Well, you cannot very well be wearing J.Crew when you walk into J.Crew. It’s like wearing a mink to the zoo. Dressing in splatter-painted jeans, a navy and Smelly green striped belt, a gray England tee, and a green, gray, plum and cream argyle cardigan, I walked into J.Crew. It was like feeding a chicken chicken. And while I was acutely aware of it, I simply didn’t care.
Nothing to me says fall like preppy back to school clothes. It is not school that I long for (though I do love being a student). It’s simply that preppy clothing makes me think of Rob Lowe in Oxford Blues. Of women who look good without makeup, early in the morning, as they scull, cheer, or sit tight as coxswain. Navy blazers and argyle knee socks. I just can’t help myself! Aside from the worn jeans, no bra, thrill, I do love that pleated wool skirt, starched white collar, polished shoes look. And I truly admire a woman who can pull off pigtails. Though I haven’t been able to do this since I was eight, and even then, I wasn’t very convincing. Your hair begins to hurt.
Another thing I apparently cannot pull off: anything in vogue right now. I come home excited about my new modern purchase. Finally, I’m back, caught up with the nines, or at least at a six instead of a two. I’m ready for a cocktail party invite. Oh, I’ve got stuff to wear now. That is, until I put it on. "That does nothing for you," Phil says.
"It doesn’t have to," I say as I re-examine my reflection. "It’s in style right now. That’s what it does. It says I’m current, and current feels good." It feels like I’m paying attention, can do it too, not be left too far behind in a safe boring world. If all I wanted to do is flatter my figure, I’d continue to only wear v-neck tops that allow for a plunging bosom, then I’d wear something A-line on the bottom, a skirt because I like my calves and all my heels–and never get a chance to really wear them.
"Just tell me," he says, "what part of you is that top supposed to flatter?"
At this point I usually give up, throw a fit that there’s nothing to wear, and wear the same old thing as always, something v-neck and safe, updating with accessories. But he’s a guy. What the hell does he know? He knows that he doesn’t care what’s in fashion, only what looks good on a woman. And then he adds, "wear what you want. I think you’re beautiful no matter what. You asked my opinion, but what do I know. If you say it’s in, and it’s what you feel comfortable in, then wear it." Which drives me to keep safe on and put the new "does nothing for me" clothes back into the bag with the receipt. I need shopping girlfriends who know how to be honest and not just read my reaction before mimicking it back to me. Girls that say, "I know it looks like shit on the hanger, but trust me, this coat will update your look and make everything you wear look enviable. Yes, you wear it with black long ladylike leather gloves." Where are personal shoppers when you need them? And please don’t say they’re hanging out at By George in Austin. I don’t need a 21-year-old telling me, "well, I’ll check in the back for a larger size." Some people actually show up to a place like Saks, and have a room chockablock of clothing in their size awaiting them.
All the things I like, really like, the fitted suits and silky sheer tops, that actually do flatter… "where the hell am I going to wear this?" To work. "Um, technically, I guess I’m on strike, WGA member and all." Even if I weren’t, work involves slippers and an unmade bed, not tweed. I need casual chic, you know, stuff I can wear while shopping for a stroller, to a Mommy and Me thingy, to the occasional dinner. I still need to drop twenty pounds, mind you, but I’m taking my sweet ass time with that. Refusing to drive myself crazy about it, especially when there are so many other fun things about which I can drive myself crazy (er).