging visit Fox In Flats