I thought you should know


Advance 8129

I've decided that, from now on, I'm not going to pay any attention to any statements that begin with the following phrases:

"I thought you should know,"

"No offense, but,"

My highly unscientific study of these phrases has led me to believe that they are only used when the speaker wants to convey something unpleasant to the listener. And not something unpleasant and urgent, in the sense of "Your hair's on fire!" but something unpleasant in the sense of "I want to tell you something insulting, yet I do not wish you to feel directly insulted."

What I want to know is, has anyone, in the history of these conversational openers, ever replied like this?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know — that dress makes you look fat."
Speaker B: "Oh, how kind of you to tell me! I forgot that it was my sacred duty to look thin. I'll run right home and change. Can you come with me, just in case I pick the wrong thing again? Also, how's this color on me?"

Speaker A: "No offense, but you're too old for that style."
Speaker B: "I thought I hadn't slapped on enough Youth Instigator this morning — say, you wouldn't have a tube on you, would you?"

I've often wondered about the motives of people who say these things. Do they really, truly, believe they're doing their listeners a favor? And do they respond rationally when people do it to them?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know, that color makes you look sallow."
Speaker B: "Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you told me. But you should let me return the favor — those earrings are a touch gaudy. I'm sure you'd be happier and less … conspicuous in little studs."
Speaker A: "You are so right! I never thought of that before."

No? You don't think that happens? You think that the Speaker A's of this world only feel better when they are able to make other people feel worse? (Especially when they can do so, Anonymously, on the Internets?) Huh, what sad and lonely lives those Speaker A's must lead.

If for no other reason (say, basic human decency) you should be kind because unkindness doesn't work. In fact, it's often highly counterproductive, if your stated goal is to "improve" other people. It would be one thing if offhand "No offense, but you look fat," comments from strangers actually caused people to lose weight (if they wanted to), but, alas, they don't. Never have. Would you change your behavior, whatever it was, based on anonymous comments online? No? Why, then, do you think that YOUR anonymous comment is going to change the world?

If you really wanted to "do someone a favor," you'd do it under your own name, so that you could take the credit. Heck, you'd send me a private email and ask me to pass it along, so a conversation, a real discussion, could take place. That's what you do when you want to help. When you want to hurt, when you want to feel momentarily better about yourself at another's expense, you leave an anonymous comment.

I'm not going to make the comments on this blog real-name only. But I would like to remind people of a few things:

— You can comment, by name or anonymously, all you like to tell me that anything I've done is crap, pure crap, highly-crappy crap fashioned lovingly from raw crap, and that you don't know how I live with myself. I understand that running a blog is the equivalent of hanging a sign that says "Criticize here."

— BUT, I would like you to treat the guests of this blog with kindness. Remember the Golden Rule? Please follow it.

(And if you say "But I'd WANT someone to tell me if something made me look bad," you should think really hard about whether or not that's true. How did you feel the last time someone told you something was unflattering? Did you act on it? Or did you come up with a reason to ignore their "advice"? Do fee free to send me a picture of yourself so that I can find someone to perform this service for you, if you want it so badly.)

One last thing: aesthetics are highly variable. What you consider the dernier cri is probably not that of the person next to you. So why would you act as if your vision was the only true one?

[Today's pattern is from LanetzLiving, who is offering a SPECIAL EXTRA DISCOUNT to us … put "turkey20" in the discount box and get a 20% discount on all patterns from her site. They'll ship next Monday after the holiday. Oh, and the woman in the red jacket is telling the woman in the white jacket that busy florals don't suit her. The woman in the white jacket is pretending the woman in the red jacket doesn't exist.]

0 thoughts on “I thought you should know

  1. As for the dresses, I saw a dress on here a while back that I thought was beautiful, and was made entirely out of condoms. Just think, beautiful and functional!As for the post “Does this dress make me look crazy?” I loved it.I never ask if a dress makes my butt look big, because I know what the answer is going to be. Once my husband asked “Honey, does this kilt make my butt look big?” and my reply was “Honey, your butt is big!” It just slipped out! From then on, anytime anyone asks if anything makes their butt look big, they know the answer will be…Honey, your butt is big. Just don’t ask!Linda

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  2. *ahem* double posting today, sorry… but I’ve been thinking, a dangerous hobby I know.There is a difference in a blog post that says “Ann isn’t sure if this dress is working on her, what do you think?” which invites one saying “too short” or “wrong color” or whatever crosses your mind. Then there’s “Jess just made this dress and she loves it!” at which point if you didn’t like it you could say “Jess, that’s not really my style, but you did such a good job it, well done!” There’s just no need to give constructive criticisms on somebody’s sense of fashion because it’s not actually your responsiblity to construct their sartorial identity. You know what I mean?

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  3. i thought you should know that with all due respect and no offense but …i love you, your blog, the dresses, all of it. bollux to anyone who ever uses those words in any other way!

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  4. I guess it’s because I think we all have a right to wear well made, flattering clothing, of any style, but in colors and patterns that fit right, and flatter our skin tones.I am not a work of art. I am a human. I have a right to wear any damn thing I want to. And if I want to look straight out of the Haight circa 1969, and I put the outfit together, it is the purpose of this journal to say wow! you really got that vintage Haight-Ashbury look. There are journals for Honey, you SO should not wear tie-dye. It ain’t this one.

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  5. Oh, and as far as comments on weight go, they’re REALLY double-edged.I have a chronic illness. Sometimes it makes me gain weight. Sometimes it makes me lose weight. When I lose weight, my co-workers come up to me and coo and say “What’s your secret?” and “You’re so brave to diet and exercise!” and say “Gosh, you aren’t eating much, I wish I could get by on so little!”. And eventually I have to say, if they keep it up, “No, I just feel too sick to eat right now.” Which is really not something I want to discuss, or the reasons for, but people just won’t let me drop the subject.Please, guys. Don’t assume sudden weight loss is a virtue any more than sudden weight gain is a vice. It may be a misfortune.

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  6. I, too, had to go back and re-read yesterday’s posts to see what Erin was talking about (Such a long post caught my attention!) While perhaps not meaning to be hurtful–the comments of some could have been construed that way and hopefully we have all learned better now! I just remember thinking how cute she looked and being severely jealous that I couldn’t look that way any more. And yes, I did wear exactly the same type of “costume-y” things when I was younger, quite gleefully, thank you very much!! My clothing is more sober nowadays but I can see the looks on some peoples faces that think I’m too fat, too old, too slobby, etc. So far no one has had quite the nerve to say anything. Frankly, I have gotten to the age where I would probably be a smart mouth right back at them. Bad form, but sooo satisfying you know. Either that or I get to use my patented Great Aunt Louise look that stares them down and makes them slink away. I just figure everyone is allowed one idiotic comment and after that they are fair game for anything I choose to say in response. Now, can we just get back to looking at Erin’s pattern picks and fashion adventures and her love of crazy fabrics?

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  7. It’s not a choice between sycophantic approval and rude criticism, like there are only those two options. There’s a place for expressing one’s opinions, but the key is that they are relevant. What I didn’t like in some of the comments was judgments about Andrea’s age or body shape. Discussion or criticism of the dress itself: fine. Criticism of the wearer: not appropriate.I used to work with a woman who said very unkind things to people, and when they took offense would respond with “Well, it’s TRUE, isn’t it?” as though she had the inside track on what truth is. What she was expressing were her OPINIONS, and none of them were earth-shattering enough to make up for the hurt she caused.-Mayya

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  8. Honesty should always, always be married to KINDNESS. Just because something is true doesn’t make it kind, or worth mentioning…..

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  9. Hey, yeah. I didn’t look at last post’s comments but I guess there were some nasties in there. I think part of the problem is that the distant look of the screen, makes it feel to some people that there are no real live humans on the receiving end of comments, who might be hurt. So it allows them to relieve their pent up aggression/despair through unkindness. SO sad! I agree that if you simply must let fly with a criticism or jibe, it is far less dastardly if you are direct about it, and not passive-aggressive. Kindness is the way to go, always.

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  10. Help! I own a copy of this pattern, and now every time I look at it, I’m going to think of snarky comments!I may never make it now, how tragic!(Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that my copy is several sizes too wee for me and I’ll have to alter it…. not at all)

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  11. I love seeing people who’ve taken the time to dress interestingly, even outrageously out & about on the streets. They make the world a better place.As to whether a look ‘works’ or not, that is a such a subjective thing based more on the fashion comfort zones of the observer that anything else.

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  12. Now that we are all on the same page, I say BRING ON MORE PHOTOS! I lurve seeing photos of actual garments made up be real people. As one comment said, there is often a big difference between the idealized sketch and the real thing. The real thing is so inspiring!I hope people will put photos of made up garments in the pattern wiki too. Brava to Andrea. I love her dress, especially the collar choice. I wouldn’t have guessed how cute that would be from the envelope.

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  13. Oh yes yes – let’s have some real examples of the vintage patterns in the Wiki! I’d love to have realistic views of them before taking the plunge to make them.Don’t want to step on PatternReview’s territory, but given that it’s vintage and a somewhat different format, it should work – and wiki posters should of course go and give a detailed blow-by-blow of the sewing at PR, with a link both ways… No pressure or anything! :)–Anonymous because every time I try to sign in Blogger eats my post.

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  14. Hmmm…that made me think. I know that I personally have made thoughtless comments like, “Not quite so flattering” or “I would have made it a different ___(style, color, etc.). I guess I thought I was being helpful but your blog made me realize that I probably wouldn’t have liked it if I’d heard it so I’ll keep those comments to myself from now on (when I remember to at least).JenL

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  15. I recently received an email from someone who’s signature read: “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” Amen.

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  16. A very different tone tonight — but just as refreshing and articulate and words everyone could stand to hear. This’ll post as anonymous, but my name is Andrea … My name is Andrea and I get similarly rankled when people say horrible things you can’t believe their brains let their mouths say.

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  17. Ok, so, I left my last comment before I realized that the whole discussion centered around my silly “Marcia Brady” dress. Man alive, that’s what happens when you miss a day of A Dress a Day. Anyway, I feel obliged to reply. Warning: In doing so, I may employ adjectives you, dear reader, would not yourself select. I may choose to put my sentence together using syntax and verbiage that sounds off to your ear. I may even misspell something, such as the name of a totally fictional It Girl. And yet? I will get my point across. To those who enjoy scumbling the line between costume and “outfit,” I’ll be giggling in the bathroom with you, at least in spirit, tomorrow — that is, if I weren’t blowing off the cubicle farm to broaden young minds in the classroom and then whip up a garment you and I would have the courage, the moxie, the foolishness, the whatever, to wear. To those of you who, so dreadfully aghast, think my boots are weird or my proportions distorted or my bottom third stumpy or my fabric choices bizarre or my entire look costumey, I guess that answers why I didn’t do a poll before I retreated to the sewing room to do whatever I wanted. Creation, for me, is a deliciously solitary art and I’d rather be picked on for just the things you identifed than be one of those grave, self-serious women who says, in that absurdly conspiratorial tone, “oh, i simply can’t wear brown.” Once you realize how little people actually notice about you, how little you actually figure into most strangers’ lives, you enjoy a kind of freedom. You only care so much about how things look if you’re convinced people even notice you — a peculiar kind of vanity, I think. I care more about how I feel. You know what? Last Monday I felt great. And sure, some of those sour office ladies damned with their faint praise, with the “oh i could nevers” and the “that’s … interesting” but I consider the source. These are the people who dress on autopilot, who are so damned afraid of being noticed that they dial up the same modular bullshit costume every day. What’s so terribly awful about being different? And, for the record, I do have some pretty awesome legs. And the boots are Reaction, Kenneth Cole, bought on a whim at the end of last boot season. We are, the boots and me, in love. Mutually.

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  18. And another thing (or two): One, I am wearing tights. The thing about soul-sucking fluorescents is they don’t reproduce reality in all its glory. Two, damn right I’ll wear a mini length. I shortened that dress to that length. I’ve got some knees I’m proud of, because between the two of em, they’ve been through three total joint replacements, as has their sister, my left hip. So I’ll be showing off my legs and knees for a long time yet. I may be too old for this dress, but I’m also too young to have had four joint replacements. These are not unrelated topics. I gotta haul this body around, it’s going to change on me, I’m going to decorate it however I want. In my 30 years, I’ve been different without deciding to be, and I’ve been stared at and called much worse than anything anyone here called me. I much prefer to compel the stares, to be different on my terms. So pardon that postscript and yes, let’s get back to the dresses. (Andrea again.)

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  19. My rule when it comes to fashion “advice” is: support people in the way they want to be supported, not in the way you think they ought to be supported.I find if I look for something to admire, I can usually find it. It makes for a happier experience.Also, I too love to wear costumes (see you soon, Danika, and looking forward to it). Nothing but nothing improves my mood like my Bletchley Park Codebreaker’s outfit.

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  20. Andrea, You are now permanently on my list of fashion heroines. You Go Girl! I wish those who criticized or “didn’t hold back” or whatever you want to call it, could have an in person consultation from you to help them sew something up and actually wear their own personal version of brown. (when do we get to see a picture of the Bletchley Park Codebreaker’s outfit?!)

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  21. Great post! It reminds me of when my (then) three year old niece dressed herself in all her favorite things, regardless of whether they “went” together. I made some stupid superior adult comment like “ooh, don’t you think the plain pink top would look better with those pants” and she drew herself up to her full 36 inches, gave me a haughty look and said very sternly “ownself”. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

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  22. My only quibble with being quiet is that after four (FOUR) years of black hair, after I returned to reddish brown, I had several people (including my mother and my husband) tell me the black made me look dead/jaundiced. I would have preferred that information earlier. Of course I also responded to “darling, that skirt made you look a little blocky” with “yeah, it’d look better on you, damnit”. I’m rather immune to that sort of thing, since I have abslutely no confidence in my own ability to choose colours.

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  23. Whenever anyone starts a sentence with ” I’m not trying to hurt your feelings” or “No offence, but” just interupt them and say “Okay, don’t”. It really flusters them😉. If they say “That skirt makes you look fat”, say “Really? Are you sure it’s the skirt? Your opinion is very important to me.”And you can always reply to any of these little gems ” You are very opinionated, it makes you seem older”.

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  24. Oh man, I just fell in love with Andrea. Excellent three-part comment. If we worked in the same cubicle world, we would be best office friends.

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  25. dear erin,you are always amazing. and you are even more amazing when you are right. which you are. and you had the awe-inspiringly good judgement to invite that lovely and also amazing andrea to be your guest. so you become greater by the minute.(rail-jump to aesthetics. SCREEE! CRASH!!!) aesthetics are locally determined. my japanese former roommate, who was an industrial design major, showed me that in japan, mixing warm & cool red tones, or blue tones, or whatever, is completely normal in japan, and that if they wanted to look ‘western’ it was safest to go with black & white. a strong contrast like that is not a very common combination over there. (i am correctible here. my data come from one individual.)and – my sister, who has in-laws from india, told me that among her in-laws and their enormous community and extended family there is no such thing as ‘this color doesn’t look good on me’. there is only, ‘i like this color. i’m wearing it.’ or ‘i don’t really like that color. i’m not wearing it’. i’m not asserting that this is local to india. i know nothing about that. but what’s inside our skulls is local in the extreme.’spring’? ‘summer’? gimme a break. what’s-her-name made a boodle of money ‘coloring people the way she feels like they should be colored’. so what. wear what makes you happy. anyone who doesn’t like it can avert their eyes. or maybe open their minds, or grow an imagination or something.sincerely,thorn

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  26. I’ve been reading this blog for so long, I feel like you live down the way! This whole thing is fabulous and a great lesson in HOW to say things. IF they need saying at all. Indeed, I’m not a fan of the whole “OMG it’s AWesome” myself. But. Be kind. Be appropriate. Be funny, but don’t say “bless your heart, honey, but you look kinda… (fill in the blank). “I grew up surrounded by that.I didn’t like it.And the dress, the design, it’s fabulous.

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  27. thank you for being the perfect hostess and defending your guest from the comments made. andrea – you look perfect in your dress, it is lovely and sooo you. ruth

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  28. I’m not the same Emily that posted at 12:32. I’m a different Emily with the exact same comment. I too, after reading this site, thought that it was time to brush the dust off Mom’s old machine and learn to sew. I tackled a Duro straight away, (I missed the part on the pattern envelope that said “zipper”) and sewed my very first project. It turned out pretty well for never having sewn before. And I had planned on having my husband take my picture in it at Palo DURO Canyon to send to Erin. After reading those snotty comments I’m glad I didn’t. I’m not going to let some wry seams stop me from trying, but I’m not sharing my successes (kind of) with anyone that doesn’t share either my last name or maiden name, or love of ballroom dancing.

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  29. erin,i love you! you’re the best. i love all your entries, but esp. appreciate pics of what you’ve sewn or pics of you.bless you and happy thanksgiving.caroline beckenhauptlong island, ny:-)

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  30. Me too with the Andrea love.Me thinks I may just love her as much as those fabulous boots do. Enjoying the wise words and especially the story about the little girl and her “ownself”. :)It’s taken me a good while to get my head around the concept of opinion vs fact and where it does or doesn’t matter which it is. I’ve come to the conclusion that it doen’t matter if I think someones outfit is wrong and even more that it doesn’t matter if it IS wrong in some technical fashion guideline way. Clothes are only worth being anything beyond protection against the elements/prying eyes if we enjoy them as more. I love peoples happy clothes. They absolutely brighten my day :)Clobo

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  31. Awesome post, Erin. You said it PERFECTLY! Thank you so much. And that dress makes you look so slender…whether you were thinking about that when you made it, or not.:-)

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