The cashier finished with my order and I dug around in my brown leather winter purse even though it was now spring, fishing for my eel skin wallet (left over from when eel skin was a thaaang at our 1998 state fair). I paid for my groceries and while slipping on my husband's snow blowing gloves, my fingernails snagged due to the chipping of my neglected two and half week old cherry bomb red manicure. Pushing my cart outside, I thought about how there was a time I would have been going home with the latest Vogue or Glamour instead of Reader's Digest Fun! edition.
But that was before.
Before my life I have now, of me marching out into the spring rain with rain boots on that I borrowed from my 11-year-old son. My Putin-style overcoat was conveniently hanging on the kitchen chair this morning so that's what I grabbed on my rush out of the door. My coat was blowing open in the wind because I never have time to button anything and my hair was soaked by the time I got into the minivan so why even bother with the flat iron. Once to the car, I stopped to readjust the purple rubber band in my hair from last night's broccoli. As I loaded the trunk of the van with groceries that would probably last two days--three if I hid the bread in the freezer--I saw a woman about my age walk past me. She wore an insanely trim tan coat, and it was buttoned. She was clicking along in shiny scuff-free black boots that were HEELED. Her hair looked like she made her salon appointments according to her hairdresser's suggested 8-week rule, not like my "Free afternoon! Is there a place that takes walk-ins?!"
I watched her walk. wondering when I veered off the fashion track.
Once upon a time, I used to look like that. I carry a picture around in my wallet from 1996 in case people don't believe me. "See, here? See how cute I was. I can prove it." I started my car and while I drove, I tried to pinpoint when it was exactly that I took that turn, the one that led to this, the land of the Out of Fashion.
It's a hard fall, and one that leaves your once size four rump sore. When I was in high school and a budding fashion queen, I took a notebook and just to see, I kept track of how long I could go without repeating an outfit. I made it three months.
Three months of looking better than any mannequin in a Jean Nicole store window.
So, when did I go from thinking of the 3C's of my new engagement ring to the 3C's of this morning's clothing choice; comfort, convenience, clean?
I think I can dissect the genesis of my Fashion Fall this way:
2003 - I choose a jacket I like over a jacket I love, merely because it had a hood, and the other one didn't. First step in "If it keeps me warm I'm gettin' it" lifestyle.
2004 - Gap khakis start to look good one day while I'm at the mall. Six pairs later, they still look good. ::this one, I did not see coming::
2005 - Stretchy pants make their first appearance in my closet. I wear them to exercise class and haven't taken them off since.
2006 - I decide those dusty rose pajamas I'm wearing can pass for comfort clothes. It's okay to run to the drugstore in them. Only the drugstore, I promise myself.
2007 - I choose the free sunglasses they give out at the 4th of July parade over sun blindness.
2008 - Terrycloth slipper socks with jack-o'-lanterns on them work just as well as normal people socks when you're in a hurry. They even add an extra layer of cush that feels like comfort. And love. All in one.
2009 - I won't give up even one pair of the six pairs of khakis in my closet, not even for a Goodwill donation purge. I might need them, if I ever need to go somewhere. It might happen.
2010 - I quit googling "Are round-toed shoes/capri pants/racer back tanks/take your pick still in style?" before I leave the house to go anywhere anymore.
2011* - I make the decision one morning to leave my house in slippers, telling myself they could pass for clogs at a quick glance.
2012 - For the first time, I desperately try mascara over the new grey hairs on my temples. It looks pretty good, until a day like today when it rains, making me look like I just crawled through a mudslide.
2013 - My friend from Chicago visits. So what if when she sees my clogs she calls them hausfrau shoes then backtracks by telling me they're good for walking through fields of cow shit.
I'm mulling over each of these events and dates as I drive, muttering how I only have myself to blame. Then, I am blessed with the light of realization--my state of fashion isn't hopeless.
I still have one saving grace.
Though I am precariously perched in the Out of Fashion chasm, I have one move left, and this is it:
I haven't given up my cow pie field walking clogs but neither have I paired them with my skinny jeans yet. Uh-huh. Because we all know that one is the nail in the coffin.
It's the one fashion move you never come back from.
Make skinny jeans with clogs your go-to outfit and that right there, is setting sail down the River Styx.
No turning back from that voyage and even more fashion damning than the winter Colonial Pantaloon look here. [2011: Pivotal point in fashion fall timeline. That's the day I swear I felt a tear in the fashion fabric of my life]
* * *
Other Places You Can Find Me This Week: