current affairs, feminism, girl talk, philosophy, quotes

what does a woman need to know?

“For no woman is really an insider in the institutions fathered by masculine consciousness. When we allow ourselves to believe we are, we lose touch with parts of ourselves defined as unacceptable by that consciousness; with the vital toughness and visionary strength of the angry grandmothers, the shamanesses, the fierce market women of the Ibo Women’s War, the marriage-resting women of silk workers of prerevolutionary China, the millions of widows, midwives, and women healers tortured and burned as witches for three centuries in Europe, the Beguines of the twelfth century, who formed independent women’s orders outside the domination of the Church, the women of the Paris Commune who marched on Versailles, the uneducated housewives of the Women’s Cooperative Guild in England who memorized poetry over the washtub and organized against their oppression as mothers, the women thinkers discredited as “strident,” “shrill,” “crazy,” or “deviant” whose courage to be heretical, to speak their truths, we so badly need to draw upon in our own lives. I believe that every woman’s soul is haunted by the spirits of earlier women who fought for their unmet needs and those of their children and their tribes and their peoples, who refused to accept the prescriptions of a male church and state, who took risks and resisted, as women today — like Inez Garcia, Yvonne Wanrow, Joan Little, Cassandra Peten — are fighting their rapists and batterers. Those spirits dwell in us, trying to speak to us. But we can choose to be deaf; and tokenism, the myth of the “special” woman, the unmothered Athena sprung from her father’s brow, can deafen us to their voices.”

— From Adrienne Rich’s 1979 Commencement address, “What Does a Woman Need to Know?” at Smith College

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P.S.: I highly recommend Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves. It’s a refreshing take on femininity/being a woman that empowers in a way that contemporary feminism doesn’t.

designers, fashion, runaway runway

#nyfw: ralph lauren fall/winter 2015

Everyone who has ever known me says I’m an old soul (which implies that I can’t keep up with the kids anymore and/or am surprisingly sensible for my age. The former is most likely true, but I take offense to the latter. Not all millenials are the same! Age-ism, man.). Whatever. If that’s the case, I’ve been doing a lot of growing up lately for an old chunk of cheddar. Once carefree, my day-to-day existence now consists of bills, boyfriends*, and buying in bulk.

You know you’re an adult when…

These days, waistlines are higher and hemlines are longer. If my 18-year-old self saw me now, she’d be second-guessing my distinct preference for wide-legged trousers for days in the office and nights out (but hopefully impressed by the woman she’d become). Once upon a time there was a special place for bandage skirts and mini dresses, but alas, no longer in this lady’s wardrobe do these teeny-tiny fabrics exist. RIP — may you find peace in some thrifty teen girl’s dorm room under-bed storage.

Instead, I’m pining for a return of 70s and early 80s glamour: textures and elongating proportions; flared denim and high-waist trousers; bell sleeves and high-neck blouses; tailored suits and gypset dresses. If you manifest hard enough, it’ll come according to The Secret philosophy. And come it did.

Praise the fashion deities for fall runway 2015.

I’m not yet caught up on all of NYFW (ugh — bills, boyfriends*, bulk-buying take precednce), but so far, Ralph Lauren is easily ranking as a favorite. It’s pretty much a given when you scroll through each look, but liking the brand itself comes as a personal surprise. I’m not sure if Ralph Lauren’s creative direction has been veering towards an edgier aesthetic (for them, of course) the past few years (given its lead in social media/tech these days!) or if I’m really maturing, but I’m suddenly infatuated with the brand. My inspiration folder — both virtual and physical — are brimming with RL tearsheets.

This season was one of RL’s best yet. Apparently Kanye — West, do we ever need to clarify? — said “Ralph is god” (WWD) the week of the show, so you better believe that when there are two gods at play (Kanye, according to Kanye, and Ralph, according to Kanye), something great is bound to be found. Style critics seem to be saying that this show has a “distinct Western flavor (WWD);” I’m more apt to describing the collection as one with Western influence. There’s exposed stitching and bucket bags; natural textures (suede, shearling “fur,” rich knits) and wide-brimmed fedoras; fringe and boots. If Carmen Sandiego ever decided to retire her signature red trench and bad-ass boots and hat get-up, Ralph Lauren would be her first stop.

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Fall 2015 wasn’t nearly as countrified or costume-y as previous years, WWD reports. What Ralph Lauren is best known for — an “all-American,” Western-inspired aesthetic (presumably a romantic nod to capitalist, imperialist notions and western expansion the U.S. takes pride) meets old-Hollywood, Gatsby-meets-1940s vibe — is actually what turned me away from their shows in the first place. Lovely, but not quite my cup of tea. Everything’s too perfect, too statuesque.

This season was less about this perfectly coiffed woman and more about being she who’s striking. The collection is still distinctly Ralph Lauren in that it’s true to its roots, but there’s a little more freedom this time around. There’s more movement in the physical clothing, and there’s more mystery. She’s refined, but not afraid to get dirty. She’s a city girl — totally chic, urbane — but down to earth. (A country girl at heart, or an appreciate for good knits and chunky texture?) By day, she’s trekking city streets in boots made for stomping and braving the chill in layers of luxe “fur” and patchwork ponchos; by night she’s sleek, slick, even more enigmatic than she was hiding under a hat. The all-black, three-piece suits? Perfectly tailored. I’ve never loved menswear-inspired looks more.

The fall RL woman isn’t as feminine as she used to be; she’s femme.

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* Just kidding, singular… t’was for the sake of syntax.

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