clothing · fashion · fitness · shoes

Sam checks in after four months without shopping

Four months ago I announced on the blog that I was taking a year long hiatus from shopping for shoes, clothes, purses, and jewelry. You can read that post for the full back story of why, and you can also see some of my pandemic purchases! Online shopping was a stress reliever during the pandemic but I have way more than enough stuff and it was taking up a lot of mental space as well as physical.

A few people have asked how it’s going.

First, in the interests of full disclosure, I did make some exceptions so it’s not been no shopping. I think I even announced those in the that original post. They were non underwire bras (after I decided not to go back to them once the pandemic was over), a dress for a friend’s wedding that worked with my new knee, and new running shoes which I’d planned to buy after surgery. At the time of the no shopping pledge I didn’t know when that would be.

Second, I’ve had fun watching the clothing ads slowly disappear from my social media newsfeeds. But there are some fun exceptions there too. Facebook is honing in on my personal style. My son Gavin says that with my cane I look like a Muppet pirate. Lately the ads are getting more and more specific. Lots of pink and purple and red. Lots of furry, shiny fabrics. So I’ve resisted but maybe I’ll ask for one for Christmas.

Third, it’s certainly made me realize how much clothing I have. Instead of shopping online, I’m shopping in my closet. It’s led to some discoveries and it’s also led to some clearing out of things I don’t wear. It’ll be a good opportunity to take stock, organize, and prune my existing clothes collection. I’m glad to have that as a focus for the year instead of buying new things.

Fourth, shoes are easiest to resist. I own a lot of very nice shoes and boots. I’m tempted a lot by jewelry since I lose a lot of it. I hardly ever buy purses so there’s not much challenge there at all. And clothes are really the focus of this whole thing.

Fifth, I do need things to distract me on my phone still. And I’ve found a thing that’s not shopping. Instead when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep or when I’m waiting in the car for people, I’ve been working on my Spanish using Duolingo.

Check out my progress!

Sam’s Spanish progress

Sixth, it’s also not been no shopping. Regular blog readers might recall shortly after knee surgery, while taking strong pain medication at night, I went on a pillow shopping bender. I guess I Google searched for best pillows for getting comfortable after knee surgery and bought them all. They just kept arriving, for days. More pillows!

Here’s Cheddar with one of the new pillows!

Yay for tonight body pillow and Cheddar the dog

And I am keeping a digital scrapbook of things I’ve been tempted to buy so I can check in at year’s end and see if I’m still tempted.

beauty · clothing · fashion · racism · sexism · stereotypes

Jewelry and Exercise

Do you wear jewelry when you exercise? If do, how much, and why?

This McGill wikipedia entry describes that jewelry has been used for

  • Currency, a display of wealth, and a way to store things,
  • Making clothing functional (such as jeweled clasps, pins, and buckles)
  • Symbolism (to show membership, status, political affiliation, or relationships)
  • Protection (in the form of amulets and magical wards), and
  • Artistic display (personal style, fashion, etc.)

I normally wear at least some jewelry for most of these reasons. When I exercise, I wear my fitness tracker ring (to “store” data?) and my wedding ring when I want to reduce the likelihood of being approached (a magical “protection” amulet?).

An anklet while running? Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio Copy

I’ve noticed that my (semi-) regular exercise has had an impact on the jewelry I wear these days: thin, flat, light rings and an equally thin, light, and short necklace that I don’t have to remove. However, I do replace big earrings with small sleeper hoops when I bike or curl or whatever. I don’t normally wear bracelets or anklets, and I have no other piercings (other than a tongue ring, which stays in).

You may have a different approach–you don’t wear jewelry of any kind, or you take take off some or all jewelry then put it back on after exercising. And, of course, it depends on the sport! But there aren’t any sporty people I know who leave on all their regular day-to-day jewelry on while exercising.

I wear some jewelry when I exercise because I like the jewelry I have and I lose what take it off. Also, the jewelry I wear allows me to exercise unimpeded. If I’m honest, I might also keep jewelry because I think it communicates that I am a recreational athlete.

My assumptions about exercise and jewelry

“A quick shot after getting wrapped for the boxing gloves, before the ring comes off and the gloves go on.” Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that exercise and jewelry do not go together, that the more competitive the athlete the less jewelry they wear. Where did this idea come from? Practically speaking, jewelry can hinder performance and even increase injury risk. But I have also assumed that “serious” athletes care more about performance than appearance.

I admit to holding the converse assumption as well: the more jewelry, the more the exerciser cares about appearances. For sale these days is a bevy of “exercise jewelry” that is advertised as waterproof, sweatproof, and non-tarnishing. But do serious exercisers really go for these? The workout jewelry and charms on Etsy are cute but not all practical for the exercise they represent.

While I do not want to police what people wear, my immediate thought about the “strong AND pretty” message of workout jewelry is that it reflects what Andi Zeisler (2016) describes as “marketplace feminism”–reducing social movements and personal empowerment to beauty and fashion items for purchase.

Challenging my assumptions

Then, recently I saw a web news article whose accompanying image made me question these above preconceptions.

I was struck by the size and amount of jewelry worn by track and field athlete Sha’Carri Richardson in recent photos on the Yahoo news site. Richardson is photographed while competing at the 2022 USATF outdoor Championships at Hayward Field wearing multiple hoop earrings, nose rings, a necklace, a bracelet, and a belly piercing with a full chain (not to mention flowing hair, false eyelashes, and long fake nails). She did not qualify at that event, but later at a different international event, wearing similar jewelry she did qualify.

Photos are of Sha’Carri Richardson racing in June 2021 by jenaragon94, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cropped photo of Richardson.

Recently, jewelry wearing, jewelry design, and jewelry store ownership have all gained attention for their historical and cultural meaning and significance for African North Americans. I do not claim to know why Richardson wears what she wears, but I imagine her exercise “look” might go beyond personal beauty and fashion choices to deeper personal and cultural symbolism. A recent article on Serena Williams mentions her wearing Love earrings in her very last tennis match as a tribute to the game, and braids with beads she wore early in her career to honour African cultural traditions.

One of the only fitness activities that stereotypically show athletes with jewelry-like “accessories” in North America: yoga practice. But appropriating prayer beads is for another post. Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash

Perhaps Richardson, Williams, and other non-white athletes wear their jewelry styles precisely to challenge dominant white-centric stereotypes of competitive athletes as de-jewelled and unadorned. Their accessories lead me, us to realize there is in fact a whole world full of athletes engaging in various types of sports and exercise while wearing jewelry and other body adornments.

Old habits, but some new thinking

I probably won’t change my own minimal jewelry-wearing habits while I exercise. But, this reflection has given more insight into what drives my current jewelry-wearing choices. Some of it is fashion, but mostly it is simplicity and convenience.

It has also invited me to confront the narrow range of imagery that reinforce what is “normal” for athletes to wear (or not wear) when it comes to jewelry. I’ll think twice about my ideas about the relationship between jewelry and exercise. Some competitive athletes wear jewelry for its social and political meaning, not (or not only) to make a fashion statement.

beach body · body image · fashion · feminism · normative bodies

Bodiless Swimsuit Ads Reinforce Body Norms Too

It is summer swim season! I know this because I see on my Facebook feed “beach body” memes and a dramatic uptick in swimsuit advertising.

a cute seal with the words in meme font Beach body ready...for winter
The least repulsive of the repulsive memes about beach bodies. Because cute seal.

I normally don’t pay much attention to swimwear ads because swimsuits are not that important to me. However, I can understand the appeal of shopping online: no store assistants, no dressing rooms, no drama with wrestling with ill-fitting suits.

Swimsuits from a Facebook ad that have no models wearing them.
Swimsuits from a Facebook ad that have no models wearing them. Okay, there’s one person, but the suit looks drawn on!

But this year, I have noticed that a few swimwear ads that feature either 3D-drawn images or the actual suits put on photoshopped-out mannequins. I don’t remember seeing before ads with these hovering bodies that are legless, armless, torsoless.

Tracy has noticed how the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated gives women equal opportunity to be objectified. Obviously that’s not good. If sexified suits objectify women regardless of age, and if a steady diet of these images still perpetuates body ideals, then is no body in the swimsuits our inclusive and evolved solution?

The decision to dis-embody models in these ads is likely far more economic than activist: I’m sure it’s cheaper to use realistic pictures or torso mannequins than to hire real people, and shoppers may have an easier time imagining themselves in the suit without a real body in it for comparison.

And maybe I’m making too much of these ads, but they weird me out. They make me think of Kevin Bacon as the Hollow Man in a tankini. The disembodied swimsuit model–as imperfectly resembling a human being in a way that causes “uneasiness and revulsion”–should be added to the graph visualizing the uncanny valley hypothesis.

The uncanny valley graph portraying how non-human bodies create uncertainty and revulsion the more realistic they become. Added to the image is "disembodied swimsuit ads."
By Smurrayinchester – self-made, based on image by Masahiro Mori and Karl MacDorman at CC BY-SA 3.0. Adapted by a weirded-out me.

From my feminist perspective, the no-body in these ads is not equivalent to everybody: it removes the one thing people need to wear these suits in the first place. These ads may avoid replicating images of so-called ideal bodies, but they also remove the bodies people have–complete with colour, fat, wrinkles, blemishes, scars, and hair. Ironically, the absence of real bodies features the ultimate normative body, one that is stripped of all uniqueness of size, shape, and mobility differences. In the case of the leaky, hysterical cis-female body so feared and scorned by patriarchy, what body is more “perfect” than the one that does not exist at all?

I tried to find answers to my questions (except the last one, which was rhetorical) with more Internet. While many web articles give advice on purchasing swimsuits by size, fit, fabric, style, cost, coverage, quality, versatility, quality, and “features” (like pockets), none described whether I should buy online a suit modelled by a real but photoshopped body or by an invisible but perfect fake body. I did notice that a few articles–such as Teen Vogue and TripSavvy–used these body-less swimsuit images in their feature banners as well.

For the record, in all this web searching I did notice more body-diverse swimwear than I have seen in the past. After staring at row upon row of swim-suited no-bodies, I was comforted and excited by these all-too-human ads.

Then, I realized that online shopping has its own trappings, and I closed my laptop altogether. Maybe going into an actual store to try swimwear on my own body is looking not be so bad after all.

challenge · clothing · fashion · fitness

A year without buying clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry…Can Sam do it?

I’m going to take the plunge and quit shopping for clothes (also shoes, purses, jewelry) for one year, July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023.

Why?

Well, I’ve been inspired by Mina Samuels’ account of her one year no shopping challenge. See Making Room in My Mind: A Year of No Shopping.

Not having much stuff with me is one of the things I loved about my sabbatical years in other countries. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and wore them for the year. I had a few work outfits, a few hanging out at home outfits, some bike clothes, a bathing suit (not 7!) and a raincoat. That was about it. I spent a lot less time deciding what to wear and since I only brought clothes I really liked with me, I was pretty much always happy with my choices.

Simpler life on sabbaticals suits me and while I haven’t been able to make that work at home, I’d like to try.

I’ve also been stress shopping in pandemic times and I’d like to stop that. In terms of pandemic stress bad habits, it’s not the worst but who really needs a nap dress or a #workfromhome llama onesie! I also now own Pride Hunter rainboots AND bright pink UGG rainboots, and leopard print crocs with fur inside. Really, that’s enough frivolous footwear for a lifetime.

Sam’s frivolous footwear
Animated Sam in her llama jammies onesie

Regular readers know that I’m a critic of fast fashion and I used to teach about the ethics of consumption in the context of fashion. While I mostly buy made in Canada clothes, not fast or inexpensive, there’s still not much good in owning as much clothing as I do.

I also hope to get rid of stuff I don’t actually wear. Possibly that might include the nap dress. Lol.

Finally, I’d like to put some money away for travel once the pandemic travel panic eases a bit and I feel like, for me, the bother/pleasure is right again.

Why not?

I get a lot of pleasure out of clothes, and clothes shopping, and putting outfits together. Why quit one of things that makes me happy? The thing is I’m curious. Can I get a different sort of pleasure working with what I’ve got? That’s its own sort of sartorial challenge, right? I confess I was tempted by Nicole’s challenge, wearing the same dress for 100 days, but when I went to the website that sells the wool dresses connected to the challenge, I somehow ended up with three different styles and colours in my cart. I don’t think moderation is the path for me here!

Why blog about this here?

Well, mental health is health and we write about well-being broadly construed here on the blog. I like Mina’s description of making room in her head for thoughts other than shopping. Also, there are some fitness implications. See exceptions below! Most importantly thought putting it out here makes it real, makes it more likely that I will stick with it. I’m also taking all shopping apps off my phone. Do you have any other advice to make this easier? Wish me luck!

Any exceptions?

I will make exceptions–say if my cycling shoes break–or if I need a new pair of cycling shorts. I’ve been shopping for a new non-underwire bra for work clothes and while I am hoping to snag one before the 1st of July. If I don’t, then that too will be an exception. I am not putting off the challenge for the sake of finding a decent bra.

A cute cat waving goodbye

Goodbye Luc Fontaine, goodbye Lesley Evers, goodbye Fluevog and Poshmark too (used clothes are still clothes…)!

Sam’s #OOTD Instagram
More #OOTD instagram
fashion · fitness

What to do instead of extreme dieting to get into an old dress for 5 minutes on social media: tips for Kim K

CW: mention of extreme dieting.

In case you’re not a big Met Gala red carpet fan (don’t judge me; it’s a way to avoid end-of-term grading), Kim Kardashian (who I still can’t figure out why she’s a celebrity) showed up wearing a dress of Marilyn Monroe’s. She wore it for a few minutes– long enough for selfies seen ’round the world– and then changed into an identical dress for the rest of the evening.

Stick figure is confused. Me too!
Stick figure is confused. Me too!

This was a very elaborate and expensive publicity stunt, which I think is Kim Kardashian’s stock in trade. That’s not why I’m bringing this to your attention. Rather, it’s the fact that this stunt involved very extreme weight-loss methods in order to fit into a fragile 60-year-old dress for less than 10 minutes– basically long enough to pose and ascend the stairs at the Met Gala. I won’t post anything about those methods, but you can read more about it in the Teen Vogue article.

In my view, Ms. Kardashian was ill-advised in her desire for attention on the Met Gala. Had she asked for my input, there are lots of other ways she could’ve drawn attention to herself without doing potential damage to her body and encouraging lots of women and girls to do the same:

1.Ms. Kardashian could have set up a sewing machine and table to sew a one-minute dress, put it on and strut up those stairs. Yes, it’s possible– check it out here:

Karma B shows us how to sew a dress in one minute and be fabulous.

2.If Kim didn’t want to go to all the trouble of sewing, but wanted to make an impression, she could’ve taken tips from these folks, who certainly went all-out for the Met Gala too, but didn’t worry about fitting into too-tight clothing:

Honestly, a great hat can really spruce up an otherwise-ordinary outfit. Had Kim’s people done their research, they would have found these examples to help turn the spotlight on their client:

My fashion take-away: there are so many fun and elegant and whimsical and hilarious ways to go all-out for special occasions. Why focus on clothing that doesn’t fit in the first place (which isn’t your fault or the clothing’s fault)? Imagination and a little courage can send us all out there into the world and onto whatever red carpets or boardrooms or conferences or galas with panache.

I don’t currently have any fancy dos on my agenda. Do you, dear readers? What do you wear when the dress code is schmancy? I welcome your advice.

aging · birthday · fashion

Catherine turns 60: what to wear?

This week I turned 60. It’s kind of exciting and also a little daunting. I’m excited at reaching what feels like a milestone. My father died 15 days shy of his 60th birthday, of metastatic lung cancer. My mother is 78 (yes, she had me young) and still chugging along. At 60, it feels like I’ll be joining her, my aunts, and older women friends, being inducted into the membership of… some metaphysical organization of which I currently know not.

So, given that some aspects of my future seem ineffable, I’m pragmatically turning to the mundane: what does turning 60 mean for my wardrobe choices? What do various clothing styles mean for women, 60 and older?

Again, I find myself soaring into abstract territory; perhaps it’s just pre-birthday flutterings. Maybe I should just talk about clothing now. Okay, I’ll do that.

Last week, I posted Style secrets for women over 50: Catherine has thoughts.

Most of what I read online was a miscellany of what NOT to wear, of which I’m choosing to ignore ALL their ill-considered tips. However, I continued searching for articles on style, and style for older women. What are my choices?

There’s always classic and elegant:

They look lovely (the women and their outfits), but this look doesn’t really suit my personality, lifestyle or bank account.

I do love me some color, though, and you see bright-colored costume-y ensembles on some fashionable older women.

These are fabulous, but… not really for me. I like the harem pants and also the flowing green coat, but these are bolder style messages than I think I want to send on a day-to-day basis.

There’s a lot of commentary on what older women wear, and most of it isn’t good. They get lampooned on TV and elsewhere. Who can forgot grandma Yetta from the TV show The Nanny?

By the way, here is what actor Ann Morgan Guilbert, who played Grandma Yetta, looked like in real life:

Actor Ann Morgan Guilbert, looking elegant and stylish as herself.
Actor Ann Morgan Guilbert, looking elegant and stylish as herself.

You may be beginning to get the message that, for older women, style means bold and extreme, maybe bordering on satire. That’s fine if that’s what you want. But I don’t want these to be my only options:

I mean, they’re totally fab. But not to go into my wardrobe rotation.

Don’t despair for me, gentle readers; I did find a fashion exemplar whose style works for me. I present, for your consideration, looks of Queen Latifah:

Queen Latifah’s looks feature comfortable shoes, unfussy components, some tailored style, and above all functionality. These are clothes to live in, not pose in. I admit I might pick some pieces with bolder colors too, but I like the combo of useful and chic. Thanks Queen Latifah!

Now, time to go shopping in my closet and see what combos come out of it. Stay tuned for updates.

Readers, what kind of looks are you sporting these days? Any fashion tips or aspirations you want to share? Let me know.

fashion · fitness

Style secrets for women over 50? Catherine has thoughts

As if life weren’t already hard enough… Town and Country came out this month with “Style Secrets” for women over 50. Whenever I read “blah-blah for women over 50”, I feel like I have to either 1) step away from the breakables in my house; or 2) put on my mouth guard while reading to keep from grinding my teeth away.

And yet– I couldn’t resist sharing a few tips with you, dear readers. Worry not, though, as I have accompanied them with healthy (or at least, amusing) commentary. And pictures, too. So here we go…

Town and Country says to us: Opt for daintier jewelry.

Hell to the no. First of all, I can barely see the catches on itty-bitty necklaces to put them on. Secondly, I enjoy color, texture, dimension and materials. That translates for me to having fun with jewelry, which is sometimes large and in charge. I present to you exhibits 1a and 1b.

Next tip from Town and Country: Find the right jeans.

I hardly know how to respond to this. Every woman over 50 knows that the “right jeans” is one of the big lies of our time. They don’t exist. Or, maybe they did (I found the perfect pair of Marithe Francois Girbaud jeans in 1993), but then they stopped making them. We know this: we go out with the jeans we have, not the jeans we might want…

They go on, offering us more sage wisdom: Wearing a skirt? Mind your knees.

What is this? Random orthopedic advice? Nope. Some bozo named Paul Cavaco dropped the following quote:

“I think that after a certain age your skirt should really be at or below the knee, no matter how beautiful your legs are. It looks more appropriate and it doesn’t look like you’re trying to look young.”

That’s a load of crap. Take this, Paul:

Don’t we all look super cute? I thought so.

Their next tip sounds okay, but it’s actually bad: Chose where you want the most attention. The creepiness is in the details below, from creepy guy Andrew Gelwicks:

“A lot of the women I dress have a certain area of their body that they don’t feel as confident of. If you’re going to be more conservative with one part of your body then you need to compensate by highlighting another area. Have a leg moment if you don’t want to draw attention to your shoulders.”

No No No No No No No! I can choose to highlight NO areas of my body if I want. In fact, that is my preferred default state moving through the world. If I have to pick one part of my body to highlight, it guess it would be this one:

I'd like for my brain to be highlighted, but of course not literally, like in this picture.
I’d like for my brain to be highlighted, but of course not literally, like in this picture.

Town and Country clearly doesn’t like women over 50, as they then suggest the following: Shapewear is key.

In case you don’t know what that is, they’re talking about spanx and other sorts of tight elastic garments designed to constrain our bodies and render us less like people and more like sausages. Why? Because over-50 bodies and movements of those bodies are seen as less smooth or graceful or uniform by some in the fashion world and everyone on the Town and Country Editorial staff. All I have to say here is this:

It’s a trap!

It *is* a trap, in more ways than one. First, once you manage to get into these elastic torture garments, it’s not easy to get out of them again. Second, it traps us into thinking that our own unfettered bodies are not acceptable for public outings. A pox on all shapewear and the truck they rolled in on.

They go on to make lots of suggestions about high heels (always have a pair at the ready), as well as what color of high heels you should have (black is a requirement, but color is okay). I’ll stop here.

In summary: my style tips for women over 50?

  • Find your own style
  • Ignore the whole idea of style
  • Follow trends
  • Find your trends at your local thrift shop
  • Wear pajama bottoms all the time
  • Do whatever you want

That’s my plan. What are your style tips for women over 50? I stand before my closet, awaiting your advice…

fashion · fitness

Relatable bodies in the news this week

It’s been a week. Even though the COVID numbers are heading downward in my area of the US, they’re still very high. And I also spent more time than usual in grocery stores, caught up in pre-nor’easter shopping mania. I now have 1.5 gallons of milk in my fridge. I guess it’s time to make a LOT of pudding…

Large bowl of banana pudding with vanilla wafers.
Now that’s what I’m talking about: Vanilla wafer banana pudding.

While trolling around for a blog post topic, I discovered that, while I was standing in line at the Cambridge, MA Star Market, fashion’s last taboo was being challenged in Paris. To what am I referring? Well, it just so happens that one designer decided to use what the Guardian called “models of average size” in his couture show.

I know. I should’ve warned you to sit down before reading this. I hope you’re okay.

The fashion media were all aflutter over this.

In runway shows, sometimes there are 50 skinny models and one bigger-sized. I feel like you don’t really relate to that. You don’t believe that. You just tick the box,” Piccioli told Vogue. Instead, he cast 10 models with “differently proportioned bodies,” to the delight of fashion fans and dispelling the notion that it’s too difficult or expensive to design clothes for different body types, an oft-cited excuse for designers unwilling to become more inclusive.

Let’s take a look at some of these “relatable bodies” (as the Guardian put it):

Some poor woman trapped in a sea of purple bows and a big flouncy skirt. If I could see her body, I could tell you if it was relatable. Alas...
Some poor woman trapped in a sea of purple bows and a big flouncy skirt. If I could see her body, I could tell you if it was relatable. Alas…

Maybe these are better examples of what the enthralled fashion writers had in mind:

I know– it’s silly and perhaps unkind to the above-mentioned working women to poke fun at them just doing their jobs. What I am poking fun at is the idea that these women have “relatable” bodies. They’re clearly models, with model looks and body structure and body size (and also those inimitable model facial expressions of distracted ennui). If fashion designers wanted to present actually relatable bodies wearing fancy clothes, they might have shown something like this:

Now, these are women I can relate to. You can read more about them here.
Now, these are women I can relate to. You can read more about them here.

This week DID, in fact produce an image of the most relatable and adorable bodies I can think of– this one:

Serena Williams and her daughter, resplendent in matching coral and black active wear.
Serena Williams and her daughter, resplendent in matching coral and black active wear.

Now these women are ones I can relate to. And I WANT Serena’s outfit. Will report back when I track it down…

Readers, what sorts of images do you find relatable? Do these slightly-larger-sized models do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

blog · camping · canoe · cycling · family · fashion · fitness · illness · nature · season transitions · Seasonal sadness · traveling

Blogging in September: My birthday, the blog’s birthday, back to school, and other themes

There are lots of things I could write about today. I’ve spent a fair bit of time pondering my choice of topics.

I was going to write about my annual thyroid cancer check up. It’s today. And if all goes well it’s my last annual check up. (Fingers crossed.) After today they’re every five years. My birthday last week was also mammogram day. It’s as if September weren’t a busy enough month for an academic. It’s also cancer screening season for me.

I thought about writing whether Tracy and I want to write a turning 60 book, to follow up our turning 50 project, Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey. We’re having dinner together tonight and no doubt the subject will come up

Let’s see. It’s also blog birthday season. As Tracy posted, happy 9th birthday blog! We’re nearly at 5000 posts too. That’s hard to believe. This post is 4990!

And the blog’s birthday and my birthday, not surprisingly given how the blog got started, are pretty close together. Another possible topic, what does 57 mean anyway?

Here’s a photo from my birthday bike ride!

Jeff, Dhurin, me, Kim, Ellen and Sarah on the birthday bike ride

At this time of year I often write about back to school and trying to stay physically active as work gets busier and busier. This year, unlike last, I’m back in my office. I’m not yet back at the gym.

I’m having big busy days filled with work and people. So many people! I gave a lecture to O-Week students (photo on the right) and hung out with incoming College of Arts students at our Food Truck lunch meet and greet (photo on the left.)

I also biked around meeting parents and students on move-in day. (Round photo at the bottom.)

Sam’s pink Bromption outside Zavitz Hall at the University of Guelph

I’m back in the office now, wearing (mostly) real clothes. I looked at my clothes the other day and wondered why there were so many pairs of yoga pants. Who needs five pairs of yoga pants? Oh right, work from home and the pandemic. I could write about wearing clothes again. I’m working my way back to real shoes but I am not there yet.

In recent years I’ve been suffering a bit from seasonal sadness and trying to tell myself new stories about fall and winter, leaning into the time of cold and dark. I’ve been trying to extend outdoor activities into the fall. We’re going canoe camping again one more time this fall. And we are also looking at more fall gravel riding plans. So there’s that.

I’m a bit nervous that the no travel thing is continuing and it looks like this will be another year in which I don’t get to go somewhere warm with my bike for the winter. I miss the southern US! I miss Florida and Arizona for winter cycling.

In the end, I just want to let you know how much we’ve been enjoying our time in Prince Edward County and likely will continue that into the autumn too.

How’s your September starting out as we move into the fall?

Here’s a farm frog and a some pumpkins.

Frog and pumpkins
bras · fashion · fitness

Will we go back to wearing ‘real’ bras in a post-pandemic world? Sam isn’t sure

Image: Women’s peach bra on white background with matching peach roses
Photo by  Kapil Tejwani  on  Scopio

It’s spring and I’m swapping clothes around, from winter to summer. The fall and spring stuff stays out year round. But I store out of season clothes in the basement in plastic storage tubs, as one does if you only have one closet and a chest of drawers. I have friends who don’t swap clothes between seasons but generally speaking they are friends who live alone and who have year round access to multiple closets.

Even with the swapping about, I’m still pinched for clothes space. So I looked about to see what I’m not wearing and came across a full drawer of bras. Prime clothing real estate taken up by fancy underwire things that I haven’t worn since the pandemic began. I moved them out and relegated them to a storage box on the bookcase.

What have I been wearing if not those bras? Sports bras mostly. But not even my most serious supportive sports bras. Instead I’m wearing the comfy, soft sports bras, the kind people market for yoga or possibly low impact activities. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’m going back to the serious, substantial ones.

I recognize that this is a privilege that follows from being a B cup and not a D or larger. I know some friends who are more comfortable wearing a serious bra. I’m just not one of them.

After a bit of searching for non sports bras that are still soft and comfortable, my newsfeed is full of ads for them. I’ll buy some maybe and report back. I feel it’s the underwear equivalent of Cate’s discussion of “hard shoes.”

I’m still in love with lots of my formal work clothes but never again will I wear a bra that pokes in my ribs.

How about you? What’s your “return to workplace”–whatever stage of that you’re in–bra life like?

May be a Twitter screenshot of 1 person and text that says 'Kate Lambert @itskatelambert I see women out and y'all are wearing bras again. I THOUGHT WE HAD AN AGREEMENT'