Weekend Reads #279

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Karon Davis

Echo & Narcissus: Looking Glass
Karon Davis, Echo & Narcissus: Looking Glass, 2023

Weekend Reads

Thank you to Marsha in the Middle for a mention on her blog! (Marsha in the Middle) You may recognize Marsha from my Miami Fitwear swim review!

Women may get a bigger longevity boost from exercise than men. (Washington Post – gift article)

Why we're more exhausted than ever. (Time)

How caregivers are using smart tech to help aging parents. (The Verge)

She's one of the most accomplished actresses in Hollywood, but since becoming a mom and turning 40, has dealt with being typecast. Now, after a two-year hiatus, Kirsten Dunst is returning to the big screen in an unexpected, new role. (Marie Claire)

The perks—and pitfalls—of letting TV and films inspire your trip. (National Geographic)

Skims scores worse than Shein on fashion accountability report. (The Back Row)

Why are pants so big (again)? (New York Times – gift article)

Marcel and me: How ballroom’s first historian made my life possible. (Them)

Sailor Cole Brauer has become the first American woman to race solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, completing a journey spanning 30,000 miles after 130 days at sea. (Reuters)

Toxic beauty standards can be passed down. (New York Times – gift article)

Going for Botox with my 82-year-old mom. (The Cut)

The University of Maryland, where I went and was a sorority member, placed a cease and desist order on all IFC and PHA organizations just before many had their new recruit initiation. Fraternity and sorority members speak out. (The Diamondback) U-Md. fraternities criticize ‘sudden’ pause on social activities. (Washington Post – gift article) Did the University of Maryland overreact in shutting down Greek life? Some say so. (The Baltimore Banner)

I pledged a sorority in the Fall of 1994. Likely, what I experienced as a pledge would be considered hazing by 2024 standards, but I never feared for my health, safety, or future with the organization if I did or didn't perform certain things. It was fun, and the time connected me to my pledge class and the sisters in the sorority. Joining a sorority kept me from dropping out of college (which I was considering) and raised my GPA. I had leadership positions and made friends with whom I am still connected today.

I am sad about what is happening at the University of Maryland. I am sad for those hurt by their potential brothers and sisters and sad for those who did nothing wrong and have had their experience cut short.

Weekend Sales

Ann Taylor has their Friends and Family sale going on with 30% off sitewide through March 11th. No promo code is needed. I am a big fan of Ann Taylor; their quality has improved and they carry petites over a size 10. A few things I recommend or own:

  • I own these high-rise wide-leg trousers. They aren't so wide leg you look comical, they are unlined so they aren't heavy for spring and summer, and on my 5'3″ self they were the perfect length to wear with a low heel (see me in them on Instagram). The low score is due to those who want tall sizes; I get the frustration but folks lets keep reviews for quality, fit, and style and take the complaints to customer service and social media!
  • This jacket and these pants make for a super versatile suit that will look chic for many seasons. The color is so neutral you could glam it up for a day wedding with a beaded or silky cowl-neck shell or camisole and metallic shoes. You could dress it down with a graphic tee or Breton and sneakers. You could make it cold weather appropriate with a black fitted turtleneck and boots. The color makes these great separates to mix and match. the lapel is interesting without being too trendy or weird.
  • This square-neck shell is a great option under blazers for work and with skirts and linen pants for spring and summer nights. I appreciate the width of the shoulders and the neckline in that it is beautiful but also will cover a standard bra.
  • Ann Taylor makes great shoes that fit a medium to faintly wide foot. This sandal is the perfect go-to for late spring to early fall with pants, jeans, dresses, dressy shorts, skirts… you name it.
  • I'm team cute baseball cap to cover a bad hair day and this dark denim option is really cute and versatile. Envision with a striped tee, pair of any wash of jeans or linen pants, and a pop of red (lips, sandals, belt, bag).
  • With a sale like this, stock up on Ann Taylor scarves. Most are 100% silk and really beautiful patterns. I have Ann scarves two decades old I still rock on the regular. I have a few this size; they are like an elegant bandana and I like in the warmer months to glam up a tank or tee. This one is large enough to double as a belt. And I love a “Twilly” to tie around a ponytail, wear as a headband, tie on a bag, tie in a bow on a belt loop, and wear knotted at the throat.
  • I have this belt and like it so much I am considering a second color. Reviews are right, it can get caught when opening but you get the hang of it. Cute as a standard belt, great as a replacement for a self-belt on a dress, chic belting a blazer.

Talbots also has 30% off sitewide this weekend. No code is needed, discount will show in your shopping cart. Y'all know I love Talbots; they also offer petites over size 10 and fashion I enjoy wearing year after year. Some of my picks:


shogun movie poster

A new adaptation of James Clavell's 1975 novel, the limited series Shōgun, began February 27th and is available on CBS, FX, Disney+, and Hulu. I love it so much. It is beautiful and sweeping and dramatic, and the costumes are so meticulously created to be authentic… it's one of those shows that the drama/action lover and the costume/romance lover can both enjoy.

scene from the FX series Shogun with actor Hiroyuki Sanada in historical Japanese battle gear sitting on a white horse

Two episodes launched on the 27th, and the other eight are dropping weekly. Created and produced by husband and wife duo Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, Shōgun has beaten popular shows like The Bear and Fargo for premiere viewing numbers, and I believe it is warranted. Hiroyuki Sanada is not only a star of Shōgun but was brought on by Marks and Kondo to assist with the accuracy of language and costumes and to bring on the best young Japanese actors.

scene from 2024 series shogun with Anna Jarvis sitting in a room in front of a crowd

I had never read the novel, and I only saw a few episodes of the 1980 series by the same name, and I was a bit too young to grasp it then. Marks and Kondo didn't focus on the original series but the original novel when crafting Shōgun. They are quoted as saying, “…Everything in the book is great and we don’t want to change it. All we want to do is find ways to subvert the gaze. We would never be able to properly invert the gaze, because we’re Western filmmakers, just like James Clavell was a Western writer. What we are hoping to do is to subvert the gaze enough to surprise the audience…” 

Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai in a scene from the FX series Shogun

Starring veteran award-winning actor Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai, 47 Ronin, Westworld), Anna Sawai (Pachinko), and Cosmo Jarvis (Persuasion, Peaky Blinders), Shōgun is the first show since The Bear where I can't wait for the next episode. Have you seen it?

For Your Entertainment

Annie Clark as St. Vincent. She is sitting at a table in a white short-sleeve top and black sheer gloves and ont he table next to her is a vase holding an orange flower. She is staring at the camera.

Annie Clark, who goes by the stage name St. Vincent, is back! The 41-year-old artist's latest album, All Born Screaming, drops next month, but this week, she released the video for the album's first single, “Broken Man.” Reviews say this album is darker and harder than her past works, and if the video for “Broken Man” is a taste of what to come, I feel I will be playing this album on repeat.

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. Love this new St. Vincent song!… definitely has an edge like a PJ Harvey song. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Thank you, Alison, for the feature! I was surprised and so, so happy to be a part of your Saturday reads. I love this particular post every week because I am entertained and informed through all of your links and reviews.

    The piece about ballroom was amazing…to know these pieces of history exist. I do hope the Idle Sheets do make it into book form. Most people only know of vogueing via Madonna not realizing its true start. Paris is Burning as well as Legendary helped me to understand this particular part of queer culture.

    Thank you for the Saturday reads! Shogun is next on our to watch list. I read the book when it first came out so I don’t remember anything. It’s funny how often my opinion of a show echoes your thoughts!


  3. I know about the consumer complaints going nowhere. I’ve tried to complain about Talbots’ new shipping policy (charging full shipping if you call the store, $2.50 “handling fee” if you are -in- the store and -they- don’t have your size), and have never heard anything back. On another matter, thank you Allison for describing your sorority experience, which was exactly like mine and my husband’s. I went to a large, commuter campus, and Greek life was key to my having a true college experience. You didn’t mention this, but our groups also carried out many charity functions and did college boosting activities.

    1. Shipping and service fees have always been there, it’s just that brands either absorbed the costs or added them into the price of the garment. To keep costs lower, and because shipping rates are skyrocketing, they are now charging them. Because folks can stomach a $2.50 fee more than paying $2.50 more for a garment. Fast fashion has really screwed up so many layers of retail.

  4. Regarding the fabulous AT wide-leg pants and your comment: “The low score is due to those who want tall sizes; I get the frustration but folks lets keep reviews for quality, fit, and style and take the complaints to customer service and social media!” I’m not following. The negative reviews were exactly focused on fit and style — and the fact that the pants don’t fit and are not stylish when they are inches too short! Complaining to customer service takes you to a call center, where those who answer the phones are not in the design chain at all. As a tall person, I complain widely and everywhere — who knows when or if you’ll get the attention of someone who can actually change things!

    1. PS. Still thinking about this situation. I think it would make a great blog post: How much influence do consumers have over fashion? And how can they best weigh in when dissatisfied? Examples: After at least 5 years of requesting online, on the phone, and by email, Talbots still does not provide photos or info on the interior of their handbags, including the fabulous silver one you link to, above. At least a decade of asking Eileen Fisher to make just ONE tall length pair of pants every season has resulted in ZERO change. And the current brouhaha in the comments sections of EF tops re the too-short sleeves has been going on for several years, to no effect. My sense is, consumer complaints just don’t matter. I’d love to be proved wrong.

      1. Big companies sadly care less about comments and look at sales. If they’re making their quotas and saving costs, they will ignore feedback. And it costs extra to create talls and shorts and larger sizes. Whatever they can do in this day and age to stay in the black, they’ll do it and they likely feel it’s worth sacrificing some customers to stay afloat. It sucks, but it’s another side effect of fast fashion.

    2. If the individual bought them and found them too short, that is one thing. To provide negative reviews because a size range is not available is different. It skews the product saleability. And if a product gets negative reviews, it is likely to not sell and not be created. If it is more popular, it is more likely to be made in more sizes and lengths.

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