27 November 2012

Buttoned, Pierced, Pocketed

The above illustration comes from Bernard Rudofsky's book, 'The Unfashionable Human Body' (1971), which I believe I have enthusiastically recommended on a previous occasion. This book was based on the catalogue Rudofsky wrote for an exhibition he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1944, entitled 'Are Clothes Modern?', in which he ridiculed various aspects of clothing in the hope of 'immunising the public against the persuasive power of advertising and the seductive appeal of continually changing fashion'  (from an entry about Rudofsky at the J. Paul Getty Foundation website). Fat chance! But the book remains an enlightening and funny read, all the same. 
The diagram on the left maps the 'seventy or more' buttons punctuating the correctly dressed gentleman of the early 20th century (rather than the average Joe), and that on the right does a similar job for the placement of pockets. A shame cargo pants weren't around at the time. 
These have provided inspiration for my own up-to-date version, below, which features locations for body piercing. It's deliberately rather unspecific, as I'm rather squeamish about some of the regions available for this variety of decoration. Suggestions welcome.

22 November 2012

Cut and Sewn

Not sure why, but when I see the words 'plastic surgery', I think of patchwork quilting. It's possibly a somewhat tenuous connection: both are largely feminine concerns involving meticulous cutting and sewing, and the reworking of old material to fashion something fresh,
yet familiar. Needles and thread are essential to both. Quilting, however, is a pastime of economy and overt patterning, whereas plastic surgery is one of excess and subtle tailoring. And quilting, of course, doesn't require a big insurance policy.

17 November 2012


Learning to tie your own shoelaces is one of those developmental milestones. It involves the kind of co-ordination and problem solving skills for which, unfortunately, no amount of technological prowess can substitute. I'm glad to be able to report that I've managed my own shoes since the perfectly respectable age of 5, but these days (some decades later) I find myself becoming increasingly resentful towards laces and knots. It's a sad truth that I walk everywhere, and that nothing suits the walking foot as well as a laced shoe. No use, either, to claim that a Velcro fastening is a solution. For children's footwear, perhaps, but as far as the mature shoe is concerned, Velcro is to the shoelace as tights are to stockings.

14 November 2012

Mum Reveals Shocking Trick for Erasing Wrinkles

Recently my computer screen has been awash with little ads declaiming things along the lines of 'Mum reveals shocking £4 trick for erasing wrinkles. Doctors hate her.' Or, 'Mum is 57, looks 25 again. Local mum publishes one simple trick that has angered doctors'. The ages and prices vary a little; the medical practitioners are always, strangely, in a lather, although they might well count some wrinkled mothers amongst their own ranks. I fear these ads are an invitation to tread lightly on quicksand and have, so far, resisted the temptation to so do.

Much online information about wrinkles concerns their reduction or removal- more often than not, advertising dressed lightly as fact or recommendation. I did, however, come across an attractive title, the 'Textbook of Aging Skin', edited by Miranda A. Farage, Kenneth W. Miller and Howard I. Maibach, a 2 volume compilation of articles with such fascinating titles as 'Aging Skin: Some Psychosomatic Aspects', 'Key Trends Driving Anti-aging Skin Care in 2009 and Beyond', 'Global Warming and its Dermatological Impact on Aging Skin', etc etc.  The myriad authors seem to come from both academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies, and it's heart-warming to know that so much research is being carried out on my aged behalf.  And although I feel that it's a little pricey for the averagely vain public (at £306.64 for the eBook version), I was able to download & print out another interesting piece called 'Progression of Temporary Into Persistent Facial Wrinkling: An 8-year Longitudinal Study' (Greg Hillebrand, Xianghong Yan and Takashi Yoshii). I recommend it to anyone. It comes to the happy conclusion that 'Repeated skin flexure during facial expression causes persistent wrinkles. While skin wrinkling progressively increases over one's lifetime, the most significant period of change was in the 40s'. Lighter and/or dryer skin individuals are more prone to skin wrinkling that their darker and more hydrated counterparts.' 

In other words, too late now to die before I hit 40, but I can stay on the right side of leatherette if I avoid grinning/frowning, and slap on a bit of face cream. 

11 November 2012

Crow's Feet

I've been noticing wrinkles in the past few years, first and foremost crow's feet.
As defined in my Oxford English Dictionary, a crow's foot is: 'a wrinkle at the outer corner of a person's eye, usually in plural'. Oh, yes. And as a crow is 'slang derog - a woman, esp an old or ugly one', that probably makes me an old crow with crow's feet. Curiously, the term becomes, in French, 'patte d'oie', or 'goose's foot'. Gooseflesh, on the other hand, is 'chair de poule', or chicken flesh. Plenty of gooseflesh at a hen party, then, and possibly some with crow's feet thrown in.

1 November 2012

Home Barber

I'm afraid I pay insufficient attention to male grooming. I offer this, an advert from an Army & Navy catalogue of 1926 - 27, as a corrective. I myself would have put the quotation marks around the word 'barber', rather than 'home'. Grammatical quibbles aside, this type of comb seems to be still available on Amazon, and probably in all 'quality' stores. Would that I had bought one and put it to the test when my sons were still young and biddable. The great charm of this, of course, lies in the hirsute illustration.. definitely a bad hair day.