I guess I will never be a fashion queen. Or a queen of anything, although I fantasize that in some faraway country, they are looking for me. I’m still waiting for that letter.
But in fashion, I never cultivated a sense of style. My frugal father, in ripped dungarees and worn-thin flannel shirts, and my Mom, with standard A-line skirts, lots of red, and a fake flower in her hair, let me express my inner comfy. For me? Blue jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers – the garb of the ’60s. It still feels good.
But maybe it’s time to expand, so I don’t appear completely obsolete. I search the Internet for “style” to see what’s out there. Believe me, it’s out there.
Shoes: The heels look like 4-inch railroad spikes. One particular pair of shoes has bright blue heels with orange leopard-skin foot parts (the shoe, not the wearer.) Since my blue and orange leopard-skin dress is at the cleaners, I move on. Something called a Jeffrey Campbell “Night Walk” pump, which looks like a tragic orthotic appliance, is described by reviewers as “smokin’ hot” and “comfortable” – surprising, as its super-tall wedge platform has no heel. That’s right. No heel. Then there’s this guy Jimmy Choo – $1,995 gets you his “Kiln” Mesh and Suede Platform Bootie. A thousand bucks per shoe? Seriously?
Accessories: I saw a hat shaped like (I am not kidding) the globe that covers my bedroom ceiling light, minus the interior bulbs. Who knew? I could unscrew a bunch of them around the house and open a boutique.
High fashion in Paris: Picture a lampshade surrounding one’s hips, a steel turtleneck collar and black metallic tubing with pink feathers. That’s a cocktail dress. Some dresses are cut so low half the abdomen shows. No, thanks. Contrarily, some cover all but one’s breathing spaces, called “the minimalism of the last two years… but relaxed.” Relaxed? Relaxed is a turkey dinner and a nap, not a potential trip to the ER.
And if these outfits aren’t scary enough, the corpse-like models, devoid of expression, are like someone’s bad LSD trip. It’s all very, very weird. A Louis Vuitton staffer put it best: “It’s inexplicable, which is what’s so fantastic about it. I don’t know why I love what I love. But I love that I don’t know.” Um, OK. This is the world of high fashion, and by high, I am referring to whoever designed them. I’m pretty sure this stuff doesn’t work for me.
I call my knowledgeable daughter about more conventional trends.
She is brief and to the point.
She says, “I don’t have time for style,” and passes the phone to her 12-year-old.
“Emma,” I begin, “What’s new in fashion?”
“Feathers,” she replied, without missing a beat. “Long colorful feathers, like, in your hair.”
“And Uggs,” she continues. “Uggs are, like, still big. You know – they’re fuzzy on the in-”
“I know,” I cut her off. I’m not that out of it.
“Skinny jeans. And, like, really thick rubber bracelets that say ‘I heart boobies.’”
I hear a stifled giggle.
“What about these 4-inch high heels I see advertised?”
“They’re probably, like, uncomfortable. I like Toms, Grandma,” Em says.
“Yeah. They’re, like, flats? And they have, like, fabric on top.”
“Do you have any?”
“No.” Giggle. “I have Sanuks.”
OK. I am officially out of the fashion loop, which probably is, like, very long and has, like, many colors. I am also, like, confused.
“They’re sandals that are like yoga mats,” Em says. “They’re, like, really popular and comfortable.”
“Yoga mats on your feet??”
Throat clearing. From both of us.
“Em, have you ever heard of minimalism?”
“Um, no. Not lately. But some people wear gym shorts from Nike. Um, I, like, need to go finish my homework now, Grandma.”
I take Emma’s information seriously, but since she’s in another part of the country, I’m not sure if she speaks for all 12-year-old fashionistas.
At Starbucks, where I can wear anything as long as I cough up 5 bucks for my drink, a gaggle of giggling middle-school girls rush behind me, moving together toward their frappuccinos they shouldn’t be able to afford.
We’re all crammed together at pickup, so I ask about fashion.
“Feathers in the hair.”
So – Emma nailed it. I look at their Uggs.
“Sneakers are good, too,” one concedes.
I cannot believe it. I’m in style. Jeans, baggy and worn, but that’s after 20 years of use. And good ol’ New Balance sneakers. Like new, maybe only five years of use.
“So I’m good, huh?” I ask, pointing to my outfit.
A couple of them look away.
One is visibly biting her lip trying to hold it in.
And then I get it. I understand.
I still need the hair feathers.
Kathy Eliscu is a nurse and freelance writer who lives in Westbrook. She credits her way of looking at the light side of life to her mother, the late Marge Eliscu, whose “Coffee Break” humor column ran for two decades in the Maine Sunday Telegram