Another Reason to be Grateful I Have Boys

My sister called on Thursday and said that apparently there was a One Direction pop up store appearing in Toronto at 9am on Saturday. My niece and her friend were dying to go. For those of you who are unfamiliar with One Direction, see below.

My niece is 14. Need I say more?

So they decided to make the drive to Toronto on Friday afternoon, sleep over, and then head out at 6am on Saturday to line up for the grand opening of this One Direction store – AT 9AM!!

Now, I fully admit to being a teenaged hormonal girl once upon a time. I may have had quite a ‘thing’ for Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran for a in the ’80s (yes, I know, he looks like a drag queen by today’s standards but in the ’80s this was HOT).

I’m sure if I was 14, I would find the guys in One Direction absolutely dreamy instead of wanting to pinch their cheeks and make sure they eat their veggies like I do now. My problem isn’t with the band itself. My problem is with the blatant marketing machines of the music  industry which prefabricate bands based on looks and foist them on hormonal girls who are guaranteed, through research and marketing savvy, to eat them up.

I know this isn’t a new phenomenon. The Monkees were a band created just this way back in the ’60s, but it is sad to see how far the music industry is veering away from actual talent and towards flashy marketing and quick fortunes.

This pop up store is just that: a store, full of One Directions merchandise from wristbands to dolls (which you can only buy as a $150 set indicentally). None of the guys from the band were there for the ‘Grand Opening.’ Just hundreds of semi hysterical teens and pre-teens who were there for no other reason than to buy $30 t-shirts and other similarly overpriced merchandise with the likenesses of their idols emblazoned on them. My niece and her girlfriend loved every second of it though, and I have to say that my sister is a better woman than I am because I am not sure I would have dragged my butt out of bed at 5am for an overpriced, hormone driven, shopping spree. Instead, I slept in until 9 and refereed the remaining 4 boys playing video games.


Confessions of an ’80s fashion fan

Almost two years ago now I celebrated my 40th birthday surrounded by a bunch of wonderful women who all bit the fashion bullet and trawled their local thrift shops, accessory stores and (some sheepishly confessed) their own closets, to dress like they had in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s. As we bopped all night to the karaoke machine that could be heard for blocks in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood (I was later told by the disgruntled husbands who were left at home while their wives partied) I couldn’t help but notice that, given the choice, almost all of us had on some form of ‘80s fashion. Oh sure, we were decked out in neon and really bad hairdos but fundamentally, we all looked pretty hot for a bunch of almost-middle-aged chicks.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was slipping on a new little ensemble that I had put together and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, I think I wore this outfit in 1985!’ And yet, it looked great. So this got me thinking about what had changed between then and now to get me into the kind of outfit I had sworn I would never ever revisit outside of wild, drunken, themed karaoke parties, and to convince some of you ladies out there that you can do it too.

First off, it’s a matter of cut. Back in the day, we were buying men’s shirts and sweaters, throwing a slouchy belt on it or maybe a pair of tights under it and voila.  Today, we have beautiful knits made to come down to mid-thigh. They fit in the shoulder and the sleeve. There’s room for a bust and not as much bulk at the waist. Try on a long sweater with a pair of leggings. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Second, I have to sing the praises of undergarments. How many of us owned a thong in 1985 (okay, never mind, I don’t want to know).  But really, get rid of the panty lines with some good undergarments either of the skimpy or of the substantially elasticized, holding it all in place variety, and you’ve got a lovely silhouette.

Third, is the wide elastic belt. This little accessory is enough to make a doubter into a believer.  There’s nothing better for concealing a muffin top, and they’re comfortable to boot. I would take a nice stretchy elastic around my waist any day over those horrible faux leather wide belts of the ‘80s that cut into your side every time you moved. My biggest tip would be go get a belt that fits generously though. Don’t try to use it to suck anything in because the belt will double up and fold on you. Not a good look.

Next, we must sing the praises of leggings and fitted skirts. The fabrics and styles we have to choose from now are staggering.  The leggings are thicker, the elasticization is not as extreme, the skirts are cut properly to come just above your knee instead of the ‘80s ‘just covering your bum’ style. Skinny jeans are infinitely forgiving as well. They give you a slimming silhouette while the denim smooths lumps and bumps and doesn’t cling as much as a legging would.

And lastly, the boots. Oh, the boots. They’re everywhere this year and they’re gorgeous. Modernize the look with a knee high black boot with a bit of heel. Face it, pixie boots and skirts are for those sweet young things we see at the mall. But pixie boots and a hot pair of leggings? Why not?

I think what I learned by looking at myself in the mirror is that I can take a look that I rolled my eyes at even a month ago and make it my own. Even something ‘80s inspired can be so very flattering when it’s done right, with a modern twist, and with all the knowledge of fashion and our bodies that we have gained since back-in-the-day. So give the ‘80s a bit of a whirl. But please, ditch the neon. That was never right!

Trying to remember who I was…

I recently found some of my old high school creative writing assignments and remembered that I loved to write. I spent hours in my bedroom holed up with lined three hole paper and a bic pen, listening to ‘80s new wave bands and lamenting the future of man and woman kind. ‘Dancing With Tears in Their Eyes’ still gives me a creepy feeling down my spine. I joined Amnesty International and wrote protest letters to governments around the globe, much to my mother’s paranoid chagrin. I had penpals from all around the globe and we exchanged pictures and comparisons of our respective homes.

Now, I’m a stay at home mother and as my kids are getting older, I want to try and recapture some of that passion I had when I was younger. Not easy when you’ve spent the last few years writing nothing more thrilling than a grocery list.

I had a career before and after my first child. I worked for a high profile book publisher and got to meet all kinds of glamorous people (well, glamorous by literary standards anyway), attend parties, swan off to television and radio studios, escort some of our country’s top literati. But after my second, I didn’t go back (a whole other post entirely) and promised that I would be true to myself and what I really wanted.

Being a mum is distracting and all-consuming though, and as much as I and my other stay-at-home mummy friends joke about sitting on the couch eating bon bons, it’s damned hard work raising human beings to be productive members of society.

Still, its been almost 3 years since I’ve changed a diaper on one of my own kids and I find myself emerging from mummy mode and wondering what to do with myself. Any of you out there sympathize? Then let’s get going…