Tag Archives: Clothing Trends

Love Those Layers

Contrary to logic, as the weather warms, the plant world dons more layers. Bushes and shrubs wrap colorful scarves of leaves and blossoms around their shoulders. Trees drape bare branches with graceful green mantles. My lawn pads itself with a soft, thick layer of crabgrass.

Young human beings, however, shun this idea. Passing our town’s grade school one chilly afternoon, I noticed most shivering kids walking home sported shorts and flip-flops. They looked bluer than Smurfs.

At prom time, young women wearing strapless bodices and frozen smiles grace the spring landscape. A million goose bumps encase these lovelies like Bubble Wrap.

If you’re a parent, you do not puzzle over this missing link between wardrobe and meteorological conditions. Weather has nothing to do with it. What’s really happening? Kids are exercising independence. We all do stupid things at that age so we can grow up to never make stupid decisions again.

Still, as a perfect, mature being, I sympathize. My classmates and I suffered similar symptoms. We of the Dick-and-Jane generation wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing shorts and flip-flops to school. Still, our rebellious frenzy blasted black holes in that era’s proper universe.

We wore sleeveless shirts to class.

Abused classmates still wore sweaters Great-aunt Arlene gave them for Christmas. Obviously, they hadn’t exerted proper control over their parents.

I enjoyed wild, uninhibited freedom — until Mom made me wear a jacket.

In fact, she and my teacher kept me in a catch-22.

Mom: This class sheet says you must dress for all weather possibilities. Wear your jacket.

Teacher: Your mother sent this jacket with you, so you have to wear it.

Me: Can’t I put off hot flashes for a few decades?

We tortured children discarded outerwear as close to school dumpsters as we dared. We left jackets hanging in restroom stalls — or tried to flush them.

But our sins always found us out. Traitors among us tattled. No doubt bribed with extra-long turns at the water fountain, these snitches displayed our jackets and sweaters before the entire class until someone identified the culprits. Never would have I participated in such betrayal.

But when my children were growing up, I not only surrendered to the traitors — I joined their ranks.

Sweaters and jackets remain my friends to this day. They conceal my medical condition known as winter waist, characterized by mysterious swelling and extreme pain when buttoning last spring’s capris. Even when the sun shines, I cling to my compassionate buddies.

Someday, the young will realize that, along with moms and teachers, layers can be their friends.

And trees, who sport new cover-up wardrobes every spring, aren’t so dumb, after all.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you love your layers, too?

Hand Me the Hand-Me-Downs

We often hear about recycling paper, plastic and metal to preserve our environment. Nowadays, we’re advised to take our conservation efforts up a notch by recycling clothing.

My family has carried on this practice for generations, never suspecting we were going green. My mother, the youngest of 12 children, lived with seven — yes, seven — older sisters’ hand-me-downs. If ever a girl preserved the planet for posterity, Mom did.

She brought this ecological mindset to her five children. With infallible mother-radar, she hunted my brothers down. Mom threatened them with death or extra baths to coerce them into trying on last year’s kneeless pants. She re-patched, rolled up, let down and let out. Mom stressed, guessed and pressed, shifting jeans from one brother to another.

My sister and I scorned our brothers’ childishness. We loved trying on clothes! We dug into boxes, throwing skirts, sweaters, and dresses like confetti, reviving friendships with favorite outfits. Until I discovered I could no longer button my beautiful ruffled green dress, purchased with last year’s precious birthday money.

Obviously, my mother had shrunk my dress. Why couldn’t she do laundry right?

My sister tried it on. Good for a couple more years’ wear, Mom said — on her. Sigh.

By all rights, I, as the oldest girl, should have enjoyed life without hand-me-downs. Instead, I wore them throughout my childhood. Something was always better than nothing. But the main reason I didn’t mind: I fell heir to my friend Angela’s glorious castoffs.

A year older than I, Angela never wore hand-me-downs; therefore, she was rich. Angela lived in the Big Town near the swimming pool, a glamorous existence I, surrounded by cornfields, could only dream about. She read trendy teen magazines and knew what clothes were hip. I read Alice in Wonderland and Little House on the Prairie. When my dad would have kept me dressed like my favorite characters, Angela helped me live in the 20th century, offering an annual treasure bag of school clothes.

One fateful year, though, my uncooperative body not only caved where hers curved, but, after one summer’s growth, I topped her by four inches. Recycling would have to take a different turn.

No one in our area held garage sales during the ’60s. However, my mother discovered an odd new business, a consignment shop. Mom bought me a red corduroy jumper and ruffled blouse to console me for the loss of my fashion pipeline.

I’m proud to say my family continues the recycling tradition. My sister and I still trade clothes when we get together. We practice globally responsible shopping, stimulating the U.S. economy as well. (Are we patriotic or what?)

Recycling can be a beautiful thing.

Me and my sister in 1970. We still swap outfits after all these years.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you “recycle” clothes?

In Praise of Blue Jeans

Packing for a weekend trip, I panicked. No sign of my favorite jeans!

I dumped the clothes hamper. Searched my closet. Rummaged dresser drawers where my multi-size jean collection resides, waiting for me to lose anywhere from five to 75 pounds.

I later discovered my truant jeans sulking in the dryer. Having taken them for granted, I promised to mend my ways. Hence, this blog post.

During college, I was a blue jeans girl.

I wore my first pair at age five in Mexico, loving their multicolored embroidery. When my missionary family returned to the States, we noticed little girls rarely wore jeans. So, upon outgrowing my Mexican pants, I donned starchy dresses. Not a problem; boring U.S. jeans couldn’t compare to my dear, departed, south-of-the-border favorites.

After years of white Levis, I bought blue jeans during high school. However, they were considered inappropriate for school events, even ball games. When our local school board finally got radical, they permitted pantsuits — not jeans.

Upon entering college, though, I discovered pantsuits were outlawed. Jeans comprised the official campus uniform. When someone robbed my dormitory washer, my near-zero bank balance left me with only one pair of jeans till Christmas. I became an early advocate of grunge.

After finals, I chased my jeans to wash them. Strengthened by long-accustomed grubby splendor, they escaped me for a few blocks. But they and a few other rarely-washed pairs remained true friends throughout college.

However, I didn’t fully appreciate jeans until married with three little kids. Wearing darling denim overalls, my children qualified for Cute Baby of the Year, regardless. What other clothing in my own wardrobe cheerfully endured the perils of finger paint, squishy banana, baby drool and toddler unmentionables? Our magic jeans looked almost as good washed as unwashed — though that might have been due to their stained state, plus frequent, long-term residence in the washer or dryer.

Another virtue of blue jeans: they go with everything. They’re easily coupled with a purple T-shirt, orange lace bustier, tiger-striped socks, peacock feather boa — or all of the above.

However, the fashion world is achieving new lows: Torn jeans appear on the world’s most stylish runways.

Me? I personally don’t give a rip.

Nor can I advocate the other extreme. According to Guinness World Records, Escada’s Couture Jeans — studded with Swarovski crystals — are the most expensive pair commercially available at $10,000.

Not even these developments outrage me, though, like “skinnies,” designed for people who haven’t eaten since 1999.

Whatever happened to “relaxed fit”? Let’s mount a protest. In good, old, 1960s fashion, let’s conduct a sit-in.

First, though, I have to unbutton my jeans. …

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you own a favorite pair of jeans?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Scarf Fashionista

O my God, thank You for colorful, inexpensive scarves that cover turkey necks, gravy stains and other fashion sins. But I struggle and strangle to get scarves right. And these “infinity” things … OMG, do they call them that because of the infinite number of ways I can wear them wrong?