serinde: (glamour)
[livejournal.com profile] nedlnthred has the congenial July 4th custom of drumming up a group to go watch the NYC fireworks display, which gatherings I've usually missed in the past. This year, being as how the display was over the Hudson, the obvious viewing location was the Frying Pan, which is an old rusty boat with a bar in it. The problem is, that particular venue has been Discovered this season (to the point I heard some Joisey Boyz talking about it on the train), and we learned that they were charging a C-note just to step on board, let alone the food and booze cost.

I took to the intarwubs to find an alternative, and came across the Liberty Belle Spectacular, at the rooftop bar of the Empire Hotel. Jazz Age party, cocktails, dancing, burlesque, and only $20 to get in; yes, that will do nicely. The more so as the word was that there would be only 25 at-the-door tickets, so it seemed likely that it would not be a goddamn crush.

[We pause while the audience laughs uproariously at my charming naïveté.]

The doors were to open at 7pm, so we (a party of six) rolled up about 7:20; whereupon we were taken aback to see a line of people extending around the corner and down the block. Was this for non-ticket-holders, we inquired? No, it's for everyone, and the line would split further up. ...Well OK then. We got on line, and chatted, and waited, and slowly shuffled forward, and waited some more, and... [Time passes.] Some 40 minutes later, we made it to where the line split, where they checked for printed receipts/confirmation numbers. Those which had same got blue tickets and went left; those who did not, got red tickets and went right. At which point both types of guest were passed through the velvet rope in equal numbers--or indeed with a stronger preference for the non-advanced ticketed, much to the chagrin of those of us who had planned ahead[1]. Indeed, after the third batch of hoi polloi were permitted up to the exclusion of ticket holders, a lady behind us confronted the gatekeeper to ask, in essence, What The Fuck, Dude. He claimed that he was letting people in equally. We all stared at him with the "you're lying, we know it, and you know it", but it was left at that and in the next batch he did let equal numbers in. (Lord knows what he did subsequently.)

At length we made it up top. The bar is a big space, with a terrace on either end (though of course only the western-facing one was going to be immediately relevant), and a decent amount of lounge seating, though not nearly enough for the mob of people. The band was excellent, playing jazz and swing tunes, and in old-style Navy uniforms, which I thought was a nice touch. As we rolled in, they were having an impromptu fashion show of ladies who had come in period rig[2], and there were many fine-looking outfits indeed, though the biggest hit was a Rosie the Riveter look-alike. The drinks were $14, which is a bit high, but they were at least good and unusual; in-house creations, not "here's your vodka and cranberry juice in a Dixie cup". If you managed to stab someone and get a seat, you could order food (and bottle service if you're that kind of idiot). Anyways, it being twenty to nine[3], we got drinks and immediately fought our way onto the terrace to try and get a decent view for the fireworks, which would start around 9:20.

And we stood. And stood. and stood. And were crushed by people. And couldn't see anything but an admittedly gorgeous sunset. There was burlesque and dancing where the bar let onto the terrace, which we could only perceive by the cheering and flashbulb popping. I was particularly woeful because I was wearing shoes that are not for standing in--I can wear them all night, but not for hours of nothing but standing on concrete--and I was hitting the agony point; and we were crushed in behind a group who had a table and seats (those stupid square hassock things that bar/lounges like), and the party in question weren't even sitting half the time. Indeed, one of them was having words with Beth because our party was maneuvering in the gap between their table and the next one and I guess he felt we were harshing their mellow or something.

At length, the fireworks started. Upon which we realized a few things:
1) Fordham Law School was in the way.
2) A really tall fingerlike apartment building was in the way.
3) The tasteful palm fronds along the edge of the terrace were in the way.

We could still see a good portion of the show (except [livejournal.com profile] elibalin, who was directly in line of the palms), but it was not the unimpeded front-row view implied on the tin, as it were. At one point "This Land Is Your Land" broke out, and the whole crowd was singing, and that was kinda cool. Later, the band and one of the singers was striking up "God Bless America", which I am regrettably far less fond of[4], but eh.

As anticipated, the instant the fireworks were over there was a mass exodus, and many of the remaining guests surged indoors to the air conditioning and the entertainment; and thus, after about ten minutes of vulching I managed to land us a table on the patio. Which was good, because I was reaching the end of my little fraying rope... A half hour of sitting, drinking, excellent conversation, and a snack restored comity and joy. We decided to move back inside to check out (and perhaps partake of) the dancing, but upon standing up again I realized that I was quite, quite Done. I really would have liked to have stayed and seen the actual party we were here for, but a dispassionate assessment made it clear that misery was right around the corner, so I took myself unto the crosstown bus, and thus home.

So, Lessons Were Learned:
* Do not, do not, believe that any event that looks cool and claims exclusivity will not be mobbed to alt.hell and back. Wear comfortable shoes. Get there early. Stake out turf.
* Investigate the exact barge locations of the fireworks well in advance.
* If you want to take a Night on the Town, and actually be up to all of it, don't start drinking Pimm's cup at noon (unless you're arranging a disco nap in between).

As I explore the nightlife world, I am more and more getting the sense of that classic Yogi Berra line, "No one goes there, it's too crowded". I really don't like forking out the brass for the privilege of being crushed like a sardine in a noisy environment where you can't see or talk to anyone but who's standing directly beside you. Beth reports that, after I left, the party reached the sweet spot of good music, good dancing, and enough space to actually enjoy all of these things, so that's good to know; but, I mean, argh.

[begin footnotes]
[1] Beth spoke to the organizers upstairs on this head, and was told that yes, they'd had a lot of complaints about it. I notice that this is not the same as "...and we'll do something about it next time we hold an event".

[2] We had plenty of time to observe a lot of these outfits while on line and then once upstairs; we noticed that, first, many weren't actually Jazz Age at all, but were much more 40s or 50s, which is okay with us, because there's only one body type that looks good in flapper gear; and second, most were more theatrical/passing-the-squint-test than true period outfits. Now, many still looked very, very awesome...but not to the knowing eye. (I'm not the knowing eye, but I was in company with several.)

[3] And there was still a huge line behind us waiting to get in. I can only imagine what the reaction of the ticket-holders who were still on the street when the fireworks started was.

[4] I may be unjust to the song, simply because its sentiments and chorus have been appropriated by assclowns.
serinde: (glamour)
So, occasion: [livejournal.com profile] nedlnthred's boyfriend's birthday; a gala affair where the guests were requested to come in black tie, lingerie, or togas. Being us, we chose Door Number Two; something Moulin Rouge-inspired, perhaps with a dash of the ahistorical but really nifty courtesan outfits in Dangerous Beauty.

It so hap'd I had need to shop for corsets anyways, so I went down to Purple Passion, and they had something in my size that looked good on me, so I snarfed it. (It's claret silk with black/burgundy rose tracery.) I can't afford it, the more so upon realizing just how little we're actually getting out of the house sale (math is hard! let's go shopping!), but eating ramen is cheap and slimming, neh? But then, what to wear for a skirt? Thus I spent Saturday at Beth's, while she was making a corset from scratch, oh yes she did, figuring out how to turn my bias-flared black skirt into an Object of Greater Interest.

I took some of the scarlet silk taffeta Beth had bought for her skirt, cut it into seven 1.5" wide strips, and tacked them vertically on the skirt. Then I took some black lace (she needed the border motif; I used the center bit) and made a lace overskirt, which I swagged up along the front to match the bias flare, attaching it on each side with pink satin ribbon roses that I dug out of a corner. So that, and the corset over it, and garter belt with fishnets, and knee-high black satin boots with stiletto heels, and delicate pink-rose motif pendant necklace with matching earrings; and I did my hair in a coronet of braids with pink rosebuds from [livejournal.com profile] sweh's garden woven in. I am pleased to say that, for once, the end product of my labors came out pretty much as I had visualized them. It was a difficult birth, but the delivery was even mostly on time.

Lessons learnt:
1) Wow, a dress mannequin really does make it easer to faff around with what you're doing.
1a) But it's hard to faff when you don't want to be cutting your tolerably large bolt of fabric yet, since you haven't worked out how large a piece (or pieces) you will need for the task. This seems to require a level of visualization higher than my current tech level.
2) My machine-stitching skills are still kinda crap (though, in my defense, Beth's machine is not unlike a very fussy Thoroughbred).
3) Taffeta catches the light in markedly differing fashion depending on which direction you cut it in. (This caused me to waste some fabric {though it can probably be used for bindings} and about 40 minutes.)
4) I want to play more with shiny pretty things, which regrettably my usual historical efforts do not allow for.
5) I can drive an hour+ in a corset, because I am awesome.
serinde: (glamour)
...when everyone you pass compliments you on your new dress. Hurrah for Daffy's, etc.

Need: pedicure, fix my silver-and-turquoise watch, hair appointment.
serinde: (glamour)
While in England, I was seized & forcibly detained by a Clarks store, which had (surprisingly, as I'm used to thinking of them as comfortable-and-conservative) some deadly hot shoes at reasonable prices. However, we had places to be, and the place was completely pillaged due to post-Boxing-Day sales, so I thought, well, ah hah, I shall just hit one of the plethora of Clarks stores on this side of the pond.

Woe, alack, and alas. Apparently only the Brits get these, or these, or these. Indeed, it seems that they have an entire section, the "Smart" collection, available in the UK but not in the US. GODDAMMIT, YOU GUYS.
serinde: (glamour)
I may be exhausted, frantic, lacking focus, and with a brain of tapioca, but my hair looks awesome.
serinde: (glamour)
I am on the world's most dire conference call, which is for all CUNY Help Desk managers (and the woman at the Mothership who fills that role). We are a half-hour in and so far it's been all about the incoming Oracle PeopleSoft bleargh. Not a word about how students couldn't register for six hours on Monday. But I don't care, because I am wearing new clothes and have borrowed [livejournal.com profile] nedlnthred's awesome teal shoes. I feel like I can throw down with anything.

OH WE JUST GOT TO THE PORTAL ISSUE. "It's not down! People could still get to Blackboard! It was only LDAP!" (WHICH YOU NEED TO REGISTER WITH.) Oy veh es mir. "We see usage spikes and that is what causes the problem, we don't know what's causing that and are looking into it." Gosh, d'you think that maybe, possibly, they could be coincident with registration sessions?
serinde: (glamour)
We attacked the mall this morning, the goal being to buy [livejournal.com profile] sweh's birthday present. (HIS BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW! SEND HIM LOVE!)

However: I had not the least idea that a simple, unadorned, not-large gold watch is now considered passé for men. Even the high-end stores were full of enormous wrist-shields encrusted with disgusting amounts of bling; and I say this, I who am legendary for my magpie tendencies. About the only model on sale which approached the desired specs was by Radu, and therefore the price tag is about equal to one of my paychecks. (Awfully handsome piece, though.) I found an awful lot of watches that I'd like, including some really spiffy bronze-y models from Fossil and a necklace-watch from Coach (!!!) that was a padlock on leather whipcord, but nothing for the birthday boy. Feh.

Although defeated on that front, I cut a swath through the Bisou Bisou section of Penney's, and came away with two jackets, a skirt, and a sheer wraparound blouse; all of which, between leftover gift card and their "doorbuster" 50%-off-before-1pm sales, I got for a grand total of $25. OH YES I DID. You may bask in my aura now.

(In other news, I think the department stores are, ahem, managing expectations on sizes again. Diet and exercise are proceeding well, yes, but there is no fucking way a skirt of size N should be almost too big for me. No.)
serinde: (glamour)
The Beauty Brains: cosmetic scientists explain what the fuck is actually in that shampoo/foundation/whatever you've got in your paw at the drugstore, and what it does. Example: The Four Basic Types Of Shampoo.

Hallelujah.
serinde: (glamour)
Carlos by Carlos Santana, a line of women's shoes by a man's man guitarist. What?

They look fab, no denying it--this pair in particular speaks to my state and condition. It's just the branding I don't grok.
serinde: (glamour)
My big, clunky, rubber, Moddish clogs have died the death, by which I mean the soles are completely cracked on both ("oh, that's why they hurt so much the last few times I wore them..."). They've given me 5+ years of loyal service under tolerably heavy use, which for $15 Kmart specials is pretty darn good; I can say a lot less of shoes I've paid considerably more for.

This, of course, leaves a great gaping hole in my fashion choices.
serinde: (glamour)
The really pertinent lesson is: if you go out shopping for a very particular, specific item, you are doomed. DOOMED! Whereas if you just go out shopping, in the I Want New Things sense, you are much more likely to be successful.

I just spent eight hours trying to find a knee-length coat for the 30-40 deg. range, preferably not black, but with a bit of verve and spunk to it. Yes, admittedly, it's awfully late in the season for such a purchase, and I expected to have a bit of difficulty; I did not expect the kind of Bataan Death March that ensued.

I did find something, eventually, at our last stop (Nordstrom's). It was on sale, and the price I expected to pay, hallelujah. It is black, but has shiny gold bits so that's all right. And when I tried it on, Beth cracked wise about how I always shop on Carnaby St. SCORE!~

I found another jacket I was desperately desirous of, and it looks really good on me, but I truly did not need it. It was the right weight for what I wanted, but too short--my main goal was to have something to wear to work, and really, it's my ass and legs that get the coldest; and this only barely covered my butt. I could not justify dropping the not insignificant (but 50% off!!) sum on it. Dammit.

Also, I have finished replacing the zipper on my Not-A-Westwood skirt, and it can re-enter circulation. Hurrah!
serinde: (glamour)
I've been feeling a bit constrained in my workly garb of late (usually dress slacks, and a blouse or button-down shirt of some kind)--and I feel a touch overdressed by turns, compared to my colleagues--so I pushed the envelope a bit last week. I dug out an old favorite (which had been put away when I went up in size, and it now fits again, YAY) that some of you will have seen: black turtleneck under a brown plaid wool jumper. (...That is, American-style jumper, you right-pondians; I did not go to work clad in nothing but a sweater. kthxbye.) Now, I had been accustomed to accessorizing this a la Mod with torn fishnets, black rubber clogs, my London Underground lunchbox-purse, either a Hello Kitty necklace or my heavy locking chain, and if I wanted to really make Steve uncomfortable with the schoolgirl imagery I'd do my hair in twin braids; but none of this seemed appropriate for $CURRENT-ORK. So instead: black silk leggings, black leather ankle boots, tasteful white-gold necklace, and regular purse. (I did forget that it looks even better if I wear my glasses instead of contacts. Well, next time.)

I thought it struck a tolerably good balance between self-expression and professionality. (I also got a compliment from one of my officemates, viz. "Work that miniskirt, girl!". *smug*)

ObMusic: iTunes appears to be as psychic as my MP3 player.
serinde: (determination)
I hit Macy's just now. And, mirabile dictu, found a dress.

It's a very nice dress. It fits. It's tolerably flattering. It shows cleavage and butt curve. It has a bit of ornamentation but isn't encrusted stem to stern. I CAN WEAR A REGULAR BRA WITH IT (until you've worn a corset for 4+ hours, you know not how important that is). It was within the price range I'd figured on. What it is not is stunningly fabulous. It's just...a nice evening dress from the store.

I dithered and wibbled and plotzed in the fitting room. The more I looked at the dress, the more generic it seemed, and the more I imagined the knockout that Beth and I could create. But--so easy. Not spending the next four weeks driving myself into a frenzy has an appeal that only people who live at close quarters with me can appreciate. On the other hand, as I'd noted earlier in the week, stark necessity is the only thing that seems to drive me out of lethargic complacency into some kind of advancement.

Finally, a decision: I am hedging my bets. I have purchased the dress, which is fully returnable within six months if unworn with the tags still attached. And I shall begin work on the design in my head. If I finish it and it is worthy in my sight, great; I'll return this'un to Macy's. If I don't, or if it's clear that doing so will kill me (or make my loved ones do so), or if I am not joyed with the result, I have a perfectly acceptable alternative.
serinde: (glamour)
I need to get a floor- or ankle-length black evening gown for an event in April. I made an initial recce last Saturday, which was (to say the least) unpromising; but, thought I, we saw a whole bunch on department store web sites when scouting a few weeks ago, so perhaps I can get them to order a few in.

Well, not no' mo'. Spring fashions are in and black dresses mostly out, though there are indeed some (because it's classic and all), but what there is sucks; apparently it's been decreed that we are All About The V-Shaped Halter Top this year.

This is a design that looks fucking awful on me.

I don't want to have to make an evening gown. I strongly suspect my tech level isn't high enough to deal with the fancy slippery fabrics. And I'm pretty suckmoid at linings yet, too.
serinde: (glamour)
who's the punkiest one of all?

Why, that would be ME.

Faced with a minor fashion emergency, to wit that my black tights had a hole--not an artistically tattered run or anything, no, a nice big fifty-cent-piece sized HOLE--I twitched, despaired, and then was inspired with What Would McLaren do?

And I went to the garage, cut two pieces of black electrical tape, and made a nice X over the hole. --Well, all right. He probably would have put about six large rings of electrical tape around each leg, because anything worth doing is worth overdoing. But.

(Feeling much better today. The above did not cause me a freakout, for instance. Might be cumulative exercise & diet, or it might be that I could actually put on my jacket without arm pain this morning. PROGRESS!)

(ObMusic: They're playing the whole thing. God bless Radio Paradise!)
serinde: (glamour)
I'm prone to dry and/or chapped lips much of the time, enough so that I have Chapsticks squirreled all over the house, car, and my various purses for repeated convenient application in the colder weather.

But if you're wearing lipstick...? Don't tell me you have to put on lip balm and then reapply the mouth paint.

(Also, if I don't balm them before applying the lipstick in the first place, bad clumping things happen. But that's a simple problem with a simple solution.)
serinde: (glamour)
Obviously I'm doing something right, as I received a compliment on my looks today, specifically my lips. Preen, I say. Preen.

Now I just need to improve my speed technique so I have time for breakfast, too.
serinde: (glamour)
Since I won't be getting all sweaty every lunchtime for the next several weeks, it occurred to me that this would be a useful time to get a handle on my inability to apply makeup. Not that I have any intent of making this a daily part of my life, but I'd like to be able to do it with confidence and dispatch if I want to.

So I bought a book--I had a couple that were given me previously, but as I phrased it to [livejournal.com profile] sweh, I needed the kindergarten level and those started somewhere around middle school--and got crackin'. I came into work with makeup on both Friday and today. It is subtle, sufficiently so that [livejournal.com profile] audiovile didn't notice I was wearing any until I pointed it out. This is to the good, as I hold that makeup is like stage lighting: the viewer shouldn't be consciously aware of it unless you're deliberately doing something dramatic; they should merely notice that things are looking uncommonly well and they don't know why.

My current foundation is oil-free, which is mostly fine, but I think I need something else for my nose, which is awfully dry. I do moisturize it beforehand, but it would seem that bigger mojo is in order. The book advocates a sea sponge (!) for applying foundation, too, but using a regular wedge sponge seems to answer. Certainly it's vastly better than what I had been doing--I no longer feel like I've got glop on my face. In fact I keep forgetting it's there and rubbing my face. Oops.

I also keep forgetting mascara. This does not matter too much, as my lashes are naturally dark, but it should be a conscious decision not to wear it, not Hello I Am A Ditz.

I need more daytime eyeshadow (I have lots of gold and acid greens, but not much of natural shades) and lipstick (I only have one not-dark), just so's I don't get bored.

Also, GIP.

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