Staying, like, stylish, takes, um, thought

Relax. Put your feet up. Don’t worry. Because I’m about to tell you the latest, most definitive trends in fashion for the winter season. After all, I’m a seasoned designer (seventh-grade home ec class). I made one dress, best described as a striped mini-tent, complex yet simple. But I held my head high among the jealous snickers of others.

What I see online in fashion are the usual gaunt robots, aka models, sporting styles that anxiety dreams are made of: large areas of missing cloth in places where one would not want cloth missing, unless one works in an atmosphere where there may or may not be poles on which to dance (I don’t judge); hairstyles reminiscent of the good old days of waking up 10 minutes before the start of a work shift; and open-backed, spindly, 6-inch heels, possibly not the best choice for minus-10-degree, 6-foot-snow-banked Maine winters, although they could double as knitting needles if one is the crafty sort.

I pop my green raincoat on over a threadbare outfit that may have once actually been pajamas (save the earth, people) and head to the mall for field observation.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in the world of style and fashion, people are, in general, still wearing clothes.

And good news from the upscale underwear store. Evidently we’re all gorgeous, cellulite-free, and eternally 22. Also, we wear princess tiaras while parading in our underwear – a nifty idea for any woman. The underwire bra is still featured, a garment responsible for cutting off the circulation of many a nipple during a simple reach for hidden cookies. In my own kitchen.

Moving along, I’m astounded by what I see.

Eyebrow threading (ouch.) Eye rollerball treatments (creepy.) The “ombre” (“I haven’t been to a hairdresser in two years nor washed my hair in three”) look for hair. Dyed hair with roots showing, and nothing blending.

A hairdresser nods toward my head and smiles broadly.

“Bed head is in!” she says.

If clothing doesn’t fit or fit together, it’s trendy. Sparkles are back, again. Whatev.

At a sunglasses counter, a young salesman gently fondles each pair with reverence.

“Jackie O.? Cats-eye? Metallic colors?” he murmurs.

I fish out several half-broken pairs from the pockets of my raincoat.

“Fifteen bucks a pop,” I say, “I lose them a lot.”

“If you had one of these, you wouldn’t,” he says, showing me the price tag. “Emerald. Very cool. Like your raincoat.” He winks.

I tighten the grip on my change purse and vanish into the throng of normally dressed people.

At the card shop, I find what may actually be the very latest thing. A deliriously happy child clutching a fistful of dollars races around like a terrier on crack, stockpiling bags of tiny colorful loopy bands to make into jewelry on miniature looms.

Like a New York subway watch peddler, she shows me dozens of creations she’s wearing.

“See, here’s the ’structions,” she says, pointing to microscopic directions on a bag, “Or you can go on YouTube.”

What is this kid, the CEO of the company?

“My mom makes a lot of money,” she announces, at which point the entire store is treated to mom’s salary, before taxes. But never mind. I have trends to chase.

In the end, I turn to the expert, an award-winning scholar.

“Emma?” I say, into the phone. “It’s Grandma. I’m calling you for two reasons. One: You’re my granddaughter.”

She giggles. She’s my best audience.

“Two: you’re 14, so you set the trends,” I say.

Giggle. And we’re off.

“So, Em, what’s new in hair?” I ask.

“Well, like, I just wear it up, just, kind of, you know,” she says.

“And messy is in?” I ask.

“Um. Hmmm.” Silence.

“How about jewelry?” I continue.

“Well,” she says, “there’s lots of, you know, like, necklaces. Kind of, I don’t know, um, well (giggle). Just … necklaces and stuff.”

“Are you wearing these new loopy bandy things – rings, necklaces, bracelets – made on little looms?” I ask.

“No. But, um, people are.”

“You’re not?” I press.

“Well, you have to go to the store and um, buy, like, this whole, you know, kit.”

“So it takes time,” I begin.

“Well, I mean, I have, like, school and dance and stuff, yeah.”

And clothing?

“Hmmm. Well, just like big chunky sweaters and, um, leggings or jeans or stuff, um, gray, black. … you know, like, neutral.”


“So, um, I like short boots, like leather, like lower than mid-calf. Yeah.”

Pausing, I think about snow. She must be reading my mind.

“Well, they’re not, like, snowy boots (giggle). More dressy than functional, yeah,” she says.

And spiky high-heels?

“I don’t bother. It’s not worth it,” she says, “You look awkward walking in them.”

“I do?” I ask.

Now we both giggle.

Anything else trendy?

“Nothing really. I mean, um, just, yeah,” she says.

I review everything.

And my trained eye and discerning ability to incorporate advice from experts tells me all I need to know.

Like, well, yeah. Just, you know, yeah.

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