This evening I finally sat down and flipped through some of the fashion catalogs that have been hurling themselves at my house like possessed, obsessive-compulsive Hogwarts acceptance letters. I don’t know where they come from; sometimes I think it must be the work of a douchbag college intern fucking with the system. Because there is no other reason I can imagine why the mailbox of someone whose catalog history includes the purchase of live chicks should ever be jam-packed with glossy pages of couture. Yet the catalogs just keep coming.
Because they’re here and cost money to make and mail, I feel obligated to look at them. And when I feel obligated to look at them, I imagine myself wearing the clothes. And when I imagine myself wearing the clothes, I decide that maybe the best fashion choice I could make would be a conversion to Islam and adoption of the practice of wearing a full-body hijab. I could really rock the shit out of a hijab, especially one of the colorful ones with lace around the forehead. But then I remember that Muslims do a lot of praying on the floor, and that’s a problem. I don’t do praying on the floor. Unless by “floor” they mean “bed,” and by “praying” they mean “sleeping.” In fact, the best religion might be the one in which we get to re-define the key language, such that “praying on the floor” means sleeping on the bed, and “reading the Bible” means watching the Big Bang Theory marathon, and “overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers” means OPRAH HAS A FREE CAR FOR EVERYBODY!
The up-and-down business is a religious deal-breaker for me; I only barely complied in all my years as a Catholic, when it was made as painless as possible by a lovely, padded, fairy-sized bench designed specifically for kneeling. My kneecaps would make contact with the cushion but my rear end also remained firmly planted on the seat, causing me to spend the moment not in contemplative prayer but rather a lively mental debate on the Biblical definition of “kneeling.” When, in the process of religion-seeking several years ago, my knees learned that an Episcopal service is a no-contact sport, they were like, “Girlfriend, you can do whatever the hell you want, but we are staying right here.”
But being Episcopalian does nothing to help my ass look better in jeans.
Fashion and I are not friends and never have been. When I travel for work I count in my company a serious fashionista who knows and wears all the hottest designers. She makes their clothes look spectacular. But what is effortless on her would look, on me, like your grandpa in thong underwear – awkward, uncomfortable, and vaguely disturbing. Some people are built for heels and cashmere, and some for flats and cotton. (The 80’s ruined silk for all of us. Lecherous decade.)
Perhaps nothing sums up my incompatibility with high fashion better than this fact: About 10 minutes ago, I found a piece of kettle corn in my bra.
And I ate it.
Oh yes I did.
(Dude, it was kettle corn. Show me the person who wouldn’t eat it, and I will show you a joyless shell of a human being. A JOYLESS SHELL.)
My discomfort wearing the clothes isn’t the biggest part of the battle. The insurmountable hill standing between me and fashion is not about the designs, or the fabrics, or the price tags. No, it’s something far more insidious.
It’s the names.
From general styles to designer lines to individual pieces, the names are just jacked. The “maxi” dress? What the fucking fuck? Do we get to choose from wings or dry weave? Seriously. Or a dress I saw tonight – the “Precious.” Have you not seen the movie, copywriters? Or how about the “Cocoa and Waffles Coat.” Cocoa and Waffles. Are you shitting me? I found it online and before I’d even consciously gotten to the “s” I was licking the laptop screen which, let me tell you, is just really damned awkward to explain to your husband. And don’t even get me started on “Tommy Bahama.” I served my time as a hiring manager and let me tell you, “Tommy Bahama” wouldn’t even make it to my doorstep. But salespeople at Saks, where I’m not allowed to bring my mocha-caramel-whipped cream-a-chino, can’t say it enough. With a straight face, even. That’s just crazy, right there.
So I think that what needs to happen here is a redefinition of what makes “high fashion.” As in, let’s call it, “Anything that costs less than $50 and doesn’t draw second looks in the grocery store, can survive a good chicken-coop-mucking, and could be worn to church in a pinch.” That’s fashion, baby.