The See-Through Bag: Why?

I’m seeing them everywhere: a stylishly cut bag of a nice rectangular shape with good straps, roomy enough to fit all your daily necessities, as well as a tablet or small laptop. I’d grab one myself. But here’s the thing: they are transparent. Yes, I don’t know the girl in the pretty trenchcoat standing next to me by the traffic light, and I’ll probably never see her again, but I will remember every item in her bag, since I’ve had time to scrutinize it in conveniently visible detail.

I don’t want to know she has extra socks with her, even if I admire her for it. I am not interested in her make-up, and if I should suddenly lean that way, there are more than plenty of people on Instagram and YouTube telling me about their choices. I might have asked her about the book she’s reading, but I would actually have felt like it was more appropriate to do so if she was reading it on the bus in front of me. And the stray hairs littering the bottom of the bag from all those hairbands and scrunchies are just too much information for my morning.

The year before I started high school, most of the girls in my class seemed to have suddenly cloned the way they would bring things to school. You’d stuff pens, pencils, erasers, a bus pass and maybe the lipstick you stole from your mother into a handbag the size of a small notebook (making sure to take out only the lipstick with a flourish once in class, and not draw attention to the rest), then carry it in one hand and a plastic bag with your books in the other. If you did did things differently (a backpack, gasp!), you were suspiciously stared at.

But it couldn’t be just any plastic bag – it had to aspire to be chic, preferably with some non-supermarket logo, and then you were all set. It didn’t matter if the bag was bulging or weighing you down. It didn’t matter if this bag was transparent. Heck, it didn’t even matter if it tore and your books fell through the bottom right in to a puddle of autumn/ winter slush.¬† The main thing was, at 12 years old you retained your freshly discovered womanly dignity in your too-small handbag. This life challenge followed you through high school.

Fast forward we won’t say how many years, and enter the transparent bag. Shops and supermarkets have long since graduated to paper bags, but we’ll save those for shopping only.

Are even handbags being stripped (no pun intended) of privacy these days? Blocking the contents of a bag from being seen while out and about is one of the things in life we can actually control, choosing what to share and what not to about our daily routines and plans, saving ourselves at least a little of plenty of inevitable judging and misinterpretations from others. And there are so many lovely bags to enjoy carrying, surely it’s a shame not to get to play around with styles and colours? Isn’t it more convenient to store your dental floss in a small inner zip-up pocket than get another container or holder for it to put in the look-in-here bag? But wait, maybe the point is for people to see your dental floss. So they can remember to buy their own?

Aside from all these deep philosophical discussions, here’s a plain, practical question: do we seriously want to make it easier for muggers and pickpockets?

I just don’t get it.

 

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The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion by Megan Hess

To catch a thief must be one of the most stylish movies in the history of Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock’s romance mystery depicts Grace Kelly in ten costumes, each more beautiful than the last. My favourite, however, is this flowing, draped blue gown by Edith Head. The dress, inspires by Dior’s ‘New Look’, features a gathered skirt and variegated chiffon swathes, and was worn with a matching clutch, white open-toe sandals and a floaty blue stole.

Yes! Megan Hess said it. I have also loved that dress the moment I first set eyes on it in my teens and it is one of the reasons why I still hanker after light-blue frocks. This is one of the many enjoyable moments had while reading The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion, that “my” dress made the list happiness, as well as discovering numerous delicious tidbits and trivia about 99 other gowns from the 20th and 21st centuries. Sounds grand, doesn’t it?

The book is lovely to hold in your hands, with it’s gold framing against black and white on the cover, and gold page tips, like a gift ready to be unwrapped again and again. It’s divided into sections covering specific dresses within them – designers, female icons, weddings (with another shout-out to Grace Kelly), music, film and the Oscars. For me the film chapter was especially fun to read, as I recognized many dresses that had also caught my eye in various movies, or got curious about others, especially in older movies I hadn’t seen. But the best part is that the book is not simply about the dresses themselves. In a warm and engaging style, Megan Hess shows with a few well-chosen sentences, just like the strokes in her gorgeous fashion illustrations, the women who gave life to the dresses by wearing them and putting them in the context of a memorable occasion.

The illustrations themselves give the whole representation a different quality then photos do, because while many stories, names and gowns might be instantly familiar, or conjure up specific real-life or cinematic images, removing them slightly from being documented, and illustrating instead makes it all just a tad more magical and imaginative. I may never afford any of the outfits in this book, but I loved the creative approach to showing the potential and the power a dress holds simply for ourselves, whatever dress it is.

What To Wear #66: “We’ll Always Have Paris”

It’s not quite as dramatic as all that – we’re talking about just a T-shirt here, after all. Still, I can’t miss an opportunity to quote a classic.

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I picked out the T-shirt a few years ago while rummaging in those numerous tourist souvenir (kitsch) shops near the Louvre, and not only does it have some of my favourite landmarks from Paris on it, it also has some glitter sewn on it! Score. The scarf is an addition due to Hamburg’s typical weather forecast for today, namely, we don’t know, and I don’t want a sore neck due to a draft. The boots work well both in the autumn and during warmer seasons, and the heel is comfortable both for balance and walking longer distances in. They also go with almost any outfit. Jeans? Mais oui, bien sur, the classic combo with an individual twist.

Ready to go.

T-shirt: souvenir shop in Paris

Scarf: flea market

Jeans: C&A

What To Wear #65: “‘Cause It’s Gonna Be Hot In My Big Silver Pot”

It is indeed going to be hot, and you can count on me to come up with a quote from Les Poissons to title this post.

Hot weather means grabbing the chance to wear a maxi-length dress! Why maxi? Because I like that length and I have to go to work.

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I had strolled in to the shop and noticed this dress on a mannequin, but not anywhere nearby. After painstakingly searching two times to make sure, I approached a saleslady and asked where I might find it. Always ask a staff member if you see something in a window or on display that you like! In my experience they like the question and clearly you are also showing buyer’s commitment, which is, mais oui, to be encouraged. You may therefore be sure of a helpful attitude. For me personally a little exchange like that also gives me a minor sense of achievement when I locate the desired item afterwards. I’m an adult! I’m a customer! I’m an adult customer who can assert herself amid all this consumerism and knows exactly what she wants! Such empowerment, such confidence!

The pattern on the dress reminds me of a ripple of changing colors on the surface of a sea in summertime. The earrings not only pick up on the tones of the dress, but also make me think of the expansive beauty of the sea and sky surrounding the island of Themyscira in this year’s Wonder Woman.

So ready to go.

Dress: C&A

Jewelry: Bijou Brigitte

What To Wear #64: Lace and Leggings and Layers, Oh My

We are promised two days of summer weather, and today is one of them. This means, based on the local forecast and years of experience in the city of Hamburg, that while I can wear a sleeveless T-shirt, layering and leggings, my trusty standbys, are not to be dismissed.

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While the lacy crimson shirt is not completely see-through, it still works better with a longer tank top underneath, and so far my favorite combo is with a black one. Since the top shirt is not completely red, there is no devil Halloween costume color scheme going on here – which I have, by the way, successfully tried out once, but ’tis not the season just yet. It’s still summer, whatever the weather forecast says.

The scarf has been featured before on this blog, a flea market find from years ago and one of my favorite scarves in my * cough * modest collection. It also doubles as a party accessory when I don’t feel like wearing a necklace, but want something extra, thanks to the glittering gold thread running through it.

The gold earrings are some of the most versatile I have, picking up perfectly on the aforementioned gold bit in the scarf, and the ring adds a shot of brighter green against the subtle hues mixed in the, again, scarf.

Leggings will complete this outfit, need to decide on the color, as well as the black (I like to think) ballet-inspired flats. The ribbons complement the feminine pattern and delicacy of the lace top, and being tipped with gold fastenings, they also round up the choice of jewelry.

Ready to go.

Lace top: most likely Amazon

Black tank top: H&M

Leggings: Esprit

Shoes: Asos

Jewelry: SIX

What To Wear #63: I Feel Teal

There are two things I look forward to in the mornings, two simple pleasures: breakfast and putting on a favorite dress. This is one of those mornings – score!

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This dress has been one of my happiest buys to date – it’s long and comfortable, figure-hugging without being clingy and the jersey it’s made from is perfect for hot weather as well. There’s a length of string to knot around the waist however you like, and the sparkling beading across the chest lends a playful note to an intense color.

Teal works well with browns and golds, especially since this dress has embroidery on it exactly in those colors. The dangling earrings are some of my favorite as well, with the multi-colored sphere at the bottom livening up the long loop, and the rings both pick up on both the dress’ hue and go in line with the golds.

Ready to go.

Dress: C&A

Jewelry: I Am and SIX

 

What To Wear #62: Scarves, Dahling

Well, just the one, but still an impressive one. It is scarf awareness day all over again.

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The trusty sleeveless black, but how to liven it up? Because I feel like a splash of bold color! And inevitably a scene from a 1993 adaptation of A Secret Garden, which I loved watching as a child, pops in to my head. Martha, a maid in the manor where Mary, the main heroine has come to live after the death of her parents, holds up several dresses for Mary’s choosing, and attempting to cheer up the young girl with some humor, she asks her which one she wants to wear, “Black, black or black?” “Are you blind?” Mary responds icily. “They’re all black.”

My black dress usually says, “Dude, where’s the rest?” Who am I to ignore signals. The scarf is a souvenir from my recent jaunt to a flea market in Kiel with a friend, and it was only upon spreading it out that I noticed the pattern of the Union Jack in the background. With flowers strewn across it, it’s less official and absolutely wearable.

The accessories pick up the blue and white in the scarf, since the red speaks for itself. I saw these dainty earrings a while ago and liked the tiny and charming detail of the silver leaf against the dark blue, while the ring with the flower was found by my mother during a relaxed afternoon browsing a market in Spain once. The shoes remind me of the 90s every time I look at them – perhaps it’s the combination of black velvety material and the heel style? Another comfortable pair I can log a lot of hours in.

Ready to go.

Dress: Zalando

Scarf: flea market in Kiel

Shoes: Deichmann

Jewelry: I Am, Bijou Brigitte and market in Spain