Privilege Blog


Last Tuesday, having returned from Santa Barbara the night before, and having spent the bulk of the day on administrative tasks for my mother, I went to Whole Foods.

I thought to myself, as I checked the full-length mirror, “I’m probably going to run into someone I know.” Decided I didn’t mind. My hair was in a messy braid. “Ah,” I thought, “Do I brush my hair? Oh never mind. That’ll just give me pinhead.”

And out I went, like this.

Untitled #209


Sweatshirt: Mine is from Isabel Marant’s 2013 collection at H&M. It looks a lot like this but is all-cotton || Tee: Any long gray will do. Occasionally I get really adventurous and go lavender. || Jeans: I was wearing GAP 1969s, which (why?) are discontinued. The closest (affordable version) I’ve found is this pair at || Sneakers: New Balance classics. Caveat – these work best for those who are narrow across the ball of the foot. I can only wear them for short bursts of walking. || Earrings: Mine are from San Francisco’s Chinatown. Dragons embossed on little gold discs. Unique, as far as I know. || Necklace: Emerald cut diamond worn as a pendant. It was probably invisible under my sweatshirt, it often is. Watch: Not pictured, but, Apple. It comes in yellow now. Bag: Bottega Veneta Large Hobo. This season’s blue is brighter.

At Whole Foods, of course, I ran into someone who reads the blog.

I love meeting our readers. (I use the collective possessive because most who read here come for the comments as much as my postings.) But I apologized to her for what I was wearing. Why? One may not necessarily expect to find a style blogger wearing a getup that flirts with, nay romances, full slob. But she was very nice, waved at me and said, (I paraphrase) “We all…”

I thought, as I drove home, that I’d have foregone the apology if I’d worn a little makeup. That layered top, the cuffed jeans and long gray hair, all provided just enough detail for rudimentary Tomboy style. Tinted moisturizer, cream blush, lip balm, eyebrow pencil – and I’d have been just about OK.

Doesn’t take as much as we think. Especially in a Whole Foods in Palo Alto, California. I saw Steve Jobs there, once, at the check out, in his usual black turtleneck, jeans, and sneakers. Context is king.

And, because, life, I also thought in that early evening light of a late California spring, how much I appreciate this process of moving the blog towards a sometimes impetuous voice of self. Not to mention moving that same self towards the more thoughtful voice of the blog. Thank you all again for your company.

And L., very nice to meet you.

49 Responses

  1. Lisa,
    I find that is always the way.
    I think no one will notice me and there is someone and they look at me like wow, she needs some fixing up…
    The older I get, the more “fixing up” I need so maybe I’ll just stay in the house and have the groceries brought to me?!
    I enjoy reading your blog, keeping it real.

  2. Ah, in my book, you get a pass. Context is all, as you say, and you were helping with your mother’s care.

  3. I had a similar experience….meeting you would be lovely and I would not expect you to be dressed to the nines at Whole Foods.
    Sounds to me like your outfit was causal chic/tomboy style…totally acceptable.

  4. I think bloggers feel a bit of extra pressure to look good when they go out. But honestly, meeting you would have been so cool, I doubt I would have noticed what you had on. And I am quite sure you looked casually awesome. Don’t apologize. You are amazing.

  5. I LOVE a simple gray sweatshirt with jeans. So classic, simple and pretty, especially with the gold earrings. I’m sure you looked great!

    Also, it’s so sad when good jeans get discontinued. Why, indeed.

  6. Not only do you get a pass, you get a thumbs up. I would be dressed in similar tomboy style. Sometimes I feel my gray hair reads crazy old broad but you would make me feel really good. Then I would realize I forgot to put on earrings! Keep shopping in your style.

  7. This made me smile as it happens to all of us! Ypu have great style and are a wonderful writer but I would not have been surprised to run into you as you run errands au natural! Sounds perfect!!

  8. I think you are being to hard on yourself. Your clothes were entirely appropriate for Whole Foods and hey you were accessorised. For me a little lipstick goes a long way.

  9. ‘Romances full slob’ could be my bio.

    I also think that it’s really the make up – I could be full frontal slob but think I looked good in the right make up.

  10. You were at the market. Marketing. No one should feel they have to apologize for wearing an informal outfit to Whole Foods, not even in jest.

    Having said that, I put on tinted moisturizer, blush, lip balm and eyebrow fixer-upper every day after washing my face, even if I’m just hanging around the house. I put on moisturizer anyway so why not use the tinted kind in the morning? Lip balm keeps my lips from feeling chapped. Blush takes two seconds to apply, ditto the eyebrow gel. It’s just a habit, I guess.

    The concern you expressed about running into someone you know? Los Angeles is so huge that it rarely happens. One of my nursing instructors was at a conference I attended at my institution back in the nineties. I don’t have to worry about being recognized in public by strangers as I have never posted a picture of myself online in a public space, not even on Facebook. I still regularly keep an online journal but I no longer post it publicly. Those like you who do are much braver and more emotionally resilient than I am.

    1. @Wendelah, Makeup bugs me if I am at home. Well, actually, the tinted moisturizer and blush bug, me, stuff on my skin. Lip balm and eyebrows I could do. I can see how it could be a great ritual though, a way to get going.

      The question of courage and resilience, ah, a discussion for another day<3.

  11. You were in American classic style. When I was getting my museum curator certificate in the UCSC program, the instructor, a former SFMOMA curator, surprised me by suddenly pointing me out to the class as an example of the above. I was taking notes, and it took me a bit before I looked up and realized he was describing me in his lecture. I was wearing a beige pullover sweater with a white t-shirt under it, Levi’s 501 jeans, and K-Swiss tennis shoes. I think it works for us all our lives and we don’t need makeup when we wear it. You are a classic-style person. As a fellow person who lists toward perfection that does not exist—My dad: “It is an imperfect world.” Me then: “What?” Me now: “Yes, it is. *Sigh*”—I would wager you looked much (much) better than you knew. When I did my year of selfies, people would compliment the way I looked, and I’d try the next day to show how really bad I looked with my Bell’s Palsy-altered face, my thinner hair, my wrinkles, the changes I see from years of too much stress, until I realized I can look good and I can look human/normal and both are okay. I also figured out it is okay to want to look good in a photograph. I’m still working on those days when I look in the mirror and am filled with despair. Perspective is everything. Perspective, and love for self and for others. And exercise, lots of exercise. I’m not currently getting enough, and it shows mentally and physically. Love the idea of you brushing your hair giving you pinhead. That made me laugh. Thinking of you and your mom. xo.

    1. @Rosie, Made me laugh! Yes, this was how I felt, going to the supermarket yesterday. In the UK, so not even able to blame a tornado either.

      Love Lisa’s earrings and had a favourite pair on myself so maybe the day is indeed saved by accessories.

  12. First of all, yes, I stalk your blog for the comments as well as the posts. You have a very diverse and interesting group of readers. Makes for a bonus in blog reading enjoyment.

    Meeting a reader would be fun, running into your husband’s ex or yours would be dismaying. Although you probably look better and more put together during errand days than many of us do on good days.

    1. @Mardel, Thank you. It’s so useful to have outside perspectives. Classic, American. Since I may actually be those things, it’s hard to see them myself.

  13. To paraphrase Mardel- you look perfect in woman of the world way! What is there to be wrong? You can visit and shop in jet-set Dubrovnik food shop-no “rules” broken!
    I don’t think it’s appropriate if I have to shop something,like bread, dressed for the theatre (before the theatre,of course :-)) or concert. But,if I have to,it would be ridiculous to dress for the shop,go home and dress again for an evening out,don’t you think? Bread stays in the car :-)

  14. I love Gap 1969 jeans too. I also have way too many grey sweatshirts and long sleeve T’s , but they are my uniform in a way. Now that it is getting warmer I switch to more white. With your cute bag and sneakers you make it stylish Lisa. I think you can do nice basics and the details make it cool. That’s a very French thing. It’s all in the details!

    1. @kim, I agree. It is all in the details. And you’ve reminded me I need a pair of white jeans that is not distressed!

  15. Do you think you could get Gap to bring back those jeans? I’m intrigued and feel like I have missed the boat!!

    1. @Denise, I should ask them! They still offer the 1969 name, but none of them, as far as I can tell, are 100% cotton like mine:(.

  16. Clean – check
    Appropriate – check
    Comfortable – check
    Coordinated – check
    Stylish – not so much, but then this is not the Golden Globes, and we are not Gwyneth Paltrow.

    1. @Kathy, See, that’s the question. How informal can one get and still lay claim to “style?” I pushed the envelope just a tad too far, but, my hypothesis is that with makeup I could have qualified. Or, maybe with makeup and long straightened hair. I am thinking that by layering the tops, keeping to a monochromatic palette, and cuffing the jeans, I might appear “stylish” without resorting to ballgowns;).

    1. @Nancy, Personality, well, everyone’s got one of some sort or another, right? But one that is warm, supportive, charming, entertaining, yes, absolutely compensates for sweatshirts!

  17. I think the Gap 1969’s are back. You sounded like you were way better put together than I am often at the market. Like you, I don’t wear makeup at all when I’m home, and often my hair is crazy from swimming etc. I run into neighbors and other people we socialize with (when I’m more dressed) at the market all the time, looking very sloppy. I just don’t really care.

  18. Oh my, Lisa! It was me who said hello! To be honest, I was eavesdropping on the interesting conversation you were having about a movie (or was it a book?) with the cashier and then realized it was you.
    Ideas and conversation usually trump (can we use that word anymore!) the outfit!

    1. @Laura, Hello! So nice to meet you here:). Thank you for the comforting comment about my appearance, but, even more to the point, that you noticed me because of a conversation first of all. Huh. Well, lessons from the universe are always welcome. And, the cashier had asked me what was my favorite movie of all time, I had said, “Well I’ve been alive for a lot of decades, so, I’ve seen a lot,” but then I went on to tell him that it’s Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre the Wrath of God.” And that’s so because it was the first art film I ever saw, the first time I felt the full impact of someone’s crazy vision. As I said, lessons from the universe, and chance meetings with readers, are always, always welcome. <3

  19. I make my bed every day of the year, as soon as I get up, except for maybe TWO days. I can guarantee I’ll have unexpected company earlier than I can get the bed made on those two days!!…Same with running out for a quick errand not feeling like I look good……ALWAYS run into someone who I’d love to impress and feel terrible afterward……oh well…..sometimes I think it’s all how we feel inside and to be truthful, I hardly ever notice how someone is dressed or looks if they’re happy to see me!…..Love your so very honest blog….you are real! Janie

  20. I’ve had the same experience multiple times. It’s always when I feel I look the worst that I see someone. But then I realize they probably didn’t even notice. The older I get the more streamlined my wardrobe has become. I have always skewed toward the classic. The trouble with that is to keep it from being boring. I love to add leopard, polka dot or plaid flats sometimes to give things a little kick. I like my purses on the quiet side, I am a logo hater if it’s large. If you can see it across the room keep it away from me. Totally off subject, also hate loud perfume and it seems to be everywhere right now. Gas mask anyone? As to the jeans, as a replacement for the 1969 I have discovered the Gap Girlfriend Jean. It’s a slimmed down boyfriend and it’s ideal for those of us without much in the way of hips. I love your fashion posts. Keep them coming and for the record, I’m sure you looked much better than you thought you did that day. It’s the overall impression that people notice I have found. And overall, you cannot her but be a classic.

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