SHARING MY WORLD WHILE SAVING OUR HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World — 9-10-19

What’s the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery or came into a huge fortune? 

Repair my house!

Which decade do you think had the best sense of style?

During the 1960s and early 70s I loved the long, loose blouses and bellbottom pants. I love the fringes and tie-dyed colors. I loved that anyone could wear anything and it was fine. It was the style-less styles.

Even for men, you could wear wide lapels or narrow ones, wide or narrow ties. Flowers and plaids. Just about anything. Right now, clothing is okay, but it’s pretty dull.

July 1963

Everyone is in style because how wrong can you go with tee shirts and jeans?

Would you rather be half your height or double your weight?

Half my height would make me shorter than the Duke. I’m only five foot one at this point. At twice my weight, I’d be unable to move.

So sorry. Neither!

If you wanted to get away from everyone totally, where would you hide?

I could stay home. Nobody comes to visit us here anyway.

What do you do that you love?

It used to be blogging. Right now, nothing feels special. I’ve been sick enough to not even get out of bed today. I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t get out of bed when I wasn’t in the hospital. It’s only Monday, but it feels a lot later than that!

DOLLS IN FASHION – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

I have no fashion worth discussing — but my dolls are well-dressed! I need to take better pictures, but there are so many. I get discouraged looking at all of them.

YOU’VE EITHER GOT IT OR NOT – Rich Paschall

Style, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps you have noticed that it seems to have died out.  You are probably glad of it too.  You did not like it.  You may even have been insulted by it, so it is so long and farewell.  It should be like many style statements we have seen over recent generations.  It is here for a while, then reason sets in.

Of course, we are talking about that so-called “fashion trend” that saw young men wearing their baggy jeans below their rear ends so that we could see their boxer shorts.  I am sure this did as much for makers of boxer shorts as it did for sellers of baggy jeans.  Perhaps these guys have started to realize just how crazy this was.  There may have been some cheap thrill in letting us see their underwear, but as a practical point of view it could not have been dumber.  At least you know these guys were not going to cause trouble.  It is tough when you have to waddle away from the scene of the crime.

Maybe the lack of a Justin Bieber tour helped to kill this idea.  Let’s hope that his next tour (if there is one) does not bring it back, or some equally strange wearing of clothes.  The alleged singer-songwriter stopped his Purpose tour without performing all the shows.  We are not sure of the Purpose or style yet, but we know he is unpopular at certain venues, but I digress …

rollingstone.com

When I was younger we had our strange fashion trends, which I am sure were heavily influenced by the entertainment industry.  If someone looked cool in the movies or on television, then I guess we wanted to look cool too.  I was too young to be influenced by the first wave of the British Invasion.  It did not matter to me what John, Paul, George, and Ringo were wearing.  For clothes choices, I got whatever my mother thought I should have.

As I got a little older I realized, as all kids do, that a little (or a lot) of whining would probably get me a few of the things I liked.  By high school, it was white Levis, madras shirts (plaid) and penny loafers.  I thought this ensemble was cool.  I guess I still do.  For a while, it was “skinny jeans.”  I don’t think we called them that, but they were the type that was difficult to put on and the opening at the bottom of the pants leg was barely big enough for your feet to go through.  I guess we thought we were sexy, like the boys showing off their boxers in more recent times.  Skinny jeans also seem to be quite popular at present, but mostly, it’s young girls.

It was just a few years and then that whole “preppy” look I loved so much was out. A whole collection of things that would not stand the test of time followed.  When skinny jeans gave way to “flares,” that is pants that had wider leg openings at the bottom, and then bell-bottoms we had a whole new look.  Yes, I got those, including the “hip huggers” style.  Those had a lower cut.  Neither my parents nor my grandparents ever wore any such items.

Your wide pants might go with a variety of looks, but maybe not with your Nehru jackets or shirts.   These items may have retained their popularity in India, where they are named after  Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who served from 1947 to 1964, but they were a brief trend here.  The jackets and shirts with the “mandarin collar” would make you look like a priest if you wore something dark.

Your 70’s hippie look did need “tie-dyed” t-shirts.  I guess those just keep coming back around the style block.  They were always popular with the Grateful Dead crowd and then with Phish, the Grateful Dead for the 21st Century.  I am glad to say I never owned one.  You may think that picture of you with beads, tie-dye shirt, bell-bottom pants and sandals that one of your friends posted on facebook on “throwback Thursday” looks really cool, but I have news for you…

All of this was followed by the regrettable trend we called “leisure suits.”  The polyester creations featured jackets that looked like shirts trying to be jackets.  Unfortunately, a number of pictures of my youthful self in these suits can be found.  My friends who escaped the camera at the time are pleased to point out how unfashionable that look is today, using one of my pictures as an example.  The worst looks were the ones with the leisure suits featuring a polyester, flower-patterned shirts with big collars.  Thanks to the internet and some Boys Club photo albums, I may never live that down.

It would have been easy to be an Urban Cowboy next.  Who does not love a classic American western look?  Following his success in making us all want to look like something out of Saturday Night Fever (which I saw more than once), John Travolta soon convinced us we should change to jeans and ride a mechanical bull.  Yes, the fashion bull kept galloping through our lives and many of us got trampled by it.

It probably would have been better to stick to standard looks that stay in fashion generation to generation.  Frank Sinatra always looked cool.  He has style throughout the ages, even if it was all pretty much the same.  A sharp suit and a fedora hat would have been good, but not as good as a tux with a carnation or other fresh flower and a hat tilted to the perfect angle.

If you do not understand, here’s your primer:

BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong

Bi-Weekly Photo Challenge: Black

I remember the year that dark brown was the new black and another year when orange was the new black. Personally, I’ve always thought black was the new black and more than half the clothing I own is black.

In Israel, a co-worker asked me if I was secretly a nun because I wore so much black. In a country that hot, black wasn’t a popular color, but I came from New York where black was always the most fashionable color for dressing up … with other dark colors close behind.

Why? Well first of all, if like me, you tend to wind up wearing your lunch, black hides everything. I used to own a lot of white blouses and one by one, they got a sufficient number of tomato-based stains on them to become officially wearable only at home with the dogs for company.

Almost all of these pictures were taken by Garry with a couple of exceptions, as noted.

 

I had one fatal encounter while wearing a white silk blouse — oh what a beauty it was, too — involving dipping one breast directly into the pasta bowl. It wasn’t a great fashion moment, but it sure did make everyone laugh!

That was the last time I wore a white silk anything, not counting my wedding dress. I didn’t eat anything at my wedding, not because I wasn’t hungry but because the photographers — video and still — owned us for the day. I tried to set some food aside for later, but my cousin got hungry and ate it. There was no food left on the table because we invited 90 people and 120 showed up.

The primary problem I have with all my black clothing is I can’t find anything in my closet. It has a light, but everything looks the same. Even clothing that isn’t black is dark — dark red, deep blue, denim — and half the things I want to wear, I can’t find. They are there. I know they are. But they are all lost amidst the other dark items closeted there.

Moreover, I can’t resist a nice pair of black pants. Because they go with everything. Blouses? I can wear many colors as long as they aren’t pastels (which look really awful on me) and if the pants are black or denim or navy, all will be well. When I was working, not having to match tops to weird color bottoms was the difference between getting out the door in time to arrive before someone missed me … and not.

I got rid of about a quarter of my wardrobe recently, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. I think I need to lose at least another 50% to make it work. Between one thing and another, clearing out my closet is not at the top of my agenda this year.

ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been thinking about shopping.

Does anyone remember in those last ten years before online shopping came into full flower? That was when you’d go into a nice shop and discover there was no one there. No one to help you find the right size or style … or even the correct department. More than half the cash registers were closed and the people who worked the counters were actually working multiple counters so wherever you were waiting, they weren’t there.

I remember not buying a watch in Kohl’s because there wasn’t anyone at the jewelry counter and the cash register was closed. I looked everywhere and I didn’t see a single store worker.

There was absolutely not a soul willing to help me find the right size or choose a different color or size, or even say, “That looks nice.” Or do anything that might encourage me to buy something.

Shopping went from being fun to being work.

By the time online shopping was readily available, most of the brick-and-mortar stores had cut down their staff by more than half. Returning something meant standing in long lines for the one individual who handled all returns and you’d better have saved that receipt!

They did themselves in. They treated their customers like WordPress treats us … and the results were exactly what you’d expect.

When the day there arrived offering us a real choice, shoppers were ready. Instead of fighting for a parking space and wandering around a mall trying first to find the right store, then searching the shop and discovering there was no one on the floor to talk to. Hoping to get some assistance in finding an outfit and realizing there wasn’t any.

All of which was followed by another ordeal, searching for an open register.

Suddenly, you could order clothing and return what didn’t fit or what you didn’t like. In the meantime, just to make what was already difficult just a bit harder, many city malls began charging customers for parking.

Free gift wrapping was not free. You couldn’t even get plain boxes to wrap without paying for them. The quality of the clothing went down while the prices went up. There were no more departments where you could get clothing altered, either.

It wasn’t just the Internet that ruined “real store” shopping. It was the attitude of the store’s owners and managers. They decided they “owned” their customers and we’d show up anyway, no matter how bad the service. It must have been a rude shock when they realized not only did we have a choice, but we weren’t coming back.

So they can blame their demise on Amazon and the Internet, but they can also look in the mirror and realize when you treat your customers badly, eventually, when times change, they won’t be your customers.

It’s a lesson that cable companies are learning, cell companies are just beginning to learn … and it won’t end there. I fought with my cable company for years to get them to give me a package I could afford … and when I finally gave up and cut the cable, suddenly they filled up my email with all kinds of tempting packages — for ONE year only.

After which they would do what they always did: jack up the prices by 100% and we’d go through the same thing again. There are only so many times you can anger and disappoint customers without expecting them to hit back in the only way that matters: financially.

You never own your customers. They own you. Eventually, they will let you know how they feel about you. Count on it.

BRING BACK THE GAP – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Gap

The Gap had the best jeans ever. Although I loved the cut of the button-down version, sometimes one didn’t have the time to hustle the buttons, so I generally had to settle for zippers.

Zippers are quicker.

They have been in the process of closing many (in some areas, almost all ) of The Gaps.

Not that I could afford them since I stopped working. They used to have sales, so their $60 (probably now $90) jeans dropped by as much as 75% and I would load up until the next sale. They were not only attractive, but it was good, soft, solid denim. The shops were a bit erratic. You never knew if they were going to have your style or size.

Still, it was good knowing they were there. Just in case I or someone I knew  (like Garry or Owen) decided to go and buy good jeans to last a lifetime. I remember one of Owen’s birthdays, I took him to the Gap and bought him a couple of pair of jeans, a great denim jacket, and a few cool shirts.

Plus one hoodie which I seem to have inherited. It’s just worn out enough to be the perfect Gap hoodie. And it’s got to be at least 20 years old … and it’s still got another ten or twenty years in it. That is the joy of quality. As long as you don’t change sizes, the clothing lasts forever.

This is probably why Garry has so much clothing. He can still wear his dress Marine Corp clothing from when he was 17. I think I hate him.

Now, it’s all “Old Navy” which is going independent and of course, the wildly overpriced “Banana Republic.” Although these three companies produce essentially the same stuff, it’s not exactly the same product. There are quality and style differences.

Old Navy is okay, but they don’t have the range of sizes the Gap had. The jeans are thinner and frankly, Wranglers look at least as good. Often better. They certainly wear better. Old Navy is also weak on styles anyone older than 18 would wear.

I could never afford The Banana Republic, even when I was working. Though these days, it’s hard to know if that is the name of a store or the name of the country in which I live.

Bring back The Gap!

I need those boot-cut button-fly jeans! Or maybe not. Are they elastic?

IDIOCYNCRATIC DRESSING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Women are known for their love of shoes and bags. Many women buy shoes for specific outfits and switch bags frequently depending on what they’re wearing. I’m not one of those women.

For everyday, I have one black bag for fall and winter and another bag, either blue or beige, for spring and summer. I never change bags unless I’m going to a dressy or formal event, in which case I use one of maybe two or three black dress bags (some inherited from my mother). I just don’t relate to purses. To me, they’re not an important part of my wardrobe. They are just daily luggage.

A winter bag and a summer bag

As for shoes, I do have quite a few pairs, but they’re mostly either black for winter or beige for summer. I have several pairs of boots, both short and tall, flat and heels. I also have several sandals for when it’s hot. Add in a few ballet flats and low heels (I never wear high or spiked heels) and there’s my shoe wardrobe. Very basic and unexciting. Again, I don’t really care what’s on my feet as long as they generally match the season and the occasion. I occasionally get compliments on my shoes, which is surprising but actually very gratifying.

Another female fetish that I’m not into is nails. I rarely get manicures, partly because my nails break and crack so frequently that I rarely have more than a few t the same length at the same time. So, putting a colored polish on them is like putting lipstick on a pig. I do it for special events or if I have more than six nails of reasonable length. Even then I only use clear or nude shades of nail polish.

My usually plain nails

I never do pedicures. First of all, I feel uncomfortable when strangers mess with my feet. Secondly, I never understood why women want to draw attention to what I see as our least attractive feature. Besides, feet are usually covered up by shoes for most of the year, at least where I live. The few months when we all wear sandals might make sense but I still don’t like brightly colored toenails.

I have a friend who never wears makeup but always has meticulously manicured hands and feet. So her hands and feet are ‘enhanced’ and draw attention but not her face? I don’t get it. I’d rather wear some makeup on my face and ignore my limbs. My face is what people should be looking at when they talk to me.

On the other hand, I am a costume jewelry fanatic. My neckwear and earrings overflow two large drawers and one small three drawer jewelry box. And that doesn’t include the two drawers full of costume jewelry left to me by my mother. Her earrings were all clip on, which I can’t wear, so I just kept her neckpieces and bracelets. These tend to be much dressier than I would wear every day, but I do use them for special occasions. It’s a real treat to go ‘shopping’ in the ‘Mom drawers’ when I need something special and dramatic to wear.

My ‘small’ jewelry box for everyday wear

When I get dressed, I go through my arsenal of earrings and decide which one goes best with what I’m wearing. Usually, I have many to choose from and this extends the time it takes me to get dressed – often by a lot.

Sometimes I try several on and eliminate one at a time till I find the winner for the day. Other times I have a ‘favorite’ pair of earrings that I wear whenever it goes with my outfit. Either way, earrings (and to a lesser degree, necklaces) are a big deal to me. So I usually have ratty nails and embellished ears!

I also have an extensive collection of tops – shirts and tees mostly and quite a few tunic tops. I treat myself to a few new ones each season, even though I don’t need them.

They, along with earrings, are my vices – and are the only things I spend money on these days. All other purchases have to go through the ‘do I really need this’ test. This is the one place where I let ‘I want it’ be the main criterion for purchase. For my husband, it’s electronic equipment and video games, which end up costing a lot more than my annual splurges. So I don’t feel too bad about my excesses.

Everyone has their own special likes and dislikes and ‘can’t resist’ items. So I guess I’m no quirkier or stranger than anyone else. I just feel like I am!

THE LEISURE SUIT: THE LOST JOY OF POLYESTER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Leisure Suits

Back in the 1970s, some clown decided that men were overdressed and need stretchy, comfortable clothing. And thus they invented the polyester leisure suit and to his immense embarrassment, Garry had one. I never saw it, but I know he bought it because he said so and what man would lie about a thing like that? He wore it to work, but I never saw it.

Maybe that is just a well.

Except Garry is such a clothes horse, he rarely admits it.

Leisure suits came in slightly stretchy polyester (throw in the wash, hang it and wear it) fabric. Light blue was very popular and some were truly indescribable.

I owned some clothing that was more than a little embarrassing, but I can honestly say I didn’t buy it. My mother made it for me. It was exceptionally well-made clothing, elegant clothing, but when I wore it I looked like I came from another planet. It didn’t improve my fragile popularity in high school, though it had a certain something by the time I got into college.

I never owned a leisure suit because, for me, a leisure suit means a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt. That’s what I’m wearing now. It’s what I wear. Most importantly, it’s virtually immune to dog hair.

FASHIONISTA? ME? SERIOUSLY? – Marilyn Armstrong

I need to start out by pointing out I will not wear anything that isn’t comfortable. Gone are the high heels, tight anything (skirts, pants, sweaters, forget it!) and in is anything elastic. Even my jeans are elastic. If it doesn’t stretch, I don’t wear it.

I hate “dressy” events because I don’t own dressy clothing. I did, back when we were both working and Garry had events to which we were required to go, but now? I have some dresses, but I can’t wear shoes to go with them. And pantyhose? Seriously?

We’ve invented telephones that rule the world, but we can’t do better than pantyhose?

That being said, don’t expect much from this!

Daily Topic Subject – Fashionista!

Q1] How important is colour in your life?

In my life? Color is important. Not so much in my clothing, though. I wear grey, black, tan, taupe.

Occasionally red or orange … and navy. Not a thrilling palette. But the house has color — in pictures and statues and pottery.

Q2] What is most favourite colour to wear?

Denim.

Q3] Is there a colour that you wear that brings the best out in you and in others – in so far as compliments?

Photo: Garry Armstrong –

Black.

Q4] Are you a person who likes to overdress for the day or are you a follower of the credo, less is more?

I don’t OWN fancy clothing anymore. I can’t wear dressy shoes — and I can’t balance on high heels.

So overdressing is unlikely. If it requires that level of dress? I probably won’t go.

PQ5] What are five of your best items of clothing that you simply couldn’t be without? [and l don’t mean underwear/socks]

Sleep tees in the warm weather and flannel nightgowns in the winter. And don’t knock socks. I have the world BEST sock collection.

Q6] Do you dress for the season, as in colour wise, or just throw on whatever is warm and practical?

We live in New England. I have hot weather clothing, warm weather dress, cool and chilly weather clothing, cold weather clothing, very cold weather clothing, brutally cold weather clothing, and arctic-level clothing.

PQ7] If you were going for an evening out and the dress code was ‘smart casual’ what is your ideal outfit and why?

I tell them I was sick and not go.

Happy anniversary!

Garry might go alone, but if he had to wear a tie, I doubt he’d go either.

Q8] If you were having to attend an important meeting or appointment and the dress code was smart – what would your outfit be then?

At my age, I don’t have those meetings or appointments. If they are my age, they are also wearing sweatpants.

Q9] How many pairs of shoes do you own, and what is the breakdown [as in casual, smart, evening, leisure]

More boots!

I have maybe 20 pairs of shoes, 10 of which are really old and I don’t actually wear them but they aren’t worn out, so I keep them. Mostly, I wear sandals in the summer and Uggs in the winter. In between, I wear SOCKS.

Q10] Do you have classic clothing or classic items in your wardrobe that you have had for years and never go out of fashion if so name three?

I consider it classic. Others might say I’m a slob. Sweatshirts, tee-shirts, and jeans. I’ve been wearing this same clothing since I was a young teenager. Oh, and I have not one but three Navy Peacoats.

Q11] Are you into plain colours, wild colours or outlandish designs or a mixture and which do you favour more?

Plain. Elastic. Washable. Dryable.

PQ12] Do you have a favourite quote with regards fashion or design – if so what is it?

No.

Q13]  Knee high socks, ankle socks, shin socks or no socks?

Ankle socks with sticky bits on the bottom when I’m in the house. Knee high in the winter and if that isn’t warm enough, it’s too cold to go out.

Q14] Can you see the connection between colour and music and if so does it influence your dress code for the day in any way?

Not really. I wish I could say yes, but really, no.

PQ15] If you are going out somewhere special and want to listen to some music to put you in the mood whilst getting dressed up, what do you listen to? [Provide link please]

I don’t think I’ve EVER done that.

Q16] How often do you buy new clothing for the season or the year?

When I try to put on the nightgown and my finger goes through the fabric, I figure I probably need a new one. Also, as I get older and everything droops, I have to buy different sizes.

I’m also getting shorter (we shrink with age), so that’s a factor. But otherwise? I have winter and summer clothing. This is New England. It’s all about the weather.

Q17] Remember tie-dye from the 70’s was it a thing you followed, bought into or worse, how do you feel about it now?

Nope. Byt the time tie-dye was in, I was a mother working full time. I missed that whole dressing thing.

Q18] What is the brightest coloured item of clothing you have in your wardrobes/drawers?

I have an orange dress.

Q19] What is the most expensive item of clothing that you have in your wardobe? How often do you actually wear it?

I have a deep winter coat from Land’s End that cost me about $250. I wear it when the temperatures fall significantly below zero (Fahrenheit, NOT Celsius).

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

No.

Q21] Is being ‘fashionable’ important to you, or is being comfortably attired  more so?

I like not looking like I just crawled out of a ditch, so clean matters. I only wear the hairy, dog-hair covered stuff at home. The dogs do not care. And anyway, Garry is similarly attired.

VERY THIN. VERY FAT. MOSTLY SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE. – Marilyn Armstrong

“A woman can never be too thin or too rich”

I could live easily with being too rich, but I have been too thin and it was not lovely. People were alarmed and frightened when they saw me. Of course, there was good reason for it because I was starving to death from a bad surgery that left me unable to absorb food.

When I hit 95 pounds and I had the distinct feeling I was actually dying — and I had no insurance — before Mass Health was functioning — somehow, I found a doctor who took me into the hospital and repaired me, told me to gain 30 pounds, preferably 40 — which took longer than it should have, but I’d forgotten how to eat. And no one sent me a bill.

Then I got cancer. They stuffed me full of chemicals and I put on 30 pounds faster than you can say FAT, FAT, FAT and there I have remained. Oddly, pretty much everyone said “You look SO much better! You looked ill before.” When size zero is too big, you probably need to put on few pounds.

I was still a size 2. I lost another 20 pounds after this.

I was not designed to be skinny and I was not built to be huge. I was built to be solid, which is what I currently am and probably will be. It has been a long time since my size changed.

The current belief that beauty and thinness are the same are an advertising thing. The clothing that comes out of design houses is built not only for thin women, but for tall ones. I’m short. I’m solid. I used to have a waistline but with age, it seems to have fallen down and become part of the top of my thighs. I didn’t know that could happen.

We need fewer Barbie dolls and clothing that looks good on real, live women who do things, like go grocery shopping and take walks with their dogs. And who eat a normal amount of food and even — AN OCCASIONAL DESSERT!

You can be too thin.

But too rich? I could probably live very nicely with too rich.

FASHIONABLE? ME? MY TECHNOLOGY IS COOL, BUT THE REST OF ME?

Through the ups, downs, and sideways’ of fashion, I have remained tenaciously, solidly, anti-fashion.


My cameras are downright trendy. So is my computer. My Kindle is getting old, but it’s so much better than the new ones, I think I’ll keep it until it finally died completely. Even my telephone — which I pretty much never use — is relatively new, though I’m pretty sure this model (Samsung) was never especially trendy.

Our car is what people buy when they live in super Snowville, U.S.A., in this case a small, 4-wheel drive Jeep — but it was 4-years old when we bought it “new.”

Otherwise? Fashionable? Garry was fashionable — once — and he has always been a snappy dresser. But he hates the new clothing that men are wearing. Too tight and unflattering. He can’t understand how people who have the money to buy anything will buy clothing that makes them look like they found their poorly fitted suit on a clearance rack at a sleazy mall.

As for me? Hah!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Nautical me.

I have never been fashionable. Never the right shape. Even when I was thin enough, I always had shoulder that were too broad and breasts that were too big. Fashionable clothing is designed for women who look more like boys and the shoes are for women who like pain. Stylish clothing was never me. Too tight. Too pointy. Too bright. Too striped. Too, too.

I never even tried to be fashionable. As a twenty-something, I wanted to look like Joan Baez. She was stylish, in her own way, if you liked the east Village hippy concept. I never liked wild patterns or very bright colors (on me — they are okay for foliage and flowers). Early on, I found shops in Greenwich Village where they designed my idea of fashion. I continued to buy the same style of clothing everywhere. I still do … and it is a lot of years later.

L.L. Bean. Land’s End. Coldwater Creek. JJill. Gap.

Jeans with anything. Tee shirts and turtlenecks. In black, taupe, gray, navy, and occasionally, mauve. Jeans became yoga pants. Once you go stretchy, you’ll never go back. Long, loose dresses because I have a stupid itchy rash and often can’t wear elastic waistbands. Denim jackets. Baseball caps.

Chicos for special occasions — if they have a sale. Three sizes fit all.

No matter how hard I try to avoid them, there is always a wedding, funeral, or some kind of group event to attend — at least once a year. Sometimes, I can’t find an excuse to avoid it and have to go. I need a dress — something I can wear with flat, comfortable shoes. I hate winter events because all I own for winter footwear are Uggs and Emus.

On the upside of unfashionable, I can wear the same unfashionable clothing pretty much forever. It was out-of-date when I bought it and it will be no more out-of-date five years from now. Periodically my complete lack of fashion becomes fashion. Every now and then, I discover I am “IN.”

Around here, I AM fashionable or as fashionable as anyone is. Yesterday, at the supermarket, I saw a rather young woman who looked just like I used to look. Ankle length skirt from India. Long, flowing blouse. I though only women my age wore that stuff.

Central Massachusetts rural living is anti-fashion. I have come home.

I AIN’T MARCHING ANYMORE

Am I the only person in this country to have never worn a uniform? I never competed in sports … except as a bench-warmer for the high school swimming team. They didn’t have uniforms. I don’t think the team was good enough to compete anywhere.

I wasn’t in the marching band or any kind of military or nearly military group. I went to standard state schools through high school — so no uniforms there — and a private college. No uniforms there, either. I haven’t even worn a costume for a play.

If I want to look at uniform in another way, I don’t think I ever did anything in a “uniform way” either. I was always too young to do what everyone else was doing when I was a kid. I never followed the main stream in anything and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t the kind of kid that got swept up by friends. I never joined a party except the Democrats … and they are such a fragmented bunch … no uniforms. Nothing even organized, much less uniform.

I suppose getting together with friends and (briefly) wearing our Serendipity shirts is almost like a uniform. Does baseball gear count too?

So, I’ve never marched and now that I’m 70. I have trouble walking, much less marching, I guess it isn’t going to happen. Not they I ever had a secret yen to become a marcher. Okay, I admit, a marching band was a cool idea, but as a pianist, that didn’t seem likely.

My husband joined the Marine Corps. That probably counts double, so I can claim secondary rights as someone married to someone who joined the Marine Corps.  Semper Fi!

LETTING GO OF MOM – BY ELLIN CURLEY

As I get older, I’m expecting less from myself, at least in some ways.

I’m less judgmental. My standards have relaxed … some. I think this is good, but I’m not completely comfortable about it. Although I no longer expect myself to look my best every day — yes, I used to need to look “just right” even if all I was doing was running errands. Now, I go days without wearing make-up or curling my hair. I don’t automatically wear earrings and other jewelry. My husband barely notices. He’s fine with a more ‘au naturel’ version of me.

Mom at age 41

I still wear ‘nice’ clothes every day. I don’t even own sweatpants or a sweatshirt. So I haven’t utterly abandoned my 1950’s, early 1960’s dress codes completely.

I do worry, though. What if being more relaxed and forgiving about my appearance will morph into giving up? Not caring anymore? Am I going to turn into one of those people who goes out wearing pajama bottoms? I don’t ever want to be that person, but I’m afraid it might eventually happen to me, somewhere down the line.

On the other hand, I know that I am way too self-conscious about my appearance. My mother ‘dressed up’, with full make-up, every single day. She was appalled when I went to the supermarket looking anything short of stylish and polished.

“You always want to make a good impression on people,” she said. I thought she was over the top. But some of those judgmental attitudes and standards rubbed off on me and I’ve never been able to entirely escape them.

Mom at 65 years old

So I usually believe I’m just letting go of some of my mother’s baggage, but sometimes it feels like I’m just letting go. I prefer to believe I’m becoming a more well-adjusted person, with a better self-esteem. That other part of me feels like I’m crawling slowly down the path to dilapidation.

I hope I’m becoming a more enlightened, confident person. Less fixated on outward appearance. Accepting a modern-day, more casual sensibility about dress and appearance. And still, I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “You’re going out looking like THAT?”

Mom at 85, six weeks before she died of cancer

Changing long-held values is hard. So is silencing your mother’s voice in your head. The change is welcome and overdue. It’s very late in coming. Which, surprisingly, doesn’t make it easier.

PINK CAN BE

What color is pink?


It can be nearly white or very close to purple. It can come in a rosy hue,  magenta, or riddled with lavender. Babies are pink, but some are brown. I was fish-belly white. My son was blue and they had to keep him in a “cooker” for two days before I could hold him. Blue is not a good baby color.

When I was growing up, my Aunt Kate — who worked at Bonwit-Teller and thought I deserved some “special” clothing — bought fabric and had a suit made for me. It was a very soft wool from France and it was hot pink. It was a classic Chanel-type suit, something that belonged in a fashion show. It fit me to absolute perfection and I loved it. When I wore it, my “mates” looked t me as if I had two (maybe three?) heads.

The moral of the story is high-fashion clothing is not at its best on a 15-year-old high school girl. But oh, what a glorious suit it was! And what wouldn’t I have done to own it a few years later!

ANTI-FASHIONABLE FOREVER

Through the ups, downs, and sideways’ of fashion, I have remained tenaciously, solidly, anti-fashion.

Even during those periods when I had a body that might — in theory — be a fashionable shape, the clothing was never me. Too tight. Too pointy. Too bright. Too striped. Just too too too.

So, I never tried to be fashionable. When young, I wanted to look like Joan Baez. If I think about it, she was stylish in her own way. Hippyish, which was my general style too. I never went with crazy patterns, but I did go with loose and comfortable. I found a couple of places in Greenwich Village where they made my idea of fashion. I continued to buy the same clothing from the same places until I became a mommy and didn’t have time (or money) to go into the city. After that, I replicated the same styles via various mall stores.

As I got older, there was always L.L. Bean and Land’s End. Their catalogs were my fallback position. I could usually count on finding A-line skirts and round-toed shoes. And turtlenecks. In black, taupe, gray, navy, and occasionally, mauve. Jeans were always good for between work and later, at work because eventually, you could wear anything to work and no one cared.

I still wear the same stuff, though yoga pants have taken over for jeans. Once you go stretchy, you’ll never go back. Long, loose dresses because I have a stupid itchy rash and often can’t wear elastic.

Fashion statement? Me? I visit “Chicos” for special occasions. Three sizes fit all. No matter how hard I try, there is always a wedding, funeral, or some kind of reunion to attend. Sometimes I have to go … and I need a dress.

On the upside of unfashionable, unless I get much fatter or a lot thinner, I can wear the same unfashionable clothing forever. It was out-of-date when I bought it and it will be no more out-of-date five years from now. Even better, periodically my lack of fashion becomes in fashion. Long skirts, blocky shoes, loose tops. I wear what I wear, but fashion sometimes changes in my direction. So every now and then, I’m “IN.”

This is not one of those years.

UNSTYLISH NOW, UNSTYLISH FOREVER!

Let’s hear it for all of us who never even tried to be fashionable. When young, I wanted to look like Joan Baez. So I bought all my clothing in Greenwich Village and continued to buy the same stuff from the same places until I became a mommy and didn’t have the time to go there. After that, I replicated the styles via Macy’s or other mall stores.

72-Marilyn-Photog-Cooperstown-GA_036

As I got older, there was always L.L. Bean and Land’s End. Their catalogs were my fallback position. I could usually count on finding A-line skirts and round-toed shoes. And turtlenecks. In black, taupe, gray, navy, and occasionally, mauve. Jeans were always good for between work and later, at work because eventually, you could wear anything to work and no one cared.

72-Marilyn at Canal-GA-042716_125

I still wear basically the same stuff, though yoga pants substitute for jeans. Once you go stretchy, you’ll never go back! Long, loose dresses because I have a stupid itchy rash and often can’t wear any elastic at all.

Fashion statement? Me? Visit “Chicos” for special occasions (three sizes fit all). There’s always a wedding, funeral, or some kind of reunion. Now and then, I have to attend.

What’s best about my total lack of fashion is that periodically, I’m in style. I wear what I wear, but fashion changes. Some years, I’m “IN.” (This isn’t one of them.)

And now … I have to pack up some stuff ’cause we’re on our way to visit friends. See you all on the other side!

STYLISH | DAILY POST