Thursday, February 5, 2009

What, This Old Thing?

I Call It "Pippi Longstocking Meets George C. Scott"

When I was in high school, my mom told me I dressed like an a
thletic coach. Naturally, I blew my whistle and penalized her 15 yards for unnecessary honesty.

Several years prior, I had won the Ruth Buzzi look-alike contest in my junior high school. Confession: it wasn't so much a contest as a "pet name" given to me by...um...the entire school.

I went through many vinyl handbags defending myself during those years. (Luckily, though, with my giant melon I could wear adult-sized hair nets and not have to get kid-sized ones custom made.)


Then, after high school, it was off to college where, believ
e it or not, I became even less skilled in dressing myself. I ricocheted from one regrettable decision to another (and, no, I'm not talking about dating - that's fodder for another, more disturbing post). It was 50s housewife one day, Madonna wannabe another, extra from "The Great Gatsby" the next.

Our little college town was full of used-clothing stores and I loved to dig through the musty racks, hunting for a treasure with a little piece of masking tape on it that read $2.00, written by hand with a Sharpie. Some of my finds that were worked into my "wardrobe" again and again over those four years:
  • A surplus Eisenhower jacket in army green wool, military patches intact
  • A strapless, pink satin cocktail dress from the 50s whose lining was in such bad shape that the dry cleaner made me sign a release before he'd touch it
  • A men's black overcoat with a plaid lining, popular with flashers across the country
  • A multi-pastel petticoat made of such stiff tulle that it would occasionally roll down the hallway of my dorm like a tumbleweed. (I also suspected it of having cannibalized several pairs of my jeans in my closet while I was away at class.)

What would I do with these ultra-swank items, you ask? Why, I would combine them, of course! Picture the trim, masculine cut of the high-waisted army jacket perched above the springy tulle petticoat hovering around my hips like the lingering, pastel cloud of some chemical explosion, and, to complete the outfit...wait for it...cowboy boots! Woo-Hoo! Add to that the motorcycle helmet I always had in my hand when schlepping across campus and there you have it.

Paging Mr. Blackwell.

In my defense, it was the Eighties.

These are the images that were running through my mind the other day when I stumbled across a book on my shelf that I didn't even remember having - a book about fashion. More specifically, it's a big list of the clothing pie
ces every woman of style should own. [Note: if I were going to buy one of these books today, I'd buy Imogen Lamport's. I'm just sayin'.]

So I took a moment and flipped through the book and I was like, man, are
they way off! A cape?! Seriously? When's the last time you wore a cape? I mean, not counting your roller derby costume.

What
Not To I Wear


I thought I'd share a few of the must-have items from this book and translate them into actual, real-life items from my admittedly sketchy pile of crap everyday wardrobe:

"Stylish" Women Should Own: Silk Pajamas


Really? Are we fancy? Does your husband often strut around the house in a satin smoking jacket and cravat? Neither does mine. (Okay, th
e first one did and, frankly, I didn't care for it.) Why so dressy when all you're going to do is fall asleep and have that same nightmare you always have? (The one where you're in the grocery store wearing nothing but a pool float and desperately trying to find a manager so you can get a refund on a bag of circus peanuts but then you run into your old boyfriend who for some reason has turned into a centaur. You know - that nightmare.) If I'm going to be sweating and kicking the covers off and waking up in terror, I want to be comfy. My real-life alternative: ancient, oversized college t-shirt and, you know, drawers.

"Stylish" Women Should Own: Leather Pants


Stop right there. I can think of maybe five people in the world who have any business in leather pants, and only two of them are women: Tina Turner and Chrissy Hynde. Period. What do they have in common? They're ROCK STARS. Rocks stars have highly trained butts that are honed and polished by years of shaking their moneymakers onstage, then soaking them in champagne in their private trailers afterwards. It's a strict regimen they follow for at least two world tours before even attempting leather pants. And for good reason: woe be to the woman (of any age) who foolishly inserts her derriere into leather pants without proper rock star credentials because she will be smote for all eternity by:

OLD LADY BUTT

We've all seen it. Think back to the mere mortals you've seen wearing leather pants and you'll remember that their tushies looked like upholstered cinder blocks, right? Right. To be avoided at all costs until you go multi-platinum (and, no, I'm no talking about your highlights). My real-life alternative: Jeans. The ones I wear pretty much every day (for years now) and wash on most major holidays whether they need it or not.

"Stylish" Women Should Own: Fur


Okay, we'll set animal rights issues aside her
e and just say, "Huh?" Maybe it's because I live in Los Angeles, but I can' t imagine wearing fur anywhere in my regular life. My local Albertson's? School pick-up? The dog track? Hmmm... And why is it that when I picture myself wearing fur, I'm also wearing a turban, dark glasses and holding a long-stemmed cigarette, muttering something about Mr. DeMille and my close-up? My real-life alternative: Black satin baseball jacket. (Goes great with one of those Italian horn gold chains. Shicka-BOW.)

"Stylish" Women Should Own: A Caftan


Well, excuse the Jo Anne Worley out of me, but even I - in my most questionable fashion moments - would not be caught dead or alive in a caftan. Nowhere along the Pippi Longstocking/George C. Scott continuum will you find Mrs. Roper. No way. My real-life alternative: the Hawaiian shirt. Like all parents, my folks sent up a silent prayer before I was born to the tune of, "Please, God, let her look like Jimmy Buffet." The Hawaiian shirt is the great equalizer, turning women into men and men into clueless tourists. Like the Greek fisherman's cap, which should be worn only by (that's right) Greek fisherman, so the Hawaiian shirt is beyond reproach only in its native land. That being said, however, I own several of these babies, in colors that will make your eyes bleed.

"Stylish" Women Should Own: An Evening Gown


Okay, finally! I'm on board with this one. Here's how it works in my closet: Once a year, I pull out the garment bag and slowly unzip it. Then I work my way into my fanciest dress, which lives in pristine solitude, tags still attached, in the back of my closet. I stand on a footstool and turn slowly, assessing the overall look in the bathroom mirror. Year after year, the verdict is the same: I look like a sack of doorknobs in this dress. I gingerly slip it off, return it to its velvet hanger inside the garment bag, and return it to its shrine in the recesses of the clothes rack. A very satisfying ritual.

Kind of like Groundhog Day with cellulite.


Bitchin' New Blog Alert - That minx Marinka (along with ShallowGal) is at it again with an addictive new blog called Secret Spineless Whine. It's a tastefully discreet little hideaway out there in the blogosphere where a person can sample whines of all varieties...or pour their own. Highly satisfying and (side benefit) it doesn't turn your tongue purplish-black.

Thank you
to all my friends from SITS who stopped by earlier in the week when I was Featured Blogger. Wow - so happy to see all of you and meet all the new visitors! (Still can't believe I ran out of three-layer dip - damn!) I'm making my way through the comments and visiting lots of new blogs, so if I haven't stopped by yet...I will soon. And, if you're wondering what SITS is...it stands for The Secret Is In The Sauce and it's one of the nicest groups of broads on the Web (the kind who always have fresh blue water in their powder room potty). I've made many true bloggy friends through SITS - I'm so happy I found them. Stop by and see for yourself... Thanks again for the awesome comments and support!

Thank you
to Kim at Hormone Colored Days for shouting out to my Meme of PMS! Kim's having a contest and the winner will receive a...um...well, she tells it better than I can.

And thank you
for the mention by the tres formidable (that's European for wicked awesome and do not dog me about the missing accent) La Belette Rouge. We will be tying on the ol' feedbag today for the first time and I'm very excited to meet her! I will, naturally, be wearing a corduroy jumper that I have BeDazzled especially for this occasion.

78 comments:

Frau said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog! In Germany I see so many men and women wearing leather pants, first of all they are definatly not rockstars and second it is cold as cold could be so even colder in leather! Plus white everyone in white jeans ...am I wrong not in the winter too muddy!

Hillbilly Duhn said...

You have to admit though, the eighties were so much fun! You could actually dress that way and get away with it.

Now, you'll be ceased by the fashion police and takin in for questioning...

LOL Loved the post.

ZenMom said...

Well, you had me with the swanky petticoat-meets-peacoat ensemble ... until you got to the shoes.

Cowboy boots?!

Seriously, Anna? Oh. Mah. Gawd. Everyone knows the only possible shoes for that outfit would have been neon green Reebok high tops. What were you thinking?!

As for the caftan, you silly goose, of course you need one. THAT's what you wear your cowboy boots with. And your turban, of course.

Glad I could help. :)

MommyTime said...

That cropped jacket and tulle petticoat look is UBER hot right now on the children's band circuit (just watch Noggin and you'll see what I mean) -- so perhaps you just missed your professional calling.

I heartily support all your wardrobe suggestions, with this possible caveat about the evening gown: if you already own 8 or more bridesmaid dresses, you are exempt from this requirement.

Lynda said...

Excuse the Joanne Worley out of me? LOL - you crack me up!

MammaDucky said...

I'll totally admit to having to Google caftan. The mist cleared when I read, "...in the U.S. is often referred to as a mummu." Nuff said.
P.S. I would totally sport the petticoat, jacket, boot ensemble. I like to shake things up.

Sassypants Wifey said...

Well Anna, really, I am a little disappointed. No picture. For shame. Sheesh.

Just swinging by to say hello and get a laugh! Have a lovely Thursday.

jennifersusan said...

The only thing scarier than what we wore in college is the fact that our children are canabalizing the leftovers to wear now. I think it's the curse of mothers who actually still have clothing from college. I wore my mother's favorite plaid skirt from college when I was in highschool, and my son wears my grundge phase shirts and flannels. Let's hope he doesn't find my formals or then we'll have to have that awkward talk with his school counselor.

Swirl Girl said...

Oh my god ! Adios Venti drip...out my nose!

I can't even get leather pants on a Barbie...and you know how small her ass is. I maaaay be able to squeeze my ass into a leather couch. Maybe.

(and I love the Joanne Worley reference - Laugh In was THE best show ever)

WA said...

Oh, you kill me.

I spent my college years in a gigantic rugby shirt and stirrup pants from The Limited. I wonder why that look never became iconic?

WA said...

Oh, you kill me.
I spent my college days in a giant rugby shirt and stirrup pants from The Limited. I wonder why that look never became iconic?

Sandi said...

The 80's rocked for sure. I was all about trying to look like Madonna much to my mothers dismay.

Mandy said...

Hilarious. You are hilarious!! I bet you were rockin in your 80s outfit.

K said...

I'm wearing leather and fur to the park next time. Hell, I'll even throw in some animal print.

That gotta make me lots of new mommy friends.

The Retired One said...

Hey, I resemble those remarks. Good God, I think I owned them all (except the helmet and tutu). And now I'm a grandma. Well, it is probably better that I wore them then...otherwise I would be showing up at the Grandkids house in those outfits and they'd be looking in yellow pages.com for "THE HOME" to put me in...............

Chaka said...

I'm no style expert, but that was a great post. I especially agree with the leather pants advice. Leave it to the professionals.

Real Live Lesbian said...

OHMAHGAWD! Madonna *SO* stole your look!

Chaka said...

I'm not a fahsion expert but that's a good call on the leather pants. Leave it to the professionals.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Don't even get me started on leather pants. Bought them when I was 21... wore them to nightclub in Vegas. After one hour of dancing, my legs literally turned to liquid and poored into my boots. Its not a good look, and don't even try to pull them down to pee, cuz they aren't coming back up!

Julia@SometimesLucid said...

I REALLY want a cape. Then my alternate identity will be complete, bwahahaha ;)

Chris said...

I had to resort to Google like MammaDucky. Is that sad or what...

The silk PJs cracked me up. All I could think of was how, in the movies, women end up sliding off of their beds and onto the floor. And... I can tell you from experience, that stuff hurts!! Silk PJs & silk sheets do NOT go well together.

lizspin said...

I haven't thought about Ruth Buzzi or Jo Anne Worley in a Dog's Age!!! I laugh just thinking of them . . and the caftan!

Poetikat said...

Okay, Anna. Now I know for certain that we were seriously separated at birth (I DID learn about a half-sister 10 years ago and my dad DID smirk when I asked him, "Any more I should know about?")so I'm thinking you are IT!
First of all, I was a ringer for Ruth too - (not a good thing) and I wore almost all the things you described - TOGETHER! (except the motorcycle helmet - that came later) I wore a straw hat or a pink beret! (or a black pillbox with a veil) - depended on my mood. I too, look like a "bag of doorknobs" in an evening gown, BUT I looked pretty hot in a strapless dyed-purple, crinolined ball gown when I wore it to my friend's wedding! I swear, we are either sisters, or alien-counterparts!

Kat

Janna said...

I almost bought a pair of leather pants in college. I decided against it. I don't regret that to this day!

Great post. I really got the image of you in the tutu and army jacket.

Michele said...

The 80's look has come back in style with the tweenies apparently. You could get top dollar for that skirt.

As usual, fabulous post.

TattooedMinivanMom said...

Now wait just a minute. Not just rock stars wear leather pants ya know.

Have you forgotten the infamous yet stylishly chic Leather Tuscadero??

Wait, did she play in Richie's band?

dddiva said...

OMG Hahahaha thank you for the laugh.
Totally. Love. This. Post.
I WAS the 80's. ;-)

Jeanne said...

I have a vintage black crepe de chine dress that falls from a gathered yoke around the throat and has ostrich feathers around the hem.

And that's as close as I plan to get to fur....

Ann's Rants said...

Anna, I don't know if its the PMS or the third glass of vino but I freaking GUFFAWED my way through that post. You are the most approachably-wonderful comic genius. too many x's and o's

R Susanna said...

OMG! Like, I still have that very same outfit from high school and still wear it often.....to Wal-Mart on Friday nights like around 11. Like, that is soooo totally tubular! And WTF is a caftan???....hummm if I don't already know what it is then I must not care, so never mind.

wenderful said...

Well, I guess it's sayonarah to my Loverboy leather pants. Darn... And red's my color too...(sniff)

Comedy Goddess said...

I actually have a hooded floor length black velvet cape with white satin lining. I have never gotten a harsh comment. Even through the grapevine. Which you know is the true means of womanly communication. It my fur equivalent.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

This was an awesome post for so many reasons, and I love that tulle ballerina skirt and wish I had one to wear grocery shopping.

And I have a suggestion, I think you should definitely open a "bedazzled" etsy shop, because it would turn the crafting world on its ass and be super 80's-licious.

Yaya said...

Sorry, JUST getting here cuz I saw you were featured at SITS this week! Sorry I'm late! Congrats-you def deserved it!

bfs ~ "Mimi" said...

Oh, I thought I was going to either die laughing or die crying as I read your post tonight. It was absolutely perfect!

And thanks for clearing up all the doubts I've been struggling through of late ~ I will at last get rid of my leather pants immediately ... that is, if I can peel them off. (snicker, snicker)

Actually, never saw the draw in leather pants ~ always sounded hot, and that is definitely not appealing!

The Self-Deprechaun said...

I've worn my fair share of leather pants, mesh shirts and spiked chain neck bands. Although I look good, those leather pants give me diaper rash.

Imogen Lamport said...

Wow - thanks for the book plug (check is in the mail).

If I was so audacious as to write a what a woman should own list it would include:

underwear
clothes
socks (if you live in a cold climate)
shoes
Pjs - optional - though I would recommend them when staying in a hotel in case of middle of the night fire alarm when you don't want to be standing starkers outside in the cold with all the other hotel guests waiting to be let back inside after the false alarm.

These lists are just bollocks - we all need different clothes as our lives are different, we do different stuff, and our personalities are different - there is no 'one size fits all' approach.

and no, I don't believe that everyone should own a LBD.

La Belette Rouge said...

It is amazing your gift for bedazzling. I couldn't even see the corduroy underneath it. I have to say that I was really disappointed that you didn't wear the viking helmet you promised. Even without, it was a lovely afternoon.

Oh, and should I take from this post that you were unimpressed with my outfit today of pleather pants with fur trim and vintage caftan that had once been worn on "Laugh-In".

Lovely day with lovely you. Thank you!!

Renee said...

Honestly, you can not be beat. Laughed my head off. Love Renee

the mama bird diaries said...

I JUST dropped off my leather pants at good will. In my defense, I haven't worn them since the 90s. My husband and I both had leather pants. I cringe.

blognut said...

"Sack of doorknobs" made me pee!

bernthis said...

my darling you forgot the Flashdance look and the Boy George get ups although you sound close with the man's coat.

Beth Kephart said...

Anna, um: Perhaps we should reconsider our plan to go out dancing? Perhaps?

Beth said...

Ah, the 80's. What a fun time. Once I found a box of military clothes that belonged to my dad when he was in Vietnam. I still think I looked super cool matching army jackets and belts with funky neon skirts. Glad to know someone else out there has good fashion sense.

Being Me said...

The BeDazzler!!?!

You have just given me my most snortingest laugh in simply ages. Now I have to explain to my husband my new secret blog-lust.

can't even start with what struck me as horrifyingly hilarious. Just... thanks for the larf!

Always Home and Uncool said...

The Pretender singer only wears pretend leather ... she's a crazy vegan lady. Dazzled with my knowledge of the trivial yet?

You can walk around the house in my old college shirts anytime. You'll just have to catch them first.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

The 80's were awesome when it came to hair and clothing. The bigger the hair the better, shoulder pads? loved em and had them in every jacket I owned, and of course also wore shoulder pads in the blouse beneath the jacket... looked like a flippin' linebacker, but BIGGER WAS BETTER!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Belle said...

Brilliant as usual.
p.s. I can borrow your red skirt? It would look fab with my sequinned boob-tube.

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

Hawaiian shirts and bedazzled corduroy jumpers??? Oh, Anna, say it ain't so!

I bet you hot back in the eighties in your tulle and cowboy boots, though. :)

Nicole said...

I dont think I'm stylish. I own silk Pj's but I dont wear them cuz I cant stand the way they feel on dry skin. I can't afford fur and I dont think I could wear a dead animal on my body. Does a brides maid dress count? and what the hell is a caftan?

Bee and Rose said...

Gawd...now I know I'm old...my 80's high school clothes are being re-introduced into the world of fashion...I was a Limited pink and green prepster....yeah, one of those girls...ugh..remember the whole "prairie" look and the gaucho pants craze?? (Joanne Worley rocks my socks off...hellllloooooo!!!!)

Losing It said...

"I look like a sack of doorknobs in this dress" = me choking on a mini snickers.

nikkicrumpet said...

I'm to the point I have to just stop commenting on your posts. I run out of effusive words telling you how brilliant and funny you are. I'm starting to sound like I have a lady-crush on you. Which I do (I think it's the stach) but I don't want to appear to be too forward. So just "ditto" my last 200 compliments. But you get an extra big star for this one!

rightonmom said...

Highly trained asses are very over rated. And I think I owned that same mens flasher coat. We thought we were so cool.

Funny, funny.

Fragrant Liar said...

I can't believe I'm actually going to admit this, but once, back in 1980, I wore a caftan. D'oooooooooooh, I said it. But I HAD to wear it. My mom bought it for me for Christmas, so Christmas morning, my two sisters and I were FILMED for posterity in our multicolored caftans. Mine happened to be black and white, and yes, I looked like a COW. You better not be telling anybody about this either. Swear it.

Eudea-Mamia said...

Wonderful! I'm laughing at you pj description as I sit here typing in my "Aim to Maim" Texas A&M Lacrosse t-shirt - circa 1990.

It just gets softer with every wash.

Circus peanuts - hello night terror.

The Wife O Riley said...

You were thinking of me with that turban, big sunglasses and cigarette holder comment, weren't you! I don't wear it everyday! Sometimes by black dress, long pearls and tiara from my Breakfast at Tiffany's collection is at the cleaners!

Fifi Flowers said...

You are hilarious! Thanks for showing my old petticoat! Boy... are you bringing back some memories!
I read your lunch was GREAT... I can't wait... I'm having lunch with her at the end of the month and I get to meet Lily... so excited!
ENJOY your weekend in whatever you wear!
Fifi

Braja said...

Ugh to leather pants and fur; my darling cow friends raise their hooves in a single digit NON SALUTE to that woman's horrid suggestions. So do all the fashion police who agree with you 1000% that anyone over the age of 19 and weight of 100lbs who puts their arse in a pair of leather pants should be SHOT.

I'm thinking of you more as June Allyson than Ruth Buzzi. What happened to Ruth Buzzi anyway?

Cocotte said...

I too was guilty of the whole Izod prepster turned Madonna turned Limited prairie look in the 80's.

Dorkys Ramos said...

Very funny stuff. Thanks for the tips! I've yet to understand the rules of fashion.

Reddirt Woman said...

Mr. Blackstone is beating his head against the wall of his casket... but I'm right there with you , sister. The petticoats? Been there, done that, and did you also have to starch and iron yours? Shopping at the army/navy surplus? One of my favorites from there was my white 13 button bell bottoms. Vintage clothing? One of my favorite items... an actual old bowling shirt, that depending on the mood I could wear open with, of course, a matching color t-shirt (dressing down) or shell (dressing up), tie up around my waist or higher, or tuck in to wear with my skin tight white bell bottoms... I'm having an attack of the vapors. I must go now. This trip down memory lane has worn me out.

Helen

KiKi said...

Somehow I am not surprised again by any of this. This only further supports our hunch that you and I were separated at birth. :-)

Reddirt Woman said...

Hey Anna, just wanted to let you know that I've got a little something for you over at my place. A bit of thanks for inspiring what little creativity I might have...

Helen

Coffee with Cathy said...

Love your fashion history! I want to go shopping with you!!!

ChristytheWriter said...

I, who spent much of the 80s in paint-spattered jeans with blown-out knees, a Richard Marx concert t-shirt and a string of pearls, salute you.

My Side of the Story! said...

Never underestimate the power of the "Geranimal" clothing! I only wish they made it for adults! "What should I wear today??? Hmmm.... Hippo goes with hippo! I'm ready for a night out on the town!" LOL!

Oh, and as far as you wanting to steal my saying, "Small family trips always make BIG family memories"...

You pee'd on it. You marked it!

Consider it yours! LOL!

Later Tater! ;)

~E said...

I want that petticote! If only to adorn my backyard cactus garden with colorfull tumbleweed decorations.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Remember the Friends episode where Ross wears the leather pants??? It is one of my favorites.

I saw on Marinka's that you will be on a panel at BlogHer. I so wish I could see you there. There is a good chance my public school teacher's salary, combined with the high cost of living in Hawaii, combined with a downturn in toursim (husband works at a hotel), will conspire against my ambitions. But I think you'll be awesome. Just saying.

Terry Hoffmann said...

What about that caftan you used to wear to the office on casual fridays?

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Not only will I excuse the Jo Anne Worley out of you, but I will raise you 2 Laugh-In references, but I will raise you one Smothers Brothers Monologue and a Ricky Ricardo Tropicana 3-piece suit.

"Annie" said...

Don't feel like the only one who "ricocheted from one regrettable decision to another"

You're hilarious~ You would have fit in nicely to Tuesday's Question this past week. (A Nice Place In The Sun)

Thanks for making me laugh.

Annie

Lisa said...

Wow - that's the list? Hey Stella! ribbed tanks and jeans with pocket flaps that don't lay down properly don't make the cut?

I'm going to have to rethink my whole concept of stylish. This could take a while.

(I'm here via La Belette Rouge.)

Lela said...

So just to be clear - we're NOT wearing the multi-color tulle skirts anymore? Where I grew up you would have been wearing Doc Martens up to your nuts. Or wherever...

Stomper Girl said...

My mum had a very stylish waist-length fur coat that she grew out of and she really wanted to give it me. And for EXACTLY the reasons you stated here I refused:

1) I don't want to offend people
2) or be paint-bombed.
3) or cause unnecessary pain to critters

and last but not least: where would i wear it? I'm not popping off to the Met or Covent Garden to watch the ballet every other night and I don't think my school yard is the place, somehow.

Notre Vie Juteuse said...

Found you through LBR - who I also had the pleasure of having lunch with before we moved to France.

Silk Pajamas - right! A friend of mine had on a flannel pair of boxers and her husband asked is she was wearing "felt".

When I think of hawaiian shirts I always think of "Trader Joes". Oh I miss my trader joes.

J and Z said...

OMG I have never laughed soooo hard...I had a winter coat (in the '80's) that I bought second hand...it was grey fake fur and it had satin for the lining and it flared out at the bottom...ooo i loved that coat...imagine my face when my best friend referred to it as my "rat coat" when we were meeting boys....b**ch

also, the link to the whiner blog is just too hilarious...you're my new favorite blogger ever..

BlackenedBoy said...

Can you post some of those '80's pictures? Pleeease?