Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If You Are Old Enough to Have Worn It the First Time

Everyone knows I am a slave to fashion. I cannot get enough of designer clothes and high-end accessories. I just die for Project Runway. Friends are always asking me for fashion advice.

Yeah right.

I don’t know a peplum from a bodice from ruching, and I heard those terms because of Fashion Police. I only watch to see what Joan Rivers will say and to see if Kelly Osborne will form her own opinion or just keep repeating what George Kotsiopoulis just said. Giuliana Rancic and I agree on everything!

What I do know is that if you can remember when it was in style the first time, you are too old to wear it the second time. This is why I don’t wear platform shoes – that and the fact that I would look like Herman Munster. I will stick with the Lurch look for now. I also don’t wear hip hugger jeans. There isn’t enough dungaree material on the entire Eastern Seaboard to get around these childbearing hips. Actually, I don’t even own a pair of jeans – not even “Mom Jeans.”

When I am on the red carpet and they ask me whom I am wearing, I answer, “Walmart Fall 2013.”

I have a friend who wears his pants really high, and I once heard him say, “Banana Republic really knows me.” I wonder if they know he has a serious camel toe?

Anytime I attempted to be fashionable, it was a disaster. The problem has always been my size. Big, they understand, but tall, nobody gets. Also, big and tall stores cater to men who need casketwear. One must look good for his viewing.

During my senior year, it was a fad to wear a skinny tie with a T-shirt. I did that, and I looked like a mental case. All day, people kept asking me why I was wearing an old tie from the 1960s. I chalked it up to being fashion forward. Delusional much? That was the only time I tried a fad. Seriously. The only time.

Shoes were always a problem because no one sold my size. I wore what looked like orthopedic oxfords throughout high school. I had one pair of sneakers and one pair that was not sneakers – the grandpa needs to straighten his hammertoes orthopedic oxfords. That was it. To this day, I do not walk into shoe stores. They depress the hell out of me. It wasn’t until I discovered online shopping that I found shoes in my size. Now, I have more than two dozen pairs of shoes in boxes because if I find a pair I like in my size online, I buy every pair they have.

My hair is the bane of my existence. Lucille Ball said that during an interview for Rolling Stone in the late 1970s. My hair is best described as a dirty Q-tip, which is why I have kept it short for more than fifteen years. My large bifocals/goggles, which are necessary for me to keep from banging into walls and stepping on small children, only make me look more like Nana every year. All that are missing are a Kent cigarette and an Eva Gabor wig. My brother would add to that a roll of Reeds mints in my purse. Remember Reeds mints? They were so good. They don’t make hard candy like they used to.

I am approaching my fifty-first birthday, a birthday I have dreaded my entire life. I am not dreading it for the normal reasons one dreads a post-menopausal birthday. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on my first birthday – November 22, 1963, which means this year will be the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, and on a Friday, just like in 1963. I was born on Thanksgiving Day 1962, and my fiftieth was on Thanksgiving last year, which means the following year it is always the Friday before Thanksgiving. That entire day is going to be “where were you when Kennedy was shot?” all day long. Ucccchhhhh. Interesting fact, my mother shared a birthday with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, July 28, and Nana with Abraham Lincoln, February 12.

I seem to have lost my way again. Oh yes, fashion, hair, assassinations, now I know where I was, and 1963 seems to be a good place to start.

My favorite fashion era is the early 1960s. I love watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, not only for the brilliant writing, but for the fashions. Speaking of the writing, Carl Reiner is my idol. He wrote 90 percent of the episodes of that show, and I still think it is one of the top five best written sitcoms of all time.

A lot of my friends love the furniture from that show – all that Mid-Century Modern stuff. I like it, too, and I wouldn’t object to living in the Petrie house with all the furnishings, but my favorite furniture is from the Art Deco period, especially the Astaire-Rogers movies with all those square white sofas and chairs, big airy rooms, and flowing lines of all the accessories and especially the radio cabinets and dressers. My friend Ted has an entire home decorated in the Art Deco look. It is an amazing place, but what I discovered was that the furniture is not made for lounging (he agreed with me), which is why Fred and Ginger were always dancing – there was nowhere comfortable to sit.

Aunt Flossie had the most Mid-Century Modern house of anyone we knew. Every piece exemplified the era. She had the sectional sofa in turquoise, the Scandinavian dining table with the high back chairs, a white plastic round dinette with round chairs and green cushions exactly like Laura Petrie’s, and those marvelous color TVs in the cabinets, remember those? Apparently, they are making a comeback. She even had the orange armless sofas that converted into beds in her den. I really loved that house. Aunt Flossie even drove the right car, a 1960 Chevrolet Impala hardtop coupe.

However, it was still the fashions I loved most. It started with Laura Petrie’s capris for me. Did you know they had her stop wearing them for a few episodes and there was a backlash, so it was written in by the network that she was to wear capris in at least one scene per episode? The real reason wasn’t the capri manufacturers but buttcup. What is buttcup? Well, let me tell you. Mary Tyler Moore had a great butt from years of dancing and good genes. When she wore the straight skirts in fashion at the time, they gave her an incredible buttcup, so incredible that Rob Reiner, then a teenager, once grabbed her butt. Every time she turned her back to the camera, straight men nationwide got a boner. The network didn’t know what to do about her great asset. On the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou showed up drunk at her apartment, she turned around at one point, and he told her she had a great caboose. This was purposely done to poke fun at how the network was all up in arms over her buttcup.

So you see, before Jennifer Lopez, there was Mary Tyler Moore. I wonder how many of you will search episodes on YouTube to see if you can find a scene with buttcup?

The funny thing about the fashions of the early 1960s is that the capris, straight skirts, flip hairdos and ballet slippers never really came back at exactly the same time. The 1950s styles have sort of swung in and out a few times; even the 1920s and 30s have tried a revival. The 1970s have attempted to make a sort of comeback or two, and thank God, the 1980s have been laid to rest, but what about those great early 1960s fashions?

What always fascinated me were the skinny, tight high water pants the men wore. Being six-four, I would kill for high waters to be back in style since most pants off the rack fit me that way.

Apparently, I have not been paying attention. One of my co-workers came back from a trip to New York with the fifth grader part-on-the-side haircut, then I saw Adam Levine on The Voice last night, and he has the fifth grader part-on-the-side haircut, too. I could so rock the fifth grader part-on-the-side haircut. Then yesterday, a guy walked by me in tight brightly colored pants cropped at the ankle and wearing penny loafers. I thought I had fallen into an episode of My Three Sons! Remember the opening credits with the high waters and a pair of sneakers, loafers and wingtips? I then spotted a dozen more Douglas sons.

Could it be true? Am I just a single shopping trip from dressing like it is 1963? Am I too old to pull this off? While the rule is if you can remember the first time … but isn’t it really if you were old enough to wear it the first time? OK, so I was in toddler clothes at birth and bigger than a five-year-old at nine months, but cut me some slack. After fifty years, I might just be fashionable for the first time!

There is the downside. If I did dress like one of Steve Douglas’s sons and have the fifth grader part-on-the-side haircut, I might look more like the creepy guy who lives at the end of the cul-de-sac, drives a white Ford Econoline van and has a train set in his basement.

With my glasses, Charles Nelson Reilly may be a better description. Oh God, it just gets worse.
Maybe I should just go to Casual Male Big & Tall and buy some casketwear.

If you are a slave to 1960s fashion, follow me, join me, or buy my books: www.miltonstern.com.

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