Today I struggled with my bangs. I straightened them, and, as anyone who knows me can clearly see, I have VERY curly hair. But sometimes I'm just sick of my "Top Ramen" noodle-curly bangs and I just want regular, straight bangs. But then, I have to straighten the rest of my hair, or, in a pinch, pull the rest of my hair up into a high ponytail and let the curls fall where they may. But my bangs just never really "blend" and so I'm stuck with this sort of half'n'half hairstyle, which I'm not even sure can be called a "style."
Then, I wore this shirt....I'm not even sure where it came from. It appears to be new, so I must have bought it at some point, but I've never worn it. And I'm not even sure what I saw in it - it's like it was love at first sight and then I wanted to break up with it. So, it sat in my closet, lonely, until I took it out today to wear it. And the color is really nice on me, but the style......well, you know how tall, willowy people can pull off a blousy shirt and it looks all bohemian and flowy? That's not me. It just made me feel frumpy. And very mom-ish. Which is not a bad thing - I mean, hey, I wear my mom badge proudly, but it just wasn't what I was trying to pull off today.
As I was out driving on my errands, I thought about my "style" which is essentially whatever I find that's on sale and cute. I have some things I obviously avoid (skinny jeans, mini skirts) and some things I really, really love (cardigans, comfortable jeans) but I tend to adopt something comfortable and cute and it becomes my uniform for a long time.
When I was in school, I never had the luxury of "in style" clothes. You know those super-cool Izod Lacoste shirts? Never had one. Nope, the closest I got was the knock-off Le Tigre brand with the obviously-not-an-alligator tiger decal on the chest. And I only had one of those (I'm sure it was in a clearance bin somewhere and I jumped with glee to score such a lucky find). My friends, however, had MULTIPLE "alligator shirts" that they actually wore together in layers of two or three, with all of the collars popped up showing layers of pink, baby blue, and soft yellow. Oh, the envy!
I think I once owned a pair of Jordache jeans but it was after they were all the rage and everyone else had moved on to another designer. I think they were acid-wash. So, probably on sale as well.
My favorite shopping experiences were going to Mervyn's at the end of the month for their clearance sale. All my friends shopped at 5-7-9 but I wore a size 11. They feathered their hair, but mine was a frizzy helmet (this was before the days of good styling products, so it was wash, "creme" rinse, blow dry, pouf!). One day in high school, a girl in my class exclaimed loudly "you're wearing makeup!" which I thought was weird, because I wore makeup every day! I guess I didn't get the memo about the several layers of Maybelline foundation, and stuck to mascara and Bonne Bell lip gloss.
Today my style is Old Navy jeans, shirts from Old Navy, Target or Fred Meyer, with an occasional splurge at Maurice's in the mall. My shoes have improved - where I once wore only what was on sale at Payless Shoes, I have now branched out to Danskos and Born clogs, but only because of a foot injury and the subsequent doctor's orders to quit buying crap shoes. I love jewelry (costume of course, I do have some real pearls but they broke years ago and I've never bothered getting them restrung). I have baubles to match any color scheme. I've amassed a collection of scarves but I never know how to wear them without making them look like a badge saying "look at my huge boobs!"
The point is, I was never cool in school and I'm not cool now. At least not where my clothes or hair is concerned. Today it's more about not having the disposable income to dress high-fashion, and the need to clothe four kids as well as a husband. That, plus my ingrained inability to not head right to the clearance rack, keeps me shopping bargain basement, all the way down the the thrift-shop. I even do it when I shop online. The other day, sick in bed with nothing better to do, I perused all 2,444 items on clearance in "my" department on the Target website. I snagged three sweaters (all the same in three different colors) for eight bucks apiece and finally found a pair of cute black boots - something I've been searching for since before Thanksgiving. Everyone else is wearing these adorable black calf-high boots over skinny jeans, but my calves were fat before I was, and I'm not willing to spend $100 on "wide-calf" boots from a mediocre designer just to try to achieve the look. Besides, I'm short so most boots go all the way up to my knee anyway. But a nice pair of shorter, low-heeled black boots would be really nice and I found some for $12. Yeah, it kind of violates the rule of "no crap shoes" but they might be really comfortable!
During the last week when I was sick, I also watched "Project Runway" for the first time. It was quite amusing - the designers were required to make a fashion garment from items found in a hardware store. Some of the results were stunning and amazing - but nothing the normal people would ever wear. But listening to them talk about clothes - all the adjectives, the comparisons, the subtle references - was hilarious. Who really wears high fashion? Who can afford it? Who doesn't love yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt? If clothes make the man, my husband is a hobo. But I think he's still pretty cool, despite the fact that some days, when he's working on his truck and runs to the auto-parts store, I'm afraid someone is going to hand him a dollar or offer to buy him a meal. I love him, scruffy and unkempt. I just hope he feels the same about me. Discount wardrobe and all. It's cool.