Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Making Up For Rain


Every Friday the newspaper has a feature on fashion! and style! that I always look at so that I can discover new regions of personal inadequacy, and then ignore them. Frequently they depict a few oddly-dressed people and point out how something--a scarf, a hat, a jutted hip--has "pulled their look together." Which is precisely my problem: my look is always coming unstrung.

I think they missed their market on the current article. Some editor on a deadline was given the job of coming up with an article suitable for the Pacific Northwest and she probably typed in "rain" and "style" and lassoed up an AP piece on looking your best when (God forbid) it's raining. Rain is explained as a bizarre meteorological phenomenon whose main function is to mess up one's look. "The key to looking your best when it does rain is taking a relaxed attitude. Don't try a complicated hairstyle or a dramatic smoky eye," the article cautions. No doubt someone at the paper, a newcomer who can't wait to make it big at the LA Times, thought this feature would be of service to the locals. If the editor  had typed in "rain" and "style" plus "people who give a rat's ass in Portland," she would have gotten zero hits. "The important thing," the piece goes on, "is to make your look seem purposeful, and not like you were caught off-guard." The concept of being caught off-guard by the rain in Portland is never explained.
But the article recommends going with tousled hair rather than a manicured, sleek style.

So it's recommending pre-tousling in a post-tousled town. I've lived here for 37 years and I haven't met one person who worries about what the rain will do to her style. Anyone who does got off the train too early. We all know just what each other looks like wet. We're way over it. The article recommends using special oily products on your hair to repel water. What we see a lot of here is your dreadlocks, constructed of a mixture of the person's own rooted hair and his or her former hair that is trying to fall out and keeps getting snagged up, and also some hay, all held together with secretions from various burrowing animals, and plenty of people find that repellent enough.

If an entrepreneur was inclined to "do something about" the weather, it's possible he could get some traction with a waterproof bicycle shoe with pedal cleats that can transform into a short, kicky heel, but probably not. This is not a vain populace. We've got two types: people with bicycle fenders, and people with muddy stripes up their backs. And most of the latter types, if they think about it at all, assume the muddy stripe has a slimming effect. We are just not this fussy. I'm probably a good example. I don't think much about my style until I go into Nordstrom's, and then I feel
inadequate because I don't have any clothes to wear that are good enough to shop at Nordstrom's in, so I wear my bike helmet into the store as an explanation.

Telling us what kind of foundation to put on so it doesn't streak or clump in the rain is like trying to sell a high-altitude cookbook to a marmot. Even if he did think alpine penstemons would be even nicer in a coffee-cake, he doesn't have the manual dexterity to pull it off. And we might give the latest style a passing glance, but we don't have the inclination to pull it together.

43 comments:

  1. How true..... a geography situation. I always feel like this in the winters of Montana. How can one dress up or look stylish when puffed out in duck down and a runny nose.

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    1. Oh, I think the runny nose looks slick. This from someone who had to give up looking fetching while asleep, because of the drool.

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  2. A recent import mentioned to me, "Oregonians wear hats a lot."
    "Yeah. It keeps things out of your eyes. Like rain, and sun."
    "But doesn't it mess your hair?"

    crickets.

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  3. living in ireland i feel like i know how to dress for all 4 seasons that can happen in one day...but oily products on my hair huh? lemme squeeze a bit of sunflower oil in my hairdo before i leave the house...mhh.

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    1. I'm thinking a good coat of oil would be very repellent indeed.

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  4. During my lone trip to Oregon, the sun inexplicably shined every day but one. However, my multiple excursions to the Maine coast have made me an expert in not caring how I look in the rain. The first time I went there, I tried carrying an umbrella, but the rain wasn't so much falling as it was just hanging in the air. I quickly realized that everybody was walking around with rain hair and nobody cared. It was an emancipating experience.

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    1. The sun shines every day from July through October. Don't tell ANYONE.

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  5. "A dramatic smoky eye"?? I had those last weekend. Hanging over a campfire tucked under a tarp gives you a hell of a smoky eye. The red-rimmed teariness makes it dramatic as all get-out.

    And my hair frizzes up and winds itself into an impermeable felt mat when it rains - works even better than an umbrella. I totally rock the outdoor look. Hawt!

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    1. I've got some of those curly-haired friends whose hair goes from shoulder-length to shoulder-width in a good drizzle. I go straight to the drowned rat look. Although with my current do, I'm not sure what's going to happen.

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  6. Those journalists on their way up are a hoot. They bounce from station to station, backwater to backwater, paper to paper. Like wack a mole, with new haircolors.

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    1. And you know, every time I look at a woman who has a serious hairstyle and makeup, like those TV anchors, I think she's older than me, even if she's 22.

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    2. Oh looky here! I'm signed in with my friend's name. I'm not sharpeee maarka. It's me!

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  7. Those damned fool fashionistas make me cross. Don't they have anything better to do than fret about a dramatic smokey eye? Make them all get down on their knees and clean toilets....that's probably all they are good for.
    Faugh, if you will padon my bad language.

    Loved this blog......envy you some of that rain, but then again, maybe not. Instead of just hanging there limply when soaked, my hair kinks up so tightly it hurts.....

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    1. You know, Lo, I never hear anyone use the word "cross" anymore. It's an old lady term. Like my mom used to say. Makes me smile. It really does. Let's bring "cross" back.

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  8. I scarcely needed a reminder of the reasons I don't think about some of those hairdos, but thanks anyway. Also, you seem to be a bit fixated on marmots here recently. Or am I confusing you with someone else?

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    1. You might be. Did I mention marmots more than once? By the way, "marmot" is my current answer to the question "what do you want to be reincarnated as."

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    2. Look at that. I DID mention marmots in this piece as well as the last one. Huh. I love marmots.

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  9. Fashion, shmashion. Is it comfortable? Is it washable? The only two rules that matter to me. Which probably shows. Which certainly shows.

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    1. Is it stretchy? Is it (urp) REALLY stretchy?

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  10. Murr honey,

    thank you for finally deconstructing dreadlocks for me. I'm still cackling.
    xo
    Jimmy

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  11. I love the look of hats. I wish it would become much more fashionable. I would rather see bright colorful hats than strangely colorful hair!
    And the rain...that is my skin moisturizer!

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    1. Ew, I hate wearing hats. Like to look at them on other people, but when I wear them my whole head disappears. Really, people wonder about it.

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  12. When I go out in the rain, it makes my hair flat where I'd like it to be poufy, and it poufs up all the hair that I'd like to be flat. So dammit, I'll carry my umbrella and put up my hood and I'll FIGHT the effects of rain with my last breath!

    Actually I love rainy days. It's easier to breathe with my traitorous airways. Ya just gotta dress for it. (no hats, though)

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    1. Another weird Portland fact: I'm not sure where my umbrella is, if I have one, and I'm not unusual. At least, not that way.

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  13. Oregon sounds like my kind of place. Sensible, realistic and comfortable people who don't freak out because of a bit of rain. What's not to like?

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    1. I have heard people who have moved here from other big cities say the same kind of thing. That it's a relief to realize they really don't have to agonize over how they present themselves. It takes some getting used to, I guess, and some folks are pretty worked up about how people don't even dress up to go to the symphony. They have a point, but we DO roll our pants legs down on the gear side when we enter the building.

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  14. We call rainy days Cat Days. We drink wine, read, sleep, eat, sleep, drink wine, read and sex if I am lucky.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. So, if you are lucky, you really don't care how your hair looks, either.

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  15. Hey Murr! Hmmm, I'd heard that several new species of marmoset were recently found nesting in Oregon dreadlocks. An internet search fails to find hits. But we know, you know? Roth x

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    1. Yes. The Orange Marmoset is the most successful nester due to the natural camouflage that drabber critters cannot duplicate.

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  16. I don't do dramatic smoly eyes or complicated hairstyles under any weather conditions. But the cute bicycling shoes? Merrell already has that covered: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/08/high-heel-bike-shoe-merrell/

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    1. Holy moley! They did! That should counterbalance the local bike brand that has Crocs welded right onto the pedals.

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  17. I can relate to all the fashion and style challenges in the rain. Here in Florida during the summer, the humidity is so high it's like rain suspended in the air. Only after the number goes from 99% to 100% do the drops actually fall.

    Strangely, Floridians only wear straw hats.

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    1. I grew up near Washington, D.C. If I had to live in that kind of humidity again as an adult, I would wear a plastic hat with a big drawstring you could cinch around the neck.

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  18. The last time I was in Nordstrom's there was a girl a few steps up from me striking the 'tude she belonged there. Considering she was wearing a pair of pants that had 'JUICY' in huge letters across her butt I decided she could have the place.

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    1. Oh man. Some time ago I got a Nordstrom's VISA card so that at least my purchases would amount to something, in this case a $20 gift certificate if I spend 20 grand on things. Redeemable only at Nordstrom's, of course, and then came the challenge of finding something for twenty bucks at Nordy's. I have quite a few pair of Nordstrom's socks now, but not as many as you might think.

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  19. Here in Newfoundland, and I hate to brag, we have a standard 'do especially created for the fog and wind, snow and ice and yer standard drenching rain. It's not as outré as the mullet but kind of close. It doesn't move and that is the criteria as the weather changes from minute to minute.
    We must get cracking on that smoky eyebiz though. And write about it.

    XO
    WWW

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  20. Turns out some artisanal shoemaker in Portland did come out with heels made for biking in. So Portland. http://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2009/12/03/biking-in-heels

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    1. Wow! That's two biking heels in one comment section. See Secret Agent Woman, above! I still think it's silly, and I'm one girl who could probably use some heels, in many people's opinion. I prefer to watch people bend in half to hug me.

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