Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Waaaaiiiit a minute...

So you're saying British people go to Rome on their class trips and dress like this.

And Americans go to the living room on their class trips and dress like this.
One of us is getting gypped.

[thanks to Louise Shefford's gorgeous mom for the reminder of why I am genetically hard-wired to be attracted to British accents and bad teeth]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Breaking: Russia

I get a lot of letters from readers of this blog. Mostly from prisoners. Mostly in response to my letters requesting their hands in marriage. But the biggest request I get by far is: MORE INTERNATIONAL POLICY ANALYSIS. So this post is dedicated to our newly signed arms control treaty with Russia.

This photo of Fira Remennik, submitted by her granddaughter Marina, was taken shortly after the end of World War II in Moscow. Says Marina: "While pregnant, she stayed in Moscow during the Hitler invasion and had a baby, my uncle, in a starved and devastated city. She had no help from her relatives since the rest of the family was evacuated to remote regions of Russia. After the war was over, she travelled a long way across the literally destroyed country to deliver permission documents to her in-laws so they could return to Moscow. Her courage paired with style makes her a wonderful example of Grandma, the style icon."
So in conclusion: less arms, more hats.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Liz the Sprite

Prepare to have your heart stolen by the 70's pixie before you. Anna Slade's mom is even cooler than her haircut: "My mother Elizabeth grew up in Idaho, lived on a lookout as a child (pre-GPS iphones and satellite times) these boasted gorgeous views. Grandfather was an engineer and worked for the Forest Service, literally looking out for fires from the edges of canyons and mountain tops. She lived in the mountains and in her own imagination a lot of those years, I think. (see pic below for proof)

"She rejected the formality and went in search of adventure. She is an amazing artist. She sang and read to me every day of my childhood. We traveled the country with an Irish wolfhound in a VW bug. My mother worked on her own car, house, bike, you name it. She raised me by her self and did so with such seeming ease and quick humor that it never occurred to me until I was older what hard work that was for her."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

RAIDING MOM'S CLOSET: patchwork dress

In this feature, readers submit pictures of their spoils from the mom archives. Above the lovely Linda, in 1975, wears a paisley patchwork sundress.

Her daughter Autumn, pictured above wearing the same dress this year, offers up a public service announcement for future moms: don't throw out your shit. Your future children will look kind of amazing in it.

Got a hand-me-down from mom? Send me a picture of you wearing it! Or just send me the hand-me-down and if it fits, I'll probably keep it. Sorry.

I'm dancing barefoot (so don't look under my feet, they're a mess)

(photo:lynn goldsmith)
(photo: claude gassian)
(photo: Thomas Weschler)

(photo: lynn goldsmith/corbis)
Usually, when I read about schizophrenics, people with Aspergers or OCD, or Hypomania, or depression, or toxic shock syndrome, or catscratch fever, I end up thinking: I'M LIKE THEM.

Today I had the good fortune of feeling that way about one of my ultimate mom style icons: Patti Smith. NY Times' fashion arbiter Ruth La Ferla dedicated an article in praise of Smith's unique style. Okay, so Smith is wearing an Ann Demeulemeester jacket and boots given to her by Johnny Depp during the interview. And I, currently, am not.

But it's Patti who confesses "I decide ...whether I want to comb my hair... When my mother would say, ‘You should shave your legs,’ I would ask, ‘Why?’ I didn’t understand why we had to present a different picture of ourselves to the outside world.” La Ferla also discusses how Patti "refined her expertise, combing the Salvation Army store in Camden, N.J., near her home." (Jersey folks, check it out)

So today, I'm feeling not like I have meningitis, but Patti Smith's general sensibility when it comes to grooming. Praise the lord. It seems that her daughter, Jesse, who sometimes accompanies her mom on piano, has taken some style cues from the icon, as well.

Note the shruggy vest, with haphazardly placed accessories and scruffy black hair, on both Smith ladies. I have never been so available for adoption in my life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A users' guide to bringing back the 70's

The new movie The Runaways, a biopic on Joan Jett's 1970's rise to fame, is a cause for celebration. No I haven't seen it, but I have seen pictures of its teen idol stars--giving the Paramus Mall a rest--and suiting up in one-sies, feathered middle parts...

...and my personal favorite--shoulder pads. And we are just beginning to fight-- there are a slew of looks from the qualuude era that demand our renewed attention. But with great 70's style, comes great responsibility. Let me be perfectly clear about what we should bring back and what we shouldn't:

Twin barrettes and the men who love them.


Grapefruit halves. Excessive use of Marischino Cherries.


Horizantal hot pink motherfucking stripes.


Children's toys that cause fever dreams


Wearing throw blankets outside the living room


Genocidal Elvis impersonators


Being pissed off about having your picture taken and then having that picture framed because, frankly, you both look sexy.


Having high expectations for that popular swinger's club you've heard about, but winding up stuck with this crowd.


Wood-paneled station wagons.


Again Marischino cherries. I just want to be clear.


Apartments that look like this. And the women who live in them.


Victor Garber in suspenders playing Jesus. I'm going to let fate handle this one.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The woman with three heads

Have you heard about Karyl? She had one big beautiful head and two little ones-one on each shoulder. Despite this malformation, historians and scientists marveled at her ability to overcome adversity through fashion (black and white checked apron skirt, with red patent leather pumps, yes please). Of course the constant gabbing of the tiny heads drove her to drink but who could blame her?

Post Script: one of the tiny heads was eventually removed. His name is Matt Hubbard and he still misses his big head.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Things that will go on my mom's fridge

Fact: before they were mothers of the brides, they were brides themselves. New York Magazine's Weddings Issue just came out and it's got a 6 page spread featuring vintage pictures of moms submitted by locals. Oh, and the story is compiled by this here blogger. Let's have a flip through, shall we?

Lookie here: that's uber-style icon Chloe Sevigny's mom in her "just married" limo. Hot stuff.

Recognize this lovely lady? It's Emmanuelle Chriqui's gorgeous Moroccan mother on her big day.

Here you may recognize the very in love Marilyn and Monroe (top left) under the Chuppah. Mom's wearing an angora sweater dress. Deal with it. Top left is Brooke Posch's stunning mama Judy and little girl who's is not Brooke's dad p.s. Bottom left is the lovely Kathy Raupp, mother of Aimee Raupp, surrounded by 5 Pocahantases (or Pochahanti). Bottom left is Kristin Chenoweth's pretty in pink mamma and lucky dad.

Tracy Hopkins' mother sported a bright blue bow (pre-Tavi). Fun fact: her dress was only $110. Bottom left, is Jess Rotter's beautiful mother in a turtleneck dress and her father-- the human head. And bottom right is Ryan Green's mom, dad and tree-huggin' hippie friends at their backyard affair.

Top left is the beautiful Ellen, Ellsbeth Maxwell's mom. She donated her princess sleeve dress to Oxfam. Bottom right is the only photo to survive comedian Kristin Schaal's parent's wedding. The photographer forgot to turn the flash on. Top left, Susan Miller's mom glows in white. And bottom right, along came Polly, Colleen Kluttz's purdy mom.

On the last page: the legendary Sandra Bernhard offered up this photo of her parents at their 1946 wedding. Her mother borrowed the dress from her sister-in-law, though it looks like it was made for her. Thanks to the best editor eva--Fiorella Valdesolo for making it look so good. (Can you work your magic
on my blog posts?)

Oh hey, while I'm tooting this here horn I bought for myself, check out this interview Another Magazine did with MMTSI.

And, if you're in the NYC area tomorrow night at 7, you should totally come to Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match where funny writers read funny things. I'll be a judge along with Eddie Safferty and Denise Oswald. Tix are $5 online. Get em here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's bring back: Swimsuits with skirts

One-pieces with skirts weren't always designed for retirement home pools. During the 50's, Deborah Hart's mom lived on the Fiji Islands and stopped row-boat traffic in this red frilly suit. Wholesomewear, it ain't.
I spent some time trying to find a new knock-off suit online to no avail. Skirted suits are generally splattered with hot pink Hawaiian flowers and have a "sleek" skirt design. There are some vintage suits like this one from baby girl vintage...

...but am I crazy to think that buying used bathing suits from a total stranger's grandma is going one step too far? Please, weigh in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Queen Tut

Rosa Smurawa writes: "this is my gorgeous mother Rosemary at age 22 in the Mojave desert. The shirt says "dont touch my tuts.""

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Short shorts and tube tops

Amelia Rambissoon writes: "This was my mom in August 1983, a month after she married my dad and moved to Baltimore from Trinidad."

I took that as a challenge to find the entire summer-lovin' outfit online in UNDER 3 MINUTES. (that's an accurate read, right?)
Start the clock!

1. TEENY SHORTS: American Apparel Interlock Running Short, Baby Blue/Pink
2. CRINKLY STRETCH TUBE TOP: 1980's Women's Totally 80s Cocktail Shirt via RustyZipper.com

You call this a challenge?

3. TINY LI'L LADY NECKLACE: Silver Heart Locket with Sparrow Necklace via Etsy.com

How's my clock?

Fail. Long braid attachments are really hard to find in a pinch. Touche Mrs. Rambissoon. Can't beat the original.

My new Facebook profile picture

Piper is: pretending to be Georgia Bloch
Interests: Fedoras, Looking like a badass
Movies: Bonnie and Clyde
Books: Anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Secrets of Charm
Groups: I was alive when people knew how to pose for a picture

Julie Bloch sent in this picture of her stunning mother, circa 1949, before the dawn of charmless profile pictures:
"She was from Philadelphia and an artist. She was a working woman who did book illustrations. She illustrated a book in 1954 for the John Roberts Powers modeling schools called "Secrets of Charm". It is filled with pen and ink drawings of all things pertaining to be a woman in the early 1950's. She worked in the art department at Snellenberg's Department Store in Philadelphia at the same time, where she met my father, Arthur Bloch, the son of one of owners. This photo was taken in Paris on a trip there with my father. She later entered into a more "bohemian" period where I remember her in our transplanted Houston home wearing a mink coat and tennis shoes, campaigning for John Kennedy. She was quite a woman, a beautiful woman, and I miss her."

For those wondering what exactly the secrets of charm are, here's an excerpt from John Robert Power's 1954 book:

There is no flowing ease in the walk of a woman whose feet hurt! She moves in painful jerks or minces gingerly. She has a pre-occupied expression on her face that is as pained and pinched as her feet. A dead give-away to all!
Help Yourself to Comfort: You yourself can do a good deal to relieve the ordinary discomfort that comes from long hours standing and walking or sometimes from a weakness in the structure of the foot. Try these exercises the next time you are plagued by foot fatigue...
Sit on the floor with legs outstretched together. Alternately bend your foot toward you and stretch it away from you from the ankles slowly and hard. Get as much range of movement as you possibly can. About 25 times with each foot will work out most of the kinks.
Read more here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cat-eyes, Dumbledore and hot aunts, oh my!

Pop quiz: Am I the only human incapable of finding satisfactory sunglasses? Sure I have a budget of $6 but still, I'm starting to think I should have been around in the 60's. That was the renaissance period for ladies glasses both prescriptive and sun-blocking. Caitlin O'Mahony's vixen aunt models a variation on the cat-eye look. (I think I may have found her exact pair on ebay. Check it out.)

Anyway, Caitlin provided me with some bonus gossip that will interest Harry Potter fans, and subscribers to the Royal Shakespeare Quarterly:
"[My Aunt] once met the famous Irish actor Richard Harris, star of Camelot and the original Dumbledore before he died, who tried to get her into bed! Alas, she was not to be coerced and he did not succeed. This photo was taken back home in Ireland in the 60s I believe. To me, her high style seems a fabulous contrast to the old stone walls behind her as she lounges in the sun."
You heard it here first!

Friday, March 5, 2010


I mean for your mom...Send me the picture of your mom you were shocked to find even if it's just seeing her in a swimming pool with her hair wet. (Don't send anything she wouldn't approve of. I don't want to get in trouble with her.)

OR send me the craziest thing you discovered about your mom as an adult. Did she date a member of Whitesnake? Did she take aviation classes? Did she lie about going to Woodstock? Did she dye her hair purple? Did she have a tattoo removed? Did she ask David Crosby to donate his sperm to make a baby? Well why not? He's a perfectly good genetic candidate.

My mom owned a monkey. I know I've mentioned this before. But I'm still stunned, and fuming with jealousy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The ultimate family heirloom

I thought when I started working from home full-time to write this book I'd start taking those vitamins i spent $50 bucks on 2 years ago. I'd maintain a clean, dish-less sink. I'd shower in the middle of the day, but I would shower. I'd join a food co-op and prepare macrobiotic meals in a big stew pot. I'd by fresh herb plants and not kill them with neglect. And I'd wear jeans and cuddly sweaters all the time.
So far I've only lived up to the last item on the list.
But Suzanne Levine lived the entire dream. Her daughter Faythe tells me this picture was taken by her dad Rick Levine before she was born, in 1976.
"My mom was living in Minneapolis, was a macrobiotic foodie, and made part of her income growing sprouts in her basement. Then she met my dad and got married 3 months later. She now runs an organic dairy in Washington State with her husband. To this day she is one of my biggest inspirations. I believe she isn't only a style icon, but an icon for living a healthy happy life. As you can tell, I'm a fan."

She's such a fan, the lucky Faythe carries on her mom's legacy of chunky, cuddly sweaters. "For kicks I am also attaching a photo of me in the same sweater that she recently gave me when I found it in her closet. I have the best memories of her wearing it when I was a kid and couldn't believe it was hanging there for me to take home."

My Mom the Painting

You think you're fancy? Marla Bane's mom sat for a freaking portrait. In a red strappy ballgown, no less. In the 50's when this painting was commissioned, Lois Levine Bane Ross lived in Forest Hills, Queens with her husband who was in the shoe business. These days Lois lives in Florida. But the painting lives in Dallas with daughter Marla.