I have been a fashion maverick ever since my three-year-old self tugged on her ruffled panties, backwards.
“Your panties are on backwards,” my mother said, pointing at my britches as I examined the cascading layers of beautiful white ruffles. “The ruffles go in the back.”
“I can’t see them in the back,” I responded and marched confidently into the fashion world, ruffles forward.
Not everyone appreciates my unique sartorial presentation. Some do. Like the man who walked up after church to tell me that he’d noticed me earlier. “I don’t know what it is,” he mused, “but you stand out.”
It was the gloves. And the vintage clutch clasped demurely in my hand. And the fire-engine red, needle-toed, patent leather pumps.
“Costuming,” a friend once called it. “You come close to costuming.”
She’s right. I like a theme when I dress, even if others don’t immediately recognize the tune I’m playing. My dressing remains, as it was with the ruffles forward, purely for my own entertainment.
What I don’t do is dress according to someone else’s theory of correctness. I’m referring to the standards that leave you with all that stuff in your closet that you never wear but bought because someone said, “Well, with your shape, you should wear bright colors on top and dark colors on bottom, not the other way around.” As a result, unloved clothes hang dispirited in the closet, and every morning as you swipe dark skirts and billowy tunics down the rod you wonder why is it that you never seem to have anything to wear.
My dressing standards are simple: I buy what I love.
I admit that my way of shopping does not necessarily lead me to dress in what is currently accepted in my world as “good taste.”
“You’re not from Memphis, are you?” That’s what people ask when they’re trying to say basically, you wouldn’t dress like that if you knew better.
Some are more direct, like the waitress at a restaurant where I eat lunch. “You wear the oddest, most interesting clothes,” she said. Then added, “That skirt looks like something I’d wear.”
Of course it does. She always wears the cutest things.
I must admit: it makes me happy when someone likes what I have on. “I love the way you dress,” my conservative-dressing friend says, even though she’s quick to add that she’d never do it herself. I am her dressing alter ego—she looks, she enjoys, she moves on. I am inordinately pleased when someone much younger than I am compliments my dress.
So, as I roll through life, I will continue to wear my rings and bracelets with their emblems facing me. I will be the only one in church sporting a flowery hat. I will forever be the one who zips on a floor-length skirt, then tugs a short skinny dress over the skirt and voila! an outfit that people say, “That dress is beautiful,” never knowing it is something I cobbled together that very morning. As long as I am able, I will continue to wear clothes the way I want to wear them, which is not always the way they were intended to be worn.
Ruffles in the back?
Let’s wear them in the front, see how it goes.
If you enjoyed this essay, take a look at MODEL FOR DECEPTION. This Southern mystery features a fashion model as an amateur sleuth. It’s a fun, fashion-forward, rollicky good read. Hope you enjoy it!