What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

Image courtesy of Getty Images and Victoria Warnken/Bustle

How About We Don't Expect Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Get Along

As usually happens when I read a piece by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, I started cheering in my head when I got into this one! More great work here on the outsized expectations we have of women and the strangely specific roles they are forced to play.

Is Wokeness In Fashion Just Another Illusion?

I will not be including a picture of the Instagram post in question here, but if you click through you can see what the uproar is about. Personally, I find it incredible that in our connected world anyone could possibly claim ignorance on so basic an issue as usage of the n-word. If you speak English, spend time in the United States, and do business with Americans, it is your responsibility to behave in culturally appropriate ways - just as it would be if you were occupying space in any other country and culture.

Sex Work Has A Class Problem

I don't have strong feelings on the concept of sex work in general. They call it the world's oldest profession for a reason and I know it will never go away, but the intricacies of how to protect people who might be victimized and still enable people who feel empowered by their choice of work are complex. This is a great take on how some of these issues play out in the actual practice of sex work.

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed

Can I be honest? I haven't for one second thought that any of these brands were worth purchasing, even before I knew the details about how they came to be.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is!

What I'm Reading

Wrapping up a few holdovers that stuck with me at the end of 2017...

We Might As Well Talk About Taylor Swift's New Single

The Fug Girls are some of the smartest pop culture critics out there, and their take on Taylor Swift both resonated with me and brought up points I hadn't even considered.  I doubt Taylor will ever read this... but I sincerely hope she does.

Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue's Refashionista

I wasn't the only one who noticed that a lot of the best written, most intelligent articles bubbling to the top of my social media feeds in mid-late 2017 came from Teen Vogue.  It's all due to their excellent writers and this woman, who I greatly admire.

Why I Finally Gave Up My Nightly Cocktail

There's a strong argument here that hits home with me.  The concept is being taken under consideration in the LMW household!

How the Sandwich Consumed Britain

I'm actually obsessed with the type of sandwich this article discusses: individually packed, cut into triangles, fillings generally mayonnaise-based.  So of course I greatly enjoyed this deep dive into why these particular meals became so popular and how they're made and distributed.

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Image courtesy of wired.com (Getty Images)

Why Men Don't Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

If you, like me, have ever been frustrated by interacting with a man who prides himself on his pure, logical mind and yet seems to be completely ignorant of the realities of prejudice, this is news you can use.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Jessica Pons)

My Super Sweet 15

Growing up in Southern California, I always knew about quinceañeras, but I didn't know they had become this much of an industry.  This is another fascinating look into one of the ways immigrant populations add to the cultural tapestry and diverse economy of the US.

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About "Despacito"

Given that this article is now over two months old I would have thought it would have lost relevance... but based on the pop radio station in San Francisco, "Despacito" is still going strong.  To me the song seemed to come out of nowhere, but this article explains in depth how clueless that perception is.

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

Photo courtesy of newyorker.com (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty)

What Le Cirque Will Be Remembered For

Almost 20 years go, I ate at Le Cirque in Vegas with my parents, and I remember thinking it had to be the pinnacle of fine dining.  I never knew the real scoop on the NYC original!  And if you didn't already think Ruth Reichl is a badass, you will now.

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of npr.org (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Photo courtesy of npr.org (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Louise Linton Said She "Sacrifices" More Than Other Taxpayers.  It's Not That Simple.

We could all use a refresher on the economics and political principles that underlay the latest scandal-of-the-week.  And if you, like me, post about fashion on Instagram, I hope you can join me in taking a renewed look at our content and remembering that the ability to wear a wide variety of things just for fun is an incredible privilege.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Weddings of the 0.01 Percent

Even though It's been over seven years since I planned my own wedding, I still love reading and talking about weddings - especially when there's as much juicy insider detail as there is in this article!  But as with so many things, I finished it remembering the sociological research which tells us that, past a certain point, money doesn't actually buy any additional happiness.

Photo courtesy of the guardian.com (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Photo courtesy of the guardian.com (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Why We Fell For Clean Eating

I completely cut out sugar and processed grains for a solid three months about five years ago, and continue to minimize both of those things as much as my inherent tendency to being a sugar monster allows.  I've never really thought of this strategy as a health panacea though - it's really a weight maintenance tool for me.  I generally avoid extremes, and this article reassures me that that's a wise strategy.

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Claire Zulkey)

Photo courtesy of racked.com (Claire Zulkey)

Shopping For Boys Cloths Is So Boring

This article also brings up an excellent point to me: why does "gender-neutral" skew so masculine?  My sister and her wife dress my niece in all kinds of things, from frilly dresses to onesies that are clearly from the boys' department, and that just seems like a progressive strategy.  But I wonder if they or anyone else would put boys in pink and glitter sometimes in the name of gender neutrality.  I wish they would!

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of elle.com

Photo courtesy of elle.com

Kate Middleton's Engagement Dress May Have Triggered the Downfall of the Brand Issa

I own one Issa piece, a gorgeous peacock green gown with cap sleeves and a plunging back, and was a fan of the brand's simply elegant aesthetic.  It's too bad the brand disappeared, but this article is a sobering reminder that fashion is above all a business.

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com (@ashleybouder)

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com (@ashleybouder)

Ballet Has A Sexism Problem - But I'm Fighting Back From the Inside

I've had season tickets to the San Francisco Ballet for at least five years now.  In that time, I don't recall seeing a single piece by a female choreographer.  And I'm pretty sure there there have been few if any pieces created by people of color.  These are both serious problems.

Photo courtesy of theguardian.com (Popperfoto)

Photo courtesy of theguardian.com (Popperfoto)

"London Bridge is down:" the secret plans for the days after the Queen's death

This is fascinating.  Royals lover, hater, or not-carer, there is a lot going on here for everyone!

Restaurants Banning Children: Is It Good For Business?

As a child, I would have been outraged by this.  My parents were sticklers for table manners and took us with them to all kinds of fine dining restaurants starting when we were quite young, and I was really proud of being a well-behaved child in an adult environment.  However, my adult self realizes that not every kid is restaurant ready and that paying customers deserve the kind of experience they've sought out and paid for!

What I'm Reading

Image courtesy of nytimes.com (Emily Beri/Andy Chen)

Where Have You Gone, Angelina Jolie? Celebrities Vanish From Fashion's Front Row

I find the changing landscape of the fashion industry fascinating to follow.  And I wonder what this means for the world of Instagram stars and influencers if the fact that a celebrity is seen wearing a brand doesn't really move the needle in terms of sales.

Photo courtesy of vulture.com (Bill Matlock/ABC)

Why A Black Bachelorette Is A Big Deal

I haven't been in the loop for a few years, but The Bachelor/The Bachelorette were my Monday-night go-tos during business school with my girlfriends. And it doesn't take a genius to watch a season or two of this monster franchise and realize that people of color a) are severely underrepresented and b) if they are present, exit stage left in very early episodes.

Photo courtesy of nationalgeographic.com (Antonio Faccilongo)

A Million People Live in These Underground Nuclear Bunkers

I find pretty much everything left over from the Cold War a combination of fascinating and terrifying, and this is no exception.  This article also reminds me how little I know about the world - I had literally never heard of this phenomenon before!

Photo courtesy of glamour.com (Miguel Reveriego)

Chrissy Teigen Opens Up For the First Time About Her Postpartum Depression

I've said before and I'll say it again: anything related to being less than perfectly maternal remains a huge taboo for women.  I'm all for bringing everything into the light, so that each individual can find her way and get the support she needs, whatever her motherhood status. (In related news, Glamour has been killing it journalistically in recent months.)

Goop Knows Best

You guys, I have to admit it: I have a total love/hate relationship with goop.  If you haven’t already been introduced, goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand/newsletter/shop/advice column. 

Why do I love goop?  Well, for starters, the taste level is impeccable.  The goop aesthetic is simple, clean, and imbued with a mature yet cool style.  In addition, the editors really do their research.  When it comes to fashion and product recommendations, goop takes a less-is-more approach, and everything is clearly fully vetted and tested.

Why do I hate it?  Goop promotes a modern version of keeping up with the Joneses to a staggering degree.  Each newsletter leaves me feel like I can never possibly keep up with all the things I should be doing and buying to become a healthier, fitter, more self-actualized version of me – or at least, the version of a modern woman that goop is marketing.  Goop also does a serious amount of fear mongering, particularly when it comes to beauty products, which drives me batty.  Just because something is natural doesn’t make it nontoxic, and just because a chemical is lab-created doesn’t make it harmful!  And of course, many writers more eloquent than I have waxed poetic about how out of touch goop is with real women’s lives. 

In order to appropriately consume goop, I feel like the proverbial grain of salt is essential.  If you make it your bible, you’re just going to start feeling inadequate, but if you can filter for the information you need, you’ll find a lot that is helpful.

And go figure, goop’s closet organizing advice is absolutely on point.  In her Organization Tips from the Goop Fashion Closet, fashion director Laurie Trott shares some common organizing tips (seriously, huggable hangers are essential), but also brings up some strategies I and other professional organizers use that haven’t made it to the mainstream (organizing by accessibility and frequency of use, rather than just what fits where).  Of course, the unreachable standard still applies here: I am not a mood board person and I’m totally fine with that, so I’m a bit exasperated with the suggestion that a hard copy mood board in one’s closet is an essential organizing tool.

Do you read goop?  Love it, hate it, or both?


What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of nymag.com (Ari Seth Cohen)

Don't Tell Me to Dress My Age

As a person who is solidly in "old enough for an article like this to apply to" territory, I wholeheartedly identified with it.  I've noticed I'm less comfortable with shorter hemlines without an assist from opaque tights, but care much less about being over-dressed for an event - I love to look polished and put together, and I don't care if that makes me stand out a bit!

Photo courtesy of luvvie.org

I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

All I can say about this book is that it should literally be required reading for every human being alive today.  Blogger/humorist/all around rockstar Luvvie Ajayi presents practical ways to be an actual better person, all served with a side of her trademark sass to help the medicine go down.

Photo courtesy of Nice Life Recording Company

Meet The Rising Musician Who's Starting A Body Confidence Revolution

Well, I know what I'm going to be streaming in the car on the way to a client appointment this afternoon!  Lizzo's comment that absolutely took my breath away relates to something I've been noodling on for awhile: "I hate when things that are good for people become trendy and people belittle their importance.  That's happened with terms like feminist, activist, and safe space."

And now for something a little different...

My dad sent the following to our little family group yesterday.  My sister, sister-in-law, husband, and I were blown away by the acuity of his observations and the quality of his writing.  I just had to share it with you!

India, Two Weeks In

When Claire and I landed in Delhi two years ago, there was one window for internet-obtained visas and nobody in that line.  Now, with greater awareness, half the plane-load is in that line, but there is still only one window.  Such is India.  The people are modernizing much faster than the state.  The state is going to have to figure out how to get out of the way or get upended.  But, the state is notoriously bureaucratic and slow to change.  It is a tinderbox.

We are told that India today, compared to twenty-five years ago when economic liberalization began, is day and night.  Only that perspective gives me hope that this country can bootstrap its way into the 21st century.  The enormity of the challenge is overwhelming (I find myself using that word a lot but will try to reserve it for the extreme cases).

The country remained agrarian through half of the twentieth century, and 60-70% of the population today still lives in the rural villages that - for the most part - have no electricity, running water, or sanitation. That's nearly a billion of the 1.4 billion population.  The cities are a mash-up of crumbling Raj, tin-roofed stalls, and air-conditioned oases for the business community and the tourists.

Using the vernacular of the day - which is pretty nearly accurate - the top 1% are up to date, most everybody else in the cities is a wannabe techie, and the rest of the country is two centuries behind.  There is precious little industrial base.  The industrial revolution never came here.  Consequently, there is precious little middle class, and those that are earning their way to that level with service jobs rarely have any opportunity to accumulate capital.  Success for most urban immigrants is a motorcycle and a smartphone.

This is Jess's nightmare.  Everything about India is crowded.  Unless you venture out early in the morning, you can't possibly walk in a straight line for more than a few steps.  The sidewalks have long since been taken over - and roofed over - as stalls. People by the thousands, dogs (which have been inbred to the point of uniformity), cows which are sacred and therefore simply worked around wherever they choose to be, and an army of green and yellow tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized rickshaws) vie for footing on the streets.  Add in a million motorcycles and the habit of all Indian drivers to honk endlessly, and you have a pretty good working example of chaos.

Just when you are getting a grasp on this scene, you realize that you are only dealing with half the population.  You see very few women out and about, even in the cities.  The street is the men's realm, and for many of them it is the sum total of their realm.  Few appear to be seriously employed, in a country where even a full-time job might involve 3-4 hours of actual work on a good day and always includes 144 official vacation days per year (Sundays plus 10 weeks).  And get this:  there are a million Indians reaching age 18 and entering the job market PER MONTH!

Marriages are still arranged by parents in most cases - we hear numbers from 75% to 95% of families - and it doesn't happen until the man has a job to support a family.  (see previous paragraph)   Are you picking up on a growing problem here?   Increasingly, the young Indian men are not only unemployed but unattached into their 30s.  Pre-marital sex is a huge taboo.  Porn is very popular.  Arranged marriages are not, by and large, love matches.  A disturbing proportion of Indians must not ever know what it is to fall in love.

I choose not to adopt the Hindu belief in reincarnation, for fear of coming back as a lower caste Indian.  That would be purgatory (and is regarded as such by Hindus whose goal is to earn exemption from reincarnation).  It is hard to be optimistic for these people, except . . . that they have come so far in the last twenty-five years.

Visitors can't ignore the obvious, but they can escape it.  The top-end hotels - in many cases, former palaces of the maharajas who ruled over 100 separate feudal fiefdoms until the British decided to create India - are truly splendid.  Air conditioned sedans ferry the rich through the rivers of local humanity.  Line-jumping is part of the culture, and the tourist industry knows how to do it for their paying clients.  Being coddled is nice, but being the modern-day incarnation of colonialism and privilege is scary.

There is nothing the tourist industry can do about the polluted air and rivers, so they simply deny the issues.   We have now been in the cities and countryside across a huge swath of northern India, and we have yet to see a spot of blue sky through the gray haze.  You can smell it and feel it; you instinctively want to struggle to the surface to gasp fresh air as when deep in a pool.  We are surprised not to hear more coughing.  Lung disease must be a lingering future epidemic.

The tour guides swear the river water is pure, but they don't drink it.  The rivers drain from the Himalayas and serve as sewers across vast plains, and the accumulation of run-off during the heavy rains is beyond our ken.  We have seen the high water marks and find them hard to believe:  during the monsoon, the rivers rise 30-50 feet and spread to 25-30 kilometers wide in some places.  The Hindu practice of cremation and deposit of ashes in the rivers doesn't help.

There are the usual tourist destinations: temples, forts, palaces, shrines, mausoleums, monasteries, folk music and dance venues.  We allow ourselves to be herded with only a little grumbling.  Frankly, those things are hardly worth talking about.   They are not the story.   You come here to see a significant chunk of the world's population trying to find its way in the modern world, against enormous (dare I say overwhelming?) odds.

-Marshall Milligan


What I'm Reading

Rio Games: Why Olympians Shatter Records in Swimming but Not Track

The Olympics may be over for now, but I'm still fascinated by the ins and outs.  Did you know about the impact of pool design on race times?  I certainly did not!

Image courtesy of buzzfeed.com (Ariel Davis)

"A Honeypot for Assholes:" Inside Twitter's 10-Year Failure to Stop Harassment

As I plot the next phase of my business, I'm keeping a sharp eye on the serious safety and privacy issues that go along with public activity on social media.  

Photo courtesy of yelp.com (Connie T.)

The 18 Must-Have Classic San Francisco Dishes

Like any self-professed San Franciscan, I'd make a different list, but I do love this take on the must-eat dishes in our food obsessed city.  I can personally vouch for the crab cocktail at Swan's Oyster Depot - you won't get better crab anywhere else in the world!

Tim Gunn: Designers Refuse to Make Clothes to Fit American Women. It's a Disgrace.

Not only is it a disgrace, but it's financially short sighted!  The plus size clothing market is huge and ready to be disrupted.

What I'm Reading

Not everything I read online is organizing related!  In an effort to share more of my interests with you, I thought I'd show you a few articles I found interesting, thought-provoking, or just plain funny.

Photo courtesy of harpersbazaar.com

10 Home Decor Trends That Will Be Huge in 2016

I actually try really hard NOT to follow interior design trends, since interiors are quickly following fashion into the death spiral of fast cycles and pressure to buy more, more, more.  As my friend Liz notes in her blog post this week, chevron, ikat, and other formerly hot trends have been done to death.  However, I'm already on board with a few of these larger themes, especially the formal dining room (we really use ours!) and the tech-free living room (TV in the den only since 2010).

Image courtesy of John Cuneo via nytimes.com

'The Arrangements:' A Work of Fiction

I can always count on my mom to keep me abreast of the New York Times' finest and all I have to say is: this is a must read.  Could truth really be stranger than fiction?

Fashion and Beauty Secrets from LA's Most Stylish Older Women

I've heard women a generation ahead of me talk about themselves in dispiriting terms: they say they feel frumpy, too old for fashion, that they're just a mom (or grandma) now, so why bother?  This article is an inspirational reminder that personal style is for everyone, no matter her age.  If I have even half the pizzazz of these ladies in forty years, I'll be pretty proud of myself!

Counterfeit Beauty Products Are On The Rise

Yikes.  I should note that I just read a notice on Algenist's website that they do not approve sale of their products through Amazon and therefore their products listed there are likely to be fakes.  The allure of a good price is strong, but I think I'm done ordering cosmetics from non-affiliated retailers!