Weekend Reads #27

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weekend reads

Last week I shared how I was in the New York Times and why I chose to be titled Mrs. in place of Ms. In the words of a very wise woman, that reasoning was “lamesauce.” Women have worked so hard to have a title available that doesn't define them by their marital status or age. Each time Mrs. is used it keeps it alive, and me using it gave it a bit more life. If I could go back, I would choose Ms. Thank you to those who disagreed with my decision and responded without aggression but with education. Who didn't just complain to a friend or a message board but to me so I could understand, see my privilege, and improve. Thank you. Sincerely, Ms. Alison Gary

As for this week, it was tough. A loved one is dealing with a health issue and it's really affecting me. I'm having a harder time crafting words and focusing. This week I screwed up a scheduled, contract deliverable.  I was at a doctor's appointment, got an email about it and replied no problem, I've got it covered.  The day was long and emotional, I never again looked at the email and figured I would take care of it in the morning.  Come to find out, I didn't have access to the link where the content was located and the company is on a different time zone, causing me to miss my posting schedule. I also signed a contract and didn't look as closely as I usually do and agreed to do something that I would have usually charged additional.  It's not a major financial loss, but it's clear I'm not on my game.  Last weekend's tragedy at the synagogue in Pittsburgh was so horrible. I have relatives who live in Squirrel Hill; they go to a different synagogue but that's not the point. I can't believe that the worst antisemitic act in American history happened and it's just one more bullet on Twitter Moments of the terrible things happening in our country. I can't believe what America has become, I just keep donating and pushing people to vote feeling so very helpless and so very angry. Our washing machine is on its last legs and it's so loud we have to close the door of the laundry/half bath when it's running or else we can't hear each other speak; it's a great place to go to cry and scream and get some of it out to keep moving forward.  Hiding under a rock, pretending it's not happening, or falling into a pit of despair are not options. I hope this blog can provide you with some distraction, and help you build an armor-like wardrobe that will give you strength to tackle the tough things we all experience. Much love and strength to all of you, and thank you for being part of this community.  And GO VOTE if you haven't already.  Vote like your life depends on it because no matter how privileged a bubble you live in, it DOES.

Sale Updates

Lands' End Friends & Family is here! Save 40% off all full-priced styles with Code FAMILY and PIN 5241. Lands' End is one of my faves for holiday shopping.  My go-to for the person who has everything, the recently engaged, the new parents, or you don't know terribly well? Their canvas totes. The price point is great, add a bit of personalization with their initials, the baby's name, or just their name. These bags last forever, are so practical and look great too. No one will be unhappy opening a gift of one (it's one of my favorite baby shower gifts too!).

Gap is also having their Friends & Family sale with 40% off the ENTIRE STORE. Use Promo Code FFTIME. Last year my family and I wore Gap's Crazy Stripe for our holiday cards and it was a hit.  I just wore my sweater last week and Emerson still rocks her sweater dress.  The Crazy Stripe options this year are fantastic for the whole family if you want a look for photos, to be coordinated for a holiday, or just because you love color and rainbow stripes.

Talbots has a selection of their collection on sale 40% off. No need for a promo code, just go to this link where the items are available. It's a great mix of current wear-now looks of blazers, coats, jeans, blouses, and more for weekend, work, and everything in between.

Weekend Reads

In case you don't follow me on social media, I was published in the Washington Post, and I've heard from a few readers that this piece was syndicated in other newspapers in the US and even in New Zealand! This piece really shows how much I have changed since starting this blog over 13 years ago… heck since less than a year ago!

Thank you 11 Honore for mentioning me as a plus size influencer to follow!

I've criticized Washingtonian in the past, but lately, they've had some amazing content.  It's what makes DC special while being a joy to read.  Some examples: this recap of trick or treating in Kalorama (the part of DC where Jared and Ivana, the Obamas, and other wealthy folks live), and this gallery of images showing children becoming US citizens on Halloween may cause a few happy tears (or at least an, “Awwwww!”).

How moving to a harsh climate taught this woman how to listen to her body and take control of it from her eating disorder.

Why are people, in general, having less sex?  Our phones have something to do with it.

“As visual imagery has become a means of mass communication, what you wear becomes an even more important signal of identity and values.” A piece discussing why voting has become a fashion statement, with some great quotes from great designers.

I read this earlier this week and can't stop thinking about it and discussing it with others. There's nothing virtuous about finding common ground.  Your thoughts?

Fashion house Fendi attempts to address the Italian national youth unemployment crisis by luring a new generation into becoming traditional artisans.

This Week's Reader Question

“My job requires me to attend six different dressy events through November and December. The dress code is cocktail attire but I will be working and need to be comfortable. I don't have money for six dresses and I can't wear heels. Any suggestions?”

If you're working you neither want nor need to be the center of attention.  Black is a great choice as it's not terribly memorable, can be transformed by accessories, and if you get sweaty or dirty crawling under tables or dashing to get more napkins it's not obvious. I love a cocktail pantsuit; it's appropriate to the dress code yet is comfortable and looks great with flat shoes. This Tahari ASL pantsuit has an embellished collar; add a black shell of a silky poly fabric and you're set, though feel free to add sparkly earrings for additional glamour. A subtle yet tailored pantsuit like this one from DKNY can also look cocktail with the addition of a sparkly shell or a crystal brooch or glittery earrings. Such a suit can be in a poly suiting fabric, silk, taffeta, crepe, or even velvet.  As you get closer to the holidays, consider switching out the shell or blouse for something in a festive color or with a bit more sparkle. If a dress is more your thing, look for a midi length for coverage, a simple look that can be updated with accessories, and a fabric that has give.  Formalwear for work usually means a bit more coverage; while decolette, bare arms, and bare shoulders are common for cocktail parties, as an employee you don't want to steal the spotlight and therefore a bit more fabric (sleeves, higher neckline, covered shoulders) may be more appropriate.

Shop Work-Friendly Cocktail Looks:

As for shoes, I know it can be hard to find dressy flats.  I have found a few and share them below, but also want to share shoe clips.  White House Black Market has a phenomenal selection this season and it's a genius way to take tried and true comfy shoes and make them cocktail-ready. Etsy is another location for a great selection of shoe clips. Not only will you have comfort, you'll also pay less than you would for a second pair of shoes, and you can move them from pumps to flats to even strappy sandals.

Shop Formal Flats:

For Your Entertainment

While I'm not drinking until I'm drunk or smoking until I'm high, I'm not dripping in diamonds or trying to get the eye of college girls, I'm still feeling this new song from Gucci Mane, Bruno Mars, and Kodak Black. Play this while getting ready to go out at night or heck, even while in the tub with a sheet mask on your face. Because no one can tell you you're not fly.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. In response to the reader question, I recently had several events, including one black tie, and decided to trial Rent the Runway Unlimited. The cost of the membership (provided you timely cancel) was less than the cost of one formal dress. I was not guaranteed my first choice option for each event, but I was pleased with the options.

  2. Frequent reader, but I don’t comment much. I squealed when I just randomly ran across across your article on the WaPo website the other day. I felt like a friend got published. You are such an impressive woman and I really admire you for taking the plunge and making this your full-time gig.

    I think the stress is getting to a lot of us. I feel like this election is so important–maybe more so than 2016. Because Trump becoming president seemed impossible then and now we know that really bad crap can happen in our government and the Republicans are not going to limit him no matter what he does. I’m in Georgia and voted early for Stacey Abrams and straight D ticket (as did my husband and my 20 year old son and all of his friends that I could hassle to vote 😉 She would be a great governor–smart, practical, knows all about how government works (as a freshman in the legislature she would help even Republicans draft bills because she went to Yale Law and unlike many of the yahoos in Ga House, actually knows how the law works 😉

    Keep your chin up. Don’t beat yourself up too much on the deadline. Your content lately has been on fire–a good mix of sponsored and not–I never feel like you push things on your readers and your honest about who pays the bills. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. I was so excited to see your piece in the Post (I am old-fashioned and get the paper copy, delivered Sunday)! I literally exclaimed when I saw it. Very well done. If you have a minute, I think it would be great to get the behind the scenes scoop on how you pitched the piece, etc. It could be part of your business of blogging series. Congratulations.

  4. I’m a long-time reader and hardly-ever commenter, but I wanted to tell you that I’m proud of you (I hope that doesn’t sound condescending) for publicly stating that you changed your mind re Ms. I respected your reasons for the Mrs, but I share your reasons for Ms.

    I also think it’s so important that people model that it’s OK to change our minds. One of my favorite quotes is by Alexander Pope: “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” I’m not trying to say that you were wrong before, only that you are wiser today than you were yesterday, and you shared that with us. Thank you for your honesty as always! And I hope the health issues go away very soon.

  5. I understand about the concern over your loved one having an effect on your focus. Your heart has priority over your inner dictionary, speller, composition notebook, and grammar handbook for now and that’s okay.

    I love your weekend reads. That stretch me out,confront me, amuse, or validate me. Thank you for pushing, pulling, and encouraging me as a woman and a voter.

  6. I personally have no problem with Mrs. I am proud to be married to my husband, and we work hard to have a strong marriage and family. That doesn’t make me less of an independent woman, and it doesn’t take away from my profession success. However, at the end of the day my family comes first, and I am a wife and a mother above all else.

  7. First of all, I am sorry to hear about your family health issues. I hope all works out there.

    Second, congratulations on the WaPo article! I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved reading the comments.

    And last but not least, regarding the Mrs./Ms. issue, open-mindedness is a wonderful character trait to have. In today’s ego-driven world it is so refreshing to find someone who can evaluate and change their mind on a position. That is one of the things I’ve admired about you.

    I’m quite worried about the state of our country too. I’m not being optimistic at all, but then again I live in a crazy state that has run red lately. I do hope sanity and sensibility rules on Tuesday.

  8. I love you for changing your mind about Mrs. Read your post last and thought you argued your point well, but I admire so much you reconsidering your view. FWIW I adopted “Mrs” when I I married, but kept me name, and am now using “Ma” because I do not like my title defining my marital status.

    1. Why not use “Ms.”? That’s what it’s for, an honorific that doesn’t denote marital status.

      I have no patience for anti-“Ms.” people. Ms. is a perfectly good honorific.

  9. As I sit here in CA texting for the AZ Senate race, I took a break to read your blog. I love the Weekend Reads. You are such a great editor.

    First, I am sorry you are having a rough time. Health issues are so terrifying sometimes. They can come out of nowhere and throw us out of control. And we like to be in control. I hope things improve.

    Congrats on the WaPo article! I’m a subscriber, but missed it when published and love it.

    As for finding the middle, I guess I’m more open. On some issues, like a local decision on how many housing units go into an area, the middle might mean the difference between some housing and no housing. But, obviously, on issues of moral ground, there’s right and wrong. It’s not ok to be a little antisemitic or a little racist or a little sexist or a little cruel.

    So, MS. Gary, keep on doing what you are doing! You have created a community and I am glad to have found it.

    Back to texting for AZ Democrats! Blue Wave? Fingers crossed.

  10. I admire your self-reflection. We live in such a sexist society we sometimes don’t even see it. Your post irked me because I have heard women announce very unfeminist actions and then argue it was feminist so they didn’t have to examine their choices and consequences. My daughter asked me if her dad would be hurt if he didn’t walk her down the aisle at her wedding. She was 12 and I didn’t understand why she was thinking about her wedding. I didn’t so why would she right? He would not. He is supportive of her and how she lives her life but he is also a bit of an introvert who doesn’t like attention. I didn’t think twice about going through that tradition when I was married. Many, many traditions are sexist and we don’t think about them. I guess we can’t or we wouldn’t have time to live our lives.

  11. Alison, I am also frustrated and saddened by our country right now. You are taking action in a positive way every time you share your point of view, every time you march, every time you encourage others to vote or donate to causes that are important to them. Many of us are also doing those things–and it all adds up. I hope people realize how important this election is–find candidates who reflect how you want things to be and VOTE. On the home front I hope your loved one’s health improves. I really like your blog–not just for fashion but for your honest perspective on life. And we just had to replace our washing machine, too. It’s not even two years old but apparently the HE front-loaders are notorious for bearing failures. Hope you have a nice weekend!

  12. I honestly never gave your choice to use “Mrs.” a second thought. After hearing the reasons not to, I too find them compelling. What I really want to say, though, is how much I love your willingness and open-mindedness to weigh new information and change your mind if it makes sense. That is the intellect of an independent thinker and woman and, GOD, we need more of those in this time! Brava!

  13. So sorry you’ve had a rough week! I really appreciate your sharing your feelings on our country. I’m with you; I’m scared, angry, shocked, saddened, worried, and exhausted. How can people be so mean & heartless? I’m hoping & praying these midterms change a few things. My own state still appears to be very red, and it’s hurting us. So my hope will be in other states who have (maybe) figured out what a perilous time this is and have chosen to get back on the right track.

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