She was that perfect brand of prep. If she went to boarding school, she would run with the crowd that snuck out to smoke cigarettes and meet boys. She would probably get in trouble for rolling up her skirt or accessorizing dangerously. Lucky for me – and the nuns! – she went to public school.I remember thumbing through prints of my mom and her friend Diane, Diane in a canary keyhole dress and my mom in a halter jumpsuit. If you looked hard, you would see the glint off the horseshoe on her Etienne Aigner belt. Fuji Film, predating Instagram by more than 30 years, left a fiery patina over the photo. Instant chic.
My mom’s champagne taste left behind some gorgeous pieces that titillated a young me, well before I was old enough to be using words like “titillated.” I dreamed of the day when I would be old enough to wear her silk tie-front blouse, chevron-printed of course, with the high-waisted maroon trousers and stacked heel shoes; I had it all planned out.
Unfortunately, in her years as a 70s glamorpuss, my mom put the size 4 in Studio 54. Me? Add those 2 numbers together and then we’ll talk.
In an “old is the new new” economy, my mom’s disco digs were right on time for my high school career. Oh how I longed to wear her metallic tops, which I imagined her sashaying around in, outdoing even the mirrored ball suspended above the dance floor. I settled for her hoop earrings, which she graciously offered as a peace treaty with my fragile teenage ego.
“Wait, what are those?” I pointed at a sun bleached cardboard box deep in the shadows of her closet; a denim leg dangled hopelessly over the edge.
“I’m not sure,” she replied carefully, tempering my expectations.
Out came a pair of no-name bells with a 30-inch waist. Likely Prussian blue at one time, the jeans had faded to a perfect shade of cornflower. They were like the Paris Blues and L.E.I. brand jeans the girls in my classes wore, only better. My heart leapt.
Carefully, I stepped into each leg. They slid over my thighs… my hips… my waist. Only one more step! I sucked in my breath and zipped them up gingerly.
“They fit!” I exclaimed.
My mom and I both exhaled. She’d been holding her breath, too.
* * * * *
I wore those bell bottoms no less than three times a week for the next decade of my life. Built tough and before the denim industry decided women’s legs were Naomi Campbell long, they were the only jeans that didn’t need hemming. Yet they flattered flats and wedges alike. They were like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, those jeans. Like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, if it were directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Or maybe “Daughterhood” is more like it. Because after all the stuffing and tucking and wishing and sucking, I wasn’t made to wear the clothes that fit my mom. The bell bottoms that changed my life? They belonged to my dad.
Cornflower blue. I’ve grown to hate cornflower blue. Yesterday I walked up Eighth Avenue and witnessesed a brigade of cornflower blue shirts. The four men weren’t marching for a cause. They weren’t showing camaraderie or looking to stand out as audience members of a stand-up comedy performance they had tickets to. They weren’t looking to stand out at all. In fact, the four men dressed identically in cornflower blue didn’t even know each other! Their “uniform” was a tacit demonstration of working in Corporate America.
I looked down. I too was wearing cornflower blue. A cornflower blue oxford shirt care of the good folks over at Brooks Brothers. An undelicate, right-sized ruffle decorated the collar and let passerbys know that, even though I was dressed in the same colour and boxy shape as the passing platoon, I was female. This is the level of creativity that goes into dressing to impress.
It’s a sad day when feelings of loathing wrap themselves around an innocent hue; a beautiful hue perhaps!, one that occurs in nature. And as I sit here, acid scorn rolling through my mouth and washing over my face, a man sits beside me. He’s wearing cornflower blue, too.
Next week: the gray slacks I just bought at Banana Republic and why I hate them.
A-ha! So it isn’t just me! About Blake Lively and LeoDiCaprio’s budding romance, DListed DClared, “Blake Lively’s Publicist is Damn Good.” This, of course, comes on the heels of my lamentation on Blake becoming the face of the chicest house in fashion. Mon amie Amy and I (what? If a beach blonde like Blake can embody Chanel, why can’t I cherchez le French?) joke around about our publicity agency in which we manufacture fame by pairing people (Ryan Gosling and Clemence Poesy is my pièce de résistance thusfar), scheduling pregnancies, and identifying the perfect charities for celebs to align with. Did somebody say Sparah?
Life is better when the mercury’s north of 70. You know how I know? Today I felt the little lobster claws of static electricity clinging desperately to my skirt. Not even a sprinkle of water could convince them to defect. Oh well, I thought cheerfully, a stronk chinook swirling waist-high. At least they’re keeping me from being overexposed. When the sun is beaming on your face, it’s hard not to have a glass half full kind of day.
I try to keep WWJW positive. I have felt the indignant flush rush through my cheekbones and send a prickling, fever-to-chills sensation as it penetrates the rest of my body, upon reading a hurtful, hateful comment from a cowardly flamer; one of their malices has lingered in my psyche too long after such an occasion. Some of my experiences blogging and putting myself out there have given me a sensitivity to the criticism that public figures endure. Surely I’m not comparing the exposure I receive on my silly little blog to that of an A-List — or F-List even — celebrity. But I do try to keep it complimentary because it’s simply small-minded to dish out spiteful slander in a public place.
That being said… I do have a grievance I can’t keep quiet any longer. The last straw came when Blake Lively was named the new face of Chanel Mademoiselle. Baz Luhrmann helped Nicole Kidman for Chanel win me over. Fresh, French, and having played Coco herself in a biopic, Audrey Tautou was easily likable. But Blake Lively? Last I checked the credits to her name include a gossip girl, a coke fiend, and a sassy soccer star. Sure, she’s hot, but shouldn’t the face of Chanel be chic? Coco Chanel herself said, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” Though Blake Lively may very well embody those traits, I can’t concede that she is the perennial example. Chanel’s not Dior… it’s not Dolce & Gabbana… it’s not Gucci. Chanel is in the upper eschelon of fine fashion. Their representatives must have that enduring extra special something to be just right. Blake Lively is a stunner for sure, but I’m not convinced she’s The One for Chanel Mademoiselle.
Karl Lagerfeld, take note.
…And now, someone who’s definitely not chic enough for Chanel.
Happy Easter! Today is one of those serendipitous days where what I wore corresponded with where I left off in my backlog (backblog?) of outfits. Feels like the good ol’ days… except a lot less creative. I’m still wrestling with how, exactly, I go about maintaining my unique fashion fingerprint and upgrade my level of professionalism. This kelly cardigan feels more like something Kate Spade might wear, or my friend Sarah, with her fervent loyalty to the colour green. In fact, I told her she should take it… then reneged, realizing that I should probably do a better job of incorporating pretty, polished pieces like it into my wardrobe. Sarah, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m an ersatzgiver*.
*It’s pretty outrageous that a people that were generous enough to give up Manhattan for $24 in beads would emerge with a reputation as anything but fair.