Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stuff I Bought Today, and Why Eddie Bauer Was My Hero

I haven't been in the Eddie Bauer store on Michigan Avenue in about six years.  The last time was when I bought my brother-in-law a puffy vest there for Christmas.  (He's totally the Eddie Bauer type, and was, believe it or not, a forestries and wildlife major in college.  I never even knew such a thing existed until I met him.  My mom keeps hoping he will be a ranger in one of the big national parks out west.)  The only reason I entered Eddie Bauer was because I have been on this quest for the perfect pair of chocolate brown dress pants, and out of complete desperation decided to go in and see what was what.  You would not think it would be so difficult to find chocolate brown dress pants.  It's a pretty neutral color, right?  Well, no one has them in the stores!  They have gray and black and light brown and khaki.  But no dark brown. 

Well, let me introduce you to the Holy Grail, courtesy of Eddie Bauer:

It's the Blakely cut, which is for curvy (PEAR!) types like myself.  These pants fit me so perfectly!  No waist gap!  Perfect color!  Good fabric!  Total happiness!  The Blakely StayShape in Dark Sable. 

I also stumbled across this sweater, which I had to buy:

There are buttons on the shoulder.  Isn't the little pocket cute?  I had to restrain myself from buying it in all the colors.  There is a really cool bright blue version that I just might have to go back and get. 
So, Eddie Bauer, I'm sorry I ever thought you were a big nerdy outdoorsy store.  I shall return.  If I hadn't just bought the perfect pair of black pants at The Gap, I would've bought those pants in two colors.

I also went to Ann Taylor, since I figured they would at least have brown dress pants.  No dice.  But...

The story goes like this.  A couple of years ago I bought a blouse and skirt from Benetton that I love.  The skirt no longer fits me (too big).  So, I've been kind of half-assedly looking for a replacement, because I really like the look of that skirt with the blouse.  The above is that skirt, but it's now from Ann Taylor.  Same color and fabric.  (It's wool and soft.  I know it looks boring, but it really is cute.)  Very happy!

And then I got sucked into this one.  It was way too expensive for how often I'll wear it ($128 but 30% off), but it is so cute in person.  It's very swingy and fun, and I figured it would be good for clubs or date nights going forward -- a little lacy, swingy, and leopardy -- just my style!  (Teeny, tiny...why Ann Taylor's website is not consistent I don't know.  Click here to see it.) 

And finally, I'm Banana Republic's whore.  Honestly, over half my closet is their stuff.  Since I opened a credit card with them, I've been inundated with 30% off, 40% off, $10 off, etc. and I have taken full advantage.  Also, the rewards dollars have accrued.  But, I really, really like their stuff.  Like, if you told me I could only shop at Banana Republic for the rest of my life, I wouldn't even be sad.  If you need a solid work wardrobe, there is no better place to go, particularly since they have really fast turnover.  Do not pay full price for anything at Banana Republic unless you absolutely can't live without it.  (If you wait for the sale, you obviously risk them not having it in your size.)  Most things you can live without, and most things you will find in your size on sale, if you go regularly -- like every week.  (Also, they are classic enough that a lot of their designs repeat in different versions.)  I'm lucky enough to have a Banana Republic really close to my house, so I go there every weekend to scope out the inventory and see what has been moved to the reduced racks.  I can usually get cute tops for $20-30 that were originally marked $50+.  The trick is to not wait too long.  If you start going regularly enough, you get familiar with the timing. 

Anyway....I've become a little obsessed with this mustard yellow color that I've been seeing everywhere this season.  At first I hated it, but then I saw it paired with gray, and I kind of liked it.  Then I decided that I had to have a shirt in that color.  So, I got  one today, which of course I can't find online, for $20.  This is the more expensive version, which is the one I really wanted to buy, which I could not find in any of the three Banana Republics in Chicago that I have been inside in the last two days:

But this color, right?  I think it looks great with gray.  I may still get this one, but I'm not sure I need two shirts in this color.  I plan to wear the one I bought under my gray blazer.  Oh, decisions, decisions.

And thus ends our shopping excursion for the day. 

Random Thoughts on September 22

1.  It's been six months today since I quit smoking.  It's weird how much of a memory smoking is now.  I can't even believe I did it for so many years.  Also -- I've saved $1800 by not smoking, which paid for the majority of the vacation I just took.

2.  My sister H got a job!  As a nurse!  Yay! 

3.  I'm officially into a size 4 or 6, depending on the brand, so I'm done losing weight.  I've lost about 18 pounds total.  Now I'm just going to try to stay right where I am for as long as possible.  This may take some trial and error.  Also, I tried The Bar Method Beginner's Workout DVD, and it's a good one.  Can I just say how much more fun it is to go clothes shopping in my new size?

4.  I was amazed to find out how difficult it is to find chocolate brown dress pants.  You'd think that would be a standard color, right?  Wrong.  (Doesn't it sometimes feel like when you are looking for what seems like a very basic item of clothing you can't find it when you need it?)  Everywhere has black, gray, or light brown.  No chocolate brown.  I've been looking for months.  (I know I could get them online, but pants I like to try on.)  I found them today at Eddie Bauer!  It seriously felt like I had found the Holy Grail.  I guess it's good that I didn't find them, since if I had, they likely wouldn't fit me now. 

5.  Hmmm....I've got nothing else, but I feel like I need five.  Well, I've got a first date tomorrow.  Maybe this one will work out better than those in the past?  I met him over a month ago, but he went on vacation right after we met, and then I was on vacation, so tomorrow it is.  Fingers crossed.  I don't want to get married or anything, but it would be nice to have someone to go out with sometimes or to bring along when I need a plus one.    

Vacationing With Mom

I've been MIA for the past couple of weeks because I took my mom on vacation.

You should know some things about my mom.  She's quirky beyond belief.  She's set in her ways.  She's opinionated, yet at times lacks the self confidence to just say what she wants to do.  She can't read a map to save her life, yet thinks the maps is wrong when she misguides me, the driver.  She watches too many forensic shows.  She thinks she knows everything, and if you disagree with her, you are wrong, end of story.  She has a GPS system built in to her body for locating ice cream.  She is the best at convincing you that you also need to eat ice cream.  She flosses her teeth wherever and whenever she feels like it.  Even though she's 63, she wears her hair down to her waist, dyed white blonde.  She raises her voice for no apparent reason at times.  She can spend two hours in a gift shop, looking at everything.  She will buy a shirt she likes in every color of the rainbow.  She doesn't know how to converse with waiters -- it's awkward all around.  Yet, at the same time, she will tell her whole life story to a cashier.  She doubles and triple checks that the door is locked or that she put her wallet back in her purse.  (Note:  I do this also.)  At times she will sit next to me in a booth rather than across from me, and not think anything of it.  She refuses to sit outside at 7 p.m. because of the sun.  She brings her bathrobe with her on vacation.  She would be happy eating hotdogs for every meal for the rest of her life.  She acts like deciding between the triple chocolate brownie and berry muffin is a major life decision.  She chews gum obsessively, smacking, smacking, smacking.  She doesn't make plans.  She dwells on everything.  If you think a decision has been made -- don't be fooled; it has not.  And on and on and on.      

My mom drives me crazy in ways that I can't even describe.  She drives me crazy in the way that only family members can, the people you've known for your entire life.  Yet, for all of her flaws my mom is a caring, giving person.  She would do anything for any of us kids, and she did her best raising us.  For all of my complaining about her, I love her to death and talk to her for hours on the phone each week.    

Over the past eight years, she and I have taken trips to Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Cape Cod, all around Colorado (i.e. Aspen, Vail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods), Jackson Hole, Salt Lake City and Park City, and Yellowstone National Park.  This year we went to Florida.  We started out at Disneyworld, headed to Clearwater Beach, Ft. Myers Beach, and finally Cocoa Beach.  It was relaxing and beautiful (and the best time to go to Disneyworld -- we didn't wait more than 10 minutes for any ride).  My sisters both think I'm nuts for going on vacation with mom.  They told me I should be Sainted.  They told me they didn't see how it could be a vacation with her around.  Maybe it makes me a nerd.  But, the thing is, she likes taking trips with me, and she wouldn't go see any of these places if not for me.  For all of her annoyances, we travel pretty well together.  We have fun, even though on Day 1 I'm usually wondering how I'm going to survive the rest of the trip.  I do survive -- and I keep doing it. 

You know why?  Because someday I won't even have the option of doing it.  She will pass away, or who knows how many years she will even feel like taking a big trip.  It might not be much longer.  So, even though I might rather take a big trip with my friends, for now, I take my mother instead.  I will have something none of my siblings have -- the memories of the time we spent together one on one, as adults.  I feel like I know my mom as a person, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Return of the Pointy Toed Shoe

I've been informed by the powers that be that pointy toed shoes are back in style.

You know, like this (from Elle):

I have to admit that I'm not a fan.

Like skinny jeans, which don't look good on anyone except very skinny people, I don't believe that pointy toed shoes are very flattering.  They make your foot look bigger.  Who wants their foot to look enormous?  It looks bigger because the shoe is longer because there is a section of the toe box that is empty, and just sitting there doing nothing.  Obviously your foot isn't of a shape that can fit into the pointy toe, so it's just sitting there empty.  When I try on pointy toed shoes, I feel like my feet look like boats.  Further, the especially pointy toes get worn out, and you see women wearing them and the toe is all scuffed and ragged looking, which makes it look even more strange.

Also, they remind me of a witch. 

No, I will not be joining in on this trend.   

Your Red Soles Are Safe: Christian Louboutin v. YSL

We have an update in the world of Christian Louboutin v. YSL.  You'll remember that Christian Louboutin sued Yves St. Laurent over its red soles trademark.  YSL was selling a series of shoes that were all one color, including the soles.  There was a red pair that had red soles and formed the basis of the lawsuit.  (There were also purple, green, and yellow pairs.)  I talked about the Complaint here, and the Order here

The summary goes like this:  Louboutin filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which would prevent Yves Saint Laurent from selling any shoes with red soles until the lawsuit is finished.  To win on this motion, they had to prove "likelihood of success on the merits," which in layman's speech means "do you have a shot at winning this thing?"  The District Court Judge thought not.  He was not wild about color as a trademark, and essentially felt that red soles are ornamental and aesthetic, and thus not protectable by trademark.  As a result, he denied Louboutin's motion, believing that they would not be able to prove success on the merits of the claim. 

No shock, Louboutin appealed.  Now the Second Circuit has ruled  Here is the full opinion, if you are so inclined.  They ruled that a single color can be used as a trademark in the fashion industry.  This is a huge -- and I believe correct --  decision.  There is no reason why color as a trademark should be treated differently in the fashion industry than in any other industry.  Also, this:

We further conclude that Louboutin’s trademark, consisting of a red, lacquered outsole on a high fashion woman’s shoe, has acquired limited “secondary meaning” as a distinctive symbol that identifies the Louboutin brand. 
Absolutely correct.  Sometimes the courts do get it right.

However, it doesn't mean that Louboutin is a big winner.  The Second Circuit also held that because Louboutin's trademark covers only a red sole that contrasts with the shoe's body, YSL can keep selling its entirely red shoes.  (Remember what I said about the Louboutin trademarks being surprisingly weak?  Yeah, here's where it comes back to bite them.) 

So, both sides are claiming victory, and you can likely expect to see a settlement very soon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insanity = Accomplished

Well, almost. I’ll be done on Friday. It took me a bit longer than the 60 days due to my attention span and some vacation days, but I did it! It looks like I lost around nine pounds, but I’ve also lost major inches. The biggest accomplishment is how strong I feel.

When I started, I couldn’t even do a real push up. Now, I can do ten in a row, and even more after a brief rest. I can do burpees, squats, lunges, and lots of jumping up and down, and I don’t feel like I’m going to hyperventilate and die. I’m starting to see abs, people! And my upper arms and shoulders are actually getting definition. I don’t remember having that since high school when I rowed. It’s amazing how far you can come in two months.

I think I’ve said it before, but I’m not the type of person to do this sort of workout. I would flip past the infomercial and think “Wow, those people are crazy. Why would you want to do that to yourself?” I would think there is no way I could do it. And then for some insane reason, I decided what the hell? If all those people can do it, then why can’t I? So, I did. And I have to say, my first foray into the Beachbody workouts has been a good one. I am going to keep the Insanity workouts in my workout DVD rotation going forward, because I really enjoy doing them (except Max Interval Plyo, which I abhor), particularly the Month 1 workouts. I may try Insanity Asylum in the future (maybe in January or February when it is too cold to do anything outside.) However, next up is Chalean Extreme. Time to build up my guns.