Category: Zine

is advanced style advanced?

 Kathleen Ryan

is advanced style advanced
kathleen ryan
esquivel, american made shoes

quoting


Is the style known as Advanced Style, the term coined by Ari Seth Cohen, advanced? Is it “over the top,” as some have always believed? Perhaps Advanced Style is simply what it’s always been, a cohort of like-minded women, and men, who like to dress what might be called, “extravagantly?”

Is Advanced Style advanced?

This is what I’ve been thinking about ever since I had a very interesting talk, with a young man, in a coffee shop. He complimented my style, and then we proceeded to talk about what we both “did;” he worked in an art gallery, me, I’m a blogger.

Then we got around to the women of New York and the women of Advanced Style, a perfectly logical transition for this sophisticated town, and besides, we both know some “AS” proponents.

And then this stylish, young man told me he thought the whole Advanced Style thing was kind of “sad.” And I have to admit, I was more than a bit taken aback.

The Advanced Style is not monolithic,

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“cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish”

cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish
quoting

“Some things are the same as ever. The shrimp cocktail has always tasted like cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish. The steak sauce has always tasted like the same ketchup and horseradish fortified by corn syrup.”

That’s just one of the memorable lines from Pete Wells, the restaurant critic at the New York Times, writing about the once “famous,” now likely “infamous,” Peter Luger Steak House. 

In some ways I was reluctant to write this post, even though I’ve been feeling like I should for months now. Then, there appeared a scathing restaurant review in the New York Times. No, scathing is not the word, a NO STARS review is the word!

“The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger.”

“I know there was a time the German fried potatoes were brown and crunchy, because I eagerly ate them each time I went. Now they are mushy, dingy, gray and sometimes cold. I look forward to them the way I look forward to finding a new, irregularly shaped mole.”

Wonderful lines, aren’t they? It’s lines like these that could help bring back the art of criticism, the noble pursuit of telling people precisely why something is not good. 

Inspired by this great criticism; the clear, precise, and indisputable truth put down with great writing, I’m returning to a brand I was once a fan of to tell you why it no longer sizzles, why it’s not good.

Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now It Sputters.

To me, the shoe above is the equivalent of this

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a european pedicure, a cultural experience

a european pedicure
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This past summer, after weeks traveling and feeding my soul, and neglecting my feet, I decided to go for a pedicure. A European pedicure, a cultural experience.

Ludmila, was her name. A common name for a Russian woman, but this Ludmila did not look like what the name usually conjures up for me: a big, stern creature, wrapped in nondescript, ill-fitting clothes, with a tattered scarf on her head. Such are our stereotypes, quite pitiful.

There was a slight, ever so slight, but nevertheless palpable social distance between Ludmila and me, because there is a social difference between Latvians and Russians in Latvia. And it was augmented, of course, by the fact that I was not a “local.”

The distances and differences between the pedicure giver class, and the pedicure receiver class, are not quite the same as they are in the U.S.

In Latvia, the chaffing between a group that is still often characterized as the “invader,” and the privileged, and legitimate, citizens, is long-standing, complex, difficult to explain, thoroughly entrenched, and resistant to change.

Is receiving a pedicure a cultural experience?

It can be, if you view it that way, yes. Oh, and although Latvian and Russian, Ludmila and I both look Polish.

So there I am, up in my bed/throne, and believe me that’s what it was, more like a deluxe dental chair than the unsatisfactorily vibrating, plastic monstrosities we have. My feet were at such a height that Ludmila did not have to bend down to work on them, and that was cool, I thought, rationalizing the sometimes questionable luxury of having someone cater to your feet. Here’s an older post about the hidden cost of customer service.

From the moment Ludmila touches my feet, I know they’re in the hands of an expert. No blood will be shed today.

My feet are wearing what I call my “Birkenstock tan,” two wide stripes of white, inelegantly crossing my tan. The feet at the bottom of the table are battered, but I know Ludmila has probably seen it all. I even imagine that she has worked on the feet of Latvian ballerinas. It’s a small country after all, it’s possible.

The one big, notable difference between my typical pedicure, here in my neighborhood in New York, and this one, was that it never involved immersing my feet in water! Rather than the sometimes perfunctory “soak” I get in the U.S., Ludmila would occasionally,

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let’s talk about standing up

standing up
quoting

Fearless Girl by Kristen Visbal

Photo by Federica Valabrega

fearless 

Fearless. Iconic. That’s what the picture of Nancy Pelosi, standing in a room full of men, opposite the president of the United States, pointing her finger at him, is already, iconic. Let’s talk about standing up.

There have been many iconic moments like this involving women recently. In my last post, I talked about women acting. In this case, let’s talk about the act of standing up. From Christine Blasey Ford, standing, hand up, swearing to tell the truth in front of Congress, to Greta Thunberg at the U.N., shaming her adult listeners, to the statue,” Fearless Girl, on Wall Street, hands on hips, facing down the Bull, all iconic. 

Recently, I was forced to revisit a time, more than 20 years ago, when I started a consultancy whose focus was “using the body in leadership.” This was well before Amy Cuddy’s “iconic TED Talk,” where she introduced the whole world to “power-posing.” The consultancy never really got off the ground. But I continue to believe in the power of the body and the intelligent use of its intrinsic power, especially for women.

That’s another thing that women have been denied for far too long, feeling, using, and relishing the power of the body.

Let’s be clear, looking pretty, dressed in a “power suit” and high heels, is not enough. Although Nancy Pelosi, in her solid primary colors, suits, heels, tailored, not “frothy” but still “feminine” style, exudes confidence, that’s just packaging.

If “clothes make the man,” women have always needed much more to be able to stand up, something coming from a deeper place. 

While “fake it ’til you make it” by power-posing in the bathroom before a crucial presentation, and wearing a kick-ass suit at an important meeting, can work, when it’s time to stand up, they’re not enough. Nancy Pelosi understands that. And so do other women and even young girls. I bet Greta Thunberg was brought up to feel good in her young body.

There are exceptions to the rules about women and the use of the power of the body, whose allowed and who isn’t.

Although not exactly my area of expertise, I have to mention prostitutes and

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