Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Eluding the Fashion Police

Back in the late 1990s when I worked in an office, one of my co-workers, a woman in her early 60s, would sometimes show up in a bright-green belted polyester pantsuit (circa 1976) that I secretly thought of as her “Girl Scout Leader Outfit.” I vowed that I would never allow myself to become that befuddled by fashion.

Then I quit my job and started my own home-based business. No longer was it necessary to buy work clothes. Then I moved to Portland. No longer was it necessary to buy clothes. So here I am with a wardrobe consisting of a few lingering relics from my days as an office drone, quite a few cast-offs from friends, and a nice cache of finds from Naked Lady Parties. I’ve bought very little in the way of new clothes since I moved to Portland at the end of 2001.

For all I know, some of the stuff in my dresser and closet may now be in the Girl Scout Leader category. But how am I to ascertain this? I live in Portland. Pretty much anything goes here. For example, is this the height of fashion? And if so, where on the spectrum of au courant to passé do those three Indian sundresses I bought at a street fair in 1998 fall? I can’t even begin to extrapolate or compute something like that.

You see, the real problem is I don’t want to put any effort into finding out what is in style. And I don’t really care about being trendy or hip. I just dread--and want to avoid at all costs--Girl Scoutiness. So here’s my half-assed stab at a solution: I’ve instructed my youngest friend (age 28) to let me know if she ever sees me wearing something that she thinks should be filed under Girl Scout.* Also, I decided to actually get myself some new clothes and by “new” I mean new to me.** Last Sunday off I trotted to Goodwill where I scored three skirts and two pairs of shorts for $23.*** Wasn’t this rather a risky move? Mightn’t I have unwittingly bought the mother of all Girl Scout Leader Outfits? I think I managed to avoid that. I applied my usual conservative (read: boring) clothes-buying guidelines, which are to stick with solid colors and avoid styles that have details (like ruffles or embroidered pockets) that age badly and might as well blare “1987” in huge, rhinestone-encrusted numerals!

One last thing, here’s a fragment of a meme (from Diana) that’s fashion/clothes related. I’ll let you be the judge of whether I’m on the right track or not.

Five Things I’d Never Wear
Thong underwear
Control-top pantyhose (heck, all pantyhose)
Capri pants
Shorts and pants with pleated fronts
Cowl-neck sweaters

*I have to admit, though, that I don’t know if she’s a reliable judge. I sort of arbitrarily decided that since she’s the youngest person I know, she must be the hippest, but then again, I’ve seen her sporting brown, wide-wale corduroy slacks. Is that a good sign or a bad sign?

**I know that if I really wanted to avoid the Girl Scout Leader pitfall, I would buy new fresh-out-of-the-sweatshop clothes from Banana Republic or similar, but I’m through (for the most part) with buying new clothes. I just don’t need them for my job, and I’d rather spend my money on beer and gardening supplies.

***Actually the clothes were less than $23. The $23 price includes two very nice glass flower vases.


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