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Hip. Hep. What Happened?

January 9, 2011

Over Christmas my mother remarked, apropos of my less than flamboyant attire (unlike her own), “What happened to you? You used to dress so cool.” Really good question. Once upon a time I was quite the fashion plate. I loved to shop and had to have all the latest and greatest outfits.

When I transferred from an all girls private school to a public school where I could wear my own clothes, I went wild. I shopped in Beverly Hills at Fiorucci and Camp Beverly Hills. I wore Jellies shoes in a rainbow of colours. My wardrobe included vintage attire picked up in Hollywood, special finds from the Salvation Army, and cutting edge pieces from hipster stores specializing in punk rock fashions. I remember a slam book that went around my junior high school in 1980 where on the page set aside for me someone had written “2010 – the year for her clothes.” Oh how I wish I still had those outfits, or at least photos. Proof, other than fading memories, that I was as cool as I thought I was.

That first year in public school I made friends with another new girl, Holly, who had similar tastes to mine. We liked punk rock music, combat boots, and boys. Holly was that extra kind of cool girl because she actually got to follow through with her love of punk and go to concerts. As I recall she broke her toe in a mosh pit at a Black Flag concert. My parents weren’t quite as willing to let me go to shows like that, so I resigned myself to listening to The Sex Pistols on my record player and pretending to pierce my lip with a safety pin. I’m glad to say that Holly has always maintained her hip chick status and now, amongst other things, makes cool music videos. I’m more than a little jealous.

In high school I went through a number of fashion forward phases. I was Rockabilly for about 3 months and showed up for the first day at my new school wearing a hot pink crinoline, turquoise shoes and a denim jacket. I was hell bent on making an impression. Later that same year I went Mod, watched Qudrophenia too many times and dressed like an 1960’s airline stewardess in fabulous polyester dresses I bought a thrift stores. I dated a boy who wore an anorak and rode a Vespa.

When I reached my senior year, I cut my hair short, bleached it blonde and frequently wore white lipstick, dramatic eyeliner, and had a cigarette dangling from my lip most of the time. I also did copious amounts of drugs and went to all-ages night clubs where I would dance on speakers doing my best Madonna wanna-be dance routines. I was a rebel without a cause or a clue, but I had all the right clothes to pull it off. If only I still had my neon green fishnet belly shirt and white leather pointed toe boots. If only.

Things started to change when I moved to Europe to go to university. I ran with a different crowd of people there. They were wealthy and far more conservative in their style than my punk Malibu friends from high school. I traded in my Betsey Johnson look for Emporio Armani. I exchanged my pointy toed “witch” boots for Italian leather loafers. I emulated European fashion icons and picked up an ex-pat British accent. I was still cool, just not as fashion forward as I once was.

I’m not quite sure when it happened. I’d like to be able to pinpoint the day in history so that I could go back in a time machine and examine it more closely. But one day I woke up and what I wore and what music I listened to no longer seemed to matter. As I write I am in black sweats and a black t-shirt from Target and Ugg boots. The last time I actually shopped in earnest was 5 years ago when I was trying to find a wedding dress. I rarely dress up any more since I work from home in my pajamas on most days. Most of the clothes in my closet are olive green or black and so many of my pieces look exactly alike that I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I wore the same thing every day. My musical tastes are firmly rooted in my past and you will find the Sirius radio in my car tuned to either the 70’s or 80’s stations. As long as Elvis Costello is still hip then part of my life it still cool. Maybe.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 3:03 am

    I’m digging that pearl necklace in your senior picture, and your european look as well….almost could pass as a burkha…

  2. wanderingblonde permalink
    January 9, 2011 3:49 am

    Oh, I just don’t know where to begin… Highly relatable,
    hits home in fact. Clothes you can wear 24 hours a day, easy to
    launder. Comfortable. Practical. Your aim is true.

  3. Val Gregory permalink
    January 9, 2011 4:11 am

    I remember combat boots! Loved this fashion-forward post
    and the photos. I feel as if I know you a little now. Thank you for
    sharing these memories.

  4. January 11, 2011 3:44 am

    yeah. blow me. like you did that haircut.

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