I have often dreamed of being a fashionista. Daydreams are filled with visions of stylish colors, textures, accessories fitting and matching perfectly – no lumps, no wrinkles, no mismatched tops and bottoms. Whenever I spot a well-dressed human I come to a stop and try to soak in their fashion know - how. I go through a mental check-list so that the next time I have occasion to get dressed up I will have stored the knowledge I need away for safe keeping.
As a child I gave no thoughts to what I wore. I grabbed whatever was at the top of my bureau drawer, threw it on and went out to play or else my mom would tell me what to wear and I wore it, no questions asked. As long as I was comfortable and could run, jump, and ride my bike, I didn’t even think about what I looked like. I became more aware of clothing and fashion in my early teens. When I was 13 we moved to a new town and I had to go through the process of making friends. I just wanted to fit in and be liked – how difficult could that be? I met a girl who lived around the corner from me and she spent that summer helping me learn the ins and outs of my new community.
We spent a great deal of time discussing the first day of school and wondering what to wear. I daydreamed about entering the sacred halls of junior high, people turning to watch us as we walked in, rushing to meet the new girl in town. My organizer would be filled with names, addresses, and I would be overbooked with invites to slumber parties and dances. The golden glow of my daydream quickly vanished and a dark cloud moved in with my new reality. My new friend and I , after much discussion, had decided to wear plaid skirts with crisp white blouses for that infamous first day. I even convinced my mom to let me wear a training bra. A training bra ? What the heck was it training? Okay, girls, sit up and look perky ! At 13 I didn’t have a lot of perky. Who named it a training bra ? I can only guess. Then there were the legs. This was before the days of pantyhose so mature women wore garter belts and stockings. So while I convinced mom to let me wear the ‘training’ bra, there was no way she was letting me wear a garter belt. Now my legs at that point in my life were
thin super skinny, very shapeless, really pale. Many a heated discussion was held with mom about what my leg coverings would be and she assured me that she would find me the perfect socks. Trust me, she said. So I did. And off I went to my first day of junior high with my pleated plaid skirt, my crisp white blouse, training bra hanging around waiting to train and my little white ankle socks. Yep. White ankle socks. My golden glow quickly disappeared when I noticed that many of the girls were wearing fishnet stockings. As hard as I tried to make my legs invisible it didn’t happen. Red fishnets, green fishnets, even black fishnets…and my brilliantly white ankle socks. And while I have repeatedly tried to erase the memories of that day, I have not been successful. From that day forward I was a marked target. My label had been cast in stone for the rest of my school days. And my label was not fashionista.
So now flash forward. For the last thirty years I have been busy raising children, teaching, playing, and my closet is full of blue jeans, t-shirts and sweatpants. I have my ‘teacher clothes’ and fancy dresses for those special occasions. On a day to day basis I dress rather plain jane. Until now that has not bothered me but maybe it is my age, maybe it is THE menopause, maybe I just need a change but I am starting to think that I want to be a fashionista. I want people to take a second glance when they notice that my blouse, skirt, sweater, and shoes all match. My accessories will be the perfect finishing touch. My grandchildren will be proud and never embarrassed.
So January 2010 seemed like the perfect time to begin my transformation. I have been more mindful of what I am wearing and have started to weed out my closet. I have been studying fashion magazines and looking closely at women who have already attained the status of fashionista. I can do this. I am capable. I will finally be able to wipe out all memories of that disastrous day in September 1969. Last Monday was to be the unveiling of Fashionista Debbie. I went to the gym first thing in the morning because I think that is what fashionistas must do. I sweat just a minimal amount, trying to move with grace and poise on the machines. I am not the most graceful of exercisers so this was a taxing situation. And I was really missing my baggy old sweatpants which I had retired. These new black too tight spandex yoga type pants were giving me a wedgy and since mirrors surround the gym I was stuck with it. After a not so rewarding workout I went to the locker room to change. So maybe the gym experience hadn’t gone as planned, I now could proudly display my fashion abilities. My maroon skirt, jacket, with silky black top accented with my
snowman pin pearls,finished off with my sexy black leather boots. These boots were a treat to self, a splurge, part of the white ankle sock healing process. I pulled the boots out of my gym bag and went to put them on. I then stopped breathing for a second or three. I furiously reached for my gym bag and pulled everything out. I swallowed hard. I had two different black boots. Not a pair of black boots. I felt like I was on Sesame Street playing the ‘one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong’ game. I sat down on the bench. I regrouped. Crying was not going to help me in this situation but that was my first impulse. I could wear my sneakers but I just kept wondering what would a true fashionista do? I really had no clue since this whole fashion thing was now giving me a friggin’ headache. I looked at the boots.They were both black, both had zippers, one had a silver buckle, one had a stiletto type heel, one had a chunkier heel..I don’t even know who belongs to the stiletto heeled boot – I don’t have too much experience walking in stilettos. How often do people look at my legs or feet? My guess was not very often so…screw it. I am wearing these mismatched boots. I would pretend I was doing a social experiment. How many people would mention to me that I had two different boots on ? So I put them on and then started to do what I always do when I am nervous, I giggled. I then took a deep breath and entered the locker room. Whoa. I had not taken into consideration that walking in boots with different heel lengths could be challenging. I strolled casually around the locker room trying to establish a gait which felt normal. I looked in the mirror at myself walking and my nervous giggle erupted. I looked like the horses on a merry-go-round. Left side up, right side down, my hips were getting a workout as I attempted to be graceful. I ventured out of the locker room which is on the second floor of the gym and approached the stairs with hesitation. I took the first step and made the necessary adjustments with each step. Clip, clop, hang on tight to the rail, slowly I approached the first floor landing. I found a bench and sat down. This social experiment was turning into a physical challenge. I made it to my car without making a scene and no one commented on my boots. I had planned on stopping at a store before heading to the office and for a second I considered nixing the plan but is that what a true fashionista does? No way. So into the parking lot I pulled, stepping right into a huge slush pile upon exiting my vehicle. Stiletto heels do not maneuver well in slush and I am thankful that I had one chunky heeled boot on since it saved me from an embarrassing fall. My hips were starting to ache from the uneven up and down stride but I kept on walking. A man in a walker passed me, head down and then, his head abruptly lifted and he made eye contact with me. I smiled. He looked down at my boots again. Eye contact again. I smiled my best fashionista smile, and choked down the giggle which was working its way out. He shook his head, smiled and we continued on our path. I entered the store and found the tiled floor to be a bit slippery. My stiletto heel slid out of control to the right. Chunky heel held his ground, and my thigh muscle tweaked. I had grabbed onto the store shelving to balance myself and I slowly regained my composure. I looked around to see if anyone was watching and found a true fashionista staring at me. Go ahead, I thought, say it, you know you want to. She glanced stared hard at my boots. I begged her to talk to me, to make mention of my mismatched, wicked uncomfortable pair of boots. I wanted to tell her that I knew where she could get a pair just like mine! But she said not a word. She shook her head quietly in disbelief. I started to giggle.