Halloween without the midriff

By Jenna Mitby

Last night, my mother remarked, “you guys really take Halloween seriously.”

Yes, yes we do.

I come from Madison, WI where Halloween is basically a state holiday.  It’s the second largest party behind Mardi Gras in the US.  So dressing up and getting into it is hardly difficult.

This year, my friends and I decided we’d buck the trend of “wearing as little as possible.” We dressed as trees, and slaved over our costumes to look utterly ridiculous.  We didn’t show an inch of bare skin, and I thought we’d be the only ones. Yeah, right.

At the parties I attended, I didn’t see a single midriff.  Not one. Don’t get me wrong, wandering the streets I did notice a handful of girls in the bare-all mode, but something has changed.  It wasn’t more than two years ago that I was prancing around in a swimsuit in 40-degree weather.  This year’s attire was still short and tight, but the midriff showing outfits that our generation learned from Britney Spears was nowhere to be found. So why were all the girls considerably more buttoned up than previous years?

It could be that our generation’s collective conscious is shifting.  Your generation thinks we grew up too fast, and we probably did. But, we still have values. I shake my head at the 13 and 14-year-old girls that wear micro-skirts on a daily basis.  We value our bodies more than we’ve been given credit.  Yes, Britney influenced us to some degree, but maybe not at our core.  Maybe, just maybe, we turned out to be a lot more traditional than you think.  Now I look at girls that are scantily clad, and I wish they would put some clothes on because of the message they send about us.  The lack of clothing is a symbol of desperation and lack of self-respect. I try to remind myself that I was like that, but the voice in my head responds with, “yeah, but those weren’t your reasons.”

Regardless, there is a transformation taking place, which in part, is a result of just growing up. However, I think something else is going on, some thing bigger.  Whatever it is, I don’t have a clear answer, at least not yet.  But, you can be sure I’ll come back with one.

What War?

By Elena Romeu: “2009 BU grad born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Copywriter, chef, darts champ, I love my friends, family and plantains. Experience: I’ve got some. Opinions: I’ve got tons.”

I was dancing at a bar in downtown Boston at 1:30 am on a Friday when I got a text from my Mom: “Don’t look at CNN, I’m okay.”

Four months ago, she volunteered to go to Afghanistan to work in a special unit with the FBI.  Headquartered in the Hoover Building in DC, she said it was a prestigious honor to be chosen to go and it was a good career move.  “Career move?” I said in disbelief, “Now you have to become bomb bait to move up the ranks in the FBI?  What are the feds doing there anyway?”  “Calm down, Princess, I’m just going over there to help get some bad guys,” she said soothingly.  That’s all, no biggie.  My Mom was leaving to war stricken Afghanistan three weeks after I graduated from BU to go catch bad guys.

Flash forward to the night of the dance party two weeks into my Mom’s four month tour.  About five beers in after a long day at work, I checked my messages to see if my boyfriend had texted me back and I get the above.  I did the obvious and went to my CNN app to see what was going on.  The headline read: “American Embassy Bombed in Kabul.”  My Mom worked and lived in the embassy, and had assured me it was the safest place in Afghanistan.  I grabbed a cab home.

In the time I had to imagine the worst, I had a dark realization: Mom doesn’t wear a uniform.  That meant nobody would know who she was.  Nobody would know all the good she had done because nobody knew what she was doing.  All I knew was that she worked on top secret projects with NATO and that if she died, I would never know if it was all worth it.  I would never know if my mom played a part in ending the war in Afghanistan, and if so, what she did.

I reached her at 4am; noon her time.  She had moved to an underground facility for safety and she was okay, for now.

I think about the war every single day.  I think about how nobody talks about it.  About how my Mom risks her life every day for a country she wasn’t even born in.  About how countless people will come back from serving, and will never be the same.  And about how nobody will shake her hand or say thank you the day she comes home because she doesn’t wear a uniform.

In the time my Mom has been in Afghanistan, I have been working in an ad agency full of smart, worldly, up-to-date people. Everybody in the agency knew my Mom was in Afghanistan because of an email that was sent out when I organized a clothes drive for children in Kabul.  Interestingly, in the last four months, not more than three people over 25 asked me how she was doing.

What happened to the older generation?  Wasn’t the peace sign the logo that represented you?  Were you not the generation that stayed in bed for peace, that chanted that war was good for “absolutely nothing”, that rallied for days on end to bring the war in Vietnam to an end?  What happened to the importance of having your opinions heard?  Or when it comes to a war you’re too old to fight in, that doesn’t touch you personally, you just don’t care?

3 ways to dress like a Millennial woman

A few weeks ago, the idea of androgyny inspired me to give a few tips on how to dress like a Millennial man. I hope those tips helped alleviate some of the treachery we’ve seen parading around the streets this summer. This week, I’m focusing on how to dress like a Millennial woman, and as a warning, ladies, this advice is strictly from a male perspective. I wish I could give it from a female perspective, but alas, my Second Life avatar has yet to submit her fashion research findings to me (she’s such a slacker).

The following are my observations on how to dress like a Millennial woman

1. Go with the flow of jersey

Sporting a nice jersey dress (the fabric, not the athletic gear) or pants or skirt really adds simplicity to the otherwise complex millennial outfit. We are the future and we dress like it, with our zippers and straps and synthetics and the like, but the nice, natural feel of jersey brings some of that fantasy back to reality.  And guys, this is a trend you can jump on too, as many designers are finding unique ways to incorporate jersey fabric into everyday men’s wear. And, for girls it’s a comfortable way to add flow to otherwise structured outfits.

2. Wear a hood

This might seem an odd addition, but hoods have come to be a defining aspect of women’s wear, especially in recent years. They’re subtle, seductive, and can play a versatile role in an outfit, either highlighting or hiding a hairstyle. And there are some great hood options for guys as well, one of my favorites being this vest from Wrath Arcane (eighth row on the right). The close-to-the-body fit and the pockets, not to mention the structure of the design, really give this vest a Millennial feel, for both men and women.

3. Show off your legs

A great pair of shorts are irresistible to the eye. When you look comfortable and at ease, you exude more confidence, which I’ve learned is one of the most important things to have on. Style them with your brother’s/boyfriend’s dress shirt, and nice sandals and be sure to tuck it in. Or wear pleated pants. Although these might seem common to multiple generations, there’s just something about the way women our age wear pleats. Maybe it is the length, falling just above the start of the shoes, or the return of the high waist. Whatever it is, I’m a fan.

A lot of the style trends mentioned in this post and my last one can work well for both guys and gals. To me, it seems that Millennials approach style with the idea of what looks good, looks good, regardless of the person wearing it. My hope is that you don’t take this post or the last as hard and fast rules, but as inspiration for your everyday wear. Mix prints, roll up your skirt hem, rock socks and heels or oxfords. If all else fails, at least you’ve grown out of Garanimals.