Wednesday, December 08, 2004

my fashion history...

My sister and I shared a room (and a canopy bed) while growing up. We had matching white dressers with green and yellow trim, hers with a mirror and mine with a hutch. Unfortunately for her, we also had many matching clothes. Not necessarily exact, mind you. Sometimes we’d get the same shirt or pjs in different colors. Worked well for me, as I got hers once she had grown out of it. Around third grade, my mom surprised us with twin brass beds (which we used at least until my sister was in high school), and several new matching outfits. Oxford shirts in matching colors ~ I was so excited. My sister was less than thrilled. My third grade picture features some velvety pink cords with some fringy brown loafers and Crystal Gale hair… I was hot.

When we moved out to New Mexico, I tried my best attempt at fashion. I had my sister’s hand-me-down jeans with glittery pink and purple stripes on one pair and a faint plaid pattern on the other. I loved fingerless gloves (my sister called me a Madonna-wanna-be) and big hair bows. Alas, I was doomed to fail. My tomboy ways and mom’s meager budget got the best of me, and I was doomed to mix-and-match (and well-worn) sweat suits from the Pic-N-Save with a lovely pair of pink and gray hiking boots (I wore tennis shoes out too quick).

Late elementary/Junior high school I started out in the neon colors phase and moved on to the black rock-band t-shirt phase. Tight-rolled acid wash stretch jeans were an added bonus. My friends and I had this weird thing about ponytails too. They couldn’t be in the back of our head, because that was lame, and they couldn’t be on the side, because that was passé. So, we wore our manes banded high and a bit caddy-corner on our heads. Our bangs were fluffed as far as our imaginations could stretch them, through a tried and true method: spray like crazy, curl the top section up, curl the bottom section down, spray like crazy, run a pick through the middle, and voila ~ a magical perfect poof. When I would go to St. Louis with my father to visit his family, he would buy me new clothes. Not clothes that I would ever be caught dead wearing at home, mind you, but rather the clothes my country-club cousins (or their moms) were wearing. I love my dad’s family, but even as a child I knew that there was just something wrong with changing your child in order to make a good impression.

High school was my introduction into alternative fashion. I was surrounded by drama geeks and nature freaks, and I loved it. Around the same time my dad and stepmother had opened a store in the mall peddling woven clothing, used levis, fimo beads, china doll shoes, grateful dead t-shirts and the like. Pretty much past my first semester (in which I had a brief infatuation with 90210 fashion), I rarely wore makeup in high school. T-shirts and jeans were my most common uniform, but this was an Arts high school, so creative dressing was accepted (or at least tolerated). What was an example of a Parkview kid uniform when I was in high school (and I promise I wasn’t the only one)? Start with a bottom layer of thermal underwear in your choice of white or color (holes in the knees and elbows were entirely acceptable), and some cozy socks in a funky argyle or fun stripes. Pull on a flowy, flowery skirt and a baggy t-shirt with 10,000 maniacs or a Van Gogh painting on the front. Please note, none of these items need match each other. A flannel shirt tied around the waist, a worn pair of Birkenstocks, and a knitted cap over your product-less bob completes the ensemble. Need a visual? You can borrow my box set of the short-lived TV show My So Called Life.

College was all about comfort, with brief excursions into attempts at fashion while spending the majority of my four years in pajama pants and t-shirts (highly flattering to the female form). Post-college was a mix of identity crises, with a touch of skater girl (though I can’t even roll on a board). But I’ve come a long way, baby. I’ve shifted into clothes I enjoy, dabbled in the beauty enhancements (though I still prefer natural), and try to pick out items that actually coordinate with each other. But, in the words of the great Gilda Radner, “I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch”. I also base it on what is fun, and comforting, and makes me happy. One of these days I hope to be sewing my own clothes, which will be a true fashion disgrace. Until then, I will continue to mix Banana Republic and Ann Taylor with Savers and Goodwill and everything in between…

2 comments:

JEB said...

I laughed out loud on the bangs comment..."as far as our imaginations could stretch them."

:)

Angelika said...

oh, oh, oh ... and there is my all time favorite, right :o)