Jade Bluestocking

Beautifying Libraryland one bibliophile at a time

jade: n. A woman regarded as disreputable or shrewish. syn. strumpet, trollop, slammerkin.

bluestocking: n. A woman with strong scholarly or literary interests.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A treatise on shoes

This is the post in which I admit an unhealthy love for shoes. I own more shoes than I do nail polishes, and if you knew me, the enormity of that statement would be immediately apparent.

Jade loves shoes.

Jade does not love frumpy, out of date shoes. She does not love bone-coloured anything, princess heels, mules for work, garden clogs, dirty sneakers, or scratched leather.

On the first point. There are many, many lovely and comfortable shoes in the world today. I do not see the point of clinging to shoes that are ten to twenty years out of date. They are not classic-- they're dated. Everyone can tell you bought those shoes at 9 West for your first real job out of graduate school. I understand the idea of lucky shoes, I understand sentimental attachment to articles of clothing (Jade still has her senior prom dress, which has not fit in 30 pounds), and I understand the concept of "good" shoes. But at some point, it really is healthy to clean out your collection. Go through your closet and throw away or donate every pair of shoes that is worn, outmoded, or that you wore prior to 1999. It's good for the soul.

Now, about clogs and mules. There are some absolutely lovely backless shoes out there. Target carries the Cherokee line of shoes; soft leather, good construction, comfortable, and in sizes up to an 11. They always seem to have a couple pairs of clogs for the fall, generally some sort of nice leather with stylish detailing. Those sorts of clogs are fine. They look sophisticated with trousers or a tailored skirt, and they're comfortable enough to wear for a whole day on your feet.

These, however, are an abomination and should never, ever make up part of a professional wardrobe unless you own a garden center or are a nurse (several of my RN friends have told me they're quite comfy and look fabulous with scrubs. So they do have a purpose.)

Mules may not be the shoe of choice for persons on their feet all day either, but I know from preferring fashionable shoes. My only plea is that you not buy mules that look like bedroom slippers. These. Not these. If you're a young hip librarian, you might be able to get away with these. Jade would like a pair of those, in fact.

My lovelies, when your shoes are noticeably old-- and not in that funky vintage-cool sort of way-- ragged, scuffed, and the inner lining is peeling out from age? For the love of Goethe, please buy a new pair of shoes! If you are at a loss for where to find new shoes, may I recommend Zappos shoes online? This website carries a huge variety of name brand shoes, decent prices, no shipping.

And finally, make sure that you shoes are in good repair and polish. Some shoes take abuse beautifully-- certain styles of combat boots look better with the shininess worn off, and a good pair of driving mocs will only become more beautiful as they age. But in general, scratches and dullness make your shoes look shabby, not mellow. Invest in some shoe polish and some old rags, and use them. For flat leathers, I suggest Dr. Marten's Wonder Balsam or a tin of saddle soap and regular care; not only will it keep the leather beautifully conditioned, but the lanolin will help waterproof your shoes as well.

So what are on my feet today? You have me, gentle readers, by the shoestrings. Or rather, the bootstrings. Jade needed a bit of attitude this morning, just a bit of powerfulness to face a day of meetings and writing scariness. So she is wearing black Dr. Martens 14-eyelet combat boots with gum soles. Over tall stripey socks.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Few Notes to Colleagues

Oh, my dearest coworkers. It is no longer 1985. Shoulder pads, elastic waists with string belts, doubleknit polyester in glaring colours, and bone leather flats went out with Madonna's "Like a Virgin" look. Peter Pan collars and puffed cap sleeves are only flattering on a certain sort of 8 year old, and are not at all attractive on ladies of a "certain age." May I come to your house and clean your closets, please? I promise to replace all your faded floral Laura Ashley dresses with cool, crisp, slightly flowing clothing in attractive neutrals and natural fibers. You will be comfortable, and I will be one step further away from severe emotional distress.

Likewise, heavy makeup in bold colours is not a good choice under flourescent lights. It only serves to make you look tired and washed out, and you are too lovely to do that. Let us discuss good makeup for a moment.

First, I recommend starting with either a light tinted moisturiser or a good combination powder/foundation. I am particularly fond of Burt's Bees Tinted Moisturiser for summer days, and Rimmel's Double Act Pressed Powder for the chillier seasons. If you choose a tinted moisturiser, depending on your skin type, you may want to use a light translucent powder as well, just to stave off the oilies. (The exact opposite is true if you have dry skin. Beware the flakies.)

Jade herself does not wear blush, being one of those very pale Celtic/Scandinavian types who tend to blush at the merest rumour of heat or agitation, but I have heard that Rimmel also makes very good blushers. Do not fall into the 80s trap of streaks of dark blusher. Also avoid the decrepit clown look, and be sure to put that colour somewhere other than in small circles at the fronts of your cheeks. We are not Madame de Pompadour.

The next step is a critical decision-- what do you want to emphasise? Jade prefers neutral eyes and bolder lips, because she wears glasses that make her look rather startled if her eye makeup is too bold, but you may prefer the opposite. Please don't do both-- you are not crafting a Carnivale mask. The point is not to hide your natural graces-- it is to enhance them.

Rimmel, Garden Botanika, M.A.C. and Bobbi Brown all make lovely eye and lip colours in a range of colours and prices. You want to look for a lipstick that will not dry out and crack even after a day at the reference desk, and mascara that will not drip off your lashes when the library air conditioner fails in the height of summer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Conference Critique

Last week was a big conference at the other end of the state. Jade and JadeBoss attended, and one of us took notes about conference wear.

My dears, what a collection of librarian stereotypes we were! Each and every female attendee-- with rare exception-- sported the same 1970s shellacked helmet 'do in various stages of grey or mousy-coloured. The wide array of wide framed eyeglasses and eyeglass chains was simply astonishing, as was the startling choices of clothing.

Please, please, my beloveds, let us not dress like kindergarten teachers. The denim jumper dresses and cheerful appliqued vests covered in books and apples does not really cry out "I am a strong professional woman with a degree!" It rather more proclaims, "I spend my time making felt storyboard pieces!" This look may be acceptable-- almost-- for children's librarians, but not for reference workers. No more denim jumpers, no more cute cat cardigans, no more apple-patterned things. And if it is sold as a "seasonal garment" at WalMart, please do not even think about wearing it to work.

And for the love of all things Beautiful and Pleasing, we must lose the beige. In particular, we must lose the shapeless beige suit with the complementary tonal brown blouse, thick stockings, and matching beige shoes/purse/jacket. How can one wear so much brown and not be mistaken for a club chair? Because the club chairs were patterned.

Oh, and Gentlemen. It makes no nevermind if you are a "systems librarian" and therefore spend your days tucked away in the bowels of the server room, never to encounter human beings. It is not acceptable to wear a scruffy Tshirt and shorts to a professional conference, even if it is casual. It is even less appropriate to show me risque tattoos.

[Let it be noted that Jade herself is in possession of more than a few pieces of portable art. However, none of them are R-rated and if they were, she certainly would not be showing them to random strangers.]

By far, the most smashing outfit at the conference itself was the Young Presenter who, on the final day of the conference, appeared attired in clean pressed jeans, a tidy Tshirt, a nicely tailored blazer, and Doc Martens oxfords. The Young Person is a young adult librarian, and his choice of attire was fresh, edgy, individual, and more than appropriate for a day of breakout sessions. He told me this is his usual uniform for work, for which I applauded him; it looks neat and adult without alienating his intended clientele.

Jade and JadeBoss opted for somewhat less traditional wardrobe choices. Jade, of course, chose solid black trousers, a black tailored Tshirt, and funky black shoes. Just right for that techy edge. And JadeBoss was brilliant in flowy green (JadeBoss is a smallish, curvy woman with a fabulous sense of colour and more bravery than Jade), high heeled sandals, and a single large necklace.

The other impressive outift was spotted at dinner by JadeBoss, and was not, unfortunately, on a librarian. We noticed a lovely older lady wearing a pressed, tailored white blouse over crisp jeans and polished black boots. Her jewelry was tasteful and coordinated, her bag was funky but not tacky, and her hair was a perfectly groomed solid silver pixie cut. Smashing. Our only complaint was that a tank top or camisole might have been lovely under the white shirt, as it rather unfortunately revealed her bra through the fabric. Jade gives that outfit a 9.5/10.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Matter of Smell

I have noticed an appalling approach to matters olfactory in Libraryland. While I have yet to encounter that certain unwashed odor on the service side of the desk, I notice that many of my fellow book-pushers seem unaware of a basic rule of public service: Thou Shalt Not Drown Thyself in Scent.

We've all rubbed shoulders with That Person before. That Woman-- the one who wears a quart of L'Air du Temps to the grocery store and then hovers three inches off your shoulder while you choke and gasp for air. That Man, whose presence is announced from fifty yards, solely by the cloud of Ralph Lauren cologne that precedes him like a purple cloud.

This is not appropriate for public service, my loves. You want your patrons to find you approachable, and a haze of strong perfume is not the way to do so. Jade herself follows her Mama's rule: perfume should only be smelled at hugging distance, and then only a mysterious and enticing whiff. While I am not advocating hugging your patrons, as that promotes a level of friendliness to which we perhaps do not wish to aspire, the basic thought is the same. Welcome, don't overwhelm.

And while I'm at it, let's talk about that other great sin of perfumery: Layering Multiple Scents. Jade is of the opinion that if one wishes to have scented shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, perfume, powder, and deodorant (and please to be wearing deodorant, ducks, or at the very least a good anti-perspirant) then they should either match or harmonise pleasingly. Closely related variants of citrus = good. Six completely different and clashing scents = bad.

And finally, perfume is never, ever, ever a suitable substitute for a good washing. No matter what medieval society thought, a pleasing perfume or cologne does not mask the odor of an unwashed body. There is great Importance in Cleanliness, and I am a rabid advocate of Clean.

Let us not forget, my dears, that librarians are public servants. If we offend our public's delicate sense of smell, we are lost before we begin.