How to Be a Ladyperson at the Holidays: 10 Important Tips

December 8, 2014 § 150 Comments

Straight from the ad pages of your favorite magazines, here’s your guide to being a girl in December. Take notes.

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1. Stay cozy. Wear a baby.

wear a baby

If you play your cards right, your sensitive, goateed dad/boyfriend/professor will reward you with a pair of socks made out of his extra sweater sleeves.

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2. Flaunt your complexity.

Embrace all your many dimensions. Think: "I'm an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral."

Show off all your many dimensions at once. When planning outfits for your holiday soirées, think: “I’m an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral.”

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3. Represent feminine softness in a hard masculine world.

coach

All around you are skyscrapers made of bricks and iron and glass and ouchy things. They’re all pointy and hard. But not you. You’re a soft pink flower in a gentle haze of light. Everything around you is blooming, because you breathed springtime into winter. You’re a superfresh candypants sugarblossom.

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4. If you’re truly hot, you won’t get cold.

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You’re outside. It’s winter. There’s snow falling around you. But also? You don’t feel cold. Whatever you do, don’t hide your light under a bushel by putting a coat over your party outfit. Just drag it along behind you in the snow and use the oil on your legs to fuel warm thoughts. Tell yourself the sequins on your dress are tiny hot-plates. Imagine fire. Visualize volcanoes.

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5. Sit like this while waiting for the valet at the end of a holiday party.

What? Oh. Yes, that's my silver Ford Fiesta. Pull it 'round, will you?

What? Oh. Yes, that’s my silver Ford Fiesta. Pull it ’round, will you, Jeeves?

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6. If you insist on being serious, you must be 100% serious at all times.

Here's how serious works: If you are serious, you can't have hair -- so slick it back. Also, no makeup. Only a black smock, white handbag. No colors. No jewelry. Earrings are not serious. Your expression should imply that if someone had to rescue humanity by spitting out some poisonous venom on the alien invaders right this very goddamn minute, you're the woman for the job. Because women and jobs and poison are SERIOUS.

Tired of all that frivolity? Here’s your alternative: If you are serious, you can’t have hair — so slick it back. Also, no makeup. Only a black smock, white handbag. No colors. No jewelry. Earrings are not serious. No smiling. Your expression should imply that you’re as serious as a heart attack. Now look what you’ve done. You’re so serious you’ve given everyone a heart attack. Ready to be jolly again?

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7. Live every moment like a dream sequence.

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angel cats of christmas

they're everywhere

In Cartier's "Winter Tale" ad series, kittens who live in the sky (leopards? panthers? I don't know, I get the wild cats all mixed up) sneak up on gift-wrapped jewelry items. It's cute because the cats are babies, but it's sad because if they're in the clouds, I guess they're dead? So, dead baby cats. But lots of diamonds. The point is, ladies, if you're a majestic angel-kitten, heavenly trinkets are yours for the stalking. So be a wild, sexy, dead, luxurious cat-baby.

In Cartier’s “Winter Tale” ad series, kittens who live in the sky (leopards? panthers? I don’t know, I get the wild cats all mixed up) sneak up on gift-wrapped luxury items. It’s cute because the cats are babies, but it’s sad because if they’re in the clouds, I guess they’re dead? So, dead baby cats. But lots of diamonds. The point is, ladies, if you’re a majestic angel-kitten, heavenly trinkets are yours for the stalking. So be a wild, sexy, dead, luxurious cat-baby.

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8. Do a sports thing. That’s funny.

Topless, smirking handbag-boxing ladies with boy haircuts are making a statement. Are you making a statement? Be bold. Have short hair and do something sportsy while also wearing your purse as a bra. This shit is crazy, and so are you.

Topless, smirking handbag-boxing ladies with boy haircuts make a statement. Are you making a statement? Be bold. Have short hair and do something sportsy while also wearing your purse as a bra. This shit is crazy, and so are you.

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9. Wear makeup, like a deviant.

perversion mascara

You know what those fringy things are at the edges of your eyelids? Eyelashes. You know what it means if you put dark stuff on them? You’re a total perv. Slap some red on your lips too, and it means you’re the Lady Mayor of Kinktown, USA. Go ahead, wear a little foundation, you dirty, filthy, nasty thing, and when you show up to your office party wearing all this… this… cosmetic substance… on your face, we’ll know exactly what memo you’re sending. Tie me up, tie me 5% down like this quarter’s earnings, know what I mean?

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10. Ignore the voice of reason.

Ahh,  the warm, snuggly comfort of over-the-knee suede boots and a chunky cashmere turtleneck. But no pants. Never pants. This look is as adorable as it is impractical. But you want this impossible dream, don't you? You do, because a world where you can wear the tall slouchy boots and the big fuzzy sweater and nary a stitch to cover your ass is a world where practicalities mean nothing and there are no limits. Get what you want, and ignore the rules. Take only desserts from the buffet of life. Let the losers wear britches.

Ahh, the warm, snuggly comfort of over-the-knee suede boots and a chunky cashmere turtleneck on a brisk winter day. But no pants. Never pants. This look is as adorable as it is impractical. And you want this impossible dream, don’t you? You do, because a world where you can wear the tall slouchy boots and the big fuzzy sweater and nary a stitch to cover your ass is a world where practicalities mean nothing and there are no limits. When you ignore the rules, you get what you want. Take only desserts from the buffet of life, girl. Leave the vegetables to the losers.

Pants are for suckers. Merry Christmas.

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(Past fashion ad life-guides are here, here, here, and well, there are a bunch.)

A Nightmare Dressed Like a Daydream

December 1, 2014 § 9 Comments

That Taylor Swift video is fabulous/awful/crazy/delightful on so many levels.

If you’re looking for a line to lip-sync in deadpan seriousness at the driver of the car next to you, you really can’t do better than “’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” Unless, of course, you were to embellish it just a tad.

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream dressed like a rainbow dressed like Hello Kitty dressed like a tree dressed like Oprah

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream in costume as Robin Hood with a Santa suit on top of that

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream with a fake face I can pull off to reveal I’m actually Tom Cruise

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream wearing the perfume of a memory in a wig I borrowed from the future

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream speaking the language of an assassin in the accent of a candy striper with the inflection of a bunny rabbit

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream eating the nightmare’s dinner with the daydream’s fork

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, and I didn’t even ask the daydream if I could borrow this outfit, so she’s totally gonna kill me, lol

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, standing at your front door but actually hiding in your mailbox while driving your van and sliding down your chimney

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream stuffed into a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, with a bold red lip and a light dusting of translucent powder on my cheekbones, because the holidays are my time to shine!

(I’m actually a daydream dressed like a nightgown.)

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Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 8.38.50 PMThanks to Lora Stevenson and the gang at the “Salon” in Nashville for reaching out to say hello. I enjoyed answering these questions. 

 

 

 

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xmasstuffIf you’re a cyber-Monday kind of person:

Head over to The Random Penguins shop. There’s lots of new penguins-with-people-problems loot there (iPhone 6 covers, throw pillows, cocktail napkins, coffee mugs, shirts, kitchen and household stuff, and even NAIL ART, speaking of which, if you post a pic of yourself on Instagram wearing any of this stuff, tag @therandompenguins, because I’d love to regram it).

Anyway. Zazzle is always having some kind of sale, so stock up if you like.

Cereal, The Podcast

November 19, 2014 § 8 Comments

The first 12 times someone asked me, “Are you listening to the Serial podcast yet?” I thought they were saying, “Are you listening to the cereal podcast yet?” and I thought, well, THAT sounds boring. I don’t know why I’d listen to that.

So I tried making a cereal version.

Yep. It is as boring as I imagined.

(PS – If you do listen to Serial and you’re hooked, don’t miss this spot-on parody version, which keeps coming out with new and wonderful episodes.)

Halloween, Penguin Style

October 31, 2014 § 16 Comments

Well, this is just so fun I can barely stand it.

Have you heard about the Halloween party they throw at Penguin headquarters in New York? It is so epic, so awesome, so legen(wait-for-it)dary that everyone in the company receives a safety memo beforehand reminding them of rules like, “Please, no fire.” Each department goes all out to create the best theme, including decorations, costumes, food, and booze. One year, someone built a full-scale, old-timey saloon in the copy room. They go NUTS. (Watch the hashtag #PenguinHalloween on Instagram and Twitter for an idea of the shenanigans.)

Well, much to my delight, Perigee (my imprint) and Tarcher (the imprint down the hall) teamed up to turn their section of the building into a Penguins with People Problems wonderland — snow and all. (Snacks include Swedish fish and fish crackers, obvs. Can’t wait to see what drink they’re serving.) I created little custom penguin portraits of the staff, showing off their quirky people-problems. Like this one, of Kevin.
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I also made a little fake book trailer with a spooky theme, just for fun. I figured they could play it on their computer monitors or something during the party. What happened next was just icing on the Halloween-themed cake: They shared the goofy little video, and it got picked up by Shelf Awareness (an online trade mag for publishing people and voracious reader-types), and today it’s the BOOK TRAILER OF THE DAY. Holy candycorns, penguins. Here’s the video:
spooky penguins
The enthusiasm and support for this little book that hasn’t even been born yet just blows my mind. I LOVE YOU, Perigee and Penguin Random House (and Tarcher, too!).

 

I got 99 people problems, but a penguin publisher ain’t one. Thank you.

 

PS: Gotta run go get into my literary-themed costume for work today. I’ll update this post later today with photos from the Halloween party at Penguin.
UPDATE! Photos…
#penguinhalloween

I mean, they said they were going to bring my book to life, but this…

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…is amazing.

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#authorproblems

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#editorialproblems

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#bookproblems

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I mean, LOOK at this. (PS: If you look closely, you can see the book cover to the left of the little igloo entrance.)

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I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

The Newest “Lifestyle Guide” Is…

October 1, 2014 § 3 Comments

Dagger & Dill

I think I read one too many articles about artisanal living and homemade quilts and burlap baby blankets and cast iron bacon. I snapped. And I made this:

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(To be clear, I’m making fun of myself as much as anything here. Anything this little fake-mag resembles is probably something I actually subscribe to. I eat this stuff up, even while hating myself a little bit for it.)

This is my goofy little present to you today. Enjoy. Or not. Your choice.

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If you enjoy that sort of thing, you might also enjoy:

Deep Thoughts on Moving

September 30, 2014 § 6 Comments

Today is the last installment of the current series I’m writing for The New York Times, “New in Town.” 

It was going to be a list of practical tips for anyone who’s facing a relocation. Things like:

  • If you’re having trouble deciding whether to move, call someone who has done it recently either from the place you’re leaving or to the place you’re going.
  • Don’t fret if you don’t ever reach a point where you’re 100% sure about whether you should take the leap and do it. Are you ever 100% sure about anything? I’m not.
  • Label your kitchen boxes in extremely accurate detail. Trust me on this, and if anyone has seen the other half of the parts to my coffee machine, please let me know.
  • If you’re thinking of renovating an old house while also living in it with your whole family and two dogs during the process, I might caution you. It’s kind of stupid and I don’t recommend it. We have breathed so much sawdust. So many boxes are still not unpacked. And so many contractors have seen me walking around in my pajamas and my bras hanging to dry on doorknobs.
  • Be gentle with yourself as you adjust to the new place. Remember when you had your first baby, and you suddenly went from being a really accomplished professional person who ate to-do lists for breakfast to someone whose whole list for the day was, “1) Feed baby 12 times. 2) Change 200 diapers. 3) Try to shower?” This is like that. There are a million things to do, and the business of life doesn’t pause to give you time to do them. If you can do one moving-related thing a day — fill out the postal forms, get your new car tags, figure out how to use the alarm system — that’s plenty.
  • If you possibly can, make some friends where you’re going before you get there, so that when you arrive, you have someone you can call to say you’ve lost your key and have no electricity and need a glass of wine. I was verrrrry lucky to have a dear friend here who housed me 1 million times in her guest room on pre-move trips to do things like find a house, tour schools for the kids, etc. Her extended group of friends are now my extended group of friends. Loose Women Book Club, this one’s for you.
  • (More logistical stuff like that.)

The thing is, though, I was writing this last column while on vacation. So while I started out trying to be practical, I ended up getting a little philosophical instead. It’s hard not to, when you’re looking at this:

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I was all, “What are the questions of the universe? Who can really understand the limits of time and space? Can clouds see us? Do fish ever feel sad?”

I was somewhere in the middle of some ocean, on an island that belongs to Great Britain, in a compound owned by Asian people who practice some serious yoga (which I know because I watched them doing yoga from where I sat on my ass reading a book in a lounge chair), surrounded by my spouse and a few of our best friends, plus a cluster of strangers from all over the globe speaking in a variety of languages and accents. I had that same disorienting feeling that you get in certain airports, where you don’t really know where you are and you feel less like an “American” and more like an “earthling.” Being in that place probably influenced what I was writing. So if you don’t like this week’s deep thoughts, blame Earth.

On that note, here’s the article. I had a blast writing this column every week, and I’m so grateful to my editor, KJ, for the invitation, as well as to everyone who read it. Thank you!

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In other news: Now that this series is over, I’ve got time to devote to a few other things. Final edits are due this week on the Penguins with People Problems book that’s coming out next year. (Also, the cover is done, and if I do say so myself, the cover birds are pretty awesome. I can’t wait to be able to show it.) Wheee!

Angelina Jolie’s Artful Fall Fashion Line

September 8, 2014 § 23 Comments

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen Angelina Jolie’s wedding gown, which had her children’s artwork embroidered right onto the dress.

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(Also, do make sure you check out the parody version by Funny Or Die.)

Some of the fashion reporters have dissed Jolie’s decision to take a perfectly good Versace frock and cover it in scribble, but really? This is a woman who once wore her boyfriend’s blood in a vial around her neck. I’m surprised her dress wasn’t woven from actual human muscle tissue and decorated with the urine splatters of exotic wildlife. Instead of being so uptight, maybe we should take inspiration from The Queen of Cheekbones & Darkness and punch up some of this season’s fashions.

Just look how much better these already great outfits look when you add drawings to them:

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I absolutely adore this fabulous cocktail dress with the flower-inspired ruffle at the neck. But behold how much MORE awesome it is if you draw monsters on it.

 

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This dress is so me. And it’s extra me if you add a little choo-choo train along the hem. (See enlarged image for detail: There’s a herd of fighting shrimp-mermaid warriors riding atop the train.)

 

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Yet another fantastic garment that I absolutely need for fall. (How cute would this be with jeans and some stabby stilettos?) I’d personalize it a bit with this drawing of a midget grim reaper who’s holding not a scythe, but — surprise! — a bundle of flowers. Is the person screaming in fear or delight? Who knows. Therein lies the whimsy.

 

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Well, this outfit is two shades of my favorite color, but it’s not going in my shopping cart, because as much as I want to love it, I just don’t think I can pull off bag-lady couture. If you like it, though, I’d suggest drawing a hedgehog on the scarf part.

 

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Yes, yes, and more YES. This dress is absolutely coming home with me for the holiday party season. To give it a little oomph, I’m going to put a penguin in eveningwear at the shoulder and then — just to keep things unexpected — a zombie penguin at the knee.

 

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I wear a lot of black and white, and I need to be better about wearing color. This red dress is classy-sexy; and if you add the penguin in a multi-colored 1980s striped sweater, it becomes classy-sexy-Cosby. Win.

 

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I like this dress a lot — and I think it would be good for a work party — but it’s just a wee bit tame. To turn up the interest factor, I’d add a big penguin wearing some jousting boots to the front.

 

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This is a really beautiful crossover crop top that’s just begging for the right occasion. If you add a penguin cheerleader to each side of the bust, you add an encouraging message that sends supportive vibes to all you meet.

 

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Awww — this suit reminds me of my very first job interview outfit. It was a gift from my mom, and to this day, it’s probably the most sophisticated ensemble I own. If I were designing it from scratch, however, I’d make one change: Add a penguin eating a Nutella crepe to the front of the skirt. See how that takes the whole thing to a new level?

By the way, all these outfits came from the Neiman Marcus catalog, so if you want any of it, just buy it and then treat me to coffee and hand me some Sharpies. I’ll spiff ‘em up for you.

Happy almost-Fall, everybody.

Love,
The penguins and me

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