I was doing my hair this morning and thinking over some of the atrocities I wore out in public in the late 90s, early 00s. I could only think how angry my friends must have been with me to let me go out looking that way. I had a mini-midlife-fashion-crisis in my late 20s/early 30s and tried to recapture my 18 year old figure by dressing my decade older body in things you really shouldn’t see on girls past their experimental teens. I actually owned a half-shirt with the word PUNK written in red glitter, across the bust. And I wore it. Frequently. It’s things like that shirt (and the godawful jeans I wore with it) that make me wonder why people ever ask for my style advice.*
What everyone needs, when it comes to fashion, is a really good, really honest friend, whose opinion can be delivered with love. I happen to have married one of those. Although, no matter how lovingly he might be delivering his message, his eyebrows telegraph his true horror when I am needing a second glance in the mirror.
For instance, I bought a dress for the SAG Awards, then tried it on for B. I watched his face as he worked it into something hopeful, but his eyebrows said, “How am I going to get out of this one?!” He strung some words together that translated to, “It’s a pretty dress. You’re a pretty woman. The dress isn’t complimenting you.” His eyebrows said, “She can’t go out looking like that.”
Thor was less concerned with my feelings and said, “That’s ugly. You look like a giant Hershey’s Kiss. But I like chocolate, so it’s okay.”
I returned the dress the next day and bought the suit you saw yesterday. When I tried that one, both B’s eyebrows and face said, in that special way, “Ooooh, I don’t want to let her leave the house looking like that!” And I knew that it was good.
Thor said, “I like your jacket. Can I play with your necklace?”
If you don’t have a friend like that, or a very honest child, here are a few rules of thumb that might help you avoid some of my past mistakes:
- Take full length photos, front and back, before you go out. You’d be surprised how high up the back of your thigh some skirt vents go.
- If it is satin, don’t wear it. Satin always wrinkles and shines in weird places. You will look 6 months pregnant, no matter how slim you are.
- When in doubt, go the size up. Especially if you’re going to be photographed.
- Bend over and touch your toes. Is anything exposed (top or bottom) that bothers you? If so, rethink the outfit.
- Walk around the house in the shoes you intend to wear. Wear them while doing dishes. Are your feet killing you? If yes, wear different shoes.
I kind of wish I still had a photograph of an outfit I wore to see Billy Idol, at the height of my fashion-crisis. It was so terrible that it needs to be seen to be believed. About ten minutes into the concert, I realized I wasn’t turning heads in the good way, but y’all, heads were turning all over the place. I am sorry to tell you that I destroyed all the evidence. Someone else might have a picture, though. If I come across one, I’ll share.
*This was at the same time that I was chasing a guy who ran a karaoke show for a living–and the reason I wonder why people ask me for relationship advice. We called him Fake Simon because he was basically the shortest Simon LeBon impersonator ever. That is #2 on my list of most embarrassing boy related things, close behind #1 which is when I decided that God had told me to marry this guy and I made a total ass of myself over him. I have a history of making an ass of myself over men. #3 on the list is when, in a fit of drama, I wrote a breakup note to a guy I was dating, quoting song lyrics, and left it on his windshield. Actually, that should be #1, since he read the note to all his friends. That’s definitely #1. Fake Simon is #2.