Monday, September 24, 2012
My fashion statement: “Help! I need the clothes police!”
The clothes police who monitored my every accessorization for nearly 30 years have moved out, and I’m helpless.
One day 29 years ago, our oldest daughter was having an “I don’t wanna go to kindergarten meltdown.” I convinced her that if she wore a fresh flower in her hair, she’d be happy at school.
It was the last time she took my fashion instruction. She developed her own taste and soon began giving me advice.
It reached a crisis the Christmas morning when she was 14. The day before, I’d had a parenting crisis, walking through the mall, counting the number of gifts I had for each child, and realizing that she was a gift short.
I decided to buy her a new coat. It was slim pickings, but I found a nice red parka.
Christmas morning at our house was always chaotic, but nothing could have prepared us for her reaction. Her blood-curdling cry reverberated from the walls: “I look like a tomato!”
Later, her future mother-in-law asked me what clothes she might like as a gift, and I had no idea—I had sworn off buying her clothes.
Her two younger sisters followed in her footsteps. If I wanted them to hate an outfit, all I had to say was, “That’s cute.”
This also applied to dating, with my sons as well as my daughters. If I said, “You ought go out with Joe Blow / Jane Smow,” there’d be an immediate “Eeeyouuu! You’re crazy!”
Kiss of death.
So the clothes police have lived at my house for 29 years.
My middle daughter got me out of nylons, assuring me that many women were running around bare-legged—that this is “the best way to wear sandals—as long as you shave your legs and get a tan.”
Women my age have a long history with nylon stockings—at first you wore them with a garter belt, a tangle of mechanical parts and weird elastic; then you graduated to a girdle, which sucked in your gut for you all day at school. Panty hose were a big improvement, but they still twisted and got runs, snags, and holes.
So I happily gave up nylons. My legs aren’t tan, but the blue veins make up for it.
Our youngest daughter fought a losing battle to keep me from looking old. She left for college two years ago, and I became free as a bird.
I caught myself yelling things like: “Too bad! Those hip-huggers you gave me had a bleach accident!”
Then my cousin said, “What’s with all these women who run around without nylons? In my day, that was a sign of low morals.”
It bothered me, so I took a visual survey at church. The younger women didn’t wear nylons; the older women did.
I need the clothes police to tell me if I’m too old to leave my hosiery off.
I’m turning myself in. It won’t be so bad—those orange jumpsuits are kind of cute.