I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was eleven. Once I was able to take the starter earrings out, I instantly began wearing earrings that could only be described as bizarre. Dangly globes. Troll earrings. Earrings where one is a dog, and it’s match is a bone. The list goes on. Why did I decide troll earrings (with rainbow hair to boot) were a good idea? Why?
When I was in middle school (early 90’s), body suits (like a baby’s onsie but for adults, to be worn in the same manner as a blouse/shirt) briefly came into fashion. Most other girls had already sprouted, what I could only assume were magnificent, boobs and showed them off in all their glory by wearing tight fitting body suits.
Not wanting to miss out on this surely timeless style, I too wore body suits. Except I had no boobs. None. Not even a hint of boob. So on me, body suits just looked like I had tucked my shirt in too much. The fact that I still wore high waisted jeans didn’t add to the ensemble.
The middle school years were not kind to me. I still shopped in the girls 7 - 14 section, and for some reason some one thought that girls of that size should really sport tapestry-style vests such as these:
Fetching, no? And this at the age where I hoped boys would notice me. I even got my 7th grade school photo taken in one of these fine numbers. It had faces of children of all races and nationalities smiling together, in a tapestry woven of peace and happiness and rainbows and polyester.
By 9th grade I figured out that the tapestry vest may not be the most flattering look, so I switched to sweater vests. In fact, I clearly remember strutting my stuff down the hallway wearing a moss green sweater vest over a white t-shirt, jeans, and matching moss green clogs thinking “Yeah, I’m hot stuff!”
No matter what the style or situation, to this day I can no longer consider wearing a vest without dying a little inside.
High school turned into an exploration of the shape and fit of a garment relevant to the length and width of the human body, as well as an introspective study of color and pattern. Some illustrations:
I regularly purchased and wore size large Gap sweatshirts. Never mind that I was all of 90 pounds wet, and Gap made sweatshirts of all sizes, including a perfectly crommulent extra-small. Nope, for me large was the only way to go.
Or consider the time I finally realized I had hips (sort of) and purchased, for the first time from the junior’s section, some tight-fitting denim shorts. Which I proceeded to wear with a size large purple t-shirt. Again, notice the glaring incongruity between my perception of the size I actually am, and the size clothing that actually fits me.
A red and white striped ribbed t-shirt with a denim collar? A turquoise polyester button-down Hawaiian-style shirt, except instead of flowers it was graffitied hearts? Shall I continue?
I also considered it essential to wear a cotton turtleneck under each and every sweater I owned. Considering I grew up in Wisconsin, I owned a lot of sweaters. The only acceptable turtleneck colors were white or black. It didn’t matter if the sweater was fitted or baggy, long or short, crew neck or cardigan or anything in-between. The policy was strictly enforced even if the sweater itself was a turtleneck.
If turtlenecks were wrong, I didn’t want to be right.
Example 5: Hope For The Future
Finally, the summer after I turned 16, something clicked. I finally lost that gawky awkward teenager look, and began to look a little more like a normal person. This didn’t mean I still wasn’t a spaz; I was. I just didn’t look like one. I determined, with reasonable certainty, what sizes the top half and bottom half of my body were. And I knew which patterns would inevitably lead to stares and snickers.
That’s not to say I still didn’t make mistakes. A gold lame halter top. A sparkly black tank top with fringe. A blue paisley sash worn as a belt, hair tie, and scarf. But I at least began to develop my own sense of style.
Coming up in a future post: Hair tragedies - can I be exonerated for sporting the “claw bangs” of the eighties well into 1995? Probably not.