Archives for posts with tag: Fashion

Eating the Earth
by CR Green

The runway is set for banqueting.
As in every beginning, I am tempted.
For years I have consumed the elements:
viscose, polyester, nylon, rayon, spandex,

100 % linen, cottons. The blends slop
& swill, now fall through my swollen fingers.
I have walked ramps quickly while our only
Home—this baby blue—still rocks & rolls.

I have tried to devour it all before hunger
passed its use-by date. But will other faraway
eyes find nutrients in these packed, piled flavours,
dissolve sweet strata of silk stripes & rainbows,

bolting calicos, four changes of seasoned jerseys,
jacketed mountains of savory pants & pantaloons?
Can they absorb any vitamins from frozen paisley
frocks, from satin sewn by tiny hands?

Can they digest shrinking timelines of marbled
chiffon? Can another generation make perfume
from melting Pavlovian laces alongside baked
Alaskan velveteens waiting to set oceans

of carbonated crepe on fire? During the intermission,
let my tongue polish every sinking island until this
present chaos shines so bright an audience of angels
stares. I can hear their wings idling now.

Let them look deep into my core. Let me hear
what they are saying about the days left to eat:
Count them. They are precious.
                                               They are numbered. 

PHOTO: Floating Textiles by pixabay.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after experiencing Ruth Watson´s Geophagy following RikTheMost´s Spoken Word Workshop at the Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch, New Zealand, February, 2018. Greta Thunberg says, ¨The fashion industry is a huge contributor to the climate-and-ecological emergency, not to mention its impact on the countless workers and communities who are being exploited around the world in order for some to enjoy fast fashion that many treat as disposables.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CR Green is an American-Kiwi living and writing from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her short stories and poetry have been published in such diverse places as The Loyalhanna Review (Pennsylvania), The Reach of Song (Georgia), The Poetry Distillery (New York State), Drawn to the Light (Ireland), and a fine line (New Zealand). One of her poems was recently shortlisted for the New Zealand Poetry Society´s Literary Heritage Awards. Visit her at and on Facebook.

Masked - March 2020

That Masked Man
by Clive Collins

1955. I pester my mother, successfully this year, for a Guy Fawkes mask and in it haunt the streets. Half-blind, lucky, probably, to survive the traffic, yet transformed also: conspirator, would-be-blower-up of kings!

1959. A printers’ strike in Britain banishes Beanos, Dandys, Toppers, Beezers. Instead, American comics fill the newsagents’ shelves with masked men (and the occasional woman). Our new second-hand TV shows, The Lone Ranger; Saturday afternoon pictures, Captain Africa. Fighters for justice all, and exciting enough, though I retain my affection for the poor sod burned in effigy each November and, down our street, wearing my mask.

1960. I pass the selection exam for grammar school and am sent to one where, for the first two years at least, and faces, stature, girths apart, we all look just the same: gray flannels, green blazers, green caps. Masked.

1962. Slowly, some affect changes: drainpipe trousers, Cliff-Richard quiffs, winkle-pickers, chisel toes. Teds, then Rockers.

1966. My mask is slipping: blazer shrunken, “drainies” patched, chisel toes kicked in. A Saturday job buys me a suit (a quid a week), a haircut (five bob a time). Again am I not me. A Mod I am. Or just about, and only for a while.

1968. University. Suit off; jeans on – patched with velvet natch; haircuts postponed (indefinitely?). What was a Mod? Oh, yeah . . .

1974. I need a job having not become a paperback writer. Back in a suit and off to Africa. Masked again to a country of masks – Poro, Bundu. Not easy to see through those. Not hard to see through mine.

1983. Tokyo. Here everybody wears a mask – of one sort or another: sararīman, ofisuredī, wamono, loligoth. Here I find, at last, I’d no need to bring my own. It’s been assigned: foreigner.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The late Frank Zappa is on record (literally!) as telling the audience at one of his UK performances, “Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, and don’t kid yourself.”  Substitute the word mask for uniform, and you have my thoughts when writing this piece, more or less.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clive Collins is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.  Carried Away and Other Stories is available from Red Bird Chapbooks.

Retail — From the Inside
by Joan Leotta

Shopping was my hobby.
So when at 16, I wanted summer
retail seemed perfect.
Downtown department stores
were not hiring, so
my Aunt Helen convinced
the owner of her favorite
East Liberty dress shop.
to give me Saturday hours.
I imagined myself
an instant fashion expert,
coolly, enhancing women’s looks
with wise suggestions.
My first Saturday I was
hidden in the stockroom
hanging a new shipment
by size, by color. Hot.
“May I help you?”
I practiced, as I shook out blouses,
skirts, dresses.
Second Saturday saw me selling.
The first woman, slim, young,
asked “blue shirtwaist dress in
size ten, please.”
I plucked it from the rack,
showed her to the dressing room.
In minutes, my first sale!
Ringing it up on the old
register the change came out wrong — twice..
My next fashion seeker
was middle-aged,
a bit chubby. She marched to
the dressing room and told me to
bring her skirts and blouses
in size twelve — my choices!
Proudly, I selected tailored items
she promptly rejected.
“Yooo hoo,” she called, “I want smaller sizes,
and don’t you have anything newer, cuter?
She tossed her discards over the door for
me to turn right-side out and rehang.
At last she opened the dressing room door
to model an A-line skirt and ladybug blouse —
high school clothes!
“Well, how do I look?”
I gulped. Sausage came to mind.
Florid face clashing with floral shirt.
“Wouldn’t you rather . . . ” I began
The owner stepped up.
“It’s a lovely outfit.”
The woman bought the ensemble.
Before Saturday rolled around again,
the owner called my Aunt. “We are not busy
enough to have your niece come in anymore.”
I didn’t really mind.
Shopping was not as much fun
from ” inside.” And,
ever since that job,
I never ask a sales person
to tell me how I look.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This me a couple of years after the events in the poem. My sense of fashion was not nearly as developed as I then thought it was!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What to consider a “first” job? That was hard to decide. Would I consider as “first” a job my job as a clerk in a dress shop in the summer? Or my work shelving records in the college radio station? Or my summer sojourn in the planning department at the University of Pittsburgh between my first and second years of graduate school, a fun internship that gave me experience and a killer recipe for egg roll? I decided to go with chronological order and share with you why I decided not to remain in the retail world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood in Pittsburgh. She is a writer and story performer. Her poetry and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oakthe A-3 Review, Hobart Literary ReviewSilver Birch, Peacock,Postcard Poems and Prose among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. She also has written a series of novels, Legacy of Honor, and a set of four picture books, Rosa’s Shell is the latest. A group of her short stories, Simply a Smile is available in paper and on Kindle. You can find more about her work on her blog at, follow her on twitter @beachwriter12 or on Facebook at Joan Leotta, Author and Story Performer.


Miss Humphrey
by Leslie Sittner

She was tall, broad, quietly forceful. Mostly intimidating. And, as a 17-year-old, I thought, ancient, uncool, and wore dreadful sensible shoes. Definitely not fashionable. I was a freshman at Cornell in the early1960s in the College of Human Ecology. She was the stern taskmaster of the Textiles and Clothing Department.

But I loved the classes she taught. I learned plenty and performed well.

Junior year she invited me to her home for tea. By myself. Nervous? Absolutely. To my surprise she didn’t seem so very old; she was charming. And funny.

After graduating, moving to New Your City, and beginning my first professional fashion designer job, she invited me to return and lecture on my “design experience” in the Big Apple. She was impressed that I, as a children’s sleepwear designer, had several full page ads in the New York Times featuring my creations. I felt like a successful graduate and creative person!

Apparently the lecture was worthwhile because soon she notified me that she’d be coming to the City to visit me at my job. The company was located in the famous Little Singer (sewing machine!) Building on lower Broadway. It’s a magnificent edifice that enjoys landmark status. Even the elevator was remarkable.

When Miss Humphrey arrived at our fifth floor, she was slightly rattled, slightly disheveled, slightly tongue-tied. It was a Friday, payday, and we hadn’t yet been informed that there’d been an armed robbery in the building. She casually mentioned that the elevator exhibited telltale blood spatter. She matter-of-factly related the lobby-police-elevator experience. Then requested to meet my boss and see my design room. Just like that. And here I thought I was the blasé cool city girl.

Suddenly this tough gracious woman wasn’t ancient or uncool; I cared not a whit that she wasn’t fashionable.

IMAGE: Little Singer Building, 561 Broadway, New York City.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As hip1960’s students, we weren’t necessarily kind when discussing Miss Humphrey the Spinster. It was only hindsight that made us appreciate all she’d had to offer us. Most of us went on to successful careers in some field or another.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. Her stories are available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and will be featured in Adirondack Life magazine. On-line prose can be seen at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories as well as many selections of prose and poetry at Silver Birch Press. She has finished a memoir about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.

Carolyn Martin 1962
Taking stock
(Perth Amboy, NJ, 1962)
by Carolyn Martin

A feel for finery? I mastered it at seventeen
in Stein’s Boutique unwrapping taffeta, silk shantung
and lacy overlays, racking them along the aisles
where salesgirls worked their pitch
and matrons needed hours of pampering.

Mrs. Sixteen-Plus? Curvaceous in the satin twill.
Mrs. Husband-Cheats? Blossoms in the floral print.
Mrs. Mousy-Hair? Floats in beige chiffon
to cocktails at the Rotary, dances at the Elks.

Conspiracy of words or well-placed compliments?
I wasn’t sure. When Mr. Stein, master
of the fashion scene, perused from top
to toe and grinned, Exquisite taste!
Perfect style! blushing faces beamed.

But what’s true? I asked myself — scavenging
through dressing rooms for lipstick stains,
armpit smells, seams that stretched.

I’d gather up the garments left behind —
assuring them some day they’d host a swank event —
while salesgirls rang up hard-wrought sales
and Mrs. So-and-So strutted out
the dress shop door indulged, convinced.

SOURCE: Previously published in Star 82 Review.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The stock girl gets ready to graduate from St. Mary’s High School, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in 1963. She hasn’t written one line of poetry yet.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a shy teenager, I worked for two years as a stock girl in a women’s dress shop — Friday nights and Saturdays at $1.00 an hour. The saleswomen were much older and well-versed in the art of fashion and flattery.  Sometimes I felt they talked women into buying dresses that weren’t quite that smart or appropriate — or, at least, that was how my untrained eye interpreted it. In any event, they were very kind and even allowed me to handle a customer or two.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and perfect summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection, Thin Places, is slated for release by Aldrich Press in Fall 2017.

loehmann's vintage
Loehmann’s, My Mother’s Favorite Store, Becomes My First Employer
by Phyllis Klein

I was the one who took the fallen dresses, the designer pants
and shirts hanging or lying in clumps on the benches inside

the large dressing room, took them back out to the racks so
another woman could try them. I was the one who cleaned

up the racks, rearranged the sizes where they should go.
It was a comfort to be amongst all those beautiful silks,

rayons, plaids, stripes. Trying to make some sense out of
childhood, to wear the questions I hoped clothes could answer.

PHOTO: Shoppers in 1988 look through the long racks of designer sportswear and casual dresses in Loehmann’s main room during the chain’s annual fall fashion preview (Houston Chronicle).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt brought back memories of something I hadn’t thought much about in such a long time. I have a life-long love of clothes and dressing up that goes back to the times I spent in that store, long before I worked there. I can remember so clearly the large dressing room, and the camaraderie of women trying things on, brought together to find luxury bargains. I thought Loehmann’s had gone out of business but discovered it is still there, online. Not the same, but glad it’s still around.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phyllis Klein believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal,  Qarrtsiluni online literary magazine, Silver Birch Press, New Verse News, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, The American Journal of Nursing, and  Dovetails, an International Journal of the Arts. She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist. Learn more at

Hat Heaven
by Karen Eastlund

The hat shop caught my attention
But I couldn’t stop at the time
We were in mid-tour
In a foreign country
We didn’t speak the language
Nor would we know where to meet at end of day
We had to stay the course
But I was determined to find that shop again
Later, when I voiced my plan
My husband clasped my arm
With both hands, protesting
“No, you’ll get lost…
You don’t know where you’re going…
I don’t want to lose you….”
Sweet, I thought,
But heedless of my quest for
The perfect hat shop

To be fair, I had been disoriented
A few times on our trip
Had turned right instead of left
So I listened to him
But also convinced him
Until finally
I led us straight to the desired shop

And there they were
Beautiful hats
Shapely and neat
Wool for warmth
In many colors
Accessible for trying on
Plenty of mirrors
Ready assistants
Bringing more and more hats
Gently suggesting an appropriate fit
The hat shop of my dreams!

I walked out in a new woolen cloche,
Navy blue with a bow at one ear,
And a confident smile
That only a well-chosen hat can bring

The next day
When several appeared in new hats
We smiled demurely at one another
Sharing an unspoken sentiment
Great hat!

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in my hat, taken in January 2017.

NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR: This took place in Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO town in Czech Republic that we visited while cruising the Danube. The shop mentioned is without a doubt the best hat shop I have ever found.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Eastlund lives in New Jersey. She is retired after teaching preschool and providing children’s programs at her local library. Karen enjoys her grandchildren, travel, music, reading, gardening, and the practice of writing. She posts regularly on various children’s poetry blogs.

It’s All About the Style
by Jen Waldron

Finally, at seventeen I was on my own. I moved into a typical college dorm room excited to do my own decorating. I coated the walls with sophistication seldom seen. There were Billy Joel posters, album (yes, album) covers, a map of Connecticut, snowmobile trail markers, pink feathers, my name in felt and all things sentimental. It was quite a mystery as to why I wasn’t there as a design major.

No sooner had my parents said goodbye and pulled out of the parking lot, did I begin a wardrobe overhaul. I pried the metal taps off the bottom of my tap shoes and now had black pumps to wear with denim. I tore holes in the knees of every pair of jeans I owned. I decided my signature style would involve fringe and off the shoulder shirts. I took the warm, sensible red sweatshirt packed to keep me comfortable while studying and began cutting. I cut the neck and the arms away. Then I chopped off the waist and created the fringe. There I was full of style and grace.

Gone was the preppy teenager. I spent my entire freshman year looking like a groupie, complete with raccoon eyeliner, hair with wings, and a Van Halen t-shirt. Every mother’s dream.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: SIgnature Fringe,  1982, college dorm.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Waldron was born and raised in northern New England, and now resides with her husband of more than 30 years just outside sunny Atlanta, Georgia. When not working as a registered nurse, her time is spent writing and baking, and then baking and writing. Previous and current publications are based upon personal memories and the humor in life. She is incredibly thankful for three wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law, and three adorable grandsons, none of whom have caused her a moment of stress. Vacations are spent along a multitude of coastlines because secretly she wishes sea glass hunting were an actual occupation.

Their Loss
by Lin Whitehouse

The future was tomorrow, I didn’t think
that far ahead. Patience was
non-existent in my world but I was
polite and had good manners.
I was a size twelve showroom
receptionist and backup model for a
West End Fashion House and
also studied three nights a week:
textiles, design drawing and flat pattern cutting
at the prestigious London School of Fashion.
The days were long, the evenings longer.
One summer’s day our model was
late back from lunch. Important buyers
turned up unexpectedly wanting to see the
new collection. A panicky Mr Stern asked
so I smiled, twirled and paraded one dress
after another until Mr Rosen catapulted
himself in off the street,
(after another long lunch)
and snarled from spittle foamed lips:
“What’s she doing, her shoulders are too broad
for our dresses she’s a coat model, where’s Karen?”
He practically shoved me out of the way then
once more became companionable after apologising
for me. I didn’t wear humiliation well, there was a
glut of jobs outside the showroom door. I typed my
notice up in a minute and put the letter in
between the new sales orders I was typing.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at 17 in my favourite dress (not one from the showroom) that my best friend lent me the money to buy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was quite shy at 17 and did what people asked of me. This was my first job in London’s West End. I really enjoyed working in the rag trade and was hoping to become a dress designer. Mr Rosen was so rude to me that day I wanted to cry but would not let him see me upset. I knew if he treated me like that once he would probably do it again and I wasn’t prepared to let that happen so I took matters into my own hands and gave a week’s notice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lin Whitehouse lives in a small English village. She works for a children’s charity and writes at every opportunity. Her poems have appeared in Turbulence, Writing Magazine, The Great Gatsby and Nancy Drew Anthologies (Silver Birch Press) and short stories have been published in Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration and The Finger. Her short plays have been performed around East and North Yorkshire.

PHOTO: The author in New York City (December 2016).

The Picture Hat
by Sarah Russell

In 1968, the day I got my first paycheck after the divorce (one buck more than minimum wage), I bought a picture hat — pink organza with silk flowers, better suited to Churchill Downs than Grand Rapids, Michigan — because it was My Money, and it looked good on me.  I put it on with jeans and my favorite too-big shirt and sashayed through my bare bones studio apartment, pausing in front of the bathroom mirror to smile for the cameras and add lilac eyeshadow and Chanel No. 5.  I pictured my picture hat with an equally pink, equally organza afternoon tea dress and Herbert Levine’s that would fit my feet like Cinderella. My hat never found its dress and shoes, never even saw the light of day, but it was who I was in that moment.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: No photos of the actual hat exist, but this is a first cousin. Isn’t it a beauty?? Photo found at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I ate peanut butter sandwiches for a month because of my extravagance, but damn, I loved that hat!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing, and editing. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press, among others. She was a featured poet on The Houseboat and Days of Stone. Find more poetry at