Archive for Rag Trade

Dress for obsess

This is what I’m wearing to work: “probably chinos, or somebody’s cheap imitation Dockers, and a pocket T.” Even imitation Dockers can be pricey these days. Then again, no one pays any attention to what I wear, and I’m not on display, exactly, at the workplace.

Meanwhile, today’s modern(ish) professional woman is expected to come up with any number of combinations:

average teaching day: dress or skirt and top, selected on the basis of (1) “how hot/cold is it likely to be outside vs. the rooms where I will be,” (2) “Do I particularly need pockets or will the little “sporran” I made to wear on days when I am pocketless suffice, and does it match with what I’m wearing? (3) “What color do I feel like wearing today?” (Monday I wore a bright turquoise-blue top, because I suspected I was going to be photographed, and I wanted something that wouldn’t make me look like a ghost on film) and sometimes (4) “Do I have any ‘weird starers’ in my class today, where that slightly more fitted knit dress would be a bad idea” (One semester, when I had a couple of the “new boys” from the “old boys club” major, I took a couple dresses out of the rotation because I suspected I was getting looked at differently in them. It sucks but that’s how it is sometimes when you’re a woman, especially a woman with, as they say in French, il y a du monde au balcon.)

There is, I am coming to believe, more demand for pockets than I thought: a Zappos search for “dress with pockets” and “women” — probably not too many men are looking for dresses with pockets — yielded up nearly 1100 results.

And Criterion 1 above is particularly problematic because (1) South Plains weather and (2) questionable building maintenance.

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Reaching skyward

New York-based designer Monika Chiang passed this picture around:

Stasia in Cloud Stingray by Monika Chiang

Let her tell you all about “Stasia”:

This style is twist on our classic, the Giulia. Expertly crafted from embossed leather stingray and designed to flatter with d’Orsay cutouts on the inside of the foot. Silver piercings add a touch of edge at the toe and heel. The thin leather strap wraps delicately around the ankle and is secured with a signature silver buckle. We have added a bit of height to the heel so this style is not for the faint of heart. We love wearing the Stasia with a knee length skirt — tight of flowing. We also love this style with white jeans.

I think it’s pretty sweet with ordinary blue jeans. (But then, I don’t want to contemplate it with those weird transparent jeans.) And maybe she means “tight or flowing.”

I admit that this line — “We have added a bit of height to the heel so this style is not for the faint of heart” — makes me grin to the point of giggling. I’m not sure why.

“Stasia” also comes in a black suede version, at the same price ($550).

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Clearly not denim

Fifty-five pounds (sterling) will get you these MOTO jeans from Topshop and probably a few instances of the old side-eye:

Plastic jeans from Topshop

The explanation:

Think outside the box with these out-of-the-ordinary clear plastic jeans — guaranteed to get people talking. In a straight leg cut, they feature classic pockets detailing and are cropped at the ankle bone. Ideal as a statement piece for a festival or costume party, take the look to the extreme with a bikini and sequin jacket or dress down, layered under an oversized jumper or asymmetric hem dress.

Oh, yes: it’s machine-washable.

(Via Emily Zanotti, who cites this item as evidence that Topshop is just trolling us.)

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Standing on her own

“Schrödinger’s pants,” quipped a Facebook wag. The truth of the matter is not much more plausible:

[L]et us focus on the pant. Yes, pant. I don’t think it can be called “pants” if one half has been deleted. If you’re wondering what it looks like from the back … well, so am I, and she perhaps wisely did not indulge that curiosity. The culprit did at least thoughtfully leave the waistband so that her belt would have a soft place to land, but otherwise this is an extremely clean and almost surgical amputation.

“Forget that,” you show me. “Show me the damn pant.”

Ryan Destiny wearing something vaguely resembling pants

Anyway, this is Ryan Destiny Irons, twenty-two, from Detroit, currently appearing in Lee Daniels’ musical drama Star on Fox. Sensibly enough, she’d shortened up her billing to “Ryan Destiny” several years before, and she spent a few years in a girl group called Love Dollhouse.

“Can I” came out in 2014; the group broke up the next year, and Destiny signed a solo deal, though she probably won’t be doing any recording while Star goes on. Still, there’s always the bedroom cover, a staple of YouTube, and in this one, she’s singing Beyoncé’s “I Miss You.”

In the meantime, let’s dress her up a bit:

Ryan Destiny in leather

Ryan Destiny at the Star premiere

Apparently wearing half a pair of pants is not something she usually does.

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Tied you over

When I was six, I could tie my shoes, after a fashion, but too often they’d work themselves loose. I assumed that I’d done something wrong, and repeated the operation. As it happens, I didn’t do any better at twenty-six, or at forty-six. So I’m anxious to be let off the hook:

The weird electronic voice, which sounds nothing like Scarlett Johansson, insists on giving a British pronunciation to “Berkeley,” and its cadence is plainly artificial. That, um, said, there’s a reasonable explanation, of necessity in its larval stages, of the problem that’s beset me, and possibly you, all these years.

In the meantime, at sixty-six, I’ll be thinking Velcro.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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A job for the ages

Her Majesty does, after all, enjoy certain perks:

When you’re 90 years old and the longest reigning monarch in British history, you get the privilege of not risking a blister. According to a royal insider, Queen Elizabeth has hired a staff member to break in her shoes before she wears them, The Evening Standard reports.

There is, of course, a prescribed protocol:

[T]he Queen’s wardrobe designer Stewart Parvin reveals that the staff member must wear a pair of beige cotton ankle socks and only walk on the carpet while breaking in the new kicks.

“The shoes have to be immediately comfortable … The Queen can never say, ‘I’m uncomfortable, I can’t walk any more’,” he said. “She has the right to have someone wear them in.”

Monarchs have all the fun.

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Of transparent heels

Katy Perry’s new shoe collection includes a moderately tall pump called The Hillary, worn here by guess who?

Hillary Clinton wears The Hillary by Katy Perry

Happier than she ever looked as a Presidental candidate, if you ask me.

Let’s get a closer look, shall we?

The Hillary by Katy Perry

“A dreamy suede pump,” says Katy, which may explain the moons and stars stuffed into the heel. Either pink or “seafoam green” can be yours for $139.

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A truly expensive bandage

Oh, wait, that’s not a bandage at all:

Then again, for what a pair of these probably costs, you can get an Ace bandage at the nearest emergency room. Installed, even.

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A bouquet of bromhidrosis

My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off and my girlfriend cry

So complained Frank Zappa. Cristina may have just the solution, for your boots anyway:

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking that I’m out of my mind. Or really excited about StinkBOSS because my shoes smell THAT bad. Owning as many shoes as I do, they actually don’t. None of them get enough wear to achieve stinky extremes. However, I know many people who play sports where sweaty, smelly shoes & gear is a problem. Including some of my friends. My mission for this post, aside from reviewing the StinkBOSS, was to find the “right” footwear to test it on.

So I blasted out my quest to seek out the most foul smelling pair via my personal social channels. Among those questioned, were some parents of teenagers at my son’s school (yes, they thought I was crazy!). In the end, the worst offenders were a pair of hiking boots from a close friend’s husband.

How does this contraption work?

Ozone odor removal is the game! Yes, scientifically speaking, StinkBOSS uses Ozone — a gas that reacts with anything it comes into contact with — to kill the bacteria associated with odors. The StinkBOSS box creates the Ozone to break up oxygen molecules and to circulate new ozone molecules throughout your shoes. The shoe horns found inside the StinkBOSS are actually air vents that allow the gas to pass & circulate directly inside your shoes.

The BOSS draws the line, however, at shoes larger than US size, um, fourteen.

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Pour it on

I vaguely remember my grandmother having a bottle of this stuff:

Gaby liquid stocking substitute

At the time, I hadn’t a clue as to what it might be for, and I don’t think I was any more enlightened after her slow-English-plus-fast-Spanish-swearing explanation. But I was very young then, and my glands weren’t secreting, or something.

Of course, now I recognize it as a wartime substitute for the silk stockings you could no longer buy. And, typically of wartime substitutes, it wasn’t particularly good:

According to a woman’s magazine at the time, “The best liquid stockings available will deceive no one unless the legs are smooth and free of hair or stubble. Leg makeup will mat or cake on the hairs and make detours round the stubble and give a streaky appearance.”

It occurs to me that perhaps present-day spray-tan products aren’t a whole heck of a lot better.

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The need is great

“This is a shoe I need,” said a woman I follow on Twitter. (Her account is private, so I shan’t identify her further.) Here’s the shoe in question:

Bombay ankle-tie sandal by Badgley Mischka

“Very nice,” I said. “Who makes it, and where can it be had?”

(The things I go through for my readers.)

She identified it as a Badgley Mischka shoe, “at finer stores.” I poked around the Web a while and turned it up at Nordstrom Rack. It’s called “Bombay,” it’s four inches tall, and it can be had in black leather or in “sand” suede. And it’s apparently due for discontinuation: list price is $225, but Nordstrom is letting it go for $130.

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Nearly here

Dolly Singh at a confab in China, 2016Last spring, I waxed lyrical about Dolly Singh and the new high-tech shoes to be produced by her company, Thesis Couture. This quote seems as pertinent as ever:

To me, when you’re surrounded by some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the biggest and most badass machines on this world, the idea that my shoes are such crap became really obnoxiously unbearable.

The next step, of course, was to build some noncrap shoes, and she has:

On Monday, Thesis announced that it is ready to bring its first product to market — but only for a select few customers. On March 22, the company will release 1,000 pairs of shoes, offered in two colors, for a 48-hour period. There is currently a waitlist of more than 12,000 people for the $925 shoes, according to the company.

The stilettos, which will start shipping this summer, are “intended to be a resort 2017 look,” says Singh. “For the first piece, I really wanted to indulge” in the design, she says. The fashion brand’s first full collection will launch in the fall and will include three wardrobe staples: a black pump, an ankle boot, and a high boot.

And the design is patented:

In December, the company received a patent for its Thesis LIFT technology, which reduces the load on the balls of the feet by 25%. Singh says this has the effect of making the shoes feel like wedges. “I wear them for eight to 10 hours a day,” she says.

Thesis Couture promotional photo

The Thesis site quotes The Wall Street Journal:

The exteriors will put them in a class with Jimmy Choo, but the technology inside is pure Jetsons.

What’s not to love? Except, maybe, that $925 price tag.

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When ripped won’t do

I have only recently made my peace with ripped jeans, conceding that their sheer ubiquity trumps my concern about perceived raggedness. Moms, I guess, are not supposed to wear ripped jeans, though I can’t imagine these as a substitute:

Clear Knee Mom Jeans from Topshop

I looked at those, and recalled from distant memory the nicest legs it has ever been my privilege to see. Will that little plastic viewing window convey just how nice they are? I don’t think so. Still, there are sillier things being offered in dead seriousness these days, so I don’t think I’ll get my Dockers knotted over these.

If you’re at all interested: $95 from Topshop, at Nordstrom.

(Via Holly A. Bell.)

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Somehow we will cope

For reasons known but to God and/or Jeff Bezos, Amazon is showing me a fair amount of Ivanka Trump stuff these days, and I figure this little ballet flat was worth a paragraph or two:

Coper ballet flat by Ivanka Trump

The pitch for the Trump line:

Timeless. Classic. Elegant. The hallmarks of the Ivanka Trump footwear collection are shared with their namesake designer. Launched in spring 2011, the collection is reflective of Ms. Trump’s own personal aesthetic, and features clean, polished, and feminine styles. Signature silhouettes include classically proportioned pumps, casual sandals and boots, and embellished evening styles. As part of Ms. Trump’s comprehensive “lifestyle” approach to branding, the collection includes bridal, career, weekend, and red-carpet styles. The clean elegance of the brand appeals to women of all ages, with diverse backgrounds, careers, and incomes.

Um, yeah, okay, if you say so.

“Coper” is this grey flat, also available in beige, and I’m just surprised anyone’s willing to use the dreaded word “beige” anymore. The reviews from Verified Purchasers have been pretty good, though several pointed out that the sizes run a trifle large. Price is $109, and some of the sizes seem to be sold out already.

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Not exactly faint praise

Saith the proprietor of a store in yonder Paseo Arts District:

I can see Carly Rae Jepsen wearing these, maybe. And I have no idea why. Don’t ask. It’s just that her name floated to the top of my brain when I saw this picture.

“Elsa” here comes from Pour la Victoire, sports a four-inch heel, and sells for $265 in any of two and a half colors (black suede, black leather, camel suede).

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More mature fashion choices

I’m thinking this list is probably unassailable:

It might be wise to think twice before trying on even a tested jetpack.

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The Spring ’17 debut at Thakoon carries a whole lot of Future Imperative baggage:

The models are kept at just enough distance to make sure you don’t recognize that these are rather conservative looks, as befits a designer born in Thailand who went to high school in the suburbs of Omaha.

Nosy person that I am, though, I want a closer look:

From the Thakoon Spring 2017 debut

More looks, should you so desire. I suggest that someone needs to make these models a sandwich or two.

Who What Wear, covering the event, singled out the shoes for special comment:

Gracing the feet of nearly every model were brightly colored block heel sandals that had a very prominent loop for your toe. This is not the first time we have seen this shape, but it’s been semi absent for a while and we are guessing the funky and once considered “weird” footwear style will become a sweeping trend faster than we realize. As the fashion industry continuously surprises us with approachable trends and forward-thinking designs, Thakoon hit the nail on the head with an item that is wearable, unique, and perfect for this season and beyond.

If you ask me, those shoes should always be ordered with dual color-block, because this is how they look in monochrome:

From the Thakoon Spring 2017 debut

How will this play in flyover country? Pretty well, I think, inasmuch as I was tipped off to this show by a 50ish woman in northern Alabama.

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No parallel

Get a good look at these:

Loriblu Selene glow-in-the-dark shoes

Whence they came:

After seeing that incredible glow-in-the-dark Zac Posen dress that Claire Danes wore at the 2016 Met Gala, Loriblu founder Graziano Cuccu was inspired to bring this effect to footwear. The result: he designed a pair of pumps that will make your feet light up any room.

A hand-embroidered optical fiber creates bright white lines up and down the shoe, named Selene after the ancient Greek moon goddess. But if you want a more understated look, you can control the lights via a switch on the bottom.

Of course, if you’re spending $3500 on a pair of shoes, you might not want “a more understated look.”

Most glow-in-the-dark shoes to date have been sneakers, which serve the practical purpose of making you visible when you’re running at night. These may not have that function, but they will make it impossible to lose you in a dark club.

Fair enough.

(Via HelloGiggles.)


You gotta have hearts

With the dreaded Valentine’s Day looming, you may want to wear your heart somewhere other than on your sleeve. Nine West suggests your instep:

Tatania 2 by Nine West

A mere $79 at Zappos for “Tatiana 2” by Nine West, also available in a couple of versions utterly lacking in geometric heart prints.

Cristina says, though, that “they have an adorable matching cross body purse with hearts too.”


Minimal wardrobe

Some women embrace fashion; some others deplore it; still others mostly ignore it. This one feels more empowered the less she wears, up to a point:

I learned that I had been using clothes wrong. Clothes weren’t for self-expression and fabulous visuals, I finally learned. Clothes were for tricking people.

It became clear as I consumed story after story on how to dress myself that some clothes were only ok for some bodies, and other clothes were ok for other bodies. It became clear that as a woman with curves, my job was to constantly downplay and disguise those curves and keep people from noticing them. It was unacceptable to just “wear” my clothes, I had to arrange them in a way that created complicated optical illusions, so as to not offend anyone or give the wrong impression.

When I got dressed, it was my responsibility to manipulate the thoughts of everyone who saw me that day. Everything I wore was designed to draw the eyes of onlookers to one place on my body, and to keep their eyes from going somewhere else.

Anything that jiggled had to be held down so that people didn’t think I was fat. Anything provocative had to be offset by something conservative so that people didn’t think I was slutty. Anything too short had to be “lengthened” and anything too long had to be “broken up.” Every morning for over a decade, I performed a complicated ritual of deciding how I wanted to trick people that day. What did I want them to see? What did I want them to gloss over?

Eventually, she’d had enough of this, and started paring back her wardrobe, although not to zero like some people you may know:

I choose to not let other people’s responses be my business. I trust that people are good. I trust that by behaving in alignment with my higher self, and diligently holding others in unconditional positive regard, that I will be treated with respect, autonomy, and compassion.

Feel free to call me naïve, but I see it proven over and over. I trust in my intuition, and in the capacity for all humans to be bigger and better and more loving than anyone gives them credit for.

From this corner, I applaud.

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Momentarily tasteful

Uma Thurman is here styling FitFlop’s F-Sporty sneakers ($125), and while they look pretty nice on her, I was (mostly) looking elsewhere, at that vintage Marantz receiver.

Uma Thurman shows you her stereo

You can always tell a vintage Marantz receiver: it has that horizontally-mounted tuning knob — “Gyro-Touch Tuning” — on the upper right.

It’s anybody’s guess which is older: the Marantz, or Uma. I’m thinking Uma, but not by much: she’s forty-six, and that looks like a middle-Seventies front panel.

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Someone really blue it

I remember griping about blue nail polish, particularly on one’s toes, thusly: “an enamel color more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office.” I think, though, that this is closer to the true demotivation:

[O]ne of my students (who worked as an orderly in an ER) talked about he could never get used to blue nail polish because … well, because of MORGUE reasons.

That would do it, yes.

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Still silken after all these years

The ads have changed, but the product hasn’t:

Advertisement for L'Eggs Silken Mist pantyhose

The price has probably risen, though.

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Imagine every other week

The first week of January brings lots of Retrospectives from the Previous Year, most of which I didn’t read because the Previous Year was 2016, a year I would mostly prefer to forget.

On the other hand, I was happy to go through Lorna Burford’s 25 Favourite Outfits of 2016, because Lorna does that whole Styling thing with grace and panache, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find anything disappointing. And I didn’t.

That said, this, by a narrow margin, was my fave:

Lorna Burford on a bridge

And it wasn’t even planned:

This outfit here is proof to me that you make the most of a bad situation. We had been on our way to the beach (I wasn’t wearing this) and our car broke down. After we managed to get home, instead of wasting a Summery day and nice weather, we decided to do a photoshoot and went for a walk. I threw on some random pieces, headed towards a bridge we found and shot the photos there. Spontaneous and it worked out well, even if things were bad before.

Which is, if you ask me, the true test of personal style: you throw on some random pieces, and you still looks great.

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Maximizing one’s motto

Kayser, before they were Kayser-Roth, used to plug their unmentionables with the slogan “You owe it to your audience.” It was perfectly sensible for them to buy ad space in Playbill:

1935 issue of Playbill including a Kayser hosiery ad

Waiting for Lefty, which opened on this date in 1935, occupies a unique spot in the history of American theater: it was Clifford Odets’ first play to be produced, staged by the Group Theatre, and it was a hit for both Odets and the Group. The subtitle, too long for Playbill — on this page, anyway — was “A Play in Six Scenes, Based on the New York City Taxi Strike of February 1934.” The storyline:

The piece is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company, but inspired by an actual taxi strike. The focus alternates between the drivers’ union meeting and vignettes from the workers’ difficult and oppressed lives. Not all are taxi drivers. A young medical intern falls victim to anti-Semitism; a laboratory assistant’s job is threatened if he doesn’t comply with orders to spy on a colleague; couples are thwarted in marriage and torn apart by the hopelessness of economic conditions caused by the Depression. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike, which brought the entire opening night audience to its feet. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street.

And come to think of it, rather a lot of hosiery mills were struck in the 1930s.

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Burqa, schmurqa

The Wikipedians write of Eid al-Adha:

In keeping with the sunnah of Muhammad, Muslims are encouraged to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. Below is a list of things Muslims are recommended to do in preparation for the Eid al-Adha festival:

  1. Make wudu (ablution) and offer Salat al-Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
  2. Prepare for personal cleanliness—take care of details of clothing, etc.
  3. Dress up, putting on new or best clothes available.

Emphasis added on that third item, mainly to get you into the proper frame of mind for this:

Allah, it appears, finds Jimmy Choos an acceptable sacrifice. (Last year the young lady in question was perhaps a tad more restrained.)

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Rather a lot of gentlemen

Sellers of hosiery had been marketing to African-American women for many years, but seldom was a black woman shown in a regular advertising series. Here, Hanes showed that it could be done without changing a thing about the campaign:

Gentlemen prefer Hanes, and that includes black gentlemen

That was late in the 1970s. Somehow, it took them a decade and a half more to get around to hiring Tina Turner:

And, you know, she would have been perfect.

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Have a PJ

The argument for pajamas as a Christmas gift:

People can always use them (provided they are someone who wears pajamas, but if it’s a family member, you probably know that already, and if it isn’t a close family member or close friend, why are you giving them pajamas?).

There are, or at least were, statistics on such things:

In 2004, ABC News conducted [pdf] a telephone poll of 1,501 American adults and found that, contrary to my theory, a nightgown or pajamas were the most common sleepwear option. But just a slight majority of women chose this option, and only 13 percent of men did.

Hardly any women slept in “underwear,” according to this survey, and given some women’s attitudes toward certain of their unmentionables — “off the moment I get home,” I’ve heard several times with regard to one particular garment — I can’t say as I blame them.

At the other end of the continuum, you have people like me who have owned no pajamas in half a century.

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Not very forward of them

Those guys at Strutwear, circa 1940, weren’t above playing on the old woman-driver stereotype:

Strutwear hosiery ad

“Dainty lace tops,” they said, “combine with an inside out leg and foot, seams are nicely tucked in where they belong.” This results, we are told, in “that dull sheer look you admire.”

Five years before, things weren’t dull at all at Strutwear. The workers struck for 32 weeks, with incidents such as this:

The Hennepin County Farmer-Labor Women’s Club protested that the welfare board “ha[d] made an organized effort to force single girls who are on relief to accept jobs as domestics in homes at starvation wages, resulting in forcing these girls to accept employment at substandard wages and possibly forcing them into prostitution.” While the women were “heartily in favor of seeing that these girls are employed,” they condemned the board for forcing women back to work. The board yielded to public outcry and those pushed off the relief roles once again became eligible.

After Strutwear melted away into gossamer history, their building at 1010 South 7th Street in Minneapolis was repurposed as the headquarters of Marquette National Bank, which was later absorbed into US Bancorp.

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Have you walked in a Ford lately?

Jeanine Pirro, host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News, sent this last week to her waiting fans on Twitter:

Clearly a day to celebrate. Tom Ford currently sells this particular “double D’Orsay pump,” albeit with a black heel, for $1190. And that heel is only 105mm (3.1 4.1 inches), though to me it looks taller.

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