Archive for Rag Trade

They do not choose to run

In fact, you’d have to work pretty hard to force these pantyhose to even look like they’re developing a hole:

There’s a Kickstarter mentioned, but just two backers put up over 75 percent of the goal, and forty others put them over the top.

And these are seriously pricey: $145 a pair, though backers — they’re still accepting backers for the next month or so — will be paying $79. Then again, if you can get 50 wearings out of a single pair, even at full retail that’s under $3 a wearing. Sizes S through XXL can be had.

(Via Real Simple.)

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Upright citizen

News Item: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi staged a record-breaking, eight-hour speech Wednesday in hopes of pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on protecting “Dreamer” immigrants — and to demonstrate to increasingly angry progressives and Democratic activists that she has done all she could.

When I heard about this, the first thing that crossed my mind — well, besides “Since when does the House have a filibuster?” — was “Does Nancy Pelosi even own a pair of flats?” I mean, she’s not going out there in really high heels at the age of 77, but I can’t imagine her in Birks either.

Found on photographer Erin Schaff’s Instagram, taken for The New York Times, a shot of the Minority Leader’s shoes:

The shoes Nancy Pelosi wore to give her 8-hour Dreamers speech

Four inches, right? I mean, seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in flats.

(Via Heather Barmore.)

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It seems like it ought to work

Many have tried, not so many have succeeded. I first caught Lorna’s take:

Now I have been thinking a lot about designer bags and how much they can cost, or how difficult they can be to get hold of. A lot of us tend to wear high street pieces for clothes and spend more money on our shoes and bags, I know I do, but I was thinking how annoying it can be when you really love some of the fashionable bags and pieces from the designer brands, but they cost too much to warrant buying as they’re not a staple. I was recently introduced to Nothing To Wear and I think the concept is amazing! You can rent authentic designer items for a small fee and then return them. How good would that be? It means you can wear all the cool and fashionable bags or shoes of the moment, without having to spend big money on them as you’d probably only wear them a couple of times anyway.

Now the pitch:

Edgy cocktail dress from Alexander McQueen[H]ow many times have you uttered these words in dismay in front of your closet full of clothes and accessories? Well, that’s the plague every woman is facing whether she is a fashionista or not. nothing-to-wear.com will address this major wardrobe dysfunction by allowing you to access a carefully curated selection of preloved and vintage fashion gems. You can rent designer and vintage items for 15% of their retail price, and choose from a wide variety of style and sizes. Own the moment, not the dress.

“I must see some of these thousand-dollar dresses,” I said to myself, and punched up “Alexander McQueen.” My eye fell upon this “edgy cocktail dress” in UK size 12, about an 8 in the States, which can be had for a four-day holiday for £98. (Retail, they report, is £650, on the far side of $900. Close enough to a thousand dollars, am I right?)

Who, I wondered, owned this dress? Here is how the process works:

Once we agreed on a rental price, we send the items to our trusted dry cleaner. They are professionally photographed on a model and stored in our show room in West London where either clients can come and try them on or are ready to be delivered by messenger to the client’s preferred location (home, office, hotel). Your garments and accessories are then messengered back to our show room where we make sure that weren’t damaged, dry cleaned and ready to make another customer look fabulous.

The actual owner collects 65 percent of the rental fee; NTW retains 35 percent for expenses and whatever.

I do hope this works out well for everyone.

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Well, that’s a relief

But it’s nice to know, just to be sure:

Top Gear t-shirt: These T-shirts were tested on animals. They didn't fit.

(R. Ted Phipps has one of these.)

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Steadfast and firm

Supp-hose, a brand of support hosiery, used variations on this same picture for several years:

1960s Supp-hose ad

Let us now praise Alfred P. Slaner, creator of Supp-hose. After Julius Kayser & Co. and the Chester H. Roth Company merged in 1958 to form, yes, Kayser-Roth, Slaner, a nephew of Roth’s and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, was the first president of the merged firm, and he saw an opportunity. Compression stockings from your local medical supply house, he knew — his father had had to wear some after surgery — were not pretty and not inexpensive. Slaner reasoned that women would respond to a less obviously therapeutic product at the $5 price point, and given enough advertising, the company stood to earn a mint. They were no substitute for prescription-quality stockings, of course, but the ads claimed only “gentle support.”

Slaner enjoys one other distinction: he made Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” expanded version, revealed by John Dean in 1973.

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That’s about the size of it

Kids grow fast. Wouldn’t it be nice if their shoes did too?

Perhaps not the most handsome shoes, but it’s hard to beat ’em for functionality, especially at a mere $15 a pair.

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Life during wartime, sort of

A lot of things changed in World War II, and a lot more didn’t. Consider this 1943 advertisement for Claussner hosiery:

Claussner Hosiery ad 1943

At this point in time, all the good fabrics are being used for parachutes and such, leaving our Fashionable Woman making some compromises:

“Ration fashion, and the war-time woman emerges slim and effective as a magic wand! She accepts regulation as a challenge to her chic, counts on ingenuity to provide style innovations that laugh at limitations.”

Well, okay, if you say so.

While she’s made wardrobe adjustments, the young fellow earning his nickel is doing what young fellows were doing three years before — with the exception of having to submit to price controls, of course. Most of his customers, I suspect, are men, which might explain his apparent delight in having a woman visit his stand. I’ve been down this road myself; when I was in the Army, circa 1972, there was a female in the battalion who had me shine her shoes on a regular basis, since (1) I had a wooden box just like that, with a place to rest her foot, and (2) I did a pretty good job shining shoes. I didn’t even charge her 12 cents (a nickel after 29 years’ inflation) for it, and she was perceptive enough not to ask why. (Still have that box, by the way.)

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You call that fleshtone?

Having gotten an earlier loan paid back, I decided to help out these fine folks:

Launched in 2016, House No. 3028 LLC is the brainchild of sister and brother duo, Thressa Smith and Norrell Casey, based out of Oakland, CA. With Thressa Fashion Institute training, backgrounds in sales and fashion inspiration from their mother, this dynamic team set out to shake up the world of nude shoes.

On a wing and a prayer, they set out to make their dreams come true: be successful black entrepreneurs, make a mark in the fashion industry geared toward the inclusion of all women of color, and buy back the family home, located in the Oakland foothills, the home bears the House No: 3028! House No: 3028, nude shoes for women of color. The inspiration was fashion frustration. Unable to find the right nude shoe, unless she wanted to pay over $600 for a Christian Louboutin nude, Thressa decided to design and sell her own.

The initial offering of The NU 2″, 3″ & 4″ heels, in six stunning hues: Honey, Cookie, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Brownie & Cacao, was quite successful … NU Pumps allow brown girls to perfectly match, complement or contrast their skin tone. Before long, it became clear that women wanted a little more edge and more variety. After months of additional research to find the right supplier and product development to provide the best product, the best quality and the best price.

They’re seeking $15,000; they’re almost there.

Update, 31 December: They made it.

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Heels to the sky

Footwear News tells it like it is:

2017 was not a year known for traditionally “beautiful” shoes. And as the “ugly” shoe continued to dominate the runways this year, definitions of beauty standards also came into question — especially in the face of new gender ideas and how women will want to present themselves in a post-“Me Too” world.

Then again, they think this Prada sandal falls on the “beautiful” side of the line:

Prada feather-embellished satin sandals

I looked at 49 pairs in their slideshow, and frighteningly, this was one of the better-looking shoes.

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Shorts circuit

I can’t even think of an introduction for this:

[T]he Cleveland Clinic — the country’s leading center for clinical research in male fertility — found that men who keep their phones in their pocket for more than 4 hours per day experience a 50% reduction in sperm count! Here at SPARTAN, we didn’t want to this to threaten our modern life. We want to keep using technology without changing any of our habits. That’s why we have created the SPARTAN Boxers.

The product, briefly:

The SPARTAN Boxer is the boxer of the future. For the first time, we are bringing together design with innovation to create underwear that shields your family jewels from wireless radiation.

We’re bringing to underwear the same advanced technology used in space suits (no kidding!). We developed a unique technology, WaveTech, a high-tech fabric incorporating pure silver fibers within the cotton of the boxer. WaveTech acts as a faraday cage (or electromagnetic shielding), which prevents radiation from reaching your cherries. Our SPARTAN Boxers have been tested by the MET Laboratory, Baltimore, USA and they block over 99% of all cellphone and Wi-Fi radiation.

Is there a demand for this? Well, the Kickstarter goal was $2371; backers have put up about $27,000 so far.

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Somewhat single-minded

A little bit of self-promotion for a Fox News program:

Nothing too weird there. Then Katherine Timpf disclosed that she’d received a complaint:

So maybe what I’ve been saying all these years is true: the women from Fox News go largely unnoticed from here up.

And just for the heck of it, an item from Kat Timpf’s timeline, a few years back:

Kat Timpf from here down

And remember: it’s December, people.

Addendum: Rhetoric intensifies:

So there.

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You’ve presumably had your meat

And in 1964, this promotion might have persuaded you to get some pudding:

1964 advertisement for My-T-Fine Pudding

Perhaps surprisingly, they didn’t show a box of butterscotch pudding, which presumably would have come in your favorite go-with-everything beige tone.

The days when you could get a pair of stockings for 50 cents plus a box top are gone forever, but My-T-Fine is still making pudding.

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Unvanishing cream

An intriguing extended story prompt, proposed by Francis W. Porretto:

It is 2050, and all the “old” cosmetics are gone at last. Foundation, blusher, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick — all are now permanent only, and can only be removed by the use of a specially formulated cleansing agent. At first women were delighted, for they no longer had to fret about anything “running” or “smearing.” But then there was some fretting after all, for mistakes in application do happen, and the cleansing agent is not without cost.

But wait … what’s this? A devastating terrorist strike against the makers of the cleansing agent? Does anyone else know how to make the stuff? If not, what will happen when the current supply is exhausted? Will women never again know the joy of putting on makeup — or of taking it off?

There was a 1970 short story by Erik van Lhin (Lester del Rey) in which a suburban wife, conforming to the stereotype of the era, tries out a new cold cream which causes her to disappear, much to the perplexity of her husband. The stuff proves to have even weirder side effects than that. I have to wonder how del Rey would have dealt with this futuristic plot.

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Has no one noticed it’s December?

Then again, WFTV is a Florida television station:

Indeed, these do seem to be a Thing:

For those who don’t want to give up their flip flops in the winter months, there’s a solution out there that’s growing in popularity: Flip Flop Socks.

They can be found on sites like Etsy, where people are making them by hand and selling them.

One owner at a shop called “Sew Darn Comfy” says she can’t even keep the socks in stock.

The socks, which are toe-less, keep the rest of the foot warm, while keeping the toes exposed, allowing one to still wear a sock with a flip flop (practical), instead of jamming a closed-toed sock up into the flip flip (no).

Sophia Vernava says she’s been making them for years for people who love yoga, Pilates, ballet and dance because they keep feet warm and prevent cramping, but also the open toe allows for friction on the floor.

There is definitely a market for ’em:

And who am I to discourage her?

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Minor historical note

From the Bridgeport Post (now the Connecticut Post), 27 December 1956:

CT newspaper clipping: Only 1 woman in 1100 now wears black lace panties

I can’t imagine things have improved any since then.

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Track of the gastropod

Heck of an opening question:

If we told you to slather snail mucus all over your face, would you do it?

Um, no. Next?

What if we told you it would hydrate, stimulate collagen, and promote a gorgeous, glowy complexion? If you’re thinking “Not a chance,” the good news is that you don’t have to actually place these little critters on your face to reap the benefits (although snail facials do exist in South Korea, where they’re all the rage); there are plenty of skincare products stateside that deliver the same results. And trust us, you won’t even be able to tell that one of the ingredients comes from a snail.

One of the less expensive products:

Missha Super Aqua Cell Renewal Sleeping Mask ($17)

Smooth on an even layer before bed to soothe and hydrate skin. The combination of snail slime, botanical stem cell and baobab tree extracts makes for a firmer, more even complexion.

At the other extreme:

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Fast-Acting Serum ($120)

If you’re still uneasy about putting actual snail secretions on your face but don’t want to miss out on all the benefits, this is the product for you. It uses synthetic snail venom paired with powerful neuropeptides and diamond dust to smooth expression lines in as little as three days.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s that fake snail snot costs more than real snail snot.

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Not good in the snow

Although I know people who could not possibly care less about that:

Aquazzura says:

Our soft and lush Almaty high heel bootie is an elegant finish to any ensemble. Crafted from supple velvet in deep ink blue, this round toe style boasts handcrafted ornate embroidery that cascades up the front, wraps at the back and is finished with a flirty tassel. Pair with higher hemlines to show off the lavish details.

The “deep ink blue,” which might be the last remaining shade, is decidedly darker than what you’re seeing there. And depending on how high your hemline is, you might be showing off something other than “lavish details.”

For the heck of it, I went to Aquazzura’s Web site, and it popped up the standard “Would you like to share your location?” box. I clicked Yes, and they immediately responded that there’s an Aquazzura store nearby, to the extent that between 74th and 75th on Madison Avenue in New York is “nearby.” It’s certainly closer than the home office, which is in Florence.

I’ve occasionally picked up a grumble or two on the subject of shoes with triple-digit prices. Allow me to assure you that the price tag on Almaty — manufacturer’s list — does not come with three digits.

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As the eye gets lost

“Sensuality, elegance and creativity are the key words of the stiletto creator, whose objective is to highlight a silhouette, reveal a personality or a style, through shoes and accessories collections combining sophistication, seduction and innovation.”

This quote jumps out at you from the Web site of Charles Jourdan, shoemaker. M. Jourdan himself died in 1976, and the company continued to be operated by his family until 2002.

During his later years, Jourdan commissioned fashion artwork from surrealist photographer Guy Bourdin. If Bourdin did his job, you spent twice as much eyeball time on the Jourdan advertisements, which, were they released today, might be considered to have a high WTF factor.

This fall-1979 picture for a relatively conservative dark-green pump is a case in point:

Guy Bourdin for Charles Jourdan, 1979

The downside, of course, is that you spend most of those extra seconds not looking at the shoes, but wondering how the bloody heck Bourdin did that.

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Not expecting these at the shower

Unless, of course, you have friends willing to spend $250 on your moppet-to-be:

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Put on your hi-heel sneakers

Okay, maybe this doesn’t look like a high heel. But, as the phrase goes, it’s higher than you think:

Race Runner metallic leather sneakers by Balenciaga

This is the Race Runner by Balenciaga in a color scheme they call “prune,” and here is the scoop:

Demna Gvasalia’s signature touch infuses these Race Runner sneakers with a dose of urban glamour. Panels crafted from metallic leather, mesh and elastic are united by a chic purple colour palette. The streamlined sole disguises a wedge heel — perfect for giving fashion uniforms a little lift.

About an inch of lift is hiding under there.

The other odd twist here is the simulated laces: you just pull these on. Probably not ideal for running, but it goes nicely with your red dress, baby, cause we goin’ out tonight. And Lorna Burford approves.

(How much does it cost? My Theresa prices them at $665 Australian; Net-A-Porter’s UK branch asks £445; Net-A-Porter’s American outpost wouldn’t even show them to me. I figure $600 US.)

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But no shorter

I was not expecting to see a full-height picture of Fillyjonk, yet there it was, with the following disclaimer regarding skirt length:

This is as short as I will EVER go in a dress, even this makes me a little uncomfortable.

Which is more or less consistent with the observations I’ve been making since approximately age ten, when I first noticed things like this: just about every woman has a sense of “This far up, but no farther.” I have since come up with a rule of, well, not exactly thumb:

[A] hemline should be low enough to conceal anything that might be better off concealed.

Still, this comes off as unsatisfactorily subjective, so I went hunting about, and turned up a rule perhaps more universally applicable:

The short answer is that you want your hemline to hit a relatively small part of your leg. If you look at the natural shape of most women’s legs, the widest part is the mid thigh and mid calf while the most narrow part is the knee and ankle.

This makes sense, because the eye (or at least my eye) is inevitably drawn to that intersection of hem and leg, and the first rule of fashion is always to draw the eye to what you want to be noticed, and away from anything you’d just as soon nobody noticed. Bad hair day? Either shorten your skirt, or find your deepest V-neck top. No one will say a word about your coif.

The really short dresses, of course, are best left to women who don’t have a whole lot of thigh taper and who have no qualms about letting you know about it. You may know someone like that. I don’t. (I know someone who qualifies on the first part, but at age 70 she’s not about to show off.)

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Cutting edge, sort of

I’m not so sure I’d name a shoe “Knife,” but then there are good reasons why I don’t work in the fashion industry:

Balenciaga sells two variations on this theme: this high heel ($995), and a lower-heel mule version ($750). The official explanation:

  • Extreme flat pointed toe, inspired by a keen knife
  • Very thin heel (Ice pick heel)
  • Abs piece laid on lasting insole simulating an even higher arch and keep the comfort
  • Very small space between the sole and the heel for an extreme arch allure
  • 110 mm / 4,3 inches arch
  • Made in Italy

I dunno. You want some serious “arch allure,” you might want to hunt down a d’Orsay pump. Even Balenciaga has offered such from time to time.

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Strappier than thou

Not sure what to think of these:

Anyway, this is “Erienne,” and in addition to Honey Brown, it also comes in Black and New Cobalt. The upper is beaded microsuede; the midsole uses memory foam. Reviewers at Amazon have been generally favorable — 4.6 stars — and prices are wildly variable depending on size and color. (I think a range of $31 to $119 qualifies as Wildly Variable.)

Still, there’s one question still to be asked, based solely (sorry) on the photo provided: “So you only get one?”

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The other end of the spectrum

Apt. 9 Bell Sleeve flare dress in Scatter GrayHaving shown you a dress that costs as much as a car, it seems only fair that I follow up with a dress that costs about as much as an oil change:

I did also buy two dresses. Well, Kohl’s had a sale. I originally went in there to see if they had pantyhose (long story, but: I find I suffer less from hives-on-the-legs when I wear them. I don’t know either.) I buy the most dead-cheap kind I can wear (L’Eggs “Everyday” or whatever they call the multipack boxes). But, of course, even most Southern Ladies (let alone Southern Women) have given up on pantyhose so they can be hard to find.

I didn’t feel like buying one pair for the cost of 4-5 of the cheaper kind, so I didn’t. BUT I found two knit dresses, ON SALE (and there was an extra 15% off). They had them both in my size. And they are super cute, especially this one (it’s sort of a taupe, with tiny “squares” made of lines in pink and cream. And it has bell sleeves, which I kind of love.

It’s an appealing style, and it hits her just below mid-knee, which is about as short as she’d care to go.

And of course Kohl’s earned my everlasting regard with a Black Friday commercial in 2011.

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Fancy frock

Gucci gown 26000 from Net-A-PorterMaybe it’s just me, but I’d expect to be knocked out a lot more thoroughly for that kind of money:

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to score one of those fabulous dresses that the stars wear on the red carpet? Well, believe it or not, some of those babies cost tens of thousands of dollars. One of our favorite luxury sites, Net-a-Porter, keeps a stash of high-end designer duds on its virtual shelves, and the most-expensive dress in the brand’s inventory right now is from the beloved fashion house Gucci. Yep, the same brand that makes those $10,000 glitter boots that all the stars are wearing.

If you happen to have an extra $26,000 lying around, the velvet-trimmed gown is all yours. The regal dress features two parrots on the bodice. And in between them, you’ll find shiny crystals and pearls, which are surprisingly faux. But the twirl-worthy fabric is made from 100 percent plissé silk-chiffon.

I’m sorry, but I’m not prepared to Ooh and Aah over a dress that costs more than a Toyota Corolla yet inspires imitation Monty Python snark. “Two parrots on the bodice,” indeed.

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Permanent scent

Kim du Toit, as is his wont, thinks of fragrances for men — “foo-foo juice,” said a relative of mine — in terms of, well, other things. He dismissed a 6.8-ounce spritzer of Paco Rabanne 1 Million, on sale at Macy’s for $114 (fifty bucks off!) thusly: “That’s five boxes of quality self-defense .45 ACP, at the discount price!”

Polo by Ralph LaurenRight at the point where he wearied of Macy’s, he landed on my turf:

$105 for Ralph Lauren? It is, as they say, to laugh.

You should know that a mostly identical bottle sits in my bathroom, and has for nearly four decades:

In 1978, as a newlywed, I was persuaded to switch to Ralph Lauren’s Polo, which was new that year. I got an eight-ounce bottle, which at the time, as I recall, was somewhere around $40, a price I thought was outrageous. (It’s now closer to $100.) The bottle is not yet empty. Then again, it gets brought out for use maybe twice a year, and I must concede, the stuff does seem to retain its potency, even at its advanced age. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth.

And du Toit found some foo-foo juice more to his liking, at (where else?) Amazon.

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Zimbabwean thrift

Police in Harare are gonna pop something, and it isn’t tags:

Zimbabwe police have arrested a journalist at a privately-owned daily over a story claiming that President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace had donated second-hand underwear to supporters, lawyers said Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said that Kenneth Nyangani, a NewsDay journalist, was arrested on Monday night “for allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments by First Lady Grace Mugabe.”

Nyangani was being detained in the eastern city of Mutare and is likely to face “criminal defamation” charges, the organisation said in a statement.

In 2015, Zimbabwe imposed a ban on second-hand clothing, but later rescinded it.

Mrs Mugabe, fifty-three (Robert is ninety-three), has something of a reputation as a big spender, so if this stuff came from the back of her closet, it’s probably the good stuff, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Nyangani, the reporter, is free on $200 bail and must appear before the authorities on Wednesday, 18 October.

(Via Fark.)

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The warmth of autumn in Canada

I’m not about to object to these particular pitches by the Canadian outpost of Skechers, but something about the timing bumps up against my brain:

Maybe they’re just gearing up for spring. (Canada does have a spring, so far as I know.) Because they’re not giving up on this ultra-toasty theme:

I’ll follow them for a while and see what happens. (Admittedly, their Twitter profile page is showing boots.)

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Meanwhile, north of Havana

As the phrase goes, For a Limited Time Only, by which we mean Today Only:

Barry Manilow T-shirt based on a Metallica theme

Here’s the source. Other merch with this image can be had.

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Balls to the wall

“Pourquoi sont-ils vendus dans ces petites boules?” Why are they sold in these little balls?

I’m guessing this was the French response to L’eggs, circa 1970:

Scandale hosiery advertisement, 1970ish

Scandale is still active today, though they’re not currently selling hosiery packaged in spheroids:

In 1932, Scandale’s founder Robert Perrier was manufacturing corsetry and hosiery in a small factory in France when, inspired by the new fabric introduced to him by a visiting salesman, he replaced the traditional laced-up restrictions of the day and created a girdle that was so delicate and so light to the touch that when his assistant saw it she exclaimed “C’est un scandale!” (It’s a scandal!)

Combining elegant, timeless French beauty with the sophistication and knowledge of its creator and his company, Scandale has a rich heritage that few can match. As the fashions evolved from the 1930s to the modern day, Scandale continued to meet the needs and desires of women, for the last 80 years bringing modernity and innovation to each new decade.

Come to think of it, L’eggs switched to a cardboard package in the 1990s.

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