Saturday, November 19, 2011

My fashion evolution?

So McGee got me thinking about my own clothing beginnings. 

I was incredibly shy and the youngest of three girls. Rather than hang around with the neighborhood girls playing with dolls, I opted to climb pine trees behind my house, swipe my Dad's tools and build forts.  Needless to say, I had a lot of torn pitch-stained corduroys and jeans. I lived in flip-flops whenever possible.

Growing up, most of what I wore were hand-me-downs.  I remember some for the grief they brought me in school: a funky green pair of ultra soft corduroys (way out of style by the time I had to wear them), a pair of brown suede sneakers that were clearly not the Adidas, Puma's or Nike's that "everyone else" had, a pair of purple-ish cowboy boots my freshman year. Yes.  Kind of tragic.

We didn't have a lot of money growing up and my Mom was in her forties when she had me and so, was born in a day when you had a few good outfits you rotated between.  She didn't understand the "clothes-horse" mentality of her daughters until they started steering her away from her "sensible" polyester skirts and slacks which aged her unfairly.  Once we had her wearing cotton clothing, cute little flats and a perm instead of a weekly roll and set, she gained an understanding for our clothing passion.   

I grew up in a house with only a black and white tv set and no cable.  I watched as Kate Heburn pulled off "man pants" and was smart and feminine.  I envied how Audrey, in an over-sized mans white shirt paired with flats and Capri pants, was so casually elegant.  And later, how actresses, like Ali McGraw, could make the simplest of outfits look sexy in an off-hand, non-contrived way.

Eventually I was rescued by my oldest sister and my fascination with her closet.  I would be mesmerized as she got ready for dates  The menagerie of clothes and shoes was as magical as watching her pull it all together.  Clothing closed the eleven year age distance between us and brought us closer.  She bought me gauze shirts, showed me how to make cut-off shorts, and eventually started letting me borrow her clothes. Her best friend Suzie would pass things along my way too.  I can still ramble off more details about my sisters clothing from that period that I can of my own.  Those are happy clothing memories and the beginning of my evolution.

I've loved aspects from every era: the classic cut of jackets from the forties, The pencil skirts and sweater sets from the fifties, the flair of the pants and breeziness of the Bohemian shirts of the sixties and seventies.  I'll even admit to some of the big hair, pumps and padded shoulders of the eighties.  But only a little.

Then McGee came along and we became fast friends.  She talked about  being a "North Country" girl, when everything about her said "hip city chick."  And her man, a quiet, brooding guy who worked at Strawberry's music, got us into fabulous gigs in and around, our boring little city and Cambridge, Massachusetts. She hooked me on vintage clothing shops, and even put up with me swiping things from her closet. She had me layering,  and pairing and taking chances and I loved it. This was the eighties.  The Breakfast Club, flipped up collars on over-sized shirts, gloves, hats, spats.  You name it. 

Eventually, our lives set us on different paths.  I headed off to the West coast mid 90's  to a little town just north of San Francisco.  If I traveled south into the city, there were people dressed "to the nines" the avant garde, the hipsters.  In my neck of the woods were celebrities quietly going about being "normal" and beach people, tourists and surfers.  And I need only travel a short distance North into Bolinas, to find myself surrounded by the Bohemians, making their own clothes, growing their own needs.  It was a relaxed time of fashion experimentation.  Softer flowing clothes, a few vintage pieces, the scent of the ocean always close, nearly barefoot. 

I eventually moved back to the east coast, found love, had two boys, stayed at home and lived in jeans in the colder months, shorts all the rest and took care of the home front.  It took me awhile to realize that I had no idea who I was in clothing anymore.  Jeans and sweats can do that to a girl.  Evolving again.  

Then, a few years ago, McGee reached out to me and we began to reconnect.  It was uncanny how much we still had in common.  While our styles are different in so many ways, we respect the others tastes and opinions.  We have a kindred groove in the way things work.  She talks about my "eye for color" and I admire her easy way of pulling the funkiest things together for a super feminine and super cool style.  We found we still loved vintage, that we each collect little evening bags, and clutches, that clothing was still our common ground of expression.

Who am I now?  I don't think I'll ever completely settle.  I love the ever evolving remix of fashion.  I trend less, and shoot for comfortable.  It has to have a flow, a stretch, a feel.  I'm intrigued still by mixing old with new, wearing heels with jeans, knee boots with skinny pants or skirts.

The revolution?  That comes from my age long inner self looking for a way to step aside just enough to feel independent of the norm.  Pairing up and down, deconstructing and recycling, revolving, evolving, my own little fashion revolution. 


  1. Man I totally wish I had the California bit in my history!! I'm sooooooo boring!

    Love this piece...would've loved to have seen those cowboy boots!
    You got me!

  2. Girl, you were never, are never and WILL NEVER be boring!

    And someday, we'll all have to go to The S.F. Bay area!