Tag Archives: fashion

Two Things: Fuck Me And Fuck That

I’m in the market for an office chair.  Actually, I’m in the market for two of them, but one I need now and one can come later.  In my life I’ve been through many office chairs.  In most cases, it’s been a Staples "leather" office chair where the "leather" flakes off after a period of time.  Being so sick of it, my last purchase was a mesh chair, which hasn’t flaked apart, although it is beginning to pull apart at one seam.

So here’s the thing.  Leather office chairs aren’t cheap.  I mean real leather office chairs are not cheap.  For god knows what reason, you can get a leather living room chair or even sofa for less than an office chair.  When I made the choice to get a high-quality office chair in real leather that would not flake apart, I budgeted what I thought was a reasonable amount, $300.  After all, that’s 3x what I would normally pay for a bonded leather chair.  Not even close.  Double that, at least.  So, fuck me.

Which brings me to the second thing.  As retail everything continues closing down and shopping increasingly moves to online, furniture is a very difficult thing to shop for online.  Obviously there is the comfort aspect of the purchase, but what I’m more angry about is the absolute flood of shit from China and its misrepresentation and impossibility to ascertain quality.

Here is a very specific example.  Shopping for what is termed a "task chair", I’m looking for something that seems comfortable and has a bit of style.  That’s actually not as easy as it sounds, but I settled on a design I like:


How much is this chair?  Found at Overstock, it’s somewhere around $450.  It is advertised as "top grain leather", which is the primary criteria in my search.  Now I’m not going to just buy the first instance that I see, because, well, this is the internet, and you can easily find the exact same thing sold elsewhere.  And that, right there, is where the fury came in.

The chair (or a product using the exact image of that chair) is sold at: Overstock, Wayfair, Joss And Main, Etsy (huh?), 1-stop Bedrooms, Hayneedle, Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, and on and on.  It’s sold under the brand names of ACME, AndrewHomeStudio, Major-Q, Industrial Lodge, Pettus Hamilton, Williston Forge, Bowery Hill, and on and on.  Angry yet?  It’s being sold for: $464, $969, $859, $655, $582, $407, $659, $719, $1120 (the last 4 are all at Amazon).

But, but.  That’s the internet.  Comparison shopping and all.  You take out the outliers and focus on the middle.  So, it’s probably a $600 chair.  probably imported from China for $300 and everyone tries out a different markup.  Every seller puts a different name on it so they have an excuse to say it can’t be price matched because it’s a different product.  Buyer beware, right?

Beware, indeed.  It was first at Home Depot that I saw the massive string of 1-star reviews saying the chair had a design flaw allowing the post to come loose and wobble and sometimes causing the seat plate to break.  Was this the same product as everywhere else?  I didn’t see those reviews on other retailers.  That’s when I really started to find how far and wide this product was and under so many different names.  The bad reviews may have played a part in the constant renaming.  The same complaints for the same product using the same picture over and over.

So anyway, fuck that.  Fuck the idea of buying furniture blindly online made by a mass-importer who will private label to multiple customers instead of being exclusive. And fuck paying over $500 for garbage.

But, Is It Art?

I’ve started an art project, which is usually bad because I am not good at art.  To forego any buildup and drama and suspense, the project is painting my couch.

You might have an image in your head of an early 1900’s couch with velvet cushioning and a painted wood frame, but that’s not it.  I have a modern couch, entirely wrapped in white vinyl, no wood.  And now you may have some confusion.  Painting your couch?  Yes, did you know you can paint vinyl?  Vinyl is just plastic and you can buy paints for plastic, Krylon being one well known brand.

My couch is nearly 15 years old.  It’s probably due for replacement, actually.  As I said, it is white, but that white is not as white as it used to be.  It’s that sad kind of off-white now, with some stains that refuse to come out.  The original idea for painting came as an outgrowth of an idea I had that maybe I could dye the vinyl bright white again.  Do they make white dye?  I don’t think I ever got a good answer to that, and I stumbled on articles talking about painting vinyl furniture.  So that’s where I am.

They do have white vinyl paint, but I figured if I was going to fuck something up, I should at least fuck it up in a bold way.  So I decided to change the couch to grey, which is another common vinyl paint color.  The paints I was buying were intended for car upholstery and dashboards.  I guess if you want durability, a car seat is going to take a pretty big beating, so this paint should be pretty solid.

The paint isn’t available for store purchase, so I had to order it to be shipped to a store.  Home Depot was probably about 50% the cost of Amazon (really).  I bought a 6pk of spray cans, not just so I would be sure to have enough, but because that’s the only cost-effective way to buy them.  The paint showed up in about a week and I brought them home and got ready to fuck it all up.

I made a shitty little paint booth in my garage, which just means I draped a sheet over things I didn’t want painted and stuck some fans in the windows to pull out the fumes.  I took one of the cushions off the couch, wiped it down with some degreaser, and set it on my little painting pedestal.  Ok.  There’s no ctrl-z on this, let’s hope it goes well.

I sprayed the paint on and immediately noticed it was actually kind of a brownish color.  This better work out.  I tried to keep in mind the tips I’d read in the articles I’d read.  Try for multiple light coats.  But, I do suck at painting of any type, so at the end when I surveyed my results, I was underwhelmed.  Hopefully it would dry better…

After a little while, I came back and checked on it.  While the color really did turn out grey and not brown, the coverage would be what I would call blotchy.  Definitely not uniform.  And that was even after I tried to even out spots that seemed too light the first time.  Some of it seemed to be caused by the “grain”, as if there is a grain to vinyl.  But what’s done is done.  I have to keep going now.

And that’s a little problem.  Just that one cushion used up almost three cans of paint.  I have another cushion at least as big as that one, plus two frames that have to have at least twice as much surface area.  That night, I immediately ordered a second case of paint.  I might need to buy a third, too.  That would put my art project budget at around $135.  Granted, that’s nowhere near the price of a new sofa, but based on the results of my first cushion, if I don’t level up my painting skills as I go, this is going to end up pretty embarrassing.  Well, I’m sure a thrift store could use a new donation.

Back inside, I removed the legs from one section of the frame and a realization came over me.  I think my couch is handmade.  The couch was not purchased at a large retailer, it was from a tiny retailer that specialized in modern design furniture.  I think they built the couch themselves or maybe bought it from a builder.  The first thing that struck me was that the legs were held on with drywall screws, not wood screws.  Then, while I had the couch on its side, I wondered where the little tag was: “UNDER PENALTY OF LAW, NOT TO BE REMOVED BLAH BLAH”.  There was none, which is concerning when you know why that tag is required.  It’s there to guarantee to the buyer that the cushion and filler are made of all new material, not reused materials.  And not only that tag was non-present, there was no other indication that the couch was made by a company.  No stamps, labels, tags, nothing.

So you can take that however you want.  Either I have a custom, handmade, one-of-a-kind couch which is really awesome, or I have a handmade, one-of-a-kind couch that is seriously sketchy.  “Nice couch, what brand is that?”  “No idea.”

The next day, I hauled one half of the couch frame out for painting.  I managed to complete an entire coat with most of one spray can left, so it’s possible I can do the whole couch for two cases of paint.  On the plus side, my technique did get a little better.  Even so, you can’t mistake there’s something “off” about the final result.  It’s probably good enough for a staging picture, but when you get closer, it becomes more obvious.  Oh well, I’m going to take this project to the end and the couch will serve me well for a couple more years or whenever I decide I really want something different.

Halfway done; before and after:


And here, fully complete:


Inmates Running The Asylum

Ha, you think I’m talking about the current political environment.  Nope, I’m talking about my workplace.  I’ll be honest.  I’m a bit old-fashioned.  I’m in a different generation than most of my co-workers and some of the things that are important to them are absolutely ridiculous to me.  For example, the company dress code.

Years ago, one of my co-workers lamented to me about how he couldn’t wear “a hoodie and flip-flops” every day at work.  This is important to him.  The fact he has to wear business casual clothes (which does include jeans) is a problem.  And strangely, employers now have to cater to their employees despite an overwhelming labor force eager to take those positions.

Recently, my employer conducted an experiment.  You could wear anything you wanted to work as long as it wasn’t revealing or offensive.  Personally, I didn’t change a thing, but many others broke out sandals, flip-flops, shorts, tee shirts, hats, and more casual dresses and skirts.  The workplace went from business casual to resort casual, and in my opinion, became more slobby.

The experiment went for 2 weeks and when it was announced that it was going to end, “hoodie and flip-flops” wrote to the HR director asking why it was ending if there were no complaints about how people abided by the rules.  The answer was “we’ll see.”

On the first day after the experiment’s conclusion, “hoodie” came in and announced loudly, “Fuck this place!”  He didn’t get fired or even written up for that, but did get counseled on his behavior.  He had to write an apology letter to the HR director saying he wouldn’t do anything like that again.  His letter also mentioned it was the loss of the relaxed dress code that caused the outburst.  It was a great way to make the case for keeping it, for sure.

But here we are, a couple of weeks later and great news!  For a limited time, SlobFest has returned to our workplace!  For the rest of the summer (excluding days where clients will be visiting), dress down, be comfortable (since that’s so important to you), act like you’re on vacation.  But please, if there’s anything else we can do for you, don’t hesitate to just shout out, “fuck this place!” and we’ll see how we can accommodate you.

Me, I’m outta here.  Fuck this place.

Circling The Drain

Tagged as “fashion”, but not, but kinda.  It’s technological fashion.  What is the big obsession with circles now?  I’m seeing all these pictures becoming iconified as a circle, which doesn’t work half the time when you have a landscape photo or when you have content that fills the image.  Or both.  I’ve seen it in Facebook, Ello (FB’s antithesis), Flickr, Apple Music, Pinterest, and now prominently in Windows 10.  It’s as ridiculous a concept as Intragram filters, but there you go – hive mind.



Today is Tuesday – Tie Tuesday – and I’m doing the tie thing.  If you’ve seen Mai Ties, today is “The Distinctive” against a grey shirt.  At lunch, the waitress asks me if I’m a car salesman.  No, why?  The tie.  So, I shut her up by stating that it’s Tie Tuesday so you have to wear a tie.  Duh, everyone knows that.

Why a car salesman?  I mean, it could have been lawyer, banker, real estate agent, store manager, or anything else.  Why was that the first and more logical thought?  Yeah, there’s a car dealership nearby, but there’s dealerships everywhere.

Does wearing a tie make you seem dishonest?  Wait a minute, does being a car salesperson make you seem dishonest?  Where was I going with that… Do I look dishonest wearing a tie?  No, not dishonest, do I look like I’m trying to impress someone?  That’s not it.  Why do car salespeople wear ties?  What is that purpose, then I can figure out why I looked like I had that purpose because I was wearing a tie.  Maybe.

But I’m wearing jeans.  She didn’t notice that; it was just the tie.  Is it the style of the tie?  Maybe because it’s trendy and not traditional that made it seem car salesperson-y?  Is it because I had a tie clip?  My impression would be that not wearing a tie clip would be more casual and more salesperson-like.  What exactly am I trying to figure out here?

The waitress was old.  Maybe that’s a generational thing?  She grew up always seeing car salespeople wearing ties?  But back then, people would wear suit jackets as well.  If I wore a jacket now, I would probably look more like a banker, except for the jeans, again.  Maybe it’s my age.  If a young guy was wearing a tie, she wouldn’t ask if he was selling cars.  She’d just think he was a hipster. Or something.

Or maybe, she just sucks at conversation and commented on something that made me stand out from the crowd.  There were a bunch of grungy people there.  So…. car salespeople are not grungy.  Check.  I think I’ve got it now.

Mai Ties

This is a post about my tie collection.  Yeah, another post about collections.  No one cares – always remember that when talking about your collections.  However, you shouldn’t mistake curiosity for caring.  I can imagine that some people would be curious to see someone’s collection of something, even if they don’t share the same enthusiasm.

Anyway, ties to me were always an afterthought.  I went to a Catholic high school (which was more like a country club with as little learning that happened there), and we were expected to dress up with button-down shirts and ties.  Being teenagers, only about 2% took the dress code seriously.  I was part of the population that didn’t really understand the significance of dressing properly, so I just went through the motions.

Back in those days, ultra-skinny leather ties were in fashion, but they didn’t get worn often because of the dreaded “tie-torqueing” personal attack.  When yanked by an attacker, the leather ties would knot up so tight, they sometimes had to be cut off.  My dad had taught me the full Windsor knot, which proved to be untorqueable, but came with the disadvantage that it was a massive knot.  Once I learned the Four-in-Hand knot, I never looked back.

Knit ties were also in fashion then, and recently I have seen a small resurgence of them, but knit ties really aren’t making a permanent comeback.  They are more like a novelty tie, which is fine with me.  I only have a couple in my collection.

I’ve recently been attracted to ties in non-traditional fabrics, i.e. not silk.  Linen, cotton, polyester, and even velvet have made it into my collection.  I also like non-traditional shapes, like squared-off ends and I have one that I call a “razor” that has a single-angle end.  That one gets compliments when I wear it.  A couple of my ties are event-specific, like a red/white/blue/stars tie for July 4th or maybe Memorial Day.  The velvet tie just screams Christmas time.  My collection is evenly weighted between wide- and narrow-width ties, but most all of my recent purchases have been slim ties.

For me, the why of collecting ties is primarily the recognition.  I always used to have four ties, give or take, that were used only for job interviews and funerals.  But when some people at my workplace suggested “Tie Tuesday” to balance out the everyday casual attire, I joined in.  And that’s when my tie collection started blooming.  I’ve mentioned it before.  People notice when you are dressed above the norm.  But you can’t do it every day, because that then becomes your norm.

As far as cost goes, ties can be a really cheap accessory that adds a lot of style value.  I don’t ever pay more than $15 for a tie, and the ones that are usually $30+ at stores are not even the fashion I like.  They are more business-suit, power-executive ties.  Likewise with tie clips and tacks – you don’t have to spend more than $20 for one.  Of course, once you start getting serious, you will need a tie rack.  I started with a combo tie/belt rack that had maybe eight posts to hang ties.  I’ve since upgraded to a 24-post tie rack for less than $10.  In the same way I limit the clothes I own to the number of hangers I have, I will limit myself to the number of ties my rack will hold.  It won’t be long before I have to start recycling.

So, without further adieu, here are the ties:

dsc_0682_cr-medium “The Razor”
Kenneth Cole

This one gets a lot of attention.  I found it at a discount store and have never seen one like it since.

dsc_0683_cr-medium “Color Flash”
Little Black Tie

This was a nice gift from the GF.  It works well with my black or my aqua shirt.  The tie is black, but the end piece is a contrasting color that “flashes” when you move.

dsc_0684_cr-medium “The 80’s”

This one is heavy 80’s with a really big, loose stitch.  I think the low clearance price is the only reason I got it.

dsc_0685_cr-medium “Red Velvet”
Original Penguin

This is red velvet.  It’s a bit thick and has limited potential, but it will rock when the holidays come around.

dsc_0686_cr-medium “They Said I Had To Wear a Tie”
Dan Smith

This one is a polyester print.  The pattern is cool and could probably be used at a youngster party.  Definitely “phoning it in” as far as style goes.  I use this a lot to practice knots because it’s thin and slick.

dsc_0687_cr-medium “Dark Marble”
Unknown Brand

This 80’s tie has a nice, tight knit and the red and blue color variations in it match up well with rich, dark shirts.

dsc_0688_cr-medium “The Southwestern”
BDG. (maybe?)

This is one of my favorite ties and another gift from the GF.  It’s linen, with a nice pattern and shape.  It comes undone easier than most ties.  Works good with Oxford shirts.

dsc_0689_cr-medium “The Suit”
Calvin Klein

This blue tie is made of suit jacket material and is part of CK’s Steel series.  It’s like wearing a suit jacket when you’re not wearing a jacket.

dsc_0690_cr-medium “The Distinctive”
Original Penguin

This tie is a mix of polyester, silk, and cotton.  The fabric has a unique look and feel that catches your attention.  The color scheme works with a lot of shirts.

dsc_0691_cr-medium “Understated”

This 100% cotton tie is probably going to be 100% rumpled.  But I think that’s its charm.  It’s not pompous or power-tie feeling and the neutral color could go with lots of shirts.

dsc_0692_cr-medium “My Eyes!”
T. Edwards

This is an old-school tie for me, back when the purpose of wearing a tie was to be obnoxious.  It comes out when it needs to.

dsc_0693_cr-medium “New Start”
Jerry Garcia

This was the first tie I bought when I became re-interested in wearing ties. It started a J. Garcia brand mini-obsession.

dsc_0694_cr-medium “From the Past”

Some of the ties from my youth I have no idea where they came from or how I acquired them.  I keep this around because the color and pattern works with so many shirts.

dsc_0695_cr-medium “Jolly Roger”

I found this one at Target on clearance and since I’m into computers and you know, pirates and all…  It’s a moderate conversation starter.

dsc_0696_cr-medium “On Black”
Jerry Garcia

I wanted this tie to wear with a black shirt for the massive contrast.  It did not disappoint.  It also got a direct compliment, so, success!

dsc_0697_cr-medium “The Parent’s Tie”

This is another silk tie from my long past.  Probably a more traditional (meaning, old person) pattern.

dsc_0698_cr-medium “Ocean”
Jerry Garcia

Blue is my first choice in colors, so this tie really called to me.  I don’t wear it often enough.  This is when I stopped buying J. Garcia ties because it was getting too predictable.  I needed more variety.

dsc_0699_cr-medium “Just Silver”
Nicole Miller

I was really attracted to the shine and smoothness of this tie, but I think I’ve only worn it once.  It’s too thick.

dsc_0700_cr-medium “Old Balls”
Ottimo Uomo

Who knows how I got this tie.  It’s old-school silk and has a design I like a lot: abstract modern.  It’s really old, though.

dsc_0701_cr-medium “God Bless Murca”
Jerry Garcia

Even though I’d stopped buying J. Garcia ties, this one was cheap on clearance and it would be good for American holidays.  I have yet to remember to wear it.

dsc_7123_cr-medium “Oxford”
Van Heusen Studio

This tie is a super-thin, light cotton tie.  Like the Suit Jacket tie, this one is like wearing an Oxford shirt when you are not.  It adds a casual feel to a dress shirt, similar to “Understated”.

dsc_7124_cr-medium “Vibrant”
Van Heusen Studio

Another super-thin tie, this one in silk.  It has a bold, deep blue color and modern pattern + accents.  Worn against a white shirt, it demands attention.  Against a dark shirt, the pattern becomes the focus.

dsc_7125_cr-medium “The Suit II”
Calvin Kline

This tie is similar to “The Suit”, although it is not in CK’s Steel series.  It’s a silk blend tie with blue/grey/black colors.  It has a semi-iridescent sheen to it which makes it “pop”. Bought on clearance with an included tie clip, for less than the cost of a tie clip.


The Same And Different

Last night, I got the strange urge to play the keyboard.  Although my posts make me sound like it’s something I do all the time or it’s something that I’m constantly re-inspiring myself to do, the truth is, I don’t play all that much.

So, when I sat down, I kind of bopped around wondering what I should play and if there was anything I could still remember.  Then it started coming back to me again.  And I played and I kept on playing.  As would be expected, my stamina wasn’t all that great and my accuracy on the notes was a little faulty, but for the most part, my hands went where they should have.

Today, I played a little more.  I guess my hands got a little sore from the workout last night because I couldn’t play as much.  But while I was playing, I did my little daydreaming about being a rock star (or some kind of star).  I thought about how my technique was crap and how I may get criticism for how “poorly” I play.

But then the realization dawned on me that some of the most innovative players were not formally trained and had a style of playing that was unconventional.  Why should I be any different.  In fact, I might say that it would require a personal technique in order to play in an unheard fashion.  And it would make it harder for someone to imitate you.  You would have your unique sound because it’s done with a playing style only you know.

And that naturally made me think outside the world of music at how having your own style for everything is important.  It’s not good to be exactly like the crowd, but you do need to have some “accessibility.”  I’ve heard a lot of music that doesn’t sit right with me and I’ve seen a lot of people that just don’t sit right with me as well.  Maybe people should strive to be unique and accessible.  Although lately, I think that some people are taking the individualism stuff a little too far.

And, as an off-topic aside, playing keyboards yesterday and today made a significant change in my typing: faster and more accurate.  I had been lamenting lately how bad my typing was becoming because I could barely type a sentence without having a typo.  I’d be constantly stopping and correcting things and it was slowing me down drastically.  I think I may have just found a solution for this.  That’s a happy discovery.

Being a Part of “the Part”

I’ve noticed an odd parallel between my work dress and my work status.  By status, I mean how I am viewed within the company.  While that may seem somewhat obvious, I don’t think it is.  I’m also saying, I don’t think this path can be shortcut.

When I first started working in a professional capacity, I didn’t know much of anything as far as fashion sense and business sense.  I wore polo shirts, khakis, white socks, and sneakers.  The next job, I changed to dress socks and dress shoes (I think I was counseled on this early in my tenure).  This job was a significant advancement in pay and my responsibilities grew steadily while I was there.

The next couple jobs I wore the same level of attire and my work position was pretty stagnant.  In that time, I learned the fashion importance of a belt, even if I didn’t need one.  I learned about undershirts and how they improve the look of your shirts.

Then with my current job, I eventually ditched khakis and went with jeans every day.  Then I started phasing out polos and wearing dress shirts most every day.  This is when things really started taking off.

Where I work, it’s a relaxed business casual environment.  Jeans are fine every day and no t-shirts, except on Friday, as long as the t-shirt doesn’t have a message (the “no-words rule”).  So, where other places have a casual Friday to offset every day of formality, we have an un-promoted “Tie Tuesday”, to offset the everyday casual.

I participated in Tie Tuesday because I figured, “I have ties and I never wear them except for funerals.”  There’s only a couple other participants in my department.  But, and this is pretty important, people notice.  You’ll hear comments like “oh yeah, it’s tie Tuesday.”  Lately, I’ve been getting direct compliments on my ties or my shirt and tie.

There is a saying: you have to dress the part if you want the part.  I gave this saying some consideration today.  My attire does project a higher-than-average level of confidence and… what’s the term… authority?  When one person in a group of people is noticeably better dressed than the rest, it’s natural to assume that’s the person in charge.  And in my experience, it’s seeming to be true.

The part I’m trying to figure out is if I am dressing to the position I have, or if my dress is taking me to the level I am at.  I am very sure that if I started wearing dress shirts with ties in my earlier jobs, it wouldn’t have made me any better off.  I would look (or maybe feel) geeky and awkward – out of place, even.  This is why I say I don’t think it can be short-circuited.  I think it has to be a gradual refinement over time.

But!  Back to the dressing the part.  I am pretty certain that I would not be where I am now if I was still wearing simple polo shirts and sneakers.  I look at some of my co-workers and think, they’re not dressed for management.  It’s an interesting balance.  If you don’t look the part, no one will take you seriously.  But you can’t just dress the part and instantly be that guy, because you have to be casually noticed, then accepted into that position.

Even if you’re the leader of a group, wearing business casual, and you come in the next day in a suit, it doesn’t jump you up in stature.  If anything, it makes you look suspect.  You need to evolve.  You need to be almost unnoticeable in your changes.  Then one day, when the executives take you out to lunch because you look like one of them now, you’ll know that you got the part.