I haven’t made many devastating sartorial missteps, if you overlook my prom dress and, well… the ‘80s. But when April invited me to a fundraiser luncheon yesterday, I chose a summery garden ensemble only to find myself at a couture-and-stiletto event. So while all of the other lunch-y ladies were perfectly molded into their au courant fashions, I was wearing a tablecloth. It was a pretty tablecloth… maybe even a sort of adorably blue doily of a dress. But in a room dotted with Chanel bags and pointy, pointy pumps, my outfit called for a picnic basket and hair daisy accessories.
Certainly I’ve misjudged an outfit choice or two in my time. But aside from wearing jeans to the fancy school Book Fair (everyone else in fabulous skinny leather things or wretched-but-appropriate pantsuits), I’m usually the over-dressed gal. Pearls in Gross Anatomy lab. Lily Pulitzer at the soccer field. Jimmy Choos at Church. Fur at the Star Market. I have a deeply ingrained twirly girly sensibility. But when I found myself surrounded by sleek Robert Plant ladies baring yoga toned abs under crop tops, suddenly a dress with a crinoline (just like my prom dress!) seemed more ridiculous than whimsical.
Damn you, Anthropologie, with your moody photos depicting ambiguously French stunners wearing un-place-able period costumes as formalwear! I will not be duped again!
To be honest, I didn’t really dwell on my window-treatments-as-outfit gaffe. I had a delicious cold salmon lunch with lovely people who appear to make gobs of money for the obvious joy of giving much of it away. I’m drawn to do-gooders as much as I am to gorgeous clothing, and this event had both in spades (cards, not Kate… this was couture, friends). And when I got home, it was time to meet my true and trusted fashion critics at the curb. There was no time to change, so I was still wearing the ersatz prom dress when my little boys dismounted the big yellow bus.
“Where were you? You look like Cinderella!”
I can’t wait to wear that dress again.
I’m the one in the doily.
I bought a white jean jacket. Though it is neither spring-like nor 1986 outside, I left the store with this accoutrement of yesteryear, and have worn it every day hence. Although it might be ridiculous, I love it. I love love love it. I love it like I love U2 and Mia flats and that boy in study hall and Darcey’s bangs. And I love it mostly because Mom would never have let me buy it.
A white jean jacket represents all things Mom discouraged during our sartorial schooling. Clothes bought with hard-earned money should be practical, versatile, resilient, and never, ever (gasp) trendy. We wore Shetland sweaters, monogrammed turtlenecks, corduroys, Docksiders, and pearls; no jellies, rubber bracelets, or artfully ripped athletic wear for the Stockton girls. Naturally, during our first years living on our own dollar, my sister and I independently bought verboten clogs. We quickly learned that clogs were everything Mom said, plus a surefire platform for embarrassing falls; but buying banned footwear was a rite of passage into young adulthood for us– exorcizing a bit of our Fancy Lady upbringing.
We begged Mom for these ugly, ugly shoes.
Doesn’t every woman have at least one bizarrely nostalgic, outlandishly expensive, immodestly revealing, or otherwise completely inappropriate ensemble in her closet? I’ll never wear tuxedo pants, but at some moment in front of a three way mirror, I thought I could affect a 5 foot 3 Katherine Hepburn. (Nope.) I dressed like Annie Hall for most of sophomore year. Hats and all. The Hervé Léger murmurs, “Je pourrais vous gifler mais non!” every time I rustle his hanger. Even he knows I have no business squeezing into that thing. Many of these impulse purchases and quirky fashion choices–right up to my super fab, white jean jacket—probably represent small rebellions against too many shopping trips with Mom to Talbots.
That’s my theory. It’s also possible I have wretched taste in casual wear.
What’s hiding in your closet?
We all wanted to look vaguely French and gorgeous like Darcey with her perfect bangs.