Monday, August 9

Fashion/Style: Oh, Mom, Do I Have To?

It's Fashion/Style Week at TFC and today I'm going to talk about the style we do not choose for ourselves, the unfortunate fashions that are thrust upon us.

The nice thing about getting older is that despite the mental pressure of advertizing or the societal pressure of seeing everyone around you race to embrace the latest ill-advised craze - gauchos? seriously, 1977, what were you thinking? - the choice is finally yours and yours alone. Do I like this new thing that's out? And if I don't, am I going to buy it and wear it anyway in the hopes of eventually learning to love, as though fashion were an arranged marriage in the 1800s?

But when you're still a fairly young kid, you almost never get that option. That boy toddler in that now-infamous diaper commercial? I'm fairly certain he knows how ridiculous he looks in those blue-jeans diapers. He's only faking that strut-with-pride attitude in the hopes that people will buy that his doo-doo is now encased in a fashion do rather than a fashion don't. But who is he kidding? We all know he didn't pick that outfit for himself. Someone made him wear it.

One of the great indignities of childhood is having to wear things that you know make you look bad. It's having to wear little white socks or knee socks with your party dress when you're sure you're old enough for pantyhose. It's barrettes or a hairband when that little ponytail thingy with the colorful twin plasic balls attached looks so much zippier. It's Keds when everyone else is wearing Converse, or Converse when everyone else is wearing Keds.

But as bad as having the wrong item can be visually, it's nothing compared with having to wear something that's just downright uncomfortable.

I present as Exhibit A: Patent-leather shoes so stiff they always cause a blister at the back of the ankle.

I present as Exhibit B: Stiff, starchy collars.

I present as Exhibit C: Lace ruffle underwear!

Growing up I had this great-aunt who was a widow with no children but lots of money. Yet instead of giving me lots of money, or even toys, for my birthday or the holidays, she always gave me the same present: white underwear, so stiff it looked like it should come with a piece of cardboard shaping it, with a triple row of starchy lace across the backside and leg holes that were elasticized in the worst way. Since I was the only girlchild of my genersation, I think she thought she was doing me a favor, bestowing a little bit of elegance on me. Well, let me tell you, those underwear were no favor. They were the worst brand of unattractive and uncomfortable combined, not to mention the havoc those ruffles wreaked with my visible panty line. But of course I had to wear them. They were a gift!

I'd also like to point out, apropos of absolutely nothing, that this same great-aunt used to address all her cards to me to: Miss Laurea Baratz. Laurea. When she talked to me, she said my name right, so I know she knew what it was. But she always spelled it Laurea. A misspelling? For ten years? I think not. Not when she managed to spell every other name in the world correctly. I think it's that she thought her way was more elegant, that I should be elegant Laurea to go with my elegant white lace ruffle underwear.

I shudder to think of that underwear now. Honestly, I'd rather put on a hair shirt instead.
So how about you? What's the one - or more! - item you hated wearing before you had a choice in the matter?
Be well. Don't forget to write.


Gerb said...

Oh, I shudder to think of the indignities of forced-upon-me polyester. Seriously. I do shudder.

My mom fully embraced polyester. With six kids, anything that promised to be iron-free was her friend. But not mine. Or my siblings'.

I think the worst outfit I had was a zip-up-the-front polyester pantsuit (remember those??? Who foisted them on the public??? The same sadistic adult who dreamed up gym uniforms?) This jumpsuit was purple (I am not kidding.) It had a black fake-patent-leather belt attached to it and a huge white collar. Not my proudest fashion moment. I'm just glad I don't have to claim responsibility for that one!

Melissa Walker said...

I love that you had to wear them. Amazing. Remember the bunny outfit scene in A CHRISTMAS STORY? So great.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I don't have too many complaints about what was forced on me in childhood. my mom was pretty laid back, so i wore mainly the same hideous 80s clothing as everyone else.

For me the worst fashion period in my life was in my late 20s when I worked the office job and was forced to wear businessy type clothing. So. Not. Me. So boring! And I can't wear jeans??? help!!!!!