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.



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.


First 100-Year-Old In Vogue

Bo Gilbert is a British model who recently appeared in the UK issue of Vogue. What sets her apart from her colleagues doing the same thing? She is 100 years old.

Posing in the centenary issue, she looks happy, spunky and lovely. “I always liked keeping myself looking quite decent, even if I wasn’t going out. I try to keep the standards up.” Watching the film about her photoshoot, I can’t help blinking back a tear, removing myself for a second from the uplifting, positive message and serious thoughts the video provokes.

In my mind’s eye I see my Granny, dilligently applying her pearly red lipstick with a slightly trembling hand, even during the years when her eyesight had almost completely disappeared. I remember how happy she was about the fabulously cut flower-patterned summer dress my mother had given her as a present from a family trip we had taken, when she could still see. I remember posing with her and my siblings at my grandparents’ home shortly after, on a summer afternoon, all of us with happy lipstick smiles and wearing flower-print dresses to match.

So besides saying kudos to (a hopefully ongoing) diversity in the ages represented among fashion models, kudos as well to not making it an issue and simply showing women, people living their lives and having interesting experiences. We have friends our own age, we have siblings, cousins, maybe nephews and nieces. We have aquaintances, colleagues. We also have mothers, aunts, grandmothers and women in our lives who have been at this longer than we have, and who have a history and a whole land of memory to share. I would love to see more of those women in the media throwing on a bright coat or a funky scarf of their choosing and smiling at what they see in the mirror, or on a screen.



Things That Make Me Nervous about Clothes Shopping

Obviously there are worse things to worry about, but actually, that kind of shopping doesn’t make me nervous, though when it does, this goes through my mind:

“I thought I had everything and now I need to do this again!”

“Do I even know what I want? They probably don’t sell that anymore. Where should I go? I’m tired already, I don’t want to go anywhere. Where do I even start? That other outfit doesn’t feel like ME. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.”

“Everyone else looks so goal-oriented and purposeful. Where did that girl find that top? Why didn’t I see it? Her pile of clothes looks so much better than mine. I bet she can tell what I’m thinking. Why is it so crowded in here? I want to leave and I’m not even finished. Maybe some telepathic sarcasm will help, how about this?”

“Oh, God, I will not get out of not trying this on, because if I buy it and it doesn’t fit, I will have to come back here, and I don’t want to come back, I’m barely dealing as it is. When did this become my current reality? I have to go to the changing room. I don’t want to go to the changing room. There’s a line. There’s loud shouts of the ever classic, “Does my butt look big in this?” from behind partly open curtains. There’s endless standing in socks in front of the full-length mirror at the end of the hall, tags danling everywhere. There’s long-suffering boyfriends and husbands not quite knowing what to say and still valiantly trying to say something. It’s A MESS. Go to the changing room?”

“Three different assistants have asked me if I they could help me. I need to get out of here right now.”


When Wearing Glasses

“Touch your eye, touch your eye, nothing bad can happen!” says the optician encouragingly. I can tell he’s hovering somewhere to my left, but not much else, because my eyes are shut tight, as my brain is telling me the opposite of “nothing bad can happen” every time my hand tries to take out the contact lens. The optician had to take them out himself and that was the end of my eyewear other than glasses experience, after which I had to go look at shoes for half an hour to calm down.

This brief tour, which resulted in the familiar yearnings of a nearsighted person wishing to see like she does with glasses on when she goes swimming or dancing, brought me down to Earth and reminded me that I do like glasses much more after all, at least for now. They agree with me.

moleculesSo! Obviously when you wear something on your face quite regularly, it plays a part in your interactions with the world. For some reason I often get treated like a teenager or asked if I’m in school if I wear mine when out in the city, with the use of the German pronoun du in my direction statistically going up. I have never been teased because of my glasses, but then I don’t remember having a problem with wearing them, as seeing well was always a priority. Tripping and hurting myself on a date was not something I wanted to experience, or being glasses-free, but not getting a good look at the guy opposite me. And I enjoy my memories when they are focused, not blurry. No way I’m not getting a proper view of my favourite band playing. Also, when you actually put on glasses, you immediately become conscious of just how many people around you are wearing them.

minions1My first ever pair was on the circular side, elegantly shaped, and the frames were multicoloured. I’m actually wishing they were available now in my adult size. The base was dark blue and artfully covered with specks of colour. I had picked them all by myself and I loved them. Over the years, checking my bag to see whether I hadn’t forgotten my glasses case became second nature, and that’s still the same today (with the same added for my phone and house keys). Fun cases are another part of owning glasses. I got one in Oslo covered with the motif from Starry Night by Edvard Munch. And I was extra proud of the new frames I saved up for after I got my first job – that was the first time I had gotten new frames because I felt like having different ones.

Styling around glasses if I have to go out and wear them for a few hours, particularly for special occasions, is a normal part of the daily styling experience, but also a fun one. I don’t have to wear glasses all the time to get around, but I like to sometimes, especially during an evening do. My go-to tips?

  1. If you love your frames, whatever you do will work, because you are already comfortable!
  2. Just as you would otherwise, go with outfit colours that bring out your eye colour.
  3. Pick a hairstyle that won’t make you constantly adjust the hair around the frames.
  4. Complimenting colourful earrings if your hair is pulled away from your face.
  5. Smile!

Sometimes the fact that you are wearing glasses does make you rethink the process of putting an outfit together. Here is one example with three looks for inspiration. I like how relaxed the vlogger is with the glasses she has on.

As mentioned, hairstyles are also a factor you might reconsider when you wear glasses. This vlogger shows five ideas, which might also get you thinking of your own.

I’m convinced glasses have also considerably upped their cool since a certain wizard with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead forever joined our lives, so here’s to seeing, playing, and enjoying.