I love little clothing memoirs, like Sadie's dress stories, and my friend Elizabeth's book. When I'm reading old auto-beauty-ographies I relish descriptions of treasured outfits. Today I decided to go the other way and tell you some of my really bad clothing memories.
1980Pants: Ugly, but Dry
My mom was and is a big thrift-shopper, so these navy-blue bell-bottoms with colorful flowers embroidered on the bells were out of style by the time I wore them. Describing them now, they sound sort of cute, but here's the problem: another girl in my third grade class also had them. A girl known for wetting her pants. Those pants.
Around the same time, my mother forced a blue, knitted poncho upon me. I considered it my mortal enemy. I tried to "lose" it in the schoolyard, but my mother helpfully checked the lost and found and got it back for me. Soon after, I enlisted a friend to help me bury it like a murdered corpse. I can still hear the beating of its yarny heart.
Strange because I now own an enormous red knitted poncho that I adore. Anyway, I can't blame my mother for everything. I grew up into a person perfectly able of making horrible wardrobe choices all on my own.
Anorak of Ennui
In high school, I acquired a dark grey, slouchy, anorak-like garment that reached my knees. I think I got it in the city, at Canal Jeans Company. Though it looked like the very costume of depression, it somehow pleased me. It was like wearing a rainstorm. Plus, it was useful! At the end of my brief and ill-fated cheer leading stint, the garment was just the thing to conceal my uniform in one fell swoop. This came in handy when I made the wise decision to duck out of cheering at homecoming and instead sneak off into the woods with my cool friends, to do other stuff.
I also wore the anorak the first time I met my favorite aunt, Val. She was the cutest thing ever, petite and blonde, in pink jeans and matching pink leather jacket, and I fell in love at first site. Inexplicably, she also took to the unruly creature in grey who glowered from across the restaurant table, through poorly applied, electric blue eyeliner.
Elves In Polyester
Speaking of Canal Jeans Company, my friend Jodi and I cut school (again) and went shopping. We were approached by a scout for Aveda to model in their hair show at the Jacob Javitz convention center that coming weekend. We both had long, crazy curls and the scout saw much possibility. We'd be paid in cash and products. And um, we'd be models!
The Aveda people dressed us up in green polyester outfits of bermuda shorts and peter-pan collared blouses. We looked like elves with no sense of style. They paraded us onstage that way and while hundreds of Japanese men photographed us, my face was covered in orange and black makeup and my curls were brushed to frizz and styled with something the consistency of Elmer's glue. I couldn't see what was happening to Jodi but when we were reunited she was inconsolable, sobbing that she looked like Judy Jetson. I couldn't entirely disagree.
Cheerleader, Take Two
I applied as a waitress at a 1950's themed restaurant in Tampa, Florida. The manager shook my hand, handed me a uniform and said, "Dance practice is on Monday nights. There's an open bar." Turns out the waitstaff performed choreographed routines to golden oldies. I wore a purple cheerleader outfit: short purple skirt over purple "bloomers", white sneakers and something we called The Bib. It had a B on it (for Blueberry Hill) and was worn over a tight white top. But it didn't quite... contain me. When I first put it on my large chest looked cartoonishly obscene. To look reasonably wholesome, I had to buy a bra that looked like a machine. No matter how busy we were with tables, when certain songs played, were to drop everything and jump up on either the stage built on two classic Chevys, or onto pedestals placed in every row of booths. Every weekend night, I shook it to Great Balls of Fire while someone tugged at the edge of my skirt and tried to order a burger and some more beer. I met two of my very best friends at this job and to this day, when we're together, we sometimes line dance over to each other, doing the steps we learned for The Wanderer.
What I Wore On The Horse
Oh forget it, this one deserves its own post.
Skort of Shame
It was very, very short. It looked like a cute denim mini skirt, and for years I lived in cute denim minis. But underneath it had attached denim shorts. A skort looks like shorts in the back, right? So this wasn't a skort. Possibly, it was worse. Maybe it wouldn't have made the list if I'd only worn it to the beach or on errands. Reader, I wore it to work at an office. A casual internet start-up office, but still. At that time, I was the only female employee.
Not Fat, Just Fluffy
The thickest, bulkiest, heaviest sweater ever knitted was a Christmas gift from my sister Laura. She bought one for herself too. Angora of the palest heavenly blue, which is about the least flattering possible color on me. It shed like a yak. When I tried it on, it made me look like Tina Yothers. I am not at all the allergic type, but even having this thing in the room made it difficult to breathe. Laura and I looked at each other through a haze of blue floof in the air. "But look at the designer," she said. "I got a great deal."
My sister tried to wear hers a few times and resorted to storing it in the freezer to try to cut down on the shedding. In her defense, she also gifted me that year with pick cashmere shorts with white piping. Win some/lose some.
Barbie Dream Boots
Thigh-high, pink suede boots from Nine West. I gasped at the expanse of pink suede while Christmas shopping with my aunt in a New Jersey mall. So she bought them for me on the spot as a birthday gift. (Yes, the pink aunt from the anorak story above.) The boots have a long, pointed toe, a low heel, and a kind of western feel. Is there a prize for cramming the highest number of ill-advised trends into one boot? But... so pink.
I wore them only once, with a short black dress and black tights, to a Flaming Lips concert on a New Year's Eve date. I don't usually do that sort of thing. My sister's boyfriend had to work so I graciously invited her along with us. Lucky for me, because my date got so drunk that Laura and I had to carry him out of Madison Square Garden. I couldn't have done it alone. It is shocking to me that he did not vomit on those boots, for several reasons.
This list is in no way complete.