Watch out all you devushka bitches, I’m coming to town!

Yes, it’s true. In a mere 9.5 hours, a flight to Munich carrying the Ukrainian and I will depart SFO (God-willing, as the Arabs say). And from Munich? Da, next stop will be Kiev Borispol airport. I’ll have my 4 inch heels, Marc Jacobs denim mini-skirt, Dior “Little Red Dress” lip gloss, and a fresh red manicure onboard with me.

What?! You say I’m too old to be a true devushka? Not true. Devushka-ness is all a state of mind and a pair of great legs. I thoroughly intend to learn from the masters (er…mistresses) walking the streets of Kiev (not to be confused with the streetwalkers of Kiev whom devushkas must closely resemble).

What’s that again!?!?! You say I can barely pronounce the Russian letters I see on street signs? That my complete and utter failure to find time to learn the Russian language will prevent me from embodying the modern slavic woman’s persona? So not true. If anything, spending 3 years with the Ukrainian has made me more slavic than any Rosetta Stone lesson could.

Case in point:

Last week, I was in the Baltimore suburbs on a business trip and couldn’t access the wireless network in the office. But I knew there’d be no problem because there was a Russian employee sitting a few cubicles over. He’s cracker-jack smart and super-nice too. I knew he could get me on the wireless…

What do you have? he asked upon hearing my flirtatious pleas for help.

Somehow, I didn’t think the words I’ll be your best friend forever that worked so well when I needed help from someone when I was a teenage girl or young devushka post-college in New York would work so well now that I’m old enough to have grandchildren in some parts of the world. I searched my pockets looking for something to give him when I realized I had no pockets because I was wearing a skirt.

Chocolate? I asked desperately, remembering I had some back at my desk I’d brought with me from San Francisco. It’s fine European, dark chocolate. Organic too! selling him on the idea that his time and assistance was totally worthy of some small chocolate that I’d bought at the Walgreens on Sacramento and Front St.

The Russian colleague started laughing, realizing what was going on.

Noooo….what do you have? Like an iPhone or a MacBook or what? I need to know what device you’re using to connect to the network!

Oh. I was shocked. Somebody would do something for me without bribery? All this time I’ve been Russified, this guy’s been Americanized.

Yes, devushkas. I am ready. And I’m bringing my camera.


New Year’s Devushka Style

Hey yeah, all you devushkas chillin’ in Kiev. I’m onto you. I’ve been studying your look. I’ve got your number. And this year, I did New Year’s Devushka Style!!


New Years Devushka Style -- with a scarf for a little American prudishness.

New Year's Devushka Style -- with a scarf for a little American prudishness.

This outfit is very Ukrainian approved.

SF Boho Chic: The Antithesis of Devushka Style

When the Ukrainian and I first met, I was easing out of my Boho chic into…well, I wasn’t sure what fashion icon to follow in this finicky, laid-back, yet sophisticated city of San Francisco. But I shouldn’t have feared. Through the Ukrainian, I learned how real Ukrainian and Russian women dress:  short tight mini-skirt, stilettos (stiletto boots in the winter) and super-tight skin-baring tops.

As a male friend of mine commented that summer upon his return from Russia, “Russian women dress like hookers!”

faux black patent leather coat and gold patent strappy stilettos

My winter devushka wear: faux black patent leather coat and gold patent strappy stilettos (yes, this is me in the photo)

I explained to the Ukrainian that I couldn’t exactly dress for work in the uniform he outlined above, but I wasn’t unafraid to add a few sexier elements to my fashion repetoire. I am open-minded and was willing to adapt to Russian-Ukrainian culture as he adapted to American culture. And so, upon his encouragement, I soon added pieces like a faux patent leather trench coat by Calvin Klein for my winter rainwear, patent gold stilettos strappys from ?Guess? for our civil wedding ceremony, a shiny black and royal blue halter top for our winter house parties and so forth.

I was comfortable with these choices and limited their wear to social occasions and kept my work wardrobe relatively professional. But then, tonight, by mere coincidence yet in keeping with our New Years resolution of not being too dependent and controlling, we found ourselves having separate dinner plans.

I was uncertain what to wear. It would be a quiet dinner for me with a friend in a local Mission restaurant. I’d been lounging/working all day in my navy blue grub cords and yellow waffle knit tee from from GAP and a big oversized grey sweater from Esprit — not exactly haute couture or cutting-edge Mission hipster-ware. But damn, it was cozy. I couldn’t bring myself to go all-out devushka.

Not necessarily Ukrainian approved

Boho chic: Not necessarily Ukrainian approved

And so I went to my closet looking for anything that could save my “I went to high school in rural Iowa and haven’t mentally graduated yet” look for a quiet evening out in San Francisco’s Mission District sans husband. And there I saw it: the prized posession of my Boho chic fashion days, a vintage yellow floral baby doll picked up at Ambiance on 24th Street for less than dinner for two. It fit my loose cords and yellow waffle perfectly. I added my Marc Jacobs sweater to keep warm. And to devuskha it up? Over it all, I wore my new Robert Rodriguez ink-colored leather jacket.

Boho chic goes devushka

Boho chic goes devushka

Actually, in looking at these two latter photos, I see the essence of my own personal style with hints of the Ukrainian’s influence. I think that is the balance of what we are trying to achieve in our marriage:  one in which we are both still our own people, but positively influenced by the other.

Wanted: Ukrainian or Russian Fashion Blog

Ok, I know there are a few readers on here from Kyiv and there has been the occasional visitor from Moscow. This query is for you all.I don’t know if you are men or women, but do you know of any Ukrainian or Russian fashion blogs? Or any Ukrainian or Russian fashion magazine sites? Thinking about the devushka style this morning made me really want to see websites that are either aspirational of Russian and/or Ukrainian style or reflective of the street style.

Please, if you know of any, leave their URLs in the comments section below! 🙂

Spaceba!  (did I spell that right? I don’t have a cyrillic keyboard on my computer — yet)

Ladies Only

Ladies Only!

Ladies Only!

Anyone who follows my Facebook status updates knows the problems I have getting on and off BART at the 24th St. stop. Some of the men there do not behave so gentlemanly. More than once, I have dreamt of ladies-only cars, or at least entrances/exits.

A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Japan. Apparently there, the trains do have such “ladies only” train cars as some men are known not to keep their hands to themselves. I commented on her picture on Facebook saying I wish we had these, the follow-ups were as follows:

Former college calculus tutor:  Apparently this was tried on the Hudson & Manhattan Trains (now PATH) back in 1909. The public ridiculed the idea and it didn’t last.

Me:  Yeah, I don’t imagine it going over so well in ultra liberal SF, but I so wish it would.

College friend:  And I imagine that a good number of San Franciscans would welcome a single-sex BART car!

Me:  Hahahh…yeah! 🙂 That is true. But then wouldn’t we need a “gender-optional” car too?

I just feel that Ladies of *any* sexual-orientation wouldn’t be so grope-y or stalky.

The Ukrainian has suggested, in a very un-Russian way (he is, after all, a huge fan of the devushka look), that maybe I should start dressing dowdy to avoid attracting attention. But I don’t think that would work. Dowdy dress leads to dowdy feelings and my resulting depression would probably invite some creep to “cheer” me by touching or leering at me. Some men are just creeps. There is nothing to be done. Except, maybe, do as the Japanese do and have some “Ladies Only” cars.