Sometimes I worry I’m an embarrassment to girldom.
I mean, in many ways, I guess, I’m fairly girly – I love flowers; I own hairspray; and I’ll cry at any kind of movie that has Hugh Grant and some allusion to the word “forever.”
But in one way I feel I’m completely out of the loop, like a missed the flourish in the second X chromosome: I hate to shop. And I especially hate to shop for clothes.
I know, I know. You probably do. You probably know the difference between Manolos and Choos and even know how to spell them and make them plural. You can probably spot an Yves Saint Laurent skirt from a mile away. And you probably followed Vera Wang well before she landed in Kohls.
But I’m just missing this gene.
I know I must be a terrible disappointment. I’m sure my shopaholic mother swaddled me in a pink department-store blanket when I was born and thought, “Ah ha! A comrade in arms. …”
And I’m sure my shopaholic pre-teen daughter must long to have the kind of mother who hangs out in malls and carries handled shopping bags.
But what can I say? I guess the flourish skips some generations.
The funny thing is, I actually covered fashion a bit at the newspaper. This was quite hilarious, as I had about as much style as a four-square ball. I think my editor just didn’t have anyone else to turn to, so there I was – going to Eileen Fisher fashion shows and interviewing Marie Gray of St. John Knits. I arrived at the St. John interview, in fact (at Marie Gray’s multimillion-dollar ocean-view home, for cryin’ out loud) in a dress that I got for about $19.36 from T.J. Maxx. I’m not kidding. It was kind of a green-checkered Sara-Plain-and-Tall meets Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I even added black stockings for a Mae West kick.) I wasn’t even pregnant at the time, which was the usual excuse I used. Marie Gray – gracious as ever – didn’t say a word, although I’m sure she had some butler scurrying to hide the silverware.
Anyway, Marie humored me with an interview, and I managed to bang out an article with words like “A-line” and “bias-cut.” She ended up loving the article, so she probably figured there was such a thing as research.
And that was the beginning of my strange, short-lived fashion stint. As much as I hate to shop, I did love writing about fashion. The industry uses the most gorgeous words – “boucle,” “chiffon,” “tiered,” “empire” – all those foreign syllables rolling around on your tongue. And the colors have such personality: A dress isn’t yellow, for God’s sake, it’s jonquil or saffron or phosphine. A skirt isn’t pink, it’s begonia or fiesta or rose bengale. … I loved all that. I’d show up at the fashion shows in my knock-off jacket, but I’d swoon when I heard the words. …
Eventually, the fashion magazine morphed into a home-décor one, and I got to use some of the same great color-words, but not all the fun cuts and fabrics. My fashion experience was, once again, relegated to being dragged around shopping malls by my mother and daughter. (My daughter once said, when she was five, “I love the way the mall smells.” … Hmmm. Definitely skips a generation. …)
Anyway, now I just stick to mix-and-match basics, with a huge leaning toward black. I always wear solid colors because the margin for error is smaller. And I thank God I have a fashionable daughter, because I can quiz her when I’m feeling uncertain.
What about you? In what ways are you an ideal “girl”? Or do you have a confession about being an embarrassment to girldom, too?