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Flashback Monday: Women’s Fashion, Part V, Releasing Your Inner Slut

22nd November 2010

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

If you look like you just got some, it’s sexy. If you’re dressed like you’re out to get some, it’s slutty. In the fifth part of this women’s fashion series, I encourage you to ignore the distinction.

Sit down, my love, I’ve a bitter truth to tell. All of us are gravity’s bitches. Barring superhuman — and perhaps surgical — efforts on your part, your body is never going to look better than it does at this moment. Fortunately, your body already looks pretty damn good.

Don’t believe me? Gain some perspective. Look back at your high-school photos. You would kill to have that ass again. Perhaps this makes you feel glum about your current ass. Well, stop it. When you’re seventy you’ll look back at today’s photos and realize how much time you’ve wasted fretting over a perfectly sexy bum.

If you don’t wear daring clothes because you worry about your cattier girlfriends snickering, I suggest you lose those particular girlfriends and replace them with a buttery pair of understanding leather pants.

Suck in your gut, yank on the pants, and call your raucous girlfriends, the ones who will whistle and holler at the new rock-star you when they pick you up for a night on the town.

Congratulations, sexy thing. You’ve discovered the first of five rules for dressing slutty without feeling slutty:

1. Be Confident
What about modesty? Humility? Saving it for the guy at home? Screw that. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pretty, sexy, fabulous. It’s especially affirming to feel that way in front of a large audience, Tina-Turner style.

Perhaps you aren’t a naturally confident kind of gal. That puts you with about 95 percent of the population. Fortunately, being confident and pretending to be confident are essentially the same thing.

Most women who look ‘willing’ in their slutwear seem that way because they’re seeking approval. If you’ve ever worried that you’re dressed like a hussy, you’ve probably never even come close.

Girls who dress inappropriately do so with intent and grave insecurity. They tug at their tops, constantly hike their low-riders, and pretend not to notice that their pants have camel-toed in their crotches. You’re not one of them. The rest of our rules will help you avoid inadvertently looking like one of them.

2. Be Prepared
The peril in wearing revealing clothing is that it sometimes lives up to its name. Worrying that your left nipple is playing peek-a-boo with your date will destroy your crucial self-confidence. As we’ve discussed, worry makes you look trampy instead of vampy.

If you’re wearing a winningly low-cut tank or a blouse with a loose neckline, invest in some double-sided fashion tape to keep the garment in place. Short skirts call for boy-cut underwear in a matching shade so viewers either aren’t sure of what they’re seeing or realize there’s not so much to see. The lowest low riders need a tight belt to ensure that the waistband never affords a view of your continental divide.

In every case, the proper undergarments—stick-on bras, nude G-strings, the occasional girdle—will bolster your self-esteem. It can look like your blouse is always on the verge of falling open, as long as you know it isn’t. Illusion is our friend.

Often what makes a sexy outfit look skanky is a lack of attention to detail. When you’re getting ready to wear something trashy, groom what’s showing. You want to look artfully mussed; you don’t want to look like a heroin-addict on the prowl. Make sure you smell nice and clean, that your nails are neat, that you’ve paid some attention to your hair, and maybe dab on a little lip gloss if you don’t normally wear makeup. In the winter, self-tanner is almost never a bad idea (as a pasty Irish girl, may I recommend the Bain de Soleil line of offerings), and a little of the Body Shop’s Body Butter on your legs will give them a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition gleam.

3. Be Comfortable

You can’t be breezy if you’re limping. You know you’re going to be walking from bar to bar and dancing the night away, so don’t toddle along in ten-minute shoes. It will annoy everyone who has to wait for you to catch up. Save the spike heels for sedentary tête-à-têtes. Little kitten-heels, open-toed shoes, and sling-backs all have slut-appeal, and they’re much kinder on your delicate arches.

If you want to wear something tight, don’t just buy it a size too small. It will cut into your armpits and bunch unattractively in odd places. Buy clothes that fit. That means an item may cling to you, but you’ll still be able to sit down and breathe normally, and you won’t be continually coaxing it into place.

4. Remember Your Body Type
Accentuate the positive, darling. Maybe your bum could crush a large village, but your boobs are porn-star fabulous. Perhaps your butt drops off like a cliff, but your legs take their time getting to the floor. There are clothes out there for you — sultry clothes — and you should be wearing them more often.

Hide what you want to, reveal the choice pickings. Every girl’s got something admirable about her shape. If you’re not sure what your best points are, enlist a few brutally frank friends.

Your body type will determine what you can get away with. If you’re 5’11”, an eeny-weeny skirt is going to raise some eyebrows. If you’re 4’11”, it’s kicky. Hip-huggers can be tempting or tomboyish, depending on the view from behind. And if you’re a D-cup, you’ll look much racier in a plunging neckline than your AA friend.

Keep these things in mind when you’re choosing what you’ll wear with a sexy piece. If you’re showing a lot of cleavage, then that will help you decide what to wear on the bottom, which brings us to our next point.

5. Find a Balance
If you’re not quite ready to bare it all (or any portion thereof), the easiest and most effective way to wear arresting clothing is to pair it with something mild. If you buy a leather miniskirt that precludes sitting down, wear it with a turtleneck sweater and some tall boots. If your dress is so low-cut that you have to tape the neckline in place, the skirt can be loose around your bum and fall below your knees.

This rule also goes for your toilette. If you’re wearing a transparent T-shirt over a bra-top and you’re not sure if you can own the look, choose dewy, natural makeup instead of the dried-blood lipstick. You can also class things up by going for a more conservative hairstyle. A clingy dress with a tidy chignon can look classy and daring, while the same dress with teased-up hair-band bangs is questionable.

If you’re too modest to show much skin, choose pieces that are sexy without being revealing. Leather pants in a trouser-cut, suede tops, knee-high boots. Or you can opt to reveal less traditionally erogenous zones by wearing low-cut backs, necklines that expose your collarbone, or shirts that have cutouts in unexpected places.

If you’re really timid, test the waters with touchable fabrics like cashmere and angora, or decorative cloth that simply catches the eye with beading, sequins, or texture.

The more you wear something, the more comfortable you’ll be. So break in your new painted-on jeans by strutting around the apartment for a few days before you venture out in public.

Ready, Set, Slut
It’s difficult to seem fun and impossible to seem dangerous in a pair of Gap khakis. No one ever felt like purring in a polo shirt.

You’re not some milquetoast, wallflower, soccer-mom wannabe, you’re a kitty-cat, you’re a doll, you’re Marilyn Monroe. Dressing sexier will not only change people’s perceptions of you, it will alter your idea of yourself.

Tug on those leather pants, and turn up some Aretha. You’ll see what I mean.

Flashback Monday: 6 Favorite San Francisco Parks

25th October 2010

Six Parks to Visit in San Francisco - Mighty Girl

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, I’ve been posting articles that originally appeared elsewhere. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2006. Thanks to Andrew Womack, for the edits. (Andy!)

There seems to be a park every few blocks in San Francisco, so people often favor the park closest to their apartments. We meet in parks all year to listen to music, to share food, to celebrate together. Friends of mine married atop Tank Hill near their Cole Valley apartment, and my own husband proposed at a nearby dog park with a hurricane fence and a sweeping view of the city lights. There are too many parks to list, and possibly to count, so these are a few of the standouts. I highly recommend coming to visit, so you can choose a favorite of your own.

Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a lot like New York’s Central Park, only larger, and you can walk on its paths at night with a reasonable hope of emerging alive. The lush, 1,017-acre expanse was coaxed from a desert of unstable sand dunes at the west end of the city. Two Dutch-style windmills once pumped water through the park, maintaining an electric-powered waterfall, several small lakes, and the running creeks connecting the lakes.

For a few years, I rose early Sunday mornings, laced my red Converse with leather glued to the bottoms, and rushed to meet the lindy-hop dancers who gather in the Music Concourse. People came from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and as far as Sweden to dance together there in the park, while a tai chi group moved in slow motion nearby. Afterward, I would walk over to the five-acre Japanese Tea Garden to read over a cup of green tea and a plate of almond cookies.

Model-yacht enthusiasts head out to Spreckels Lake (near 36th Avenue), which was specially designed for mini-yachting. We go to watch the little boats when my niece and nephew are in town, or rent paddleboats on Stow Lake and take turns directing the kids to keep their hands out of the murky water. We gawk at the herd of bison whose ancestors have called the park home since 1892, and visit the recently restored Conservatory of Flowers to hunt for geckos on the panes of milky glass.

The park is a throughway for the annual Bay to Breakers race, attracting tens of thousands of drunken, costumed revelers pushing fully operational tiki bars up and down San Francisco’s hilly landscape. Golden Gate Park is the only place to relieve yourself on the route, which means that everyone stops to pee in the bushes together. Now that’s a San Francisco treat.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is where Golden Gate Park meets the ocean. It’s also where everyone goes for bonfires, mostly in October and November.

After the holidays, San Franciscans are known to collect truckloads of withered Christmas trees to burn on the beach. (If you’ve never watched a Christmas tree burn, I highly recommend it. It takes about 15 chilling seconds for the entire tree to go up in a whoosh of flames, and the tinsel makes sparks!) Regular police patrols keep the fires moderate, so hide the flask when they stop by.

Next door is Baker Beach, where a few friends met in 1986 to burn an eight-foot-tall wooden man, the humble beginning of the unabashed Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

South Park
One of hundreds of small neighborhood parks scattered throughout San Francisco, South Park has a distinctly European flavor. It feels as though you should be able to visit a butcher, a baker, and a cheese shop simply by crisscrossing the grassy oval.

But the park’s denizens, with their heavy-framed glasses and silk-screened graphic T-shirts, betray SOMA’s actual economic engine. Tech geeks flock here to meet, eat lunch, and grab a quick espresso fix.

Around 1999, I worked at a web magazine a few blocks from South Park, and I would queue up for half an hour to buy lunch at Café Centro on the edge of the park. The area was awash in dot-commers attracted by the low rents and artistic potential of the newly renovated warehouse spaces.

A few years later, the pigeons were the only company. A local artist trucked in dozens of tumbleweeds and set them out on the grass. Those of us who’d somehow survived the bust could almost hear the harmonica on the wind.

But today, picnic tables are scarce as ever. Geeks are back in force, and everyone seems to know everyone else. That makes it hard to plot secret business plans on the back of a café napkin, but easy enough to get them funded.

Alamo Square
You may remember Alamo Square from its cameo in the opening sequence of the regrettable ’80s sitcom Full House. The family is picnicking in the park, in front of the Victorian houses known as the Painted Ladies.

Because of the Painted Ladies, Alamo Square is the park mostly likely to be seen by tourists and forgotten by San Franciscans. Buses stop at the top of the Hayes Street hill so passengers can snap a photo, and then everyone climbs back aboard—leaving the park blissfully crowd-free and ready for the locals.

Alta Plaza
I mention this park for one reason only—Pug Sunday, people. The first Sunday of each month, pug owners from all over the Bay Area gather here to unleash their pugs on hapless trees, fire hydrants, and picnic blankets.

Go to gaze upon the romping, wheezing mass, and listen to the baffled owners calling out, “Prudence?” “Winston?” “Reeeeehmington!”

Wait for the end, as the owners try to re-gather their pets. A few pugs will have shaken off their identifying bandanas and stretchy collars, making them indistinguishable from one another.

Dolores Park
When the sun is high, Dolores Hill is one of the most popular and stunning parks in the city. It boasts a panoramic view of downtown, and row upon row of achingly beautiful gay men working on their tans.

The Speedo Nation shares the park with a small population of homeless people who use Dolores as a sleeping and meeting place. You’ll also find Scrabble-playing Mission hipsters, Frisbee-tossing dog owners, and families taking advantage of the large playground and barbecue areas.

The park was a Jewish cemetery until 1894, when San Francisco outlawed burial inside the city limits. Most of the remains in the city’s graveyards were exhumed and moved to nearby Colma, where the dead now outnumber the living.

Dolores Park takes its name from the Mission San Francisco Dolores, which is up the street. On Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, I meet friends here to pass flasks and watch the fireworks, which are invariably obscured by fog.

Relationship Hacks

20th April 2010

I love this Ask MetaFilter thread on relationship hacks (via Not Martha). I recommend reading through the whole thing, but these are the points I’ve used to good effect. If you have any good advice, let me know.

-“Have a set ‘date night’ every week and don’t deviate from it unless you HAVE to. This is especially important if you have roommates or children.” –Unicorn on the Cob

-“Never yell. Heck, never even raise your voice.” –teg4rvn

-“…People often start negotiating from what they think they can get, not what they really want–so even if the other person says yes, they are still disappointed. …People should start by being honest about 100% of what they want. My partner and I use this all the time, for things big and small. ‘My 100% would be having dinner before we see the movie.’ ‘My 100% would be to move to a bigger house in two years.’
…One thing that is surprising is how often you can have your 100%–and then you feel really lucky and happy and loved. And you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you gave your partner what they _really_ wanted. On the other hand, if the 100% isn’t possible and you have to negotiate down from there you at least know that what you wanted was heard.” –Not that Girl

-“Don’t tell people they’re wrong about trivial things. Inevitably someone will insist something silly, like that Kevin Costner starred in The Fifth Element or whatnot. You’ll know they’re wrong, but saying so is just going to be taken as adversarial and lead to ill feelings that turn into fights… It’s not worth upsetting each other over something so unimportant.” –Pufferish

– “If you have friends of the indecisive sort, learn how to play 5-3-1. It’s a trick to settle the ‘where do you want to eat?’ ‘I don’t care, where do you want to eat?’ game. One partner names 5 places, the other eliminates two of those choices, and the first one eliminates the remaining two. It’s decision making in turns, and it works just as well as anything else.” –Alice Ayres

That last one has saved me hours just in the last week. Apparently I am the indecisive friend. How about you? Tell your secrets.

Lifescoop: Gadget Case Roundup

25th March 2010

We have a drawer at our house with a collection of slightly broken things — a fully functional iPhone with a shattered screen, a point and shoot that sometimes deletes entire memory cards on a whim, etcetera.

Looking in the drawer, it occurs to me that the convenience of throwing gadgets in my bag is perhaps outweighed by the cost of replacing them when they bang into each other and break. But cases offer the best of both worlds — relatively free-floating gadgets that still work when you turn them on. Here are five stylish options to protect your gadgets without adding too much bulk to your bag. Read more…

Lifescoop: Spring Clean Your PC in 5 Easy Steps

17th March 2010

(Man I wish I’d had the forethought to post a photo of a laptop on my site before I took this photo.)

How long has it been since you thoroughly cleaned your computer? That’s what I thought.

I clean mine about as often as l spill something on the keyboard. But to keep your computer in good working order, you should scrub it down about twice a year–more often if you like to eat chips while you work. But how do you get everything sparkly without damaging anything? I did a little research.

Before you start, you’ll need some supplies: a large microfiber cloth, a can of compressed air, and a solution of 50 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol and 50 percent mineral water, and a pair of tweezers. Once you have everything together, shut your computer down (if you’re cleaning a laptop, remove the battery as well). Read more…

Lifescoop: 4 Tips for Creating an Inspiring Office

8th March 2010

I rent a little writing office, and as you probably know I recently acquired an office mate. She was all set to move in when I realized I was embarrassed to have anyone see my workspace, let alone share it. At the time, it was a barren closet packed with boxes and junk I’d dragged in from the car.

Together we’ve been revamping, and slowly the storage closet is turning into a jewel box. Here’s what I’ve learned about making an office into an inspiring space.

1. Take good care of yourself.

It’s tough for an office to be inspiring if it’s not physically comfortable. Read more of 4 Tips for Creating an Inspiring Office.