5 Things to Read Instead of Paying Attention in Class

Alexander McQueen, fashion advice for kids, and 11 really weird beauty tips

Words for Kids who Love Fashion on Final Fashion
While much of this amazing advice is targeted at children, it’s never too late to take note. Danielle Meder offers atypical suggestions like ‘develop cultural literacy,’ when the most prevalent advice being given to kids who want to start a career in fashion is to start a blog.

How to Be Handsome: 11 Really Terrible 19th Century Beauty Tips
Prime yourself for history class with some of the head-scratchingly bizarre beauty routines of our ancestors. If you thought heated eyelash curlers were weird, you’ve only just hit the tip of the iceberg.

FATshion on XOJane.com
I am just finishing up my personal summer reading list with Two Whole Cakes by Lesley Kinzel, who also happens to write FATshion, the most on-point and hilarious fashion commentary to be found anywhere on the web.

Ryerson appoints first Designer-in Residence
Fashion and academia are relatively recent bedfellows, and Ryerson University in Toronto is blazing the trail by appointing the first ever Designer-in-Residence. What else could you expect from the only University in Canada that offers a Fashion Communications program?

The Nature of Alexander McQueen: the aesthetics of fashion design as a site of environmental change

If the title sounds really wordy and academic, that’s probably because it is. I wrote my undergraduate thesis last Spring about the significance of art to the environmental movement, and explored the significance of Alexander McQueen’s designs as examples of art. This link ties the two together into a smart and useful package: get your furrowed brow ready.

illustration // Andrea Manica

Uh, That’s Not What I Meant by “Date Me”

A while ago I decided to try my luck at internet dating. It was neither a failure nor a success, and I soon lost interest. The only lingering evidence is a leftover profile at OkCupid, mostly because I’m too lazy to delete it. I still get the odd message from guys who like my smile and think we should chat. It’s what you’d expect, the sheepish norm of first contact between potential paramours in the digital age. What you don’t expect to get, however, is unsolicited style advice.

I am one of the lucky few.

The new message announced itself with a cheerful digital chime. The sound was misleading. It read: You are cute, but you should work on your wardrobe. Makes you look much older than 22. Just thought I’d help you out.

You know that alarm sound that Uma Thurman hears in Kill Bill? That’s what I heard. I wanted to send back a string of expletives, shredding his opinion of my personal style. He was totally wrong… right? Just to refresh my memory, I looked over my pictures to see what sort of “dowdy” ensembles he was criticizing. One was a ’50s style strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline, covered in a pattern of prize ribbons. Another, a silk blouse with a whimsical print of chairs, leaves, and umbrellas. In the third, a black dress with drawn cassette tapes unspooling in every direction. All of them are very cute outfits; none of them requiring a stranger’s intervention.

But a flash of self-doubt wracked me. My insecure inner 12-year-old suddenly wondered if maybe people saw me that way. Did I really come off as stuffy and uptight? It took years for me to feel comfortable in my skin. My shape never fit the American Eagle model that was popular when I was in high school. More than once, I wept in a change room, unable to navigate a pair of pubic-zone-grazing jeans and, rather than turning me into a Seventeen-queen, trendy mini-skirts just highlighted my stumpy torso. It was crushing. But creativity eventually took the place of insecurity. I went after vintage silhouettes and tailored looks; maybe they looked “older” to some but they made me feel self-assured. That’s when I decided I wouldn’t let people make me feel silly for what I put on my back.

So why did I let this man’s comments send me into a tailspin?

With his comment, he didn’t just insult my clothes—he insulted the image I had of myself. I wasn’t fishing for compliments, but the pictures I chose were of a confident and beautiful me. His offhand offer to improve what I thought was me at my best bruised my ego and made me question what the world saw when they looked at me. And although I want people to like me for who I am, the voice of the ostracized pre-teen in my past was suddenly asking, should I change?

If I were to slide off the high road and come face to face with my insulter I’ve considered a barb or two I could hurl in his direction. I’ve even thought of the outfit I’d wear: a red and white iris-printed sundress with a button front, cap sleeves, and a crinoline underneath. I would lower my cat-eye sunglasses, my neck scarf fluttering a little in the breeze. In my drollest Katherine Hepburn voice, I’d say: “Hey buddy. My wardrobe doesn’t need help. As for your personality, I’m not so sure.” But what would be the point? I know who I am, I know what I like, and as trite as it sounds, I’m confident I’ll meet someone who appreciates me just as I am.

I wonder how his quest for true love is going?

text by Cayley James