Northeast Times

The time is finally here for fall fashion

I try to res­ist.

But every year at around this time, as sum­mer really starts shift­ing in­to fall, I feel the stir­rings.

I must shop. 

I must look bey­ond the soft pas­tels, the gauzy skirts and cot­tons of sum­mer, and think fall – and fash­ion.

For me, the two al­ways have been linked. 

So on a re­cent morn­ing, I found my­self star­ing at my­self in a de­part­ment store mir­ror try­ing not to laugh. I was decked out in what the sales con­sult­ant (not “sales­per­son,” please…) has called a “must-have ac­cess­ory.” In my ig­nor­ance, I would simply have called it a scarf.

This gauzy, flimsy ob­ject that looked ab­so­lutely won­der­ful draped around the neck of a man­nequin looked ab­so­lutely ab­surd on me. It looped and sagged where it shouldn’t have. It gaped where it should have hung. And be­cause I am small, it gave me the aura of a waif drown­ing in her moth­er’s dress-up clothes.

The sales con­sult­ant was now eye­ing me war­ily. Clearly, I was not her ideal cus­tom­er. I’m a very far cry from those per­fectly coiffed, im­pec­cably-groomed spe­ci­mens who al­ways know how to tie THEIR scarves. They also know ex­actly how to mix and match their shades of taupe and brown without look­ing like they have a ser­i­ous case of the flu. They can surely find the per­fect pumps for their per­fect three-piece fall en­sembles. And they would nev­er, ever carry a pock­et­book with a few sus­pi­cious pizza sauce stains.

I ad­mit it: I’m a fash­ion fail­ure. I’m out of step – out of sync – and out of in­spir­a­tion. 

The fall fash­ion pages of magazines make me gasp in won­der be­cause nev­er, ever could I pull off those jaw-drop­ping un­even hem­lines, severely straight, un­for­giv­ing skirts or newly cinched waist­lines.

Oh, I’ve tried. I’ve car­ried those magazine-ideal im­ages in my head as I’ve combed the aisles of my fa­vor­ite stores grabbing up the items that will as­semble my en­semble.     

But as much as I’d wanted to make a dazzling fash­ion state­ment with subtle lay­ers, I ended up look­ing bulky, awk­ward and over­stuffed …

Tur­tle­necks truly make me look like a turtle. The sleeves of jack­ets al­ways puddle bey­ond my wrists be­cause I am, well, short. And pants with flared legs sug­gest to the world that I for­got to shed my pa­ja­mas. 

Fash­ion foils me. Out­wits me. Re­duces me to a quiv­er­ing mass of jelly in­stead of a con­fid­ent, coolly el­eg­ant wo­man of a cer­tain age.

In my closet, tops some­how nev­er co­ordin­ate with bot­toms. Dresses that I was sure I could carry off hang limply from hangers, mute testi­mony to dress­ing room fol­lies. 

Nev­er mind the fire-en­gine red num­ber with the bat sleeves and the weird belt ac­tion. Or the suit that I thought would be per­fect for meet­ings with ed­it­ors that ended up a closet wall­flower be­cause of that an­cient, most com­pel­ling of heartaches: it made me feel fat.

I have suffered fash­ion hu­mi­li­ations whenev­er I seek a dress for a Spe­cial Event – yes, al­ways cap­it­al let­ters for these oc­ca­sions of state. 

Too many times, I’ve grabbed arm­fuls of scar­let and mid­night blue cock­tail dresses, headed off to the dress­ing room caress­ing the de­li­cious fab­rics and try­ing to ima­gine them with sexy san­dals and won­der­ful jew­elry. No mat­ter that I own neither.

I loved one of the deep, rich blues un­til I turned around and saw that it was vir­tu­ally back­less. And trust me, I don’t have that much cour­age – or the right un­der­wear – to carry that off.

I looked fe­ver­ish in the scar­let.

In­vari­ably, I rush home from these for­ays and for­age the freez­er for solace. Nev­er mind the nu­tri­tion­al/cal­or­ic con­sequences of these binges.  

And just once more, I re­mind my­self that I’ve lived these many dec­ades man­aging to sur­vive these Spe­cial Events in my trusty little black dress, minus the sexy san­dals and the com­plic­ated scarves.

I could also RS­VP to these Spe­cial Events with a po­lite, “So sorry – can’t make it.” 

And some­how, the pro­spect doesn’t seem half-bad. ••

You can reach at pinegander@aol.com.

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