Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

It's A Laughing Matter: I'd Dress For Success But I've Nothing To Wear


January 6, 2017

I’m going to teach the fashion industry a lesson. I’m going naked. No, I’m not protesting the slaughter of innocent polyesters. I want to give fashion designers an object lesson in reality. Make clothes that real people can wear or else…

Women’s fashion can be a mystery and it starts in early childhood. Clothing categories are labeled as infants, toddlers and little girls with sizes marked in either months, “T”s or regular numbers. For the most part the kids’ age matches the number of the size. But if you are a girl, you eventually hit the mysterious 6Xs. Where did that come from?

Did some fashion designer think that six year-old girls came from outer space and needed to shop at the local X-Files store?

No, knowing the fashion industry someone probably forgot that six year-old girls existed and just stuck the size in as an afterthought.

From there you go to bigger girls, pre-teens, juniors sizes until you hit full-blown womanhood where you can choose regular, misses, tall, petite and plus sizes. All these sizes are conveniently numbered from zero to infinity and beyond; so what’s the problem you innocently ask? The problem comes when some man wants to buy you an article of clothing. Consider the following true-to-life conversation between a loving husband and his wife:

Husband X: “Honey, I wanted to buy you something for your birthday but I need to know what size to get.”

Now assuming that “Honey” is a truthful person she will give the darling man her correct, current size and not the one she was 14 years ago when they were married.

Honey: “Well now, that depends. In a dress I’m an 8 or a 10, depending on if the skirt is a straight or not. Pants, that’s another story. Pleated in the front, a 10 should be fine. If they’re flat, that’s more trendy, I guess a 12 would be OK.

“Now sweaters, a small or medium would work especially if it had either a raglan or inset sleeve with shoulder pads. And coats, they run big, so a six should do it.”

And so poor Husband X, in a daze of numbers and meaningless words, attempts to drive to the mall. The truth be told he was lost after that first part about the straight skirt. Don’t all women wear their skirts straight, he ponders? He had never noticed a crooked one before. He was simply going to have to pay more attention.

As this little vignette shows, women’s fashions are full of misnomers and meaningless terms. But for pure ethereal fashion industry nonsense last fall we heard the non sequitur of:

Gray is the new black.

Then last spring it was:

The new black is pink.

This past summer I actually heard the perky female co-host of a morning show say, “So, the new black has gone from gray to pink to orange. Imagine that.” My question is, what’s wrong with the real thing?

While I’ve never been a true fashionesta, I have tried to at least keep up with the times, even when certain body parts and the corresponding fashion were diametrically opposited.

Who could forget the 60s with afros, bell bottom pants, platform shoes and hip-huggers. I was just coming into my own in those heady days. Suddenly my frizzy hair, which had been the bane of my existence just the year before when poker straight hair had been “in,” was fashionable. As a bonus, platform shoes gave me height and the pant “bells” became so wide that I could put my four-inch soled shoes on first and then slip the jeans over them.

But as with most things in life, there is cosmic pay-back. A problem occurred when I pulled the pants the rest of the way up. I made the startling discovery that hip-huggers were not designed for women who actually had hips. No matter how low or high I wore them, there was a gap at the top where my waist went in and the “bulge” that was my actual hip, hung out.

And so it went for the next 30 years. Until now I have been able to patch together bits and pieces of the fashion du jour so that I looked, as my mother would say, presentable. While the “maxi look,” which followed the “mini style” made me look like Mini Me, I applauded elephant pants because they cured the hip hugger problem. I reveled in the shmatte-like “Annie Hall” fashion, where everything was lose and railed against the early “Princess Diana” elan with its frou-frou ruffles and frippery.

I must say most of the 80s and 90s went by in a denim blur. I missed out on much of the disco trend due to two severe cases of pregnancy and spent the rest of those decades in the mommy uniform of jeans and sneakers.

But now that I am a woman of “a certain age,” I find that I am much like those poor, forgotten six-year-old girls and the pariah of the fashion industry. For despite the racks and racks of clothing, there is simply nothing to wear.

I can take heart, because my last fortune cookie told me,

“A new wardrobe brings great joy and change in your life.” I also know that it will be in my own personal, new black - nude.


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