I’ve always loved color and design and symmetry and asymmetry, and for a brief moment in time I was convinced I would pursue a career in fashion because of that. If you know my closet – or the various shades of black that it holds – you would laugh at that notion today, but yes, it’s true that I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was 12 or 13.
When I was in high school, I even told my somewhat ambitious parents that I wanted to go into design and become a fashion designer in New York, and to their credit neither laughed out loud in front of me. Instead, they actually scheduled a visit to a school located in Coral Gables, Florida that I had found in the back of a teen magazine.
I’m pretty sure my mom had called ahead to the admissions advisor to tell her there was no way a daughter of hers would be attending a “trade school” like theirs. When we walked into the poor woman’s office, she looked at all of us and then, directing her face to me, said, “You don’t belong here. You should go to a 4-year university.”
So much for that career dream – it was off to Wake Forest and a degree in the philosophy of politics, which was a different kind of impractical.
Despite that crushing blow, I’ve always loved texture and style and fashion– not necessarily high fashion – all kinds of fashion. I even appreciated the laid back “I don’t give a flip” style of my mother who proudly wore mismatched chartreuse and pink knee socks that rumpled around her ankles in her orthopedic shoes.
It takes a certain Je ne sais quoi to pull that off.
What I really appreciate about clothes and fashion is the range of choices and options available on any given day, which is why I’m always so baffled that perfectly smart people get sucked into ridiculous trends when there is a world of alternatives out there.
The latest is the return of culottes. They were a bad look the first time they came around in the late 1970s. We all tried to wear them. They seemed so convenient – pants that looked like a skirt – sort of. But wow they were unflattering on all of us. It was just too much fabric in all the wrong places.
We wear skirts because of the great lines – and we wear pants or slacks for the comfort…although hopefully the great lines are still there. But culottes?
Well fortunately the old maxim applies – if you are old enough to have worn the style the first time it came around, you’re probably too old for the second run. So I’m free and clear on this trend.
And then there’s the unintentional lemming thing.
I recently bought a pair of jeans that have those rolled up cuffs because my daughter said, “Actually, Mom, they look good on you.”
I could have done without the “actually”, but yes, they are decent.
Then I went to the movie theater and right in front of me were three young women with nearly identical rolled up jeans all standing in a row, and each was wearing similar short tan boots and I realized I’d fallen into the lemming trap. Each of them was proudly posing as if to say “Look at my unique style.”
And there we have it; the curious American desire, no need, to be unique – by wearing clothes that are styled just like everyone else.
It might be time for me to pull out my mismatched socks.