Thursday, September 29, 2005

To a Birthday Party

Dear Jeepers,
I'm going to THE party of the year - Henry Hopmann's First Birthday party. A first birthday only comes once in a lifetime - and I have NO idea what to wear!


Dear Partygoer,
Please forgive our extreme tardiness in replying to your query. Henry is probably a sexually active tax attorney by now.

But, for all the children's birthday parties in your future, keep this v. puffy-sleeved blouse in mind. We like puffy sleeves so much this year, and have mentioned them in so many previous posts, that we might as well rename this website, were that not already taken*. Anyhoo, dress for the child (colorful, strange, magical), and for the mama and papa, who will only be flattered and delighted if you show up a tad overdressed.

Whenever we are lucky enough to get an invitation to a child's party, we like to arrive bearing inappropriate gifts, like rice cookers, embroidered hand towels, or a delicate first-edition 19th-century novels. The ensuing flutter of confusion is nice, and then it dawns on Mom: The gift is not for her chubby little darling, it's for her! Did you really expect Jeepers to set foot in a toy store?


* is actually still an available url.

Business Casual

Dear Jeepers,
I am a casual kind of person working in a casual kind of upstate NY town from a casual kind of bygone era. Did I say birks and jeans? My local company has just been purchased by a fancy franchise. I have been told that the dress code for the next business conference is business casual. What does an independent contractor wear when I really want to be rebellious?

Dear Rebel,
They would like you to show up in slacks and a twinset, the bastards. But how dare they announce a dress code to a group of independent grown-ups? What if you are an African tribal leader, hippie, or Mennonite? Your grumpiness is entirely justified.

We say, stick it to them: Wear this gown and headdress. Alternately, you could arrive in a Leona Helmsley type black pantsuit with sleek, expensive briefcase and chunky jewelry. Whatever you decide, make them feel like the bossy frumps they are.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

If You're a Man

Dear Jeepers,
I like your site and sometimes forward your fashion advice to my girlfriend, Karen. But what about men's clothes? I mean, jeesh.

Mike dear,
Next you'll be asking us to lend you a hand with orthodontia. We don't know from ties.

In reponse to your kind query, however, we are considering bringing on board another editor/illustrator soon who can better speak to you and your special pea coat, 34/36, flat front, Armani needs. (phew, previous sentence exhausted our men's fashion lingo.)


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Pot Luck

Dear Jeepers,
I am invited to a dinner party tonight at the home of a friend opposed on principle to furniture. He feels that couches and chairs instill lazy thinking and bad posture. He thinks that only plebian minds are attracted to coffee tables, which he says are like hospital trays and that the only reason people buy them is because they've been brainwashed by Ikea showrooms and situation comedy sets. His house is completely bare, except for a few Moroccan, leather beanbags and the metal shelving that holds his many volumes of science writing and French poetry.

The dinner is pot luck, so my question is two-fold: What should I wear, and what covered dish should I take?

-Anna Lucia Ferrar

Dear Ms. Ferrar,
Take a highly spiced cold bean casserole and wear this bolero jacket and long skirt. And, since I take it that you're in love, dab some Alfred Sung perfume behind your ears and arrive bearing a potted flowering tree or a rescued dog to add life to his place. When the meal is through, offer to help with the dishes, if he believes in them.

Have a wonderful time and tell us how it goes.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I know why the caged bird sings! Because it's a bird, and evidently the condition of being caged is not sufficient to overcome its natural tendency to sing. Are you caged by a life devoid of fancy parties? Don't let that overcome your innate desire for ballgowns. If you buy it, the parties will follow. This one is good: black and grey are gorgeous this year, and so are gloves. These open-front boots are our very own invention. If you see them in a store, please alert us immediately.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Resist the Temptation

Dogs don't like clothes. Instead, match your hair to your dog's fur.
(Do wear puffy-sleeved dresses.)

Overwhelmed by Shoes?

Just go all out. This may be the funnest shoe season in thrity-seven years. Watchwords: unusual, Italian, uncomfortable. "If it doesn't hurt, you're not trying hard enough."*

*Translated from the French.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Heart in Hand

Are you drunk with the possi- bilities? Smooth, platinum hair as solid and glossy as an overturned porcelin bowl or, on the other hand, I-Just-Arrived-By-Horse hair? This gorgeous chartruse silk dress* with a balloon skirt, or Pucci prints? A big purse like a waterbag made out of a goat's stomach, or a tidy clutch like Grandmama's?

*Lined with the softest, yellow silk and slightly scented with sandlewood and jasmine. (One of the only scented dresses available this season.) Comes with matching chartruse satin ribbon for your daughter's hair, plus a book-on-tape.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What Should Aunt Toddy Wear in Paris?

Dear Jeepers:
Your "works for any situation" dress made me ask myself this question: If one were spending ten days in Paris and could take only ONE outfit to suit all situations, what might that outfit look like? The outfit would have to be practical AND appeal to the average Parisian's keen sense of style. I now pose that question to you.

Thanks. "Prepared for Paris"

Dear Paris,
Stop! Don't shop yet! Just wear any old thing. Walk around the city for a day or two, observe the natives, then go shopping in Paris. Otherwise, you'll end up like those visitors to New York City who arrive, in July, wearing black head to toe, thinking that it's mandatory in the Big Apple, smoking very long cigarettes held in mother-of-pearl holders, carrying Kate Spade bags.
Bon voyage.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Changing Lives Through Clothing

Dear Jeepers,
For the past sixteen years I've worked in the circus doing this and that--the trapeze, dog training, swinging 50 feet off the ground by my hair, food service--but today I was fired! I've never had any other job and I'm an orphan. I have no idea what normal, non-circus people even wear these days. Any suggestions?

You've come to the right place. Chin up, darling!
First, you should know that all clothing passes through five phases:

1) utility
2) pose
3) ridiculous*
4) nostalgia
5) revolt

When deciding on a wardrobe, decide which of these phases you want to work within, because this will determine what you are saying with your clothes. Leg warmers, for example, have passed through the first four of the five phases. They began as a utility item, worn by dancers and woodsmen to warm the lower leg. Then, non-dancers and city people started wearing them as a pose, a pose that said to passersby "For all you know, I am a graceful dancer just on my way home from a long day of rehearsal."

When enough people who were clearly not dancers had been seen in leg warmers, the leg warmers moved into phase 3, ridiculous. Later, women who had worn leg warmers as teens thought of them again, this time with affectionate nostalgia for The Turning Point and their own childhoods, thus moving the warmers into stage 4. (Stage 5 will be achieved only when they are again unfashionable, but after they are ridiculous and before anyone is nostalgic about them again.)

As a circus performer, you have, in a way, lived your clothing life in phase one, utility. You had to wear sequins and fluttery skirts and stage make-up, because of your work. I suggest that you now take the natural step to phase two: pose. After a few years of this, you might feel strong enough to just wear whatever makes you laugh (a sophisticated mush of ridiculous utility) and whatever feels good against your skin. Good luck!

*ridiculous is not possible to achieve on purpose. If we're doing it on purpose, it's either a pose or revolt.

First Date

Dear Jeepers,
"I'm going on a blind date (apple picking in Ithaca) this weekend with a friend's cousin. He's a Lutheran minister. What should I wear to an apple orchard with a minister?

I'm glad you wrote. Wear a long hoodie, down to mid thigh, over well-worn, not-too-tight jeans. Flat brown shoes, preferably boots.

Update: This question, about what to wear on a date, made our list of Top 6 Fashion Questions. Check out our answers to your most common clothing quandries.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

White After Labor Day?*

You won't blend in until it snows, but really, how much do you care about camou-


See our most recent answer to this White After Labor Day question here.

Real Women, Real Curves

Had we been in charge of the Dove "Real Women, Real Curves" ad campaign, the women would have looked like this, because real curves doesn't just mean size 12. What about scrawny? What about lumpy size 18's? What about adorable pear shapes, or tiny breasts? Also, who wears white cotton underwear these days? Tennis players and toddlers.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Accordion Skirt

The bride is dressed in a white linen dress, very wrinkled. The groom, in blazer and jeans, gives the thumbs-up sign indiscriminately and seems dazed. At a signal from the father of the bride, Clara begins to play. Several guests smile when they notice the joke of her accordion skirt. The groom's cousins from Ohio start the dancing. Soon the little dance floor is crowded. After the song ends, people shout out: "Do the Godfather theme, do the Godfather theme!"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

13 Necessities for Autumn

If you only buy thirteen things this fall, make it these thirteen: soft, camel colored leather boots that reveal a pie slice of smooth leg, flat indigo snake skin boots, a pet fish, suede ankle boots, sleeveless pinstripe suit, t-strap gray shoes (when are you going to admit that gray shoes are an absolute staple?), a giant hat of some sort (fake fur, feathers, a mess of yarn?), also long woolen elf hat in a solid color, bolero jacket, maternity-inspired crepe dress, found object-like simple gold earrings, and a pair of very long mittens (up to your underarms). If we've missed something important, please let us know.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fry Blouse

Maggie was a dancer in her youth. She still retains much of her former strength and flexibility. She wears this puffy-sleeved blouse for frying tomatoes and flipping through the TV stations on a weekend afternoon. She wishes her kids would visit more often.

*Maggie is wearing the earrings of the moment, a fanciful flashback to 1984, red enameled stars with sterling silver posts.