Last Updated 04/15/02
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Madison Avenue
 by Ira Lapidus

Ezine Originals: Style Issue

Ain't Touched That Sugar Yet
That day in Pittsburg, Kansas the adults acted like greedy kids at JC Penney's 25% off sale, trying on damn near everything. Pittsburg supped that day. It feasted. Its people slurped at a bowl full of ho-hum clothing at low prices, but wasn't that just like Pittsburg? A mediocre place at a good price, that's the town. Where elsewhere many can maintain their look at bargain prices, there, they just...(more)

Aliza's Apartment
The year I am in grade nine I go over to my friend Aliza's apartment almost every day after school. I have decided that my own living situation is intolerably normal and as such is incredibly boring. Aliza's of course seems just the opposite. I first meet Aliza after she...(more)

Baby Dyke, New Hair
From age 13 to age 21, I wore my hair in pretty much the same style. Shoulder length to mid-back, with bangs. Trying to be lovely - sometimes succeeding.
When I came out as a dyke, I wanted to say fuck you to lovely. Fuck trying to...(more)

Bag This
I hit Prada's today. It's my kind of store; no blaring music, no hard sell, no depressing posters of the nimble nouveau-naked. Fernando, my doe-eyed salesman, smells of musk. His whispered fawning strokes my soul. Nice place, that Prada, except it's hard to justify $700 for a pocketbook when I only carry a library card, dog biscuits, a coupon for Bagel Boss, the remains of a popped balloon, yes, my l9-year-old son's first tooth, some 29-cent stamps, a mysterious pair of boxers engraved "Natasha," and a total of ten dollars -- if there's no...

Every girl wants to be told she's beautiful. She spends hours dreaming of the one hundred and one different ways she could inspire one hundred and one different men to mumble, to stumble over, to whisper or sigh; to breathe, pronounce, cry out that blissful and perfectly rare utterance, "You are the most beautiful girl in the world," or some variation of that sort. I was no different. Except...

Tomato Dress
For my birthday a few years ago, my mother bought us tickets to a ballet performance at Lincoln Center. I wore a tomato print dress. The scoop neckline and flared knee-length hem reminded me of 1940s movie stars, or my stylish grandmother in black and white photos. Wearing it, I felt like...(more)
Soccer Camp Surprise
In 1980 I was serenaded by 300 soccer campers in a cafeteria in Waco, Texas. That summer I spent three weeks at Baylor University, at a boys camp run by my father. While he coached, I toured the campus by myself, graffitied empty stairwells, and read on grassy fields. I was bored. My body loped along in slow motion, the result of...(more)

Bracing Myself
The ceiling is low, white, and featureless, and as I wait for the super-glue to dry on my teeth, unable to look elsewhere, I wonder why someone hasn't stuck a few posters up there. Finally a woman's face appears, frowning studiously. This is not the sweet-faced man I consulted with, but must be my orthodontist, because the woman who applied the glue looked way too young. Neither woman, however, has...(more)

It always catches up with me. It can happen at any time, in any place, with anyone. It strikes quickly and violently, spinning my reality out of sight and knocking my esteem right back on the floor. I can run, baby, but I can't hide. It's in my closet and my makeup case. It's in my high school yearbook and the memory of everyone who knew me when I had those God-awful blue coke-bottle glasses. It's...

Cowboy Dreams
The cowboy, in full cowboy gear, from boots to chaps to low-slung holster and gun to embroidered corduroy shirt to wide-brimmed hat, bends over, lower lip jutting out in concentration, and pushes an iron across an ironing board. That's me in the photograph, at five years old, a pistol-packing Suzy Homemaker in a...

The Crowning Touch
I admired it for almost two years before I bought it. I saw it every time  I went to the mall, on the top shelf of one of those popular, teen shops.
It was a BEAUTIFUL crown! The first time I spotted it, I was overcome with my childhood desire to be a princess! For the week following my first encounter with the crown, I visualized it sitting elegantly on my head. That exquisite image played on my mind so much tha

Cutting Loose
"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but someone." - Coco Channel

I decided to shave my head billiard bald in mid-January of the over-celebrated new millennium- but it wasn't a New Year's resolution. It was just a coincidence. My 7decision, purely voluntary and not inspired by any medical requisite one might assume, can only be explained by bewitchment. Either that or ...

Dressed to Kill 
My best friend and I were trolling the local mall the other day when the good ol' days got the best of us. About the time you turn 40, just about any woman who still has her own eyelashes ought be road kill, so we were doing our very best to decide which one of the teenagers in front of us should be shot on sight because her stomach was flat enough to fit between a cutting board and the kitchen counter. It was probably the wine we had with lunch, but we somehow gathered the wit and grit to wander into Victoria's Secret and...(more)

Femme Feminist
My mania for girlie clothes disgusted my feminist mother when I was little. A baby-boomer, she didn't have a choice when she was in school, since actual rules restricted girls to skirts and dresses. We '70s children were to remake the world, modeling ourselves after brave princesses, like Atalanta on Marlo Thomas's record, "Free to Be...You and Me," who could run as fast as the wind. One could

Fifty-Something Turnon
maybe I don't love you at all, woman maybe 
I wooed you for your hats

scuffed havana straw that you claim is
the most comfortable hat you ever owned,
stetson wrangler you wear with tights and...

For Madison With Love & Polar Bears
So there's this skinny chick in LA who wears too much makeup and works at this lame-ass store in the Westside Pavilion where they sell little skirts and dresses and the tight black pants that publicists and sorority girls wear to bars. And I don't want to be judgmental or anything here, but the Skinny Girl talked some real catty smack to the hero of this story, who's 15 years old and was looking at dresses for...

Girl by Design 
There's more to a woman than a pretty floral dress. We know that in our hearts, but sometimes we forget. The day I'm going to tell you about, I had on a netted crop top, giant bellbottoms with a flame running up one leg, and a fountain of cork screw curls bursting from a scrunchie on the crown of my head. Not the clothes...

Glamour Shots 
I'm guilty. I have sneered in smug superiority at those pathetic women who spent money getting tarted up in the mall so they could plonk down a few hundred for photos of themselves. I have ridiculed pictures of people who look suspiciously like all of their friends who were seduced by the cunning ads. I suspected most women of being genetically predisposed to go on alert when shown before and after displays. We believe that...(more)

The Grand Cover-up
In Afghanistan today, a woman is considered provocative if the wind blows her skirt above her ankle, and the price for such "lewdness" is acid thrown in her face. The fact is women have been covering up for *men's* indecency for millennia, hiding our own bodies in deference to men's claim on our very own flesh.
By Jewish and Islamic laws, both time-honored ancient traditions, women must...

Hair Length
Just as some people wear naturally-dyed organically-harvested locally-produced cotton clothing, while others wear black thrift store threads, leather collars, and gritty bicycle chains to indicate their political-cultural leanings, there are those who dye their hair green and purple as well as those who sculpt their manes into liberty spikes and dreadlocks. Personally, I utilize the length of my hair to...(more)
Hanauma Bay, 1971
She's wearing her brand new
Oleg Cassini maillot, puffy
and yellow and pointy
cupped, like some...
I put on a hat
walked to the movies
it only took 3 hours
I got home
took off my hat
looked in the mirror

Looks That Kill: 
Why I Shed My Skins 
"Are your shoes leather?"   
When I tell people that I'm an animal rights activist and a vegetarian, that's often one of the first questions I'm asked. Instead of seeking my opinion on animal experiments or the use of elephants in circuses--or even the best-tasting brand of veggie burger--people are exceedingly curious about what I wear on my feet. Often my inquisitors pose their question with a certain smugness, as if...(more)

Natasha's Choice 
In my first year of high school, grade 9, there was a girl in my class named Natasha. Not that anyone at school ever called her by her given name. At 5' 4" and 200 pounds, Natasha would earn a new name from her so-called peers: Fats.
Natasha was a character with a personality that at first glance seemed worn down by the daily grind of high school living. She wasn't "in". She did not do as well as the others academically. Her hair was lanky and dull.
In grade 10...

Plain Jane and Proud of It 
Before bar codes on library books were scanned in computerized records, I had a plastic library card with raised numbers. After the librarian punched cards in a machine to check out my books, wet purple ink coated the numbers. The librarian usually asked me, a five-year-old bookworm, if I wanted the imprint of my library card number on the top of my hand. Naive about the historical implications of having an identifying number inked on me, I often...(more)  

Pretty Feet
My haughty streak flares up when I rub against my physical limits. A car accident left me with burn injuries that both scarred my face, my body and claimed all ten of my fingers. Simple tasks, like slicing an apple, tying a shoelace, wrapping a gift, are beyond my reach. Now, I must surrender jobs that require scissors. Against my grain, I seek help for the basics and usually pay for the privilege. Every six weeks, like a horse getting reshod, I submit to...

Purses R Us
It's my "maiden voyage" as a college lecturer and I'm scared to death. I've not slept a wink the night before. Dressed in "college casual" style, and primed with an I-can-do-this pep talk, I prepare for my grand entrance. I take an extra deep breath and sail bravely into the classroom. Without warning, in mid-stride, I hear a pop and feel my purse...

Real-Life Beauty
We have long grown accustomed to the fact that the versions of women we see in the media are unreal. The complaint against the unnaturally thin model has been made (and remade) in the editorial column of every women's magazine. Yet the difference between models and "real" women is not merely an issue of dress size. It's a much bigger difference between the contrived world of the glossy magazine and the world we live in, and...

Real Power
There's a difference between women who want to appear powerful and those who just are. I saw one of the former today over a working lunch. You know the kind--she looked the part. I used to mimic women like her, the ones I remembered from those Hanes pantyhose commercials on television. The epitome of society's image of a professional woman...(more)

Screw Cupid
If I had to name even one thing wrong with David, I would honestly draw a complete blank. He's a sweet guy, good-looking with sandy brown hair and a goatee, interested in books and art and movies, with passionate opinions about all of them. So I couldn't understand why I kept checking my watch during the two dates I had with him. Despite the stimulating topics of conversation, I felt...
Short Shorts
Da Girls: Episode 1 - Date Night...(more
The Label
Small Adventures
The Tag

A Spanish Lesson 
Perhaps it is an American prejudice to associate Europeans with style. The assumption is not completely far fetched--haute couture is French, after all. Yet as I walk the streets of Barcelona during my junior year abroad, I find this preconception has little truth to it. Many women seem to accept...


It's summer. Our thoughts drift to visions of lazing on the beach, the warmth of the sun, the crashing ocean, the hot sand beneath our feet, the smell of suntan lotion--and the hairy-backed man wearing Speedos!
My first experience...
Still Blonde...Runs Deep
It started innocently enough.
My mother put hydrogen peroxide on my naturally dirty blonde hair
at the Maryland shore when I was three. By junior high I had perfected
a secret concoction of salt water, lemon juice and sugar that I would
apply in specific rituals through the summer.
By 16, I had discovered Sun-In.
By 18 I had to admit it.
I had a problem.
I had a habit.
Blonder. More blonde. Most blonde.
I should have...(more)  
Still Paying for Original Sin
It was still February and icky out. Slush was the designated fifth element, porous and bleeding its watery gray. I had to be in the garment center, as it's most widely known, though it's also a grotto for a certain kind of pond scum, my show business friends' agents and casting directors. Today's mission is to...

Style or Fashion? 
Take Your Pick!
Moxie Meets the fashion program at The Academy of Art College.

If you know Moxie, you know that we view style as a state of mind. We eschew glam and glitz, opting for style as self-expression and play-- a visible reflection of who and what you are on the inside...

Of Tattoos and Hair Color
Over the last 13 years, I have permed, cut, and colored my hair almost every shade offered by Clairol. I wouldn't be surprised if, when I'm 50, it all decides to fall out. I will wake up one morning and find the last remains of my hair in thin wispy strands all over my pillow, then go out to a wig store and buy five different kinds of hair, enough for...

Three Colors: Black, Red, & Pale
I've stopped buying fashion magazines. Not because I can't possibly afford the ostrich-feathered handbag or fit into the size two Capri pants. No, it's the "style" forecasts that I can't bear. The ones that proclaim what's in, what's new, what's hot. I am, invariably, out, old and stone cold. With one tick of a box, some fashion pundit decides that polyester is the new "cashmere" or, the one that I really dread, that "white," "brown," "grey," or whatever neutral color currently adorns the walls of Ian Schrager's latest hotel, is...

After an intense study abroad program, I escape to the beauty of the Mediterranean for some serious beach time without pressure to think. There I see a woman with more than a few pounds to loose, one who must be nearly 70 years old and has no trouble taking off her shirt. All around I see women of various shapes and sizes, nearly naked. French, German, Italian - wherever they're from - they make stripping down to scarcely their skivvies on this beach look so...

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