Yes. Sad, but true.
It's not a new thing, either. I used to get Seventeen Magazine back in high school and I would slowly go through the magazine circling things, longing to look as cute as the models did in their pleated skirts and sweater sets (shut up, it was the eighties). We were poor though, and I got most of my clothes for freshman and sophmore year from the thrift store.
See, this is the part of the story where, if I had any eighties cred at all, I would then sit in my room and teach myself to sew (with the theme from St. Elmo's Fire playing in the background of course), creating dozens of cute and trendy outfits made from somebody's vintage cast-offs and dental floss. I'd show up on the first day of school looking cute in my one-of-a-kind fashions, and Keith from Some Kind of Wonderful would fall in love with me because I was so quirky and alternative and real and crap.
Yeah, in the real world, this is just the part where I show up at school looking really, really ugly.
(Note: In my early twenties, when I was fairly thin for about five minutes, I dated a guy who looked EXACTLY like Keith/Eric Stolz. EXACTLY. His name was Justin and he was hilarious. He was also a HUGE jerk and we fought constantly. I HATED him, but I couldn't break up with him because - if I stayed with him, I could pretend he was Keith from SKOW. And I loved Keith. During the few moments each date when he would actually shut up for ten seconds in a row there was some lovely internal wish fulfillment happening. Unfortunately, he was not capable of staying quiet for long. One night when I really just wanted to spend some quality time making out with my imaginary boyfriend Keith, Justin instead chose instead to start in on me about polygamy and how we would be required to live it someday, in heaven. And so I had to kill him. But it was fun while it lasted.)
Even after high school, I never learned the skill of putting together an outfit. I have shirts, I have pants, I have skirts, I have shoes. I have no outfits. I don't know how to accessorize. I look at the other women and try to figure it out, how they combined a bunch of stuff and it resulted in something adorable. I shop at the same stores, combine a bunch of stuff and end up with something both awkward and uncomfortable, or on a really good day end up somewhere in the vicinity of "trying too hard."
I like the idea of having cute clothes, but the reality never quite translates. I think it's a talent - an art form that I will just never understand, kind of like modern art. I can sit and stare, and muse, and appreciate, but I can't actually accomplish it on my own. The closest I get to achieving any kind of fashion related artistic accomplishment is performance art - in the vein of constant public humiliation.
Because - people? If there is something embarrassing you can do with clothes – I’ve done it. I’ve had people come up to me to “discreetly” remove dry cleaning tags and price tags from my sleeves, or XXL tags from the back of my thighs. I've worn shoes that don't match to work, and not realized it until the end of the day. I had a very nice old lady approach me at Smiths the other day to ask if I "meant" to wear my shirt inside out. Once, during a period of rapid weight loss, my slip fell off while I was singing a solo in church, on stage, and I had no choice but to gingerly pick it up and continue singing while I watched my friends dissolve into hysterics in the congregation.
My attempt at Word Illustrations, ala Kristy.The humiliation, it is not a stranger to me.
I'll never forget what happened right after we moved into our current neighborhood. Our neighborhood is sort of upscale, and is full of trendy, gorgeous, thin women, the kind of women that scare the living crap out of me. I was supposed to meet some of them to go walking, and as usual, was running late.
I was a scattered mess - nervous and tense because there was the possibility that I might have to participate in actual small talk, which makes me incredibly jumpy. (I think I would function better in the world if everyone had a little keyboard attached to their forehead and we could just type messages to each other instead of ever, ever talking.) I flew into my closet, and miracle of miracles, managed to find a few things that sort of - MATCHED, that sort of looked like they might possibly go together - black sweats, a black hoodie, and a white t-shirt. I threw them on and checked myself out in the mirror. I looked - passable. Nothing stood out. Socially acceptable exercise camouflage? Check.
So I run out the door, find the group and we all start walking and talking. To my amazement, I'm fitting in, or at least managing not to make a complete idiot of myself. The women all seem smart, funny, and unfortunately for me, extremely fit. I start to sweat, so I take off my hoodie.
A minute later, one of the women looks at me and starts laughing. I am perplexed. A second later another one looks and cracks up. Now I’m freaking out a little. Bad high school flashbacks. This is not good.
I look at the blonde one, feeling panicky. “What? WHAT?!!”
She points at my shirt.
I look down. I am wearing my husband’s garment top.
Put me out of my misery. Please tell me you have a fashion horror story of your own. Or that you will take pity on me and teach me the strange art of accessorizing.
P.P.S. For my non-mormon friends, who are scratching their heads and thinking, "What in the ??" Garments are special clothes that some mormons wear under their regular clothes - a reminder of certain covenants they've made - kind of like how some Jews wear a yarmulke on their heads. Anyway, it's white, and t-shirtish, but, uh, definitely not socially acceptable outerwear for women. Not by a long shot.