Thursday, October 7, 2010

my fashion history: part i, the early years

Consider this part one in a two part mini-series on my growth into a complete shopaholic and fashion lover. I thought it would be fun to take a little stroll down memory lane regarding my personal fashion evolution.

My cousin was such a good sport.
 I blame my mother for my shopping addictions. It may seem unfair to blame a parent for one's issues, but in this case I think it is totally justified. She's a shopaholic (though she'll probably deny it up and down if confronted) and she passed the addiction on to me. In fact, she started me on this path from a very young age.

I look like a life-size doll.

When I was born, I think my mother saw me more as a fun doll to play dress up with that just happened to breathe and make noise than an actual child. Like a Baby Alive only way cooler. And probably louder and more obnoxious. I pretty much came out of the womb and was immediately swaddled in lace and pink and frills. My room growing up was lace and pink and frills. My first "big girl bed" had flowers stenciled on it and a frilly pink canopy (never mind that the canopy regularly fell on me while I slept, my parents sacrificed child safety for style, apparently).

I wish I had that jacket NOW. So stylish!
 As soon as I was old enough to have an opinion I rebelled against the bows and frills. My mother would still wrestle me into tights and flowers and headbands for special occasions (anyone else suffer through school picture day like this? No wonder I never looked happy in any of them) but at home, in my free time, I was a total tomboy. I begged her to let me shop in the boys department. I stole clothes from my younger brother. I even had a pair of boys' hockey skates, which completely perplexed my mother, since as a child she had been forced to wear hand-me-down boys' hockey skates, and all she wanted was a pair of bright white figure skates.

Coordination is key. So are fabulous backdrops.
 Of course, I was a pretty crappy rebel, even as a youngster. My mom would buy me clothes and I wouldn't have the heart to tell her I hated them. I distinctly recall a black sweater with primary colored rainbow stripes across it. I think it may have also zippered. I hated this sweater. Mother loved it. She had bought it from my favorite store (remember Limited Too!? I literally could not fathom the idea of shopping anywhere else and I feared the day I would no longer fit in their clothes. Dear lord.) and she figured I would love it too. I think I wore it once to appease her, then I finally told her at some point that I really didn't like it. I felt really guilty when she bought me clothes I didn't like, and hated telling her I didn't want them. At some point this definitely changed, as I now have no problem with saying "Ew Mom, that's gross. Please return it immediately" about things she's bought for me or for herself.

I LOVED those sneakers. Note the ketchup incident on my right foot. And my trademark sweats.
 But when I was a kid, let me tell you, many a clothing battle occurred. She just could not understand why I wanted to dress like a boy, in plaid and sweatsuits. Looking back, neither can I, but I suspect  it had something to do with my early overdose on anything and everything girly.

Sadly, this was the beginning of the awkward years.
 My favorite outfits were pretty much limited to matching sweatsuits or wind suits. Wind suits were obviously worn on gym day at school. A few particularly memorable outfits:

- a maroon and navy sweatsuit with a row of fall leaves embroidered across the front.
- a gray t-shirt and short set with purple trim that said Cape Cod on the front. Half my wardrobe was from Cuffy's (I'm sure you Cape Codder's know Cuffy's, but in case you don't, they're huge factory stores that sell various clothing items that say Cape Cod on them.)
- a hot pink wind suit that, unbeknownst to me, had a hole in the pocket, causing all the coins from my lunch money to fall into my pants and lodge between the outer layer and the lining. Awkward.
- blue plaid, bell-bottomed, stretchy pants and a matching blue sweater with a stripe across the front. This was one of my favorite outfits, worn with those clompy black shoes we favored when I was in 9th grade. My BFF had a similar pair I do believe. This was purchased at Limited Too, obviously.
- a green plaid schoolgirl skirt, worn with a matching short sleeved turtleneck sweater. Last seen at an 8th grade dance with my curled bangs, glasses, and braces. My supreme awkward phase. Another Limited Too classic.

Mother and I, decked out in our mid-90s finery.
 At some point, obviously, I also started loving clothes. I can't say when it happened - maybe high school? - but shopping was suddenly not the horror of horrors it was when I was a child. I suddenly enjoyed getting dressed, and I found I didn't miss Limited Too at all. Suddenly my mother and I were able to spend our weekends trolling the local malls, discussing hem lines and sweater colors! Where Younger Me would dread having to wear a dress, suddenly I had a closet full of them. While my fashion sense has come a long way from plaid stretch pants and matching sweatsuits (I can't even touch the fancy, Juicy Couture versions) there are still some fashion rules I haven't broken since childhood: I still don't think I look good in a ruffle, and I will never again wear pastel pink.


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