Sunday, January 29, 2017

The First Seven Days

As we readied for bed on Election Night, I sobbed to my husband that the outcome was an invalidation of everything I believed in: the power of education, compassionate care for the least privileged among us and of course, the lie that a woman with a nearly perfect resume could hold the highest office in the land. I was heartbroken in a way I hadn't experienced since break-ups in college. This was more painful; this was a crisis of faith.

I was resolved, however. It became clear to me — clearer than ever before — that I had been the most passive of believers. If being a participant in democracy could be compared to being a participant in a religion, I was the one who only came on Christmas and Easter. I showed up for Election Day. I believed activism through journalism counted (and sometimes it does). I believed working for a nonprofit was enough. 

And then I saw the outline for the first 100 days. It was too scary to read, so I stopped reading it. I pressed forward through Christmas and the New Year. As Jan. 20 neared, I tried to put it out of my mind. I had a plan: I was going to devote each month of 2017 to a different cause, either through money, advocacy or volunteerism. 

I didn't watch the inauguration, at least not on purpose, although social media has a way of hammering hard against anything you tried to avoid. Instead, I prepared. I ordered a "Future is Female" sweatshirt, because empowerment can come from something as innocuous as padding around your house in an oversized billboard. I watched "Selma" and "Suffragette" and "Confirmation." I took inspiration in those who came before me who stood when it was senseless to stand. I Googled protest signs from the fight for suffrage through the fight for women's lib. I designed my own, featuring a quote from Malala Yousafzai: "We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." I had it printed at Office Max, a true show of privilege if ever there was one.

On Saturday morning, Jan. 21, I woke at 5:30 a.m. to get ready to join a group of girlfriends for the Women's March in Washington. I put on my face, because as I told my sister-in-law, if I end up in historic pictures, I better look fantastic. I wore my Future is Female sweatshirt, my vintage equestrian scarf in case somehow the entire thing went really south and I needed to protect myself from teargas, my tiny purse stuffed with protein bars and a water bottle attached with a carabiner. 

With my friends Holly and Bonnie, I walked to the metro stop anxious to see if a crowd had already formed, if the lines would be unruly, if we'd struggle to get a seat. None of that happened. On the train, we easily found seats and chatted with a family from upstate New York. The daughter worked for Slate and snapped pictures of people's signs. The mother had a clear bag with healthy snacks.

When we arrived at L'Enfant Plaza, we exited the train to see a sea of people just like us except all different colors, genders, shapes and sizes. Many wore pink hats, meant to co-opt and subvert the President's use of the word "pussy." And we screamed. Joyous, girlish screams normally reserved for pop stars, but for that day, they were squeals of delight at taking everything we've whispered about and sent covert emails about and talked about in wine clubs and book clubs: we were going to take a stand against the patriarchy. 

We wandered, wide-eyed and amazed to see a world of people who felt just like us. We met up with Katie, Emily and Sonia. The six of us edged our way toward the stage, not getting closer than 4th street, but in view of a screen. Everyone was kind. Everyone had a story. We met a mother and daughter pair from Atlanta; the daughter is an education outreach coordinator for a theater company and the mom is an environmental scientist who marched in the 70s. We made friends in the crowd and never learned their names, but shared chocolate and said "excuse me" and nodded in empathy when we needed to stretch and screamed wildly when Ashley Judd questioned why we pay taxes for our tampons when men don't pay taxes for Viagra.

Eventually, the hours of speeches couldn't contain the anxious need to march and we tried. But there were too many of us. We could not be contained to the permitted route. I told Bonnie this may be a moment for civil disobedience. We wandered off the route toward the Hirshhorn Museum. From there, we watched Madonna say crazy things and then aptly perform "Express Yourself" and "Human Nature." We went to the mall, where people were milling about with their signs, waiting patiently for Port-a-Potties. A woman came out of one and handed me some toilet paper from her purse. 

We decided to walk toward Gallery Place, thinking the tourists won't know to walk so far for food, and were stunned to see the march was still happening. But instead of marching on the designated route, it was happening on four parallel blocks. Thousands and thousands of people marching toward the White House on Independence, Constitution, Pennsylvania, E Street. For the entire day we were there, I never saw someone who didn't appear to be affiliated with the march. 

Lines stretched out of every restaurant we passed, so when we noticed the Gallery Place metro wasn't packed, we decided to seize the moment and head home. It was almost 5 p.m. when we arrived at a pizza place near the metro stop and within a few minutes of sitting down, a man jokingly asked me about my sign, saying, "So you don't think that's a little anti-men?" His wife laughingly apologized and said he's feeling a little left out today.

And some people ask why we march.

The high of that kind of communion of the human spirit kept me floating for a day. I read all the coverage and saw all the signs on Buzzfeed. I marveled that we did it: we had marches around the world, attended by millions, all peaceful with no arrests. And then proceeded the ugliest and most horrific week of my life since 9/11. 

Over the course of the President's first week in office, he signed executive orders progressively more horrific and wide-ranging in their damage to everything America is supposed to stand for, and my head is spinning. He issued gag orders to government agencies and rogue employees started their own Twitter accounts. He spent the better part of the week insisting it can't possibly be true that he wasn't elected by the popular vote and that he had a comparatively tiny turnout for his inauguration. He banned Muslim refugees. Let me type that again: on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he banned refugees, some of whom were literally flying on planes to the U.S. after years of separation from their families only to be detained at the airport. 

I spent every day of the first seven days signing petitions, calling congressional representatives, sharing, posting, liking, Tweeting, commenting, donating. Is this my new normal? Maybe it should be. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fashion Review: Golden Globes 2017

The Golden Globes were a harsh reminder that I have not been to the movies enough this awards season and I have a LOT of ground to make up! Fashion-wise they were just the right amount of glamorous and adventurous, which was greatly appreciated. I was a little annoyed that trend forecasters apparently told every stylist that 2017 is about yellow and long sleeves with exposed shoulders — two looks that were mildly played out by the end of the night — but even so, everyone brought a different approach and overall, I was pleased to see so many folks having fun with fashion.


It certainly wasn't the most adventurous look on the red carpet, but Emma Stone's soft pink Valentino gown dotted with stars was the best kind of theme dressing for a girl who is starring in a movie musical dedicated to Hollywood with a song literally called "City of Stars." Her Tiffany & Co. necklace was especially beautiful and looked antique (but maybe wasn't) and her make-up was perfection. 

We are enjoying a Mandy Moore-assaince, guys. She's back and she's not shilling "Candy" or married to Ryan Adams or Walking to Remember. This new and improved version is a Serious Actress and of all the plunging necklines and capes, this ethereal navy Naeem Khan gown was my favorite. She looks like a queen and damn if she doesn't always give good face.

It would be very easy for this Chanel gown to go wrong in less capable hands, but on Riley Keogh (Elvis's granddaughter, y'all!) it's so right! I'm in love with the sheer layered bodice and the tricks it plays on the eye, and the dress actually looks comfortable. She wisely accessorized with a red lip and no distracting jewelry to let the art of the dress do the talking.

Lily Collins was the night's designated pretty pretty princess in this delicate Zuhair Murad. It's a little figure skatery, but I can't resist it. The way the lace trickles away at the top is very pretty. I like the red lip with the pink gown (very Valentine's Day), but I do think the updo would be nicer if it was a chignon. A sleek bob may have been even better to modernize such a romantic gown.

Drew Barrymore's Monique Lhuillier gown looks like a silver phoenix rising from the ashes as interpreted by Stevie Nicks and I'm digging it. The silver beading looked spectacular on camera and of all the exposed-shoulder sleeved dresses, I enjoyed this one the most. It's a little bit Old Hollywood and a little bit rock and roll.

Priyanka Chopra is a PRO at red carpet dressing. I haven't seen her take a single misstep since she started walking the plank a couple years ago. She's great at evoking certain moods. At the Oscars, it was pure Old Hollywood glamour in a voluminous chiffon red gown; here it's a little bit sexy moody rock star and I love the pairing of this gown with a cleavage-skimming diamond, tousled hair and a deep berry lip that was perfect with her complexion.

Reese is very good at selecting deceptively simple gowns, pairing them with interesting jewels and perfectly walking the line of on-trend and timeless. Her butter yellow Atelier Versace gown seemed a little boring to me at first, and then after I saw the veritable parade of yellow gowns, its perfect construction and fitting grew on me. Her instagram has a great picture of the yellow diamond Tiffany necklace up close and it's to die for.

We have to give serious credit to Blake Lively, who managed to translate starring on a CW teen drama and in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" into being a fashion favorite and the wife of Ryan Reynolds. Don't get me wrong, she's out there carving out a career for herself, but at the end of the day, her biggest successes might be her turns on the red carpet. She has a glamorous and dramatic style that I love, and this black and gold Atelier Versace gown would have looked silly and boring without her enviable decolletage and that perfect accessorizing of emerald cuffs. They are glowing like they're made of actual kryptonite, guys. Only drawback is that she kept having to pose with her hands awkwardly shoved in the pockets at an angle that no one would ever stand.

Sarah Paulson is always having fun with fashion, I feel, and has settled into a very good rhythm lately of knowing what works for her: modern, sparkly and a little edgy. This Marc Jacobs dress is a little bit Dynasty, a little bit Ziggy Stardust and every bit perfect on her.

Don't you feel personally robbed that we didn't get to see Gina Rodriguez perform some kind of shimmy tribute with Chita Rivera in this swingy beaded Naeem Khan gown? This was a great choice for her: a Marilyn silhouette and spectacular on her skin tone. Plus she's a truly nice person and fun on Instagram to boot!

Quite a few women opted for pantsuits (Pantsuit Nation, you guys!) but I was most impressed with the style and thoughtfulness of Evan Rachel Wood's homage to Marlene Dietrich. The cut of her Altuzzara tux is perfect, it's elegant and the message was fantastic: she wanted to show that if you don't want to wear a dress, you don't have to and to just be yourself. 

Ruth Negga, star of "Loving," is a relative newcomer and I always enjoy when an ingenue comes out sartorially swinging. This Louis Vuitton is like Blade Runner couture, and manages to be very sexy while being very covered up. Her smokey eye and nude lip were a fantastic make-up choice, and she got to hear Meryl Streep mention her name in an Irish accent, so night = made.

Who else could pull off a sparkly Michael Kors dress in this particular shade of Big Bird yellow? Viola Davis showed us so many times, from the red carpet to the acceptance speech to her Meryl tribute, that she slays.

Controversial opinion ahead! For me, Olivia Culpo is best known as a former Miss Universe and ex of Nick Jonas, but she caught my eye in this painterly Zuhair Murad that calls to mind the murals of Diego Rivera or even the finely detailed works of Gustav Klimt. I saw someone else on the Internet hated it, but I like how it stands out and how perfectly her makeup complemented the overall vibe. It's a little Frida-does-the-Globes and I'm feeling it.

Gwendoline Christie, you guys. What a tall statue of a lady, so perfectly draped in this classic sheath. This is a look for which she'll have no ragrets.

Good, but not Best

I am digging the salmon pink on Angela Bassett, but I am not entirely sold on the flying nun effect of the sleeves/capes/wings. The woman is not aging though, and always looks like a million bucks.

I have a dream and it is to one day be able to crown Anna Kendrick my very best dressed. I love her, and I feel like we could be real-life friends and I feel like she tries really hard to knock it out of the park, but she doesn't have the power when she's at bat. This Vionnet is one of her better turns in a while and I love the Grecian draping and pleating. The color just feels off to me...a little too dishwater gray. In white or teal or violet, this could have easily been in my best list.

Brie Larson looks perfectly gorgeous in this very safe red Rodarte gown. It's borderline ho-hum...nothing to sing about, nothing to complain about. It's good.

I LOVE Issa Rae and "Insecure" is so fantastic, so I was excited to see her have an excellent first turn on the red carpet. Next time, I'd like to see a little more daring...maybe a pop of more color on the lips?

JLD can do no wrong, and I enjoyed the optics of her black and white mod George Chakras sheath. It's very in keeping with her overall style, and she always looks great, yadda yadda yadda.

Kristen Bell has been very "I'm a WOMAN not a child Frozen princess or TV teenager" on the red carpet lately. This sexy black Jenny Packham gown is good but the overall effect actually felt a little aging to me. I think it's the hair and accessories...maybe a touch more rock-n-roll needed here, or different earrings?

Precious Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things is poised to become the next Emma Watson, mark my words. Her demure Jenny Packham with age-appropriate sparkly sandals was elegant and yet girlish, just as it should be for a 12-year-old.

Naomie Harris looks fantastic in this sparkly Armani Prive gown, but I feel like I've seen it 100 million times, from Armani, at the Golden Globes. Classy, but not memorable.

Sofia Vergara looked hot, like normal and was on trend, like normal and very sparkly, like normal. She's got the opposite problem of Anna Kendrick; she always hits home runs so I almost want her to zig into something extremely simple and architectural when I expect her to zag. My one note would be that her ponytail feels lackluster with this Zuhair Murad dress.

I was SO happy to see Tracee Ellis Ross win, and she looked super hot and classy in this Zuhair Murad, but I just was struggling with the hem. I wish it was either a little bit shorter or to the ground. This in-between length felt stumpy to me and she seemed to be having a slightly hard time walking in it, too.

Shouldn't Ever Be Boring, But Is

This is a special category for Winona Ryder, who was truly one of the biggest and most acclaimed actresses of the late 80's and 90's, was known to be stylish and favor cool offbeat vintage, and showed up looking fit and pretty but trapped in an incredibly boring Viktor & Rolf gown. Johnny Depp has a tattoo that says "Wino Forever" because of this woman's notorious hotness, people.  She should be knocking us out with her fashions and I hope this is rectified quickly. 

Close, but Not Quite

From the front, I love this ethereal and romantic lavender Vera Wang gown on Hailee Steinfeld. This shade is particularly gorgeous with her coloring, and it has a Juliet-like quality. BUT, what you can't see is that it also has a cape on the back and with all of these elements — voluminous skirt, cape, sheer high neckline, exposed shoulders with drapey sleeves AND diamond necklace at the collar — it's all a bit much. I'd remove one element, either the sleeves or the cape, and switch the necklace out for pretty earrings.

Let's be clear: I would HATE this on literally everyone else and maybe in future years, I'll look back on this moment in shame. But it's super on-brand for Janelle Monae and I couldn't 100% hate this custom Armani. It kind of feels like a dress that would be worn by Phyllis Neffler in Troop Beverly Hills, and that's a particular sartorial weakness for me. I'll allow it.

Part of me is like YASS KERI YASS for just going balls-to-the-wall in this late 70's-style Studio 54-ready Jacob & Co. ensemble and the other part of me is like, Girl this is the Golden Globes. Save this for New Year's or a disco-themed birthday party and come ready to slay when it's broadcast on national television. Also, I have an aversion to chokers, so the past year has already been very hard for me.

I LOVE the cut of this extremely classic (and very Jackie O) Prada, especially for a lady sporting a baby bump. You know she was comfortable! I'm even on-board for the citron color that looks good on almost no one. What keeps giving me pause is the slapdash embellishment that looks like fake snow or tinsel. I think if it had pearl embellishments on the cuffs and maybe at the empire waist and nothing on the skirt, I'd be fully in for this look.

Oh Nicole, this Alexander McQueen is so. much. look. It's a little Ginger Rogers, a little Oksana Baiul at the 94 Olympics, a little Tilda Swinton in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — all people I deeply appreciate, but never imagined combined in one ensemble. Ditch the puffy sleeves and I'm in love, but as long as they're on there, I cannot fully endorse. I do appreciate her 20-year campaign to push the envelope, though. She rarely bores me.

Sienna Miller puts things together in very unexpected ways and sometimes it works and sometimes it really leaves you questioning everything. On first glance, I liked the easy sporty elegance of her cutout white Michael Kors gown paired with an unfussy ponytail. But, accessorized with a pearl necklace and black bow in her hair, it was a little bit country club bad girl and I was confused about how all of these elements work together to project an image.

SJP, like Janelle Monae, just kind of gets a pass for looks that would be truly bonkers if they were attempted by, say, a starlet emerging from Pretty Little Liars. But when she does it, it's the norm and I admire her sense of fun with fashion. A lot of media outlets tried to make it into a Princess Leia homage, which might have been unintentional but sweet. I like the ballsiness of wearing a Vera Wang wedding gown on the red carpet. If I could change anything, I'd soften her eye make-up a bit.

My husband pronounced this Prada dress on Jessica Chastain "Not a good look." It's weird because it's remarkably unremarkable. I can barely drum up an emotion about it, except the flowers are a little musty old lady looking.

Michelle Williams wore a lace curtain dress, surely sewn by Maria Von Trapp for Louis Vuitton, with a ribbon straight out of Moulin Rouge. I couldn't hate it and yet I did! It's interesting because if the dress were worn without the ribbon, it would truly be the biggest snoozefest and with the ribbon, it feels like it's trying too hard. She also has become so addicted to neutrals that it makes me crave seeing her in color.

Worst Dressed

Kerry Washington, always out here trying to shove Fashion with a capital F down my throat and never ever succeeding. I cannot endorse any element of this Dolce and Gabbana, from the Granny's doilies yellow lace to the visible black underpinnings to the stumpifying ankle-length hem to the faux Michael Jackson-style military decorations half-sash. I just don't understand how this arrives on the rack, she tries it on and is like "YES! This fits the faux self-appointed Coming to America royalty look I've been going for, with the added benefit of making me look short! I think I'll pair it with black lipstick and call it a day!!"

I kinda get where this Gucci gown is supposed to be going, with tromp l'oeil ruffles and accoutrements, topped with a very real bow at the waist. But yeah, I hate it. What may appear clever on the runway and in the larger context of a couture show does not necessarily translate to real world practical applications, and this is a case in which Felicity Jones just can't deliver on the art history joke. All of the elements are pretty and the colors are flattering to her English rose complexion, but the overall effect is trying too hard. And as you'll see, pink ruffles were as big at this year's Golden Globes as they were at Julia Roberts' wedding in Steel Magnolias.

I could maybe, maybe, maybe convince myself I don't hate Carrie Underwood's pink cupcake frills if it didn't have the entirely unnecessary cutouts. The silhouette is great on her, the color almost works, but the actual idea behind the look (let's make it so frilly and girly and then MODERN with cutouts) is lazy and makes Felicity's dress seem so thoughtful!

And not to be outdone, Zoe Saldana (also in Gucci) wore this straight-up chocolate box valentine dress that is like a redux of every dress she's ever worn. No woman has ever been as addicted to ruffles and ombre as Zoe.

My eyes couldn't really comprehend Sophie Turner's Louis Vuitton. The shapes remind me of those canvas sun shades they put over patios at breweries sometimes. It's a lot of abstract shapes tied together with a karate robe belt. It provoked me to joke to Sean, "I don't understand what I'm seeing. It's like there are....Hidden Figures." HAHAHAHA. I crack myself up.

Thandie Newton's sequin-splattered Monse gown reminded me of something they'd make Katniss wear at the Hunger Games tribute showcase, right before the sequins turn into real flames and Lenny Kravitz informs her that her bra also has bullets or something.

Jessica Biel is always trying to convince me she gets high fashion and I am so unconvinced. She seems like someone who is constantly saying to her stylist, "So they think this works together? Are you sure? You think I'll be Best Dressed? Ok, I guess I'll give it a shot," and then walks out of the house wearing an Elie Saab that appears to be 3 dresses in one. The flowers (are they even flowers or are they loofahs?) by far are the worst and most unnecessary detail. I also think the black trim on the slit in the skirt is unneeded punctuation.

Claire Foy's custom Erdem does absolutely nothing for me. It looks like a Dynasty dress that was rejected for being too dowdy. Imagine it without puff sleeves, but instead with long sleeves and minus the purple sash. Suddenly it works, almost! But the color, paired with her blonde tresses, is also washing her out.

I'm calling out for a hero to come in and save Anna Chlumsky from herself. She just fires bad shot after bad shot and I'm almost certain she's got a great figure but I wouldn't know it from this droopy Roland Mouret. I love a good draped dress, but a BADLY draped dress is a pox upon her house. This is Scuttle Couture, seemingly designed and thrown together by a seagull wielding a dinglehopper.