Paint it black. “No colors anymore /I want them to turn black.” It’s good enough for Mick Jagger; it’s good enough for Vanessa Carlton’s cover; it’s good enough for us.
Consumer self-esteem doesn’t rank high in the fashion world. The designers aren’t considering our figures when they concoct one-shoulder animal print tops or skin-tight beet-purple jeans. We are not on American Idol. We are not on Dancing with the Stars. We haven’t worn a Size 8 since we were 26.
I want to tell my fellow over-Size 12 shoppers as they gently drift into the mall, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here. That isn’t the best look for you.”
My mother loves clothes and has a different philosophy. “Maybe the bigger women want to wear the new styles, too.”
She has a point. People love fashion. But I also think thin women should forgo one-shoulder animal print tops and beet-purple skinny jeans.
My mother loves clothes and hung onto everything for decades: soft cashmere sweaters and satin-lined wool skirts, brown and white saddle high heels, shirtdresses, linen dresses, pillbox hats, pant-dresses and culottes, stretch pants with stirrups, odd polyester garments, elegant beaded clutch purses, huge medallion necklaces, suede jackets with shoulder pads, faux fur coats. I raided her ’50s and ‘-60s wardrobe when I was young.
But I really couldn’t be bothered to shop for myself. She and I couldn’t be more different. “You were adopted,” my husband frequently suggested.
Strange items of clothing have surfaced over the years. A few years ago she gave me my First Communion dress, packed in tissue in the original Armstrong’s box. I looked at it, said thank you, took it home and parked it absent-mindedly on the floor of my closet. I didn’t quite know what to do with it.
I was weeding my closet the other day. Once again, I have no idea what to do with the First Communion dress. I can’t imagine anyone wanting yellowing white tulle at Goodwill. But eventually it will have to go there or into the trash.
As a girl who spent most of her time riding a bike, holding mysterious “witch club” meetings in the back yard (“Boil and bubble, boil and brew, now I cast a spell on you”), and playing with dolls and trolls, I wasn’t overly concerned with fashion. But the dress was very cute, in its day, and I remember the special shopping trip to Armstrong’s Department Store in Cedar Rapids, a city fueled by the good grain smell of the Quaker Oats factory. It was the first dress I ever picked out. I was very insistent about the tulle. A friend had to make do with cotton, poor girl! My white tulle dress had puffed sleeves, a sash with appliqued flowers, a satin slip, and a matching veil attached to a floral headband.
I was allowed to wear the dress to church for several Sundays after the First Communion until I outgrew it. Then she packed it away.
Looking at it makes me think of my wedding dress. White tulle? No!
On the morning of our wedding day, I had to work. I was required to attend the graduation ceremony at the school where I taught. Sitting in the bleachers in my tan teaching dress with blue pinstripes and puffed sleeves, I kept one eye on my watch while the students crossed the stage to receive their prizes and diplomas. Rushing back home, I helped my fiance finish loading the Ryder truck, and then we hopped on the bus and rode to the County Courthouse to get married.
Yes, I got married in the pinstripe dress. I still have it.
We drove the Ryder truck for a few hours–we were moving to another city where he had a job–and stopped to spend the night in a motel in Hagerstown, Maryland. We watched Silver Streak on cable TV.
Romantic, huh? It’s not that I wanted any of the white-wedding crap, but Hagerstown!
If I’d worn black or white, my guess is the night would have been more glamorous. We might have made it to Baltimore.