An Ode to Thirty-Two

Today I am 32.

I’m a real adult! Well, sort of…Thirty-two feels like full on adult imposter, a knock-off of real responsibility yet with glorious things like taxes, mandatory retirement savings, and buying sensible shoes for work. I’m considering a practical Subaru for my next car, but I’m also considering a new tattoo. It’s all a balance of reliability and poor decision making really.

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If you liked mandatory retirement savings as required by your job, you’ll really like the new aggressive investment options open to you!  The scent of ROTH, Eau d’IRA.

I haven’t gotten into any of the real adulty stuff yet, babies, mortgages directly attached to my name, marriage (though that will change in approximately 43 more days), houseplants that live longer than a year. I melted succulents last year as I forgot to water them and shelter them from the cruel, cruel desert sun. They became piles of melted brown leaves with significant black char on the ends of each leaf. It was sad. I have, however, managed to keep the rescue mutt, Pepe the Doxiepin of glory, alive for almost two years…though he does eat a lot of our other dog’s poop and subsequently gets his teeth brushed quite frequently.

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This is the face of a shit-eater. Do not trust his happy licks and wiggles or his heroic pose in front of a Batman poster. He is not Batman. And, he will happily clean up the backyard of all leavings. 

Today, I woke up before my alarm at 7:00am and put on a little too much eyeliner to celebrate the day, carefully selecting a dress I purchased when I was 24 for the day of THIRTY TWO. I could be all, “Oh yes, I still fit into the same size as I did in my early twenties, la de da, I am so fancy!” But, it’s a sensible black wrap dress and I’ve worn the same size, uh, probably since I was 14. It’s been two decades of the same penchant for jersey dresses with a little bit of stretch, fancy sandals, too much eyeliner, and a statement necklace that looks like armor, though my body has rearranged itself in numerous different and sometimes interesting ways (here’s to you, stomach paunch of the 30s!).

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Do you like my cute little black dress? I think it’s so flexible, wear to work or out for the evening! Good for any occasion, a cougar prom, a coven meeting, a Russian bride meet-up, etc. 

Half my life ago on my 16th birthday, I celebrated with my mom, her best friend Ginny, and Ginny’s two daughters/best friends/essentially my sisters by going out for Indian food and painting pottery at one of those places usually found near a movie theater and mid-range cafes. As a holdover from our even younger days, Robin and I ordered around Lisa, the youngest of us all, and had her fetch us paint colors are we painted heinously ugly objects. I believe I painted a claw-footed bathtub (about the size of Pepe) in a mottled blue color…for it to sit unused for a decade because really what is one to do with a foot long bathtub to then be donated to Goodwill in my mid-twenties. Fast forward to now, and this event actually sounds exactly my speed as I am still a fan of naan, overpriced ceramics, friendship, and being bossy. These ladies are also in my wedding party in a few weeks so perhaps we can revisit the whole shebang — This time in yoga pants and with wine because those 30s cliches are so real. I make no promises about ordering Lisa around though…

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Minus the single part, it’s so true. Except my version tends more bourbon, chicken wings, and stretchy jeans. Also, if I have to yell to be heard in a bar, I’d rather just leave to go home and sit with my love, the normal big dog, and the small poop-eater while watching HGTV.

 

For celebrating another year of the early thirties, my mom and I went on an adventure of sensible work-shoe buying, wedding jewelry shopping for her ensemble, wedding dress altering and accessorizing, and fancy, fancy restaurant dining yesterday to ring in the olde 32. Pastry, like a Cylon, has a plan for Sunday involving the symphony and crab legs. I also went out to lunch with a friend to talk over spicy Thai noodles about life, loves, and weird ex-boyfriends. Due to Pastry’s crazy work schedule, I’m thinking about an evening of bourbon, chicken wings, and Star Wars with the hounds, normal and poop-eating. Maybe I’ll transfer some money around in a few accounts to truly feel like an adult, maybe I’ll plan a giant mermaid tattoo for my thigh. You know, a balance of responsibility and bizarreness.

 

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Pastry Post: The Lead Weights of the Suit Industry

It’s been a little while since I made my first post about suits, and I decided I would have a follow-up for that one in regards to the experience of trying to find my sartorial glory prior to posting the update to my previous post.

But before I begin, I’d like to talk a little bit about power supplies.

Stay with me. I used to work for a computer manufacturer, and one day, we were meeting with a new chassis manufacturer that would, in theory, provide us with our computer cases and the internal power supplies to go with them.

Now power supplies were (and are) an oft-overlooked piece of hardware when spec’ing out a computer build. One that can provide a steady stream of power while absorbing the occasional power spike can save your expensive investment from an early, smelly, death.

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“If ONLY they had spent an extra $20!”

Now it used to be (and I may be accidentally aging myself here), you could tell the quality of a power supply by how heavy it was. The heavier it was, the more capacitors, resistors, and other groovy electrical components were built in to it and it could signify a good buy.

It didn’t take the cheap, crap manufacturers long to figure this out, as evidenced by our first meeting with one of these said manufacturers.

“How much do you want the power supplies to weigh?” they asked, as if it were an obvious question. We were perplexed, because a power supply’s weight shouldn’t really be variable. It should weigh whatever it weighs.

Turns out, this manufacturer would add weights to the power supply in order to make it heavier than it originally would be, thus giving the impression of quality. We didn’t buy from them.

But as I’ve noticed, items that give the APPEARANCE of quality are rife in the custom clothing industry. And things like functional sleeve buttons are the lead weights of the fashion industry.

When Cucumber and I were suit shopping, we dropped in to a suit store in which you’ve probably heard of. It didn’t take too long to figure out that the off-the-rack section wasn’t going to work for me (as I have mentioned, off-the-rack suits and I just don’t get along), but they had a section in which you could have custom clothing made for you. Not that it was bespoke, just that it was a brick-and-mortar form of made-to-measure. Not a bad thing, as long as you accept what it is.

But the sales rep was desperate to make a sale.

The sales rep that we had talked to was a nice enough guy, but it was pretty obvious that his commission went up drastically when custom clothing was ordered, as he was fairly well pushing us that direction from the moment we walked into the store. Can’t say I blame the guy, but the tactics in which he tried to push us towards custom were just kinda slimy.

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You want a suit? I gotcha suit. Full’a canvas! N’stitching!

N‘Buttholes, aye..aye.. mean button holes!

One of the tactics he used, was in talking about how obviously high-quality the made-to-measure suits were, because they employed the use of pick-stitching in construction. Pick-stitching is (anymore) entirely decorative. It used to be that you only saw it on really high-end clothing. But like our friends who add weights to power supplies, the pick-stitch was quickly adopted by low-cost manufacturers as a way of bringing the appearance of quality to cheaper clothing.

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A stitch in time may save nine, but it ain’t fooling anyone into thinking your suit cost more than it did.

The other item he mentioned: functional button holes. I am not a fan of them. Why? Because I’m not convinced of the utility of buttons on suit sleeves in the first place. There’s some debate about the origin of buttons on suit sleeves. The most obvious (and likely correct) source of buttons on the sleeves are a vestigial form that came from the ability to adjust the garment to better suit the wearer whether it be from the owner gaining or losing weight, or simply because it’s hot or cold.

The other origin story of suit buttons involves snot, and is therefore my preferred version. The story goes that Napoleon (or Alexander the Great, or Admiral Nelson, or Wellington, or whatever historical figure you like) repeatedly saw his men wipe their noses on the section of sleeve in which we now see button holes. So disgusted was he by the lack of professionalism, that he had his men sew buttons onto that spot, making it painful to wipe one’s nose.

Now I don’t know about you, but my nose isn’t such that it can only be wiped on one small section of sleeve. Thus, like at Waterloo, Napoleon’s efforts would be for naught.

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“Napoleon (with stereotypical French accent): Ah hah! There is no WAY they will THINK of wiping their noses somewhere else! Now, let’s go invade Russia! There’s plenty of time before winter!”

Functional button-holes on suits, nowadays, are just another attempt at indicating quality. They don’t really offer any real adjustment – buttoning them all doesn’t reduce the size of the sleeve, and unbuttoning them just makes the sleeve split. In short, it looks awful. Worse yet, it’s advised that when you have functional sleeves, you leave 1-2 unbuttoned so that one can tell it was “custom made” (laa dee dah).

Here’s the thing I don’t like about all of this stuff – it’s an attempt to make it seem like your clothing is something that it is not. It’s an attempt to make your suit look fully bespoke (i.e. patterns made specifically for you, fully canvased, etc), and sold for a much higher price than it actually is. After having it tailored to me (which will be discussed in a future post), it looks really great. It fits well, and it will totally serve the purpose for which it is intended, at a price that was acceptable to me.

Adding pick-stitching, functional button holes, and whatever other flair you want is, to me, the same as buying a “Limited Edition” badge, and sticking it on your car.

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It might be time to discuss just what exactly is “limited” on your car.

The irony of all of this? On my new suit that I ordered made for me (despite the fact that I didn’t order it this way), it came with functional button holes.