Sunday, February 22, 2009

Unsolicited Advice #15: Deal with illness tastefully

When one finds herself laid up, whether with a head-banging injury or a nasty cold, it is tasteful to hide.  Don't try to go out with your friends and act as if the affliction is minor.  They can always tell that it is not and they will fret about you, removing the net benefit from your presence.

Instead, stay home with your dog and read a trashy 1920's society novel or some trashy 1990's non-fiction.  Sleep.  

Skip the Sudafed.  It will only induce you to write ill-advised emails and blog posts, and it might convince you that you are well enough to leave your house.  Which you should not do.

Illness is like pregnancy before 1965 - an affliction whose presence in society is unwelcome. This may explain your housemates' strange, unflattering clothing selections while ill.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Invite to Opine #2: Coffee Shop Judgement

If you saw a young woman in a coffee shop with a small but substantial stack of pink advice books and a little trove of page-flags furiously typing away on her laptop, what would you think?

a) She's clearly just been dumped/just realized that being single is a crime against the patriarchy/just been hassled by her mom about not being hitched.  She must be composing an internet dating profile in her desperate attempt to make it all better.

b) She's clearly procrastinating writing her thesis by reading those trashy books.

c) She's clearly writing an academic paper with some really horrible source material.

d) I'm going to go hit on her right now.

Unsolicited Advice #14: Be More Like the Sundance Kid

It is completely tasteful to crouch and mime fancy gunslinging while crossing streets or coming around corners.  Ignore the stares.  They're all just jealous.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Consumer Frenzy #6

Delaunay scarf from Le Train Bleu: $169

Mid-century sterling silver TAXCO earrings from Green Gloves Vintage: $52

Strand textile necklace from Hier Apparel on Etsy: $45

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Consumer Frenzy #5

Rachel Comey silk dress: $540


Some time in the 80's, Jim McBride remade Godard's Breathless for an American audience, and this evening one of this blog's authors had the opportunity to watch the second half of said film with her uncle.  There's a great scene where cop-killer Jesse Lujack (Richard Gere) and his hot French girlfriend Monica Poiccard (Valerie Kaprinsky) arrive at an 80's warehouse dance venue, the pigs in hot pursuit, in order to collect some cash that Jesse has coming.  Jesse's sleazy friend critiques the plaid pants he's been wearing throughout the second half of the film, urging him to acknowledge (even as the police search lights drag the room) that style is important, and hands him the blazer off his own back.  We couldn't agree more.  Without that blazer, where would Jesse Lujack be?  Dead, that's where.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Invite to Opine #1: Pants

Regular readers may have noticed that we hate pants.

However, we are willing to admit that there are occasions on which pants are tasteful.  Our comprehensive list follows:

Onboard a submarine
While big game hunting

Loyal followers are invited to proffer their proposals for the expansion of this list.  We'll consider them.

This post co-authored by Seaspawn and Seawrack and gander.

Theory #7: Pauline Garvey on Practicality

We can understand practicality, that ubiquitous justification for consumption and decoration choices, as "an idiom through which an acceptable image of individual priorities is projected." 

How to Have a 'Good Home': The Practical Aesthetic and Normativity in Norway. 2003.  Journal of Design History, 16(3).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Dating Destination

When facing the daunting challenge of selecting a suitable dating destination, the painfully sensitive among us are frequently overwhelmed by the complexities of the choice.  The arboretum, whose trees' latin name tags will compose themselves into a love poem of sorts through the course of your stroll?  Acer argutum Ficus macrophylla Paeonia japonica. Construct a poem.  A planetarium, a la Manhattan?  (If God fails to grace you with a rainstorm from which to seek shelter, a preparatory shower may be advisable).  This point may strike some as obvious, but food is good.  Why? Because it fills the mouth, obviating conversation.  Among the alternatives, choose a venue:

(1) that you have dined at at least twice, so that you will be familiar with the space, and feel fairly certain that the food is consistently good.

(2) whose fare you anticipate digesting comfortably, under the worst of circumstances.  Sushi, for example, rather than barbeque.

(3) that is counter-cultural neutral.

(4) where the food is shared.  Again, sushi, Ethiopean, tapas are good choices, because they introduce a little intimacy to the dining experience, and enable you to observe how your date handles thorny financial questions (does he/ she offer to pay for everything?  suggest you split it down the middle?  Offer absolutely nothing or all-too-eagerly accept your offer to pay?)

(5) whose bathroom lighting is flattering, so that you can find a little affirmation in the mirror every time you take a trip to the toilet.

(6) that is not super-cheap, but is affordable regardless of your income.  You don't want your date to face the embarrassment of ordering nearly nothing, though he/ she is ravenously hungry, because he/ she can't pay for the entrees.

(7) that serves drinks, so that in case things are going well (but perhaps not amazingly well), you aren't confronted by the awkward moment of deciding together whether to relocate to a bar in order to continue your conversation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Announcement #1

The editors of this blogodrome, Practical Aesthetics, are unabashedly dames.  Our advice is designed for our own consumption.  

If you're butch or masculine or a dude or what-have-you, use our advice at your own risk.  Despite our abiding interest in gender piracy, we are only really experienced in the art of feminine gender performance.  From what we can tell masculine gender performance requires lots of props and words we don't understand.  


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unsolicited Advice #13: Western Wear

The fortunate but indigent recipient of an invitation to a dinner in a nice restaurant may ask herself, “What the devil do I wear?”

We here at Practical Aesthetics are uniquely positioned to answer this question. We are intermittently indigent and consistently only willing to shop at thrift stores on half off day. But even given our limited access to the newest fashions in Portland’s Pearl District boutiques and Boulder’s Pearl Street salons, we manage to be fabulously dressed for all our fancy dinner dates.

The secret is to be young, to pay attention to color and fabric, and to not care what’s cool. Until recently we had no idea how important the first condition was. But as we approach our late twenties (we’re rat Aquarius and rat Pisces here), we are beginning to notice the toll of late nights in confusing loud bars, late nights in paper writing agony, late nights in proof writing agony, and early mornings with the dog.

But while we’re all still young…

Do: Have the courage to drag your 80's prom dress out of the closet and sport it with an appropriate fake fur shawl.  It's just hotter that way.
Don’t: Wear anything new, except shoes, gloves, and outer wear.
Do: Wear gaudy, gaudy costume jewelry made before 1955.
Don’t: Wear any jewelry made after 1955 unless your grandmother or some other benefactor gave it to you.
Do: Wear a scarf that matches whatever you’ve got on your legs.
Don’t: Match your handbag with your shoes unless you’re trying to look crazy.
Do: Wear a dress instead of a skirt and a blouse.  Pants are right out unless you have an unusually persuasive pair of culottes.   
Don’t: Wear a dress, hose, and shoes all of the same color. 
Do: Wear clean clothes, fresh hosiery, and a properly sized slip.
Don’t: Wear anything with holes in it unless the holes are conveniently located on the back of the garment and you are prepared to engage in acrobatic feats in order to remain facing your date at all times.  We only recommend going to these lengths for truly amazing articles.
Do: Wear cowboy boots, even if they're scuffed. They're likely to be your best shoes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Unsolicited Advice #12: St. Valentine's Day

This unfortunate holiday is peppered with land mines and rat traps for the hopeful young romantic with any self-respect.  Chocolates in heart shaped boxes are acceptable gifts for your daughter or grandmother, but are not okay for someone you want to sleep with anytime soon.  Even in this grim age which has grown deaf to the language of flowers, a dozen roses still transmits a clear signal concerning a donor's sentiments.  However, snooty young ladies everywhere will not fail to discern an unflattering lack of reflection in the choice of blossom.

The sensitive lover will turn to handmade gifts and cards and creatively selected bouquets (perhaps including barren branches).  Tasteful gifts can also originate in the examination of the donor's own many loves (love for books, love for Scandinavian death metal, and so forth).  

And on a petty personal note, one of the authors' regrettable past boyfriends informed her upon the receipt of a complete set of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, bound in beautiful vintage hardcover, that the gift was inappropriate because it reflected her passion, not his.  He was wrong.

This post co-authored by gander and Seaspawn and Seawrack.


We wish to announce that February is the most tasteful month.  It successfully avoids the pitfalls of the pessimistic Fall months.  (November's depression is unpleasantly reminiscent of Centralia or Shelton in the 1990's.)  It manages not to reflect the unbridled enthusiasm of the Spring months.  And, while Summer's sultry and painfully hot sensuality is highly popular, popularity is certainly no good measure of tastefulness.  

February may not be popular.  February may not be sexy (unless you are into sweaters and tights).  February may not be an up-and-coming band with dirty bass.

But February is sufficiently distinctive (frigid!) and not too riotous.