Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Glamour Don't (Plus Infinity)

When I was a kid, my parents did not spend much money on my clothes. Granted, they did not have much money...but I'll gloss over that fact as it makes it harder to feel put-upon and somehow cheated.

On the rare occasions that I was allowed to buy clothes -- it  was always the cheaper, knockoff version of every popular style. (Go ahead and laugh...I bet you didn't go to school wearing "Ducksiders" at the height of the preppy era.)

For a couple of years, I owned only about five shirts and two pairs of "designer" jeans that I rotated through every week and then finished the outfit with my red, white and blue leather-like "Nykes." In Virginia Beach where I grew up, there was a store called Goofs that sold nothing but irregular Levi's, and that was the only place I was allowed to buy Levi's (the only acceptable pants at the time), as the price was right. Which is why all of my Levi's were rust-colored, lacked pocket stitching and were tremendous bell-bottoms in an era where straight-legged pants ruled. Also, when OP shorts became all the rage, I got two pair -- in the weird sale-rack colors of peach and mint green. And these were but a mere sampling of the fashion missteps I (involuntarily) made. Put another way: 

Young Brutalism :  fashion sense : :  Keith Richards : a glass of wine with dinner        

Because I had so few clothes, I can actually still picture key items from my wardrobe back in those days...items like a light blue Izod polo shirt and a light blue t-shirt with a glittery "Native New Yorker" iron-on decal on the front. I wore both of these until the armpits got discolored (adolescence was not good to me), and then continued to wear them, while making a mental note to keep my arms down at my sides all day long. (On the downside...this kept me from dating. On the upside...it also kept me out of the Hitler youth...)

As with anything I had to suffer through in my childhood, my mother insisted that it "built character."

A character in irregular pants,


Trooper Thorn said...

I always wanted Kodiak work boots like my friends wore untied in teh hallways. I never had any.
Year later, I worked in a manufacturing plant and had to wear them as part of the job, but the allure was gone.

Elliott said...

Love this, especially the first paragraph. How many of us just didn't realize, or chose to ignore, the tough times our parents endured. I lived in hand-me-downs from older cousins, and kept them in decent shape to pass down to the next in line.

It builds character.

dori said...

Your suffering has paved the way for me to confess the wardrobe crimes of yore inflicted upon me by well-intentioned yet unsympathetic parents. Mine? My parents made me order clothing from the AAFES catalog (military version of Wal-Mart). I didn't know clothes had "brand names" until 8th grade. My first pair of brand name sneakers were Adidas - which I pronounced AH-di-dahs. Can you feel the cool?

Anna Lefler said...

I can't even think about my high school wardrobe without being blinded by a pair of BRIGHT RED pants that I wore almost continuously through 9th and 10th grade.

My retinas are burning just thinking about them. [shudder]

Love this post!

:-D Anna

Brutalism said...

Trooper Thorn -- Dude. The joy is always in the pursuit. That's what the stalkers tell me, anyway.

Elliott -- I know, I know. That was the mantra of my childhood. "Eat your lima beans...it builds character. No new clothes for you...it builds character. Live here on the compound with all of your sister-wives...it builds character..."

Dori - AH-di-das is the fancy way of saying it -- you emanated cool.

Anna - Solidarity in bad fashion choices of yore. *fist pump*

dilettante07 said...

When I would visit my mom in Guam (and my stepdad, Shahram--he is the bomb), I would go to "Ocean Gift Shop", which was THE place to go for all things irregular--Esprit jeans, Coca Cola (tm) rugby shirts, you name it.

These annual trips were the only thing that kept me a notch above the dungeons and dragons kids on the popularity ladder (ahhh junior high). Or maybe it was the violin I toted back and forth every day on my 10-speed. Or the braces. Hard to tell.

Brutalism said...

Tante - Did Mom and Shahram the Bomb chaperone prom in Guam? With aplomb?

Good thing I didn't know you in Junior High. From what you're telling me...you would have been waaaayyyy too cool. (Sheesh...get a few perma-pit stains and suddenly your teen social life is over...)

Dilettard07 said...

I believe AH-di-das is the way the brand name is pronounced in Latin America, and quite possibly the rest of the world... We still don't use the metric system, so why should we pronounce the shoe company properly!

That is to say, Dori, that you were correct.

And...plaid Toughskins, anyone?

dilettante07 said...

Didn't your brother have a matching pair of the plaid Toughskins?

Brutalism said...

Tard - Dori and her AH-di-das are very worldly. And why DON'T we use the metric system? It's so embarrassing when I am buying my cocaine and all the others are all like "gimme a kilo" and I'm like "yeah, what he said" because I'm not that cosmopolitan.

And Tard/Tante - Please tell me the sons of Gail did indeed have plaid toughskins.