(I wrote this in 2010 before I had a blog. I’m not even sure that I knew what a blog was back then. I am now 57 years old and not much has changed).
I have fashion non-sense.
After 50 years, this realization finally hit home this past Thursday. Oh, there have been plenty of hints along the way. For example, friends wanted to call “Ambush Makeover” to have them, well, ambush me and throw my entire wardrobe into a dumpster. My fashion nonsense is that bad.
Thursday started like any other work day. I got dressed as I usually do, looked in the mirror, and honest to God, I thought I looked fine in the neutral pair of khaki pants and sheer brown blouse that fell down below my butt. Because the blouse is meant more for summer wear than the recent sub-zero temperatures , I decided to wear my brown velour blazer over it.
Ahhh, yes. The brown velour blazer. My mother handed this item down to me back in the 1980’s. Well, maybe it was sometime in the 90’s but the point is, the jacket is old and the elbows are starting to wear thin. Do they even make velour anymore?
I then slipped my feet into my well worn (read scuffed and scratched) tan colored cowboy boots and donned the only winter coat I own, a men’s extra-large tan leather jacket with fringe running across the chest, down the arms and across the back. This coat is also not new, having been purchased in smoke filled Colorado pawn shop by my husband. After a thorough cleaning, I have been wearing it every fall and winter since 2002 because it is the warmest coat I have ever owned. I’m nothing if not practical.
Because I do not accessorize – no rings, bracelets, watches or ear rings – the only outstanding item missing from this “Vision in Brown” ensemble was my purse. My purse, while caramel in color and matching perfectly with the fringe coat and the tan boots, is really too small to fit all of the junk that I carry with me on a daily basis. So, I put the purse inside a freebie canvas bag that I got from my employer. It is not tan and the purse is not visible inside.
I saw nothing wrong with the “Elvis Presley meets Annie Oakley” ensemble until I visited the Ladies’ room mid-morning. When I opened the stall door, I was faced by my reflection in the mirror, and was horrified by what I saw. The blouse was hanging down BELOW the blazer both in the front AND in the back. The pants while neutral in color were cool grey and did not blend with the warm browns. I don’t know why I didn’t notice this in my own mirror. But the realization hit – I looked like hobo.
I ran back to the office and blurted to a co-worker, “Oh my God! I look like a HOBO!”
Had I not taken a good look at myself, I would have gone on with my day in “What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You” bliss. But I could not un-see my reflection. And I had an appointment to meet with a family to discuss finances. The irony was not lost on me, but it didn’t make me feel any better, either.
So, having no alternative wardrobe, I was introduced to the family as the “Money Expert,” dressed like I live at the Salvation Army.
“Trust me,” I said, “I will give you options regarding the $ 400,000 – 600,000 your parents have in investment accounts”. And the funny thing is; they did trust me. It must be my smile. It’s not second hand and it is genuine.
Faced with this humbling realization, I decided that this weekend I would go out and buy myself a new coat, new shoes and a new purse. Yes, shoes. I own one pair of shoes that I actually wear, and they have been falling apart for months. There are holes in the sides and the heels are starting to disconnect from the sole.
Part of the reason I have a nonsensical wardrobe is because I hate to shop. I have hated it ever since I can remember.
As a kid, Back to School shopping was a nightmare. Trying on outfits drained me. If I didn’t show enthuasisum for a particular outfit, my mother would say, “I’m not going to buy it if you don’t love it otherwise you’ll never wear it.”
This resulted in trying on more outfits until I could convince her, somehow, to just buy something. Eye-rolling was not getting the job done. In reality, it wasn’t the outfits I was unenthusiastic about, it was the shopping and I had no idea how to fake that. Online shopping was decades in the future, but at six years old, I was ready for it.
As a teenager, the thing I liked most about going to the mall was eating at Friendly’s and going to the movies. The only item of clothing that I didn’t mind “shopping” for was Landlubber jeans at R.H. Whites. And I use the term shopping loosely. I knew my size, so I didn’t have to try them on. I could pick them out of a bin, walk over to the register, pay for them and I was done. That’s my idea of shopping.
I also hate the cold. So if I have to go shopping and it is cold outside, the chances that I will actually get out the door decrease expotentially. So, true to form, on Saturday, I put off leaving the house so long that by the time I decided to force myself into the cold, it was 3 pm. Since it was going to get dark soon, I decided not go. I ate donuts instead. Donuts are a separate issue and have nothing to do with my wardrobe or fashion, but have everything to do with me bitching about my weight and not wanting to buy “fat” clothes. Eating donuts on Saturday served more as a disincentive to go shopping on Sunday.
I did manage to go shopping on Sunday. I made it to the Burlington Coat Factory and actually bought TWO coats. I then went to Marshalls and bought TWO purses (one tan and one black) and I realized something else. The winter coat I bought was just like the one I already had – minus the fringe and smoke smell from the pawn shop. The purses were luggage like – kind of like the tote I’ve been carrying.
So I guess maybe shopping isn’t the issue, its taste. I don’t have any. I continue to look over my shoulder in case of an ambush.