Monday, March 28, 2011

Colors should be kept soft and feminine

Lately at work, I've been researching best practices for workforce development, or basically what social service providers are doing to help people get jobs.

The following is advice that one employment agency gives to its female clients:

We have all heard the phrase, "Dress for success."  In the corporate world, looking the part is essential in either landing the job of your dreams or getting promoted at your current place of employment. Although we should never judge a book by its cover, a professional appearance plays a huge role on how your employer perceives you.  Although corporate attire differs for women and men, there are four key components to keep in mind when getting dressed for work while still projecting a professional image:  style, color, length and fit. 

Pant suits and skirt suits should be a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Your pants should be tailored and fitted, but not so tight as to show a panty-line.  Skirts should be no more than one inch above your knees, and should be loose enough so that you are not uncomfortable when you sit.  Suit jackets can be worn open, but should be able to button. Some basic suit colors are navy and grey.   Black suits are always chic and you can add hints up color to liven them up, and give them personality. Colors should be kept soft and feminine. Light blues, soft pinks and lilacs are ideal. Button down shirts are classic, but wearing one with ruffles adds instant femininity to a strong suit. (Make sure there are no gaps between the button holes!) You can even swap a suit jacket for a cardigan. Pair it with a pencil skirt, and cinch it at the waist with a thin belt for a more fashionable look. Pantyhose must be worn, and can be a neutral tone or black with a little sheen. Make sure they are run free!

Accessories are a fool proof way to personalize any outfit. In a corporate environment you want to keep it clean and simple. Cool studded earrings or small hoops paired with a single bracelet, is effortless and tasteful; or a string of pearls balanced with an elegant watch is also a timeless combination. Adding a belt to your look adds instant style effortlessly. Shoes should be closed toe with a moderate heel, (one to two inches is best) classy, and good quality leather. Droopy handbags look shabby and sloppy. For the office, opt for a sleek briefcase, and match it up with a leather day clutch or a purse with a strap big enough to only hold your necessities. Just like with your shoes, your purse is an accessory you can play with and experiment different textures.

Also imperative to your corporate wardrobe is your personal hygiene!  Hair should be neatly styled, nails should be manicured, and you should have a clean, fresh scent to you.  Body odor is a no-no.  Perfumes and colognes should be applied as a single sprits [sic].

Despite my tendency towards the scruffy chic (I put the "casual" in "business casual"), I suppose I can probably attribute all my success in life to wearing feminine colors and cool studded earrings. It is probably important to tie my professional success to a great cardigan and my ability to walk in moderate heels.  Thoughts, ladies?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The internet has a mandate to embrace my cooking skills, or at least let me talk about them

One of the most irritating of the democratizing aspects of the internet is the abounding and unapologetic celebration of mediocrity.  Typos, half-baked business models, self-serving antagonisms in comment sections - - all of this flourishes in the blogosphere, a forum that lends expert status to Joe Schmo and consequently delegitimizes even the most informed analytic source.

From this circus has come a spate of food-related content, all of which irrationally pisses me off.  (Except for the time my article on bagels was the second-most read article on NolaDefender.com for like four months...huzzah for me and bagels!)

It's not that I don't care about food - I think actually it plays a much too important role in my emotional life - but that I frankly do not give a shit about what other people are cooking, where they are eating, and especially what they think about all these experiences.

I am glad for the successes of amateur cooks who derive satisfaction from their adventures in home kitchen culinary arts, yet I think it is beyond annoying that an entire literary culture surrounds such banal achievement.  We in the Western oppressor class are in the age of convenience; the fact that we even know how to nourish ourselves is treated as a source of delight and self-congratulation.

Don't get me wrong - I am all for the recording of popular culture.  I find recipe websites helpful.  But I sympathize most strongly with the schmucks who can't for all the EVOO in the world get pasta with marinara sauce right.  Why don't these people have a website?

That is to say, I am not a horrible cook, but who needs to hear about it on the internet?

Well, dear readers, now YOU get to.

In direct response to my online foodie competition, I am starting a new series called "Food I've Cooked that Looks Terrible and Might Taste That Way Too."  This way, you too can enjoy my travails in the kitchen without feeling like an asshole who doesn't know the difference between kumquats and kielbasa.  It helps that I'm vegetarian, so the options are more limited.  I hope this new feature will help assuage the media hysteria surrounding food production and consumption, and return online discourse to the culturally relevant charms of pornography and kitten-shaped emoticons.

For starters, I have been bothering my roommates all week to make hamantaschen, or fruit-filled triangle cookies, with me this weekend for Purim, which, for those of you who haven't spent your formative years in the Tri-State Area, is Jewish Halloween.  It's a celebration of the fact that Jews still exist despite the best efforts of Haman (Boo!), who, along with trying to kill us all (which is why we boo his name), sported a triangular hat à la Paul Revere.  For Purim, we make cookies in the shape of Haman's (Boo!) headgear.  I found a recipe from a Jewish pre-school teacher who assures her readership that no matter how much kids play with the dough, the finished product will be "perfect."

Now, a natural skeptic such as myself might normally have been suspicious of such claims.  But my enthusiasm for the holiday got in the way of my rationality, and behold the finished product:

If it seems to you that a pre-schooler with an anger management problem made these cookies, you are not far from the truth.  You might also note that they are not triangle-shaped, which is the point of the cookies.  To this I say, whatever.  Go buy your own damn hamantaschen.  ¡Chag Purim!

People say baking is therapeutic, what with the dough pounding and sugar rush.  But I took Psych 101, and these cookies still taste like dry scones with sticky jelly.  If I didn't live with a boy, they might be sitting on the kitchen counter for weeks.

And with that, I encourage you to look forward to the next installment of this series, "Arielle Goes to the Hong Kong Market and Makes the Nice Vietnamese Lady Cry."

PS:  I will strive to take the least flattering photos of my cooked products, lest anyone mistake this feature for actual food porn.  I have also heard that inclusion of the word "porn" on blog posts maximizes your search engine optimization value, so let's go with that.  Porn porn porn.