Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Clothing I’d like to blame for something or other

One of the better – or worse, depending on your perspective – stories to come out of the Olympics was the speed-skating wardrobe malfunction.

Of course, it really wasn’t so much a wardrobe malfunction as it was a blame-it-on-the-Under Armour speed-skating suits malfunction in judgment on the part of some of the athletes.

The team chose to disrobe from the new-fangled suits with the vents that were supposedly slowing them down, and donned they now their older apparel, which was a proven winner.

Turns out it wasn’t the suit – the older suits were made by Under Armour as well – but the skaters, who got out-skated by those Dutch sharpies.  (One of the most fun thingnorwegian pantss in the Olympics is watching small countries like The Netherlands and Norway do so well. But if anyone were going to blame their costume on their defeat, I’d say that the Norwegian curlers, with their wow-just-wow pants might have a claim. )

Anyway, the clothing brouhaha has gotten me thinking about some personal wardrobe lowlights.

I’m not quite sure just what I can blame on them, but surely the fact that for 11 years I wore a hunter green jumper and white blouse must be responsible for some failure or another in my life. (In case you’re wondering, it was “only” 11 years because in first grade we did not wear uniforms. In case you’re wondering why I wore the same outfit for so many years, it’s because I went to the only parochial high school in Worcester that didn’t trade in those fuddy old jumpers for the “cooler” look of a blazer and plaid skirt. My high school uniform looked more like what my mother had worn at Alvernia High School during the Depression than it looked like anything that Catholic girls wore during the 1960’s.)

Maybe it’s the jumper’s fault that I lack supreme fashion confidence, and tend to fall back on the familiar and the safe, heavy on the L.L. Bean and Talbot’s.

There was so much green on my back in those days…

I had a loden-green loden coat during high school.

Naturally, it was not the popular brand – whatever that was – but was the Anderson-Little knock-off version. Less sturdily made, so that half the toggle buttons tore off, and my mother replace them with standard round buttons. Bad enough to have a faux loden coat, but to not even have the leather toggle buttons…

For a couple of years there, my Sunday coat was a dark green herringbone Chesterfield, followed by a Kelly green wool boucle.

Neither one of them fit.

I have long arms, and I was very self-conscious about my wrist bones sticking out. So I always chose the coat two-sizes too large, but with long enough sleeves. I was a dumb kid, but did it not occur to my mother that the sleeves on the coat that fit could be let down? 

The Chesterfield was a particularly appalling fit. It had a zip-out lining, and when the lining was zipped out, I could have fit another kid in there with me.

Any wonder I have a warped self body image?

Not to mention fear and loathing of the color green. These days, I rarely if ever choose an article of clothing of the green persuasion.

Fast forward a few years…

What was I thinking when I bought those blue and white striped ticking pants with the roll-up cuffs?  That I would look thin, young, and cute like the model in the Land’s End catalog? Or, failing that, that I’d look crisp, Nantucket-y and Waspy/preppy?

Whatever I was thinking, it was gone with the wind once my 70 year old mother (sorry, it seemed ancient at the time) and my 80 year old aunt were falling all over each other to compliment me on those damned pants. They were “smart,” they were “kippy”, they were “darling.” Where did I get them? The girls wanted in. Sorry Liz. Sorry, Peg. Those smart-y pants were in the Goodwill pile five minutes after I got home.

Oh, no. Oh, no. Now that I’ve opened the Pandora’s closet, my wardrobe mistakes are flying out so rapidly and in such number, I can barely focus on them.

That drippy pink cashmere sweater that could have come straight out of Queen Elizabeth’s closet at Balmoral. That camel jersey dress that sapped all the life out me.  That pale aqua suit. The taupe Eisenhower jacket. The striped sweater with the batwing sleeves.

Surely, there are any number of items in my lifelong wardrobe that are responsible for something or other.

If only I could figure out just what.

Much easier if you’re a competitive athlete with a uniform to pin the blame on.

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