A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

random searching

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 11, 2008

This post is for H, whose enthusiasm for returning to the US has been considerably tempered by memories of bigotry and concerns over racial profiling.

Thanks to a terrific article published last month by Inter-News, I now know what to get him as a “welcome back to the US” gift – a t-shirt:

This one is available from a company called Rootsgear. If you feel that you fit the “profile” and would like a t-shirt of your own, you can order one online here.

Here’s the start of the Inter-Press article, which was written by Lyndsey Matthews:

NEW YORK: “There are almost 1.2 billion Muslim people in the world. At least 15 of us are not terrorists,” quipped Obaida Abdel-Rahim, 28. “It could even be more than that. Maybe even a lot more.” The Calgary, Canada-born  Abdel-Rahim owns the Muslim t-shirt business Phatwa Factory, one of several Middle Eastern-accented t-shirt businesses to spring up in saucy retort to the outpouring of anti-Muslim sentiment since 9/11. From Rootsgear’s “100 percent Randomly Searched at the Following Airports” and casualdisobedience.com’s “Enemy Combatant” tees, to the lighter “Lebanese Princess,” and “Allah’s Little Angel,” they are getting their message across.

Abdel-Rahim, who now lives in Gainesville, Florida, said he hopes to use humorous slogans to bust US stereotypes about Muslims.

“The best thing to happen to Muslim clothing since pants under a thawb [traditional men’s robe],” says a slogan for Phatwa Factory, which he started in 2006.

“I’d like Muslims to know that it’s okay to laugh,” he said, “and non-Muslims to know that we have a sense of humor.”

Two good goals – and a dozen great t-shirts. You can read the rest of the article here or here.



Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, clothing, fashion, humor, Lebanon, words | 6 Comments »

golden slippers

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 19, 2008

This morning I looked out my salon window and realized that the shoe gods were smiling upon me – or maybe laughing, depending on one’s perspective and/or sense of style.

A pair of golden slippers has magically appeared on my patio:

They look rather I-dream-of-Jeannie to me, and while I love gold for summer, I prefer a 3″ heel.

Still, I appreciate the thought. And I’m looking forward to see what future shoes might be forthcoming :).

Posted in Beirut, fashion, home, Lebanon | 1 Comment »

weekend in Kuwait, part three: shoe snobs

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 8, 2008

Welcome to Kuwait, said the immigration official when I handed him my passport for an entry visa. Are you here with KBR?

Um, no. In fact – definitely not. But the line of visa-seekers in front of me did have a number of contractor-type middle-aged men, so I can see I suppose how he might have lumped me in with them. The absence of “desert boots” from my Manhattan-black outfit might have been one indication, but of course not everyone is as besotted with footwear as I am.

But clearly there are some people in Kuwait who do appreciate a good shoe, and are not afraid to celebrate their snobbery:

My kind of store – I’m city, and I’m definitely snooty!

Posted in fashion, Kuwait | 2 Comments »

dressing well is the best revenge

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 17, 2008

My friend S, a smart dresser herself and a soon-to-be major power in the Dubai finance world, forwarded a very useful Wall Street Journal article on the importance of dressing professionally (and determining what that means for different industries) when job-hunting. It seems like a no-brainer – but even if you dress impeccably, Christina Binkley’s article is a good refresher.

Smart dressing involves sending subliminal messages, particularly when a serious job is at stake. This is something that even high-ranking business leaders can underestimate.

In commerce, unlike in Hollywood, fashion plays a largely uncredited role. Business schools train graduates to shine their shoes for an interview. But once established, apart from avoiding the obvious gaffe — a coffee-stained shirt or a visible rhinestone bra strap — many executives spend little time contemplating what to wear to a job interview. At their peril.

I recently suggested to Dorothy Waldt, a New York executive recruiter, that CEOs and other high-level job candidates must know what to wear by that stage in their careers. “You’d think!” she said when she had stopped laughing.

“People don’t understand the messages that their clothes send,” says Ms. Waldt, a recruiter with CTPartners. Women sometimes don’t realize how often a tight shirt or a low neckline comes across as seductive. People who meet them are likely to assume the sexual innuendo is intentional. It’s harder for men to goof, but they do — for instance, by being sloppy with untucked or wrinkled shirts or wearing beeping sports watches to staid business events. Sagging socks, dangling earrings and obvious designer logos all send messages that register with the people on the other side of the table.

To complicate matters, things aren’t as cut-and-dried as they were in the days of strict blue-collar and white-collar work uniforms. Following the old dress-for-success rules, with ties and starched white shirts, would create suspicion and awkwardness at Google’s dressed-down headquarters today. Executive job seekers have to study more than the balance sheet these days — they have to suss out a company’s fashion ethos. Candidates may want to call the hiring manager’s assistant or ask a recruiter about the appropriate look before they show up for the interview.

Ms. Waldt recalls a candidate sent to interview with a retailer that had a casual culture. Unfortunately for him, he dressed up. “The clothes that he was wearing were so polar-opposite of what the company did that they thought he just didn’t get them at all,” says Ms. Waldt. They never bothered to interview him. “He sat in a holding pen all day and flew home.”

Possibly, that job candidate wouldn’t have wanted to work at a company that dismissed him so summarily. Yet boards of directors routinely size up executive-level candidates by inspecting the clues in their clothes. Hal Reiter, an executive recruiter and chairman and chief executive of Herbert Mines Associates, recalls meeting with a CEO candidate for a mainstream retailer.

The man, chief financial officer of a major big-box retailer, showed up in a navy-blue necktie with a gold circular symbol surrounded by what looked like leaves and red blotches. Upon closer inspection, Mr. Reiter discovered that the red was blood dripping from a crown of thorns. The tie isn’t the main reason he didn’t get the job, but the distractingly graphic religious imagery didn’t help.

Mr. Reiter, who leans toward Brioni suits himself, rails about “horrible footwear — unshined, rubber soles, acrylic socks” that he sees frequently. He isn’t shy about dressing people down, according to Larry McClure, senior vice president of human resources for Liz Claiborne Inc., who once hired Mr. Reiter to locate a senior-level recruit. In the car on their way to the interview in Newark, N.J., the executive recruiter glanced at Mr. McClure’s feet, which were ensconced in worn, pilled socks. “I gotta help you out here,” Mr. Reiter announced, according to both men. “You need some better socks. They’re horrible.”

“I guess I never figured that people would look at my socks,” says Mr. McClure, who has since invested in new ones, as well as Donald Pliner shoes.

Mr. Reiter’s parting shot for aspiring executives at businesses with a formal ethos: “It takes $1,000 to buy a suit that looks good.” And when you wear it, “you can’t look like it’s the first time, either.”

For ideas on looking authoritative but approachable, look at politicians — the most practiced job candidates of all — who are savvy at flashing messages with their clothing. In the ultimate employment interview, for U.S. President, Hillary Clinton wore a looped red scarf in New Hampshire earlier this week that looked decisive and framed her face, while her dark suit hit that nice-not-loud note that signals that we’re supposed to be paying attention to her brain, not her designer.

(You can read the rest of the article here.)

Perhaps the most useful part is the checklist that accompanies the article:


I have an executive mentality already – bring on the white wool suits!

Posted in advertising, clothing, fashion, women | Leave a Comment »

happiness is a rainy day and a big pile of magazines

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 8, 2007

A has been graciously lending me his Gemmaze post office box for over a year – and its quite a loan. I have my magazines sent there – and when I say “magazines”, I don’t mean two or three. Its more like ten.

My last job was in downtown, which made trotting over to Gemmayze during postal working hours fairly easy. Since then, however, I have become extremely lazy about retrieving them.

A gave me a firm talking to last weekend when I crashed the Friday happy hour he frequents.

Diamond, he said firmly, setting down his pint of ale and looking me in the eye, this has to stop. You have to pick up those magazines – the post office workers are going to kill me.

Meekly, I agreed, even consenting to wear “decent walking shoes” so I could carry them all. Well, the three-inch heels I am wearing are more than decent, and I do walk in them …

We met at the post office this afternoon, and yes, there was quite a pile-up. And now we are all happy: the post office at getting rid of them, A at having done his duty in teaching me another one of life’s lessons :P, and me at having such a wealth to read.

If you have any questions about the latest fashion, travel spots, business tips or home decor ideas, let me know – after reading through all these magazines, I will be an expert!



Posted in Beirut, family, fashion, friends, weather | Leave a Comment »

a day at the beach

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 29, 2007

In the past few days at least three people have asked me how often I go to the beaches here.

The truth is that I don’t go very often. The beaches that I love look like this:


(thanks to my mother for taking such a lovely photo last week, while the rest of us were lounging around in the sun).

Outfitting oneself for this beach requires only a pair of shorts (or a summer skirt), a pair of flip-flops, a beach blanket, a bottle of water and a good book.

A typical beach in Lebanon looks like this:


This beach is in Jiyyeh, south of Beirut. The one I’ve gone to more often is Edde Sands, which comes with its own map.

Outfitting oneself for this beach requires something more: a style-y bikini (which I own), designer sunglasses, a car to be valet’ed, and appropriate footwear:


Okay – I have the footwear too, but I don’t usually wear shoes like that to the beach.

I have no objection to Lebanese-style beachgoing, but … I’m lazy. I like my beaches to be as low-maintenance as they can be.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, clothing, fashion, holidays, Lebanon, maps, photography, sea, Seattle, swimming, time, weather | Leave a Comment »

the Phoenician gene

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 29, 2007

It has been hot here this week – not in the Kuwaiti way my aunt describes, with dry heat and dust, but in the Lebanese way. The “typical Lebanese” summer weather is upon us, and it is sticky and humid.

The afternoon humidity here hovers a little above 70% – roughly 66% higher than Kuwait, and 62% higher than Damascus. Since my personal dew point seems to be situated somewhere in the 50th percentile, I not only sweat but appear actually to produce dew from my skin’s contact with the thick air.

Yes, dew and sweat, the reality of which is even less attractive than whatever image those words might suggest. During the summer here I walk around in a state of semi-liquidity, shimmering as the sun shines on the millions of micro-droplets that rest on my skin.

It sounds lovely, and from a distance it might be. But up close, I fit my college junior advisor’s adage about women who look “good from far, [but are] far from good” when the distance narrows.

To cope, I have adopted that most Arab of remedies: the kleenex. Boxes of tissues abound in this region, perched atop cash registers, behind the passenger seats in taxis and private cars, and, of, course on tables in so-called “popular” restaurants, where they double as napkins.

The abundance of kleenex boxes is not due to some mysterious Arab need for frequent nose blowing. People here use tissues to wipe their faces when it is hot out – a practice I have learned to endorse whole-heartedly.

I can learn the fine art of tissue-ing, but what I cannot do is train my body to cope with the heat.

When I look out of my taxi door window, glasses sliding down the bridge of my nose, I see cool and collected Beirutis going about their business without the slightest trace of sweat.

How do they do it? I wonder.

This morning, I came up with an answer: its the Phoenician heritage. Perhaps there really is a Phoenician gene.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Beirut, fashion, humor, kleenex, Lebanon, neighbors, weather | 1 Comment »

the other marines in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 27, 2007

While waiting for my flight to depart last week, I picked up MEA’s in-flight magazine and began idly flipping through it.

Along with lavish coverage of this summer’s Beiteddine Festival program (do the Hariris own that, too?), I saw this advertisement:


Yes, its quite a piece of work.

Bracketing the obvious oddities – that the family is clearly not Lebanese and has a very curious role-playing hobby – what struck me most intensely was the brand name: Original Marines, accompanied by a stylized American flag.

The US Marines have a well-known history in Lebanon – so well known that it has become part of the United States’ subterranean memory. When I mention that I live in Beirut, this is what people ask about – and, of course, kidnapping. Despite all the events of the past year, what remains most deeply lodged in the American consciousness of Lebanon are the events of the early and mid 1980s.

When I saw this advertisement, I was horrified, imagining that some Lebanese entrepreneur had capitalized on the Marines’ name recognition (and the country’s loose interpretation of copyright law) to sell Swedish-ly preppy clothing.

But no. Original Marines, as it turns out, is an Italian company, with retail shops all over the region, from Morocco to the UAE. The promotional photograph on the corporate website is even loopier than the Cedar Wings ad.

What do Lebanon’s Original Marines wearers think of the brand name, I wonder. Do they think of the Marines’ history in Lebanon, or has it become just a name to them, much as Banana Republic is in the United States?

Posted in advertising, Americans, Arab world, art, Beirut, clothing, economics, family, fashion, Italy, Lebanon, media, photography, travel, words | 1 Comment »

diamond does denim: a love story

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 20, 2007

(frivolous post alert – no newsworthy information or current events analysis here!)

Those of you who follow my blog may recall that since March I have been drooling over Levi’s 570 straight-leg jeans, a brand banned from Lebanon and a European cut not available in the states.

Thanks to my week in Salzburg and this most recent trip to the US, I have managed to complete my Levi’s 570 collection.

Allow me to introduce you to pair no. 3, suitable for day and night alike, which greeted G and I when we arrived at the hotel in Salzburg:


And please allow me to present pair no. 4, a slightly sassier model (judging from its pose in this studio photograph) than the others, suitable for stylish Lebanese summer nights:


Ahlan, ahlan, jeans – you are welcome in my closet!

Posted in advertising, Americans, Arab world, clothing, fashion, Iowa, Lebanon, vanity, women | 2 Comments »

Hijab Fashion, Shami Style

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 26, 2007

In one of those weird indications of the ways in which globalism disrespects national boundaries, I received a sweetly funny cartoon by email from a friend in … Israel. Well, in Israel for the moment, but like me a Damascene in spirit.

This cartoon categorization of hijab styles may be too Damascus – focused for people who have not lived there to appreciate it – I would have changed the “on the Syrian street” because even Syrians from other cities may not get the references. Also, I would have put more focus on the hijab chic styles – there are as many variations as there are variations on more conservative hijab interpretations, and its a pity to miss out on seeing the full range.

However – I am gifted with neither artistic skills nor the creative inspiration that inspired this cartoon, so please read my comments as “wouldn’t it be nice to add x and y” rather than critiques.



CFW commented that she had found the creator of this lovely cartoon – Puppeteer, a Syrian blogger in Damascus. The cartoon can be seen in situ at her post Islamic … Syria? Thank you, CFW!

Posted in Arab world, clothing, Damascus, economics, fashion, friends, humor, Islam, media, neighbors, religion, vanity, women | 23 Comments »