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I have mentioned previously that I’d designed a jacket for Betabrand, who do crowd-funded clothing and executive designs. That jacket will *finally* be launched for crow-funding Feb 23 – I’ll let you know when it’s up and you can see the prototype.

But in the meantime, I’ve entered their contest to “Hack the Dress Code”. My entry is a mini-capsule wardrobe of my favorite work ‘uniform’: a long-sleeved fine-knit t-shirt, matching leggings (which makes me feel like I’m in my jammies, or dressing up as a superhero!) and a skirt to make it off-appropriate. Plus a scarf, for a little extra flair. I love wearing that outfit because it’s totally comfortable yet flattering and worksafe, so I feel like I’m getting away with something. You can see my entry here, or all of them here.

If you want to vote, you need to be logged in, but can log in with your FaceBook account. (And if you like my outfit enough to vote for it, thank you!)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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No, not for President (yet). For my new jacket design. If enough people vote for it, Betabrand will manufacture it and then I can get myself one.

Voting Link.

Betabrand is a clothing company that seems to specialize in unusual products. The one that seems to be their flagship is the Dress Pant Yoga Pant, which you might have seen advertised if you use Facebook much. The idea is that it is a pair of comfortable stretchy pants, like yoga pants, but that look nice enough to wear to work. (I have a pair. They really are comfortable and well-made, and they come in Petite, Regular and Tall. They’re also washable; only downside is that they do not have real pockets.) Anyway, Betabrand’s business model is as unusual as their clothes. Anyone can submit a design idea; if enough people vote for it, they make and sell prototypes, like a Kickstarter project. If enough people buy (and thus fund) the prototype, it gets manufactured and sold thereafter.

You can see more information and also vote on other design ideas at the Betabrand Think Tank page. There’s no charge to vote, and as far as I know there’s no limit to how many you can vote for. There are a lot of very cool designs there, as well as some outstandingly goofy ones.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I’m almost looking forward to this year’s Concept 2 Holiday Challenge (the goal is to do 200,000 meters on the erg from US Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. This year will be my 12th time doing the whole thing. I did my first one in 2001. There was one year when I didn’t do it at all due to injury, and two years when I only did the 100000m version – 2006, when we first moved to the Netherlands (our ergs hadn’t arrived for the first part of it, so we had to erg in the boathouse there) and 2011, when we spent much of December doing a driving trip through France and Spain.

I started doing a marathon training programagain a couple months ago, so I’m about midway through it now, doing around 50 km a week. (That plan uses four week periods – in each period, you ramp up your distance for three weeks, then get one easier week to rest a bit before plunging in again.) I’m already doing enough distance now to finish the Challenge in time; by the time it happens I’ll be up to around 65 km/week so it should be no problem. Once again, I don’t know if I’ll finish the marathon program, since I have no reason to actually do a marathon any time soon, but it is a good way to build up an endurance base.

It’s also a pleasanter way to do the Holiday Challenge; I used to just row 6-7 km a day (whatever the average was that year – it changes since Thanksgiving Day is on a different date every year) for 30 days straight. With the training plan forcing me on, I do more distance each row, but I get two days a week completely off. Of course there’s a down side – just ask me this Saturday when I’m cranking out my 18000 meters! (It will take me about 1.75 hours.)

Amazon’s Matchmaker program has been a godsend for erging, even better than the Librivox recordings I had been listening to. A lot of them are only a couple dollars more to buy if you already have the e-book – and since I reread everything I like at all I do want the e-book version. Right now I’m almost done with the latest October Daye book; I’ve concluded that those, the Kate Daniels books and the Chronicles of St. Mary’s are really ideal erging books, because no matter how hard the workout is, at least it’s usually easier than whatever the heroine of the book is going through. (Yesterday, I was cranking out 1km pieces, while Toby was holding her arm in the middle of an animated rosebush that was using its thorns to sample her blood.)

Meanwhile, getting ready for Halloween. I like to do a more subtle, office-appropriate costume at work. This year I wanted to be Middle-Aged!Hermione; according to JKR she went to work in the Dept of Magical Law Enforcement, so she’d be wearing robes to work at the Ministry, but I figure she’d have to liase with Muggles occasionally and would dress accordingly. I will wear a loose hip-length black seater, with a white collared shirt under it (sleeveless, so I don’t get lumps in the sweater sleeves and a Gryffindor scarf. unfortunately I can’t find the Gryffindor scarf I knitted years ago – I suspect I gave it away because I never wore it. I couldn’t find a cheap tie, so I bought a knit infinity scarf in Gryffindor House colors, which is probably close to what a professional adult Hermione would wear anyway. I also bought some cheap Peanuts leggings and t-shirt at Kohl’s, after I’d given up on the tie and before I decided to buy the scarf at Amazon, but even with a skirt over the tights that seems a bit less work-proper for me. I have always loved Peanuts, though, and can wear those items as around-the-house jammies. (The scarf was $20, which is why I was hesitating, but it seems to be knitted out of t-shirt material so hopefully I will get some wear out of it when I want an accent and it’s too warm for a knitted scarf or shawl.)

I am pleased with myself for remembering to bring not only the white shirt but also my hairbrush back last time we went to the lake house – using a brush on my hair will give me the required Hermione frizz. (Normally I just gfinger-comb my hair to get tangles out without ending up with a Rosanne Rosannadanna bush.) Also I have a pretty wooden hairstick with a bit of inlay on one end; I figure I can carry that as a wand (and also use it on my hair if all that frizz gets too annoying). It’s maybe 7″ long, so smallish but not completely out of range from what the books describe – but I figure the wizards might follow Muggle lead in miniaturizing their tech.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I’ve written about this before as recently as June, but I just wrote a whole screed as part of an online discussion and realized it was basically a blog entry. A bunch of women were bemoaning how uncomfortable women’s clothing is than men’s , and that hasn’t been my experience at all.

I have found that the flip side of the expectations for women’s clothing means that I have more choices available than my make cow-orkers. I can wear what they wear; they can’t get away with a lot of what I wear. Some of it is luck; I’m not skinny, but am small enough to be able to buy clothing that’s on the loose size – jeans and trousers excepted due to rower thighs and current styles. I’m small-busted enough to be comfortable in less-constructed bras, and my feet are a size 8, which is dead center of the US women’s size range so all styles come in my size. I’ve worked in offices ranging from casual to business casual (the main difference between those, in my experience, is how OK they are with jeans). I have had friends who worked on offices where they were required to wear high heels – not often, but a few – and I know a lot of women who need underwire bras because wearing anything less constructed is even more uncomfortable.

My nearest male coworker is wearing a polo shirt and jeans; I could wear that (except that I’d freeze to death and that I don’t find polo’s terribly flattering on me – they are on some women). I can’t even claim that the freezing issue is gender based, in this case – it often is, but not here, judging by the number of women working near me in short sleeves or with skirts and bare legs.

Much of the clothing I wear most frequently is knitted, not woven (though all of my jeans and trousers and most of my skirts are woven). As mentioned above, I do have a fit issue with jeans; for a while now the trend toward skinny jeans has affected even supposedly-relaxed fir jeans and trousers. I don’t think tight jeans look professional on me, but I can’t find ones that are looser. I can at least find comfortable ones, with enough spandex to be forgiving, and low-enough waists that they’re not trying to cut me in half.

Today I am wearing a black bralette, a black tank top, merino-blend black leggings, and hand-knit socks. Topping that to make it office-professional, I have my Thera (designed by a Waffle!) and an Ibex skirt I originally bought from a rowing company that was selling them as a comfy cover-up over a rowing uni. (I have gotten so much use out of this skirt that if they still make them I’d buy one in every color.) Also, boots that really were made to walk in. I could go to a yoga class right now and all I’d have to take off would be a bit of jewelry. From the inside, it feels pretty much like pajamas, and I feel a bit sorry for the guy in the next desk who can’t wear this stuff.

To be fair, though, I did dress extra comfortably on purpose today; yesterday was one of the days when I really felt restricted by my clothing. Ironically, I was wearing men’s trousers; unusually for me, I tucked in my shirt and wore a tight belt, which had the effect of pulling the trousers upward so they were slightly binding at the crotch. (An effect of wearing pants designed for a male on a female body – they’re supposed to sit below the waist, and are actually a little higher on me than they’re meant to be, but I’d belted then tightly enough to bring them up to my natural waist.) I had a turtleneck collar ringing my neck, I had my hair pinned up tightly (which I also rarely do) and my bra had uncomfortable lumps in the seams. My shoes were comfortable, but nothing else was. I had big pockets, but they didn’t make up for the discomfort. I won’t be doing that again soon, but I’m glad I don’t have to.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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What do you know, my marriage (to a person of the opposite sex) actually changed today – mostly, in that I no longer feel vaguely guilty about having taken advantage of a privilege that not all of my friends have. I can live with that – and now we can celebrate our 22nd anniversary next week with light hearts and clear consciences.

On a completely different topic… It’s a truism, among feminists, that men have all the advantages in clothing: they have pockets in everything, their trousers come in lengths as well as widths without having to be specially ordered online, and most of all they have “default outfits” so that it’s possible to dress for work in clothing that won’t be noticed as too ornamental, not ornamental enough, unsexed, inappropriately sexy for work or any of the myriad other contradictory criteria women are inevitably judged by.

Every one of those words in the above paragraph is true except for one: the word “all”. There are benefits women’s clothing has, that aren’t available to men in this society, and the hot weather we’re getting in this city reminds me of that.

For one thing, we have a lot more flexibility. In a ‘business casual’ work environment, I can wear clothing that are nearly exact replicas of what the guys wear (except for being more expensive, having fewer fit options, and having useless pockets or none) but I can also wear skirts, dresses, or even skorts. I can come to work in an outfit that is basically pajamas – knitting leggings and a long knit top – and with maybe a belt or jewelry can appear professionally dressed, in an outfit that doesn’t bind or cramp anywhere. On a hot day I can wear a knit dress that hangs from my shoulders, isn’t tight anywhere, and stops just above my knees, and no one will say I’m dressed inappropriately.

In a dressier environment, I can wear things that the guys can only get away with when they go casual: I can wear a fine-knit t-shirt to a job interview (which is about the more formally I ever dress) with a jacket over it, and no one will think it’s sloppy. I can wear sandals to the office – not just any sandals, but at least I have dressy and work-proper ones available to me. Men don’t. at least with current styles.

I’m not minimizing the problems with women’s clothing. Not having pockets annoys the fuck out of me – or only having ones too small to actually keep anything in. I was pissed off recently when I went shopping for pants in a store that carried clothing for both men and women, and found that they had different lengths for men right there in the store, whereas women had to order tall or petite sizes on line – and men had several lengths available, not only three. Worst of all is the way designers seem to be convinced that fashion trumps all other considerations in women’s clothing, even including professionalism in clothes that are designed specifically for work, so that at the moment I can’t find pants that aren’t skin tight. I noticed the other day that a new pair of cargo pants were tighter in the thigh than plain khakis made a few years ago by the very same manufacturer – even though the whole purpose of cargo pants is to be loose and have lots of pockets.

I’m just saying that our current system of clothing that’s rigidly separated by intended gender hurts men too. Why shouldn’t they be able to wear comfortable clothing to work, no matter what the temperature is?

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I have a really ridiculous number of boots (well, okay, at least they’re in pairs – I suppose really ridiculous would be an odd number of them, assuming a two-legged wearer). I was just realizing this morning that it makes me slightly sad that the one I’m wearing today don’t have any story; like my earrings, most of my boots do have a story. (Actually, my earrings come in two kinds: ones I’ve made, and ones with a story attached. Some are both at once.)

There’s the high-heeled Doc Martens I bought in the Netherlands – I actually tried on a tall (I mean, comes further up the leg) version of those at a street market in Amsterdam, but decided they were probably impractical – and being sold on the street, might well be counterfeit. So back home in Eindhoven I bought the ankle-high version, something like these. They’re surprisingly comfortable; mine have more of a platform in front so the heels don’t feel as high as they look.

There are the boots I bought during shopping sprees in the US, during the years I lived abroad (in Europe, clothes and shoes cost more; in Taiwan, things tend to be either cheap and shoddy or designer and expensive). There are three pair of those: the tall brown boots, which I hurriedly replaced with nearly identical ones last year on a lunchtime run to DSW, after the original ones sprang a pinpoint leak in the sole that let water in; the tan cowboy boots I bought in a farm coop in southern Oregon, on the theory that as an American abroad, cowboy boots are my birthright even though I’m actually an East-Coast girl; and the black cowboy boots I bought the next year because I liked the tan ones so much. (Unfortunately, that last pai are much less comfortable than the tan ones, even though they’re the same size in the same brand.)

There are the really ornate boots I bought last month in Wyoming – yes I have three pair of cowboy boots – because they just straddle the line between fabulous and ridiclous, and were on sale for half price. They’ll remind me of that ski trip whenever I wear them, plus they’re just fun to wear.

There are the duck boots I bought after spending the day at a regatta where it was pouring down rain all day and the gaps between parts of the dock resulted in me going ankle-deep in water – not that it made me much wetter, by that point. I wore them to workm toom one day last winter when we got a snowstorm that mostly shut this city down.

And there are the ones I think of as THE boots, my Rossi Endura boots. I’ve been wearing them since I bought them in 2009 in Tasmania on our second trip to Australia, and they have years left in them. I wanted to buy a pair of Blundstone boots, after seeing a guide on our first trip to Australia hike all over the Outback in great comfort in them, but the guy in the shoestore in Hobart didn’t want to sell them to me. They’d recently moved production from Tasmania to Korea, so he talked me into getting a pair of Rossis because they were at least made in Australia (not Tassie, though). I’ve been glad ever since, because they’re the best boots ever – I can walk for miles in them, offtrail or on any surface, they’re waterproof, yet they’re still nice enough for work even with dress slacks. (Granted it might help if I ever polished or waxed them.)

I’ve also got the dusty-red low boots I was wearing when I began this entry, a pair of gray ones in the same style (both Born Raisa; some light hikers from Merrell, I think; some black Teva waterproof tall boots. But it’s never as much fun wearing boots that don’t come with a story attached.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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I’m having a closet problem lately: too much stuff in it. Problem is, the vast majority of it is stuff I actually wear. My sweaters may not fit well in their hanging shelf doohicky, but I love wearing sweaters and don’t want to give up any of them unless they’re entirely falling apart. Then there’s the stuff I don’t wear often, but need to have because when it’s needed, it’s really needed: suit, dress slacks, dressy dresses. I have been trying to be more realistic about getting rid of or at least sidelining clothing that doesn’t fit me any more, on the theory that even if the weight I gained during our expat years magically melts away someday, fashions have changed. (Not the year-to-year fads; I ignore those unless they’re something I like. I’m talking about the multi-year trends that are why you could walk around a mall ten years ago and see everyone in boot-cut jeans with shorter, tighter tops, whereas now jeans are tighter and tops are longer and looser.) Still, there are some things that are classics, like my two menswear-styled plaid vests. There are also things I think I should wear, like work-appropriate button-down shirts, but don’t because collared shirts are not that flattering on me. I’d put everything I don’t wear in a box under the bed, if only I could find a box low enough to fit, so I could keep it for a year and then throw it out if unworn in that time.

But I like my clothes and shoes. I love that an increasing proportion of my sweaters and socks were made by me. I love the decreasing proportion of my clothes that were purchased elsewhere – every time I wear them, they bring back memories and I’ll be sad when they’re mostly gone. I like that most of my jewelry has a story. I like thinking about what goes together, and planning what to wear the next day each night as I’m waiting to fall asleep. As much as I like choosing outfits, though, I’ve never wanted to do a fashion blog or even fashion posts here because of the photos. First, for the winter half of the year I’m rarely home during daylight hours, which cuts down on photos I can take. Second, I’m the least photogenic person I know. I don’t hate the way I look; I just hate the way I look in photos. My eyes cross, my chin sags, my teeth look anything but white (they came out multicolored, in one recent memorable photo!), my belly sticks out so that I look misshapen. Any photo you’ve seen here was culled from many more that looked much worse. I think I may have found a solution to that, though:

vestoutfit

From the top down, vest made by me (Boogie Vest pattern in Cascade 128 yarn), fine lawn collarless buttondown, jeans, Ariat cowboy boots. Other details include an emerald necklace and earrings Ted gave me years ago, though I realized in daylight that they don’t really go with the more olive green of the vest, and a low ponytail because the outfit seemed to call for it.

Or I could just learn to live with the way I look in normal photos. This was actually easier to take, though!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Today, I am wearing my big green sweater, because University of Oregon Ducks (green and yellow) are playing Ohio State Buckeyes (red and gray) for the college bowl championships. I’m not normally a big ducks fan, for two reasons: 1) I’m a relatively recent transplant to this state and my in-laws went to the other state university, Oregon State, and 2) I don’t really care about football much anyway. But you have to support your state when they’re in playoffs …. especially when your corporate office is in Ohio!

I didn’t buy a U of O-specific shirt despite being in a Nike store yesterday – they’re expensive and I’d be unlikely to wear it again. (There is a close relationship between U of O and Nike, whose founder Phil Knight was originally a track coach there and now contributes $cads and $cads of ca$h to their sports teams.)

Last time I wore this particular dark green sweater, it was to a Tulane football game. Amusingly, if the Philadelphia Eagles had done a bit better this season, I could wear it on my trip to Philly this week. Can’t wear it this weekend as things stand, though, because I wouldn’t want to support the Packers against the Seahawks, who pretty much function as a regional team for the whole Pacific Northwest. Versatile sweater!

Just to complete the outfit I’m wearing duck shoes (these, so called because they were originally designed for duck hunting). They’re more comfortable than you’d expect rubber boots to be indoors. Only one small annoyance; they’ve been creaking when I walk all day. I finally realized that maybe the shoes have taken their “duck” nickname too literally. They’re not creaking – they’re quacking!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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It makes me happy that everything I’m wearing today from the ankles up is crypto-sportsgear: non-itchy wool tunic and tights from a women’s sports store online, underwear from a local sporting-goods place. (I guess Under Armour takes the “under” part of their name seriously. Also, the less-bombproof sports bras are a lot more comfortable than underwires for me.) On the one hand, you could say I overpaid for performance fabrics that aren’t really needed in an office, when all I really need are normal clothes. On the other hand, I was extremely comfortable biking in this morning (much more than if I’d worn trousers) and itchless wool is good under any circumstances. Also, I feel like I’m getting away with something, especially as my company’s new dress code, while very reasonable, says something about not allowing athletic clothing. (They just want us to look reasonably professional, and I do. That’s why I call it crypto-sportsgear.)

From the ankles down, I’m wearing socks knit by me and ankle boots that are comfortable enough to walk a couple miles in, so that’s also a win.

I have been wearing two fitness trackers for a few days now, and am almost ready to write up a review and comparison, but I will make that a separate post.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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See previous two entries if you need an explanation.

Hobbitbabe asked for:
Five athletic accomplishments you’re proud of (not necessarily competition results).

Hm. The hard part here is how to define “athletic”; earning a private pilot’s license is one of my proudest acomplishments, but though flying counts as a sport in some cases, I guess it’s not really athletic.

  • The next question is how to count the marathons; I’ve done five, so it’s probably best to lump them together so they don’t take up the whole list. I’m proud of my first marathon (on a rowing machine), my first marathon on the water (in a double), my next marathon on the erg in which I took a lot of time off the previous year, my first marathon on the water in a single all myself, and the marathon I erged in Taiwan just to have a goal to strive for, with nothing to push me but me.
  • We tend to videotape races, so we can see how we’ve done. There was one, years ago in Long Beach, when I was way behind the others in the race and you could tell I’d given up – terrible form, not even trying for maximum power. I swore to myself then that I’d never have to see a video like that again, and I’m proud that I never have. I still come in dead fucking last sometimes (the difference between dead last and dead fucking last is a fair bit of open water) but at least I’m trying the whole way for the best time I can achieve.
  • I’m proud to say I’ve not only rowed but competed on four continents, that I’m in my mid-40s and still rowin regularly, and that I’m pretty limber for age
  • I’m proud that I completed the Concept 2 Holiday Challenge (goal is to erg 200,000m from American Thanksgiving to Christmas) most years since 2002, excepting only years I was rendered unable to do it due to illness, injury, and last year when I did the shorter 100,000 challenge version instead because I only had access to an erg for about 10 days in that period.
  • I’m proud that I can still pike to a headstand. Start with head and feet on the floor, hands making a tripod with hear, legs straight and toes pointed. Then use your ab muscles to pull both legs up a once, slowly, gracefully and without kicking, into a headstand.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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