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August 24, 2011

Hand Me Ups and Fashion Advice

by Anne Paddock
It’s that time of year again – mid-August – when we all start to think about upcoming school schedules, immunization records, dental appointments, forms to be completed and school clothes. All summer long my daughter has been wearing (much to her dismay) khaki shorts and white tops – the required uniform for her job – and telling me the only way she can express herself fashion-wise is through her choice of shoes which run the gamut from cowboy rain boots to sneakers to flip-flops

On her days off, she wears bathing suits, shorts, and t-shirts. Clothes conforming to her school’s dress code (no jeans or t-shirts) have not been in her realm of thinking for the past three months but with classes starting in two weeks, my daughter realized she better start getting organized.

Over the past year, my daughter has grown nearly 3 inches.  We look each other in the eye, wear the same size shoe, and my closet has become a new source of possibilities for her. We have distinctly different styles with mine much more conservative. She wouldn’t pull a pair of capris or anything looser than a skinny stilt style up her long legs so my pants are safe. But, my dresses, skirts, shirts, jackets, and bathing suits are fair game in her eyes.  Earlier this summer, she walked out of the house in my blue crochet bikini, muttered about how cool this vintage bathing suit was, and jumped into the lake.  My husband said “isn’t that your bikini?” It was…past tense.

Last week my daughter started trying on clothes she hasn’t worn all summer and asked me if I wanted all her white pants which either didn’t fit or she didn’t like anymore as she was “so over white pants.”  I  took the pile and hung my new hand me “ups” in the closet. Wow…full circle. I’ve gone from saving clothes my daughter asked me to keep for when she grows up (a pair of bright pink Italian pants from 1999 which at age 3 she thought were the most gorgeous pants she ever saw)  to accepting casts offs from my almost grown up daughter.

There are no malls or shopping centers that appeal to teenagers in the Adirondacks so I took my daughter downstate  to do school shopping this week.  On the way south, she told me how happy she was that I was taking her shopping and that she really depends on my opinion even if we differ.  Ironically, I try to keep my mouth shut (unless the shirt is cut too low or is too sheer) as I’ve always believed that she should develop her own sense of style. There are times, when I would love to dress her in what I think she looks good in but she would be so unhappy and uncomfortable walking out the door looking like a mini-me: I prefer pastels and whites and she is drawn to greys and browns.  So, I try to limit my advice to the following recommendations:  
  • solids are better than stripes
  • low-rise pants are more flattering than high-rise pants for most figures
  • skip the boatneck style
  • buy for your figure, not the current fashion trend
  • choose v-neck over crew neck style sweaters
  • don’t ever buy a dress that buttons or closes up the center front
  • buy fewer but better quality pieces
  • dress comfortably (I didn’t learn this until I was 40)
  • a good tailor can do wonders
She doesn’t always believe me and that’s all right.  When she picked out a pair of peep toe flats and asked me what I thought, I told her the shoes reminded me of something my grandmother wore. When I was growing up only older women wore peep toe shoes, un-tucked shirts, tops that looked like pajamas, and shirts with 3/4 quarter sleeves.  She shook her head in disbelief and then asked me to order a pair of really cool high-waisted red and white strip shorts she found on the internet.

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