Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Friday, January 07, 2021

I can’t say why the following college memory bubbled up yesterday. All I know is that it did, and imparted a big smile on me that turned out to be infectious.

And it’s not much of a memory. Really a brief non sequiter, that’s somehow clung to my braincells for 20 years:

I was in a friend’s next-door dorm suite. We hear the shower running in the bathroom, behind the shut door. Knowing that no one else was home, we crack open the door.

Sure enough, the bathroom was empty, save for a business suit hanging from the shower rod. Meanwhile, the hot water had been flowing from the showerhead for some time, creating a practical steambath in the small space.

My friend had an amazed look on his face. Knowing that his roommate had set this up, he blurted out, “Is this what he thinks dry cleaning is??”

We had a good laugh. The end. I don’t remember ever confirming the intent; the roommate in question was pretty lunkheaded, so I’m guessing yes. Hopefully, he’s since learned better.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/07/2021 08:22am
Category: College Years, Comedy, Fashion
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Tuesday, January 04, 2021

Today, on a whim, I opted for briefs instead of boxers. Which I normally never do, save for my all-too-rare exercise sessions.

The result, after a day of tighty-whiteys under workaday dress pants? Sadly, you just can’t go back home again. The comfort level just wasn’t there, so I’m retreating back to my regulation boxers tomorrow. And while the debate rages on, it won’t in my pants. Yeah.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/04/2021 11:02pm
Category: Fashion
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Monday, December 20, 2021

So, fingerless gloves — the winter accessory that, in our handheld-device age, has finally met its functional purpose:

Fingerless gloves are nothing new (hello, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie). They were a style staple of rebellious ’80s pop stars and have come back on the hands of Taylor Momsen, Rihanna and tons of teens and twentysomethings for whom texting, tweeting and typing is a full-time job no matter what the climate.

And yet, I have a couple of problems with this handwear:

- It evokes a homeless-junkie look to me. That’s the group I most closely associate with these half-gloves, basically as improvised tear-wear.

- The fingers are the part of the hand that get the coldest when exposed to freezing temperatures. So what’s the point in covering up your palms? You’re still going to feel the chilly numbness.

Because of those two strikes against, I don’t see donning a pair of these, even with my constant keyboard-typing and touchscreen-tapping. Not that I’m not tempted, with some of the drafty locales I’ve had to endure lately.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/20/2010 09:16pm
Category: Fashion, Society, Tech, Weather
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Friday, December 17, 2021

The recession has been hard on fashionistas, so Rent The Runway offers the ladies short-term $50 rentals for haute couture:

Dresses are organized on the site by style, designer, or occasions like “winter wedding,” “girls-night-out” or “this-is-getting-serious-date dresses.”…

The site, which has 600,000 members, launched near the peak of the recession, but according to co-founder Jenny Fleiss, that timing helped it get off the ground. “People were really thinking about cost per wear,” she said.

Now Rent The Runway is enjoying its busiest season to date. “Everyone has holiday parties and New Year’s Eve coming up — when are you going to wear a gold sparkly one-shoulder dress again?” Fleiss asked.

Leased clothing used to be strictly a guy thing, with the rented tuxedo as Exhibit A. If both you and your date are going to attend that formal bash in rentals, you might as well scope out other couples at the event for potential outfit sublets. “See how well we match together? You guys would totally rock this combo too!”

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/17/2010 08:22am
Category: Business, Fashion, Women
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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Part of my grooming routine is a weekly-or-so trimming of my ever-present goatee. (Amazingly, it’s been years since this has led to an error-prompted clean shave.)

I performed said trimming last night, reducing my thick whiskers to a fine stubble. This morning, I paid the price as soon as I walked outside — a noticeable chill hitting my less-covered chin.

Since my last trim, the weather hereabouts has turned distinctly wintry. I hadn’t anticipated such an effect. Just how much body heat escapes via your chin? Almost makes me want to sport a heavier beard for the season, if not for the scraggliness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/08/2021 10:26pm
Category: Fashion, Weather
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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Curiosity about what’s under that random Scotsman’s kilt may soon be dampened after this edict from the powers-that-be:

“We are saying please use common sense and decency as it can be unhygienic and it can be offensive,” Brian Wilton of the Scottish Tartans Authority said Tuesday. “If you are out and about in a kilt then remember to show some decorum.

“If you are [renting] a kilt, then wear underwear because some of them are left in a horrible state.”

The other reason for covering up your undercover crotch: Avoiding some strangely-sanctioned upskirt action.

“My father was a sergeant major in the army and used to clip a car mirror on the end of his pace stick and held it under the kilts of his men to check they were suitably undressed for parades,” Wilton said.

Any way you cut it, it still boils down to a man in a dress. Underwear or not, it’s an automatic wardrobe malfunction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 10:08pm
Category: Fashion
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Saturday, November 27, 2021

This is hardly a scientific sample, but I’ve noticed a peculiar trend today in my Twitter stream: Multiple references to jeggings. Yes, all in tweets from women.

Since “jeggings” isn’t showing up in the trending topics list, I’ve gotta believe this phenomenon is strictly localized to my Twitter experience. Obviously, I follow some like-minded fashionistas.

I wonder if there’s a distinct connection between this musing and the just-completed Thanksgiving festivities. Is the level of snugness in these go-to denim leggings an indicator of holiday overeating? Maybe it’s something to look out for in a month’s time, when Christmas indulgences will prompt a similar skinny-pants body-fat index. For ladies only, of course.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2010 08:06pm
Category: Fashion, Social Media Online, Women
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Monday, November 22, 2021

skin and bones
Last seen imposing his aesthetic on mainstream pop culture, a certain West Coast graffiti artist is currently laying down ink on Manhattan hotel-guest skins:

It was a scene that unfolds along low-rent commercial strips in towns big and small, but this was no storefront tattoo parlor, with neon signs in the windows and folding chairs in cramped quarters. Instead, it was the pop-up studio of Mister Cartoon — a tattooist who counts Eminem, Beyoncé and Mena Suvari as clients — at the Marcel at Gramercy, an upscale boutique hotel looking to distinguish itself from the pack.

As part of the hotel’s artist-in-residence series, Mister Cartoon, who is based in Los Angeles and usually has a three-to-six-month waiting list for appointments, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, has created original artwork that hangs in the lobby. And from Nov. 14 through Wednesday, he is offering his services out of a two-bedroom suite.

A tattoo artist-in-residence? Seems more properly a Chelsea Hotel thing, versus this celebrity-whoring boutique. As if to underline the clientele, the article features Tommy Hilfiger‘s rehabbed son booking a session with Cartoon.

I wonder if Hilfiger Jr., or anyone else, has requested the above sombrero-skull sample of Cartoon’s work? Despite my fondness for this detail, my revulsion of body ink ensures that I won’t be getting it seared onto my skin.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/22/2010 08:49pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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Friday, October 01, 2021

mulleting it overBusiness in the front, party in the back is now being applied to high-end women’s frockery:

There are fewer offensive hairstyles in this world than the mullet. It’s tasteless, creepy, and worst of all, it’s dishonest. Clean and respectable at first glance with a dirty, tangled mess hidden behind it? I shudder to think. Translate it to fashion, however, and the mullet sings quite a different tune. With haute couture houses like Versace, Chanel and Prada taking a stab at it, the result is fashion’s latest question mark.

Basically, these are red-carpet gowns with high hemlines in the front (for showing off legs and shoes), and a trailing train behind for a something of a formalized look. Thus, the hang-back follicle look of ’80s holdouts and white trashers everywhere.

The thing is: Shouldn’t this be reversed for dresses? From what I know, wearing a skirt usually means that the party happens, um, in the back — meaning a higher hem would serve better there. It might not wow them at film premieres, but function over form should prevail.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/01/2021 08:30am
Category: Fashion, Society, Women
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

hide, seek
It’s not like there’s anything unique about an outdoor advertisement being defaced by a sticker decal. But the cameraphoned example above (Flickr-embiggened here) displays a streak of creativity: Pretty model’s face, already fairly anonymous in a fashion-advertising sense, made even more anonymous by blocking out her eyes. For a slapdash application of street art/promotion, it’s well done.

The quasi-conspiratorial Hidden Friends label definitely adds to the effect. It appears to be a loose artists collective, that may or may not have acquired its name from a common Facebook user setting. Applying the phrase offline heightens the almost oxymoronic meaning…

I snapped this photo near the corner of 42nd Street and Madison Avenue. If it was eyecatching enough to make me pause in my usual mid-day running around, then you know it’s got impact.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2010 10:17am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, New Yorkin', Photography, Social Media Online
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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Vanity sizing — culminating in the much-maligned “size zero” — has long been a body-image minefield in women’s clothing. But now, men are also in on this sartorial numbers game:

The pants manufacturers are trying to flatter us. And this flattery works: Alfani’s 36-inch “Garrett” pant was 38.5 inches, just like the Calvin Klein “Dylan” pants — which I loved and purchased. A 39-inch pair from Haggar (a brand name that out-testosterones even “Garrett”) was incredibly comfortable. Dockers, meanwhile, teased “Leave yourself some wiggle room” with its “Individual Fit Waistline,” and they weren’t kidding: despite having a clear size listed, the 36-inchers were 39.5 inches. And part of the reason they were so comfy is that I felt good about myself, no matter whether I deserved it.

However, the temple for waisted male self-esteem is Old Navy, where I easily slid into a size 34 pair of the brand’s Dress Pant. Where no other 34s had been hospitable, Old Navy’s fit snugly. The final measurement? Five inches larger than the label. You can eat all the slow-churn ice cream and brats you want, and still consider yourself slender in these.

Psychological salves, pure and simple. Despite the ill fit, it seems we won’t break down and even consider a too-big waistline, let alone actually buy it. So the clothesmakers sneak it onto us by fooling us into thinking that the rack size have expanded along with our middle-aged spread.

And yet, this is treacherous territory:

This isn’t the subjective business of mediums, larges and extra-larges — nor is it the murky business of women’s sizes, what with its black-hole size zero. This is science, damnit. Numbers! Should inches be different than miles per hour? Do highway signs make us feel better by informing us that Chicago is but 45 miles away when it’s really 72? Multiplication tables don’t yield to make us feel better about badness at math; why should pants make us feel better about badness at health? Are we all so many emperors with no clothes?

Personally, I consider this to be a lingering effect of metrosexuality. Furthermore, it’ll make my own skinny-assed hassles in buying proper-fitting clothes that much more challenging; children’s section, here I come??

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/08/2021 08:54pm
Category: Fashion, Society
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Friday, September 03, 2021

The twenty-four bucks I laid out this afternoon were well worth it, for no other reason than to receive the above sales receipt with the bare, context-absent words “JAPANESE CYCLOPS” printed on it. Hey, I’m easily amused (sometimes).

And just what is this mysteriously-named item that I purchased? Is it a Far Eastern version of the one-eyed Greek mythological monster, a beast that I get to keep in a cage?

Alas, no. What I picked up is one part American comic-book pop culture combined with Japanese kitsch, distilled in the form of a hipster t-shirt. A birthday gift for a friend, whose alley this should be right up. I only hope that he fits into an X-Large…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/03/2021 01:19pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Pop Culture
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Sunday, August 22, 2021

If you’re too much of a wuss to get your entire arm festooned with tattoos, then you’re probably also wussy enough to buy a Kickin’ Ink Temporary Arm Tattoo Sleeve:

And don’t forget that wristband. Not only does this nylon fakery not work unless the lower edge is concealed (thus avoiding the obvious contrast with the wearer’s real skin), but the whole scumbag-poser look just isn’t complete without a faux-heavy metal accessory.

I assume that the $14.95 price point for these things is aimed toward aspiring douchebags who can’t afford similarly-effecting Ed Hardy clothing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/22/2010 05:06pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion
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Friday, August 13, 2021

I don’t consider myself to be overly superstitious. But based on my fashion choices on this Friday the 13th, maybe I am:

First off, I’m wearing Lucky Brand Jeans. I had in mind to wear these today just because they’re comfortable. In light of the date, I guess they also provide comfort against the irrationality of fear of the number thirteen?

As if that’s not bad enough, I’m also wearing boxer shorts with a green shamrock pattern on them. So yes, my underwear matches both the jeans and the day’s unlucky theme.

As silly as it is, at least I’ve got double-layer anti-bad-luck deterrence from the waist down (I’m sure my genitals, ass, and legs are grateful). Unfortunately, my subconscious selection ended there — unless purple is some kind of good-luck color, my shirt’s not going to guard me against any bad mojo. Forces of evil, take note to aim high today!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/13/2010 11:01am
Category: Fashion, Society
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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Is it a sign of continuing lean times when your shoe-cobbling services take twice as long as normal?

Back in May, I took a pair of Allen Edmond shoes back to the store for repairs. They have this Recrafting service, where they ship the footwear back to their warehouse in Wisconsin for a redo of the sole, heel, etc. It’s a bit of a pain waiting weeks for the turnaround, but I’ve done it before, and have been more than satisfied with the results. It’s also one of the few ways in which I exercise frugality where fashion is concerned.

Normally, the turnaround time is about a month. Like I said, a pain, but bearable. This particular time, though, it took a solid two months. I found that to be a bit excessive. When I called to check up on them (and confirm that they hadn’t lost the shoes, or dogged it on shipping them out in the first place), one of the offhand excuses I was given was that the central warehouse was “backed up”.

That got me thinking: It makes sense that, so close to the major economic downturn that was/is the Great Recession, more people would extend the life of their dress shoes rather than chuck them for new pairs. So more shoes get shipped back to Allen Edmond’s mothership for Recrafting, for a third of the cost of new kicks. That creates a backlog, and it takes longer to get those worked-upon shoes back.

Regardless of the reason, I wasn’t happy to be waiting eight weeks to get my brown lace-ups back. I did finally get them today, and my inconvenience was assuaged a bit by the inclusion of a $35 giftcard — which I fully expect to use, as I was planning on getting a new pair of Allen Edmonds anyway (although probably not at the same midtown location, all things considered). I don’t know if this in-store discount apology offering validates or dashes my theory of greater economic forces at play; but I’m sticking with it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/28/2010 11:41pm
Category: Business, Fashion, Society
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Saturday, July 03, 2021

Because that extra-big-iris, doe-eyed anime look is just so dead-sexy, illegal “circle lenses” contacts are making the round amongst fashion-forward ladies:

Now that circle lenses have gone mainstream in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, they are turning up in American high schools and on college campuses. “In the past year, there’s been a sharp increase in interest here in the U.S.,” said Joyce Kim, a founder of Soompi.com, an Asian pop fan site with a forum devoted to circle lenses. “Once early adopters have adequately posted about it, discussed it and reviewed them, it’s now available to everyone.”

Ms. Kim, who lives in San Francisco and is 31, said that some friends her age wear circle lenses almost every day. “It’s like wearing mascara or eyeliner,” she said.

This doesn’t seem all that different from the now-standard colored contact lenses, that went through a fad-fade a couple of decades ago. The accessorizing reminds me of similarly-odd cosmetic trends: Years ago, I knew a group of girls who kept a couple of high-end wigs as part of their wardrobe, because certain outfits they owned didn’t look “right” with their natural hair.

The Japanimation, and even manga, inspiration behind this big-eyed look is telling. It’s too bad the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip just bit the dust; some creative revitalization-marketing there could have inspired a counter pupil-less eyeball look…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/03/2021 08:26pm
Category: Fashion, Pop Culture, Women
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Somewhere in Chelsea this evening, I found myself walking for about two blocks behind a girl named Kyla Alvira.

How did I know her name? It’s not because I knew her, or met her, or happened to hear her name uttered during the walk. It was because she had that name tattooed on her upper back, and was wearing a top that was obviously chosen to display this tattoo.

From this, it was easy to tell that she was proud of both the name and the ink. Although frankly, she shouldn’t have been. The name is fairly juvenile-sounding, a product of a ’90s trend of cutesy female monikers that don’t particularly befit the nameholders when they reach adulthood. Meanwhile, the tattoo was done in an ornate script that already looks kitschy, and definitely isn’t going to get any better-looking with age.

So parents, be forewarned: Choose your daughter’s name wisely. Or else it’ll end up splayed on her skin years later, to everyone’s regret.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/24/2010 10:52pm
Category: Fashion, New Yorkin', Society
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Saturday, June 19, 2021

run with the flow
You are looking at SkyMall’s exclusive Xlr8 athletic shoe. And yes, you are looking at a sperm-like logo on said sneaker.

I’m guessing the in-flight catalogue just presumes that its target customer is a member of the Mile High Club, and wants to show off that sexual bade of honor via footwear? This certainly beats Nike‘s swoosh design, despite the less-than-perfect analogy:

So [sperms'] preferred sport is swimming; it doesn’t make them any less of a workout role model when you’re hitting the streets.

Well, the semen-sprinters might be role models, but I don’t know how much they can teach you about “hitting the streets”. To clear up the confusion, maybe SkyMall should start selling matching Speedos.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/19/2010 06:12pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Other Sports
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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Today I turn 39. And the question before me is an unconventional one:

Just how many Caddyshack-inspired t-shirts should one man own?

I have my friend Kirby to thank for that puzzler. Last year, he sent me a nice little Bushwood Country Club tee, which I got a chuckle out of. Perhaps going with what works, this week he sent me, yes, another Bushwood-adorned short-sleever. Different color and logo, of course, but still, with “Bushwood” prominently displayed, along with the movie’s insider joke-tagline, “Some people just don’t belong”.

I appreciate the thought, of course. But really, two Caddyshack shirts for the summer wardrobe? People will start to talk. Not to mention that it’s a bit dated. Not everyone is familiar with a thirty-year-old movie, classic comedy though it may be — just ask any middle-aging corporate cog. To me, it looks to be easily taken out of context. So, really, I’m hesitant to wear this new shirt in public.

I’ll certainly not wear it to my birthday celebration dinner tonight, at NINJA New York. As gimmicky as that maze-adventure-as-restaurant is, showing up in a pop-culturally ironic t-shirt won’t aid anything.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/17/2010 09:02am
Category: Fashion, Movies, Pop Culture
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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

A random tweet from Tara reminded me of this old urban-fashion myth:

In its earlier heyday, rumors about Adidas ran rampant. Most popular was the grinningly-shared tidbit that the appellation stood for “All Day I Dream About Sex.” Whispers had it the shoes’ designers had deliberately chosen the funny-sounding name ‘Adidas’ to convey this teen-centric message in a way that would sail right over unsuspecting parents’ heads. (Then, as now, sneaking a fast one by the ‘rents was all part of the game.)

Such was the appeal of the spurious that few thought to question it. The truth, of course, wasn’t anywhere nearly as exciting. The company was founded in 1924 in Germany and named for its owner, Adi Dassler.

That “earlier heyday” was the 1970s, when I heard this very rumor in grade school. Definitely a good source of pre-adolescent titillation, and in hindsight, quaintly so.

For the record, the company/brand name is officially “adidas”, sans any capitalization. For some reason, that’s part of the corporate history. To perpetuate the acronym-based legend, that all-lower-case preference probably has sexual origins…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/02/2021 09:32pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion
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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

While around town today, I saw at least three young women sporting what looked like ballpoint-pen markings on their hands and forearms. From my vantage point, these markings looked like random letter- and number-scribblings — not at all like tattoo or henna patterns, or anything else that might have stylish permanence.

Is this some new trend? I haven’t seen extensive pen-marks on skin since sometime in grade school. Hard to believe they could be making a comeback in this day and age, with so many other, more reliable (mainly digital) ways of recording random information. Maybe they’re emulating Sarah Palin?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/26/2010 10:51pm
Category: Fashion, Politics, Women
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