1

Garbage Fashion

Some people describe others as the type that could “throw on a trash bag and look like a million dollars.” While I don’t look like a million dollars, that first part is kind of accurate to my recent experience. Let me explain further…

Last week, I took a friend out shopping. We went to H&M, where they were having some sort of crazy Thanksgiving/Christmas/Boxing Day sale. Originally, I was just going to be the ride, but I saw a black coat in my size that looked super warm and comfy, and it was $50 as opposed to its retail price of $80. So I bought it, and dropped another $10 on a matching black and white scarf and two pairs of gloves. When we got home, I realized I didn’t have a hat to wear with it…

Rewind to last month.

I’m walking down the street, and decide, today is the day I’m going to pick up some trash (if it doesn’t look wet, moldy, or gross) and throw it away. I start with some napkins and a scrap of paper, and then, what do I see on the sidewalk in front of me?

A brand-new black winter hat with fleece lining.

I look around for a minute, then shrug my shoulders and pick it up. I shake it, and nothing flies or crawls out, so I guess it’s finders keepers. I throw it into the back of my car and head off.

Fast forward back to the shopping trip. I drop off my friend and head home. As I park my car, I open the back and wonder where that black hat went. Fortunately, it’s still there, in perfect condition, and it matches the new coat/scarf perfectly. It makes my head look oblong if I don’t pull it down enough, but that’s the same with most winter hats.

And that’s how I essentially bought an entire winter ensemble from H&M to go with some garbage I picked up on the street.

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9

Wrap Your Hand in a Sari

Well hello, friends. I know it’s been a few days, most of which I’ve spent trying to stay awake, but while I’m in the middle of my Golden Girls marathon in honor of today being both what would’ve been my grandmother’s 104th birthday, and it being a day ending in y, here’s something fun.

I’ve been wearing a lot of bandanas lately; I started wearing them during my Summer Odyssey. I have six of them in varying colors and patterns, and they’re a great accessory to any outfit. They are also multi-functional. I usually just wear one around my wrist, but sometimes it’s a neckerchief, a handkerchief, a hair covering, a sweatband, a napkin, or just something to make knots in while waiting somewhere or nervous.

But today, I discovered a new way to wear a bandana: a hand sari!

So here’s how to wrap your bandana into a cute sari for your wrist.

Step 1: Turn your bandana into a thin strip.

Step 2: Place the center of the strip over the back of your left hand.

Step 3: Tuck one end under your thumb, and wrap the other end around your wrist.

Step 4: Pull the end under your thumb down your palm to your wrist, and knot the two ends.

And voila, you have a hand sari!

I need a life.

15

McCall’s Me Maybe

I found this website today that just got my giggles on, and I have no idea why. It’s a tumblr called “McCall’s Pattern Behavior” run by someone named Natalie, who puts captions on pictures of McCall’s dress patterns.

And it’s funny as heck. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of Anne Taintor.

My favorites:

image

:”Patty I think

I think that’s a urine sample”

“Were you shopping

No

Were you sweeping

No”

“Seriously Ruth-Ann

Do you have a blazer for every holiday

Jesus you’re annoying”

 

Okay, off to finish my second book of the week! Hiiii-ya!

0

Dress to Obsess

My initial title for this post was “What (Not) To Wear Today,” but then I realized that made me sound like I was contemplating being a nudist. Excuse me…naturist. And based on a guy I saw in a park the other day with his junk hanging out…I’m never going down that route.

So, I have a certain way of dressing myself. I don’t just roll out of bed in the morning and throw on whatever doesn’t smell bad, like one of my classmates did once because she overslept (actually, she came to class in her pajama top and jeans…and she was giving a presentation). I usually walk out of the house looking like a million bucks. Actually, not really, I probably look really terrible most of the time. No one usually ever comments on what I wear, so it must not be too spectacular, or too tragic, for that matter.

As I was picking out clothes to wear this morning, I had a flashback from Pop Culture class, junior year of high school, when we talked about what clothes we felt comfortable in and why we wore them. Everyone else kinda gave a lame, noncommittal answer, but when it was my turn, I started talking about “dressing for my emotions,” which is probably one of the reasons I never had any friends in high school.

But anyway. I have certain unwritten rules about what I dress myself in each day. Well, actually after today they’ll be written rules, but here goes:

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part I: General Rules

1. No wearing of the same color two days in a row. I have no idea why I do this. Maybe it’s so I’ll confuse potential attackers who are looking for the same guy in the same color shirt. Exceptions to this are on same-outfit days, which usually occur on weekends where I’ll spend so little time in real clothes on Saturday that I will deem them wearable on Sunday.

2. TSJ Tznius: cover those arms and legs. I have never owned nor worn a tank top or wife beater in my life, so why start now? Also, who really wants to see that? T-shirts have worked fine for me so far. With shorts, the secondary reason I don’t wear them is because I don’t feel the world needs to see my legs, even if it is a hot day, unless I am going swimming or doing some sort of water activity. The primary reason is because I don’t like the way my legs look, and shorts lengths change yearly, meaning my shorts are always too long or too short.

3. Casual at all times, except when doing something academic-y. I am not the guy who dresses up for class every day in a suit and tie. I don’t even wear nice sweaters or anything. I’m always in a t-shirt, usually a fun one because I only wear awesome fun clothes, and sometimes a polo, and that’s usually when I’m meeting with a professor or have a presentation to do. Otherwise, I’m in the classroom in my stained UMass hoodie and jeans, looking completely out of place. And I like it that way. Well, not always, but fortunately I now live in a place where dressing for comfort rather than style is perfectly acceptable. My dislike of collared shirts comes from high school, when we were forced to wear them for reasons unknown – so what, you can see a tiny bit less of my neck? So my itching will keep me awake in class? So I can look preppy even when I’m not feeling it?

4. Matchy-matchy? That’s me. Okay, this is where it gets weird. I blame my mother, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I love to match my clothing with my day. For example, I wore a blue shirt today, and I had a mini-crisis when I couldn’t find either of my blue jackets to leave the house in. Red hoodie + blue shirt = bad news bears. I must match all my layers with similar or opposite colors. And though all-black is OK, blue shirts never go with blue jeans. Also, my accessories must match: in the winter, if I wear my green jacket or anything red, I must wear my red scarf. If I wear my blue fleece, my blue jacket, or my alpaca jacket, I must wear my blue scarf. Same goes for hats: green hat goes with green coat, black hat goes with the others. And no conflicting patterns, ever. When my mom picked out my clothes as a child, she had no concept of color: if you gave her a bright red shirt with a tiny blue dot in the middle and a pair of blue shorts, she’d hold them up and say “see, they match.” I also accessorize: I have canvas bags in just about every color, so I always match my bag with my attire. I need a hobby.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part II: Types of Clothing

1. Shirts. I am a t-shirt person. I think I will always be a t-shirt person simply because I have so many, and they’re all awesome. The one I’m wearing right now, my blue Film Fest t-shirt, is not the best example of this, but at least it’ll go in the hamper. Polo shirts, as stated above, on special occasions. I will, from time to time, do the Jared Leto in My So-Called Life and wear a patterned short-sleeve Oxford over a t-shirt. But NO HATS with that combo, or else I’ll look like either a crazy rainforest explorer or someone’s dad at the beach. Also, as stated above, some sort of sleeve. I have a few v-neck shirts, but I don’t usually wear them, because who wants to see that? Being a hipster is inner, not outer.

2. Pants. For awhile, I only wore khakis. Mostly because jeans were against school dress code, but also because I was never wearing the right pair at the right time. I got teased in elementary school for wearing skinny jeans; this was the 90s, when the “sagging look” was in. My mom refused to buy me too-big jeans, and I didn’t have any interest in showing the world my underwear, anyway. Jeans and I made up during college, when I realized that I was beyond that high school crap. Black dress pants are nice for fancy occasions like Shabbat or the theatre. For the gym, black track pants are my only option. I also own one pair of black non-dress pants which hang at the back of the closet and I always say I’ll wear them the next time I wear a black shirt but I don’t because they are stupid and itchy.

3. Shorts. No thanks. Especially not patterned shorts or anything in pastel.

4. Socks. Shamefully, I wear white ankle socks almost every day. Granted, I wear them with real shoes, not anything open-toed like that horrible picture of Adam Sandler walking through LA, and also, it’s too cold in Wisconsin for dress socks every day. Some of those are practically pantyhose; let’s hope I never have to wait outside for something in them.

5. Shoes. Tennis shoes, same pair, everywhere, until they’re falling apart. Some people have gym tennis shoes and regular tennis shoes; I should probably be one of them. Dress shoes are for dinner and dancing. I own sandals, but unless I am going to the beach, they don’t leave the closet. Feeling like I needed a pair of “grown up” shoes, I bought a pair of black loafers, which haven’t left the box, because “I’m not ready to grow up yet,” says me. I used to hate boots because they are messy and hard to get on/off, but now that I live in Snow-Land, I see their usefulness. My boots are brown and pretty and I got them at Marshalls. I salute you, boots; you kept my feet from freezing through many a storm. I still hate getting my feet in and out of you though. Rain boots? No, because I have never tried macarons, used Burt’s Bees, or done anything in Claire’s other than fetch my sister so that Mom could take us home from the mall.

6. Hats. I think hats are cool. Not baseball caps though; I already look like a twelve-year-old. In fact, when I played a dad character in a play (that I wrote) during my senior year of undergrad, I put the cap on backwards, to which my castmates said that I looked like I was going down to the video arcade. I’m no John Goodman. Even when I wear it forward, I still look like I’m on my way to day camp. I like winter hats, they are fluffy and wonderful. Ever since I’ve had my green winter hat with the puff-ball on top, my dad has called it silly, but accedes to the fact that it keeps the head warm during frigid times. I was heartbroken when the puff-ball fell off; I think he was secretly pleased.

7. Scarves. I really, really like scarves, though I only have two at the moment. Maybe that’s what I’ll do tomorrow, buy some scarves. No. Bad idea, Jacob. I wish that the “warm weather scarf” was more socially acceptable because I’d totally do that. Unfortunately, it’s in the same pretentious family as sweaters tied around the neck (what’s wrong with that?!) so in conclusion, I do not wear them in warm weather. At least not without a jacket.

'We're indoors, lose the scarf!'

8. Sweaters/sweatshirts. Hoodies are like a gift to the freezing. They are so functional and wonderful, and warm the hands and head too. I own five, though I keep only about four in my rotation (the black one is a little too depressing; sorry, black hoodie). And before you ask, the white stains on my UMass hoodie are from paint, specifically when I painted the walls of the community arts center I worked on with DAT in Quilotoa, Ecuador, so those are badges of honor. It’s nice that sweaters came back into fashion recently, and have been looking nice on the shelves at Kohl’s, especially patterned ones. I actually own two sweaters, and neither have Christmas trees or cats playing with balls of yarn.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part III: Colors

1. White. I’m way too messy to wear white. Sad but true fact. Every time I get a nice white shirt, I try so hard to keep it clean. When the moment something stains it occurs, I’m like…aww, man. Seriously. It’s like God does not want me to wear white. When I wear white, I can usually even remember the type of stain: pizza grease, peanut butter, lying on a dirty floor. Also, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a white Oxford, aka the Chabad penguin suit. I would totally be Chabad if I didn’t have to wear white every day of my life. I’d be like, that one Chabad guy who wears funky colors and patterns. Somehow, I don’t think that would go over that well.

2. Grey. The only good time to wear a grey t-shirt is at the gym, because in public, it gives the impression of either a) I really messed up my white shirt, or b) I’m so bad at laundry I faded my black shirt. Exception: gray Oxford shirt. Surprisingly elegant addition to a suit.

3. Black. Ahh, black. The go-to for the artsy or the ones who are too messy for colors. In middle/high school, I totally went through a black phase. It didn’t have anything to do with my depression; I just thought it looked nice. Of course, my sister called me a goth and made me change into a colored shirt for school, but I didn’t have painted nails, a dog collar, or a constant cloud of metal music around me, so you owe me an apology. Nowadays, I still like black but use it sparingly. Wearing black all the time is boring. Also – fun fact – remember Platinum, from like six months ago? One year he was quoted in the yearbook, about whether we should have school uniforms, he said “No, I like freedom of choice.” This coming from the kid who came to school in a black turtleneck and chinos every single day because that’s what rich people wear.

4. Pink. I currently don’t own anything pink. I used to have tons of pink in my closet as a kid, but then elementary school happened and it didn’t go over well on the playground. I find it amusing that it’s coming back into style for men now. One day I will try it, but today is not that day.

5. Brown. Brown and tan are two color that are way underused in fashion, in my opinion. They look great with jeans and khakis. I own a few brown t-shirts and a tan sweater, but nothing that’s the exact tone of my skin nor a UPS uniform.

6. Purple. Growing up with a sister who loved all things purple (never pink), I wanted to be like her. Eventually it evaporated from my wardrobe. Before it did though, I remember wearing this purple t-shirt all the time that said “New York Deli Potato Chips.” I guess I always thought that shirts with cool words or brand names made you sophisticated. I have a purple Oxford that I wear all the time, but no purple t-shirts…yet.

7. Blue. Usually a safe bet. Navy was super popular in the 1990s, so you couldn’t go wrong there. For some reason, I have no blue hoodies but 2 blue jackets (three if you count my alpaca jacket) and no red jackets but 2 red hoodies and 2 red sweaters. Blue presents a problem with some jeans, as you don’t want to have contrasting shades of blue or else you’ll risk looking like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at some teen awards show.

8. Green. Another relatively safe color. Neon green = No go for me…that color makes my skin crawl. Dark or light, please. I currently don’t have a lot of green items in my closet at the moment. Maybe that should be my next color choice when offered a free t-shirt from somewhere.

9. Yellow. Yellow was my favorite color, until one day when I wore a yellow shirt to school and someone told me I looked like Big Bird. Kids are mean. No offense to Mr. Bird, but you’re not exactly a fashion icon. Maybe for Lady Gaga, but not for me. I have been noticing yellow making a comeback on the streets though. Wear with caution, though, it has been known to cause stares in the chest area, especially when paired with dark pants.

10. Orange. Huh? I think I have only ever owned one orange shirt, and that was a polo I wore sometimes in middle school. Orange died a slow death in my wardrobe and in fashion in general, and I don’t see it coming back anytime soon, at least for men.

11. Finally, there’s Red. Red is my go-to color. I started liking red in high school after my green-yellow-black phrase, and must’ve reallly liked it, because all the colleges I’ve attended for more than one semester have some variation of red in their logos/school colors. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get into NYU (undergrad) or Northwestern (grad); I should probably write them a thank-you note for not accepting me and subsequently becoming a Purple People Eater. But back to red, you really can’t go wrong with red. Fire engine red, blood red, red apple red, light red, dark red, maroon, crimson, scarlet, primrose, poinsettia: they’re all great. When I redid my room upon becoming a Real Person (aka my bar mitzvah), I ditched the baby blue paint with the soccer ball print border and painstakingly selected a very pale yellow with a red-and-brown Chinese symbol border wallpaper, which I thought looked awesome at the time (and I actually kinda still do…for a teenager’s color choices, it’s not awful) and found a matching bed set with a dark red duvet printed with bamboo in brown and gold. It went rather nicely with my light brown furniture and dark-brown carpeting, formerly an ugly swamp under a bright blue sky, but now transformed into an unobtrusive carpet that was still kind of ugly, but was at least less noticeable in a room of red, yellow, and brown things. The whole room has kind of a 1970s vibe to it. I should totally market that concept to hotel chains.

In completely unrelated news, when I when crossing the street, I walked past a woman who was doing the same thing, only she was knitting and walking at the same time. Is that like, future-cat-lady material? Or did I manage to time-slip into medieval Denmark?

 

10

A Modest Proposal

With the way people are dressing these days, they could use a little tzniut.

No, tzniut (if you’re in a more Yiddishized circle, tznius)is not the latest Swiss fashion accessory, but the Jewish concept of modesty for men and women that dates back to the Talmudic era. It literally translates to “modesty” or “privacy” and refers mostly to clothing, but also the way people lead their lives.

Is it worth it? Let me work it.

Just about every Orthodox Jewish girl (and definitely every Hassidic Jewish girl) covers themselves up with long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, and closed toed shoes. When she gets married, she might cover her hair with a hat, a scarf, or a full-on wig. It doesn’t end there, though. Included in the umbrella is negiah, or rules of touching, which are followed by avoiding physical contact with unrelated members of the opposite sex, and kol isha, or female voice, which mandates that hearing a woman’s singing can distract a man and lead him to impure thoughts. This rule does not apply for prayer, singing z’mirot at a dinner table, or a choir of mixed voices. Some even say that even a recorded female singer violates these laws.

Men do not have as many restrictions; just refrain from touching women and wear clothes that cover your body.

Growing up in Orthodox-Jew-Land, I was well aware of all of this. At my school, girls and women had freedom of choice to wear long pants if they wanted to; some did, but most stayed within the guidelines above. Touching was not explicitly forbidden, but it was generally frowned upon, and I don’t really think we ever had any huge singing issues; if you didn’t want to hear a girl sing, you wouldn’t come to any school musicals, or if you did, you went elsewhere whenever a woman was singing alone. Kind of hard, given that we were a high school and did musicals with plenty of parts for girls, no 1776 here.

I started noticing it more as I went to college and started seeing the stark differences between how people dressed in such mixed environments. As a male, it’s pretty easy for 99% of what you wear to be acceptable every day, and if you make the choice to become more religious, you probably won’t have to go to much trouble to buy new clothes. Girls have it a bit rougher; making the tznius choice means goodbye to bare shoulders, t-shirts, short skirts, and any type of pants, so usually a significant wardrobe overhaul is necessary.

Today, I feel that modesty is something our society is definitely lacking, promoted by corporate trends and celebrity couture. Sometimes a strapless or mini version of an outfit is tasteful, and then you have Miley Cyrus (sorry Miley, but I needed an extreme comparison). This might sound a little pander-y, but I think that women should be able to choose what they wear, and while most women pull off this look effortlessly, maybe tznius should be reexamined in our times. For example, long sleeves and long skirts are probably quite uncomfortable, even thin/airy fabrics, in hot summers and for Jewish women in tropical countries or Houston. While yes, it’s argued in the Talmud, a lot is based off of what women wore in the shtetls of wintry Russia or Poland where the wind chill made these outfits practical. Furthermore, I don’t see a huge problem with pants, either. Not all pants are skinny jeans, and many tznius girls have a tight denim skirt or two. A pair of slacks or trousers can even make an outfit look sleeker and more elegant, and it would make riding a bike or climbing a ladder a lot easier. I don’t see tznius clothes as being restrictive in any way or out of fashion, but give girls a break. As long as they’re dressed appropriately for the weather, occasion, and activity, you’re good to go right there.

This leads me to talk about my own personal tzniut appearance and behavior. I made the decision awhile back to stop wearing shorts of any kind; not just because I don’t like my legs, but I just don’t see any reason why they need to be exposed – and also a bit of solidarity with my Orthodox Jewish sistas. With tank tops/wife beaters/muscle shirts, I didn’t grow up wearing them, and they certainly weren’t allowed in my school, so they never really joined my wardrobe. I love t-shirts, but since I live in Wisconsin now, I’ve been layering them over long sleeve shirts, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. The only time you’ll probably ever see me in shorts is when I am in going swimming, and even then, I’m underwater, so ha ha you can’t see me.

Probably the most surprising thing about my personal style is that this applies even at the gym. I’m always the guy in the long pants (the stretchy kind, not sweatpants, who does that?) and a shirt that covers most of the top half of me.

Orthodox Jewish girls know what’s up…and I stand with them (but not in a skirt) when I call on all my menfolk to display some tznius and look like a gentleman.

I mean, do you see what most guys wear to the gym these days?

Also – if anyone knows why my stats are skyrocketing, (1000 views today, thank you very much!), please tell me, because I’ve spent most of the past forty-eight hours bewilderingly watching people (mostly across America) click on my site, yet I only have about 120 followers, and 67 comments, most of which are my own. This blog is kinda lame most days, so either I’m doing something right or the Internet is going bonkers. So, if you’re reading, please leave a comment about what you think and how you got here (so I can get a sense of what’s going on, did someone put me on BuzzFeed or something? – I’m not that amazing of a writer), or a like, or an idea of something you want me to write about. Oh, and keep visiting, Americans. You too, other countries.

2

Masterpiece Youtube: The State of the Union…of Fashion

Like millions of Americans, I put aside what I was doing to watch Obama’s State of the Union address. Then, like millions of Americans, I picked things up where I left off and wondered why it was now several hours later and I hadn’t eaten dinner. The SOTU was as it usually is, a collection of platitudes mostly about creating jobs, the military, health care, without addressing criticism, saying anything substantial, or giving the American public some payoff at the end.

Let’s watch something that is exciting and educational.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece Youtube

Episode 10: “100 Years of Fashion in 100 Seconds,” Westfield Gateway Mall (2011)

This video is a few years old, but got some buzz recently on Forbes.com and elsewhere. I myself discovered it via the scourge that is StumbleUpon, and haven’t been able to stop watching it since. Seriously, I think I know all the outfits now.

Basically, it’s the same very attractive young couple doing a dance routine while seamlessly transitioning between years of fashion. Yes, it’s British, but I feel like if you made a few costume substitutions, it could encompass American fashion too. For example, it kinda gives short shrift to the 1990s, but then again they only had 100 seconds. There is something to be said for men’s fashion; even though it really doesn’t change that much (just add/remove a jacket, tie, hat, or suspenders; everything else is basically the same) the video does a good job of providing some much-needed and oft-forgotten color and distinction to the man’s outfits. Of course, the girl’s outfits are very different from one another and in essence, serve as the markers of the decades with their styles, colors, fabrics, and cuts. Personally, I think that the costume designer could have gone even further and been more dramatic with the outfit changes, with some bolder colors and things that are a bit more shocking to the eye. However, it serves the purpose of the ad, and all the items seen could conceivably be purchased at a mall.

I just got the point.

This is some BRILLIANT advertising.

Now I just want to fly to London and go shopping.

Follow that redhead!

This episode of Masterpiece Youtube was brought to you by the fact that it’s still -13 degrees outside. Oh, and…thanks, Obama? I never really understood that.